Saturday, April 21, 2012

On Aging

86 year old gymnast Johanna and 94 year old quick-stepper Mathilda, featured in the videos below, are still rockin' into old age with robust health and vigor. They appear to be the exception while the norm, what we have come to accept, is infirmity, debility, and senility.

While we all age, and ultimately die, how we live (to the extent of things we can control), most often, determines how we die. 

It is not as if at age 65 one becomes old and everything falls apart. The reality is that decisions we made in our youth and all along the way, relative to health, either bolstered or undermined our body's genetic potential for optimal health. Sadly, most are making bad decisions and paying for it with serious health issues as they age.

Among many false notions we have about modern medicine is the idea that we are living longer. In terms of absolute life span, nothing has changed. What has changed is the average life expectancy. One thing modern medicine has excelled at is keeping more sick people alive longer; in many cases, longer than they wish. 

Today's average modern adult spends more than 10 percent of his or her life sick,” spending the last 12 years of life dysfunctionally, with a poor and progressively deteriorating quality of life, waiting to die. Said another way, we are not living longer; we are taking longer to die.

Half of those ages sixty-five and over have two or more chronic diseases, and a quarter have problems so severe as to limit their ability to perform one or more activities of daily living. Meanwhile, throughout the industrialized world, (more) people are living longer, but they are getting sick sooner. So the number of years they spend chronically ill is actually increasing in both directions.” In other words, while industrialized nations have been successful in decreasing infant mortality, our children are so unhealthy that the onset of disease is much earlier and they will live a larger part of their lives sick. They also have a decreased life expectancy.

It is by no coincidence that all of this translates into expanding profits for both the medical-pharmaceutical-insurance industrial complex and the big Agra and chemical food industries.

Health and vigor into old age are not only possible; they are nature's set-point. We are genetically programmed for health throughout our lives. Johanna and Mathilda should represent the norm.  

The decisions we make throughout our lives, as influenced by our lifetime exposures and experiences (70%), and to a lesser extent genes (30%), will determine how we live into our old age, and how we die.

"Of all the self-fulfilling prophecies in our culture, the assumption that aging means decline and poor health is probably the deadliest.” 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Get It Done Now!

My generation has failed our youth, the promise of their future, and even survival on our planet. It cannot be said more eloquently, passionately, or accurately than this. BRAVO!!! BRAVO!!!
Young people, such as this, are our best hope.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

School Lunch & Social Justice

Convenience: The state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or no difficulty.

Perhaps one of the greatest driving forces of change in America in the latter part of the 20th century was convenience. In a world that was becoming increasingly more complex, fast-paced and stressful; a world where both parents had to work and latch-key kids became the norm; a world that was increasingly built on consumerism to fuel corporate growth...convenience emerged as a common denominator , a means to an end, and a marketing bonanza.

Convenience trumped quality and we became a throw away economy. And, convenience trumped health and we became a fast food nation.

In 2000, Americans spent more than $110 billion on fast foods. Americans now spend more more money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars.”
$17-$20 billion/year is spent marketing fast foods to kids alone.

The proliferation of these chemical concoctions masquerading as food changed both the perception and definition of food to the extent that many of our kids can no longer identify real foods. 

The impact of this dramatic shift, to eating super-sized portions of calorie and sugar dense, nutrient deficient, chemically-laden fast foods and snacks, cannot be understated.

The toll on our children's health has been enormous.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC):

- 32% of American children are obese or overweight.
- More than 7% of teenagers (2 million) are estimated to be pre-diabetic, with symptoms of high blood   pressure and high blood glucose levels.
- at this rate 40 to 45% of all school-aged children could be insulin-dependent within a decade.
- 1 in 6 US children now has a developmental disability such as autism, learning disorders, ADD/ADHD
- 1 in 5 kids is on some prescribed medication.
- This generation of kids will be the first with a shorter anticipated lifespan than their parents.

I believe that saving our children and life on our planet must begin with a renewed understanding of the absolute inter-connectedness between the health of our planet and human health, ie: that there is no separation between environmental issues and human health. The best place to start is to change our kids' relationship to, and help them reconnect with, the food that they eat. Kids need to learn where real food comes from, how it grows, and how to store and prepare restore instincts and traditions that were stolen from us by agribusiness, chemical companies, the food industry and their marketing, as enabled and aided by the US government.

This video with Chef Ann Cooper, The Director of Nutrition Services for the Berkeley Unified School District, gives us hope and shows that one passionate person can make a big difference. We need to follow her lead and make these changes in every community across America.