An article written by Marty Kaplan in the Jewish Journal was most shocking. It commented on an article in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. This report states that we “are sicker and die younger” than people in other wealthy nations’. Apparently, compared to nations like Britain, Canada, Australia, Japan, Scandinavian countries, France, etc. the health of Americans comes in LAST place. We have “the highest incidence of AIDS, the highest obesity rates, the highest diabetes rates among adults 20 and older, the highest rates of chronic lung disease and heart disease and drug-related deaths.” I was brought up to believe that we are better off than any other country. Apparently not.
One wonders what is contributing to this dismal news. Some of the theories include our medical care system, individual poor behavior choices, the number of people in our country who are in poverty, and our lack of exercise. My personal opinion lays the problem in 4 areas. I agree that we do not exercise enough. There are so many jokes, including those in ads on TV, about how we drive short distances rather than walk them.
Secondly, our environment is becoming increasingly polluted with toxic chemicals that we don’t evaluate before we foist them upon the populace, with the fluoridation of water with bi-products of the chemical industry, and with the pesticides used on our food, in our public buildings, in our homes to prevent “pests,” and all the chemicals in our cleaning and personal care products. Additionally there is increasing concern about the health effects of nano-sized particulate emanating from industrial plants and power plants.
Thirdly, we eat enormous amounts of sugar and sweeteners. Try shopping in your average grocery for a packaged product that does not contain sugar or fructose or high fructose corn syrup. When my patients check labels of the foods they are buying, they are horrified at all of the sugar they are eating.
Lastly, I am very concerned about the effects from the food we have been eating for the last several decades. One aspect of this is our dependence on wheat as a major percentage of our diet. The wheat we are eating today has been altered through hybridization over the past several decades so that it is very different from what we ate 10,000 years ago. Think of how much we eat: cereal or muffins or sweet rolls for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, cookies and bread at supper. Dr. William Davis in his book Wheat Belly (read an interview with Dr. Davis) describes the metamorphosis of this grain and how it has come to be a threat to our health. Read it and you many never want to eat wheat again.
The quality of our food has deteriorated. Yes, there is more of it than ever. We could be feeding all of the people on earth if that were an important value for us. It is not, however. The food we eat has been grown by agribusiness, has been laced with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, and now most of the corn and soy and canola oil are genetically modified (GM). Read my previous blogs about GM foods and their threats to our health. To me there is no wonder why so many more of us are more severely ill than ever before.
Fortunately, we have the power to make choices about our life style, what we eat, what products we buy and use, how much sleep we get, and how much we exercise. We can write our government representatives and join organizations to work towards cleaning up our environment. We do not have to be like animals blindly walking to our slaughter. The time to act is now.