By Kim Banting,

I recently lost my grandmother.  She was 84 years old and her health had been seriously failing for the past 2 years.  She had osteoporosis, COPD and over 80% blockage in her arteries.  She had a chronic cough for as long as I can remember.  She smoked for more than 65 years!  It got me to thinking:  it took 65 years for smoking to kill my grandma.  She definitely died as a result of the effects of smoking and she lived with poor health for a very long time because she was a smoker.  Even as a child, I remember her coughing and coughing and coughing!  This deep, wracking cough that shook her whole body….and I have been asking myself, “How long did she smoke before the chronic, life-long health problems started to show?”  Initially, when someone begins to smoke, the body sets about it’s protective mechanisms and creates lots of mucus to coat the lining of the esophagus and lungs.   This causes tightness in the chest and wheezing.  People cough as the lungs try to rid themselves of the chemicals that are irritating and harmful.  The cilia that line the small airways become paralyzed and die off, increasing your risk of infections and respiratory illness.  These are the initial consequences of smoking, but the truly debilitating and life threatening diseases of cancer, heart disease, emphysema, vision deterioration, and so on take years to develop.  There is no doubt that smoking is a terrible habit that will eventually kill us, and the body goes right into protective mode as soon as you begin to smoke.


Then I started thinking about how poor food choices affect our health.  You know, to put this into perspective.  We are all in agreement that smoking kills, but we are not all in agreement that poor food choices kill us.  Yet, there is no doubt that food has the greatest impact on our health and is the strongest factor in our ability to prevent chronic diseases.  The greatest threats to our health today are Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Obesity.  These are 100% diseases caused by poor dietary choices and sedentary lifestyle.  100 years ago, our greatest threat to dying from disease was from infections, but we have learned to wash our hands and cover our mouths when we cough and we have grown powerful antibiotics to fight the worst infections…We are brilliant at pinpointing our threats and defeating them, so what’s the hold up on defeating lifestyle diseases?


In the documentary Supersize Me, Morgan Spurlock (documentary film maker) meets with a team of doctors before setting out on his mission to determine if fast food is truly harmful to our health.  Before beginning this experiment, he is found to be in a state of perfect medical health.  He is 6 foot 2 inches and 185 lbs with 11% body fat.  Cholesterol levels are a healthy 168, triglycerides 87 and his liver and kidneys are in perfect working order.  His doctors hypothesize that during this next month, his cholesterol and triglycerides will likely increase a little and if heart disease is in his family he may be at risk of developing issues.


10 days into his experiment Morgan is at his weekly check in with his doctors and it’s found that he has gained 18 lbs, his cholesterol has jumped to 225, his liver enzymes are now 14 times higher and Morgan reports that he feels lethargic, numb and is experiencing chest pain.  He is always exhausted, he is depressed and has powerful mood swings.  His cravings for more of the same junk food are uncontrollable.  His doctors strongly urge him to stop this experiment immediately because his liver has turned to fat and he is developing kidney stones and risking gout.

10 DAYS into this experiment, Morgan Spurlock’s health has completely changed to a disease state!  10 DAYS!!!  Can anyone deny that junk food is at least as big a risk factor of death as cigarettes?  Probably even a higher risk!  And if this is indisputable, which it seems to me that it is without a doubt, indisputable, then why are we not doing something about this????


McDonald’s is the “restaurant” that Spurlock chooses for his experiment.  He eats 3 meals a day there for 30 days.  Now, I know that most people aren’t eating at McDonald’s 3 times a day, everyday.  However, I do know that many people are eating fast food of some type everyday.  I know that few people cook for themselves anymore and almost everyone I speak with admits to relying on convenience foods because they are so busy.  Finally, I know that very few people are eating the recommended 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  Fruits and vegetables contain the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help the body repair damage that is done day to day.  Our precious liver is the hard-working organ that helps to filter out toxins and remove them from our bodies.  If we are constantly exposing our bodies to harmful substances and never providing the necessary antidote, how on Earth can we expect it to stay in perfect working order?  Think of it like taking your car in for a tune up.  Over time, the oil gets old and thick and the air filter gets clogged up and you need to flush out the gunk or your engine will stop working.  Why don’t we take care to clean the gunk out of our cells?  I dream of a day when fast food and processed junk in the grocery store is as taboo as cigarettes, however I understand that is not going to happen anytime soon.  In the meantime, my hope is to share my message and inspire more people to eat clean more often.  Find the time to prepare food for yourself and try to eat a big salad every day or drink a vegetable smoothie!  This one small change can have a big impact and who knows, maybe it will even be the beginning of whole new lifestyle!


We don’t often think of this when we are out and just need to find something to eat, but when you spend your money on something, you are casting a vote and telling the company you are buying from that you support their product.  If we all took just a little time to plan ahead and spend our money on foods that we know are more nourishing for us, these companies would have to rise to the challenge of providing those foods!  Over the past winter, McDonald’s saw an all-time low income earning for their first quarter sales.  All of a sudden, they were promoting a line of new salads for their customers!  If we want better food, it is up to us to demand it!