We’ve traded HEALTH for Convenience

The hallmark of modern-day living is convenience.  We’re always looking for new and better ways to make living life easier.  I’m going to cite many examples of this in this article.  Technological, industrial, pharmaceutical, and agricultural advances have made this possible.

We’re actually at a point now where the advances in these industries are happening at such a frighteningly fast pace that, as a society, we never stop to think about whether they are harmful to our health.  We just see the convenience, hear the industry talking heads and the media outlets assuring us that it’s safe, and dive right in!  But there is overwhelming evidence in the scientific community that many of the conveniences that we now enjoy in the 21st century are literally killing us.

This begs the question: just because we CAN do something, does that mean we SHOULD?  Below, I will outline just a short list of modern-day conveniences that made daily life easier, but have wrecked our health in the long-term.  Here are the main takeaways from the article:

  • I will list many conveniences of modern-day living. Many of them are marvels of technology, agriculture, and medicine and have literally changed the course of human history.
  • I will present my arguments for why they are wrecking our health.
  • I will impress upon you the mission statement of my company, Gold Functional Wellness: to help you navigate the pitfalls of modern living and dramatically improve your health while still enjoying many of the conveniences of modern society. At Gold Functional Wellness, we believe we have the answers to the problems presented in this piece, and we are eager to share them with you!

Let’s begin!

Food:

Most obvious example: Fast food.  Fast.  Easy.  Kids love it.  No complaining.

We are chronically over-stressed and make poor health choices as a result.

Scenario: You just got home from work.  It was a stressful work day.  You’ve got a lot on your mind.  It’s late.  The kids are hungry.  They need to be fed, bathed, and in bed for school the next morning.  Here are your choices:  1) Boil some mac-n-cheese OR 2) Wash, cut, cook vegetables and marinate, season, and grill some fish?

From a convenience standpoint, it’s an easy choice, isn’t it?  Not only because of the reduced complexity of preparation and time to cook, but also because one of these choices your kids will complain about and the other they will eat happily with no whining and no tantrums, and no repetitious “sit and eat your food” necessary from mom and dad!

No doubt about it.  Fast food is easy, and inexpensive.  That makes it incredibly convenient!  But is this the healthier choice for you and your family?  Not exactly…

Other examples:

  • CAFOs – Confined Animal Feeding Operations. This is a convenient way for farmers

    CAFOs result in sick animals, sick meat, and toxicity in the fat of the animals.

    to raise, fatten, slaughter, and sell many more animals per acre of land than they were previously able to.  It cuts down the cost of land, feed, and increases profits.  It is also able to provide enough animal products to satisfy the demand from a growing population that is bursting at the seams.  The problem?  Animals in CAFOs are confined, unable to move around freely, in many cases rarely get any sunlight, are fed a diet that is at best inconsistent with what they are genetically predisposed to thrive on, pumped up with antibiotics and hormones to speed their growth, development, and stop infections that inevitably arise because of their poor health.  So, naturally, they become sickly animals, and nutritional profile of their meat, milk, and eggs are drastically altered for the worse.  And then, we eat that sickly meat, milk, and eggs.  Convenient?  You bet!  Healthier than the meat, milk, and eggs we used to eat before the widespread use of CAFOs?  You make the call!

  • GMOs & related pesticides – Farmers had a problem: Their crops were being destroyed by pests and weeds which lowered crop yields. The convenient solution?

    Glyphosate, the active ingredient in pesticides applied to GMOs, is a known carcinogen

    1) create crops that have pesticides that grow inside of them, so that they will repel the pests, and 2) create crops that are resistant to lethal pesticides and would otherwise die upon contact with them.  Problem solved right?  Now the farmers can spray their field, kill the weeds, kill and repel the pests, and grow huge amounts of their crops for sales and distribution.  Sounds really convenient to me!  Except, the science is still not out on whether or not GMO crops themselves are harmful to human health, and the science is definitively out showing how BT toxin and Glyphosate, the main pesticides used in conjunction with GMO crops, ARE bad for human health.  The WHO recently classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen.  Studies link an association between these pesticides and altered gut bacteria, digestive problems, suppression of detoxification pathways in the liver, and cancer.  But don’t let that stop you from chowing down on some GMO corn and edamame!  Just kidding…please let that stop you from doing that!  J

 

Above and beyond that, pesticide usage and modern-day agricultural techniques have totally robbed our produce of nutrition.  This is because these practices have destroyed the soil quality of conventional farms.  This is another example of how modern-day conveniences are destroying our health!

