Out of all this craziness, one silver lining is that we’re not taking our immune system and overall health for granted anymore. Covid19 has been like a crash course in public health. Like “flatten the curve”, terms like “metabolic health” and “systemic inflammation” are on everyone’s lips because almost all (94%) of Covid19 victims have underlying metabolic disease and systemic inflammation. These simmering dynamics aren’t random bad luck. They’re directly caused by diet, especially ultraprocessed food, which unfortunately makes up the majority of the western diet.
Every day the numbers of corona virus deaths are plastered all over the news. But did you know that our western diet kills ten times more people than Covid19 every single year? Ten times! Yet there’s no massive public health effort to save these lives. Where’s the outrage?
There will never be a vaccine for ultraprocessed diet. It’s on us individually to save ourselves and families. Fortunately, it’s really not that difficult. In his epic book, “In Defense of Food”, Michael Pollen boiled all the data down to one, memorable phrase, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
- Eat food. By food, we mean food – real, whole, and natural. Not ultraprocessed “edible food-like substances”. Look at those hot dogs, fluorescent mac and cheese, and neon candies with more disdain than you’d look at some bare faced villain coughing on your child.
- Not too much. We’re going to have to stop using food as entertainment, stress relief, and comfort and start dealing with our emotional stuff the real way (with wine – just kidding!). Using food to sedate ourselves is a temporary fix that just makes more and worse problems. Instead, meditate, breathe, exercise. They work better.
- Mostly plants. Eat the rainbow of veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. We know that plants have really great things like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. But did you know that many of the phytonutrients in plants are actually part of the plants’ immune system? Fascinatingly, when we eat them, they inform and strengthen our immune system! How cool is that? If you’d like to learn more about this, check out this podcast with two Functional Medicine titans – Dr Mark Hyman and Dr Jeffrey Bland. I bet you too will be googling Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat.
Let’s translate our new vocabulary to action in the kitchen. Grab a whole food, plant based cookbook like Forks Over Knives, anything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Engine 2, or Thug Kitchen (which is hilarious but contains abundant profanity). If cooking isn’t really your gig (yet), new clean brands, restaurants, and food delivery services pop up every day that feature delicious, whole, natural, organic plant foods. We’ll be strong, resilient, and ready next time a mutant virus comes around. (Fist pump!)