Friday, 16 April 2010

A New Political Party For Britain

I thought today I'd have some fun and be as provocative as possible without getting too crazy.

If you watched the great TV debate last night between Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats ... you probably were left with a sense of sterility and frustration.

By the way, I do have some commentary about all-things-health, but you'll have to wait until the end to get it. I just have this selfish urge to express my misguided opinion and be totally self-indulgent for once.

Okay ... here goes. A new political party for Britain aka "If I was the boss and had any reasonable ability to actually catalyse meaningful change ... this is what I'd say".

1. Stop living beyond your means. The fish stinks from the head and thanks to some absurd spending policies our beautiful country is now in debt up to its gills. If you are reading this in America, just multiply everything I say by an appropriate factor!

2. Stop sticking your nose into other peoples' business. This no doubt will be unpopular and if I disturb the sensibilities of some, I apologize. However, I still think we should bring our troops home. Yes, I respect and am eternally grateful to the men out there fighting. And yes, my heart breaks everytime I hear that someone else with a promising future has been killed or injured. And yes I don't want to fathom the waste if we did in fact cease this madness. But ... are we really so sure our motives are not misguided? Are we there to overcome a threat that, by its very nature, we will never stop ... or are we there because we feel sorry for the indigenous people on the ground?

Or both?

Or are we there because we are so far past the point of no return that we genuinely have no idea how to extricate ourselves and keep our dignity intact?

Am I so far off base? Do other people really know? Sometimes in the long run less damage happens when people are big enough to admit when they are wrong.

And while I am on the subject of sticking our noses into other peoples' affairs ... we made a superb humanitarian gesture by donating money and resources to Haiti. But what about Chile, or China ... or the next catastrophe? We can't fix them all. Especially with money we don't have. Why are we not focusing on getting our own house in order. And if we are such noble humanitarians, why then are we so inconsistent with our donations?

How can you be selectively altruistic?

3. Stop spending money we don't have just so we can be perceived as a superpower. We are not. We may once have been (and we are still picking up the pieces of that grand display of unmitigated arrogance). Anyway, a "superpower" isn't broke. Sorry America ... maybe you should also be looking in the mirror. This of course is related to #1 where we continue to think that we can live beyond our means.

At some point in time that will become mathematically impossible. Someone has to face that reality honestly.

Yes, I may be naive for thinking that the "bad guys" won't pounce on any perceived weakness. But we are also naive in thinking that we can do anything about it without having the cash resources. Think outside the box. Might is only right if it can be sustained. In our case ... sorry ... we don't have the bucks.

That (more resources) is what we should be dealing with! And no, might is never right!

4. Stop incentivizing population growth. We have about 7 billion people on the planet. That's maybe 5 billion too many. Every day multiple species of creatures disappear and we barely give it a thought.

How grossly irresponsible is that?

I saw a report this morning about 88 snails having been sent to Bristol zoo in an attempt to save this species from extinction. I think the only reason it got anybody's attention was that it had footage of a really cute baby snail. But most people could care less.

What profound ignorance is it that asks why anyone should actually care about some dumb snail?

But I digress ... not only are we wreaking havoc with mother nature, but the toxins we are producing as we recklessly pollute our world in order to make money and save money will soon become a runnaway train.

In the 80's people thought that being allergic to the twentieth century was a sad anomoly. Within 30 years, maybe less, that will be par for the course. And the kids born today will only be able to look back and shake their heads in absolute bewilderment at our folly.

Forecasts talk about 9 billion inhabitants on planet earth by 2050. Can you even imagine the pollution, the stress, the aggression and the suffering that such a statistic will engender?

No, of course not. That's someone elses' problem. We have become very adept at assigning blame and shrugging off responsibility.


Because there are so many of us now that it's expedient to be overwhelmed!

5. Punish the bad guys. Right now we keep people in cages if it can be proven that they are wrongdoers. Because we don't have enough cages, we let them out prematurely and hope that they have become rehabilitated. They may have repaid some of their debt to society (what a bogus concept!) ... but they sure as hell haven't repaid their victims.

And they never will, because they never can.

That is precisely why we should have a legal system that does not protect criminal rights to the exclusion of all common sense, fairness and perspective ... and a judicial system that sends the message that as a society we no long tolerate thieves, abusers and worse. Bad apples should be routed out, not rehabilitated. We don't even consider theft as that serious any more, despite the havoc it creates for decent people.

