1.11 – Not Your Fault
In this HeartStrong.com video, we are going to talk about why America is so sick with chronic disease and how it is actually NOT the fault of American people.
This is a very important topic to understand for those people trying to battle chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Blaming yourself for your own health issues will get you nowhere. While taking responsibility for your health and making positive changes is key to getting healthy, understanding how you got to where you are is crucial.
You will find after this video that the likely reason you suffer from chronic disease, or are at risk for them, is largely NOT the fault of your own, but of a complex system of issues which have gotten out of hand. Most of these issues are within our control to conquer and beat, but first you need to understand these issues to start the war and eventually win the battle.
A cascade of 5 different things has lead us to be as sick as we are in the United States and it starts a long time ago with our human instinct, our human physiology. We evolved over tens of millions of years and we evolved to survive. We evolved to not die. The reason you are here today is because your ancestors did not die. They passed on their genes from generation to generation and here you are alive today. So our evolution, our physiology, evolved over tens of millions of years to do three things. We evolved to seek pleasure. A lot of that has to do with the foods we eat (sugar, salt and fat) stimulate those pleasure centers in our brain. Why did we evolve that way? Well, the number one cause of death throughout history was essentially starvation. Dehydration and infection were high up there too. With starvation, we needed energy. So we evolve these mechanisms in our brain to seek out the highest calorie foods so that we could store energy and not die from starvation. We evolved for millions of years to seek pleasure. Food and sex is what people think about. We’re always looking to seek pleasure.
We also evolved to avoid pain. Nobody likes pain, pain hurts. After a sedentary, or physically inactive, individual starts vigorously exercising, they are going to get a lot of muscle aches, a lot of pain and potentially cause some injury. So, in many ways, the way that we evolved has actually allowed us to not be as physically active. We’re avoiding pain. And if at all possible, the third thing we do is to try to be energy efficient and conserve energy because we never knew throughout the existence of humans when food would be scarce and when we might starve to death and die. So we needed to conserve energy when we could. We actually evolved to be more sedentary. Now of course a lot of cultures are very physically active. They developed that way for survival. But really our instinct is to be energy efficient for over millions of years, so that we can conserve our energy and not die from starvation. So these three things, called the motivational triad, was very well described as what’s called the pleasure trap. And The Pleasure Trap is a great book written by Doug Lyle, which we recommend that everybody reads. But this comes from actually a long time ago. Benjamin Franklin, Socrates and Moliere agreed that “one should eat to live, not live to eat.” We eat to live. We eat for energy for calories so we can do our day-to-day activities. We eat for our vitamins and minerals. We eat for our protein, our healthy carbohydrates, our healthy fats so that we can keep going throughout the day. But if we let our human instincts take over and just simply follow our instincts, we’re not eating to live at that point. At that point, following our human instincts to eat unhealthy foods and stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain, is living to eat. If all you do everyday is think what can I eat today to make me feel better and stimulate those pleasure centers in my brain, then you are going to end up choosing the unhealthy food that leads to chronic disease. You need to have the mindset that everything you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner is going to make you either healthier and promote good health or it’s going to make you more sick and promote chronic disease. That’s the mindset you need to have. The most important health decision that anybody makes every single day is what they eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So we need to eat to live, but our instincts have driven us to live to eat, which is not good for chronic disease.
