Welcome to the Machine
OOH …Here’s One Thing
OOH …Here’s One Thing
“Welcome to the Machine”
What if YOU (along with 8 billion* other people) have been played? What if big pharma, the food industry and the medical field are all conspiring to kill you slowly while extracting as many Ben Franklins from your wallet as possible first? What if you have been tricked into thinking some of these modern conveniences have made our lives so much better? Need a meal? Pull through Chick Fil-A drive thru and order a #2. Feel sick? Wait 45 minutes and the doctor will see you for 5 mins. More often than not you are leaving with a script for Lipitor or Zestril, or worse yet he kicks you over to his endo buddy who tells you the bad news is you have diabetes but the good news is here is the Novolog and the pump.
Johnsen, have you lost your mind? No, but I am in the throws of Metabolical, The Lures and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition and Modern Medicine by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL, and I have to say, for a random ”Amazon recommendation” that I would usually ignore, it’s pretty thought provoking. Here is part of his opening: “It’s been a rough day, you’re finally home after a long commute, and you’re starving. You sit down at the kitchen table, turn on the TV, and inadvertently consume a plate of poison. It looks like food, it tastes like food, maybe it tastes even better than food.”
My kind of guy. Why beat around the bush? With an opening like that I had to read on. I am generally suspicious of conspiracy theories, and love (like a brother) capitalism, but this leftie makes a pretty compelling case both with history and science. If I were to summarize the book in a sentence, here it is: you are what you eat, and the forces beyond are all against us to convince us to eat like shit and then fix it with a pill.
To give you a sense of some of the book’s central points, here are some (ehem) curated quotes:
- “If food is defined as a substance that provides nutrition and promotes growth and poison is a substance that promotes illness, then much of what is produced by industrial agriculture is, quite literally, not food but poison”
- “Its not what’s in the food- its what been done to the food that counts. And you can’t learn that from your doctor, dietitian, advertisement, internet blog, or even a Nutrition Facts label. Nope, you’re going to have to learn that yourself. “
- “Modern medicine has gotten the treatment of certain diseases right, such as infectious diseases (like polio), genetic diseases (like childhood leukemia), and some surgeries (like gallbladder or appendix removal). But for chronic noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) – such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, fatty liver disease, cancer and dementia, which kill more people, at earlier ages, and in the most debilitating ways (think amputation, dialysis, blindness) and eat up 75% of all healthcare dollars – Modern Medicine has gotten it all wrong.”
- “The first key is the one the medical establishment doesn’t want you to know- that their drugs can’t and don’t treat chronic disease; they only treat the symptoms.”
5. “Essentially, all you need to know are two precepts, six words total: 1) protect the liver, 2) feed the gut.”
- “The US has the best healthcare system in the world and spends the most per capita, yet Americans are not healthier and do not live longer than other countries. In fact it ranks last out of 37 OECD countries. We are #1 in diabetes. #2 in Alzheimer’s, #5 in cancer and #6 in cardiovascular disease. Maybe this author has a point. With all of our brainpower and research it doesn’t seem like we are fixing too many people for the long haul. The answer…as much as we want one, there is no magic pill”
- “Even those who are overweight or under stress don’t exhibit metabolic syndrome if their diet is unprocessed.”
- “In 2000 there were 151 million diabetics in the world, in 2019 its estimated there are 463 million. 10% of the US population is now on some form of treatment for diabetes.”
- “In 1970 we spent 6% of our GDP on healthcare and now 50 years later we spend 17.9%. Yet the average American’s weight is up, health is down, and the wallet is underwater.”
- “We spend 97.5% of our healthcare budget on individual treatment, and only 2.5% on prevention.”
- “In 1980, 30% of the adult US population…were affected by at least one chronic condition (NCD). Today its 60%.” [No wonder our healthcare system is imploding]
- “The WHO documents a 20% increase in depression and schizophrenia worldwide in one decade…while clearly not the only causal factor, processed food makes cognitive dysfunction much worse.”
- “American corporations and our government don’t just export bad reruns of Baywatch, we also export our lifestyle, our food, and its subsequent diseases. Our first world problem has become their third world problem.”
- “The holy grail of Modern Medicine is you can’t fix healthcare until you fix health; and you can’t fix health until you fix food. Everyone is talking about healthcare, few people are talking about health, and nobody is talking about food.”
- “Public Schools are now the largest franchise food operation in the world. The School Nutrition Association is the biggest proponent of process food – no surprise, just look at who sponsors them.”
- “Pharma companies sold patients and doctors globally close to $1 trillion worth of statins ($400B in US alone). Guess what? Lifespan increased by 4 days, on average. Something sound wrong here?”
- “Between 1988 and 2017, the percentage of hypertensive (high blood pressure) patients taking medication quadrupled from 7% to 31%.”
- “As demonstrated in the film Merchants of Doubt (2014), the tobacco industry followed a consistent playbook for several decades to keep the world smoking…it ultimately took 44 years to take them down.”
For all you hardcore conspiracists out there, here are a couple cool facts: Guess who had a large hand in modern medicine and pharma? That’s right. John D. Rockefeller. He underwrote much of the costs for the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, founded in 1901. John D.’s Standard Oil, btw produced a by-product called coal tar, which could be used for numerous skin ailments. Part of Rockefeller’s motivation was to produce more research and more doctors to push the use of coal tar. But he was also motivated because he learned from his largest shareholder (beside himself), IG Farben, a German chemical company best known for producing the nerve gas at Auschwitz, that pharmaceuticals had a future. So to build the proper and compliant distribution system, Rockefeller’s institute set about evaluating the largely unregulated medical school system across the country. He ended up putting any schools that did not conform to his focus of research and drug therapy out of business and promoting a small subset (think Johns Hopkins). At about the same time Dr. John Harvey Kellogg became the godfather of modern nutrition. “Kellogg espoused a philosophy he called “biologic living” with two primary nemeses: constipation and masturbation, both of which he claimed stemmed from poor nutrition.” Long short, Kellogg was a vegetarian, invented the carbohydrate rich breakfast cereal and had a patient that liked it so much he started a competing breakfast cereal company called CW Post. And shorter still, his meatless, carbo loaded dietary philosophy pervaded dieticians thinking for the next 100 years. Do we think he wanted to sell some cereal? Meanwhile, the sugar industry lobbyists follow tobacco’s playbook and the pharmacological lobbyists play with the largest budget on the planet. Do we think the drug companies or coca cola are interested in eradicating metabolic syndrome (diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.)? Do we think they won’t throw billions of dollars at defending their turf?
“As [more] people get sicker [from modern food], Big Pharma benefits from complicity, the food industry is protected from the costs of its actions, and the government profits from tariffs on processed food shipped to other unsuspecting countries. We have accepted this as normal.”
Thanks for the book review Johnsen. It’s time to pop my Lipitor and get back to work. What’s the point? Well, perhaps the point is as an industry maybe we should anticipate the wave better than we did the anti-tobacco wave and start paddling. Maybe there are federal, state or other funds out there warning of the causes and dangers of the Metabolic Syndrome? Maybe Coke and McDonalds want to get together to advertise their health offset (akin to carbon offset) program. Just saying.
*my estimate for the world population. https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/tdstat45_FS11_en.pdf
Securities transacted through StillPoint Capital Member firm FINRA/SiPC
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