If I have a number one pet peeve, it has to be misleading or downright dishonest marketing. There are two areas that have drawn my attention more and more lately regarding this: personal care products and food. As the old adage says, ‘You are what you eat’. That’s probably more true than most people realize and it used to be sufficient, but due to the boom in the personal care industry it should be revised to say, ‘You are what you eat and rub on’. Unfortunately, our free-enterprise system, solely focused on making a profit on empty promises of greater beauty and better taste, has perfected the art of deceptive marketing to make us believe the latest concoction of laboratory wizardry is good for us. The emerging truth, however, seems to be much different. The correlation between the increase in cancer and other diseases over the last few decades and the increase in toxic additives in our food and personal care products is probably not coincidental.
It really doesn’t take much research to learn that Americans spend billions of dollars on personal and health care products, many of which do little to improve our well-being and in some cases do us harm. The list of examples is practically endless. Some of my favorites are women’s skin care products, which are mostly just expensive ways to clog your pores; high-tech shaving cartridges that shave just slightly better than the old double-edge blades but cost an astonishing forty times more (I am personally now back to using my 45-year-old safety razor and still get a great shave); the venerable multiple vitamins, which doctors now admit are mostly useless unless you have a serious deficiency (wouldn’t you like that money back?); and most toothpastes, which cost three to four times more than good-old Ultra Bright or Aim but work no better (Consumer Reports tests repeatedly show that how you brush is more important than which toothpaste you use).
And then there is our food. Dr. John Alevizos, a physician in southern California who specializes in anti-aging medicine, says about 90 percent of America’s chronic lifestyle diseases are preventable simply by eating the right food in moderation and getting a reasonable amount of exercise. These diseases include cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, asthma, eczema, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, COPD, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis; most of which are caused by inflammation somewhere in the body. And the two major causes of inflammation? Obesity and the typical American diet, which is high in omega 6 fatty acids, simple carbohydrates (sugar, etc.), and loaded with pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals.
Earlier this year I was forced to do my own grocery shopping when my wife deserted me for a few months to help our daughter with her new twin boys. With a strong desire to continue to eat well to help fight my stubborn Lyme disease, I started reading labels and researching foods that best bolster our immune systems. It certainly didn’t take long to figure out why there is a health crisis in this country and discover what I believe are the three main reasons people don’t eat a healthier diet:
- They are addicted to lousy food (it has been scientifically proven that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine).
- It’s almost difficult to find the ‘good’ food at the store (food labeling in the U.S. is misleading to the point of being practically criminal).
- Healthy food is more expensive.
Assuming that some of you would really like to eat healthier and are willing to do a little homework and muster up some willpower, here is a good trade you might consider: Spend less money on those useless and possibly harmful personal care products you currently buy and spend what you save on better food. The homework part is that you need to apply a pragmatic skepticism to everything you buy. Read labels and do some research to learn what is really good for you versus what manufacturers are telling you. In other words, don’t trust anyone who is trying to sell you something. The willpower part is that you must wean yourself off the lousy, addictive food that occupies the majority of most grocery stores. (And that is no easy task!) If you are successful, though, the benefits to your health and well-being can be huge.