Before you attempt to change your world (as discussed in the past several blogs), may I remind you that first you need to improve your health. Think of Hemingway’s quote, “First, you must last.” For me, health goes far beyond a longevity framework. Our goal should not be to simply stay alive; our goal should be to gain sufficient vitality so we can successfully face our many challenges. So, I want to re-highlight the central challenges to our health, and our need to make some changes in those specific areas.
Our first challenge is the Standard American Diet with its staple of dairy and meat products, topped with its sugary desserts. Hopefully, some of you can recite the statistics. Americans, on an annual basis, eat 133 pounds of flour, 140 pounds of sugar, 150 pounds of meat, and a 193 pounds of GMO (genetically modified organisms). Despite America’s 40 year “War on Cancer” a man’s chance of developing cancer carries a 40% lifetime risk, and woman’s chance of developing cancer carries a 30% lifetime risk. Our first challenge is to accept the reality: the Standard American Diet is killing us. Our food prices might be low, but our health bills are enormous. Our Standard American Diet is leading us to the worst health statistics of any industrial country.
Our second challenge is the declining quality of our food supply. What we eat today is not the same as what we at ate 25-50 years ago. The scrambled eggs and bacon, the hamburger and fries; and the steak and barbecued corn on the cob: they are not the same products today as they were when we were kids. We live in a polluted world; and our food is no different. Many items on our plate are now contaminated with steroids, chemicals, antibiotics, heavy metals, etc. There’s an easy explanation. In our lifetime we have lost 5 million small famers and 10 million small farms. We have replaced those crucial, life-sustaining farms with agricultural giants that are really chemical companies, not food companies. That’s an industry that may need some changing, or at least some regulation.
Our third challenge is the change to our wheat. You may have forgotten, but some historians equate the decline of the Roman Empire to the decline of the quality of their wheat. Look at our wheat – our bread, our pasta, our pastries – and realize that the quantity of gluten in our wheat has increased 40-50 fold over the last 50 years. Gluten, in Latin, means glue. Our chemical companies do not want their products to go rotten, so the shelf life now lasts an eternity. Trust me. The bread, displayed in the market, may last longer that you will – especially if you eat it. So, realize how we have shifted our eating style to more wheat (and more carbohydrates); and realize how the increased carbohydrates are causing surges in weight and diabetes, plus realize how the increased gluten contents are causing a host of allergies and sensitivities, leading to illnesses.
Our fourth challenge is our liquid consumption. We have transitioned from the outside hose of water to the soda can. That soda can contains either excessive sugar or sugar substitutes, which are equally bad. Even our water has deteriorated. Today most Americans drink bottled water, but they seem unaware of the chemical factors from the plastic in those bottles. Worse, they read “spring water” on some label and accept the label without knowing any real details about their water. Now, I realize that many Americans can’t find clean spring water in the area. However, at least realize that drinking bottled water is no longer the safest route. Realize that you many need to change your drinking style as much as you need to change your eating style.
Here’s my starting point for improving your physical health. Switch, slowly if you need, from your meat and dairy products to more of a plant-slanted eating style. Now, don’t panic. I did not say no eggs and/or no meats. However, I encouraged you to make those items the smallest items on any plate. Simply stated, you need more color in your diet. You need more vegetables, more fruits, more beans, and more nuts and seeds. If you can incorporate these items into our daily eating style, using them to replace the items from the American Standard Diet, you may find yourself living much longer, but more importantly you should find yourself feeling greater energy and higher vitality. You may find yourself ready to take on some of our challenges, like changing the direction of your life.
Lastly, the same refrain applies to your drinking style. Stop buying any cans of soda. Stop purchasing those energy drinks. Even stop consuming those fruit juice drinks, unless they contain more vegetables that fruit. Try water, but try water in glass bottles, not plastic waters. Here’s a shocker. Try drinking less at meals. Drink your water (or perhaps your tea) 30 minutes before a meal or 30 minutes after a meal. And another shocker. Try a glass of red wine now and then. Not excessive, but regular. The polyphenols and the resveratrol are advantageous to your health. They may actually decrease your chance of dementia. So, be ready to make some changes to your eating style and drinking style – because those changes really mark the starting line for changing life. Like a sprinter, you want to get off of the blocks, right? Well, you need to educate yourself – one step at a time.
Stay tuned. That is exactly what we will do …