The health crisis of modern times was bad before the pandemic came to town. Autoimmune illnesses, many cancers, heart disease, diabetes and more are modern scourges relatively unknown to the medical world before the advent of today’s industrialized food production and poor eating habits. In the wake of the pandemic, we’re seeing underlying health conditions (many of which are diet-linked) being a real indicator of how someone will fare if they get covid-19. See Science Daily article “For people with diabetes and COVID-19, blood sugar control is key”.
I’m not here to discuss the virus but rather to highlight 5 key lessons we should learn from it about how to eat for good health and a strong immune system. What we’ve been doing for decades doesn’t work and destroys our health, compromising our body’s ability to fight infection and sickness. It’s time to get back to basics and live better by keeping in mind the following 5 lessons.
Lesson #1 – What We Eat Matters
The average American diet is roughly 62% processed food. That means kits, boxed meals, frozen dinners, heat and serve, canned, preserved, and loaded with added sugar, salt, refined and nutritionally void flour, and bad oils. 26% of the diet is meat, most of which is mass-farmed, pumped with hormones and fed with industrially grown grain. The remaining 12% of the diet is whole foods. This is the category that includes nutritionally dense foods like fresh produce, fruits, whole grains, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds and tubers. You know, the real food our body needs to actually function properly, have energy, repair itself, and fend off disease, illness and infection.
We are chemical beings and what we eat matters. Eating processed food for a majority of our meals and taking a multivitamin once a day isn’t going to cut it. There are reasons why nearly a third of Americans are diabetic and nearly another third prediabetic and they all have to do with what we’re eating. And that’s just one modern health example. Cutting down a little on salt or sugar isn’t enough. We need a revolution in our eating practices so that 70% or more of our diet comes from real, whole foods . Those foods contain the key nutrition we need to operate our immune system, nervous system, digestive system, etc.
We run on fuel and while bad fuel will give us calories and get us so many miles down the road, eventually that bad fuel will corrode and destroy us until we are sputtering, shaky, and in need of repairs. If we ignore the warning signs and keep guzzling the bad fuel, we’ll wind up broken down on the side of the road, a wreck, in and out of the doctor’s office, or dead. Bad fuel and bad habits invariably lead to bad outcomes. A multivitamin and some medications won’t fix the underlying cause of a continuous supply of bad fuel.
We’ve been living off bad fuel and we need to return to the good stuff if we want a healthy, energetic and long life.
Lesson 2 – Retake Control of Your Plate
We love our processed foods but we also love convenience foods. Take out, fast food, heat and serve, packaged, box kits etc. enable us to stay out of the kitchen and do more in life. Supposedly. Seems we just watch a lot of TV, videos and play video games these days. Or work more. In relying on both processed and convenience foods we have outsourced control of our plates and their nutrition to others – namely Big Ag. This is a disaster of a decision.
Big Ag is not interested in our health. Big Ag is interested in selling us products made cheaply that they can then turn around and earn enormous profits on. They want our money and will do as much as they can to make us dependent on and addicted to their products. These are the companies that “advise” our government on food pyramids and nutrition recommendations and who go from positions in corporate America to governmental positions in the FDA and other health agencies. Or they start in government, then go into lucrative positions with the corporations. Money and position motivates these top people, not standing up for our real health needs.
Health starts by resting control of our plates from these companies and their cronies. We need to stop letting them feed us their junk products and biased research and start feeding ourselves what is healthy. This entails returning to the kitchen and preparing our meals but it doesn’t mean slaving away for hours doing so.
Lesson #3 – Real Food Equals Real Health
We’ve forgotten what real food is and it’s time we rediscovered it. Real food hasn’t been processed. It hasn’t had chemicals dumped in it or been pumped with sugar, emulsifiers, texturizers and so on. When you turn over any food product to its ingredient list, these days you’ll be lucky to find a “food” that doesn’t contain ingredients that take a chemistry degree to understand. These are not real foods.
Real food is fresh. It spoils and can’t sit on a shelf for very long, let alone months or years unless it’s dried beans. Real flour goes rancid. It isn’t bromated and bleached like today’s flour in the grocery aisle, and that’s leaving aside the new strains of wheat that our forefathers never grew, let alone consumed.
Real food is a whole food like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds and tubers BEFORE they’ve been turned into the shelf-stable dinners, snacks, treats and everything else that destroy most, if not all, of their nutritional content. A case in point: the majority of those canned vegetable soups people buy and think are healthy are heavily processed chemical concoctions more poisonous than they are nutritious. A glance at their ingredients shows this to be true. They’re loaded with sugar, salt and an endless-seeming list of chemicals. That’s not food. It’s poison and we need to realize this and start boycotting them.
Would one or two servings hurt us? Probably not but we don’t eat just one or two servings of these processed foods. We eat them for the majority of our meals and drink them for the majority of our beverages. We might add a side or topping of real food now and again but that’s like chasing a snort of cocaine with a shot of grape juice. That little token effort isn’t going to do much if anything for our overall health if we’re constantly bombarding our bodies with low-quality calories.
Lesson #4 – Short Cuts Don’t Work
Which brings me to this lesson. We keep thinking our shortcuts and health cheats will make big differences to our health. We take a multivitamin but eat garbage or drink excessively. We rely on powders and “superfoods” when our main meals and drinks remain firmly in the processed food category. And we think that taking medications will cure our underlying health problems when all they do is badly manage it while creating sometimes extreme side effects.
These are shortcuts and they don’t lead to good health. Good health is built upon day to day eating habits and takes more than one meal or one day to establish and continue.
Lesson #5 – Self-Reliance
Food is our first medicine. If we’re not diligent about what we consume, we wind up with bad health outcomes. If we allow others to prepare our plate, we can’t control our health either. Health is a personal issue. We have to be strong enough to resist peer pressure, unhealthy food cultures and the influence of family, friends and colleagues. We also have to take on our own conditioning that has led to food and beverage addictions. None of this is necessarily fun or easy, at least not in the beginning, but when we become self-reliant, a change takes place that is both exciting and eye-opening. Seeing our health change for the better is highly motivating and all the confirmation we need that real food is the key to real health.
The benefits of eating well are endless. Alongside better health, good food provides energy and vitality, clarity of thought, and improved mood. That’s just for starters! Join the real food revolution and see your life change. Your health and future self will thank you.
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Such a great post full of awesome advice!
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