 

  • Year-round supply of out of season foods – Ever go to the grocery store and

    It’s always best to buy food from local sources for optimal nutrition.

    wonder “how is it that watermelons are available at my grocery store in the winter? Don’t they grow in the summer?”  Correct!  Watermelons need a warm climate to grow.  That watermelon in your grocery store is only there because it was brought to you from another, warmer climate.  If you are eating watermelon during a cold season, this is basically a nutrition-climate mismatch.  If you want to thrive in the climate you are living in, you’ll need to eat the foods that thrive in the climate you live in.  It’s pretty simple logic, isn’t it?  Eskimos, before their food industry became westernized and then subsequently became sicker, eat tons of fatty, cold water fish, seal and whale blubber, and only a small portion of their diet is plant-based.  Why?  Because plants don’t grow well where they live!  It’s a cold, harsh climate.  They eat the foods that thrive in their climate, and thus, the foods they eat confer the ability to thrive for the Eskimos!

  • Additionally, eating foods (especially produce) when they are fresh will provide you with optimal nutrition. If you live on the east coast of the US and you’re eating strawberries or lettuce that was grown in California and took 2 weeks from the time they were picked to reach your table, chances are that those foods will contain far less nutrition than the fruits and vegetables grown locally in your town and eaten a day or two after they were plucked from the ground or the tree.  It’s really convenient to have any food you want at any time of day regardless of climate, geography, or season, isn’t it?  But is it serving us?  Is it helping us to stay healthy and thrive?  I would argue the opposite.  Click here to read more about how transport time, freezing vegetables and fruits, and canned veggies and fruits result in lower nutrient content (especially enzymes and vitamin C).

 

Technology: 

  • nnEMF (non-native electromagnetic fields) – Talk about convenience?  The

    We’re blasting ourselves and our children with harmful radiation!

    introduction of nnEMF has led to amazing and super convenient inventions such as cell phones, portable laptop computers, tablets, cordless phones, Bluetooth everything, Wi-Fi internet access, wireless speakers, wearable technology like the Fitbit, apple watch, jawbone up, and dozens of other Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled devices.  Many people have their entire homes set up to run completely on Wi-Fi from temperature regulation to starting their coffee makers and turning on and off their lights, etc.  Baby monitors transmit signals from the baby’s crib to the parents 24/7.  They’ve even made diapers that now transmit signals to the mom’s smart phone when the diaper is wet!  Electricity companies no longer need to send workers to your house to read your meters.  Smart meters are being deployed everywhere and using nnEMF technology to communicate readings directly to electric companies in real-time.  Click here to hear about what Dr. David Carpenter, a Harvard Medical School graduate and physician, has to say about smart meters.

 

Have you seen cell towers like this in your neighborhood?

No doubt about it, nnEMF was a marvel of modern technology that opened the door to many really cool and really helpful new things for humans.  We can now do business anytime, anywhere.  We never need to miss a call, email or text.  Our kids, friends, and family can get in touch with us at any time, and anywhere.  We can do our banking and shopping online and save tons of time.  We can even buy our groceries online and watch them show up at our door within 24 hours!  What’s not to like?

 

Well, perhaps this wasn’t thought out too well.  Is it REALLY a gift to be so accessible like we all are now 24/7/365?  Or is it a curse?  With 24/7 accessibility comes a boatload of increased stress.  We used to work 9-5 jobs and the weekend used to mean something.  It was a true break from work.  These days, we literally work all day, every day, including weekends.  There are no boundaries anymore between boss and employee.

