Most conditions are our self-inflicted health issues and hence are easy to reverse.
Health risks requiring urgent attention of all mankind:
During my 72 years of life, I had my share of health conditions. I am now convinced that these ailments were on most part results of myself following a general understanding of “how to live and eat” in present modernized conditions. Unfortunately such consensuses are not always correct; e.g. the prevalent consensus only a few hundred years ago that “the earth is flat” was completely wrong, as we all know now.
While I am aware of the fact that every life has to come to an end, I also now firmly believe that a healthy body can be maintained until many long years without being dependent. However, I conclude from my own experience, vast reading and close observations that while modern living do provide us comfort and amenities, it may preclude us from healthy living. This may sound alarmist but I believe we need to urgently find ways and means to protect our health before the epidemic of our unhealthy habits and surrounding conditions engulfs us all beyond a point of no return.
We are paying undue cost for modern amenities that can be reduced if we use our ancestor’s experiences and common sense:
Let us take a stock of what we have gained from modern living and how much have we paid in the form of unnecessary illnesses. Once we have considered these both, the connection will be clear. It is absolutely clear that we have treaded in our health and longevity for the short-lived pleasures of modernity and pleasures. Let us do this exercise together. I believe that following three are most important factors affecting our health:
- Lack of exercise and sedentary indoor life style
- Lack of nutrition and increased calorie intake
- Exposure to toxins from chemicals, radiation and even side effects of prescription medicines
Changes of past two centuries:
We are lucky to be living in present times when human beings on this planet earth has progressed in many different ways materially adding comforts and amenities. Here is a short list of some of them:
- Population of planet has increased three folds to over seven billions
- Industrial revolution has brought many comforts providing amenities and pleasures through mass production
- Our travel is now much faster, thanks to electricity and electronics. We can travel around the world in a few hours, which was only possible in weeks
- Our communication is far wider; we can talk, text and fax to almost any corner of the world within seconds, which was almost impossible only 30 years ago
- Energy availability is increasing from fossil and non-fossil origins resulting in increased comforts
- Many new processes have been introduced to prolong the shelf life of foods
- Processed foods, mass production of animal protein and Genetically Engineered foods (also called GMO foods) are created to feed the increasing population
Adverse health results we are facing today:
Let me enumerate some of the diseases that have either appeared recently or are increasing in incidence almost exponentially, so much so that many scholars are referring to these as epidemics. These are as follows:
- Cardiac diseases
- High blood pressure
- Cancers of all kinds
Incidence of the above mentioned diseases have increased several fold in past century. All above are somehow related to insulin and glucose levels.
“New” diseases of past few decades:
- Attention Deficit Disorders; and there is broad spectrum of such disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Many new viral diseases like HIV, bird flu and flu epidemics
First two seem to be closely related to Fructose and carbohydrate metabolism and Genetically Engineered foods.
What has changed in past 100 years?
Let us look at some important changes that occurred in past century:
- Industrial revolution has changed many aspects of our ways of living
- Migration from rural to urban regions has been immense; majority of population on the planet now lives in urban areas
- Until beginning of last century most human beings went to sleep in evening as darkness set in because there was no electricity. Now most humans are awake at least three or more hours adding to the stress and reduction of sleep time
- Our life style has changed from active to sedentary
- Whole grains are disappearing from food
- Increased population of world by two to three times in past few decades and still increasing
- Plant based diet is generally considered inferior and NOT liked by many people
- Larger portion of our food now come from animal protein, either because people have developed taste for such proteins or it is in vogue to turn “non-veg” from being vegetarian
- Large portion of our food, be it plant based or animal protein, is now processed
- Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) was unheard of in 1800s, which is now our main source of food
- Nuclear fission was invented only few decades ago and use of radioactive material is increasing by armies
- Radioactive material used in medicine and industry is also increasing
- Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) are all around us in the shape of electric motors and cell phones
- Genetically Engineered (GE or GMO) foods have been introduced in our diet in past two decades only
- Petrochemicals and its derivatives in different forms are used indiscriminately since 1950s
- Environmental changes have markedly increased in last few decades
- Carbon dioxide is increasing around us to alarming level and is considered to be the cause of environmental changes
- Substantial percentage of acreage of wild forests have been leveled to accommodate population and new agriculture to feed the same
- Many species of plant and animal kingdom are disappearing through extinction
Consequences of such changes:
If we consider the changes in our life style that we have accepted and the disease load that we have acquired in the similar time frame, in the shape of phenomenal increase of incidences and appearance of new diseases, the correlation becomes clear.
A look at history is most useful. The diseases that we are facing are almost direct result of the recent introduction of modern amenities and increasing pollution. Some of them are also results of usage of energy, electricity, experimentation with radiation and electromagnetic fields. Add to this the effects of chemicals, decrease of forests and increase of population and the significances of many unintended consequences become easier to understand.
We must act fast and bring about changes wherever necessary. We need to do the following for a longer and healthier life. These are all simple and common-sensical actions learning from how our ancestors lived, without giving up most of our facilities and comfortable living.
Simple tips to save our health and prevent many diseases:
- Go back to plant based diet. This should be fresh and locally grown. Become vegetarian or preferably even vegan
- Start whole grain diet and stop processed foods in our food
- Eliminate added sugar completely; we are eating almost 10 times more sugar than what we did only about 100 years ago
- Avoid all sugary drinks and sodas; they now contain high fructose corn syrup that is considered worse than sugar
- Stay active by working or exercising daily to keep fit
- Keep you weight within its ideal limits; you may look up life insurance company’s tables for such information
- Keep you vitamin D level optimal by staying in sun or by taking supplements
- Have enough sound sleep of about seven to eight hours a day
- Stay out in open fresh air at least for substantial number of hours
- Do not over-eat. Stay hungry. Follow Confucian teaching of “Hara Hachi Bu” meaning eat 80% of your need. It will help digestion and keep weight in control
- Eat fermented foods like yogurt and probiotics to stabilize your intestinal bacterial colonies
- Drink a lot of water to flush toxins produced in body
At the end let me repeat what Hippocrates said 2500 years ago: “Let the food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.