The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Although I generally avoid using the word, “assumption” I am going to break my own rule and risk employing it.  Here is the assumption with which I’m going to begin:

“If those American readers who are viewing this post could do something that would improve the financial well-being and health of their country (and ultimately themselves) they would, if capable of it, do it and do it willingly.”

I believe it would be fair to categorize those citizens who actively tried to heal America’s wounds as “patriotic.”  And if that spirit of working for the common good had the additional benefit of improved personal health wouldn’t that be a bandwagon which we all wanted to board?

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or unsure what your political affiliation is, there is one thing on which everyone seems to agree.  The costs of our medical industry are totally out of control and are one of the major sources of our financial malaise.  Sadly, these costs are only expected to get worse and to do so at a faster rate than we have already seen.  The unfunded liabilities for Medicare are at least twice the amount of our stated national debt.

I was the fortunate beneficiary of another person’s illness.  That person happened to be my mother.  As I described in a very early post, mom had a condition as a child which the medical industry was unable to treat – an illness that they called “pernicious anemia.”  In pure desperation and for love of her child my grandmother sought out alternate ways to address this disease since medicine had no answers.

She found a “health food store”- the first one in New York City – whose owner gave my grandmother a dietary prescription to remedy mom’s condition.  (By the way, she provided this advice free of charge and sold my grandmother nothing from her store).  Well, the “cure” worked – and it changed both my grandmother’s and mother’s way of looking at illness.  Rather than focusing on curing illness after it had struck, they began looking at doing things that were healthful so that it could be avoided.  For mom this was a life-long undertaking.

One day I remember mom came home with a new book.  It was entitled, “The Happy Hunzas.”  (I just had confirmation that the world of the Hunza people is generally unfamiliar to most of us because as I was typing this, the ever-so-annoying feature of the Microsoft word processing program I am using underlined the word in red – suggesting that I wanted to really type Honda).

Picture this – a community of people living in the Himalayas where the people are free of disease and where a minimal life expectation is 110 years of age with many living as long as 140 years.  There are no drug stores in the Hunza community.  There is no need for them.

As early as 1920 a British physician conducted extensive tests on laboratory animals whom he fed the diet that the Hunzakut people consumed.  Amazingly, those animals who were fed that diet for what would be the human equivalent of 45 years showed no signs of any disease.  None.  The other test group was fed the nutritional equivalent of the typical lower-class Englishman.  This group exhibited all the diseases that their human counterparts experienced.

There is one more interesting (and disturbing) bit of information that I should convey to you.  That lower-class English diet, as poor as it was, had more nutritional value than what we Americans typically consume today.

At the end of this post I attached an article that describes the state of American chronic illness and goes into detail on the life-style of the Hunzakut people as well the experiments that were conducted based on their diet.  It is a relatively lengthy article but one that is well worth reading for those who want to consider ways to improve their personal health.

How does all this relate to patriotism?  Well, what if we all began eating more healthful foods?  What if, as a result, we needed to rely less on medical “cures” because we avoided the diseases in the first place?  How much could we reduce the amount of money that we annually pour into the medical industry – whether we pay it personally or we pay it through Medicare?  What would be the impact on slowing down or even reversing this monster sucking the life-blood out of our economy?

What if, over time, we were because of our new, healthful life-style able to increase the minimum expected life-span to 100 years of age and had more vim and vitality?  We could work longer and increase the minimum retirement age to 80 – thus bailing out Social Security.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s almost always more effective to avoid a problem than it is trying to fix it.  I apply that same logic to health and well-being.  It seems to me that is the patriotic thing to do.

