I am a physician, not a nutritionist. However, it seems pretty clear to me. The story of mankind tells how these four elements – earth/ water / air / fire – have been vital to our survival. Well, since so many of our citizens have more chronic illnesses than ever, what are we missing? In the last blog I highlighted the need for more color in our meals. In my book, I accented the huge difference in the quality, and even the age, of our drinking water. But for this blog, let’s make it simple for all four of these key components.
For the person who lives in an urban city, their food (e.g., the “earth”) is not natural. By the time it reaches the nearest grocery store, it is not even real food. It has been refined, processed, and packaged. The water they drink? It’s the same. In addition to traveling through hundreds of miles of piping, the water has been processed, filtered, and treated with chemicals. Despite our civilized “pasteurization” attempts, our water is still contaminated with numerous, small-particle chemicals, even antibiotics and pharmaceutical drugs. Is that faucet water the same natural water that was (and is) so crucial to mankind’s health and survival? No.
How about our air? I probably do not even need to address this topic. In so many urban settings the air is polluted and unhealthy. You have seen the pictures. Some people in China, where the smog is really thick, wear facial masks throughout the workday. Even inside, behind the whirl of air conditioning units, the air is still processed, much like our processed food. How many of you have air conditioning units at home? Do you ever clean their filters? In one month the filters are dirty; and industrial work sites do not clean filters with any regularity. So, is the air we breathe at work and at home the same air that our ancestors breathed? Once again, no.
From my perspective, “fire” translates to sunlight. We needed fire in our primitive days. If you participate in the TV show “Survivor”, you clearly need fire. But for most of us, we need sunlight (as our source of “fire”). There are clear health benefits from sunlight, including the absorption of vitamin D, which is so important for the regulation of neuromuscular and immune functions, plus its direct impact on other chemicals in our tissues. But how often are you outside in full daylight? Be truthful. Don’t you get more light from your lamps and ceiling lights? Some of you may get more light from your computer! Once again, we are not obtaining the same light as we have in our ancestral heritage.
So, what is the point of the above observations? If we are not eating the food that we used to eat, if we are not drinking the water that we used to drink, if we are not breathing the air that we used to breathe, and if we are not obtaining the same light that we used to enjoy, is there any real debate why our health statistics are so poor? Yet, who is talking about these factors? Certainly, not our politicians. They are too absorbed in Obamacare and their next elections. May I close with two suggestions? First, don’t waste your time debating Obamacare. Instead, focus your efforts on obtaining more clean earth, water, air, and fire. That’s where you will find some real solutions for improved health and reduced health care costs.