Food, Health, and Long Life

Tuesday 6/12/12

Recently I have been listening to EconTalk hosted by Russ Roberts, a professor of economics at George Mason University.  EconTalk is part of the Library of Economics and Liberty, a fantastic resource I discovered about a year ago and have used for many things since.  Beyond the interviews Roberts does, there are a myriad of encyclopedia entries and articles on economic issues and the discipline of economics itself.  I have found it most valuable.

The other day I listened to an archived EconTalk interview between Roberts and Gary Taubes (from Nov. 21, 2011), the author of Good Calories, Bad Calories.  Even though the show mostly focuses on economic issues, Russ often interviews people from other walks of life and disciplines; this time he talked to Taubes who is a scientific journalist who has extensively researched the food industry and medical understanding of what causes diseases among people.  With his book Good Calories, Bad Calories, Taubes tackles the obesity epidemic in this country.  What causes people to become so overweight so quickly?

For years it was assumed that weight gain was due to a diet of animal fat from consumptions of meats.  It was recommended that people eat less fat, which was thought to increase heart disease, and instead stock up on carbohydrates.  However, there was little evidence to show that fat actually was a causer of heart disease.  Now, it is believed that processed foods and vast quantities of sugar are more prone to cause heart disease instead of natural fat found in animal meats.  Taubes is a proponent of this theory.

I would encourage you to listen to the entire interview if you have time and if this kind of thing interests you.  I found it stimulating, not only because of the content, but also because it gives you a rare insight into how the medical fields go about testing and diagnosing health issues; far from always being right, popular diets and advice about what to eat and how to lose weight aren’t always correct.

I have decided to educate myself on health and dieting, not because I’m overweight and have severe health problems (thankfully I do not), but because the food I put into my body now will determine my health for a long time to come.  I want to live to be 100 years old and I want to teach, educate, love, and help people for many years.  I want my life to be worth it and I want to make a positive difference in people’s lives and on this earth for God’s glory, the Gospel, and His kingdom.  But I can’t do any of that if I’m shoving crappy food into my body and cut my life short because of health problems.

Today it is very difficult to trust what you buy from the grocery store.  Processed food, empty carbs, sugar, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, and a lot of other man-made chemicals go into our food and we don’t even know it.  Our bodies were not made to eat and digest such things, and I believe this is a huge reason for the amount of people who have many different health issues today.  My goal is to learn what my body needs best to function healthily for a long time, and then to plan good, tasty meals based upon that.  If this means cutting out fast food, so be it; if it means not eating as many sweets, so be it; if it means spending more time, energy, and money to buy organic, healthy foods, so be it (maybe I’ll even grow a garden!).  I think it will be worth it for my health in the end.  I doubt any price too high to pay for physical health and stewardship of one’s body.

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