“One problem I see with those of us who want to be humane is that while we invariably support calls for justice at a macro level, some of us are not above taking advantage in our personal, day-to-day dealings. I once rented a room in a house full of Marxists, and one of them was one of the least just individuals I’ve ever met. Yet he regularly marched in favor of justice for the oppressed peoples of this world. If we want peace, it’s essential that we be peaceful. And if we want justice, we have to be just—down to the smallest transactions. I think a lot of people can agree with this easily. But there are always “grey areas.” That’s where we have to be especially disciplined and thoughtful.” -Mark Bittner, We Must Be Just, April 2013

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Diet And A Diet

In the past I have sought answers from doctors on how to manage my body's desire to put on weight. I have always been taught that being overweight is unhealthy, but my body just didn't seem to want to comply with that rule. I didn't really know what I was doing wrong. I ate from the food groups that I was supposed to eat from, making sure to have my meat and dairy portions every day as I was taught in school. I would even make sure we had cooked corn, carrots, peas, or green beans with dinner. I just didn't know what else to do for myself so I sought the advice of a medical doctor. He recommended a few different diet plans to me, all of which were too expensive for my pocket book. I couldn't afford to buy specialty meals that would make me loose weight. Why did maintaining a healthy weight have to be so expensive? Is that the only option for me? Isn't there anything else my doctor could recommend? But if there was something else, wouldn't my doctor know about it?

Doctors spend years in medical school learning how to treat a sick and diseased body through the use of modern medical procedures and drugs, but are woefully lacking in knowledge pertaining to the maintenance of health through consuming a proper diet. This is not entirely their fault. In school we are taught what we should know, and medical school is no exception to these teachings. Dr. T. Colin Campbell has researched this issue and shared his knowledge and discoveries in his book The China Study. Here are some excerpts of what he has had to say:

In 1985 the United States National Research Council funded an expert panel report that investigated the quantity and quality of nutrition education in U.S. medical schools. The committee's findings were clear: "The committee concluded that nutrition education programs in U.S. medical schools are largely inadequate to meet the present and future demands of the medical profession." But this finding was nothing new. The committee noted that in 1961 the "American Medical Association Council on Foods and Nutrition reported that nutrition in the U.S. medical schools received 'inadequate recognition, support and attention.'" In other words, over forty years ago, the doctors themselves said that their nutrition training was inadequate. Nothing had changed by 1985, and up to the present time, articles continue to be written documenting the lack of nutrition training in medical schools.

In conjunction with the 1985 government report, the president of the American Medical Students Association, William Kassler, writes:
Most nutrition in the formal curriculum is incorporated into other courses. Biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology are the courses most often alleged to contain some nutritioninstrucition. Too often in such courses, nutrition is touched on briefly, with the primary emphasis on the major discipline. It is quite possible to finish such a course and not even realize that nutrition was covered [my emphasis]. Nutrition taught by those whose interest and expertise lie elsewhere simply doesn't work.

It gets even worse! When nutrition education is provided in relation to public health problems, guess who is supplying the "educational" material? The Dannon Institute, Egg Nutrition Board, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Dairy Council, Nestlé Clinical Nutrition, Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Baxter Healthcare Corporation and others have all joined forces to produce a Nutrition in Medicine program and the Medical Nutrition Curriculum Initiative. Do you think that this all-star team of animal foods and drug industries representatives is going to objectively judge and promote optimal nutrition, which science has shown to be a whole foods, plant-based diet that minimizes the need for drugs? Or might they try to protect the meat-centered, Western diet where everyone expects to pop a pill for every sickness?

- T. Colin Campbell, The China Study, pg. 327, 327-328, 328.

How often do people, especially women, go to a doctor for the magic diet pill or for advice on which diet plan they should follow? Our diet directly and immediately affects the functions of our bodies, both short and long term. If we want to be healthy we need to give our bodies only healthy foods beginning today and continuing for as long as we want to be healthy. Our diet should be a lifestyle, not a fad. The fat, funny cat we all know named Garfield once said "Diet is 'die' with a 't.'" I think he should have said "A diet is 'die' with a 't.'" Dr Joel Fuhrman, M.D., a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional and natural methods, has this to say about diets:

What is wrong with every single commercial weight-loss program? They are all too high in fat and toolow in fiber because they cater to the American love affair with rich, high-fat food.