Take A Hint From the Hunzas:
Diet Is Key to Health, Vitality

by Dr. Lynn Hardy, N.D.
Director or the Global Institute For Alternative Medicine
Americans are sicker than ever! This is not my personal opinion but an undisputable fact. After examining the latest statistics and health forecasts, I am horrified about the future that lies before us. Even though most are preoccupied, and rightfully so, with the threat of terrorist attacks and other potential dangers, the phenomenon I’ll be discussing also demands our immediate attention. Ending the atrocities of the world will not be enough to ensure a positive future for mankind. We must work just as hard to put a stop to the total deterioration of our food, water, and environment.
Based on scientific literature and the latest research, I will try to shine a light on the rapidly deteriorating state of health in America in contrast to a nation that has unwittingly discovered the secrets of supreme health and longevity.
The land of the sick
The United States, and on a smaller scale Europe, is being propelled towards total disaster through the deliberate poisoning of our most essential basic need – our food. Within the last hundred years food manufacturers, through their clever and aggressive marketing, have completely changed the way we look at food. In fact, they’ve been so successful in their campaign that people actually believe they’re getting a healthy nutritious meal when they devour a McDonald’s or Burger King hamburger. They don’t realize that what they’re actually eating is almost completely deficient of any nutrients and full of harmful ingredients. These junk foods don’t nourish the body in any way – as food should – they just barely keep the person from starving. (I mean this in a nutritional sense because the obese humans these foods produce look far from starved!) The situation has become so critical that the majority of people simply dismiss those of us fighting for clean food, water, and air as blind fanatics. Paradoxically, supermarkets are actually starting to devote a tiny little section to so called “Health Food”. But then what exactly are they selling in the remaining 99% of the store, “Sick Food”? My answer is “yes” and I will go on to prove my point and risk being called a fanatic or an idealist.
But am I, in fact, being fanatic when the latest statistics show that every second American is chronically ill? How could we have let things get so out of hand?
Partnership for Solutions, a new initiative of Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, collects health statistics and calculates future projections. (See http://www.chronicnet.org.) They define “chronic illness” the following way:
“A chronic condition lasts a year or longer, limits what one can do and may require ongoing care. More than 125 million Americans have at least one chronic condition and 60 million have more than one condition. Examples of chronic conditions are diabetes, cancer, glaucoma and heart disease.
“The number of people with chronic conditions is growing at an alarming rate. In 2000, 20 million more people had one or more chronic conditions than the number originally estimated in 1996. By the year 2020, 25% of the American population will be living with multiple chronic conditions, and costs for managing these conditions will reach $1.07 trillion… The number of people with chronic conditions is projected to increase from 125 million in 2000 to 171 million in the year 2030.”1
These statistics are not only frightening but rather shocking as well! And even though data about the prevalence of chronic illness is available in many health publications, most people are simply not aware of it.
What’s even more disturbing is that the average age of the “chronically ill” is on a constant decline. Nearly half are under the age of 45 and a staggering 15 percent of those are children. Millions of little ones are suffering from diabetes, asthma, developmental disabilities, cancer and other disorders. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting an estimated 5 million children. Among the population, children now have the highest rate of asthma, and the numbers have increased 92% over the past decade. A growing number of children are also developing Type II (adult-onset) diabetes, which was primarily found only in adults. Millions of young ones are being medicated for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) for their inability to concentrate. Cancer is still the leading cause of disease-related deaths in children under 15.
Along with countless others, all of the above-mentioned chronic conditions can be blamed on our polluted air and water, and the nutritionally deprived, chemically poisoned food we eat. Simply stated, if we were to eliminate these toxins from our lives we would not develop asthma, diabetes, ADD, cancer, etc. Thus, does this mother who works so hard to fight for clean air, water and food for her child still seem like a fanatic? Or to phrase it in a different way: What can we say about the ignorance of the person who disregards the above statistics and continues to poison herself and her children on a daily basis?
Unfortunately, our modern health care system (or “sick care system” as my husband calls it) does not really believe in the health-preserving power nutrition plays in our lives. Instead, conventional medicine often blames heredity for diseases, which actually serves two purposes: It frees the industry from any liability and deems the patient helpless and not responsible for his own health (or lack thereof). After all, anyone can change the way they eat, but we can’t do anything about our genes! This is a very convenient and profitable standpoint. But as luck would have it, I have concrete evidence of what happens to a nation if it doesn’t eat, drink and breathe garbage. I will now present this “other side of the coin” to the reader, so that the truth can be seen once and for all!
The land of vitality – the Hunza Valley
In India during the 1920s, British researcher Sir Robert McCarrison conducted one of the most eye-opening experiments relative to the correlation between diet and health. Dr. McCarrison spent many years in the Himalayan Mountains including the picturesque Hunza Valley. This magical fairytale-like place is found between the borders of China, India, Pakistan and Russia at nearly 8000 ft. The natives of this valley, the Hunzakuts, captured Dr. McCarrison’s attention because of the their excellent health and extremely long lifespan.
“In these Himalayan Mountains is Hunza; a country slightly more than a hundred miles long and perhaps just as wide, containing approximately thirty thousand inhabitants,” writes Dr. Jay F. Hoffman, the author of the book Hunza – Secrets Of The World’s Healthiest And Oldest Living People, published in 1960. Dr. Hoffman was sent to Hunza under the auspices of the National Geriatrics Society.
