New Infographic: Where We Donate Vs. Diseases That Kill Us

I can’t tell you in confidence that it’s socially accectable to be disinterested in participating in the phenomenon of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But I am willing to admit, when something is that amazingly popular, I’m the guy who asks questions.

To be honest, I highly considered just quietly publishing this without promoting it on Facebook. I figured it might be a fairly dangerous thing for a guy like me to do… to express any doubts about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Yes, it does appear that most of your friends, as well as relevant celebrities, are all particating. It’s dominating your Facebook feed.

As for me, I’ve simply been a spectator. And until now, I’m given no personal opinion on the subject.

But for years now, I have publically questioned where all the money really goes and what good it’s really doing when it’s donated to breast cancer research.

 

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one wondering this. They made a documentary called Pink Ribbons, Inc. that does a great job of asking and attempting to answer those same questions.

Could it be that we tend to donate more money to the causes that are killing us the least? Or that we’re donating money to the causes that have less of a global impact, but more of a regional one?

Could it be that perhaps the #1 disease in America is fairly preventable through proper exercise and diet? And if it wasn’t, shouldn’t we be donating the most money to that cause?

Let me direct your attention to an article by Julia Belluz, featuring on Vox: The Truth About The Ice Bucket Challenge: Viral Memes Shouldn’t Dictate Our Charitable Giving.

I highly recommend reading it. The article contains this eye-opening infographic, which I believe, clearly speaks for itself.

Sure, I’m sincerely happy for charities getting money donated to them. I wouldn’t want to get in the way. But I do think it’s important to see this infographic with an open mind. So here it is, for better or worse:

New Infographic: Differences Between Diseases We Donate To, And The Diseases That Kill Us

 

Currently Uber Popular Status Update Phrases: Forwards About Religion, Politics, and Knowing People

You think email forwards are so 1998?  Think again.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who constantly send email forwards and those who are annoyed by them.  Of course these days, email forwards have morphed themselves into a more relevant version- by showing up as the offender’s status update on Facebook and/or Twitter.

It’s hard to be cynical about status updates that tell you to repost if you know someone who has had some kind of sickness or disease.  There’s nothing funny about that.  Then they are the ones telling you to repost if you believe in God, are a Christian and proud of it, etc.  Next are the ones telling you to repost if you support the military.  Then it starts getting really generic… repost if you have a family member (like a brother or mom or cousin).  Or if you’re proud to be from the South.  Or if you realize that it’s okay not to like President Obama anymore and you want him out of office.  If all else fails, make your status update a forward about gas prices- because man, that’s truly original.

I guess the question is, at what point in the downward spiral of all-encompassing status update forwards is it okay to be annoyed by seeing them?  I can’t be annoyed about finding a cure for anything; that’s a given.  We all want to find a cure for all diseases in the world as we have all been affected by the loss of someone close to us.  So I’m okay with that one.  And I guess I’m not supposed to be annoyed about the “proud to be a Christian” ones, because I’m not ashamed to be a Christian- but I would be ashamed to post “I’m proud to be a Christian and if you are too then you should repost this”  as my status simply because I’m the kind of person who is annoyed by email forwards:  I’m ashamed of forwards, not my beliefs- whether they’re religious, political, or whatever.

But I think it’s okay to be annoyed by the ones about having a cousin.  And the political ones.  And definitely the ones about gas prices.

To do my part, I am sharing my current Facebook status update with everyone:

‎- Please copy and paste this as your status if you know someone, or have heard of someone who knows someone. If you don’t know anyone, or even if you’ve heard of anyone who doesn’t know anyone, then do still copy this. It’s important to spread the message, even if no one knows anything about anyone. Oh, and the hearts. ♥ ♥ ♥ For goodness sake, don’t forget the hearts. ♥ ♥

healthnutshell: What Exactly is Food, These Days?

We all play with some kind of fire.  And we all know that the less we do it, the less likely are we to get burned.

I mean, I shouldn’t have to ask what constitutes as food, but it has kind of gotten to that point.  Can we really count soda and fast food and processed snacks as food?  It tastes good and is for the most part digested by our bodies, but what if it does more harm to our bodies than good?  Is that food?

I went to the place I get most of my research, a place I see as the most practical and relevant.  Wikipedia defines food as any substance, composed of carbohydrates, water, fats and/or proteins, that is either eaten or drunk by any animal, including humans, for nutrition or pleasure”.

Dang it.  And dag gum.  I was really hoping the words “or pleasure” were not part of that definition.  I wanted to make a good point about how America is not actually eating food anymore because food is for nutrition only, not pleasure alone.  But the word “or” messes that up for me.  That definition means the sole purpose of eating for food can be for just pleasure, not attached with nutrtion.

