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The Health of the World

by Dr Jenna

In June I was able to attend an International Integrated Medical Conference in Germany, it was an amazing conference and I felt very inspired by what was shared. There were practitioners form all over the world and all types of modalities. We had presentations from the UN, PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and the European Union to name a few. Countries presented how they were working to bring integrative health into their health systems. There were great success stories from Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and even Britain and there were only a few of us from New Zealand and Australia, I was able to present a post about how The Healing Rooms integrates health care.

Some of the take away messages for me were clear, many of our diseases are created by our poor diets high in refined food and sugar. We know that diet affects the development of diabetes, fatty liver, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer but these illnesses are increasing with westernization of the world and when a culture takes on a western diet, they start developing these diseases. It was quoted that food systems are responsible for 25% of our greenhouse gas emissions and people presented how there is an over production of meat in the world - 568% over supply vs a supply of fruit, nuts and vegetables. Now this is not saying that meat is bad, just that we are producing and therefore consuming too much which is affecting our health.

One of the take homes for me is in preventable cancers, over one third of cancers are preventable and of these cancers, 33% can be prevented by the patient stopping smoking but 20% can be prevented by changing our diet. Eating less sugar and fats can reduce 20% of our preventable cancers. We have lots of money and advertising going into melanoma prevention in Australia but this only will prevent 5% of the preventable cancers – so what would happen if we spent advertising campaigns on a healthy diet? How many cancers could we prevent?



If we want to affect health on a larger scale we need to address the agricultural policies of our countries, many countries still subsidies sugar production - the US with high fructose corn syrup, European Union with sugar beet and here in Australian with sugar cane. Why are governments doing this? When it is cheaper to buy sugary drinks than an apple we have a problem. Globally we are consuming more sugar than ever. In 2013 in the UK, 14% of calories were obtained from sugar when the World Health Organisation only recommends 5% maximum. The average Britain drinks 416ml of soft drink a day and because sugar is so cheap as it is subsidised, the poorer we are, the more sugar we eat.

So my take home messages were these - focus on the cause of disease not only in each patient but in our towns, cities and countries. Changing how we eat can have a huge impact on preventing many diseases including cancers. Changing our national policies to spend less on producing unhealthy food and more towards producing healthy foods, will save us all money in the long run for health care.

 

 

Image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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