This is the Home Page for our quick-read nutritional health column for regional newspapers. If you have a local publication that might want to carry it, let us know or pass the link onto them.
The human species has no choice. It can’t hide. Worldwide there are 7.8 billion people that require basic needs which go beyond food, water, clothing and shelter. In the modern era basic needs include sanitation, education, healthcare, power generation, first responders, the military, manufacturing, transportation systems, income, and more. So, until there’s an effective vaccine, the virus will simply run its course because we can’t all hide. No government agency can protect us from COVID-19. Consequently, until there is an effective vaccine or herd immunity is established, COVID-19 survivability is an individual responsibility.
Every able-bodied person has an equal opportunity to take care of themselves. But it takes desire, commitment, and knowledge. Unfortunately, nearly everyone has some desire but the majority lacks commitment and knowledge. The knowledge issue is a major problem because what people generally know is too basic or it’s based on myths. It’s made worse because most people are not willing students. Therefore, in this COVID-19 era life is far more challenging than maybe ever before.
A politician finally offered some good advice regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s drop dead obvious. It’s drop dead simple. Everyone can do it. It will increase longevity. It will decrease healthcare costs. It will make people more attractive. And for a fact it greatly increases the odds of surviving a case of COVID-19.
On top of the staggering number of possible positive cases, it may take way more than a 50% infection rate to eventually reach herd immunity. John Hopkins says: “Depending how contagious an infection is, usually 70% to 90% of a population needs immunity to achieve herd immunity.” A full 70% would be 228 million American cases.
I write a lot about nutrition and health and everything known about it is based on history. In today’s highly politicized environment, where every comment seems to invite ridicule and banishment, a simple mention of history can set off riots! But tell me what’s known that isn’t based on history. Either we learn vicariously or by previous personal experience. We just don’t start life knowing.
Philosopher George Santayana wrote that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Think about it. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Their accomplishments were usually achieved after many failures. By knowing what their failures were and understanding why they failed can be as important as knowing about their successes. When we know exactly how something failed, we know how to avoid the same mistake. In spite of knowing history we also must understand that, because people are people, too often history does repeat itself. That can happen in a society or even individually when people stop thinking and follow misguided leaders or the mob.1 2
Back in early 1999 I had an amazing experience when I asked Dr. Dick Diven this question: “Is what I’ve been hearing about Omega-3 for real?”
I first met the late Dr. Diven in 1997 while attending his Low Cost Cow/Calf three-day seminar. He was a PhD animal nutritionist and beef cattle feedlot consultant. There were about 25 cattlemen in attendance. I wasn’t sure what he was going to talk about and whether he had a worthwhile course. Just the same I sat in the front row to be closer to “the heat.” As he started his introduction I was leaning back comfortably with my arms folded across my chest. About 10 minutes later I was leaning forward so I wouldn’t miss a word.
There seems to be a million different world views. They exist in every facet of life whenever two or more people evaluate the same object, event, or point of view and come to a different conclusion. Just ask accident investigators about viewpoints and they’ll explain how difficult it is to get the same story from more than one witness to the same event.
I write a lot about food’s impact on our health and wellness. I use anecdotal examples and peer-reviewed studies as often as possible. Yet it’s amazing how many people get upset or disagree with the information. Emotions can rule which illustrates why facts often rarely matter. In spite of trying to keep an open mind, emotion aside there’s one fact that won’t change my mind. That fact is “we are what we eat.”
On April 6, 2020, Reuters introduced a story this way: “The pandemic is encouraging people to give in to baser temptations. Porn, booze, tobacco, weed and chocolate consumption is rising. It’s perhaps understandable: Even the WHO reckons stress needs to be managed. But excesses now will only add to a bleaker and costlier future.”1
Then there is this recent “study” commissioned by Naked Nutrition, a firm that sells dietary supplements. It used an online questionnaire to survey 2,000 Americans and reported that at least half said they would never get their pre-corona body back.2
What’s your focus when it comes to eating? Do you seek pleasure or is survival your primary objective?
Holidays, similar to Memorial Day, give me an opportunity to witness and experience (minimally) what others eat. For most of my early life I never gave food much of a thought. I believed that my body could synthesize whatever it needed from whatever I ate.
It’s amazing that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic our best and brightest medical types decided Americans should stop working and hole-up in their homes and not venture outside. They did that, yet historically, being outside has proven to be more beneficial for overall health.
Vitamin D is known for improving immunity and we get it from exposure to the sun. That’s why a research team from Northwestern University studied the vitamin D data from hospitals and clinics across China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom (UK), and United States. They concluded that patients from countries with high COVID-19 mortality rates had lower levels of vitamin D compared to patients in countries that were not as severely affected.1
Bringing back the American economy is going to be very interesting for those of us who closely follow history, finance, and business in general. The country has navigated an unprecedented shutdown which makes the opening itself unprecedented. The shutdown caused huge shifts in economic activity, benefiting some sectors while destroying others. Few in the middle were left unchanged. This means the swing back will also be disruptive with additional winners and losers.
America’s food machine has been delivering one billion meals a day to the American public for many years now. It doesn’t happen by government decree, but by the grace of private enterprise. It’s been so efficient that Americans spend a smaller percentage of their take-home pay on food than the citizens of any other country on earth. Its efficiency is one reason why it’s not highly flexible. It’s a system in constant motion that’s choreographed with a maze of contracts for volume and time that service individuals, institutions, restaurants, the military, and many foreign countries. It’s an incredibly complex system that involves nearly every industry in the country and even some that left long ago for foreign shores.1
I remember a client from 1970 whose inheritance had been placed in a trust. He wanted to convert his inheritance from dollar-denominated assets into pre-1933 gold bullion coins that traded legally for about a 10% premium over the $35 gold price. At that time gold was the same price as it was in 1934 while the purchasing power of the dollar had declined significantly since that year. There were also structural financial pressures (savings and loans had borrowed short and lent long) that contributed to a very bullish environment for gold.
Two years earlier a two-tiered gold market had been established. Central banks traded gold on one tier at a fixed $35 price and on the other tier the gold price fluctuated up and down with supply and demand. In 1970, to prevent the gold price from dropping below $35, the primary central banks that dealt in gold agreed to buy gold on the free market at $35. Thus was born the only investment I’ve ever known that had a guaranteed floor but an unlimited ceiling. Obviously changing times had made gold a very appealing investment in 1970.1