So based on that definition of food, all I can do is say this:

But if eating for nutrition seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day why you eat, whether for the nutrition that your forefathers ate which prevented cancer and disease, or for the pleasure-giving gods of the Americans, in whose land you are living, who let you become sick and cause you to have a lower quality of life and cause you to depend on a national health care plan that upsets many people.  But as for me and my household, we will eat for nutrition.

When we use our outward appearance as the only indicator of our health, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.  The thought:  “I can eat a decent amount of fried foods and have just one soda a day and be alright, because I don’t really gain any weight.”  Dangerous thought.  Not for now, but for later.

I’m less concerned about how much I weigh and how I look, and instead completely concerned that I won’t have a bad heart or Diabetes by the time I’m 50.  That’s only about 20 years from now.

It’s all a matter of putting this into perspective.  Until we truly understand what we are doing, why change?

For example, take my original theory that eating one tablespoon worth of sugar (12 grams) in food is equal to smoking one cigarette.  I refuse to even drink 8 ounces of orange juice because it’s equal to about two tablespoons of sugar (22 grams).

Read  “healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?” http://wp.me/pxqBU-sf

In my mind, drinking a small glass of orange juice is equal to smoking two cigarettes.  Despite the fact orange juice is loaded with vitamins and cigarettes are not, the concentrated sugar, over time, can do more harm than good.  Besides that, the fruit should be eaten whole because the flesh of the fruit needs to be consumed several times a day by the human body anyway.  Eaten, not drunk.

What makes this concept even more real to me is this:  I have smoked a few cigars in my lifetime.  Not a lot.  Literally just a few.  And just for the record, I like them.  No denying that.

But it’s hard to truly enjoy something I outright know gives cancer to people, over time.  Will I smoke another cigar in my lifetime?  Yes.  Will I start regularly smoking them or cigarettes?  No.

I translate this to food I eat:  Will I eat a big fat juicy cheeseburger from Chili’s again in my life?  Yes.  Will I start regularly going through the Wendy’s drive-thru?  No.

Will I sometimes take my wife out on a Friday night to get us each a “Like It” ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery?  Absolutely yes!  Will I start buying ice cream and keeping it in the freezer at our house every week?  No.

This parallel between tobacco and bad eating habits has been so helpful to me.  Because there’s an obvious stigma with tobacco, but people tend to laugh off bad dieting as just another failed New Year’s resolution.

By taking the matter into my own hands by smoking a few cigars, it helped me register the “badness” of the sugary and fatty and processed foods I’ve eaten most of my life.  Both can kill a person eventually, when consumed enough.  Now I equate a cigar with a banana split (up to 8 tablespoons of sugar).

So I ask myself:  How often can I smoke a cigar, being that I do enjoy it?

Depends.  How often can I eat out at restaurants (which if nothing else, will load up the food will sodium which will cause heart disease) as compared to cooking at home?  How often can I go a whole day without eating any fresh vegetables or fruit in the name of inconvenience? How often can I go back for seconds?  How often can I get dessert?

Over some mysterious amount of time, that accumulative next cigar or next bottle of soda will cause a serious a problem health.  But if it’s done very sparingly, it’ll probably be okay.  It’s a gamble.  For anyone who eats sugary, fattening, and/or processed foods or uses tobacco of any kind.

So the question is, no matter which consumable pleasure we choose, how often are we willing to gamble our heath?

Read the indirect sequel: healthnutshell: That’s Not Food  http://wp.me/pxqBU-DY





Russian Roulette with a Made in China Cap Gun

I’ve heard the phrase “we’re not promised tomorrow” enough throughout my lifetime that it’s become a cliché. And what else can I really do to truly “live my life” and “make the most of it”? My issue is that I’m too aware of how short and precious life is.

During the summer of 1998, right before my senior year of high school, I spent a few weeks at a music camp in which us kids stayed overnight in the dorms of the college at Snead State in Gadsden, AL. I wasn’t the kind of kid who looked for trouble when not supervised. So instead of sneaking out at night, one of the things us teenage boys did in that dorm was play Russian Roulette, with a toy cap gun that was made in China.

Because, what else would we do?

In other words, the seven of us staying in that hall gathered in one room around a toy gun that we loaded with its accompanying ammunition, the equivalent of Snap and Pops. It had a barrel just like a real gun and we would only place one “bullet” in at a time. Meaning that there was only a one-in-six chance that the toy gun would make a big “POP!” when the trigger was pulled.

We all took a turn, passing the toy gun to the next guy after we pressed it to our own temple and pulled the trigger. If it was just a “blank”, we stayed in the game. If it went off, we were out.

It was a very entertaining game. Actually addicting.

But at the same time, it made us nervous. Our hearts would speed up in the anticipation. All over a popping sound from a toy gun bought at a gas station.

