Informed public contributes to a healthy society
By NICHOLAS DESIMONE
Since the beginning of time human beings have been experimenting with one of our most vital and favorite things, eating. Through time, we have determined which foods can heal and which foods can harm. Has this experiment been successful?
The Center for Disease Control states, “more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.
Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese.” Also, from 1985 to 2010, “there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-six states had a prevalence of 25% or more; 12 of these states had a prevalence of 30% or more.”
In April 2012, The News of Cumberland County reports, “Cumberland County was ranked as the most unhealthy county in New Jersey for the third year in a row.” Sadly enough, in February 2010, New Jersey News Room reported, “In New Jersey, four of the five least healthy counties are clustered in South Jersey, although Essex County beat only Cumberland County, which also ranks last in the state in per-capita and household income.” So, not only is NJ the unhealthiest, but also is the poorest. It’s conceivable that there is a connection between low income and poor diet. After all, one can purchase four double cheeseburgers from the dollar menu at McDonalds for the same cost of a salad. Pay less, get more, seems to be the theme. However, what’s the cost of bad nutrition vs. paying more for healthy eating?
During a captivating interview with Dr. Ray Patel ND, owner of Organic Natural Foods Market, an all-organic food market, in Vineland, NJ, he elaborates on the benefits of healthy eating and the big picture with organic foods.
Dr. Patel is a pharmacist from India. He has been in the organic business for the past 40 years. He once managed four health food stores in Manhattan. After retiring, he moved to Cumberland County and opened Organic Natural Foods Market. He obtained his naturopathic degree in Alabama. The term “ND” stands for doctor of naturopathy. ND differs from MD because it deals with nutrition, diet, herbs, and vitamins. Doctors of Naturopathy do not diagnose or write prescriptions.
Why are organic foods so important? One of the most controversial elements in the food industry are genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). GMO’s are done by introducing the gene from one organism into a different one. GMO’s are done for numerous reasons. One such reason for GMO’s could be to make food look better, taste better, develop bigger, or last longer. Dr. Patel says the body does not recognize the new gene within the newly GM food and therefore could render it somewhat harmful to the body. Simply put, GMO’s are not natural. In the long term, they can cause problems in the body.
Currently, there is no labeling required by the FDA indicating which foods are GMO’s. The reason why the government does not require labeling for GMO’s is because “there is not much awareness into GMO’s,” says Dr. Patel. If enough people demand the government label these GM foods, they will eventually have no choice but to submit to the demands of the people. The FDA declared 20 years ago that GMO’s are ‘substantially equivalent’ to non-GMO’s so they feel there’s no reason to label them. “If it’s the same, then why introduce a different gene,” says Dr. Patel.
It is imperative to eat organic foods to avoid all the pesticides and chemicals that they spray on the crops. “Those extra chemicals go into your system and can cause disease,” says Dr. Patel. Over time, the chemicals will progressively cause cell and tissue damage, which would lead to disease.
As far as traditional medicine is concerned, “medicine does not cure the disease, it just hides the symptoms.” A person could wind up taking medicine for the rest of their life. With concern to diabetes, Dr. Patel says, “every year twenty thousand new cases come out.” Once some one starts blood pressure medication they wind up having to stay on that the rest of their life.
As an ND, Dr. Patel cannot diagnose or treat cancer. But people who are trying to overcome it, he recommends, starting with the right diet, and clean out the system. Eat properly by cutting out dairy and meat with a vegetarian diet. Also, go on a juice fast or juicing diet. Other alternative therapies to prevent disease or illness, he recommends exercise, yoga, and meditation. “Stress, pretty much, contributes to 50-60% of disease in the body because stress alters the whole chemistry of your body,” says Dr. Patel. Prolonged stress can cause depression and anxiety, which would proliferate the need for more of medications to treat that illness.
Dr. Patel feels that farmers would have a vested interest in suppressing the organic food movement to make sure they stay in the business in managing crops with pesticides and herbicides. One of the main reasons for the suppression could be the producer of the chemicals. Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, and Dupont, to name a few, are the companies that would have that interest. Monsanto genetically modifies a seed, which makes it tolerant to the herbicide that they produce called, RoundUp. Additionally, growing organically can be costly. It always seems to be about money in the end.
The insurance industry and big pharma profit tremendously in business of human disease and illness. Dr. Patel concurs the pharmaceutical and insurance industries would be “scared” if the public were more educated about healthy eating. It would be a serious detriment to profits.
What is the solution for the average college student, with a tight budget, who wants to eat organic foods? Organic foods are relatively priced high anywhere you shop. “Rather than going to McDonalds and Burger King, go to the organic store and buy a nice bowl of salad,” says Dr. Patel.
One of the biggest factors of weight gain is due to poor nutrition. Soil depletion is a key factor in understanding why our foods lack trace elements and minerals that our bodies need to function and stay fit. Anyone, who knows anything about nutrition, understands that a nutrient rich soil is where our food absorbs the nutrients we consume. And if that soil is depleted due to the over applications of industrial chemicals and fertilizers, our bodies don’t get the proper nutrition they need. By and large, our bodies can literally starve to death with a full belly if the foods we eat are depleted of key nutrients. So, what winds up happening, is we need to eat more just to be satisfied according to our bodies’ requirements. And guess what happens with all that excess food we eat just to get the nutrients that are bodies are seeking? It gets stored as fat. Most would agree, the foods we see advertised on TV might not be as healthy as we believe. They lack the nutritional requirements our bodies need to properly function. Supplementing with vitamins and minerals is not only important; it’s vital for our fitness and survival.
Instead of people feeling guilty about how much they weigh or lack of hours at the gym, maybe, people should investigate other ways beyond the traditional approach to getting healthy. Exercise does play a part, but investigate GMO’s and soil depletion. Ask a nutritionist about healthy eating. Ask Dr. Patel why organic foods are so important and which types would be right for you. One would be surprised how much of an impact a healthy diet alone could reduce their weight. “In the long run, the organic food or vegetarian food always comes out cheaper,” says Dr. Patel.
When your body is strong, your mind becomes strong. And with strong minds, we can bring awareness to each other about the benefits of healthy lifestyles and pass these traditions on to future generations.
Dr. Patel seems hopeful that more and more people are becoming aware of healthy eating and are getting tired of traditional treatments. In light of the ilness and disease rates increasing in America from poor diet, it appears that traditional methods may be are ineffictive. Dr. Patel appears hopeful for the future of healthier lifestyles for society. It’s obvious Cumberland County could sure benefit from a new healthy awareness.