For the past few months, I have been living in a house in Santiago, Chile with a host family that cooks wonderfully. The mother being a naturalist, the constant shoveling of vegetables and fruit and other healthful greenery into my gullet could not be more appreciated. If I lived in a house where I was surrounded my meat and bread and processed food, I might easily go insane. But I have found myself in the opposing situation, fortunately for me.
However, the father of the family here is a diabetic. He is not the typical diabetic that we know in the US: obese. He is a rather thin man who tends to go on walks but is typically a homebody. This man is not a type I diabetic – which being that it is an autoimmune disease is difficult to criticize – but a type II diabetic. Although type II diabetes is currently in the process of being redefined by the medical community as an autoimmune disorder as well, I staunchly disagree. I may not be a doctor or nutritionist by degree, but after lifelong battles with food and eating habits, I have read more literature on the topics than probably normal or even sane and written a class on natural nutrition that was approved by a board and is now taught in a private education system; therein lie my credentials.
Type II diabetes, quite frankly, derives primarily from obesity, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits; generally speaking, it comes from overuse of the pancreas in secreting insulin that cannot meet the demands of the body when excessive quantities of glucose are ingested. Only in recent years is this phenomenon being seen in young children whose bodies cannot handle the height of the requests made by their pancreas; formerly, type II diabetes was only known in adults with increased age and, as stated previously, were overweight or obese, hardly or did not participate in physical exercise, and exhibited unfortunate eating habits. We have created this atrocity in the USA in children, who are obviously not typically capable of making informed decisions about the food they themselves consume.
But to return to my host father: he is a small man. At first, I didn’t quite understand how he could have contracted diabetes considering his life choices, but after living with the family for a few months, it finally dawned on me: just because he lives in a house of naturalists doesn’t make him a naturalist himself.
I observed his eating habits. Not in a creepy way, and not noted anywhere, but just watched. Here is a man who complains constantly about his diabetes and yet he could not possibly eat more poorly. On the daily, he eats bread on top of more bread with mayonnaise and a glass of wine and then pasta with eggs and another glass of wine and another glass of wine. He eats low-fat and sugarless condiments and dairy products – which are the antagonist to beneficial, by the way, but that is another discussion. He has minuscule amounts of iceberg lettuce occasionally at dinner and I don’t think I have ever seen him touch a fruit or vegetable with the exception, possibly, of potatoes and onions. He to the core believes that eating fruit is bad for him as it contains fructose, a naturally occurring sugar. He rambles endlessly about his favorite desserts (which he swears he never eats, contrary to what my eyes have demonstrated to me) and save for the occasional spin around the block and trip to the grocery store, doesn’t leave the house.
Basically, for someone living in a house of naturalists, he could not be further from a member of this clan.
It is atrocious. How can this be the diet and lifestyle that a trained professional would recommend to a person who is in a lamentable, albeit self-imposed, state of health?
But it is. This is the lifestyle that my host father believes is the most beneficial for his health; the one recommended to him by some varieties of medics who purportedly went to school for years to treat this and similar cases.
This is the thing with humans: We don’t know what we don’t know, and we don’t really know what we think we know.
That being said, I could be wrong, but hear me out on this: Humans have survived and evolved over hundreds of thousands of years before the advents of modern day food science and technologies. Since this time, we are decaying rapidly as a species with diseases, disorders, and other varieties of health failure: Type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, gout, hypertension, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormonal imbalances, skyrocketing rates of various cancers and so forth, not to mention the myriad of mental health disorders I strongly believe to be dietarily influenced as well.
Basically, we are screwing ourselves up.
There is not much more that baffles me more than the idiocy that encompasses, for example, the act of drinking milk. I know this is considerably commonplace in the world that we have created, but regardless, it is not normal. Who in their right mind thought that it would be a good idea to suckle the lactate produced by another species for another species? Cows’ milk is for baby cows. We are humans, we are not baby cows. Why do we drink cows’ milk? It is bizarre and absurd and all appalling adjectives. You don’t see goats drinking horse milk or water buffalo sucking on yak udders. It’s grotesque what we do. And we have entire global industries designed on the bases of pasteurizing, homogenizing, whateverizing, and distributing milk because we think that it is good for us … what?
It really is no wonder the western world is so burdened with disease and illness.