 

I haven’t even touched on the more important and more health destroying aspect of

Do you have a smart meter on your home?

nnEMF.  There is a large body of research (unknown to most in the mainstream) that shows nnEMF messes with our circadian cycles, dehydrates our cells, unstructured water in our cells, causes cell clumping, and causes diseases like cancer (and this is just a drop in the bucket as far as evidence goes).  Convenient?  Absolutely!  Healthy?  Not so much!

 

  • ALAN (Artificial Light at Night) and blue light – How about artificial light,

    Dimly lit rooms at night are better for your health.

    specifically in the blue spectrum?  Artificial light during the daytime and at night has enabled modern man to massively increase productivity and has helped to produce huge advances in technology.  That’s the good news!  Aside from fire, which burns an orange-red color and does not contain much in the way of blue light, humans only started using artificial light about 100 years ago.  But before that, here’s what indoor lighting at night looked like:

What do you think is different about this room and your room in the evening?  It’s pretty obvious, right?  People who hang out in this type of lighting at night get tired pretty quickly.  Especially before TVs, computers, and smart phones were invented!  This is what a modernly lit room looks like at night:

Bright light at night disrupts sleep and your health.

A little different, huh?  Here is what a brightly lit city looks like (imagine the light pollution for people living in buildings in these cities):

How can anyone produce melatonin or get restful sleep living like this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what the earth now looks like at night from space (remember that this image was totally different even 100 years ago.  The amount of artificial light that lights up the night sky has dramatically increased in the last 100-150 years.  We are all living in one huge light experiment, and the results are in…and they’re not good!):

The earth is this bright at night from SPACE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this important?  Because we are diurnal beings, and that means our circadian cycles are programmed for us to be asleep at night when it’s dark and active during the day when it’s light.  The problem?  We’ve erased night!  We have artificially eliminated darkness.  Which has eliminated restful sleep.  Specifically, short wave sleep (SLS) is known to be the most restorative phase of sleep where the “rest and repair” mechanisms take hold and repair damaged tissues in the body and the brain.  Short wave sleep happens mostly in the earlier parts of the night (i.e. sleep before midnight).  It’s for this reason that you hear people saying that every hour of sleep before midnight is as powerful as 2 hours of sleep after midnight.

How do our bodies know when to sleep and when to be active?  It uses cues from LIGHT!

Diagram showing the effect of light/dark cycles on all organ function.

Light enters your retinas through your eyes and signals a part of your brain called the SCN.  The SCN receives that signal and interprets it based on the spectrum of light.  Blue light signals the SCN to think it is daytime and the SCN subsequently commands certain glands and organs to secrete hormones that coincide with being active in daylight.  Red light signals it to think it is close to night time and subsequently the SCN will command certain glands and organs to secrete hormones and other chemicals that coincide with nighttime, sleep, rest and repair.  Darkness signals the SCN to continue to command various organs and glands in your body to keep secreting those sleep, rest and repair hormones and chemicals.

Artificial light at night (ALAN) and specifically in the blue spectrum of light (the brighter light that most of the bulbs in your home emit, as well as your TV, computer, smart phone, tablet, etc.) completely confuses your SCN, disrupts circadian rhythms, disrupts cortisol, disrupts melatonin, disrupts sleep, impairs immune function, disrupts thyroid hormone, disrupts sex hormones, disrupts leptin (the hormone that tells you when to stop eating), and disrupts neurotransmitter production.  Convenient?  You bet!  Healthy?  Not a chance!  Click here to learn a bit more about this.  And here is a nifty little compilation of research on blue light and sleep.

  • Video games & TV – Convenient form of entertainment in the home, aren’t they?

    This is what modern kids do for fun. Bathe in blue light, nnEMF, and sedentary living.

