Food: Friend or Foe

morbidly-obese-child-extreme-underwieghtAmerica’s health is declining at an alarming rate. We are the world’s best medical model of acute emergency care but we are not the best example for treating chronic disease; the slow deterioration of our physical health because of our poor choices of food and drink (our addiction to sugar, salt, and fat), the environmental toxins that have invaded the food chain and the quick fix American medical paradigm of prescribing pills instead of the time consuming individualized educational and prevention approach. Cells starving for oxygen because of poor blood flow demanding the heart to pump harder in order for them to survive is a lifestyle problem not which pill to take problem.

We also have a political predicament interfering with our health because of the lobbying influence the United States Food, Pharmaceutical and Advertising Industry has on Washington DC regulators and lawmakers. Big money for election campaigns begets later favors. It will take a massive mad public outcry of foul play before the tide changes. Personal/family health must become an individual priority, responsibility and discipline. No one else can make you healthy, certainly not nationalized health care. Unfortunately many will not make the effort.

17% of USA children ages 2 – 19 are obese and at risk for serious health complications. The rising incidence of Type II diabetes in children is an alarming signal that something is drastically wrong and should be a wakeup call to parents out of touch with the proper care of their most precious asset. Truth be known, our pets get better care than our children. Why?  Pigs, cattle, dogs and chickens get better nutrition.

Poor nutrition has a proven relationship to low academic achievement. A study of St. Petersburg elementary schools showed that the higher percent of school children on federal breakfast and lunch programs, the lower the academic grade that school had received. Hopefully those low grades will begin to rise with the improvement in diet the children are now receiving. The laboratory of school children’s achievement levels related to nutrition and sleep health are clear indicators of health problems we should solve.  Parents need to realize the unintentional harm the unsupervised fork and spoon can do to their children. Our hard wired preference for poor food quality (sugar, salt and fat packaged products) is the issue. Children as well as adults readily reject the best for the worst. Ignorance is not bliss.

Eating right and sleeping right are the fundamental foundations for good health and diligence to these two issues would resolve much of our nation’s health problem. Affordable health care starts with a decision to stay healthy, preventing chronic disease and avoiding accidents.  Our hurry up world and fast foods conflicts with optimum health. You will never know how good it gets until you decide to make food your friend not your foe. Food is our medicine.

John B, Harrison DDS, MSc

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