Dr. Eudene HarryI remember when I was growing up, one of my grandmother's favorite quotes was- one ounce of prevention is better than one pound of cure. As a child, I had no idea what that meant. To me, it was just another of my Grandmother's quirky sayings. The older I get the more I realize the wisdom of her words.
Medicine is making significant strides. We are told that we have all but eliminated such diseases such as Small Pox. We have significantly decreased the incidence of childhood illness such as whooping cough and measles. We can now perform miraculous surgeries such as heart, kidney and other organ transplants. We are feverishly exploring Genes looking for cures. On the other side of this coin, we are presented with the increasing obesity epidemic. We are told that our risk as a nation for Type II Diabetes is increasing. We are quoted such dismal statistics as 1 in 7 women will acquire breast cancer in their lifetime. We are quoted such statistics as - nearly 2,500 Americans die of cardiovascular disease a day (AHA). How is it possible for two such extremes to exist? How can we be so advanced yet so vulnerable? Finally, are we helpless victims to statistics and our genetics?
In my opinion, statistics and genetics should be an impetus to wake us up from our slumber. We need to consider that one of the major things that contribute to our health and well being is our environment. The environment in this case refers not only to our immediate surroundings, but also to the foods we consume, our level of activity, our emotional health, our ability to manage stress, our support system and the amount of potential toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis. If we take a robust tropical tree that requires lots of sun and moisture and transplanted it to a cold climate, the odds are good that this tree would become frail and most likely not survive. We have changed the environment to one that is not conducive to the optimal health of that tree.
Let us take a closer look at our environment. Nutritionally, we have become nation of people who consume a large amount of refined carbohydrates, fast foods and processed foods. We skip breakfast in the morning and we have made fats our natural enemy. We abhor waiting for anything. If our portions aren't large, we feel somehow cheated.
Something we may be missing when we subscribe to this type of lifestyle is that it just does not stand the test of time. For example, if we avoid the consumption of fats we can create issues with our brain, cardiovascular system and skin to name a few organs. Symptoms such as Depression, foggy thinking, eczema, learning problems may manifest. We need to be aware that it is the types of fats that are important. Omega-3, 6 and 9's are termed essential fatty acids (EFA).We cannot manufacture these fats de novo, but rather need to have them in our diets. These keep our system well lubricated to put it simply. If you placed old oxidized oil in your performance vehicle you would not be surprised that its function was compromised significantly. Think of trans fats, hydrogenated oils and super heated oils as bad oils that would significantly compromise your health.
We have now banished carbohydrates from our diets. Yet, they are the primary source of energy, minerals and fiber. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and root vegetables are carbohydrate sources. They are also sources of many nutrients that help our system to function optimally. Certain amino acids that contribute to our moods gets absorbed better in the presence of carbohydrates. Translation, indiscriminately eliminating carbohydrates can lead to symptoms of fatigue, change in bowel habits (lack of fiber), depression and mineral deficiencies to name a few. Again, it is the type that matters. The glycemic index attempts to address this issue. One possible draw back may be that it may not address the nutrient density of certain foods.
We tout the virtues of proteins. We believe that if we consume a high protein diet that it will help us to lose weight. After all, amino acids (the breakdown products of protein) have many important functions. They are used to form the neurotransmitters that help us with mood; they help to form thyroid hormones that help with metabolism. Muscles are made up primarily of proteins. Also, certain amino acids help us to clear toxins from our body. The other side of the coin is that too much of anything will make it difficult to loose weight. Also, too much protein and an imbalanced protein diet can place undue stress on the liver and the kidneys. This, paradoxically, can produce problems with detoxification and energy.
Recently, I heard someone say- Yesterday when I woke up I was a healthy person, today I woke up a diabetic. He was referring to his recent diagnosis of Diabetes. We need to realize that what we do today strongly impacts tomorrow. Very seldom do we suddenly wake up one morning and have an illness dropped in our laps. The diagnosis may have been today but the illness started well before that. What my Grandmother might have said today is- Amazing technology does not absolve us from the responsibility of taking care of ourselves.