He was attempting to put things into perspective and bring our concerns and efforts closer to home — to something that is a far greater risk for Americans — seasonal flu.
He pointed out that every year, thousands of people die from the flu. In the past 30 years, the incidence of death has varied from a low of 3000 to a high of 49,000. (data from the CDC website.) His goal is to encourage us to put our efforts into a disease that poses a real, known risk to us rather than getting freaked about about Ebola.
I’m in total agreement with him! Let’s focus on preventing and reversing health problems that are already known to be disabling and killing people, including our family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. And ourselves!
But guess what? The seasonal flu is not costing most of us our lives. Not many of us have family members, friends, and co-workers who have died from the flu.
So what IS killing us?
According to the latest CDC data (2010), these are the
top 10 causes of death:
As you can see, heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death, with cancer a close second. All types of flu, combined with pneumonia, are way down at #8.
The most important lifestyle choice we can make to prevent, and even reverse, most of these diseases is to choose a diet of unprocessed plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and small amounts of nuts and seeds have been shown in repeated research studies to provide amazing protection from the diseases that are killing most of us.
The Kaiser Institute, a well-known and very mainstream managed health organization has reviewed the research and concluded:
In addition to eating a whole-foods, plant-based diet, it’s also important to quit smoking, get enough sleep, and move our bodies more. In addition, effective stress management is helpful.
We can turn this shipwreck around. We don’t need to wait for public policy. We don’t need to wait for insurance companies to change. We don’t even need to wait for our doctors to become educated about optimal nutrition. Each of us can make our next meal one that supports health — that supports life!
What we must not do is ignore the fact that our American diet and lifestyle are killing us. And it’s happening every day. It’s not just in the winter months, like seasonal flu. It’s happening right now — and it can begin to change right now. It can change with our next trip to the grocery store. It can change with our next meal. It can change when we begin to feed our children food that supports long-term health instead of chronic illness.
I invite you to watch a powerful free online video called Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death, by Dr. Michael Greger. Then explore his website to discover other research that demonstrates the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Making dietary changes can feel challenging. Where do I even start!? How do I know what to eat and how to make it taste good?
I have classes both online and locally to help you with all the practical aspects of shifting to a healthy diet. Click here for information about local classes and click here for online courses.
So the next time you hear a report about the Ebola virus, or the seasonal flu, I invite you to think about what you’re doing to protect yourself from the diseases that are a lot more likely to get you!
Delisa is a plant-based nutrition and cooking instructor in Alaska. She believes that we are designed to be slim and healthy.