Today a person cannot turn on a television without seeing a commercial for a product related to digestive health such as Align. Why is there all this excitement over this issue? The reason is that digestive health is of critical importance to one’s health. Americans across the land seem to be suffering with a chronic digestive problem. 70,000,000 people everyday suffer from some form of digestive issues (heartburn, acid reflux, GERD (gastro esophageal reflex disorder), IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), indigestion constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.). To relieve these symptoms people turn to Tums®, Rolaids®, Zantac®, Tagamet®, or the more dangerous, PPIs (Proton Pump Inihibitors) Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec®, Protonics®, etc.
My hypothesis as to the source of this problem is three fold: citizens, government, and companies are contributing to the problem experienced by millions of Americans.
Citizens were put first on the list because some of the most common digestive problems have a lifestyle or diet component as the potential source of the problem. Ironically, when one looks on TUMS website regarding treatment related to digestive orders diet and lifestyle changes are mentioned as treatment options. We as citizens are creating our own problems by not eating fruits/vegetables, indulging in too many processes foods, and not exercising. The first line of attack is for us to change our behavior. Readers, you must be patient with yourself through this process. Take it one day at time. You can do it. J
If the government increased the monitoring of food, particularly those optimal to digestive health, that would support citizens’ quest for improved digestion. Food recalls and contaminations hinder a citizen’s ability to consume those foods such as fruits and vegetables because of being laced with known carcinogens and harmful pesticides, then ultimately being recalled sometimes. As a result of the lack of adequate food monitoring, digestive problems can happened to citizens exposed to contaminated foods or worse, death for young children. Due in part to the administration’s cuts in funding and staff, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently inspects less than 25% of all food facilities in the U.S. More than 50% of all American food facilities have gone uninspected for five years or more. In addition, the large farming companies creating the biggest threat to our food supply are not adequately addressed in legislation regarding monitoring the safety of the nation’s food supply. The Food Safety Enhancement Act (HR 2749) was passed by the House of Representatives in the summer of 2008, which was a small step in the right direction. However, this act exempted livestock producers. Many experts say the system needs an overall, so that the USDA and Department of Agriculture can get in sync to protect its citizens better.
Companies have sold to the public the idea of consuming large portions of processed convenient foods. Americans, in all fairness, have taken to the idea like a fish to water; therefore companies continue to produce such food items. Most problems such as indigestion and constipation have its origins in diets heavily dominated by processed and spicy foods. Fast food restaurants have only recently started providing alternatives to salty, sugary, and fried foods such as apple slices. Many processed foods manufactured by companies have preservatives or sugar substitutes that may be contributing to society’s indigestion problems. Additionally, artificial sweeteners which are in a great number of diet foods may be the source of the problem. Unfortunately, science has yet to reveal the long term implications of the consumption of artificial sweeteners by humans.
In closing, I am not a medical professional, but I am concerned about the proliferation of digestive problems. A community centric holistic solution is the best way to solution to this problem, along with the obesity epidemic, in my opinion. No one party is the blame. Companies need to participate in creating healthier foods along with increased access to them for the poorest citizens. Citizens need to minimize the consumption of processed foods and increase the intake of healthier foods such as fruits. Additionally, legislators need to work on behalf of their constituents to bring great grocery stores to neighborhoods and give the FDA resources to protect our food supply. Lastly, we need to teach the next generation how to make healthier eating decisions. We can do it, if we work together. One day at a time. J
Part 2…what about our food?…genetically modified foods…industrialization of food..good and bad…