Weight Watchers brand foods contain 24 percent of calories from fat. Lean cuisine contains 25 percent of calories from fat. The Jenny Craig program requires the purchase of packaged meals with entrees such as cheese souffle and Salisbury steak, meals that are almost as bad as what most Americans eat at home. These commercial diet plans, since they are not very low in fat, must restrict portion sizes to offer "low calorie" meals. These "skimpy" portions represent an obsolete approach with a dismal track record. [...]

You can't eat out of boxes and consume powdered drinks forever, either. If you do lose some weight, you will always gain it back. Instead, permanent changes in your eating habits must be made. Learning new recipes and adopting different ways of eating that you can live with will maintain your weight loss and protect your health for the rest of your life.[...]

The result of denying yourself food is that when you go back to eating normally, fat accumulates even more easily than before because of a low metabolic rate. This leads to the familiar yo-yo phenomenon in which dieters lose weight, only to rebound to a heavier weight than when they started.[...]

So, instead of searching for weight-loss gimmicks and tricks, try to adopt a resolution to be healthy first. Focusing on your health, and not your weight, will eventually result in achieving successful long-term weight loss. Eating a healthy diet, one that is rich in an assortment of natural plant fibers, will help you crave less and feel satisfied without overeating. All diet plans fail because they cater to modern American tasters, which include too much processed foods or animal products to be healthy.

Stop measuring portions and trying to follow complicated formulas. Instead, eat as many vegetables, beans, and fresh fruits as possible, and less of everything else. Any other program is an insult to your intelligence.

- Joel Fuhrman, M.D., Eat To Live, pg. 114-115.

Our dietary habits should be those that keep our bodies at a healthy weight without extreme intervention, consisting of food that we can consume our entire lives without detrimental effects to our bodies and instead help them to thrive and function. If we are treating our bodies right they will adjust and maintain their weight within healthy parameters. This not only holds true for those who are overweight, but for those who are very thin as well. Every person's body is different and each person's body has its optimal weight. People should be realistic about what their optimal weight is, but not justify an unhealthy body as being their norm.

We only get one body in this lifetime. Why do we treat it so badly? Our bodies are one of a kind, they are irreplaceable. Once a person's body has worn out there is no going back for another. Our bodies give us what we give them. We truly are what we eat. If all we eat is unhealthy food then all we will get out of our bodies will be disease and illness. It is up to us individually to care for ourselves through proper dietary habits. Our bodies were made to consume natural foods, not packages ones. It also makes sense to me that the foods that are easily replaced through the seasons should be the ones we consume the most of. An animal takes months or years to reach the maturity necessary in order to consume it or its by-products; plants continuously grow and produce food throughout the warm months and some plant foods can store well for the duration of the cold months. Perhaps those are the portions in which we were meant to consume such foods in our diets.

Eating right doesn't have to be expensive, confusing, difficult, and filled with time consuming methods to determine if we have reached our maximum levels of fat, calories, sugars, etc. Following a dietary lifestyle that is based largely on fresh plant foods can help us avoid excess weight, disease ,and illness and grant us a long, high-quality life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Health and Appearance

I recently read an article on an LDS website about obesity and missionary work. In the article, "Missionary candidates must watch weight -- or wait," by Joseph Cramer, M.D., he mentions how there are many young men and women in The Church who are not able to serve missions, or are honorably discharged from their missions, due to weight related illnesses and problems. By the end of the article he concluded with the basic idea that, after having spent a short amount of time reading a few articles, there is too much conflicting information, making it hard to say what we should do and what we shouldn't. He then gave a few pieces of his own advice, all of which would not have a very profound effect on a persons overall health.

After having read this article I realized how deficient in knowledge we are regarding our own health. There are some myths that need to be dispelled, and are mostly due to the great marketing abilities of large companies who stand to gain copious amounts of wealth from our poor health habits. This particular article gave me a great desire to read a book called The Culprit and the Cure by Dr. Steven G. Aldana. Dr. Aldana has worked as a professor at BYU and is heavily involved in researching health for the sake of knowledge and science, not for promoting products. I have begun to read this book, but have yet to complete it. However, I have already come across some wonderful knowledge. He has had something to say about the information disclosed to the public by researchers.

"The only way the typical American will ever hear about the study is if he or she reads the scientific journal or if someone in the media reads the journal and decides to do a story about it. . .

Journalists are paid to write stories that people will pay to read or watch on television. Therefore, journalists need to write stories that are of interest to readers and viewers, so sometimes they have to jazz up the studies to make them a little more interesting. . .

