Thursday, April 07, 2011

Western Diets, Food for Thought

NPR aired a story last week about the impact our western diets are making on the world. Info about the story and article can be found here. The person being interviewed, Dr. Kevin Patterson, spoke of the alarming rise all over the world of Type 2 diabetes.

He said,

No country in the world has the resources to continue to treat diabetics the way that they're being treated now, if the prevalence rates increase at the rates that they're increasing for much longer," he says. "I worked in Saipan, which is in the Marianas Island in the Pacific, and there, the dialysis population was increasing at about 18 percent a year, all as a consequence of diabetes and acculturation — exactly the same process as what's going on with the Inuit.

When you look at the curves, it's clear how unsustainable it is. In 20 or 30 years, everybody on that island will either be a dialysis patient or a dialysis nurse unless something fundamental is done about the rise in diabetes. That's no less true in Canada and in Samoa and Hawaii, and even in Omaha and Toronto. We all have exactly the same problem when we plot out those curves.

What an awful future he projects! And he is probably right--cheap, easy to fix and serve food has just taken over. The heavy carb/sugar ratio in most of those foods pushes the insulin response to high gear which leads to excessive fat storage and both help create fertile ground for developing Type 2 diabetes. And these days, fewer are able to find the leisure to fix (and to grow) more healthy meals and then also to take the time to sit down and eat them, again with leisure.

I know I keep hitting this theme, but . . . we are just too busy. The real and important is constantly being exchanged for the less-real, the less important, the substitute that panders to laziness and the need to over-consume, rather than savor a smaller, and more flavorful amount, not just of food, but of work, play, things--we have too much of everything.

We are so used to being served huge amounts of food that we forget to just enjoy the piece. Did you know that a large tub of movie theater popcorn with butter topping just by itself has about 1500 calories? And a large soft drink to wash it down it contains another 500? Unfortunately, some compelling evidence suggests that diet drinks may stimulate the same insulin response that the regular ones do, and thus be adding to the type 2 diabetes risk.

I so often wonder what God does think of the way we have chemicalized and altered the wonderful things offered to us to eat in the beautiful mystery of creation.  Perhaps when we get to heaven, we'll discover all we lost by the exchange.

1 comment:

Angie Hammond said...

Not exactly a response to your talking about our eating habits, but more of a thought about things seeming real to us. This week, my Physics classes watched the latest Nova production called Japan's Killer Quake.
It told the story of the events that took place during and the hours after the quake and tsunami hit Japan.

What struck all of us was that what we saw on the screen looked like just another disaster thriller movie. The only catch was we knew it was real. I can tell you this, not a single one of them put their head down to sleep. And today they wanted to see the rest of it since we couldn't finish the program in one class period. I had warned them before the video that it was very disturbing (since we knew lives were lost) but that no bodies were shown in it.

My point here is that in everything we do, nothing seems real to us anymore. We can see things on TV or cell phones or computers and it can be a world away from us and we see it but it doesn't touch us.
It is not real unless we think about it being real.

This week my students watched a video we knew was real and it touched them. And to be honest with you, it also touched me their teacher. I found that I had trouble wrapping my mind around how real it was.

I know this post was not about our eating habits, but I think it fits in with the theme of excess in our lives.

In the video, it talked about how well prepared Japan was for earthquakes and yet it was not good enough when this one hit.

Finally the last statements on the video were that all we had to do to see our future was look at Japan and then realize that they were well prepared and we are not nearly as well prepared should we have an earthquake like the one of March 11th.

Sobering thoughts just like your thoughts about our diets and our future with type two diabetes.

It is very apparent that we need God these days more than ever before.