There is an excellent article in The Lancet this week discussing how our management of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which are known to cause approximately 70% of global deaths (including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and suicide) and our management of climate change are highly similar. Given an appropriate level of management, both are absolutely preventable but in our tendency for immediate gratification, we fold to our desires and become victim to the long-range effects that result from our daily decisions. Even when we possess the information necessary to make positive change in our lives for our health as well as the health of our planet, we often fail to do so in subjugation of:
When money and status are our ultimate goals, the values of health and environment become insignificant, despite the powerful influence they have on a truly exceptional life.
According to the article, we place blame on the people who are living and suffering a compromised lifestyle due to cost and convenience, even though "there are broad socioeconomic and environmental causes of it, and there are entire industries that profit from products or activities that increase NCD" and climate risks. Issues of food safety, affordable health care, sustainable energy, clean water, job security and other ways communities are limited in their striving towards health and wellbeing MUST be addressed by leadership and society as a whole to benefit all of us.
"On the public policy side, with politicians perpetually focused on the immediacy of the next election, under the influence of highly paid lobbyists and targeted campaign contributions, and influenced by strategic disinformation, companies are left free to market low-cost, high-profit products that adversely impact the environment and human health."
Also - "Multiple cognitive and political challenges prevent us from responding to obvious threats that are large scale, complex, and seemingly far off. Economists identify one such challenge as temporal discounting or time inconsistency. Humans often choose instant gratification and short-term pay-offs over long-term considerations. We also, often erroneously, assume the future will look basically like the present. These behaviors amplify many NCD [ed: and Climate] risks that are invisible and non-linear."
How can we hope to put value and effort into the necessary actions to protect our planet when we don't even value and protect our own bodies in order to avoid preventable diseases?
I propose that at the very least each of us consciously commit to making ONE positive change EVERY DAY, to take care of our bodies and our personal environments in the reverent way in which we were meant to do. We should also be aware of those things we do that do NOT benefit us and see if we can also eliminate the bad as we increase the good. Daily change doesn't have to be complicated, it's all about becoming more aware! Here is a list of some simple behaviors to get you started: (Let me know what you come up with to keep it going for you!)
Allow more time for sleep (go to bed 1/2 hour earlier)
An epsom salt bath
Sip some bone broth or matcha tea
Get away from the computer, t.v. or video game and get outside to walk or play ball with a pet or friend
Spend a conscious hour or two with family or friends - play a game, or share a meal without technology
Visit a Farmer's Market in order to...
Eat real, unprocessed food. Focus on seasonal, organic, unprocessed, and local (SOUL!) (Start small if necessary, just try adding one new fresh ingredient each day or week or month)
Read labels and avoid items with ingredients you cannot pronounce or identify
Cook a meal
Avoid artificial sugars (sucralose, aspartame, saccharine) which are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar and change the requirements of your taste buds to require sweeter flavors and can also disrupt blood sugar balance
Avoid sugary cereals and pastries/breads and start your day with a protein shake or "dinner for breakfast" (protein and veggies for example)
Google new recipes and try one you have ingredients for
Be consciously kind to yourself and others - Listen
Forgive someone (Forgive yourself!)
Listen to a positive podcast
Keep a journal
Meditate (if you're a newbie, use an app like Calm or Insight Timer to start)
Pick up and discard random litter that you would normally walk past
Shop at Thrift Stores instead of Walmart
Use a sustainable water bottle instead of single-use plastics
Clean and re-use plastic bags, or replace plastic bags with cloth or net bags
Replace dryer sheets with wool balls
Use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda instead of harsh cleaning products
Avoid chemical fragrances of ALL kinds and replace with essential oils
Keep thinking of your own manageable changes!
If we honor our own personal health, the health of the world around us will absolutely mirror our new consciousness, and each day we consciously make positive change, we will feel better about ourself and those around us. Don't you think that is the real purpose for our being here?
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2015) Therapeutic Nutrition Textbook, Part I, Berkeley, CA; Bauman College