Are Europeans healthier than we are?

So as you can see, Europeans have fast food.   McD’s is found in 10 locations in the very hip and cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, for instance.   They don’t have nearly as many chains or locations as we do, though.

 

I have a weird little game I played in airports and train stations all over Europe and in the U.S.   I counted groups of 100 people and keep a tally of how many of them are overweight/obese, just to compare countries.   I don’t do this to be mean-spirited, nor do I think it’s the most statistically sound experiment ever.   People in airports are probably leaving out the oldest citizens, for instance, creating something less ideal than a true random sample, although this should be uniformly true everywhere, so the results are skewed across the board.   And I can’t ferret out the tourists from the natives.   (However, very few Americans are traveling in Europe now to skew my results, with the weak dollar, I found.)   This is what I found very consistently (and I repeated the experiment over and over to see if any of my samples of 100 are outliers):

 

United States:   over 50% are overweight, some obese (this is not new information to you)

France, Spain, Italy:   about 15% are overweight

England:   about 20% are overweight

 

Italians in northern Italy are big meat eaters (the southern Italy diet, famed as “Mediterranean,” is much more plant based).   Everywhere you drive in the top half of the country, corn fields are growing–not to feed the people, but to feed the livestock (and ethanol refineries, I’m sure).   The French really do eat a lot of white bread products.   They have junk food accessible everywhere.   Why, then, are the vast majority of them thin and relatively fit?   These are my theories.

 

Where Europeans have Americans (and Canadians and Aussies) beat:

They have portions under  control, they eat more vegetables, and they exercise more (lots of walking and bike riding going on)

 

Where Americans have the Euros beat:

Less smoking  

Europeans are certainly struggling with high levels of heart disease and cancer.   Their smoking rate is incredible, whereas that’s the one marker that the U.S. has seen strong gains: our smoking rate has gone down consistently during the past two decades.

 

Honestly, I think part of the portion control is achieved simply because they CAN’T AFFORD to eat more!   Overuse of anything is rather socially taboo (those tiny little Smart Cars are everywhere), and a can of Coke is $4-$5 (about 3 euros or so) at any gas station.   And with exorbitant fuel costs, the Europeans long ago started riding bikes and walking.   In Italy, all the cars are tiny.   I never saw a single Suburban or Expedition, or even a Honda Pilot like mine.   No wonder the birth rate is negative in that country–the cars won’t fit any children!   Roads are narrow and would never allow the big honkin’ cars we drive here.   And the shops don’t have parking–I never saw a Walmart or its trademark small-city-sized parking lot, though I’m sure Walmart exists  somewhere in  Europe.

I’m buying a scooter next spring to reduce my usage of nonrenewable energy.   (I already drive the highest-mpg mid-size SUV on the market.)   I’m going to learn to buy a bag or two of groceries and put them in my scooter on my way home from the gym or work every day or two, rather than the usual bigger shopping trips.   My inlaws can’t believe I’m going to ride to the university 20 mins. away on a scooter, but I’m going to try it.

Today, the first day of school, my children are walking to school, and they’ve been informed that’s our New Normal.   We’ve always been pretty green, with the plant-based diet, gardening, composting, avoiding packaged foods, and eating weeds.   But I’m inspired to get GREENER.    Do you have two garbage cans going to the curb each week rather than just one?   If so,  you might want to consider doing the same.   What’s cool is when you can send your one garbage can out every OTHER week because you use so little that comes in boxes, cans, and bottles.

 

Foods that cause constipation . . . part 2 of 9 about ELIMINATION

Yesterday, pee.   Today, poop.

Green bowel movements are completely normal (that’s the plant fiber in all those greens  you’re eating!).   Take a look at the horse poo you see along the road, if you live where you can see horses.   It’s indicative of what they eat (alfalfa, all plant foods).   You can read about indigenous people who  have no toilets and therefore “squat” outside.   They don’t worry about human waste removal like we do, because it’s not toxic and disgusting, like it would be here in the U.S.   The poop of indigenous people who eat mostly raw plant food looks like horse poop: lots of it, lots of fiber in it,  greenish, no odor.   Brown feces are simply a result of bile pigments coming from the liver, also normal.

What you should be concerned about is dark, hard, smelly, putrified poop–that’s what most of America is experiencing.   (And that, I believe, is why we’re so shamed about the topic of elimination–feces of people eating the S.A.D. are, in fact, disgusting!)   That’s what eating meat gets you: rotted stool that took days (or with pork, even weeks) to digest.   Accumulation of decaying material in the digestive tract, euphemistically known as constipation, is the single biggest threat to our health, the “modern plague,” according to Dr. Jensen.

I helped run a babysitting co-op for 10 years while my children were small, and I was always horrified when I had to change other babies’ diapers–the smell was astonishing.   I was at a party last week where everyone watched a little boy straining, his face beet red, trying to have a bowel movement in his diaper.   This little boy is fed a steady diet of hot dogs and potato chips, zero-fiber foods.   I never once saw any of my children do that.   Many parents have come to think of that phenomenon as normal (people thought this was funny at the party—I just felt bad for the little guy).   It’s not normal.   Straining at a bowel movement is this, plain and simple: constipation.

People get painful hemmorhoids–that’s when your bulging veins pop out of the anus instead of staying inside like they should–when their colons are overtaxed with low-fiber foods and they must exert lots of force to eliminate.   And that’s just one of many side effects of eating a low-fiber diet.

Diverticulitis is a very dangerous disease caused by chronic constipation, where pouches of the colon sag, lose nerve/muscle tone, and become breeding grounds for bacteria that eventually rot the colon.   Foods that cause constipation?   Meat is mentioned above, and constipation is well catalogued in any honest review of results of the Atkins Diet, since anyone on that diet is excessively eating animal proteins.

But Dr. Jensen and his researchers also constantly noted that those suffering from the worst colon problems ate lots of WHITE BREAD, which functions like the gluey mess that it is, slowing and gumming up your digestive system.   He said anyone eating refined flour better be eating lots of vegetable roughage at the same time (and he recommends whole millet, rye, cormeal and rice instead).

People who eat lots of plant food have soft but formed stool.   People who have been eating an almost exclusively plant-based diet for a long time, and have been through all the “cleansing” so they are now rather clean, have . . . are you ready for this? . . . poop that doesn’t stink.

Chime in about this, if you’re brave!   You can always post on my blogs as “anonymous” if you like!