by David G. Woolley
Editor's note: This is the second installment in a month-long look at food. Come back next week when we share some hilarious reasons we've heard about why junk food has health benefits along with a look at the motivation you'll need to take charge of your health and lower the red flags in your life.
One personal choice seems to influence long-term health prospects more than any other—what we eat. That didn't come from me. It’s from the United States Surgeon General's report. But then we already knew that what we eat effects how we feel. If it’s not intuitive, it’s been preached enough we ignore it. Right? And what's not to ignore. Food is a personal choice and who wants someone else telling us what to eat? Until, of course, we get sick.
When you're sick the world is a nauseating place. It’s also immobile. You don't get around as easy. All you want to do is lay down until you feel better. The effortlessness of sitting becomes a much more inviting activity than walking, running or just about anything. And if you've got aching muscles, balance problems, numbness in your limbs, heart problems, or cardiovascular problems, who wants to play ball, help a neighbor or work in the yard? You sit more and, heaven forbid, shop less.
Sometimes we’re unwilling to admit we’re sick. Blame the malaise on the weather, the altitude, the stock market gyrations. Anything but our diet. It's more comforting to blame frequent colds, nausea, or weight gain on getting older than on our appetite for junk food. Besides, there isn't much you can do about the relentless march of time so you don't. Aren't low energy levels, brittle bones, breathlessness and increased heart rates part of the aging process anyway?
If someone like me were to tell you that the preliminary signs of fatigue and nagging aches and pains or the secondary signs of diabetes or asthma are red flags that something more serious is in your health future, you may be inclined to call me a quack. That is, until you really get sick. At the expense of dispensing my accumulated medical and health knowledge in a single post, may I raise a few red flags.
I call them the non-lethal diseases. The ones that don't kill you are the ones begging you to reexamine your eating habits before something really nasty like the destroying angel comes along. You may not care about adding a few years to your life if it means giving up your favorite foods, but when faced with living decades in painful, poor-quality-of-life conditions you may reconsider some of your eating habits. Here are a few red flags you may want to remember. They have little to do with aging and everything to do with living a healthy, pain free life. If you’re experiencing any of the following on this woefully incomplete short list, your body may be telling you to give up the chips and chow down on the veggies.
Pain, frequent colds, frequent flues, infection, fatigue, adrenal thyroid failure, indigestion, diarrhea, food cravings, intestinal pain, depression, hyperactivity, antisocial behaviors, asthma, hemorrhoids, colds, respiratory problems, endometriosis, dry skin, bad breath, ulcers, colitis, heartburn, dry mouth, PMS, irritability, puffy eyes, skin rash, hives, lupus, finger and toenail fungus, dizziness, joint pain, bad breath, ulcers, mood swings, cysts, tumors, rheumatoid arthritics, numbness, hay fever, acne, gas, bloating, bowel stasis, low blood sugar, headaches, lethargy, insomnia, suicidal tendencies, over weight conditions, chemical sensitivities, allergies, multiple sclerosis, poor memory, osteoporosis, muscles aches, asthma, diabetes. And the list goes on...
It was Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote that "There will come a time when we sit down to a banquet of our consequences." We have Joseph Smith to thank for providing the menu and delineating the consequences. In less than seventy words at the end of a heaven-sent health code titled the Word of Wisdom he indicated that by eating healthy you can avoid failure of the immune system, failure of the musculoskeletal system, failure of the cardiovascular system, failure of the nervous system, and failure of all the associated organs. He didn't use modern medical terminology. In February of 1833 many medical conditions were yet to be identified. Some didn't exist. And still Joseph Smith managed to write:
All Saints who remember to keep and do these sayings...shall receive health in the navel and marrow to their bones. A strong immune system. And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. A strong nervous system. And shall run and not be weary. A strong cardiovascular system. And shall walk and not faint. A strong musculoskeletal system. And I the Lord give unto them a promise that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. A defense against the diseases that prematurely end life. Coronary disease. Heart disease. Cancers.
Eat well. Live well. Watch for the red flags. Avoid the destroying angel.
Join author David G. Woolley at his Promised Land Website. He is also a weekly contributor to the Latter Day Authors blog and he writes commentary and opinion at the Utah Ranger's Far Post blog