By far the most confusing and outright deceptive health information comes from advertising and marketing campaigns from the food, supplement, tobacco, alcohol, and exercise industries."

- Steven G. Aldana, Ph.D., "The Culprit and the Cure,"
pg 27.

Some of the beliefs we have come to have and associate with good health are if you are thin, have good muscle tone, have a lot of energy, exercise on a regular basis, and take supplement pills you are in excellent condition. It is true that all of these things can have an effect on your overall health, but how you go about achieving such goals as being thin and having strong muscles is more important than getting the specific result. Once we have become so moved that we act on the behalf of our health we need to remember: thinness does not equal health, good muscle tone does not equal health, having energy does not equal health, exercising on a regular basis does not equal health, and taking supplement pills does not equal health.

I'm sure you are more confused now than ever, so let me explain. Being thin, having strong muscles and energy are a natural result of being healthy, but are also obtainable through other means, so just because you have a certain appearance does not mean you are healthy. If you exercise regularly but still continue to feed your body badly you may appear to be healthy on the outside, but are not on the inside, where it counts. Taking supplement pills may give you an overall desired appearance, but will not change the damage that is underlying. Also, supplements should not be confused for pills. Pills can be used as supplements, but so can wholesome herbs. Anything that is added to your diet to enhance received nutrition is a supplement. However, you would do well to remember that pills are made of synthetic chemicals that have been forced together into an unnatural state and can do more harm than good to a body that is a natural creation, one which relies on natural foods.

Dr. Aldana has a great personal story to illustrate the difference between the appearance of health and true health.

"After hearing a lecture on the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, two participants came by my office. The first, a 20-year-old male college student, came in to complain that he was not interested in changing his diet or getting exercise because he felt great. He could eat whatever he wanted, live however he wanted, and he generally felt great all the time. He even gladly reported that his blood pressure was perfect, his cholesterol was low, and he didn't smoke.

Right then he didn't have any major health problems and most likely wouldn't for another 30 years. He was not convinced that he should do anything differently, especially if what he was currently doing was working fine. He finished by saying, '"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," and even if I do have problems, I'll just have the doctor fix me up.'

The second individual was a 58-year-old female who had raised a family and now lived at home with her husband. Like most people over age 50, she was by definition obese, had high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol, and was recently told by her physician that she had diabetes and would likely be diabetic for the rest of her life. When she heard her doctor's diagnosis, she was shocked.

Something must have happened in the past 30 years because when she was 20, she could eat anything, exercise if she wanted, and was always thin and healthy. After hearing both of these stories, I introduced the young man to the woman and let them visit for a few minutes. The need to adopt a healthy lifestyle is important for all ages."

- Steven G. Aldana, Ph.D., "The Culprit and the Cure,"
pg 17.

When we are seeking true health, quick fixes are never the answer. An adult isn't born into their present state of ill health, but has acquired it over a period of many years. Because of this, once we have begun to feel the ill effects of our poor lifestyle, we should never expect our bodies to become healthy in just a few months. The longer we have lived a life of poor habits, the longer it will take us to cleanse our bodies and regain good nutrition. If your dietary habits cannot be maintained throughout your life while at the same time offering only good nutrition and health, then they are not good habits to have. True nutrition is what can be consumed throughout a lifetime and will always benefit the body and mind. While quick fixes and short lived habits are never the answer for obtaining good health, and the benefits of good health, it is never to late to make the necessary changes in your lifestyle. But the sooner you do, the better off you will be.

In future posts I will be writing more specifically about diet, exercise, supplements, weight loss, and other subjects that correspond with obtaining good health.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Teach A Man To Fish

A few months ago I read an article in the news that talked about a university that has developed a way to fortify tortillas with iron and zinc so that the poorer people in Mexico, and other tortilla eating nations, can consume the "recommended" amounts of these minerals. These researchers have been working on this particular problem for many years and have spent a lot of money trying to find a solution. I'm sure the people involved with this research have the desire to help all those they can by giving them a product that could possibly enhance their health. The method and equipment will be affordable for small mill owners and, in fact, some are already producing fortified tortillas. Of course, they made sure to preserve the color, texture and flavor in order to appear as if it were the natural tortilla. In time they hope these fortified tortillas will be consumed by millions. They are receiving financial help from a non-profit group that believes in using technology to help improve nutrition in poorer, developing nations. This sounds like a wonderful product, but I see some flaws.

