“Let Food Be Thy Medicine”

Let food be thy medicine.”

-Hippocrates

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.

Image

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.]

Advertisements

The Current Fraud In the Maine Welfare System

The Current Fraud In the Welfare System In Maine

This article does a great job portraying the fraud problems we currently have with Maine’s welfare system and the use of the EBT (Electronic Benefits Card) Cards.  They function much like debit cards, only using the money provided by the state to the people who qualify for welfare.  The problem is that we cannot track where these people are spending the money they withdraw as cash, and have not prosecuted the ones who clearly violated the agreement and abused the system at locations such as alcohol, tobacco or tattoo venues.  Though this article is not directly related to healthcare, it is an example of the already large amount of money that Maine supplies to its citizens that goes wasted or abused each year, thus adding to our State’s debt.  In my opinion, everyone who is a taxpayer in the state of Maine should read this article, and pay attention to any forms of the news media discussing where our tax dollars are going in the welfare system.  After all, it is our money that is being abused and spent fraudulently.

Food vs. Healthcare, the Ongoing Battle in America.

As a preface to my first ever blog post, I am not really familiar with the format of a blog, however I would encourage those reading this to do so more for content than style. That being said, my topics will discuss a more broad overview of some of the current underlying problems that I find with the healthcare systems in America and Maine over the next few blog posts. Many people only view government funded healthcare at its face value, but in all reality, we must consider many other factors when determining how a government healthcare system can be affected positively and, in almost all cases, negatively.  My topic for today will be mostly covering the food industry in America and how its can have an influence in our healthcare system.

First and foremost, I would like to address the problem with America’s food industry. In a country which just passed a nationalized healthcare system, we are the fattest in the world. According to an article in the Huffington Post, our obesity rate is 33.8 percent, which is the highest among all other countries.  This problem is likely one that will continue to grow as fast food industries continue to expand as well as income inequality and job loss increases.  It is much easier and cheaper for a family living in poverty to pick something up from the dollar menu at a fast food restaurant after working a 12 hour shift than it is to go to the grocery store and prepare a healthy, home-cooked meal.

Another major problem with the food industry that has been growing more and more since Roosevelt’s New Deal is the industrialization of food in America.  Agriculture and livestock have become a cash cow (literally), for large corporations and farming is no longer a family affair where hard work, and pride are poured into a farm’s produce.  Now, we are producing and harvesting chickens full of artificial growth hormones in half the time it would have taken them to grow and develop to the proper harvesting size in the wild or at a natural farm.  The cows that we eat come from “farms” (they more resemble factories though), where they are bred in incredibly close and highly unsanitary quarters.  Their diet consists of feed that is cheaper than grass, clover, or any other natural element that should be included in a cow’s regular, wholesome, healthy diet.  It is no wonder that there have been several recalls on beef products in the past few years when all we have to do is watch how these animals are bred, raised and brought to slaughter.

To now discuss the monopolization of the agricultural industry, we need look no further than corn.  The monopolization by corporate take-overs of that industry have been astonishing to say the least in the past decade.  Simply look at the legislation passed and recent cases involving the seed engineering company Monsanto.  Because of the corporate lobbyist in Washington, this legislation “protects” the major companies genetically producing seed, specifically corn seed, from being used by non-Monsanto customers.  In all reality however, this simply gives Monsanto the power to sue, and essentially close down, any farm (their non-corporate competition) found to be using any of their products for trademark infringement.  This is particularly harmful to corn farmers in the Mid-West because they may be following all of the appropriate protocol to avoid such a lawsuit, but the pollen from corn, and thus Monsanto products, can still spread to other fields via the wind and air, where the farmers will still be found liable.

All of these factors are incredibly important to take into consideration when discussing government funded healthcare.  Not only are these major food companies producing food that is harmful, or at the very least unhealthy, for people, they are being protected by the federal government (and in some cases even receiving subsidies and tax-breaks), which is giving them the power to continue their work.  There is a double standard when looking at America’s food industry next to a nationalized healthcare system. While American’s are paying more in taxes to provide a service such as healthcare, the very same people that are passing healthcare legislation are also passing legislation helping these monopolized food industries.  They are costing more and more to the American taxpayer as Americans continue to become more and more unhealthy and thus, require more healthcare services that are funded from the pockets of American citizens.  This is a vicious political and industrial circle that the American taxpayers and, more importantly people, are trapped inside of with no solution in near sight under our current system of government.

A Preview of My Blog

Hello, my name is Trey Stewart and in this blog I will be discussing the significance and impacts that governmental healthcare systems in the United States, including the Mainecare system, have and will continue to produce.  I have many different topics in mind for over the course of this semester, so stay tuned for what is to come if you wish to learn more about how I think and feel about the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare legislation throughout the country!