The Number One Cause of Pain, Disease, and Death in the U.S.

The number one cause of pain, disease, and death in the United States is…!  Every bite of food we eat either causes or reduces chronic inflammation in our bodies, and chronic inflammation leads to pain and to degenerative diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Most of the food that most Americans eat most of the time is pro-inflammatory. It doesn’t have to be that way.  We Americans, especially in Southern California, have a wide variety of choices regarding the food we eat. Choosing to eat an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the very best things we can do to ensure continued good health for ourselves and our families.

Underlying the raging debate about the quality and availability of health care in the U.S. is the tremendous cost, and one major factor driving massive and ever spiraling health care expenses is the American diet. Billions of dollars of government subsidies allow large corn farmers to produce huge harvests and sell the corn far cheaper than it costs to grow. The cheap corn is sold to corporate livestock producers and converted to cheap beef, pork, chicken and dairy products—all of which are pro- inflammatory because the animals were fed and fattened with corn.  (The meat, eggs and dairy products of animals that eat only grass and other vegetation, on the other hand, may be anti-inflammatory when eaten in moderate amounts.)  The corn is also converted to high-fructose corn sweeteners, primarily used to sweeten the billions of gallons of soft drinks consumed by Americans (estimated to be 52 gallons per year for every man, woman and child in the U.S.).  High fructose corn sweeteners are very pro-inflammatory, even more than refined sugar, which is also quite pro-inflammatory.

Other commonly eaten highly pro-inflammatory foods include vegetable oils (corn, safflower, soy, sunflower) found in many processed foods and salad dressings, trans-fats (ubiquitous in processed foods of many kinds), and grains—especially refined grains—in cereals, breads, and pastas. Pro-inflammatory foods cause or at least greatly contribute to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer, dementia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, back and neck pain, headaches and more.  These conditions cause tremendous suffering, premature death, and hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs every year.

You can do a lot to improve your health and that of your loved ones by learning exactly what foods are anti-inflammatory (which include all fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts, olive oil, and animal products from animals which have consumed only vegetation—like wild fish, cage free eggs and poultry, and grass-fed beef) and which are pro-inflammatory, and by doing whatever you can to move towards purchasing and consuming more anti-inflammatory foods.  Two excellent sources of information about food and inflammation include the book The Inflammation Syndrome by Jack Challem (available online and in our office) and the website  Shopping at local farmer’s markets whenever you can is another great positive step, since almost all the food there is anti-inflammatory, much of it is organic or at least grown without pesticides, and dollars spent there support smaller, local farms. On a societal level, we need to work toward changing our federal farm subsidies away from unsustainable agribusiness which produces artificially cheap pro-inflammatory food and towards supporting smaller farms which grow healthy produce.  And we need to ban food industry advertising aiming to hook our children for life on health-destroying fast, junk and processed foods.  We can start now by educating ourselves and our families and making better food choices!