Abby normal

I’m always studying why we Americans eat so astonishingly bad. What on earth keeps us committing suicide by fork? I’ve come up with about 9 major reasons so far, and one of them is a massive and deadly confusion about what’s "normal.” To wit:

I had this client some years back. We’ll call her Nancy, on accounta that being her name and all. Anyway, Nancy had been retired for almost a decade when she came to see me. She wanted to learn to eat better to lose a stubborn thirty pounds, something her doctor had encouraged her to do. Nancy also told me that she had high blood pressure, aching joints when she woke up—especially in her hands—and osteopenia, the precursor to osteoporosis. Sometimes she suffered from a little indigestion, headaches and heartburn. All kinds of stuff. The usual suspects.

Over the course of our first discussion, Nancy revealed she had one of the nastiest little myths you can carry around with you, and it’s a belief that’s epidemic in this country. She believed that her ailments were “normal.” After all, every one of her friends had a list of health challenges just like hers. Our country is so plagued with poor health that most Americans have come to see chronic degenerative diseases (and a thousand other “minor complaints”) as normal. And the constant bombardment of pharmaceutical ads only drives the message deeper into our minds.

Headaches, indigestion, heartburn, fatigue, hypothyroid, hemorrhoids, aching joints, high blood pressure, constipation, IBS, gum disease—all normal as can be. They just "happen." Business as usual. Nothing to see here, folks, move along. Diabetes, heart disease, asthma, arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer—these are things we should all expect. Yippee!

There’s a funny way in which we even regard being overweight as normal. Yes, we say that obesity is caused by how we eat and by not exercising. But there’s an odd sense we have here in America that our body is always somehow “trying” to get fat. That’s why most people think they’re supposed to go through all sorts of struggles, their whole lives, to stop that from happening; to engage in the constant uphill battle to stave it off. It’s a very strange belief when you think about it. And it is big-time outer space silliness. When you eat clean, pure, whole food, with lots of raw plant food (fruits & veggies; nuts & seeds) you can eat virtually as much as you want, never counting or measuring anything, and remain always lithe and radiant.

Why? Because human beings are made for perfect health. All around the globe there have been cultures who show us this. These are peoples I’ve mentioned on this blog before, like the Hunzas of Northern Pakistan, the Vilcabambans of Ecuador, the Abkhasians or Georgians of Eastern Europe and many others. Chronic degenerative diseases—even dental cavities—were, at one time virtually unknown to these peoples. Before they became “modernized,” like us, illness of any kind was all but nonexistent. They were strong and vital and sharp into their hundreds! You can find photos of the Hunzas in their 90’s and even hundreds playing volleyball! These people aren’t mythical. They’ve been studied a lot and the conclusion is unavoidable: vibrant, dynamic health, including effortless slimness, is normal for us homo sapien types. It’s just how we’re made. It’s how you are made. I know it sounds odd, but you really have to work to get ill and overweight.

Here in the U.S. we’ve had many examples of this kind of health. These are people like nutritional pioneer Norman Walker who died at age 97. He drowned while doing one of his favorite activities: surfing. Or Paul Bragg, who, after his daily gardening work took his regular afternoon nap and died peacefully in his sleep. He was about 120 years old. Or Jack La Lane, who at age 95 is an incredible dynamo, lecturing around the world and working out two hours a day. There are countless examples like these. They are not the flukes or anomalies. They are examples of our true normal; the massive super-health we are structurally designed for. All we have to do is stop obstructing it, and a diet of fresh, whole, nutrient dense foods is the foundation and centerpiece of it all (exercise and happy emotions are key, too).


Jill said...

Hi Mark,
I love what you're doing on your site!
Thanks for another great blog post.
That bit about believing our bodies are trying to get fat... I've been buying that at some level and hadn't even realized it.
Thank you for the clarity you bring to healthy living.

Mark said...

Thanks, Jill! Thanks for your kind comments! And I'm so glad you got a cool little insight from the entry. Yes indeedy, we are thoroughly programmed to think the body is "always trying" to get sick, overweight, etc. Cuz' there's big money (for Big Pharma, etc.) in all of us buying that. Yuck!

Geri said...

Thanks Mark! I remember when you said, "We are not supposed to die of the dis-eases we are dying from as a culture." It was a wallop alongside the head! I intend to do my best to live to be 120 and die peacefully in my sleep. It is a realistic expectation with the support of folks like you and so many other clean eaters.

Mark said...

What sweet comments, and I'm so glad you're turning away from the "illness hypnosis" of our culture. Right on!