Sure, there is the danger of miscarriage of justice. And because of that the rest of us must live in a world where the law is constantly abused and no-one has the power, or the will, to do something about it.

And there is still miscarriage of justice ... just on a grander scale.

Our law is a joke ... except that the consequences of its misapplication are so damn serious. Sure, I respect the law. But real justice ... come on?

If it's broke, fix it!

And if you think I am just being a blow-hard, consider if you will the case of baby Peter. The "man" that killed him had already raped a two year-old. So why was he not behind bars? And why, when he was finally brought to book, did he only get something like ten years?

What was so special about him that he only got ten years? Should we feel sorry for him?


Because we are a "civilized" society that understands mitigating circumstances? Please. We are simply softer, more deluded barbarians.

Come to think of it, how seriously can we take "two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole" when someone who gets that knows they will be out this lifetime?

Justice? Fairness? I think not.

I'd love to feel the law was something that protected decent people. But how can anyone take it seriously when it's one cork in a bucket with hundreds of holes?

And while we're on the subject, personal injury lawyers just drive up the price of insurance for everyone. It's nothing more than a clever (and abusive) reallocation of limited available resources.

It's greed and abuse ... and not one of the three gentlemen on that podium last night will have the power to do anything about that!

Okay, I've saved the best for last.

6. The NHS ... every candidate knows that this is the one area they don't dare get wrong.


Because we have become a nation of dependents!

And how does the average American feel about their health care developments. Well, if Facebook or Twitter are anything to go by, they are pissed!

It's contentious stuff because of the money involved and the inherent vulnerability of dependent people. Which includes virtually all of us.

Let me clarify my position on where conventional medicine is at right now.

In cases of acute illness or trauma, the system is a blessing. And most of the people involved are amazing. I certainly could not do the job of a paramedic or a nurse or an emergency doctor.

Pediatric care and reducing infant mortality ... superb.

But when it comes to preventable chronic illness, we have been sold a bill of goods that is frightening!

If we can't treat it with a drug or technology, we cut it out.

Our politicians talk about cancer and point to the importance of early detection ... and yes, for some this is indeed a lifesaver.

But what is in place to stop people getting it in the first place? The experts tell us it's all in the genes and it's a crap-shoot whether lightening strikes, or not. Anyone who dares to disagree is dismissed with arrogance and branded a quack ... a scourge on society.

Well, what do they expect?

Does anyone who knows anything about the human body really honesty believe that "5-a-day" is enough? It's not. It's a compromise of monumental proportions! Add to that cooked animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) which are touted for no other reason than they generate tax revenues.

But dieticians and nutritionists are the only credible game in town. The official line is "evidence-based". Only misguided fools would argue. Even doctors are groomed to join the fray.

And that's just "nutrition".

What about all the other critical elements that impact your health and therefore your ability to not succumb to the conditions we say we know so much about? But we're actually not really sure, are we?

Don't believe me. Check the papers in twenty years and tell me I am full of bull.

Twenty years too long and a tad impractical ... fine, look at our track record. Cancer rates are increasing. Heart disease is getting worse. So is diabetes, stroke, dementia, depression and arthritis. We're dying and in pain ... and we can't even get it up.

How sad is that?

And all this because some actuary says that we are all living longer!

Hey man, you are welcome to believe that if you want to. Me? Well, I'll just quietly do what I need to do to take care of myself. Anyone want to know how, hey ... I'd welcome the opportunity to share with you.

Okay, that's it. My day is up and sadly I'm not going to be prime minister. There goes that duck pond and fat retirement.

One final thing ...

Everyone said that Nick Clegg "won" the debate.


Because he engaged with the audience and spoke directly into the camera. And he cleverly made his opponents look like they were one entity squabbling in the darkness.

Are we really so impressed with deft PR tactics? Are we actually swayed by rhetoric like "unsung heros", "brave soldiers" and "to be really honest"? I know the sentiments behind the words are genuine (at least I hope they are) ... but it's a televison debate and all that smacks of three scared men tip-toeing through a minefield in gaffe-avoidance mode.

The way Britain will get its pride back will not be from doing well at 2012. Sure, that's nice ... but it's not the be-all and end-all. And in the grand scheme of things it is far less important than other aspects of our culture. It's a cosmetic dream that will evaporate within months after the hype dies down.