There are countries and regions in, for instance, more eastern parts of the world that do not consume milk in large quantities and do not have large-scale issues such as osteoporosis and other bone and joint density disorders. Why? Because drinking cows milk does not help you to absorb calcium into your blood stream and bones, for crying out loud. It defies all logic. Human enzymes are not as simple and uncomplicated as to say “yes ok this is the enzyme lactase” and go on absorbing and processing it internally from there. Enzymes are incredibly specific and for this, humans cannot process cow lactase, but only human lactase between the ages of birth and 6 months to 2 years or whenever you stop breastfeeding your children – the only time that you need milk realistically for the duration of your existence as a human manifestation.
Someone once tried to explain to me that 10,000 years ago, the enzymes in human stomachs evolved to be able to process cows’ milk and went on for 1,000 words if not more trying to tell me that I was wrong about my thoughts on milk. Ok.
My response to that is as it will always be: Maybe I’m wrong, and if I am wrong I will graciously (mostly) accept defeat.
I’m all for evolution – it’s clearly logical – but drinking milk is not “evolution” and thus I don’t think that I am wrong.
It is really quite simple. Americans and much of the western world tend to believe that lactose intolerance and lactose allergies are the unfortunate consequences of a failure to evolve into the humans that we are today. However, I am failing to see what is so “not normal” about the fault of the human stomach to be able to process enzymes and other microbiology purposed for cows (and whatever other animals whose milk and cheese and ice cream you are consuming).
What is “not normal” about my lack of desire to lay down under a cow and suck its udders? Because that is essentially what humans do, regardless of whether or not we choose to view it this way. It’s fact. And just because we think that pasteurizing and homogenizing and decreaming it makes it healthy doesn’t make it the truth.
We have replaced milk, for example, as a staple in our diets in place of the things that are what allowed us to grow and develop as a species in the first place: fruits and vegetables and nuts (and arguably, wheat and meat – but this is again another conversation). We think that if we just keep eating bread, our diabetes will be naturally cured – and not even whole wheat whole grain bread, at that – white, sugar bread. We think that if we avoid the naturally occurring fructose of fruits and some vegetables that our pancreases will no longer be burdened with the task of producing insulin. But these things are just not true. We cannot reverse the natural process that our bodies perform every day in these ridiculous manners.
We are so backwards, we don’t even realize how backwards we are. We don’t know the truth anymore.
What is true is that my milk allergy is “normal”. My incapacity to process the organic (organic in the purest of senses) creation of cow lactate is completely orderly in the natural world.
What is not true is that diabetes is normal. Heart disease is not normal. People at the age of 50 and 60 – and decades younger – should not be suffering the fates of these types of health faults in the day and age in which we live. We think we are so smart as to be able to medicate people back to health – to take ourselves away from everything that mother nature has created for us and science up a better solution.
But we cannot do that.
As bluntly as I can put it: You don’t have diabetes because of fruit. You have diabetes because you eat like shit and refuse to take a walk around the block. (In of course the vast majority of, but not all, cases.)
There are studies shown that exhibit results demonstrating that people who rid themselves of their poor eating habits can completely reverse and cure many obesity and health related diseases. Amongst these are the world famous documentary “Supersize Me” done by Morgan Spurlock (see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0390521/), “The Gerson Miracle” which is a documentary previously available on Hulu that demonstrates how eating natural fruits and vegetables in a juiced fibrous form can literally cure certain types of cancers, and a study done in Australia I believe of which I cannot currently obtain the source but demonstrated equivalent results.
What we need to do is not medicate and bread and cheese ourselves to death, but to have a spinach or kale or arugula salad. To replace processed “food” with real substance and nutrition. To go on a walk or a bike ride. To make our bodies have some breadth of muscle mass and immunity to the extent that we can help ourselves to help ourselves.
We don’t need doctors, we need common sense and a little bit of nature.
My host dad said to me one time, “Eres la más sana chica que yo he conocido en todo mi vida. Nadie cuida de si mismo como tú. Y todo el mundo debe comer como tú igual,” which roughly translated from the rough translation means: “You are the most healthy girl I have known in my whole life. Nobody cares about themselves like you do. And everyone should eat like you do.”
This commentary arises from the fact that I am essentially a vegan who eats fish and some other forms of seafood as well as chocolate (which I don’t think I could give up even if I made a concerted effort). I don’t eat meat or chicken or pork or turkey or anything that comes from milk or lactose forms as it will immediately stop my respiratory track and subsequently, my life. I don’t eat processed foods except for super whole grain breads occasionally and I don’t eat pastas or anything or the variety. Of course, going out to eat, one must always make exceptions for the purposes of actually consuming something and continuing to thrive as a human being, but it is the principal of the matter: Eat healthy.
These solutions are really much more simple than we believe them to be.