    What were kids doing for entertainment 100 or even 50 years ago?  You can bet your last dollar that they spent much more time outdoors, with other kids in the community, socializing, getting ample sunlight, and breaking a good sweat.  Maybe even rolling around in dirt which helped to expose them to some beneficial microbes that boost immune function.  Consequences – kids would rather sit in front of a blue light emitting screen and close to a persistent source of direct nnEMF exposure rather than go outside and play.  This results in lower physical activity, less exposure to sunlight (which has its own set of devastating health effects like lowered vitamin D levels), loss of social skills, and disruption of circadian rhythms.  This article discusses a study done in 2012/2013 on this phenomenon.  Convenient?  Check!  Healthy?  Nope!

Medicine:

Now, I don’t want you to take this as an attack on medicine, doctors, or hospitals.  There are areas of medicine that are literally a life-saving miracle of ingenuity.  ER doctors save countless lives every day.  Heart surgeons save people who are having heart attacks.  Antibiotics and other drugs have saved countless lives as well.  Spinal surgeons help paralyzed people walk again.  When it comes to acute emergency situations, modern medicine excels beyond our wildest dreams.

But when it comes to chronic debilitating diseases and conditions, modern medicine in general is tailored to the over-arching theme of taking the easy way out or hacking the system by using pills, surgery, chemo, and radiation to alleviate the SYMPTOMS of dysfunction rather than fixing the underlying causes of dysfunction.  90%-95% of cancers are caused by a mix of lifestyle and genetics.  Lifestyle modification can prevent and treat cancer, yet modern medicine only acknowledges pills, surgery, chemo, and radiation.  Most heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune conditions can also be treated or prevented through lifestyle, yet modern medicine does nothing for us in the way of prevention.  They simply wait until we develop these diseases and then treat the symptoms to keep us as comfortable as possible throughout the disease progression.

Most Americans just want to continue leading their lives in an unhealthy manner and rely on modern medicine to keep them above ground when their health breaks down.

I don’t fault modern medicine for this.  I don’t fault doctors, hospitals, or even pharmaceutical companies for this.  They are all only giving us what we want!  We don’t want to change our lifestyles.  We like eating whatever we want to eat, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, staying up too late, partying like rock stars, staying sedentary, working stressful jobs, and generally just having fun without any regard to our health. Most people don’t want to change their lifestyles.  It’s not very convenient to have to change all of that.  They just want the quick and convenient fix for their symptoms.  Modern medicine is perfectly set up to give us exactly that.  The quick fix.  They’re only giving us what we have been collectively asking them to give us for decades.  This is an easy example of how we have traded health for convenience.

  • Antibiotics – Antibiotics were a modern medical marvel that have saved countless lives since they were created. They started out as a really good idea to help critically ill people recover from advanced bacterial infection.  But then something happened:  we started using them for every cut, scrape, and every little bacterial infection.  Many people use antibiotics when they have a cold without even knowing if the cold is bacterial or viral in origin.  Many people use antibiotics pre-emptively just in case they are exposed to someone else who was sick or if they go on a plane.  The beef industry (CAFOs) uses antibiotics on their sick cattle and also to fatten them up for slaughter.

Antibiotic overuse is a major problem.  It’s causing the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, destroying beneficial gut flora, contributing to long-term chronic malnutrition and inflammatory illness, and a whole host of other problems.  Most parent give their kids antibiotics for ever little ear infection.  But up to 80% of ear infections clear up on their own without using them.  Did you know that?

Fluoroquinolones, a very powerful and potentially devastating class of antibiotics (think Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, Floxin, Factive (gemifloxacin), Noroxin, Proquin XR), are being prescribed for routine UTIs and for sinus infections.  The dangers of these powerful antibiotics are well known (1, 2, 3) There are thousands of Americans diagnosed with Fluoroquinolone toxicity (also see here) and COUNTLESS others who have been injured by these antibiotics and just haven’t been diagnosed.  Antibiotics are very convenient, and they do have their place in medicine.  But they need to be approached with care and used wisely.  Using them the way we do now is causing a serious and possibly irreversible health crisis.