“Here the people lived to be 100, 110, 120, and occasionally as much as 140 years of age. Here lies the real Fountain of Youth – probably the only one in the world… Hunza land is truly a Utopia if ever there was one. Just think of this! Here is a land where people do not have our common diseases, such as heart ailments, cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, tuberculosis, hay fever, asthma, liver trouble, gall bladder trouble, constipation or many other ailments the plague the rest of the world. Moreover, there are no hospitals, no insane asylums, no drug stores, no saloons, no tobacco stores, no police, no jails, no crimes, no murders, and no beggars.”2
Any westerner who stepped foot on the tiny land of this friendly nation couldn’t stop raving about their good nature, outstanding hospitality, not to mention the physical strength and stamina of their men. ” My own experience provides an example of a race unsurpassed in perfection of physique and in freedom from disease in general.” Wrote Dr. McCarrison about the Hunzkuts. “Amongst these people the span of life is extraordinarily long… During the period of my association with these people I never saw a case of asthenic dyspepsia, of gastric or duodenal ulcer, of appendicitis, of mucous colitis, of cancer.”3
Not only are the Hunza people immune to serious diseases they are also spared the discomfort of commonplace conditions such as the cold or the flu. Dr. McCarrison, who specialized in nutritional diseases, was determined to learn their secret. The opportunity arose in 1927 when he was appointed the Director of Nutrition Research in India. Along with his designation he also received a well-equipped laboratory and qualified assistants.
The Doctor designed a whole series of experiments to determine how big of a role the Hunzakuts’ diet plays in their supreme health and longevity. In the first experiment 1189 albino rats were fed the Hunza diet right from birth. This consisted of whole meal flatbread with a pat of fresh butter, sprouted legumes, fresh raw carrots and cabbage, unboiled whole milk, and once a week a tiny portion of meat and bones. Plenty of water was provided for drinking and bathing. The only thing the rats did not receive was fruit, which the Hunza people ate a great deal of.
No diseases, no death
The rats were fed this diet for 27 months, which would be the equivalent of approximately 45 human years. The rats were killed, and thoroughly examined at all stages leading up to 27 months. Remarkably, no trace of any disease could be found in their bodies! This astonishing consequence could best be explained through Dr. McCarrison’s words as he described his findings during a lecture at the College of Surgeons in 1931:
“During the past two and a quarter years there has been no case of illness in this ‘universe’ of albino rats, no death from natural causes in the adult stock, and, but for a few accidental deaths, no infantile mortality. Both clinically and at post-mortem examination this stock has been shown to be remarkably free from disease. It may be that some of them have cryptic disease of one kind or another, but, if so, I have failed to find either clinical or macroscopical evidence of it.”
These results were truly staggering. But sadly, they did not have any real impact on the physicians present, whom, much like the doctors of today, have a greater understanding of disease than the lack thereof. There wasn’t a sudden surge of articles and books propagating the Hunza diet and the avoidance of white rice, white flour, sugar and for the most part, meat. Their meals don’t consist of pre-cooked, over-processed, and nutritionally devoid industrial chemicals – like the average American’s. Instead, they enjoy locally grown organic fruit, vegetables, unprocessed fresh milk products, and green or whole grains.
As a follow up to his earlier experiment, Dr. McCarrison duplicated in his laboratory the low quality diet of a poor rural region of India. During this larger-scale experiment, 2243 rats were fed a diet deficient of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients. The animal results matched the physical condition of the millions of people living in this region: Both groups developed diseases in every organ they possessed.
Diet and behavior
The most disturbing discovery of Dr. McCarrison was to come. In a later experiment, he set out to learn how the rats would react to the diet of the poorer class of England. This consisted of white bread, margarine, sweetened tea, boiled vegetables, and cheap canned meats and jams. On this diet, not only did the rats not thrive physically, but they actually developed nervous disorders before things went from bad to worse: “They were nervous,” writes the doctor, “and opt to bite their attendants; they lived unhappily together, and by the 16th day of the experiment they began to kill and eat the weaker ones amongst them.”
Shockingly, this diet of the lower-class English in the 1930s actually had a much greater nutrient value than the “food” the majority of well-to-do Americans stuff themselves with today.
The Hunza people did not become a household name, even though they unintentionally came to possess the mental and practical skills needed to live long, joyous and disease-free lives. Of course, most of us are not able to move to the mountains and grow our own food but we can still learn a lot from this noble, peaceful and healthy nation. We can definitely start restoring our health by modifying our food selections and by drinking pure filtered water. Staying away from dead processed foods and turning towards natural, fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables as much as possible is a good rule of thumb for everyone, regardless of his state of health. If enough people started demanding quality foods the food industry would have no choice but to alter its manufacturing processes and start supplying us with truly nutritious options instead of the falsely labeled junk we’re subjected to. But since I can’t foresee that day anytime in the near future, we all need to take responsibility for our own health and educate ourselves the best we can about the importance of nutrition.
References:
1 Partnership for Solutions: Projection of Chronic Illness Prevalence and Cost Inflation. A project of John Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
2 Dr. Jay M. Hoffman: Hunza, Secrets Of The World’s Healthiest And Oldest Living People. New Win Publishing.
3 J.I. Rodale: The Healthy Hunza. Rodale Press
Dr. Hardy is a board certified Naturopathic Doctor and a Certified Nutritional Consultant. She studied nutrition at the Packard School of Nutrition in Sudbury, ON and began her N.D. education at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada. She continued her education and obtained her N.D. diploma in the United States. She is an active member of the American Naturopathic Medical Association, the American Association for Nutritional Consultants, the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and the American Holistic Health Association. Her health articles have appeared in dozens of publications in nine different languages. Her expertise and experience includes designing custom dietary formulas, researching and evaluating new health products, and educating employees in the natural health industry. For contact or other information, visit Global Institute for Alternative Medicine