So this human instinct now has contributed majorly to problem #2, which is our culture, because of these instincts to eat pleasurable foods (sugar, salt, fat). We have now integrated so heavily and deeply into our culture unhealthy foods that are unavoidable in our day-to-day world that we are always exposed to some unhealthy foods. We feast on high fat, high sodium and high sugar foods all the time. Every party you go to offers cookies, cake, ice cream and pizza. It’s unavoidable. Rarely, nowadays, do people actually make home-cooked meals that are healthy. We eat out at restaurants a lot and you don’t know exactly what they are giving you. They are just trying to give you what will stimulate those pleasure centers in your brain and not necessarily what will make you healthier. Think about the standard American diet, all the processed foods, the burgers, the pizza, the fries, the sugary drinks and all the cheese on everything. The standard American diet is very unhealthy, but that is our culture. And how did that become our culture? Because of the human instincts to seek those pleasure foods and stimulate those pleasure centers in our brain, we have now made our dietary choices so unhealthy and so much a part of our culture that we think, well, isn’t it normal to have a burger, cheese and fries? That’s a normal thing, right? That’s America, that’s the way we are. Well guess what, that’s one of the main reasons why America has so much heart disease and other chronic diseases as well. And it’s not just the standard American diet. Southern cooking, the southern American diet, high in fat and meat, is fried all the time. The Italians don’t have the healthiest diet either. They have a lot of refined carbohydrates, spaghetti noodles, cheese and meatballs. It’s not always healthy. There are very healthy variants of the Italian diet, which we will go through throughout the course. But still in general a lot of the Italian diet is not as healthy. A German diet is high in red meat, processed meat and lots of beer. Those are the things that stimulate those pleasure centers in your brain, but do not promote good health. They actually promote the development of chronic diseases. But this is our culture. All these unhealthy things are in our culture. It’s unavoidable and it’s become so standard that it’s a normal thing for people to eat. And that’s a big problem.
So now, because of our culture, who takes advantage of this? Who takes advantage of our human instincts and our unhealthy culture? Well, it’s the food industry themselves. The food industry doesn’t care about your health. It’s a business. They want to make money, that’s what it is. They may have programs that make it look like they are trying to care about your health, but they’re really not. The ultimate goal of the food industry is to profit and make money. They add sugar to every product. Eighty percent of the products in the grocery store have added sugar to them and it’s hidden in 61 different ways on food labels. They really confuse you and trick you into not understanding that they are adding sugar to all these things that you are eating just to get you hooked and addicted to their food product. Think about fast foods and how they target kids with advertising and all these addictive ingredients. They are so good at making food so addictive now that you just want to keep coming back for more and more. That’s what they do. It’s a business. They want you coming back. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertisements, brainwashing us into thinking their unhealthy food product is important for us and that their food product is American. It’s what you eat, beef it’s whats for dinner. The incredible edible egg. All these different things out there are kind of brainwashing you but it’s not necessarily what’s good for your health. It’s very effective and it’s worked very well. The meat and dairy industry, they have denied big time how meat and other high fat dairy products cause major health issues. And it’s very similar to how this worked for the tobacco industry. Back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, there were thousands of studies showing how unhealthy smoking was for you. Yet the tobacco industry would fund other studies showing that smoking is completely fine for you, just enough to confuse the public. And then you throw your arms up in the air and say I don’t know if smoking is good or bad me. I’m just going to smoke because I like it. The same thing happens with food and nutrition. It happens all the time. Eggs are good for you, eggs are bad for you. Saturated fat, back and forth, it’s very confusing for people. Through the HeartStrong.com program, we will cut through all that confusion and show you the tricks that the food industry does to try to confuse you. It’s really wrong, but this what they do because, again, it’s a business. The food industry is a multi-trillion dollar industry in the United States. They have a lot of money, influence and power. They are going to do whatever they can to promote their business, sell their product and make money. They play the blame game. They place the blame of America’s obesity on physical inactivity. They do this all the time. America is lazy. We need to get out there and move more. Oh c’mon, are you telling me a 2-year old obese child is supposed to join a gym? Do you think they are really obese because of physical inactivity? Not the case. It’s because of all the sugar and all the added stuff that are put in the 2-year old’s diet. It’s horrible. The reason that we are obese is not because of physical inactivity. Why is that you can go out and get a meal from a fast food restaurant that can push almost 1500 calories? That is nearly a whole day’s worth of calories in one meal. Not only is it that many calories, but it is the unhealthy calories with very little nutrients that your body digests in an unhealthy way. It’s just wrong. The food industry is really good at manipulating this stuff and integrating their food product into our culture for the sake of simply making money. And what do they do with the trillions of dollars that they make? Well, they contribute to problem #4.
