Medicine and Nutrition
Before I start this article, I want to make it clear that I’m not an expert in the medical field- I’m merely a chef interested in nutrition, and the promotion of health and overall well-being through nutrition.
There’s a pill for that.
You have heartburn. Visit your primary care doc; he/she will write you a prescription that will ease, if not get rid of your symptoms. It’s that easy. Thank god for modern medicine.
What these physicians won’t tell you is that every medication has a negative effect on our physical well-being. For example, that pill you’ve ingested to help with your heartburn also rids your system of the acids required to break-down and process foods. It also kills healthy bacteria, disrupting the balance of healthy cultures that aid in digestion.
Were the causes of your underlying symptoms addressed during your visit? Did you tell your doc that you enjoy hot wings, drinking scotch, and smoking Pall Mall non-filters? And more importantly, did your physician ask you about your eating/drinking habits? Probably not.
A change in lifestyle would alleviate your symptoms, but most people aren’t willing to alter their behavior when they could simply take a pill.
In addition to common medicines being over-prescribed, another health danger that has developed over the past few decades is the over-ingestion of antibiotics and hormones through the food we consume.
Antibiotics are arguably the most important discovery of the 20th century. They were (and still are) an important medicine used to eradicate plagues and diseases. Although antibiotics continue to be effective for treating modern bacterial infections, they have become over-used decreasing their efficacy. How does this occur? A few ways. Firstly, they are over-prescribed. During the flu season docs often use different types of antibiotics to treat viral infections that are impervious to this type of medication. Remember, only bacterial infections may be treated with antibiotics.
To prevent disease, and promote the overall health of their animals, the beef and poultry industry inject their livestock with antibiotics to prevent illness, and ensure a high yield on their product. When these animals are slaughtered, and brought to market, these medications still remain in their systems. Consumers ingest the meat from these animals, and digest the remaining antibiotics within the muscle fibers. Prolonged ingestion of processed meats with lingering amounts of antibiotics will make us more resistant to the mutating strains of bacteria.
In order to make them bigger, and produce more milk, calves as well as poultry are also loaded up with hormones. Once again, these hormones are ingested by the consumer. One of the effects of this, are children that are reaching puberty earlier. Early-onset puberty has been associated with certain diseases, and breast cancer among young girls. (http://envirocancer.cornell.edu/factsheet/diet/fs37.hormones.cfm).
The next time you visit you physician, be your own advocate. Many docs these days are open to alternative methods of treatments. One of the most important questions you can ask your doctor is, “What can we do to find the cause, instead of just treating the symptoms?”
A Solid Foundation
Take care of your health. Stay away from processed foods, and anything that comes pre-packaged. If you have a viral infection during the flu season, tough it out with plenty of fluids and rest… stay away from the antibiotics unless you get a culture, and are sure you have a bacterial infection.
Eat raw fruits, and don’t over-cook your vegetables. If you’re concerned about consuming hormone, and antibiotic-treated beef and poultry, find a store that sells organic products.
Remember, you only get one body. Treat it like a temple, and in turn you will have many healthy years ahead to enjoy.
Chef Chuck Kerber