I did not post last week because I am recovering from abdominal surgery. The colonoscopist spied something he did not like the looks of, so my appendix and about a fist-sized portion of colon have been removed before they could make trouble. After surgery, I was released without the hospitalization that had been predicted, and I am very happy to report steady recovery.
This whole interface with the medical/industrial complex has really made me think about health and the environment. Going to the hospital is not a very green activity. What is the carbon footprint of all these large buildings and tests. Treatment involves countless one-time-only disposable products. It your need them, you don’t get too picky at the moment your are there, but why do we need so much “care”?
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, health care is the largest industry in the American economy. Shouldn’t that make us a really healthy country? Apparently not. My most recent reading on this topic, Forks over Knives: The Plant-based Way to Health, most Americans are sick an inevitably on their way to the hospital. This book is a companion to the film of the same name. It’s an excellent introduction to the way food affects our health.
- One person is killed by heart disease every minute.
- 1,500 people die from cancer every day.
- The Centers for Disease Control estimate 7 out of 10 deaths are from chronic diseases.
And chronic diseases are on the rise. Between 1996 and 2005, the number of Americans with three or more chronic diseases increased by 86 percent, and in the past decade the incidence of diabetes has grown 90 percent.
Sometimes we have to go to the hospital and take advantage of the miracles of modern medicine. I am very grateful for the technology that has saved me from a more dire diagnosis down the road.
Most of our hospital trips are for conditions that we can control. Look at photos and films from about the time of World War 2 and before. How much thinner everyone was then! We can buck the trend to sedentary existence and sickening, processed food.
Just imagine a country full of people with the vigor that comes from a fit body AND the aforementioned “miracles of modern medicine”! We understand a lot more about nutrition and biology than we did just decades ago. If we apply this knowledge to our daily lives and make healthy choices, we will be vastly better for it — and so will the environment.
I’m sure you can think of at least a dozen ways of the top of your head in which being fit would lower your carbon footprint – improve your experience of life and make for a more sustainable human population on the planet. It’s win-win.
Having a brush with a serious health threat has inspired me to redouble my efforts to be as vital as I can be, and I hope my experience will give you the opportunity to re-evaluate your daily patterns. Small changes can have significant impact on your life and those around you.
Is there some aspect of your life that you know you ought to change for better health, but you haven’t gotten around to it? Start today! None of us know how much time we have. How much of your life do you want to spend less vital than you could be?
Please comment and share what’s holding you back and what you can do about it.