Early Death? Choose To Opt Out

Various fruits, vegetables, bread and milk sitting on the kitchen counter in a grocery bag
(BlackDoctor.org) — When we decide to opt out of something, it means that we choose not to participate. Typically we don’t associate “opting out” with early death. In reality, however, we can choose to “opt out” of the diseases most likely to kill us through healthy lifestyle changes.

Nothing in life is certain, right? Then, why bother to opt out of anything, right?

Well, think about what happens when we opt out of junk email or telemarketing. Yes, we still get some anyway, but probably much less than we used to receive. So, although not guaranteed, we are really stacking the odds in our favor. Likewise then, what if you could reduce your chance of premature death by 90 or 95%? What if you could reduce your chances of a heart attack to close to zero? Would you do it? Would you choose to “opt out”?

Our bodies can be conducive to disease development or can be protective against disease. What does this mean? It means that we do indeed have the choice to lower our risk of most heart attacks and strokes, as well as diabetes and obesity, which contribute to the deaths of many blacks each year.  It means we can also lower our risk of many different cancers, such as lung, colon, breast and prostate, which are responsible for the most cancer related deaths in African Americans.


By adopting a healthier lifestyle. Why? Because living healthier, including eating nutritious meals, regular exercise, and inner peace, protects us from many chronic diseases. A healthy lifestyle contributes to a strong immune system which fights
off disease, often in the early stages, before the disease process
debilitates or kills us. A healthy lifestyle can also can reverse
narrowing in our heart or neck arteries, that otherwise would contribute
to heart attacks and strokes, respectively. A healthy lifestyle often
can reverse impotence, without Viagra. It also reverses diabetes and
hypertension, decreasing the need for prescription drugs (and their many
nasty side effects).  If we don’t suffer from as many heart attacks, strokes, cancers, etc., then we stack our odds in favor of longevity…instead of early death. This is particularly critical for African Americans, who tend to die more from diseases that are often preventable.

We are really the first generation of Black Americans who have the choice to opt out of early death due to these typically American or so-called Western diseases. Why? Because we have plenty of medical research that supports healthy lifestyles as the best “medicine” for longevity. For example, too much fried chicken, ribs, and macaroni with cheese has been proven to contribute to many heart attacks and strokes and subsequent premature deaths. Fortunately, many healthful food recipes (including soul food) are now available. We now know that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains optimize our bodies’ natural healing power.

You really can make the choice to “opt out” of early death…so consider making healthy lifestyle changes today!

By Dr. Ed James, BDO Healthy Lifestyle Expert

Dr. Ed James draws inspiration from his personal experiences with healthy lifestyle changes, having overcome prediabetes and obesity several years ago. In 2011, he founded Heal2BFree to focus on helping individuals and organizations to develop and implement action plans that help close the health disparities gap between blacks and whites.

Dr. James has given many presentations, including the 2011 National Medical Association Colloquium and regularly contributes preventive health-related articles to some of the nation’s top health publications. He is also the primary author and co-editor of Getting into Medical School – A Planning Guide for Minority Students.

He received his BS in Biology from Bucknell University and earned his MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania as a participant in the Penn Med Scholars combined degree program.