Andrea Beaman knows the value of investing in your health.  This weekend I was able to see her speak at a health conference on the topic “Health is Wealth.”  If you are not familiar with Andrea, she’s the Natural Foods Chef, author, and Top Chef contestant that cured her own thyroid disease – with food.  She’s also a fellow Institute for Integrative Nutrition graduate and holistic Health Coach.  Her story is powerful, and she made some observations that have stuck with me.  I share them below along with my thoughts.

“While our high rates of disease are common, they’re not normal.”

Everyone has gotten so used to the high rates of chronic disease around us, it now seems normal to have diabetes or heart disease, or to have your thyroid irradiated, or an organ removed.  But our bodies are designed to function well, even into old age.  It’s our poor food choices that are most often the cause of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other debilitating and life shortening diseases.

“Sickness doesn’t happen overnight, and wellness won’t happen overnight either.”

Andrea did not develop thyroid disease overnight.  It was a result of years of bad food and lifestyle choices.  It took two years for her to reverse her condition.  She accomplished it by changing her diet and patiently caring for her body.

We can reverse our own ill health by giving it time and attention.  Diets often fail because they are short-term solutions that don’t take into account our own individual needs.  If instead we make sustainable, step-by-step improvements in our food choices and lifestyle, then we can enjoy lasting results.

“We’ve been taught to take a pill, suppressing symptoms that result in major problems years later.”

Got acid reflux?  There’s a pill for that.  Skin itchy?  There’s a pill for that too.  But something is causing the acid reflux and the skin condition.  Often there is a food source causing the problem.  We are much better off identifying and eliminating the cause than taking a drug to suppress the symptom.    (In April, the FDA put 16 drugs on the Watch List – including popular acid reflux medications.)

‘People will buy a $600 iPhone, but complain about the “high cost” of an organic apple.’

Since what we eat becomes our skin, or nails and our organs, Andrea recommends we choose organic, clean and naturally raised foods. Our bodies are worth it.  If a pesticide sprayed on a plant (or created in a plant, as in the case of some GMO crops) is designed to kill a bug, what will it do to our bodies over time?  Many pesticides are known endocrine disruptors, and a review of human studies show a significant association between pesticide exposure and some cancers. Buying organic or locally grown and raised produce and meat is the best way to limit your exposure to pesticides.

“‘But eating organic, pastured or humanely raised meat costs more!’  Yes it does.”

Andrea would argue that it’s worth the investment in your health.  How the animals that we eat are raised – the conditions and the feed – affects the quality of the meat.  The quality of the meat, in turn, affects the quality of our bodies.  Think there’s no real difference between an egg from a pastured hen and a factory farmed hen?  Google images of factory farmed hens and compare them with pastured hens.  The factory hens’ combs are pale and their overall look is that of an animal that is stressed and ill.  An unhealthy hen’s eggs cannot compare in quality to a healthy, happy pastured hen’s eggs.

Here are Andrea’s Beaman‘s top 4 ways to manage the investment in your health:

Join a CSA

Participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is often cheaper than buying produce at the grocery store.  And the quality of the food is often far better.

Ditch the Supplements

Eat real food in its whole form and you won’t likely need expensive supplements.  The Vitamin C, the folate, the iron – it’s in the food!

Purchase the Whole Animal

Many people spend $15-$25 on a restaurant meal that maybe has 2 pieces of chicken in the dish.  You can get a whole, pasture raised chicken instead, and have 8 pieces of meat plus a chicken carcass to stock from from.  And the quality of the meat will be better.

Get Cooking!

When you cook at home, you know the exact ingredients, you know the quality, and you get to know food on an intimate level.  And, as Andrea says, “there’s love and intention in that meal!”  You’ll also eat out less, saving you perhaps thousands of dollars a year.

By choosing the best quality food, you are making the greatest investment in your health.  Shifting some of your dollars from Starbucks, another pair of shoes or the latest gadget to high quality food will save you in health care costs down the road.  But the payoff begins immediately.  You will enjoy abundant energy and better health now, enabling you to manage stress better and enjoy life more.  And when you are in your later years, you’ll have fewer health problems to manage and live a longer, healthier life.

That sounds pretty good to me!

What are your thoughts?  How do you invest in your health?   Share your comments below.

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