Problem #4 is the government. The food industry works so hard to get government subsidies in their favor. They are very successful at this. They have millions of dollars and they lobby Washington D.C. to try to do things to get subsidies. For example, corn is so heavily subsidized that it is easier and cheaper for companies to buy corn than it is for farmers to actually produce the corn. So what happens to it. High fructose corn syrup, corn oil and all this stuff gets made out of it at such a super cheap price. Corn and soy is so heavily subsidized that a lot of it is bought and fed to live stock. Actually 70% of the crop in the United States is fed to live stock. And what does that end up doing? It makes the meat cheap for you, the foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. It makes dairy cheap for you. Cheese becomes cheap for you. It makes milk cheap for you. It makes butter cheap for you. But what about broccoli? What about beans, the good healthy beans? What about other vegetables and fruits? There are no subsidies for broccoli. Do you know why? There is no broccoli lobby or broccoli industry going to Washington D.C. asking for subsidies. But there is a sugar lobby, a dairy lobby, a beef lobby, a chicken lobby, a restaurant lobby. There are lobbies all over the place, for these unhealthy foods, which spend millions of dollars trying to get policy in their favor. And it works very well. So the government subsidies themselves are very off, not necessarily promoting the healthy foods. The U.S. government really does an important job with this. The other problem is the USDA. The USDA’s job is to promote agriculture and they need to support agribusiness, both the animal agriculture business and plant agriculture business. But at the same time, they are telling Americans what to eat through their dietary guidelines and their food pyramid. That’s a big conflict of interest. They need to support all the agriculture in the United States, but we’re telling Americans what to eat. If they ever said not to eat something, they could literally impact a food industry in a very negative way. So they really resist doing that. And you will find out that a lot of the USDA dietary guidelines are written by so-called experts who are also consultants, for example, the egg industry, sugar industry or other food industries, which then make their recommendations very much biased. So some of their stances in their food pyramid, they’ll say you can have a little cholesterol, you can have a little sugar and they are very vague on their wording. They do this purposely. If they say eat less meat or eat no meat, that would really hurt the meat industry. So they say things like eat less saturated fat. Eat less of this, eat less of that. Reduce the amount of sugar, but they don’t say eat zero because it would hurt the sugar industry quite a bit. So the government is one of the reasons why America is as sick as it is. And if the government is one of the reasons, maybe it could be part of the solution too. But the government will only change it’s policies if the people stand up and do something about it.
The health industry is the last problem with how America has become so sick. And this sounds really backwards. Shouldn’t the healthcare industry be the leader in trying to get rid of chronic disease and trying to prevent illness? Well, very few doctors are educated on nutrition and details of lifestyle changes. So it’s very unfortunate that we really don’t get this education. The issue is really not in our medical curriculum. They’ll say for high blood pressure, you should make lifestyle changes first. How do you get someone to be successful? How do you get someone to be motivated? If the cause of heart disease, diabetes and obesity is diet and lifestyle, shouldn’t 90% of our focus be on diet and lifestyle changes? Instead 90% of the focus is on what drug you need, what your blood test looks like, what your cholesterol level is through medication, what your blood pressure readings are, what diagnostic test should be run next. That’s not where we should be. At least 90% of the focus should be on helping people make the healthy lifestyle changes to prevent the disease, instead of adding another drug or ordering another test. There is no money in healthy eating and lifestyle change to prevent disease. This is the way the healthcare industry is set up. There is less money in healthy eating and prevention. If a doctor were to spend a lot of time talking to a patient, trying to get them motivated to change their lifestyle, lose weight, eat healthy and exercise, it takes a lot of time in the office. And doctors wouldn’t be able to see as many patients. Also, if the patient becomes so successful that they don’t need the doctor anymore and they get off of their medications, there are going to be fewer visits. So doctors would make less money for promoting health and preventing disease, which is really backwards. It takes a lot of time for doctors to discuss this and they simply aren’t paid for it. So it’s not going to happen. Nutritionists are part of the healthcare industry and we should include them. They are trained with the USDA dietary guidelines, which you will find out are not ideal for promoting health. Nutritionists are not necessarily trained in what’s perfect. They may be a little familiar with the whole foods plant based diet, but that’s not what is stressed. They stress the food pyramids from the USDA dietary guidelines, which have improved over the decades, but still have a lot of room for improvement before we can consider it ideal for heart disease prevention.
