Across the world, the leading causes of death are heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. These diseases are rising at alarming rates and are causing misery and suffering. At Stairway, we have been exploring the link between our diet and the diseases that can be related to our food choices.
‘What the Health’ is a US documentary exploring the link between our diet, particularly our consumption of processed food and meat, and the above diseases. The documentary highlights the problems of big industry controlling our dietary choices and the information that we have access to about their dangers. It also highlights the environmental destruction that is caused by modern farming and mass food production. Increasingly, the evidence shows us that we can change the course of our lives by taking control of what we eat and how we exercise.
At SFI, meat is no longer consumed, and we have replaced white rice with other, more nutritious varieties. By getting used to having a fresh, locally produced plant-based diet, the children are learning good habits for life. We are exploring ensuring that the SFI menu regularly includes legumes such as lentils, monggo beans, or tofu. There is excellent evidence that these foods are able to reduce the incidence of diabetes and cancer if eaten regularly.
The cost of treatment associated with common lifestyle diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes can be very high and often ruin whole families. Furthermore, if a family member has a stroke or heart attack, it is likely that they will never be able to work again, and this will be a burden on the rest of the family. Wherever you live, we strongly recommend watching this documentary to highlight some of the dangers of our ‘modern’ eating habits.
Traditionally, diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure have been considered chronic and lifelong. We are strongly advocating with our colleagues and friends that making dietary and lifestyle changes can reverse these conditions in many cases. At Stairway, we have already had numerous learning sessions and individual programs to start to tackle these conditions and improve our lifestyle choices. We plan to roll this program out to our Manila team, too, and share these benefits with them.
Chris Ward, volunteer Family Doctor MBBS MRCGP DTMH DFFP DRCOG BSc