How to Prevent Chronic Disease and Change Our Food System
In the US, chronic disease has become the norm.
Think about how many people you know that have or had one of the following: cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, cancer, dementia, or obesity. And there’s so many more.
I’m willing to bet you can count multiple people in your life, if not yourself, who are struggling with one of these illnesses—that’s because 6 out of 10 Americans have a chronic disease (4 out of 10 have two or more) which are responsible for 70% of deaths.
What people don’t realize is that so many cases of these are preventable through eating a better diet and improving our lifestyle choices.
The impacts of the chronic disease epidemic are far-reaching. Over the next 35 years, we’ll end up spending $95 trillion because of them, on direct healthcare costs like drugs and imaging to indirect costs like reduced productivity. This has been called the single biggest threat to global economic development and as long as we don’t do anything about it, these health issues and poor choices are getting passed down to each new generation.
But it isn’t a lack of willpower that’s leading to them; it’s our broken food system.
Changing the way we grow, produce, consume, and waste food can change the state of our public health, its economic burden, and everything from childhood educational achievements to climate change. That’s why I wrote my new book Food Fix.
The number one factor contributing to the rise in chronic diseases is a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet, only 2 percent of our farmland is used to grow healthful crops like these because the government subsidizes crops like corn, soy, and wheat that are making us sick and take up the majority of our farmland.
How are we supposed to eat healthfully and focus on preventing illness when the foods that are the easiest to access and afford are the ones that are hurting us the most?
I know it seems overwhelming. These are big issues, but they have real solutions. Food is the cause, but it’s also the cure.
We can work together to change the food system literally from the ground up. Some of the simplest steps—like becoming a conscious consumer and reading labels more carefully, supporting regenerative agriculture, starting a community garden, and composting in your own kitchen—are powerful catalysts for changing the future of food. And, there are so many other ways to help, too.
I lay out the most promising solutions for a health-promoting food system throughout Food Fix. These steps support better health in all of us and a healthier planet at the same time. They reduce the economic burden of disease, promote healthier generations, reverse climate change, and create safer and cleaner jobs for farmers.
We have a lot of power in our hands, I hope you’ll join me in using it for a Food Fix revolution. You can pre-order the book right here to get started.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD