Effects of Exercise and Diet on Chronic Disease

Roberts CK, Barnard RJ. Effects of Exercise and Diet on Chronic Disease. Journal of Applied Physiology  January 2005; 98(1):3-30.

ABSTRACT: Currently, modern chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer, are the leading killers in Westernized society and are increasing rampantly in developing nations. In fact, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension are now even commonplace in children. Clearly, however, there is a solution to this epidemic of metabolic disease that is inundating today’s societies worldwide: exercise and diet. Overwhelming evidence from a variety of sources, including epidemiological, prospective cohort, and intervention studies, links most chronic diseases seen in the world today to physical inactivity and inappropriate diet consumption. The purpose of this review is to 1) discuss the effects of exercise and diet in the prevention of chronic disease, 2) highlight the effects of lifestyle modification for both mitigating disease progression and reversing existing disease, and 3) suggest potential mechanisms for beneficial effects.

COMMENTS: The authors note that approximately 50% of all deaths in the U.S. are due to preventable causes. The evidence is becoming overwhelming that physical activity and good diet are key elements to health. To often in recent years, disorders are being blamed solely on genes –  a couple weeks ago scientists found a possible genetic factor to autism. They are a component, but they don’t explain the dramatic rise in various diseases. A more likely scenario the authors state is that genetic factors predispose the individual, but “environmental factors determine whether phenotype expression of the disease manifests.” For the past 50 years or more, the rates of many diseases have risen, but the human genome has not changed. In fact, recent studies have found that physical activity is necessary for proper genetic expression.

This long article describes the research on lifestyle changes associate factors leading to and preventing the list of diseases listed above.

What is recommended. First, one hour of daily physical activity. Second, a natural food diet, “high in fiber-containing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and naturally low in fat, containing abundant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals…”