Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Cost of Not Eating Healthy

*Based on what I have recently learned (over the past 6mo or so) regarding grain consumption within modern day factory or industrial farming societies, and its adverse effects on human health ultimately leading to many of the illnesses and diseases affecting Americans in epic proportions, I have changed my stance on the importance of such monocrops (grains and legumes) within a healthy human diet. The human digestive system was not designed nor has it evolved to a point to effectively digest such foods like grains and legumes without the body suffering from its harmful side effects; inflammation and damage to the gut. Since evidence shows inefficient digestion and inflammation are the root cause for nearly all human diseases be it heart disease, diabetes, cancer, crohn's disease, autoimmune diseases, and chronic inflammatory disorders in all its forms, a healthy diet should promote a healthy gut (fermented foods) and be anti-inflammatory based (grass-fed meats and eggs, wild caught fish, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds) instead of high in foods promoting inflammation such as grains, legumes, and factory farmed meats, poultry, fish, and eggs.

The most common excuse I’ve heard someone give me for why they don’t buy healthy foods when they’re out doing their weekly grocery shopping, and by healthy I mean fresh organic produce, minimally processed organic foods, *whole grains, etc., is that it costs too much; especially in a family with one or more children. Now on the surface, with nothing else factored into the equation, that mindset would seem correct. If all you’re basing the “cost” on is what is in your cart at the time of checkout then “it cost too much” would appear to be a plausible answer. If you’re a healthy shopper like myself then you’ve probably experienced this first hand; the person ahead of you in the checkout line has a cart full of this weeks “specials” consisting of highly processed foods (high in sugar, sodium, fat, chemicals…) and their bill comes out to roughly as much as your bill (or lower), and your cart is half full. So without giving the question much more thought, this would appear to be all the evidence the unhealthy shopper needs to prove his or her point, that is if there weren’t other factors to consider. So lets consider them, shall we?

To say it costs too much to eat healthy organic foods has only one bit of truth to it, organic foods do indeed cost more at the time of purchase. Beyond that, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The other variable that must be considered is health, more precisely the amount of money put into healthcare every year by the average person or family. In 2008 the average worker contributed over $3k into health coverage for a family of 4. That three thousand dollars only gets you in the door, it doesn’t include the co pay needed to actually see the Dr., and with health insurance becoming more and more expensive for businesses and families alike, most are choosing plans with the lowest annual premiums resulting in higher co pays. Now factor in all of the unnecessary prescription drugs too quickly and too often prescribed by most doctors, not to mention all of the over-the-counter drugs that most people turn to at the first sign of a cold, ache or pain, and that number easily triples. According to a number of national surveys, health care costs are one of the leading factors of debt related issues; bankruptcy, home foreclosures, etc. And let’s not forget the thousands of dollars the average senior citizen will need in savings to pay for basic medical coverage.

When health is factored into the equation and the entire picture is examined in great detail, the higher initial cost of eating healthy is dwarfed in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of dollars a family will spend on health care in their lifetime.

What if there was a simple solution, like say eating healthy organic foods, which could spare you this financial misery. What if you knew that the average American’s unhealthy diet consisting of prepackaged overly processed foods, high in refined sugars, sodium, and toxic chemicals, was a leading contributor to this country’s biggest health epidemics; obesity, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic diseases. If you knew all of this, would the idea of paying more for healthy foods at the grocery store make more sense; nutritionally and financially? The next time you’re out doing your food shopping think healthy, it could save you thousands in the long run!

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