So, how was your Thanksgiving meal? Filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, cranberries, stuffing, dressing, rolls, gravy, pumpkin pie, and pecan pie? Delicious, right? Consumed around 4,500 calories (twice what you need for a day) and collapsed into a coma? Now, you already know that we eat around 140 pounds of sugar per year, 150 pounds of meat per year, and 193 pounds of GMOs per year. You also know that our agricultural giants inject about 29 million pounds of antibiotics into our food supply. So, is there any good news? Actually, yes. For example, let’s examine how Thanksgiving may have improved your immune system, at least for a few hours.
The National Institute of Health has recently discovered molecules of emotion. They are small peptides, which are distributed to the receptors in your brain, your spine, your respiratory tract, your intestinal tract, and your skin. These are the exact same receptors that are utilized by your immune system, working to prevent any number of diseases. So, were you happy, enjoying your family, during the meal? Well, those positive emotions should have had a positive impact on those receptors, improving the punch of your immune system. Negative emotions or stressed-out emotions compromise the strength of your immune system. In short, if you had a happy Thanksgiving, you improved (temporarily) your immune system.
Of course, the lift to your immune system from your good emotions may have been undercut by the damage to your intestinal digestive system and its spectrum of microbes. Humans are 90% microbial. These microbes improve the function of the receptors that control our immune system, also strengthening the system. A century ago, an average American’s intestinal tract might have contained 10,000 strains of microbes. Today? Many of our intestinal tracts are reduced to few as 10 to 20 to 30 strains of these microbes. What has reduced their numbers? The ingestion of small residual antibiotics in that delicious piece of turkey. The GMOs in your side dishes. The overload of sugar in those desserts. Collectively, the ingredients degrade the diversity within your gut and reduce your immune system.
Need one example to make it clearer? Are any of you at risk for diabetes? Sorry, but most Americans have an increasing risk for diabetes. Worse, that risk doubles every 10 years of your life. To help prevent diabetes, your intestinal microbial environment needs Aspergillus Niger, which is very common in Japan. Aspergillus Niger makes an enzyme called transglucosidase, which breaks up the sugars that you consume. If you lacked this Aspergillus Niger in your intestinal micosystem, those Thanksgiving sugars went directly into your bloodstream. A diet of sugars, flowing directly into your bloodstream? Well, that’s part of what causes pre-diabetes, thereby increasing your risk of diabetes. What you ate may have reduced the intestinal environment that is helping to maintain your long-term health.
That statement applies to multiple microbes, as each of them seems to have specific functions. Did you know that you had (or maybe once had) a microbe that is good for osteoporosis? In America, many baby boomers take calcium as supplements. As they grow older, they want higher calcium levels with greater bone density to decrease their risk of fractures. In China, the population does not take, or need, any calcium supplements. Instead, they have a microbe, which we often lack because of our American diet, that supports increased bone density and decreases their risk for fractures from any falls. The result? America’s baby boomers have a high incidence of fractures; China has a low incidence of fractures; and it’s related directly to our intestinal flora and one specific microbe.
What is our solution? We want to bottle that feeling of happiness and carry it with us through each of your days. The higher our mood, the stronger our immune system. However, at the same time, we want our immune system to be functioning effectively. That requires steering clear of too much sugar, too much meat, too many GMOs, and too many antibiotics (80% of our antibiotics are in our food supply). Can we accomplish this task by watching what we purchase at the grocery store? Yes. But you know that might be better? Getting the agricultural giants to focus more on our health by reducing the high level of those negative components. How do you manage to achieve that goal? By getting our Congress representatives to switch their debate from Obamacare to a debate on how best to improve our food supply from these agricultural giants.
Think about it. Would Obamacare have impacted your health at the Thanksgiving meal? Would it have made any difference to your health risk factors? No. But our politicians are going to be debating Obamacare for the next umpteen months until the next election. From my physician perspective, that is a huge waste of our time. They are like the quarterback, which you may have watched on Thanksgiving. The quarterback had you looking one way while the ball went the other direction. Let’s be honest. For America, the highest priority health issue is not Obamacare. The highest priority health issue is the decreasing quality of our food supply. Since Congress controls much of our food supply through its policies and its subsidies, and since Congress is failing at protecting our health, could anyone help switch the debate toward the true core issues? Is that too much to ask?