So if you see how this all works, you’ll understand that being unhealthy is not really your fault. All those things we just talked about are the factors behind obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes in America. Our human instinct evolved over millions of years to seek pleasure and the unhealthy foods. Then all those unhealthy foods were integrated into our culture, making those foods unavoidable and a normal thing for us. Then the multi-trillion dollar food industry takes advantage of our human instincts and our culture, brain washes us with advertisements and adds all these addictive ingredients into our products, just to get us to keep coming back for more and more with no interest at all in our health. The government subsidies are not in the favor of promoting foods that are healthy for you. A lot of that has to do with the food industry’s influence on politics. And then our own healthcare industry really needs to promote prevention more than they promote screening. There’s a lot of heart disease awareness or breast cancer awareness months that go on. We really need heart disease prevention month and breast cancer prevention month. Prevent the disease. Don’t just become aware of the disease. Don’t screen for it. Just prevent it. All these things are why America is as sick as it is. It is why most of the people listening to this video are in poor health (obese, diabetic, heart disease). We need to stop this. We need to stop the food industry from profiting on sick people. The drug industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They make so much money on these chronic diseases. Don’t let the healthcare industry profit off of your poor health. Tell yourself that you are not going to suffer. What happens is the good hard-working American person follows their instincts, follows their culture, let’s the food industry brainwash them. And the government doesn’t help, the healthcare industry doesn’t promote this prevention and they fall into this trap of eating unhealthy and developing these chronic diseases. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap. As you fall into the trap, a lot of other industries are profiting off of your poor health and misery. Don’t let this happen to you. So being unhealthy is not your fault.
So what can you do? Focus on your health. Follow a plant-based diet as best as you can because as you will see throughout this program, it is the healthiest way to be. If you can follow it 100%, that’s great. Part of the program will actually include some eating patterns that are not quite 100% plant-based, but are at least 90-95% plant-based. So follow the plant-based diet the best you can. Do not support the fast food industry. Do not buy processed foods and don’t support the sugar industry. You need to spread the word because, really, politicians won’t make any changes or any change on legislation until the people step up and demand it. Because the food industry is going to promote their unhealthy products to make their money. The food industry is not going to go out and push broccoli, vegetables and fruits, healthy beans and all those plant-based foods. They are going to continue to push their unhealthy foods just to promote their agenda to make money. So if the people stand up and enough people actually want the change and let their politicians know that we want the change in our dietary guidelines and subsidies and such, the politicians will finally listen. You vote with your dollar. Everything that you buy in the grocery store contributes to this. If you choose the unhealthy foods, you are voting with your dollar to promote the food industry’s devastation of the United States through all the chronic disease that they are promoting. You are simply promoting the pharmaceutical industry by buying unhealthy foods. Those unhealthy foods are going to lead to chronic diseases that require drugs. So you vote with your dollar. Buy healthy foods. Don’t buy the fast foods, the processed foods, the sugary foods. Spread the word out there. Get other people on board and get them to focus on their lifestyle and eat more plant-based
Now one last thing you can do, which will be touched on a little bit more, but is not really the focus of the HeartStrong.com program. From a plant-based diet, there are a lot more benefits than just your health. Health is the main reason that HeartStrong.com focuses on the whole food plant-based diet. But we gain so many other benefits from this eating pattern and it’s important. We gain benefits for the environment, animal rights, socioeconomic factors and so much more than just health. Well, what does that mean? Even the USDA dietary guidelines said straight out that eating less meat and less animal-based food products, will promote a healthier environment. Really, a lot of people are unaware of the negative environmental impacts of animal agriculture. And just to give people more motivation to stick to a healthy eating pattern with a predominantly whole food plant-based diet, later on in the program we will explore these things a little bit further. So now you know why America is as sick as it is, why there is so much heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Now that you know, you have to do something to prevent yourself from falling into this trap. Don’t let yourself become another statistic. Don’t let all these industries profit off of your poor health. Get yourself healthy so you don’t need the drugs, so you don’t need the stents and the bypass surgery, so you don’t develop these chronic diseases and suffer. Live long, live better and at the same time don’t allow these industries to profit off of your poor health.