Despite being able to live longer than our ancestors, this no longer means that we will live better.
Chronic disease is becoming the status quo and many people don’t seem to be alarmed. The Center for Disease Control suggests that 6 out of 10 adults living in the USA have at least one chronic disease.
What’s worse is that most people who have at least one chronic disease also have multiple chronic diseases.
86% of health care costs are attributable to chronic disease.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077778/
What causes chronic disease?
This is the big question.
I asked a few people what causes chronic disease recently and here are some of the answers I’ve received:
“Smoking and drinking.”
“Stress and poor sleep.”
“Lack of exercise and physical fitness.”
“The Standard American Diet.”
“Chemicals, toxins, and chemicals.”
No doubt, it is probably a combination of the above factors, but what unifies them is the way in which they are behavioral and environmental.
There will be more diabetic amputations, more chemotherapy, and more costly suffering.
Sadly, there are major stakeholders who have economic interests in the disease industry.
“From 2000 to 2018, 35 large pharmaceutical companies reported cumulative revenue of $11.5 trillion, gross profit of $8.6 trillion”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7054843/
It’s no surprise why big investors are salivating over the, “success” of weight loss drugs that a patient is basically expected to keep taking for the rest of their lives.
Weight Loss Drug Could Send LLY Stock Soaring.https://www.investorsobserver.com/news/qm-news/7911863730010742
Some forecasts call for the drug to generate $25 billion in peak annual sales. Based on the latest Mounjaro news, this “mega-blockbuster” moment could arrive fairly soon.
While pharmaceutical companies are realizing major profits, the corporations which exploit the commodification of food are also having their heyday.
Researchers are examining how ultra processed food corporations (referred to as ‘Big Food’) are a vector of disease through the production, marketing, distribution and political activity of promoting hyperpalatable food-like products on a global scale.
Large corporations have more knowledge than ever before on how to exploit the desires of humans. Considering that you and I share 99.9% of the same DNA, most people are remarkably similar in our ability to enjoy tastes, flavors, and textures of food.
Of course people in different cultures have different tastes. However, with the global distribution of American ultra-processed foods, we are beginning to lose our culinary uniqueness and we are beginning to lose our properly functioning immune systems.
Whether or not you want to take the evolutionary route to understanding how humans came to experience certain tastes, just look at this example of a baby who tries ice cream for the first time. This illustrates the pleasure and reward capacities built into the human genome.
Is it instant addiction? Ultra processed food has long term consequences because it negatively impacts the brain. As a result of this first ice cream, strong neural imprinting may occur and contribute to their inability to control food desires later in life.
Ultra processed food consumption is linked with various forms of cancer, increased cardiovascular disease, and increased all-cause mortality.
It makes up 58% of total calories consumed in the US and 66% of calories in US children.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35963586
This commodification of food is in part made possible by you, the US taxpayer, for subsidizing cash crops so that there is always plentiful soy, corn, and wheat for the corporations to edit, modify, and engineer with the help of industrial processes and chemicals.
The body is now becoming a reservoir for man-made chemicals that disrupt the very hormonal and immune processes we need for health.
Look, I’m not completely against chemicals. In fact, I am very interested in molecules created by animals, plants, and fungi. I believe that chemicals created over many years of evolution can have remarkable benefit to human cells (for example, resveratrol).
That said, significant evidence has strongly linked man-made chemicals to the disruption of the human gut microbiome. If you know anything about the gut biome, you should know that it is likely THE most important aspect of healthy function in humans.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals have been found to induce gut microbiota changes through gut-brain-microbiota axis conferring susceptibility to obesity and neurodevelopmental disorders including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD, autism spectrum disorder ASD, and intellectual disability.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36007653/
When the gut biome becomes disrupted or out of balance, it creates opportunities for disease. The ways in which the biome changes will impact which types of disease you will suffer from. Some species of bacteria are related to Alzheimer’s while others are related to diabetes. Processed food allows for the proliferation of harmful bacteria.
“Dysbiosis driven by environmental factors such as antibiotic use is shifting the microbiome in ways that increase inflammation and the onset of chronic disease. Dysbiosis can be defined through the loss or gain of bacteria that either promote health or disease, respectively.”https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31501492
Healing may be possible by restoring natural balance and diversity of species within the gut biome.
My goal is to help educate people so that we can put pressure on leaders to impact policy that prevents corporate interests from penetrating our gut health.
While society suffers, we should not take a blind eye to the greed and profits made by corporations promoting obesity and chronic disease.
Too many people are, “in it alone,” and expected to make healthy choices by themselves in a difficult to navigate food environment.
It’s never been more complicated to know how to eat due to deceptive practices including marketing to children and using all sorts of chemicals like artificial food coloring that makes food-like substances look, taste, and feel appealing. Most people eat food that is engineered for literally no other benefit than consumption (short term pleasure, dopamine, etc).
I wish I could make more of an impact on people. This is a start.