  • Most prescription and OTC drugs – I am generalizing prescription and OTC drugs here to save time and space in this article. But it’s easy to pick out a few and go into great detail about how, while they ARE convenient, they actually do more harm than good to our health in the long run.  That’s because these drugs are

    Ever look at the drug aisle in a pharmacy? Drugs are so accepted in our society you would think that headaches are a sign of Tylenol deficiency!

    not formulated to cure anything or bring about true health.  They’re formulated to alleviate your symptoms.  They’re convenient, but don’t fix the underlying root causes of your symptoms.  Bottom line: you can’t fix a problem caused by lifestyle with a pill!

Additionally, all prescription and OTC drugs “rob Peter to pay Paul”, meaning they alleviate one symptom while throwing another area of your physiology out of whack, causing more symptoms and the manufactured need for more drugs.  A great model for the pharmaceutical industry, and popping a pill to feel a little better (albeit temporarily), IS convenient and attractive to many of us…true!  But is it healthy?  Well, consider these FACTS (which can be found here in a report by Harvard University):

  • Properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprescribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year.
  • 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions per year.
  • About 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them every year.  That clocks in as the 6th leading cause of death for US citizens behind only heart disease, cancer, COPD, accidents (unintentional injuries), and Alzheimer’s disease. It clocks in ahead of diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, and kidney disease.

Does that sound healthy to you?  Unbelievably, no one really talks about just how dangerous prescription and OTC drugs can be.  Let’s have a look at just a few:

  • Surgeries – Many surgeries are the same in that they aim to relieve us of the

    Many surgeries are life-saving and necessary. But there are so many that pose unnecessary risks and damage our health in the long run.

    symptoms we are experiencing rather than fix the underlying issue and improve our health. If your gallbladder is malfunctioning and causing you painful episodes, the easy and convenient choice is to have surgery to remove it.  You CAN live without a gallbladder but it is very hard to THRIVE without one.

 That’s because the gallbladder has a crucial role of collecting and storing bile that is made in your liver.  The gallbladder stores this bile for release when you eat fats.  The bile helps you emulsify and absorb fats.  No gallbladder = less bile when you need it, less fat absorption, less absorption of crucial fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.  It also results in chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, or BOTH in many patients for years after surgery and for many permanently.

Gallbladder removal is also associated with slower transit time (for food to travel from mouth to anus) and increased risk of developing SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).  And there’s always the increased risk (however slight) for colon cancer associated with having your gallbladder removed.  Really I can go on and one here.  Convenient to get that surgery?  Perhaps…and sometimes even necessary in emergency situations.  I won’t deny that.  But is it healthy to go without a gallbladder?  Not so much.

There are many other surgeries that are quite convenient but also subsequently wreak havoc on our health.  Did you know that your tonsils play an important role for immune function?  If you or your child has chronic tonsillitis, is it a better idea to have them removed or to find and fix the underlying problem?  Most cases of chronic tonsillitis are caused by chronic viral or bacterial infection.  Knock those out and fix tonsillitis!  Easier said than done, I know.  But the correct path usually is the harder one.

Plus, removing your tonsils that are chronically infected because of chronic viral or bacterial infection doesn’t remove the underlying infection AND it weakens your immune response!  Nature is not stupid.  Your tonsils are a part of your immune system and they are there for a reason.  Removing them takes one part of your immune system out of your body.  Removing them is the easier and more convenient approach, but it permanently hampers the function of your mucosal immune function.  Convenient?  Yup!  And you get ice cream after the surgery?  What could be better?  Healthy in the long run?  Nope.

Industry: I am going to move through this quickly and lump many industries together for the sake of brevity.  That doesn’t make this section any less important.  It’s just for the sake of time and brevity.

The dangers of hundreds of chemicals that we are exposed to on a daily basis are well-documented.

