Naturally Rockford: Coronary Health Improvement Project launched

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11170397841157.jpg’, ‘Photo by Melissa Wangall’, ‘Nutrionist Jane Sirignano (right) and Jody Perrecone.’);

When diagnosed with disease, fear is automatically established. The sense of control of one’s self is diminished. Betrayal is felt with believing the body has let you down; it has not protected you.

This need not be. A local group, Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP), is taking huge steps in diverting from these common effects. They have devised a program that helps prevent disease and reverse the effects of adverse lifestyles.

Jody Perrecone, corporate client manager of the Rockford CHIP program, says 70 percent of disease diagnosed is sourced from a person’s lifestyle. She goes on to explain that disease can also be brought on by other factors, but less drastically, 10 percent attributed to hereditary factors, 10 percent lax medical care, and 10 percent from the surrounding environment.

We have a much larger part in preventing future health problems and solving present ones than thought. It all comes down to the basics. Eat nutritious food, exercise, and de-stress your life. It sounds easy, and it is, but lack of information has kept people from making changes needed to improve.

As a society, we are used to popping a quick-fix meal into the microwave. These meals are time-efficient, but don’t provide adequate nourishment. In processing, much of food’s nutrition is lost. Also, the actual food itself may not be that good for you. To achieve optimum benefit, food intake should be high fiber with limited oils, sugars, and salts. Fresh fruits and veggies should be a major part of the diet, as well as whole grain breads, and fresh meats, including fish, avoiding canned varieties.

When a person eats foods high in fat, many problems can arise. Fat is harder to digest than other foods. This causes it to sit in the stomach for longer periods of time, allowing more of it to be absorbed, unlike foods high in fiber, which are broken down quickly, taken of their nutrients for energy, and then passed. The fat that is absorbed causes high cholesterol, leading to narrow arteries, increased chance for heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, and death. In a CHIP manual, it’s stated, “one of the first symptoms of heart disease is death.” Very scary, especially knowing there are ways to combat this ailment.

High sugar intake disrupts the body’s normal sugar levels. When a lot of sugar is ingested, it causes a surge of insulin to be released. This makes for the energy rush one feels. As the insulin goes back to normal levels, a person is taken down with it, leading to withdrawal, and lack of energy. A diet largely based on sugar can cause diabetes and dental problems.

The old adage of exercising three times a week for at least 20 minutes is also a big need. The human body is designed to be in motion. Without this, fat-burning muscle cannot be built, leading to obesity. The cardiovascular system isn’t worked properly, leading to shortness of breath, and less energy, as you are denying your cells of needed oxygen.

De-stressing is also a major factor. A person with too hectic of a schedule or immense worries, is dragging their body down. There is a relationship between the body and the mind. The body acts on the brain’s command. When the mind is stressed, this leads to a domino effect on the body, which may also be a link to disease. The best way to combat this is with relaxation techniques, such as meditation, or exercise, which is known to release feel-good endorphins, as well as relieve tension.

CHIP has created a system promoting a healthier lifestyle, and can prove their system works. By running coronary risk assessments at the beginning of their program, as well as afterwards, it’s been shown that, after a 32-hour education seminar, broken down over a number of weeks (either four or eight), among 40,000 participants over the age of 40, average decrease in cholesterol was 15-20 percent, weight loss: 6 lbs., 50 percent of Type II diabetics significantly reduced the amount of medication needed, (some even eliminating the need), depression was lowered, and self-esteem increased.

The cost for these classes is $245 per person, and $425 per couple. They come with sound literature, techniques for improvement, and a large support group. CHIP urges the need to continue working with a medical professional concerning your health. They have incredible results, but each person is individualized, and should discuss ailments with their doctor to ensure proper care.

The CHIP program isn’t just for individuals. It has entered our schools, businesses, and restaurants. Schools show remarkable improvements, including students with better grades, attitudes, and attendance. Businesses love this program, noticing that employees work more efficiently and have better outlooks. Insurance costs also go down as health concerns begin to wilt under increased fitness. Restaurants are glad to be able to serve tasty food that gives marked health benefits.

One does not have to be afraid. One can control disease in the body; simple preventive measures are available. And the body does not know betrayal. It sometimes isn’t provided with the necessary tools for defense. CHIP’s goal, and hopefully now yours, should be to supply it adequately.

For more info:

CHIP/Lifestyle Medicine, 605 Fulton Ave.-Eiger Lab, Rockford, IL 61103, (815) 316-6361, or

From the May 25-31, 2005, issue

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