Saturday, June 23, 2012

Diet and Disease

This post is going to be a bit of a rant and it might make some people mad in the process, but it has been festering inside of me for days and I need to get it out. I want to start out by saying that I am by no means perfect. I do all sorts of unhealthy things all the time and this post isn't meant to be a judgment on others. All that being said, I am so freaking sick of hearing the words "personal responsibility" from a country that clearly has no idea what that means.

I got into a heated Facebook discussion about the various bans on large soft drinks that are popping up around the country. I was in the minority when I said I was in favor of the bans. Every single person against them kept saying how it was all about personal responsibility and how if they wanted the giant soda no one should be able to stop them. Well I was a huge soda addict, so I understand the desire for a vat of the stuff. But the fact of the matter is, that no one exercises responsibility when it comes to their diets anymore! Currently ten percent of healthcare spending goes to obesity related illness and that number is rising. One in three white children, and one in two minority children born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes and most of those before they leave high school, so clearly parents aren't being responsible either. That same group of children is not expected to live as long as their parents.  I'm in favor of universal healthcare, but if it is ever going to work, people do have to start taking care of themselves!

I was in a small group of people once and one of the members of the group was morbidly obese and had suffered from Type 2 diabetes (yes, Type 1 is a whole different thing I know) for most of her life. She told another member of the group that she'd heard they'd found a cure for Type 2. I couldn't help myself, I said there has always been a cure (or at least effective treatment) for it and that's diet and exercise. Yes, I know this is where the hate mail will come in. I was not trying to be a bitch. I know how hard she has struggled with her weight and I know that she has many obstacles that are not just food. But, the reality is, there is a cure out there for SO much of the illness out there today and it comes on a plate, not in a pill bottle. The science cannot be denied and it is seriously the cheapest cure there is! In the documentary Forks Over Knives one of the doctors is confronted with the statement that a whole foods, plant based diet is "extreme" when you are looking to cure heart disease. As a doctor who has performed many bypass operations he replied that he considered dividing your chest, stopping your heart and taking a part of your leg to bypass your arteries extreme. Now, looking at that written out, can you deny it?

Someone told me I was being insensitive to Paula Deen when she came out with her diagnosis of diabetes and that I don't know what I would do if I were in her shoes. The answer to that was, "Oh yes I do!" Modern medicine is a fabulous thing. Children no longer have to suffer from Polio the way my ex-mother-in-law did. Women rarely die in childbirth. We can replace insulin in people who cannot produce it. I love medicine! But I guarantee you that if my doctor gives me a diagnosis of any illness the first thing I will do is examine my diet! Why? The real question should be why not? If my doctor tells me I have cancer tomorrow I will take the conventional treatments, but I will also change anything about my diet that may contribute to that cancer. When you suggest radical changes to a diet people always come back with "Oh something is going to kill me, I might as well die happy". Well something is going to kill us and we should enjoy life. But I like to think about what I would do if it were one of my children that was diagnosed with something. Would I say "oh something's going to kill him, so he might as well die happy" or would I look into every option out there to save his life? Prostate cancer has plagued the males in my ex husbands family. Do you think I'm going to just look at my boys and say "well it's got to be something". Hell no! I'm going to do everything I can now, to see to it they never face that. If they still do, then I hope medicine saves them, but at least I will be able to say I tried. So why, if we would do that for our children, would we not do it for ourselves?

When I weighed over 200 pounds I was sick a lot. I developed a chronic cough and became worried that I had something serious. The doctor told me that he believed my heartburn caused the cough and that the cough had become its own irritant. He gave me a prescription for heartburn medication and told me that he thought my weight was a contributing factor. I thanked him, walked out the door and threw the prescription in the trash. The next day I drove myself to Weight Watchers. I was not going to spend my money on a pill for something that was within my control to change. I lost weight, the heartburn went away and so did the cough. I have seen countless people walk through the doors of WW with all sorts of medical ailments and have also watched those ailments disappear or lessen as their weight has left them.

There are all sorts of things in this world that we cannot control. Their are illnesses that are preventable and some that don't appear to be. But the one thing we can control is what we put in our bodies and how much we feed into the illness or fight with modern medicine to cure ourselves.

The father of modern medicine Hippocrates himself said "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Clearly he knew something that we have forgotten. Let's remember, let's try that personal responsibility thing on for size. Myself included.

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