No, what is really needed is inspired leadership.

If it's broke, fix it. If it cancerous, cut it out. If it's complicated, simplify it. If you don't have all the answers, say so ... and then do your best to find a solution.

We need a real person, not a cosmetic robot who says all the things his/her advisor has deemed savvy. Warts and all, someone who stops posing, and quietly gets on with the job to the best of their ability.

So stop expecting a show puppy that jumps through ridiculous canned hoops for your entertainment. The proof of any pudding, as always, is in the eating.

When we celebrate a kid taking a minor fall and scuffing his knee as a learning experience and take the time to gently dry his eyes and reassure him he will be okay, then we have a chance.

But when that same kid falls and all we worry about are over-zealous health and safety regulations, then we have forgotten the most important of all ingredients. We are people, not robots. And we need to stop being so neurotic, over-sensitive and just plain selfish.

Are we past the point of no return?

Perhaps. It seems that cajones and brilliance are no longer enough to satisfy the needs of the greatest parasite that ever walked the earth.

Monday, 12 April 2010

We Are Killing Our Kids

Tonight on BBC, "Panorama" will be featuring a program on childrens' health called appropriately "Spoilt Rotten".

This morning's BBC Breakfast featured 5-year old Kaitlyn who has just had 8 of her teeth extracted because of teeth decay. The reporter noted that tooth decay is the "ultimate preventable condition" which can be "entirely avoided with brushing and diet".

In Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool (the busiest of its kind in Europe) more than 200,000 kids are treated each year.

Nearly half the dental extractions performed each year are on kids under five!

Kaitlyn's rather sheepish mum noted that her child had a penchant for sweets and consumed over half a cup of tomato sauce (ketchup) every day. She vowed to make an effort to break this habit.

The report noted that mothers faced the challenge of making vegetables palatable without the use of ketchup ... and would need to make a concerted effort to ensure their kids consumed the "mushy" peas on their plates.

For readers unfamiliar about mushy peas ... these are essentially peas that have been cooked to death. The thinking is that they form part of the whole "5-a-day" thing, even though they are almost entirely devoid of any nutrients.

Okay, here's my take out:

Parents are quite clearly ignorant of what constitutes a healthy diet for kids. This is because of a number of reasons including, but not limited to:

- they themselves eat a shocking diet, perhaps because that's all they know or that's all they think they can afford. I say "think" because it comes down to a matter of priority. People who buy food because it's "cheap" also buy stuff they don't need because they can't imagine their lives without it.

- parents are unwilling to take responsibility for their own health, let alone that of their children. No surprise here in the garden of immediate gratification.

- the government with its team of medical experts, dieticians and nutritionists still thinks that cooked animal products (including pasteurized dairy) and cooked grains are part of a "healthy" diet.

- there is no leadership from anyone, in spite of the fact that so many little children are suffering. We just throw our hands up in the air ... but do absolutely nothing. When will we finally accept that what we are doing isn't working? When the NHS becomes completely overburdened?

For anyone out there who really doesn't know what to do and really wants to do what's right for their own children, here's some direction:

1. "5-a-day" is nowhere near adequate. Frozen, canned and cooked fruit and vegetables should not count towards it. You and your child needs to do the bulk of your grocery shopping in the fresh produce section or (even better) at your local farmers market.

2. If you think you don't have the time to prepare fresh fruit and vegetables and you are unwilling to pay a premium for organic produce then, with respect, your priorities are screwed up. If you genuinely can't afford organic produce, then how do you pay for all that other meaningless crap you don't really need. Rethink your priorities and get real. Does that drink down at the pub or that Easter egg really matter more than your own child's health and wellbeing?

3. You either pay the price for staying healthy, or you pay the price for losing your health. Rethink your priorities!

4. Accept that you and your children are addicted to cooked animal products and cheap processed "food". If you have no idea how you could possibly survive without consuming all that garbage, then you are addicted. Accept it ... and do something about it. Start eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and less fatty foods, refined treats and condiments. Don't cry the money blues if you have meat in your freezer, fizzy drinks in your fridge and bags of crisps in your cupboards. Just reframe your priorities!

Okay, I've probably alienated 90% of all mothers and 100% of all health care workers. That's not my intention. You guys matter! But in the cold light of day, please consider that we only ever want to hear what we already think is fact.