Just a dumb game we played that summer. But for me, it brought some reality to the fact of how true that analogy is in every day life. I do everything possible to eat and drink healthy, to exercise regularly, and to reduce stress. Preventing disease and cancer is a lifestyle to me.

Yet, as people who smoke cigarettes and who regularly eat fast food and who don’t make an effort to exercise daily all tell me, “we all gotta go sometime”.

There are still car accidents. There are still those random deaths like an unexpected brain aneurisms, and I don’t even know that that is.

I am completely over-aware that every morning I wake up, it’s a game of Russian roulette. Maybe not a one-in-six chance of life ending. Maybe more like one-in-a-half-a-million.

But to me, I’m only alive another day because God let it happen. So really, it’s not a matter of any chances. Not one-in-an-anything.

And that truth is one of the most sobering, frightful, and yet grace-filled thoughts I can think of.

healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?

A new way to view the worth of the happiness that sugar brings us.



I have never understood the addiction a person encounters who is dependant on alcohol or nicotine. Half-jokingly I have even said that I should take up smoking to prove that I have the will-power to stop. And while my body knows no enticement to the addictive qualities of alcohol or nicotine, I have been fighting a physical addiction my own life.

In high school, when I was “using” the most, I quickly became aware that I had symptoms of an unhealthy person. I had a lot of difficulty breathing, to the point it took hours to fall asleep at night. Not to mention my abundant allergies. So what was my addiction? Refined Sugar. (Sugar that is added to a food or processed in any way.)

Back in those days I ate a king size Little Debbie fudge round for breakfast every morning and another for an afternoon snack. And that was just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

Evidently, men aren’t supposed to admit to loving sugary things. But I openly acknowledge my love and addiction. Chocolate. Ice cream. Cookies. Milk shakes. Peanut butter brittle. Candy. Sweet tea. Dr. Pepper.

Since childhood, I could never finish a meal without having some kind of sweets. My worst vice was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I even overdosed on them one time back in 2003, eating 36 of them in a 16 hour period. From that day I developed a rash that lasted 6 years. Six years, not days.

In October 2008, I “hit rock candy bottom” after my hand eczema (dyshidrosis) got “out of hand”. Take a look at the pictures on this Wikipedia entry to see what I was suffering from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyshidrosis.

I stopped eating shellfish and realized that it helped tremendously, because I learned by wearing my metal wedding ring that my hand eczema is triggered half by contact with heavy metals, which shellfish are full of. The other 50% is the consumption of refined sugar.

It has taken me since October 2008 to get to the point where I am now.  Which is basically a 0% tolerance policy on refined sugar. I couldn’t quit cold turkey. I needed my sugar too much.  Like any threatening drug, I was addicted.  Mentally and physically.

It’s been a long process. The only sugar I eat now comes from 100% fruit juice, fruit, and whole grain bread. Sweets are out of my life.

Aside from the hell that resided on both of my hands for most of last decade, something else helped inspired me to stop my sugar addiction. A realization. A new mindset:

Consuming a tablespoon of sugar is equal to smoking one cigarette.


That may seem like a broad claim since I am not a doctor nor has there ever been a clinical study to prove it. All we really have to go on is the following research I have done, along with the fact my hand eczema is currently 95% cured (thank God).

But consider this: It wasn’t until people began adding sugar into their diets that they began getting cavities. Toothbrushes and toothpaste came about because people starting eating sugar.

Even today, people from tribes in the world that do not have access to Coca-Cola and do not have a concept of adding sugar to their diet coincidently do not suffer from tooth decay. Nor do they suffer from the rate of cancers and diseases that the rest of us do.

I’m not the first to say it: There is a definite link between the health of a person’s teeth and how prone they are to developing health problems in the rest of their body:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/pubs/oral-bucco/2009-smile-sourire/index-eng.php

No one needs to be told of all the horrific things smoking does to the human body. Just in case, here’s an overview:
http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/tobaccorelateddiseases/a/smokingrisks.htm

However, most of us truly don’t realize that arguably, the presence of sugar in our diets causes all kinds of cancers and diseases as well.  Most notably, the consumption of refined sugar leads to diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.  Plus:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060818171925AA5czDQ
http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm

This isn’t to say that consumption of refined sugar causes lung cancer and the same exact health problems that tobacco causes. But eating foods that are processed with refined sugar leads to just as many health problems.

I am confident that a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day (20 cigarettes), compared to a person who consumes 20 tablespoons of sugar a day, will be just as affected with an unhealthy body. Whether it’s for 5 years or 30 years.

The more sugar in a person’s daily diet now, the unhealthier they will be later in life. Like cigarettes, the damage isn’t instantly obvious. It can take decades before the person’s body begins to scream for help, like mine did.