Our bodies have been designed to thrive on natural foods, not processed look-a-likes. Our bodies have the amazing ability to extract the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, and protein from the food we can grow in our own backyards (yes protein is found in plant foods). Anything that is made in a laboratory or factory is far from natural and may have dire consequences when introduced into a system that requires natural foods. Dr. T. Colin Campbell has spent most of his lifetime researching health and nutrition and has come to some amazing discoveries through that research. Here are some of the facts he has found in his line of work concerning unnaturally altered foods and synthetic supplements:

"Our bodies have evolved with this infinitely complex network of reactions in order to derive maximal benefit from whole foods, as they appear in nature. The misguided may trumpet the virtues of one specific nutrient or chemical, but this thinking is too simplistic. Our bodies have learned how to benefit from the chemicals in food as they are packaged together, discarding some and using others as they see fit. I cannot stress this enough, as it is the foundation of understanding what good nutrition means.
Supplements will not lead to long-lasting health and may cause unforeseen side effects. Furthermore, for those relying on supplements, beneficial and sustained diet change is postponed. The dangers of a Western diet cannot be overcome by consuming nutrient pills."

"It is not that these nutrients aren't important. They are - but only when consumed as food, not as supplements. Isolating nutrients and trying to get benefits equal to those of whole foods reveals an ignorance of how nutrition operates in the body. A recent special article in the New York Times documents this failure of nutrient supplements to provide any proven health benefit. As time passes, I am confident that we will continue to 'discover' that relying on the use of isolated nutrient supplements to maintain health, while consuming the usual Western diet, is not only a waste of money but is also potentially dangerous."

"Our food choices have an incredible impact not only on our metabolism, but also on the initiation, promotion and even reversal of disease, on our energy, on our physical activity, on our emotional and mental well-being and on our world environment. All of these seemingly separate spheres are intimately interconnected."

"How many billions of dollars must be spent before we understand the limitations of reductionist research? Scientific investigations of the effects of single nutrients on complex diseases have little or no meaning when the main dietary effect is due to the consumption of an extraordinary collection of nutrients and other substances found in whole foods."

- T. Colin Campbell, PhD, The China Study, Pg. 228; 229; 240; 288.

Artificially supplying our bodies with synthetic nutrients, or natural nutrients unnaturally added to other foods, will not give us the health benefits that would come by consuming necessary nutrients in their natural state. However, this is not the only problem I see. I also see the opportunity for a few to capitalize from the needs of many. To me this seems morally wrong and is in direct opposition to what these researchers are trying to do, which is to help people in need. The poor people will become dependent on a bad product under the false impression that that product is good for them and a small minority will make a profit from that dependence and falsehood. This seems to be counter productive to helping the poor and malnourished. They will remain poor, in bad health and on top of that will then become dependent on others. They will then need to find more ways of making money, which they already don't have much of, in order to buy a product that doesn't help them. Aidan Mackey has this to say in the book Beyond Capitalism and Socialism:

"Most emphatically, we must first restore the family and its values. After that, in natrual progression, must come the family trade or craft, and the small organic family farm. Upon these must any sane and healthy society be built, and we must destroy the grotesque combines and cartels, many of which are strong enough to dictate to governments. It is clear they exist not to produce food or furniture, but profit. We all know the euphemism "diversification," which means that in pursuit of the money-god, they will readily switch from one field to others not remotely connected, providing there is money to be harvested."
- Aidan Mackey, Beyond Capitalism and Socialism, pg. 4

Instead, I propose taking the money and time away from research and using it to send knowledgeable people to these nations and teach people how to garden, build homes of their own, build their own furniture and other needs, make their own clothing, etc. Teach these people how to fill their own needs with the help of others in their own small communities. Don't worry about their reading, writing and math skills, that kind of knowledge will not feed starving children. Stop making them dependent on capitalists who only care about their pocket books, not the lives they are affecting. Stop making them dependent on groups because they will never learn to be self-sufficient that way. Make them dependent upon themselves and what they can produce through the work of their own hands. Do this and you will have made an independent people that are no longer poor and needy.

Stop giving out fish and start teaching people how to fish for themselves.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sharing The Abundance

The Hippocratic Oath
"I swear by Apollo the physician and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-Heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation - to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and further, from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times, but should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot."
- Hippocrates

Hippocrates is credited with being the "father of modern medicine," but there was much more to him than that. He believed in sharing his knowledge in order to benefit man, not only in his lifetime, but for generations following him. I would like to call your attention to the first sentence of the above quote. Hippocrates speaks of sharing his knowledge, free of charge, with his own sons, the sons of his teachers, and certain disciples, or followers, in the medical community. He believed in sharing knowledge for the betterment of mankind so that they may be able to care for themselves with what they learn. Then, in turn, pass their knowledge on to others who are interested in learning what it is they have to offer. He was willing to do this "without fee or stipulation" so that the knowledge he possessed could be passed along to others in order to help everyone.

