I’ve noticed a somewhat alarming, unhelpful shift in the way we view health. It seems that the list of people we expect to keep us healthy includes everyone from our doctors and nurses to the president and the random dude at the grocery store who’s opted out of wearing a mask. While some of these might indeed make sense, solving medical issues without doctors and nurses for instance, might be somewhat out of your realm of expertise and possibility, others are far off the mark. Expecting complete strangers to protect you from disease, for instance, seems like a hell of a gamble to take. I mean, have you met people? They are self-centered, self-absorbed, and all too frequently, not too bright. If they are what stands between all of us and certain death, well we better bend over and kiss our asses goodbye.
In the scramble to lay the blame for our health outcomes on someone, it seems we have missed the person with the most control. Among all those we lay the burden of keeping us healthy on, the one person who seems to be missing is, Us. Make no mistake about it, in the fight for your health, you are the soldier on the front line. You are calling the shots, making the choices and taking the chances. You are choosing how to build your defenses. I can’t help but wonder, as the world demands governments and unmasked strangers protect us from an invisible invader, if we aren’t just trying to shift our responsibility to someone else.
The uncomfortable, unfortunate truth is no one else is in charge of keeping you healthy. There is no nutritionist in your kitchen advising you on what to eat, no personal trainer turning you out of bed to workout in the morning, no nurse on call to catch you smoking those cigarettes you swore you quit smoking. At the end of the day, and throughout all the waking and sleeping hours of your life, it is you who oversee your health. If you are wolfing down big gulps and tasty cakes while glaring at the unmasked folks in your local grocery parking lot who are endangering your life, well, friend, you need to take a look in the mirror and take a good hard look at the dude who makes you most vulnerable to disease. That my friend, is you. How do I know? Well, it’s also me. when it comes to treating my body with love and care my track record is terrible.
The fact is, in the fight against transmittable disease, the best defense is a strong immune system. A fact that a quick look at the list of the vulnerable populations should confirm, overburdened immune systems are more susceptible to disease. This means the best thing any of us can be doing right now, better than wearing masks, distancing, and all the sanitation in the world, is taking better care of our bodies.
It is no secret that the American population is unhealthy. The acronym for our typical way of eating SAD (Standard American Diet) says it all. The way we care for ourselves is indeed sad. With diets high in sugars, refined carbohydrates, and a higher proportion of “generally considered safe” chemicals than vitamins and nutrients, it is no wonder that a disease who impacts the unhealthy has us running for the hills. If you are not yourself one of the vulnerable populations, chances are you live with or frequently visit one. There is something seriously wrong with that.
The fact is, despite centuries of medical breakthroughs and one of the largest health care industries in the developed world, Americans are sicker now than they have ever been. Heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, pulmonary diseases all run rampant through our society. We are stressed, depressed, sedentary, and struggling. In the fight to protect our health we definitely have a long way to go. Luckily there is hope. Armed with the right information we can be healthier. It starts with what we put into our bodies.
You are what you eat. Know that, believe that, eat as though that were the truth, because quite literally, we are built from the foods we consume. Eat your veggies and fruits, grab an apple instead of a candy bar, put down the potato chips (that one is directed at yours truly) and choose good food to build your body with. Eat good fats and plenty of protein, both are important building blocks for strong bodies. If there is a food group you just can’t stand, supplement for it, find out what vitamins you would be getting from the greens you simply can’t chew without gagging and get another source for them.
Drink water! We are largely made of water, it facilitates too many of the processes that our body does to even count them. Feeding cells, removing waste, providing structure and permeability to every little bit of our body, water is an especially important part of a healthy system.
Last, but certainly not least, get out and get some sunshine on your skin! You may think only plants can benefit from sunlight, but the truth is vitamin D is created by our bodies when we are exposed to the sun. Vitamin D also happens to be one of the most important vitamins for immune function, so don’t miss that D, get out and take a walk in the sun and absorb away. By taking the wheel and being in control of our own health, boosting our immune systems, and generally taking good care of ourselves, we can protect ourselves from the danger of COVID and many other diseases, several of which make us more susceptible to germs. While hand washing and masks can minimize your exposure and risk, spending just a few minutes in public with all these super special mask wearers will quickly reveal why that should not be your only line of defense.