One hundred years ago, life in America was very different than it is today. For example: the American flag had only 45 stars, the population of Las Vegas was 30, only 8% of our homes had a phone, there were only 144 miles of paved roads, and the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. Times have certainly changed, and in many ways, we can all be thankful. Can you imagine? – 8% of the homes had a telephone! I admit, I sometimes text my son from my bedroom to his, so I don’t have to shout or get out of my bed to ask a question. It’s true. Not so many years ago I used to knock everything off my counter in the kitchen, with my 12 foot phone cord. Today, my 15 year old holds live study sessions on his computer with his classmates, no need to meet at the library.
The truth is that this is a good thing; if it weren’t for this technology many children, whose parents are both at work, would not be able to get to a study session during the week. There are so many wonderful benefits that the advances in technology have provided. However, we must all admit that we are completely wired, sad but true. We are all over the place, running and trying to get a million things done at the same time, no wonder we have such a hard time finding time to simply… live.
Let’s get back to what life was like 100 years ago. We all know that over the past one hundred years life has changed a great deal. Back then, there was always someone home, because that’s the way it was. Someone was always there to take care of the family – that was their job. There was always a nutritious, home-cooked meal on the table made with real, whole food, a meal that today we would call “organic”.
Times have changed; everyone is working and we are all out the door by 8:00 in the morning, and it is a very different world. However, you still need to get the laundry done, keep the house in order, and get dinner on the table fast and more importantly, find time to relax and be with your family. Don’t you love those evenings when you walk through the door and find yourself throwing in a load of laundry, with your coat still on?
As a result of this pace, the main goal of the food industry has been to find ways for you to get a meal on the table, as fast as possible. “Fast” food preparation is the most marketable concept in America, but somewhere along the way we lost “real” food.
Recently, I was at the doctor, and there was a magazine on the table. The First Lady was on the cover with the children, and it appeared to be a new magazine about children’s health, so naturally I was very excited. I picked up the magazine, started flipping through it and I found an article about healthy snacks for our kids. One of the suggestions was sugar-free Jell-O, I couldn’t believe it. The ingredient list on Jell-O scares me and it should scare you, as well. Artificial food coloring, artificial sweeteners and artificial flavors are present, and yet it still made this very short list.
What about fruit, nuts and raisins, applesauce, cookies, real chocolate, homemade ice pops, even good old fashioned ice cream or frozen yogurt? These choices offer good snack power because they are real foods that our bodies recognize and they have real nutritional value; Jell-O is an empty food that offers you nothing.
What we are often eating provides no assistance in providing the sustenance we need to survive and has truthfully wreaked havoc on the state of our health over the past century. In so many ways, we need to find our way back to the way life used to be- when family time was easier to come by, when relaxation was not a lost art and when all the food we were putting into our bodies was always real and organic. We are talking about food that nature provided for us, because that is what “food” is all about; it is here to build our bodies, our minds, and our lives, the same way we use wood and brick to build our homes. We have just become temporarily lost in quick fix solutions, in a very busy world. We, as a species used to be pretty good at eating, not that long ago. Knowing what to eat to maintain health, that instinctual knowledge and intelligence, was part of our everyday life. And it can be so once again. Lost inside packages and cans (which did help us get out of the kitchen), things have just spiraled out of control. We needed quick solutions but not at the expense of our health and well being. That wasn’t the deal, but that is what we have.
Back to 100 years ago: in 1907 the top causes of death in America were pneumonia, influenza, diarrhea, and tuberculosis. In some U.S. cities, up to 30% of infants died before their first birthday. (1) Achievements in the field of medical technology, advancements in clinical medicine, improvements in monitoring and diagnosing disease and incredible accomplishments such as, organ transplants and curing and managing cancer must never be minimized. I have witnessed so many people recover from devastating forms of cancer, thanks to caring doctors that gave them back their lives.
They are our healers and I have great respect for them and for everything they do to fix us when we are broken. The question is this- Are we doing everything we can to truly nourish our bodies, to do all that we can to achieve optimal health, so that our chances of disease are minimized? If we combine all the advancements that have been made in the past century with truly nurturing our bodies and minds, the results would be positively remarkable.
Doctors are here to fix us when we are broken; it is our job to strive for optimal health and that can only be achieved by choices you make each day of your life. True wellness focuses on balancing your life by implementing healthy lifestyle behaviors and choices, rather than simply seeking to remedy illness once our health is compromised. Moving forward in the 21st century, it should be our quest to witness nothing short of miracles in the advances that we, as individuals, create in order to ensure our survival as a species, because it is in our hands.