And your children matter every bit as much (most would argue, even more).

We need open minds and inspired leadership, not more medications to pick up the pieces of a broken system.

Simple is always best.

If someone really wants to know what to do, the information exists if you are willing to take everything you think you already know about healthy nutrition and healthy living, throw it out the window ... and start from scratch.

Good luck.

If I can help, I will.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

"5-a-day" Questionable Nutrition Strategy?

This is a post I wrote for one of my other blogs, "Body Mind Freedom". I have posted it here in its entirety because I believe it is a perfect example of a system that is fundamentally flawed.

My take may surprise you ...

"New research suggests that "5-a-day" is not all it's cracked up to be.

After tracking half a million people in the UK and Europe for over ten years, this latest study concluded that consuming fruit and vegetables only reduced cancer risk by a paltry 2.5%.

So is the message confusing?

BBC Breakfast interviewed Professor Sikora who has studied cancer for 30 years. While admitting he was surprised, he acknowledged that the study was "the best ever" of its type.

Is that a compliment, or an indictment?

He then went on to state that cancer was a "statistical quirk", the result of genetics (not your fault) and environment (not your fault either, except for smoking which you could quit).

Other notable experts scrambled to do damage control, pointing out that eating fruit and vegetables reduced obesity which was second only to quitting smoking in terms of risk-reduction clout. The point was also made that eating fruit and vegetables has a positive (though unquantifiable) effect on heart disease and stroke risk.

When the dust settled, what should the man on the street be thinking?

Well, if a cancer expert of over three decades is to be believed, then cancer is out of your control and nothing you can do will make a hill of beans difference especially if you already don't smoke.

So why try at all?

Why not just join the millions who are only too happy to abrogate responsibility for their own health?

After all, if you can catch it early then you may be able to survive on a cocktail of drugs for the rest of your wretched existence. Now there's something to look forward to ... a lifetime of medical dependence.

A perfect customer of a system that depends on imperfection for continued credence.

It's illegal to suggest that anything but conventional medical "wisdom" has any answers to the cancer conundrum. Cancer treatment is a multi-billion dollar industry and anyone other than those qualified by the establishment questioning the system are deemed as charlatans and quacks.

What a business model!

If treatment results in "cure" then it's the miracle of modern medicine. If a patient gets sick then that was an inevitability that no-one could have prevented. Remission is always temporary.

So don't bother. Here's your licence to "live" your life as if there is no tomorrow. Consequences are outside your sphere of influence and you are in safe hands if fate does strike.

The three most prevalent cancers (breast, prostate and colon) have increased dramatically in recent years. As our gene pool couldn't have changed that dramatically, we are told that this is because modern medicine is helping people to live longer. Cancer risk increases with age ... and that has nothing to do with the choices you make.

Oh ... and car emissions and bovine flatulance have increased to unprecedented levels! Must be the environment too.

I'm assuming you have read my disclaimer and are clear that my opinion is of absolutely no import whatsover. For an opinion that counts, go see your doctor.

But here's what I think anyway.

1. "5-a-day" is nowhere near enough. It is a start ... but chilled leechies in syrup and canned peas hardly qualify. Saying they do is part of the problem. Poor assumption. Even poorer application.

2. Insufficient quantities of fruit and vegetables combined with excessive quantities of cooked animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) and processed "food" is still a recipe for disaster ... so what did this study really tell us?

3. If a study touted by an expert as "the best ever" is flawed before it ever started because it is based on disinformation and erroneous assumptions to begin with ... then what can we assume about all research? And this is before we take agendas and funding out of the equation.

4. Conventional medicine, including cancer management, is big business. That being the case, there is no money in prevention, only treatment. If you believe the experts, you will always be a victim.

In conclusion, you can add the results of this study to the pile of other meaningless, hugely wasteful and expensive research that we like to proclaim as "evidence-based" science.

Or you can choose to get informed. Sure fate is always a possibility. But that is an entirely different issue.

Knowledge is power ... and freedom."

That's it. I hope you enjoyed it. Please, as with this madness about "organic" being a bunch of baloney ... do not use this as justification to consume less fruit and vegetables.

Eventually people will stop covering their behinds and start telling the full truth. Until then, continue to be vigilant about what we are told should be considered as sacrosanct.

Have an awesome week!