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Comments on: "ON PATRIOTISM AND HEALTH" (8)

  1. This article had my attention all the way from start to finish! I am interested in living long and healthy. I would like to have more details of the Hunza’s meals and some information on their rest and exercise. This is truely a beautiful piece!

    • Although I have not read the specific books that the author cited in her piece, I would be willing to bet that there is more detailed information contained in them as to the specifics of the Hunzas’ diet.

      I can tell you that she refers to sprouts – and about three years ago I began sprouting my own legumes. There is a device available for this purpose called the “Easy Sprout Sprouter” and it is available from a number of sources on the web. It retails for under $15.00. It is incredibly easy to use and takes up very little room on a kitchen counter. What many people don’t realize is that virtually all vegetables and legumes contain less nutrititional value than in their “seed sprouted” form. I always add these sprouted seeds, whether mung beans, broccoli, alfalfa, etc. to my salads and also have begun adding them to my dog’s dinner. (It took about a week but she began eating them with gusto). There are many places on the web that offer a variety of seeds for sprouting – and you should be able to find a good source with less than an hour’s research.

      I was brought up drinking “raw” milk. That is to say it was glass-bottled directly after the cows had produced it. It was neither homogenized nor pasturized. (Egad you say!) Mom had to drive forty miles one way to find a dairy farm that sold it in that form. I’m sure that’s what the Hunzas drink. Where you might find that today is probably not in America. I’m sure that the FDA has outlawed it.

      I hope that this information helps you on your path to a happier, healthier future.

  2. Very interesting! (It makes me wonder how long my mother would have lived (she died at age 96) had she not been brought up on a lower-class English diet for many of those years.

    • Well, your mother had the gift of 96 years – and that is an achievement in itself. As the article pointed out – her diet as a young person was still superior to what we are consuming today in America. Personally, I see people regularly appearing in the obituaries who have attained an age far short of your mom’s.

  3. I really think you should run for something. This stuff is just too good. You’re too well written and well spoken and you break down common sense so that people can understand it—to not be out there.

    • Thank you Jennifer. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I appreciate your compliment on my “writing skills”. I do have a mission to be “out there” – but as I see it writing this blog is a signifcant part of that venue. With ardent advocates like yourself, I do feel that I can make at least a small contribution.

  4. We are very health conscious and I can confirm that careful attention to diet, exercise, adequate rest and a healthy mind frame will give the best quality of life. There are some who through practices of their ancestors have inherited genes that plague their life in spite of careful attention to all the things above. But even they can enjoy a better quality of life through careful attention to good health principles. John Hopkins has some good advice in this connection along with Loma Linda University.

    • Thank you, Ian for your comment. Yes, there are people who got the “short-draw” in the gene pool. I used to do a lot of fund-raising for children who inherited Cystic Fibrosis. But most of us have avoided those disadvantages – and go on to assume a life-style that has all the potential for total disaster. The sad thing is that, unlike the CF children, we have the abilityto be masters of our own destiny – and throw away that opportunity.

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