The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food borne diseases.
Perhaps the most passionate topic of this discussion is related to the harsh take-down of Chipotle for food poisoning outbreaks while other fast food establishments have been poisoning the public for years, but I digress since McDonalds, Taco bell, Subway-- all of them, have mounting health violations for sickening the public year after year.
While most people are aware that eating fast food is bad for their health, they eat it anyway to the tune of $100 million spent annually. While fifty percent of accountability lands on fast food establishments for cleanliness and public health, the other fifty percent is dependent on the consumer to keep their immune system in tip-top shape.
Many people who eat in fast food restaurants unknowingly walk into these establishments at a tremendous disadvantage when it comes to their health. It is highly likely that most fast food frequenters have diets that tax their immune system on a regular basis. It is also highly likely that their diets consist of high amounts of refined sugar, are high in protein and include processed foods. As a result of their living habits their digestive tracts are likely stressed by these foods as well as by overeating, and many of them suffer from GERD, indigestion, food sensitivities and other digestive discomforts. Many of them may even have a cold.
Someone has to say it, so it may as well be me -- walking into a fast food establishment while feeling under the weather and/or eating unhealthily is an welcome mat for food-borne illness. How many kids do you see with runny noses eating in McDonalds? I rest my case.
Nothing.... and I mean nothing... will penetrate a healthy immune system. Not cancer, not salmonella, not listeria --- nothing. Here are three common sense ways to keep yourself and your family immune from food-borne illness:
- Avoid sugar. People who eat high amounts of refined sugar are at a huge disadvantage when they walk into a fast food establishment, a doctors office, their own office, the hospital or the buses and subways, because sugar depresses the immune system. We've known this as a fact since 1973. An undisputed study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed without a doubt, that refined sugar, not starch or fruit sugar, depresses the immune system, leaving humans susceptible to disease. If you are eating a diet high in sugar, or if your children are eating a diet high in sugar, they are susceptible to food-borne contamination. Period.
- Eat the fastest foods on earth! As I say in my new book EAT!--Empower, Adjust. Triumph!: Lose Ridiculous Weight, there's nothing faster than grabbing a banana, an apple, some grapes, or all three and having that as your fast food a meal. A meal like this is highly nourishing, loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber, there's no prep involved, no cooking, no hassle, no waiting online or sitting behind ten cars at a drive thru to get a food fix. Preparing food from scratch is one essential way to avoid food-borne illnesses. Pack these foods and take them to go. Wash produce well before consuming it. Avoid packaged, pre-washed salads and eat local when you can. These are sure-fire ways to ensure your immune system protects you.
- Eat a diet high in foods that have a so-called prebiotic and probiotic affect on the gut. All health originates from your gut. Foods known to have a prebiotic affect on the gut are fruits and vegetables. Again, these are the real fast foods. Your diet should include eighty percent of these foods. Additionally, other plant-based foods known to have a probiotic affect are foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, olives and pickles.
While it's easy, and most times warranted, to blame a fast food restaurant for tainted food, it's is equally important to take accountability for our immune system and health. Protect yourself! Lay off the sugar, fill yourself with nature's fast foods, wash your produce well and be mindful of knowing the basics of what your body needs to maintain its health. I'm not saying that fast food establishments are off the hook for cleanliness or aren't to blame for making people sick -- what I'm saying is the number one way to defend yourself against any disease, food-borne or otherwise, is to have a unbreakable forcefield of immunity.