I've owned a health food store for over ten years. I know that most of us rely on doctors and drugs to support our health. Many a customer comment begins with, "My doctor said...", and yet, whatever follows is often something I believe is dangerous dogma.
I think that our society overlooks the importance of dietary choices in preventing and treating illness. Doctors are often poorly informed about nutrition, and we're encouraged to think drug therapies are the answer to all our questions. Our children, especially poor children, are nourished badly by their school meals and by heavily-advertised snacks, and in many low-income neighborhoods, it's difficult or impossible to even purchase food that is not heavily processed and downright life-threatening to live on.
I want to win a DFA scholarship to attend Netroots Nation 2013, because I am hoping to network with other progressives interested in these issues. Below the fold, I'll share more of my current ideas. I'd appreciate your vote, so that I can come to NN13 and continue to learn and work for better health for all of us. (You can vote for unlimited candidates!)
I have plenty of personal health challenges, like hypertension and insomnia. But all in all, considering that I have worked in highly stressful, competitive environments most of my life, I enjoy pretty good health. I stay healthy because of a lifetime of knowing that diet impacts health. When I was 17, I discovered the macrobiotic, or brown rice, diet. When I stray from the macrobiotic precepts of whole foods, that's when I have health challenges.
There are no great secrets to what I have uncovered. But I have had to rely pretty much on my own research and my own judgment to come to the solutions I have found. There are so many 'alternative' theories, and you can bounce from Paleo Diet to raw foodism with sincere advocates promoting each theory.
Because I had some seemingly intractable conditions when younger, like bronchitis all winter and myriad food allergies, I ended up going the conventional route at first. I was drugged for everything from asthma to mycobacterium marinum, a disease related to leprosy that I caught as a side-effect of a drug I was given. So once I backed into owning a health food store, I began to study better ways to deal with my own health, and came across some interesting findings that led me to a new perspective on how to maintain or regain health.
First, the hippies were right. You are what you eat. Every cell, every fiber in your body reflects what you have fed it. If you have fed it the traditional American diet of refined carbohydrates and animal proteins, with few fresh fruits and veggies, and you are still the picture of health, you are a genetic marvel. More likely, the ravages of time and poor diet have left you with some condition or other. There are genetic predispositions, but there are also dietary ways to counter many of them.
If you are in decent health and want to stay that way, or have an underlying condition that might be addressed through better diet and nutrition, here are some conclusions that I have drawn over a lifetime of learning. I don't have any medical or other nutritional degree, and I don't claim to be able to cure or treat diseases. But I think with a modicum of interest and self-directed study, you can learn how to keep yourself pretty healthy.
One of the basic tenets I start with is that inflammation in the body is the source of most pain and disease. Irritated joints give rise to arthritis. Irritated duodenal, stomach and esophageal linings give rise to ulcers and acid reflux. There is even some current research that indicates that inflammation has a causal relationship to cancers.
Thus, learning to control inflammation, or preventing it from starting in the first place, may be one of the cornerstones of maintaining or achieving health. And an adjunct to preventing inflammation is an understanding of how to balance the body's acid/alkaline balance, or pH.
If you google acid/alkaline balance, you will come upon a wealth of information, some of it good, some not so good. But of real value are the charts showing which foods tend to create either an acid or an alkaline state in the body. You can purchase pH strips or pH tape at many health food stores. Then, first thing in the morning, you can check your own pH before you have anything to eat or drink. Health lies, it has been found, in having a slightly alkaline pH. If you are very acidic, you can raise your body's pH with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. As we are going into summer, this should be more affordable for those on a budget, and spring-cleaning for the body through diet is a great idea.
As with most health-related issues, extremes, like becoming overly alkaline, have their own inherent problems. Moderation, including an understanding of your personal metabolic type, is needed to learn to understand what acid/alkaline balance is appropriate for your own body type.
If there is interest, I will continue diarying on health topics, and explain why I think a gram of calcium a day isn't necessarily such a great idea for everyone, or why completely eliminating salt from the diet may lead to stomach ulcers. Then there is the whole topic of vegetarianism/veganism, which involves moral and environmental issues as well as questions of personal health.
Whether you support my positions, or want to set me straight from your perspective, I am interested in hearing your input. I think these discussions about the way we are nourished are important and need to be had.
And please, if you are able to support me, vote for me at the link below to help me win a DFA scholarship to attend Netroots Nation 2013. Even if you have voted for other candidates, you can still vote for me, because there is no limit on the number of candidates you can vote for. Thank you so much for reading and for voting!