When will we learn?
We are constantly bombarded with information and new research about the effects diets have on our health.
I recently viewed an episode of Catalyst on ABC TV. http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/catalyst/SC1302H005S00
If you have time check it out. I’ll spare you the scientific evidence here as my tiny brain has trouble interpreting and explaining.
In brief, scientists claim that preventing diseases could be as simple as changing diet.
As we know current eating habits are making us sick. How sick?
- Heart disease
- Multiple sclerosis
Scientists have done studies that show the importance of bacteria in our digestive system and the effects the food we eat and the type of bacteria we have.
Eat healthy food-get healthy bacteria. Eat bad food-get bad bacteria in your gut that has a big influence on health.
Bacteria controls our immune system. Good bacteria in the gut keeps the immune system primed to more effectively fight infection and disease.
With this information they claim that we can extend years if not decades onto your life with a healthy diet. Not exactly ground breaking news. We have known for years what damage the high sugar; high fat, processed foods are doing to our bodies.
My question is, if we know this, why aren’t we as a society doing something about it? And why aren’t we doing something before its too late.
Recent evidence shows 62% of Australians are overweight or obese. We are fast becoming the heavyweights of the world for all the wrong reasons.
Walk down our streets or look at a doctors waiting room or the school playgrounds and we can see clear evidence of this epidemic. It’s an epidemic that’s soon to overtake smoking related illnesses linked to death.
Like smoking, bad food is addictive and life threatening.
So what can we do about this epidemic?
Personally I think there needs to be a tiered approach.
Like most things in life habits are created from an early age and in the family home.
Parents have the responsibility to provide not only healthy nutrition but also education on the reasons for it. Instead of packing lunch boxes full of crisps, muesli bars, cakes and sugary drinks, they can treat them with fresh fruit, raw vegetables, chicken or tuna and fresh salad.
At schools a healthy living program could be implemented to not only reinforce the good habits some families are following but to educate the ones that aren’t getting the proper direction at home. That way, children have options and sometimes kids do have an influence on changing parent’s behavior.
Schools should also make physical education compulsory for all children.
This was the case in my school days. We had 3 phys ed lessons per week where we partook in various forms of sporting activities. At lunch and recess the ovals were usually full of groups either playing rugby, cricket, softball or bull rush. This often extended to weekend sports.
Health issues back then were nowhere near the levels we see today and they were not a result of poor eating habits or sedentary living.
Fast food was limited in my town to Fish and Chips and the dreaded Kentucky Fried Chicken. Now on every corner there are multiple choices of life threatening licensed dealers of junk food.
There were a few big boys at our school but not in comparison to today standards. These so called big boys were usually put to good use on the rugby field and were more than capable of performing in other sports.
Other options are,
- Government, Local and Federal could be injecting more funding into the education system to promote healthy living.
- Funding for health related advertisements on all the media outlets.
- Impose a junk food tax. The funds could be used for education purposes or used to boost our waning health sector.
- Ban all junk food advertisements from prime time TV or maybe all together!
There is a lot more we could be doing and it needs to be done now. Before the percentage rate of obesity increases to a level where there is no turning back. A level where health care is stretched beyond unthinkable levels and our average life expectancy declines.
We can all do our own little bit to help those close to us. Offer a healthy recipe to friends or family, encourage them to get active and maybe join a fitness class. Every little bit counts and can make a difference.
Most importantly, “Live by Example”