Doctor’s Tip: Food fix
“In modern societies food has undergone a truly dramatic transformation from essential sustenance into … the single leading contributor to chronic disease and premature death.”
— David L. Katz, M.D., October 2018
“Food Fix” is a book that was published earlier this year by Dr. Mark Hyman, bestselling author of “Food: WTF Should I Eat?” He holds a leadership position at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, a branch of medicine that has its critics. However, he has a good understanding of how unhealthy food we eat and health-promoting food we fail to eat contribute to poor health in this and other developed countries. He also understands how Big Food, Big Ag and bad governmental policies are complicit in our poor health.
Dr. Hyman makes the following points about the true cost of chronic diseases caused by poor diet (obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases):
The direct cost for chronic diseases in the U.S. in 2016 was $1.1 trillion.
The indirect costs, such as lost income and reduced productivity were another $2.6 trillion.
The EPA estimates that 10,000 to 20,000 farm workers are harmed by acute pesticide poisoning every year, which doesn’t include the more subtle harm to these workers by neurotoxins, carcinogens and hormone disruptors in pesticides.
Chemicals used in industrial farming damage human health, the natural ecosystems in soil and pollinators such as honey bees.
Industrial farming destroys soil and rain forests, and contributes to climate change and desertification.
The United Nations projects that in 60 years we may “completely ‘mine’ all the topsoil in the world.”
Seventy percent of the fresh water in the world is used for agriculture, and sources for fresh water are being depleted.
Fertilizers are destroying lakes, river and oceans.
This may sound grim, but Dr. Hyman has his solutions — or what he calls “food fixes” — which will be discussed in future columns. Some of these include:
Food stamps (SNAP) started “as a way to address hunger and malnutrition but now drive obesity and disease for 46 million Americans.” The program should be changed so it improves the health of its recipients.
Agricultural policies encourage crops used for ultra-processed foods that contribute to disease and price supports should instead be given to crops that promote health.
Farming policies should discourage use of pesticides, fertilizer, antibiotics, and factory farming.
Greg Feinsinger, M.D., is a retired family physician with a special interest in heart disease and diabetes prevention and reversal, ideally though lifestyle changes. He’s available for free, one-hour consultations — call 379-5718.
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