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Food choices are increasingly important

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

Are diseases based on our lifestyle choices? In Canada, about 28 per cent of people die of cancer, another 20 per cent die of heart disease, ten per cent of stroke, three per cent from Alzheimer’s and another three per cent from Diabetes.

There was a time when there was no heart disease, no colon cancer, no breast cancer, no multiple sclerosis, and no inflammatory arthritis. What’s changed? Could it be our food choices? I recently watched a Netflix film called, Food Choices.  The following is the results of my research on this subject.

In our past we were hunter-gatherers. But mostly, we’ve been gatherers. The hunters were men, and they got the glory. Providing the bulk of the calories, for most of the civilizations, through all verifiable human history.

The promoters of the low-carb diets, the promoters of the sports drinks, and food bars, etc., insist and market to the public that we absolutely must have more protein. But it’s just not true. However, we get ideal loads of protein if we just get it from plants. In rural China and Japan, and healthier places in the world, people eat a little bit of animal protein, but for economic reasons, it’s very tiny. They use one little piece of meat, they slice it up, and it seasons a dish for a family. Here we have one large piece of meat, with a tiny little bit of vegetables, and we call that a meal.

Animal protein starts heart disease. It increases the production of free radicals, which are those highly reactive molecules that actually stimulate aging, and encourages cancer formation. It tends to increase the level of estrogen, which in turn, is associated with breast cancer.

Half of us in Canada do not reach the daily minimum intake of fibre, or potassium but we do like our salt.

All the nutrients we need are found in plant foods (fruits and vegetables). The ones that we’re getting too much of, whether it’s calories, sodium, cholesterol, or saturated fat, are found in processed foods and animal foods in general.

We’re the only species that drinks the milk of another species, and then the only species that drinks milk after weaning into adulthood. Why is milk associated with increased prostate cancer risk? Milk, especially in the U.S., is a cocktail of growth hormones to put on a few hundred pounds in a few months, but if you’re an adult, that extra growth hormone is not a good thing.

Many men think that they have to eat a lot of protein and that eating a plant-based diet may not be really masculine. What’s really not masculine is erectile dysfunction. There is a great deal of evidence that erectile dysfunction is caused by diet in many instances. If you have coronary artery disease, in one area of the body, you have it everywhere. So those very tiny blood vessels that lead to the penis are some of the first to get effected. So erectile dysfunction has been referred to as the canary in the coal mine. It’s the sign that something is terribly wrong, and you need to fix it, and at that stage, it’s much more fixable than if you already had the heart attack, or the stroke.

Obesity is linked to more than 60 chronic diseases, and it is common knowledge that there is an epidemic of obesity around the world. Today, two-thirds of adults, and nearly one-third of children in Canada struggle with it. It seems like in the last 30 years, human waistlines have simply grown out of proportion.

The late Dr. Benjamin Spock, arguably the most influential pediatrician of all time, recommended in his final book that after the age of two, children should be on a vegetarian diet devoid of all dairy products. Spock saw what the older generations were dying from, and wanted to get children off to a good start.

The leading killers of our children will eventually be the same thing: heart disease, cancer, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and hypertension. These are diseases that can be prevented, and in many cases arrested, or even reversed with a healthy enough plant-based diet. I can be reached at bdfox@rogers.com.