This definition of "knowledge" is found in the American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828 edition:

1. A clear and certain perception of that which exists, or of truth and fact; the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy of our ideas.
We can have no knowledge of that which does not exist. God has a perfect knowledge of all his works. Human knowledge
is very limited, and is mostly gained by observation and experience.
2. Learning; illumination of mind.
3. Skill; as a knowledge of seamanship.
4. Acquaintance with any fact or person.
5. Cognizance; notice.
6. Information; power of knowing.

Having knowledge isn't just the memorization of facts, it is "illumination of mind." It is also having a clear perception of truth and fact, obtained mostly through observation and experience. Hippocrates didn't gain his knowledge by sitting behind a desk, writing down answers and taking tests. He studied under the guidance of mentors, spent time in libraries, and treated those that asked for his help. He learned by emulating those who already possessed the skills he was wanting to be proficient in, as well as searching out knowledge from other sources. He was able to live up to his potential, feeling that he was doing right by humanity and leaving a legacy of good works and knowledge in order to be "respected by all men, in all times."

Not everyone will leave a legacy that is esteemed by so many as that of Hippocrates, but we do leave a legacy. What legacy are you leaving for your posterity? What knowledge are you seeking that will give you the skills you need in order to edify the lives of those around you? We should always be working towards the improvement of our minds and strengthening the abilities we feel will uplift and support the lives of those we come in contact with. We then have the responsibility to share what we learn so that our posterity will be better, and more knowledgeable, than we are.

Everyone should have the opportunity to obtain knowledge, but the reality is that there are many who are never given that chance. There are many who are blessed with an abundance of knowledge and choose to greedily keep it for themselves, or sell it for a heavy price. There are many who are blessed with an abundance of knowledge who spend their lives trying to help others and share what they know, freely and generously. If knowledge is to be purchased there will always be many who will never be able to partake of a greater life. If knowledge is freely shared and generously given, when asked for, there will be very few, if any, left in the darkness of ignorance. Knowledge should not be give only to the elite that can afford the price of purchase. Knowledge is a gift that is meant for all mankind to be sharers and partakers of.

Men are given the chance to be stewards over many things such as children, money, land, peoples, animals and knowledge. As stewards we are to take care of our charges in the best possible way. With certain charges, such as money, land, animals and knowledge, part of that care may be in freely sharing our abundance with those who are less fortunate than we are. Giving all that we can enriches our own lives and blesses the lives of those we share with. Hording knowledge and keeping it to a select few will create a society of ignorant people, slaves to what they are told to believe and, therefore, slaves to those who possess the knowledge. Freely sharing of our abundance in knowledge can keep us all a free and intelligent people.

Soaring Potential

To fly with an eagle is to see sights unseen, as starlings fill the skies.

Even that little brown bird on the ground knows where it’s potential lies.

The ostrich and emu share a common trait, running is their forté.

Other birds, when allowed to be, seem to enjoy their play

A bobbing cockatoo dancing on it’s perch is truly a silly sight.

Now imagine that bird, free with its flock, as it passes in graceful flight.

Have you ever seen a pandemonium of parrots descend upon a tree back home?

For, you see, in reality, parrots weren’t bred to be alone.

The nightingale brings beauty to our ears, the peacock beauty to our eyes.

While all through the trees, where the mourning doves roost, hang the mourning dove’s mournful cries.

The flamingo stands on one leg for hours, while the penguin soars through the deep.

And though variety abounds throughout, they’re all birds from their very first peep.

There are birds that mimic, birds that screech and birds that can sing a soothing tune.

There are birds that welcome the morning as it breaks and birds who serenade the moon.

There is beauty to be found throughout the world of birds. Still, and none the less,

Only a bird, who is allowed to soar free, knows it’s own potential best.

“Do not do what someone else could do as well as you. Do not say, do not write what someone else could say, could write as well as you. Care for nothing in yourself but what you feel exists nowhere else. And, out of yourself create, impatiently or patiently, the most irreplaceable of beings.”

André Gide

"All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education"
- Sir Walter Scott