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Health care costs

Health illiteracy is widespread: neither patients nor doctors grasp the fundamentals of nutrition

Tuesday, June 08, 2004
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com (See all articles...)
Tags: health care costs, nutrition, junk food companies


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Health literacy is a huge problem for controlling health care costs, says a new study published by the Institute of Medicine. By "health literacy," they mean the ability of the general public to read and understand basic health information. The absence of this ability is costing our nation $29 billion a year in additional medical costs, and that was back in 1996!

I completely agree with the findings of this research. I've found health literacy to be astonishingly low among the general population -- even among people who can read just fine! A fundamental grasp of nutrition, for example, is almost completely lacking in our population. I've listened to people tell me that they think eating white rice at a Chinese restaurant is good for them "because it contains so much fiber." That's quite a surprise to hear, since white rice has virtually no fiber whatsoever and isn't healthy at all: it's more like a dietary sugar than a health food.

Amazingly, most people have no clue that soft drinks are bad for their health. They've never been told that store-bought cookies promote obesity and diabetes. They have no awareness of the fact that hydrogenated oils lead to heart disease. This is basic information, folks, and barely 1% of our population is aware of it.

So what's the cause of this widespread health illiteracy? By and large, the information just isn't taught to anyone. Public school health classes hardly cover nutrition and certainly don't mention ingredients or foods to avoid, since that would outrage the junk food manufacturers who depend on children for revenues. As a result, the health information taught in schools is the old watered-down, politically correct garbage found on the USDA's utterly outdated Food Guide Pyramid, which is actually just a promotion gimmick for food growers and industries that have political clout. Even the USDA's own employees admit the pyramid has a lot more to do with politics than sound nutritional advice.

The federal government also fails to educate people about basic nutritional wisdom. Even while our nation suffers from a rapidly accelerating obesity epidemic, there are no public service messages telling people to avoid soft drinks, high fructose corn syrup or refined white sugar. The government doesn't have the political willpower to instruct the public to eat less of anything, thanks to the political backlash from the junk food companies.

And yet it's not just the general public that's illiterate when it comes to health: the vast majority of medical doctors are also nutritionally illiterate thanks to the mysterious lack of nutrition education in our nation's medical schools. Bestselling author Dr. Andrew Weil explains it in the same terms. "Physicians are nutritionally illiterate," he says, and part of his mission is to bring nutrition classes to medical schools so that tomorrow's doctors can at least demonstrate some basic understanding of the relationships between foods and health.

With foods being the #1 cause of chronic disease, you would think medical schools might be interested in teaching something about nutrition, but thanks to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry (which has open-door access to medical schools these days), the schools remains steeped in teaching drugs, surgery and other strategies of western medicine that are now known to be almost universally useless, unproven, or extremely dangerous. Here's a fascinating fact: I've spent more than 4,000 hours studying nutrition and the relationships between foods and health. Most M.D.s, on the other hand, have spent as little as one hour learning about nutrition during their entire medical education. If you spent just ten hours reading the nutritional information found on this website, you will possess ten times the nutritional knowledge of most doctors!

So with most western doctors literally clueless about basic nutrition (that's not an exaggeration), we have a situation of the blind leading the blind: doctors have no way to teach patients how to make healthy food choices, since they don't know themselves! Interestingly, none of this has anything to do with the classic definition of illiteracy. These people can read just fine. They're smart people. They've just been denied a quality education by our nation's medical schools which simply refuse to teach future physicians about the true causes of health and disease. That's one reason why so much of organized medicine is a sham -- the system has no foundation in the true causes of disease and health. That's why prescription drugs fail in more than 90% of all patients and why simple lifestyle changes like diet and physical exercise outperform even the most expensive drugs by huge factors.

So what's the solution? Obviously, we need to start teaching doctors about nutrition. There's some progress in that area, and naturopathic physicians are of course already learning and teaching nutrition. Secondly, we need to ban all junk food advertising and, instead, start running public service announcements that teach people what foods and ingredients to avoid. Third, we need to teach the truth about nutrition, foods, disease and health in our nation's schools and universities, regardless of what Coca-Cola thinks about it. Finally, more people should read websites like this one where the truth about nutrition is presented without the political meddling of junk food companies.

Because we have all the information we need, right now, to be a society that's almost universally disease free. We can create a world with virtually no cancer, no diabetes, no heart disease and no mental illness. It's not a mystery. The answer is found in our food choice and exercise habits. Most people want to be healthy but they don't know how. This whole health care crisis we're experiencing today is nothing more than an information distribution challenge: if we get the truth about nutrition into the hands of the general public, people will make healthier choices. Disease rates will plummet. Health care costs will fall. Pharmaceutical companies will go bankrupt. This is a good thing, folks. This is what every modern society should aim for.


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About the author:Mike Adams (aka the "Health Ranger") is a best selling author (#1 best selling science book on Amazon.com) and a globally recognized scientific researcher in clean foods. He serves as the founding editor of NaturalNews.com and the lab science director of an internationally accredited (ISO 17025) analytical laboratory known as CWC Labs. There, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence for achieving extremely high accuracy in the analysis of toxic elements in unknown water samples using ICP-MS instrumentation. Adams is also highly proficient in running liquid chromatography, ion chromatography and mass spectrometry time-of-flight analytical instrumentation.

Adams is a person of color whose ancestors include Africans and Native American Indians. He's also of Native American heritage, which he credits as inspiring his "Health Ranger" passion for protecting life and nature against the destruction caused by chemicals, heavy metals and other forms of pollution.

Adams is the founder and publisher of the open source science journal Natural Science Journal, the author of numerous peer-reviewed science papers published by the journal, and the author of the world's first book that published ICP-MS heavy metals analysis results for foods, dietary supplements, pet food, spices and fast food. The book is entitled Food Forensics and is published by BenBella Books.

In his laboratory research, Adams has made numerous food safety breakthroughs such as revealing rice protein products imported from Asia to be contaminated with toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and tungsten. Adams was the first food science researcher to document high levels of tungsten in superfoods. He also discovered over 11 ppm lead in imported mangosteen powder, and led an industry-wide voluntary agreement to limit heavy metals in rice protein products.

In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Through the non-profit CWC, Adams also launched Nutrition Rescue, a program that donates essential vitamins to people in need. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.

With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource featuring over 10 million scientific studies.

Adams is well known for his incredibly popular consumer activism video blowing the lid on fake blueberries used throughout the food supply. He has also exposed "strange fibers" found in Chicken McNuggets, fake academic credentials of so-called health "gurus," dangerous "detox" products imported as battery acid and sold for oral consumption, fake acai berry scams, the California raw milk raids, the vaccine research fraud revealed by industry whistleblowers and many other topics.

Adams has also helped defend the rights of home gardeners and protect the medical freedom rights of parents. Adams is widely recognized to have made a remarkable global impact on issues like GMOs, vaccines, nutrition therapies, human consciousness.

In addition to his activism, Adams is an accomplished musician who has released over a dozen popular songs covering a variety of activism topics.

Click here to read a more detailed bio on Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, at HealthRanger.com.

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