It is well-known at this point that the water, energy, agriculture, manufacturing, auto, plastics and chemical industries have introduced over 100,000 chemicals into our daily lives in the last 100 years (estimates range from 85,000 to well over 100,000…but the point is…it’s A LOT!).   These chemicals have served to make our daily lives much easier and way more convenient.  What ISN’T well known is that most of these chemicals have never been tested for long term safety in humans, and that many of them have been tagged as known or possible carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and obesogens (they mimic estrogen and make us fat…still think that obesity is simply explained by calories in-calories out??)!  There are hundreds of chemicals I can write about in here but I’ll just name a few to make my point clear:

  • Teflon coated pans – Non-stick surfaces? How convenient!  Sign me up!  Except…this.  Is that few extra minutes you save from not having to scrape your eggs off the pan worth an increased risk of cancer?  Apparently many Americans think so because they continue to use non-stick pans even while evidence clearly shows the dangers.
  • Flame retardants – They’re literally EVERYWHERE and they’re purpose is to conveniently prevent us from dying in a fire. Many states even require manufacturers of furniture, upholstery, baby toys and clothing to have flame retardants.  This is changing though, albeit slowly!  On the surface, adding flame retardants to everyday products in our homes, cars, offices, and parks sounds like a great idea!  Except we are trading the possibility of a quick death by fire for a slow painful death from the diseases associated with the accumulation of these toxins in our bodies over the years.
  • Phthalates – The following quote is from this article: “In the past few years, researchers havelinked phthalates to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.”  They are in household items (vinyl flooring), personal care products (hair care, body wash, some cosmetics), fragrance, household cleaners, and food.
  • Click here to read more about chemicals and how they’re affecting our health (especially children!)

The energy industry:

  • Fracking is a technology that enables us to access natural gas trapped under the

    Fracking pollutes the water supplies in nearby towns.

    ground. Natural gas is a cleaner burning source of fuel.  And the US is sitting on top of a huge source of this fuel, so moving to natural gas would make us less dependent on foreign and dirtier fuel sources like oil.  Convenient, right?  Except fracking introduces an immense amount of chemicals into our lives and our drinking water, and is poisoning neighboring communities to fracking sites.

  • Here’s a great fact sheet about the energy industry in general. It’s nice and super convenient to have lights in our homes, air conditioning, heat, cooking stoves, street lights, cars, planes, trains, buses, etc.  But the amount of pollution generated by the creation of energy sources to power the modern world we now live in has created a living environment that is destroying the planet’s natural resources and conducive to disease formation in humans and animal life.  It’s ruining the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.  Convenient?  Sure!  Healthy?  Nope!

If you made it through this really long article, congrats!  This was long, even by my standards!  🙂  The crazy thing is that I can keep going.  There are many other conveniences of modern life that destroy our health and I left those out.  I had to, or this would have turned into a book!  But I think you get the point: The conveniences of modern life are making us sick.  We’ve traded health for convenience.

So, what do we do here at Gold Functional Wellness?  Do we tell our clients that they have to forsake all of their houses, cars, lights, computers, phones, tablets, clothing, cleaning products, and electricity and move to the amazon, hunt and gather their food, and wear a loin cloth?

NO!  We don’t do that.  We recognize that this is the world we live in.  It’s a different and far more dangerous world than the one our great grandparents and even our parents grew up in.  It’s far more polluted and toxic in every way possible, and the problem is compounded by our food supply being less nutritious than ever before in our history.  What that means is that we have to adapt.  We have to implement safeguards to protect us from this ever-growing list of potential toxicity and nutrient deficiency.  We have to implement strategies in our lives to stay healthy that our ancestors never had to do, because they never faced the dangers we face.

That is what the Gold Functional Wellness programs are about!  Teaching you how to live in this modern world and how to continue enjoying many of its conveniences while protecting yourself and your family.  We teach you (despite all the dangers listed above) how to live in a way that builds and strengthens your immune function, lowers inflammation, improves energy, improves sleep quality, lowers your risk of developing disease, balances your hormones, and improves your sense of well-being.  This is a program that every single person living in a modernized society should go through.  It arms you with the knowledge and the tools to live healthy and happy in an increasingly difficult environment!  So if you’ve decided to enroll in one of our programs, congratulations!  It might just be the most important and powerful decision you’ve made in your life to date (minus the whole getting married and kids thing) ;)!

Thanks for reading!

In health,

Rick Gold

 

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