Amer­i­can firms thrive on poor eat­ing habits

Manteca Bulletin - - Local/state -

Edi­tor, Man­teca Bul­letin, You sound like a per­son who is pretty health con­scious. I was so glad to see the ar­ti­cle on Sept. 13 ti­tled “Fix health care: Fo­cus on food. “

I grad­u­ated from Cal State Northridge with a B.S. and an M.S. in Health Science with a mi­nor in Bi­ol­ogy. I taught high school health science for 10 years be­fore com­ing to the Merced County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion to be a health ser­vices co­or­di­na­tor for 24 years be­fore re­tir­ing. I was happy to see the long ar­ti­cle in the Bul­letin. I re­cently read a book ti­tled “The China Study” by T.C. Camp­bell and T.M. Camp­bell II (re­vised and ex­panded edi­tion), as well as “The Good Gut” by J. Son­nen­burg, E. Son­nen­burg, and An­drew Weil M.D. I had al­ready pur­chased and watched the doc­u­men­tary ti­tled “What the Health?” I highly rec­om­mend all of them to you and your read­ers.

As we know the cost care in the U.S. is stated in the ar­ti­cle as be­ing $3.2 tril­lion per year. We are ad­mon­ished to eat more fruits and veg­gies as well as less salt, pro­cessed meats,, red meats and re­fined sugar. The au­thor, Dar­iush Mozaf­far­ian ac­cu­rately points out that health care costs are crip­pling to the pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­its of Amer­i­can busi­nesses. I find it amus­ing that prof­its and busi­nesses are more im­por­tant than those suf­fer­ing and dy­ing from can­cer, stroke, heart at­tacks, kid­ney dis­ease as well as mas­sive num­bers of obese Amer­i­cans. How­ever, he leaves out that some busi­nesses such as the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and health care in­dus­tries are reap­ing huge prof­its from treat­ing and pro­long­ing, not cur­ing these health con­di­tions. He may be leav­ing that crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion out be­cause those same in­dus­tries pos­si­bly pro­vide fund­ing to some of his re­search at Tufts Uni­ver­sity. He cor­rectly points out that doc­tors are not ad­e­quately trained in nutri­tion and that nutri­tion is vir­tu­ally ig­nored by our health care sys­tem. The ques­tion “Why aren’t they?” needs to be asked, but he doesn’t ask that or ex­plore the pos­si­ble rea­sons for their lack of ad­e­quate nutri­tion ed­u­ca­tion.

The au­thor as­serts that nutri­tion re­search across all agen­cies is only about $1.5 bil­lion per year com­pared to the more than $60 bil­lion that in­dus­try spends to re­search drugs, biotech­nol­ogy, and medical de­vices. I think it is very in­ter­est­ing that so much is spent to find drugs and de­vices to treat the ill ef­fects of dis­eases caused by the eat­ing habits of Amer­i­cans, with the top causes of poor health largely ig­nored. His ex­pressed so­lu­tion is to sub­si­dize the cost of fruits and veg­eta­bles which only pro­duce pal­try re­sults as well as to have a gov­ern­ment-led ini­tia­tive to re­duce salt in pack­aged foods. The food pro­ces­sors then just ad­just other in­gre­di­ents such as fat and sugar to main­tain sati­ety. The au­thor falsely claims that not enough fund­ing and re­search has been done. The China Study men­tioned above has 49 full pages of doc­u­men­ta­tion of re­search into diet and dis­ease. Each chap­ter of the book has re­search specif­i­cally deal­ing with the top­ics of that chap­ter. Nutri­tion and diet has been ex­ten­sively re­searched and stud­ied. We just aren’t get­ting all of the in­for­ma­tion about it. And this par­tic­u­lar ar­ti­cle, though long, leaves out some very im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion, namely the is­sue of how much and where we get our daily rec­om­mended amounts of pro­tein.

The very se­ri­ous and real is­sue is that we have a food in­dus­try that pro­motes meats as the best source of pro­tein. So far as qual­ity pro­tein goes, noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. Pack­aged lunch meats are poi­sonous to our sys­tems in ways that no au­thor such as Mozaf­far­ian want to talk about. And the cost to the en­vi­ron­ment of huge fac­tory farms grow­ing pork, beef and chicken is some­thing they seek to keep out of the pub­lic eye. The amount of wa­ter used, the amounts of solid and gas wastes cre­ated are enor­mous, and those huge farms are gen­er­ally lo­cated in the neigh­bor­hoods of black and his­panic pop­u­la­tions. Huge prof­its are made by hous­ing an­i­mals in hor­ri­ble con­di­tions de­signed to pro­duce as much as pos­si­ble in as lit­tle space as pos­si­ble.

The au­thor sug­gests that well­ness pro­grams are one pos­si­ble so­lu­tion be­cause they can gen­er­ate about $3.27 bil­lion in lower medical costs and $2.73 bil­lion in less ab­sen­teeism. And who reaps the ben­e­fits of greater pro­duc­tion and lower com­pany in­surance costs? The one bit of in­for­ma­tion I re­ally liked was the pro­posed “Bet­ter Health Re­wards” pro­gram that would re­ward se­niors (why only se­niors?) for achiev­ing lower weight, blood pres­sure, glu­cose and choles­terol lev­els. Those who have bet­ter eat­ing and ex­er­cise habits and main­tain good health should be re­warded with lower health in­surance rates if they have fewer re­sult­ing health prob­lems.

I be­gan a strictly vegan diet (or­ganic is good, but it is not nearly as good as vegan for your health) and af­ter only 28 days I had my blood tested and com­pared to the last time I had a blood panel done by my doc­tor. My choles­terol went from 187mg/DL to 142 mg/DL, my healthy HDL choles­terol went from 70 to 78 mg/DL, my LDL (lethal choles­terol) went from 105 down to 53 mg/DL went from 58 mg/DL to 50 mg/DL. I had a sig­nif­i­cant bone spur on my left ra­dius that is com­pletely gone now. I had a large leak­age (per my or­tho­pe­dist) at the last joint of my right thumb that got larger then smaller then larger for over three years. It has com­pletely gone away and has not re­turned. And these are just the things that can be seen. All of this is the re­sult of eat­ing strictly fruits, veg­eta­bles, nuts, grains, whole grain bread, ce­re­als, soy pro­tein prod­ucts, and al­mond milk. I have eaten no dairy, no fish, no poul­try, no lunch meats and no red meats of any kind. I won’t say it has been easy, but it has def­i­nitely been well worth it.

The food in­dus­try, with the aid of the gov­ern­ment does ev­ery­thing to keep the pub­lic eat­ing all of these things. We even have pub­li­cized events such as hot dog eat­ing con­tests, where the win­ner gets paid for eat­ing dozens of hot dogs in a spec­i­fied time. We have big “Ba­con­fests” where peo­ple eat huge amounts of ba­con, we have huge chili cook offs, bar­beque cook offs, all you can eat crab legs, cook­ing shows, recipes with tons and tons of cheese, etc. Is it any won­der that we have a huge prob­lem with obe­sity in all ages, higher and higher rates of di­a­betes, kid­ney dis­ease, high rates of can­cer, heart at­tacks and strokes? Is it any won­der that our health care costs are huge in the U.S.? Amer­i­can cap­i­tal­ism thrives on all of this be­hav­ior and then hyp­o­crit­i­cally gripes about the “high costs of health care” and our in­abil­ity to take care of the health needs of all of our cit­i­zens. Mike Killingsworth Man­teca

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