“Let food be thy medicine.”
As crazy as this idea may seem, recent studies have proven that this is exactly what the underlying problem of almost all health problems with Americans today. In fact, recent studies have shown that by simply changing our diets now, we are more apt to avoid a plethora of medical problems in the future and in some cases, even reverse the effects that a disease may have already had on one’s body.
Most experts in food and nutritional science believe that the best way to treat health problems in America is to simply switch people off of the “Western Diet,” (typically comprised of meat and dairy products, high fat and sodium foods and fast food) and to start them on a whole foods, non-refined fruit and vegetable based diet.
According to an article published by the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition done by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, the types of food that we eat can directly have an adverse affect on the development of cancer within the body. His study found that when rats were given high amounts of animal protein (about 20%) in their diets the cell replication of cancer cells greatly increased. But when the rats were given a diet of little to no animal protein (less than 5%) and fed more plant-based proteins, the cancer cell activity could be virtually shut off at any stage of its development.
To put this notion into simple terms, nutrients from products containing high animal proteins grows cancer cells, while nutrients from plant-based diets stops cancer growth.
Another important factor to consider when discussing the benefits of switching from the “Western Diet” to a plant-based one is the significant decrease in heart problems. We need look no further than Norway during WWII to find a particularly useful example of this exact scenario.
Once the Nazi’s had taken over Norway, they confiscated most, if not all, of their livestock, forcing the Norwegian people to switch from meat-based diets to ones that were more plant-based. The results were undeniable.
As we can clearly see form this graph, which detailed the rate of heart-related deaths in Norway from 1927 to 1945, there is an clear decline in heart-related deaths from1940 through 1944 when the Norwegians were forced to survive off more plant-based foods.
You may be questioning why this is related to government subsidized or provided healthcare programs. However, the answer should be becoming more and more clear as we start to consider the bills for all of these very preventable health problems.
Where the US spent about 17.6% of its total GDP on healthcare in 2010, and spent nearly 2.5 times the average amount per person on healthcare ($8,233) in that same year, it is safe to say that this is not a inexpensive oversight.
In Maine in particular, where MaineCare enrollment has doubled in the last decade, this is becoming a particularly expensive program to fund. According to the US Government’s spending website, Maine is predicted to spend roughly 2.9 billion dollars on healthcare in 2014 (roughly ¼ the entire budget).
The cost of the average coronary bypass surgery (the typical procedure to fix most heart problems caused from blockages within major arteries) is well over $20,000. Multiply that rough number by about 500,000 (the number of CB surgeries in the US per year) and you are at a staggering 10 billion dollars per year. The kicker? This money is spent on a treatment which is totally avoidable with a proper diet.
With government nationalization of healthcare, this issue of unhealthy dieting is now one that will affect everyone. Why should taxpayers have to pay for the operations of unhealthy people who have neglected to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a good, low cholesterol diet? That answer too lies with the government.
The fact of the matter is, the government wants you to eat meat and other unhealthy food products like High-Fructose Corn Syrup because they are the ones that are subsidizing the farmers to produce them. With meat and corn lobbyists in Washington spending more than 5 million dollars in 2013 just to ensure that Congress continues to endorse their companies through legislation, there is no incentive for government to condone the “Western Diet.” Yet.
My hope is that the recent passing of the Affordable Care Act will encourage people to look more closely behind the curtain that government puts up over this correlation. They prevent people from realizing that they are actually endorsing companies and programs that are harming (in some cases killing), American citizens, only to leave more American citizens to pick up the bill from the hospital afterwards.
This is also incredibly important in Maine when considering both health and welfare reform discussions which will likely be centerpieces of discussion during the upcoming election cycles. Should Maine be allowing people to purchase unhealthy or harmful foods from welfare programs when we also foot the bill for the long-lasting health effects after? Food for thought…
[Citing: Graph for the “Norwegian Example” and some ideas came from the 2011 documentary film Forks Over Knives.]