Healthy living is possible, right here in Claremont

by Mark von Wodtke

Traveling lets us see how people live—what they eat and how they take care of themselves. By experiencing other cultures, we also see how health care works. There are places where people enjoy long and active lives.

The United States has serious disconnects between the availability of medical care and it’s cost; the pharmaceutical industry and healing nutrition; the food we eat and our level of activity; industrial agriculture and the health of people and the planet; as well as environmental protection and our quality of life. All these issues are related and compound each other. How can we stimulate positive change?

Our federal government is struggling to provide the level of universal health care offered in most developed countries, and yet we spend more on healthcare than other countries. Will we establish healthcare for all Americans?

Many places in the world have lower levels of chronic degenerative diseases—such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia—than we have here. Our medical profession focuses on treating chronic diseases, not curing them.

Our lifestyle can make us more vulnerable to chronic diseases, which increases the cost of healthcare. Even with patented medicine, the standard American diet is making people here more susceptible to chronic disease than ever before. Can we change the sedentary life style, which features fast food, that is at the root of our health crises?

Industrial agriculture produces fruits and vegetables contaminated with poisonous herbicides and pesticides, while lacking in vitamins and minerals found in fresh organic produce. Industrial farmed meats, poultry and fish may contain antibiotics and growth hormones and are deficient in Omega 3 that is found in free-range grass-fed animals. Can we make more fresh organic food available?

Food processing eliminates essential whole food components to prolong shelf life. It also adds sweeteners, salts and homogenized fats, which are unhealthy and can be addictive. Will more people insist on eating fresh wholesome food?

The regulation of our food supply is done by the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) and not by the people responsible for our health. Why not have people knowledgeable with healthcare assure the quality of our food supply? 

The air we breathe and water we drink is too often contaminated. The EPA is being weakened, allowing polluters to externalize health costs. Right now the FDA subsidizes corn that is used to make high fructose corn syrup, which has been proven to be unhealthy. Why not have polluters pay?

Berkeley has approved a tax on sweet drinks which contribute to diabetes. The tobacco tax is more widely accepted. Attaching health costs to food and energy is a way to send more accurate price signals to the market place.

Purchase decisions should address hidden health costs to discourage poor choices. Taxing polluters can also provide revenue to help our culture deal with growing costs of pollution.

The US has the potential to do better, given the resources with which we have to work. However, positive change at federal and state levels is difficult, particularly when vested interests pay to lobby public policy to satisfy their priorities instead of supporting the public good. We are barraged with misinformation promoting unhealthy products.

That is why we need to develop a stronger “healthy living” movement, where each of us registers our choices by what we purchase and how we live each day. Let’s build upon the slow food movement started in Italy that promotes local food and traditional cooking.

Focus on what you and your family can do for healthy living right here in Claremont and make significant positive changes by the 2020s.

By making careful food choices, each of us can optimize our metabolism and enjoy the real food of the primal/paleo heritage from which mankind evolved.

We could enjoy culinary arts, creating our own cuisine, that builds upon healthier Mediterranean and Asian traditions. 

We could avoid addictions to sugar, and alcohol, salt, fat and nicotine as well as drugs (such as opioids) in order to lead healthy lives. Regenerative living helps us avoid degenerative diseases.

We could drink regenerated water to balance minerals and energize our body’s cells, avoiding sweet drinks that are detrimental to our health. We can enjoy a variety of fresh foods to balance nutrients maintaining our health and vitality. 

The China Study reveals we stay healthier by eating plant-based foods and avoiding the excessive dairy and meat of the Standard American Diet (SAD).  

For those of us who want to prevent and reverse vascular disease and cancer, there are caring doctors who prescribe healthy food, exercise and meditation.

Author Dan Buettner wrote about The Blue Zones—areas where people share common lifestyle characteristics that contribute to their longevity. Nearby Loma Linda is a Blue Zone that Mr. Buettner wrote about. Claremont shares many of the same characteristics. We could become a Blue Zone too.

The Claremont Farmers Market provides local fresh organic produce in our Village each Sunday morning. We also have excellent stores that bring us quality food from all over the world. Better restaurants can cater to healthy preferences to earn our patronage. Let local markets and restaurants know what you want and support them.

Our year-round growing season provides opportunities for kitchen gardens and urban agriculture, to grow food we can put directly on our tables.

Claremont is a wonderful place to walk and bike which can provide daily exercise just doing our errands.  And, there are many activities here that provide social interaction and inspiration.

Commit yourself to healthy living and encourage your family and friends to join you. That is how we can make positives changes.

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