To find out how much sugar is in a product, take a look at the nutrition facts. Look under “Total Carbohydrate”. Then scroll down to “sugars”. Divide that number by 12. That is how many tablespoons (not teaspoons) of sugar is in one serving of that product.

The average can of soda contains around 3 ½ to 4 tablespoons of sugar, or according to my analogy, has the same health dangers as smoking 3 ½ to 4 cigarettes.

Therefore, a person who drinks a 2 liter of soda (or the sugar equivalent of it through other sweets) a day will have the comparable health risks of a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day.

(For some great visuals, click here: http://www.sugarstacks.com/ )

But as we know, it doesn’t take smoking an entire pack of cigarettes day for a person’s health to be affected by it. So it’s important to check out those forgettable smaller amounts of sugars we consume as well.

Let’s a take a look at a classy favorite, Starbucks. Just a tall (the smallest size) Caramel Frappaccino has 53 grams of sugar, which is 4 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 4 ½ cigarettes. A tall iced white mocha has 41 grams of sugar, which is 3 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 3 ½ cigarettes. http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_info.asp

A Snickers bar has 28 grams, or nearly 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or cigarettes.

Ten years ago, the Atkins diet surged with popularity, and suddenly everyone was avoiding carbs. But we need carbs. It’s the sugar in them that’s bad.

Whole grain bread is an important part of our diet, since it contains a good amount of fiber that we need to our food to push through our intestines. But even whole grain, whole wheat fiber has some sugar in it. It’s a matter of finding bread with the most fiber and the least sugar. And dividing that sugar content by 12 to find out how many tablespoons of sugar it contains in a serving.

From all my research, it’s difficult to find a nutritionist who will give a solid number for the amount added sugar we are allowed in a day. Because many that I talked to said ideally, none. But for the ones would give me an answer: 37.5 grams of added sugar per day. About 3 tablespoons.

In other words, a king size Snickers bar or a Starbucks tall iced white mocha will meet this limit 100%. (Though a can of soda would be over the limit.) So we have a fun snack like that and think we’re okay. But, what about the rest of the added sugar we are going to eat that day too?

Like bread? Fruit juice? Whole grain cereal? Yogurt? Milk?

By simply eating the healthy foods we should be eating already, we are naturally going to get close to that those 37.5 grams (or 3 tablespoons) of sugar. So it leaves out room for any sugary snacks.

Because even if we eat completely healthy balanced meals, once we add a bag of M&M’s, we exceeding our daily allowance. And keeping in my unproven theory that a tablespoon of sugar is equal to a cigarette, just one sugary snack on top of an already healthy diet would be like smoking a few cigarettes.

But the truth is this: Most people don’t already eat healthy, balanced meals. So that’s even more “cigarettes” in a day.

The good new is, we don’t have to count all sugars against our 37.5 gram allowance:  Like whole foods such as bananas or blueberries. Or really any food that has not all been processed and has had some kind of sugar added to it.

Because even healthy bread and yogurt have added sugar, even if its organic evaporated cane juice. For example, I just finished a serving of Stonyfield strawberry yogurt which contained 34 grams of sugar. They added organic sugar and strawberry juice to sweeten the yogurt. That’s my full allowance of added sugar, and that was an attempt to be healthy. Not to mention the grape juice I drank earlier today. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll go with cottage cheese and strawberries I slice myself.

And even 100% fruit juice is processed- juice is only a part of the whole fruit. So it must count against the 37.5 gram allowance.

But somehow if the fruit is eaten whole, with the fruit flesh, it counteracts the negative elements of the sugar it contains.

And of course, there’s no cheating the system. Artificial sweeteners are not a safe alternative, with links to potential cancer risks, negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs, gastrointestinal problems, developmental problems in children and fetuses and headaches, to name a few:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I think the most motivating element for me in all this is not so much a fear of getting cancer, but more about getting diabetes. Multiple sources continue to report that 1 out of 3 American children will become diabetics as adults if their current lifestyle continues:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I have lived the first 28 years of my life in favor of becoming a diabetic. After seeing a few photographs of people who had to have their legs removed because of the disease, I decided that I don’t mind getting old, but I do mind getting old and unhealthy and account of my carefree lifestyle in my young adulthood.

So which is worse? A tablespoon of sugar or a cigarette?

At best, they’re the same. They both have enough potential to give us cancer and diseases. I’m not willing to risk my life for either one. I want to be the next Juice Man. Out of control eybrows and all.

Related posts by the same author:

Barley into Beer  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2L

1.2 Billion People Can’t Be Wrong  http://wp.me/pxqBU-43

 Beauty and Self-Worth aren’t the Real Issues  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2c