In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Education Month and National Nutrition Month, today, I wanted to talk about some interesting data coming out of the International Journal of Epidemiology and how it relates to you.
In the world of fast food, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with doubling. Double the meat, double the cheese, two tacos for the price of one. More food, faster and for seemingly less cost. I like to say that convenience always comes with a cost. Unless you have a blindfold on, you can see the health epidemic in closer proximity with loved ones, friends or maybe even you. It is reported that 51% of adults have at least one chronic disease. More than 1/2 of US adults are on at least one prescription medication (average is four pills). The rise of chronic disease across the population is devastating, but I see hope. I’ve lived hope and I want to share it.
We can do a simple search to learn that the minimum recommendation by the agencies tasked with protecting human health is 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but is it clear what this even means? Is this a recommendation or really a basic requirement? And if so, why is it merely a suggestion? How many people take suggestions and run with them? If we are talking about the lower limit for the absence of disease, what is the upper limit for achieving optimal health? A 2010 report from the National Cancer institute found that 3 out of 4 Americans do not even eat a single serving of fruit in a day and nine out of ten do not meet the recommended intake of vegetables. If you were required to complete 5 projects at work and you showed up with one or two by the deadline, you would likely be out looking for work. Unfortunately, our bodies are the boss to whom we serve and the consequences of under delivering is compromised health.
We can tell we’ve reached the upper limit on processed convenience food when two thirds of the population are overweight. We see it in the people struggling with chronic disease and metabolic syndrome - heart disease, diabetes and obesity. What if the pendulum swung the other way and we were asking for double of what actually helped us live longer, feel better and be happier, more fulfilled humans? According to a meta analysis published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, an estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800 g/day, respectively, if the observed associations are causal. Simply put, disease and premature death could be prevented with each additional serving over 5 per day. According to the article written by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, "For every serving of vegetables or fruit we consume, we reduce the risk of all-cause mortality (a measurement of overall health and longevity) by 5 percent."
My mission is to help people feel empowered, remove barriers to optimal health, to regain control and protect the next generation from what fast, processed, nutrient deficient pseudo-food is causing… illness.
Having had lost a family member to a similar neurodegenerative disease with cellular dysfunction at the root and then having a tsunami of symptoms myself not long after, I came across the book by the academically-trained physician turned Functional Medicine Doctor, Terry Wahl's, called "The Wahls Protocol." The book details her decades-long devastating decline with Multiple Sclerosis and her steady climb to a triumphant revival using specific, proven and targeted protocol for optimal cellular function called real food. After reading, I had this burning question in my mind…"what if everyone did that?" What would our world look like? If a person can reverse a neurodegenerative disease, what if people were empowered to maintain optimal health and live disease-free, rather than managing disease symptoms? These powerful stories need to be shared to fuel others to regain control and claim their health. What if people who weren’t showing signs of illness accepted this as the norm? Why is processed, fast food the norm? Ahh, that convenience thing again? Humans naturally gravitate toward comfort and convenience, rather than embracing the independence from factory food. I would argue that disease is one of the most inconvenient circumstances. I firmly believe we have to an understanding and appreciation for what makes our bodies work and redefine food and our food culture. Unfortunately, the information in our face is about how much you get for your money, rather than the quality. Rarely do we learn what the human body requires to function optimally. And large corporations and lobby groups fight hard to keep people confused. There's a saying that if it needs an advertisement or a nutrition label, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
The great news is that what the body needs nutritionally to heal from chronic illness is the same thing it needs to prevent disease - it really is simple - sufficient resources as building blocks and protection from free radical damage that can be found in real food - high antioxidant-rich, mostly vegetables and fruit, free from chemical toxins, high quality fat and clean protein sources. The application is what gets trickier in our modern lifestyles. But a little food LOVE does go a long way in our body to support our vitality.
After adopting most, if not all, of the Wahls protocol and paying special attention to the sourcing of my food, easily tripling my vegetable intake with a preference for leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, I began to see enormous changes in areas I did not even know were broken and especially the areas where alarms had been sounding. Over the course of the first year, I saw amazing changes in my skin, hair, nails, body composition, joint pain, brain fog, energy, vision, focus, digestion, sleep, regularity, mood, cycles and the list goes on. I had 99 problems. The biggest one was that I wasn’t living up to my potential. This realization hit home - as a Mom, entrepreneur and health advocate - I could do better and I had begun the journey with me at the helm. How many others aren’t living up to their potential?
The common denominator in populations around the globe with the highest concentration of centenarians (individuals over 100) is the emphasis on vegetables. What if you began today supersizing your intake of vegetables to help you reach your full potential?
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