The Scary Truth about Quick Fixes, Expert Advice, Food & Health
By Kara Duffy
All of us have a goal to be healthier and to eat better. We all want to live a long life. We all want to avoid illness, disease, and feeling limited by our bodies. It’s why the healthcare industry globally is a $7 Trillion - trillion with a “T” business. It’s also why the health & fitness industry is a $3.7 Trillion dollar industry. For perspective, the healthcare industry would be ranked 4th by the IMF if it was a country comparing GDP and the heath & fitness industry would be ranked 6th!
That’s a LOT of money. What’s confusing to most people is why more people are getting sick and unhealthy when we’re spending so much money to avoid it. How did humanity survive & thrive all this time? How when humanity is at it’s historical peak of technology and understanding are we all suffering more than ever?
Like most downfalls of human society, greed and ego have a lot to do with it. Just ask T. Collin Campbell, PhD. Dr. Campbell is Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, researcher and author of The China Study. He is also a expert featured in many documentaries including Forks Over Knives, PLANEAT, Vegucated, and Milk?.
The China Study book summarizes a twenty year epidemiology study of diet and health in humans as a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine directed by Dr. Campbell. Epidemiology is “the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health,” as per dictionary.com. Basically for 20 years they studied various groups of people to get a comprehensive look at their eating habits, exercise habits, blood work, urine, diseases, etc to get a full 360 degree view of health, human activity and disease.
The results are pretty black and white, as well as shocking.
First, most diseases and conditions can be separated into Diseases of Privilege (or affluence) - what most Western countries deal with, and now rising countries as western culture spreads, and Diseases of Poverty. Diseases of Poverty are those caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites that are mostly due to infectious diseases, malnutrition, and poor health or sanitary conditions. In contract, Diseases of Privilege are typically non-communicable diseases due to lifestyle and culture conditions and include heart disease, auto immune diseases, obesity, diabetes, cancers and more. Yes, you read that correctly. Diseases of Privilege are due to lifestyle which means they can be prevented!
Second, the research and results support that almost all Diseases of Privilege can be avoided, prevented, or reversed by following a whole foods, plant-based diet. This means that following a whole food, plant-based diet can significantly reduce your risk of ever getting those conditions as well as eliminate or reduce those diseases once you have them.
Third, the government and institutions that are supposed to help us all stay healthy aren’t screaming this from the rooftops because of special interests. Yes, you read that correctly, too. The people we rely on to provide the best and latest in health advice aren’t doing so because of money from drug companies (who only survive if we take lots of pills), from lobbyist for big agriculture (meat groups, dairy groups, sugar groups, etc who only survive if we eat more of those products), and for their own survival (who needs a heart surgeon if we fix heart disease by eating right?).
It’s horrifying. No wonder the #1 cause of going into debt is medical bills in the U.S. No wonder health care for all is such a dividing debate in the U.S. No wonder majority of adult and children in America are overweight.
So what can you do to take control of your own health?
LEAN IN ON FRUIT & VEG. The book recommends eating either 0% animal based products or at least keeping it as low as possible such as 10% of your total food input. The lower animal products - meat, eggs, dairy - are a part of your diet the greater the research shows the health benefits. And we all know we need more fruit and veggies in our lives. Everything we need to be optimal humans we can find in plant-based foods.
MOVE. If truth is in the overlap of what you read and hear, then just like eating more fruit and veggies, all heath studies agree that 30 minutes of any exercise 3 or more times per week make a huge difference. When in doubt just walk. It’s what humans are built to do and have been for, well ever. Having a fitness tracker like Fitbit and making sure you hit your 10K steps per day is a great start.
READ & DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Start with The China Study - see links below. Watch the documentaries listed above. Read and watch opposing information. Truth is in the overlap. Truth is what creates the best results for you. Truth is usually in the fundamentals and what has worked over time. Unfortunately not in any overnight magic promises. Science and research will always be evolving. The more we know the more questions we have, right?
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Every body is it’s own universe. Become the expert on yours - what foods you body gets energy from, what foods make you sluggish or make you sick (probably ditch those), how much sleep you need, and what type of exercise works for you. Just like there’s no quick fix for loosing 20 pounds, there’s no doctor that can know 100% what will work for you. Keeping your own journal / personal research of what foods make you feel awesome, how much sleep your getting, etc. is a great use of pen & paper.
BE SUSPICIOUS OF RX FIRST SOLUTIONS. Everything humans need to survive exists in the world. We also have a lot of built-in survival mechanisms within our own bodies. Both are how we’ve made it this far w/out technology. So it makes sense that healthy food, clean water, fresh air, more walking and sleep should be able to solve a whole boat load of problems we may face. As such, if a doctor pushes a prescription as first step, be suspicious and definitely get a second or third opinion. Look for doctors or health advisors that want to solve the problem instead of just conceal the symptoms. Also look for a doctor who is evaluating how your whole lifestyle & body interacts together.
A note about animal products. Paleo and Keto are huge diet fads at the moment and they’re producing great results for some people currently. There are many people who have followed a plant-based or vegan diet who have come back to add eggs or fish or birds back into their diet as that feels better for them. Generations of humans have mixed animals and plants in their diets. The biggest difference in the last 100 years of animal based foods is where they’re coming from. Factory farming is not only force feeding animals a diet they would never choose in the wild, but giving them antibiotics, hormones, and horrible living conditions that impact their physical and mental well being. If you’re eating a typical Western diet that is over 30% animal based foods, step 1 to better health is simply to be aware of picking animal products from the best sources. Grass fed polyfarm meats. Poultry that’s free range and able to eat grubs (vegetarian feed chicken eggs makes me crazy - they’re mini-raptors!). Choose QUALITY over QUANTITY. Living by that standard will ensure you’re eating the best available animal products and eating more great for you plants by default when you’re not sure where your animal products are coming from. Having read this book and watched most of the documentaries listed above, I’m still eating some animal products and that’s the method I’m doing my best to live by. You are what you eat. Eat things that lived happy and healthy lives whether plant or animal.
Can’t wait to hear all your feedback, comments and thoughts on this beast of a topic below!
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