The American immune system is not a lean, mean, fighting machine. It is soft. It is flabby. It is housed in a muffin-top, beach-ball belly, existing on Cheetos, deep-fried Twinkies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and bacon-wrapped bacon. It doesn’t get any exercise except walking to the kitchen for a cold beer and a bag of chips because clicking through 988 channels of reruns makes a body hungry.
You may ask, “what is an immune system anyway?” Without getting too technical, it’s the boxers and street fighters and soldiers in your body – the guys that fight corona viruses and flus and bacterias when they invade your body to make you sick.
When a virus goes up your nose, instead of standing at attention and shouting a battle cry, America’s immune system lights up a cigarette, leans against a wall and says, “Sup?”
We need basic training for our bodies. We don’t want overweight and out of shape immune systems huffing and puffing on the battlefield, we want soldiers that can drop and give us 50.
We’ve been hearing a lot about compromised people with diabetes and heart disease. They might say, “These things run in my family.” That is absolutely true. Often it’s yo momma who introduced you to unhealthy lifestyle habits, just like her momma did to her. Those yummy comfort foods she fed you tastes good, and it’s cheap. It wasn’t so bad in the past, when people worked hard and had to carry water up from the creek, build fences, walk to the barnyard to feed the chickens, they could burn off all that cheap creamed corn, potatoes and gravy, bread and butter and apple pie.
Now we eat the same cheap stuff, along with modern-day chips of all kinds – but now we’ve got nothing to do but watch TV. There’s no nutrition in that stuff, it’s just handy and tasty. It’s the same food we give to livestock. How do you fatten up cattle before they go to market? Corn and other cheap grains. They get fat because it’s not their natural food so they keep eating, trying to get nutrition that isn’t there. It’s just calories. A cow will eat itself to death on corn if you let it – it’s stomach will literally burst. I know this for a fact because when we were kids, my brother didn’t latch the door to the feed shed at my grandfather’s farm, and one of the milk cows got in there, Pet was her name, and ate corn all night and her stomach burst and she died. She ate herself to death.
We’re eating ourselves to death, too. The human body is hollering, “Hey, you! We need some food that’s got vitamins and minerals in it! We’re hungry for something healthy!” But all you hear is the “hungry” part, and you grab a bag of potato chips. Your body keeps pleading, so you grab some buttered popcorn and a Pepsi.
You can’t have good soldiers unless you give them the food they need. I didn’t say “want,” because we all “want” unhealthy food. It’s tasty! Our bodies become addicted to sweets and starches. How many times have you said, “I’m not even hungry but I want a little something sweet (or salty)?”
Breaking an addiction isn’t easy, but it can be done. You’ve got to retrain your mouth to like carrots and broccoli and other vegetables. Hey, quit making that barf face! Why do you think healthy people eat these things? Do you see them gagging when they eat salads? No. They love ’em. Their mouths have been trained to like the taste, just like you were trained to like sweet tea even though it gags me because it’s so fricking sweet. Talk about a barf face!
While you’re at it, send your body to basic training. You don’t have to march up and down saying, “hep, deda-hep” or whatever those boot camp marchers repeat on TV – just stroll around the block to start out. Look at people’s flowers, listen to the birds sing, make fun of the paint on someone’s house.
You’ve got to repeat this mantra: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If your body is in bad shape, it’s because of you. Not your momma. Not your daddy. Not your genes. Your momma may have raised you to be unhealthy because that’s all she knew, and all your brothers and sisters and cousins might be unhealthy, but once you leave home, it’s all on you
Get rid of these excuses:
-“I don’t like vegetables.” (Your momma probably didn’t like vegetables either unless they were floating in bacon grease or butter or gravy or starchy stuff like potatoes and corn.)
-“Diabetes and high blood pressure and heart disease run in my family.” (That might be true, but look at them – do they have unhealthy habits, too?)
“My doctor says it’s genetic.” (Your doctor has also told you to eat right and exercise.)
Now stand up and do something. Walk around the block, up steps, down escalators. Bend over and pick up things rather than letting they lie there. Do you own housework. Quit parking in the handicap space. Walk through the mall even if you’re not going to buy anything. Do your own yard work, mop your own floors. Build up to a couple of blocks and eventually a couple of miles a day. If it makes your joints sore, are you carrying two suitcases full of body fat everywhere you go? Bad eating habits can do that to you.
Find a make-your-body-happy way to eat that makes you strong – I recommend eating the South Beach or Mediterranean way because they’re not weird diets to lose weight. You want something you can do the rest of your life, not just something to drop pounds. You’ll lose weight eating this way in the long run, but that’s not what we’re after. A leaner body is just a nice side effect of getting healthy. Your check-ups with the doctor will get better – lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, so you may be able to get rid of some of the prescriptions you’re taking to treat your unhealthy lifestyle. Remember, the stronger you are, the stronger your fighting team will be.
The way you eat can be an addiction. No one was born to be an alcoholic, a smoker, or a food addict. You may have been brought up in a family with all of those things happening, and you may have generations of addicts in your bloodline, but you are the one who reaches for a bottle, a smoke, or a bag of chips.
Even healthy people want these foods – they’re tasty! The people who make this stuff and advertise it on TV have spent decades figuring out exactly what it takes to make you keep buying their products. Healthy people love potatoes and gravy and chips and dips the same as you do. But they learn how to eat well because they want to be, well, healthy. That’s why people who love to smoke quit smoking, and people who love to drink stop drinking. Unhealthy eaters change because they don’t want to be dependent on doctors and prescriptions for heart disease and diabetes – that “pound of cure” I was talking about, or they don’t like how it makes them look and feel and limits what they can do.
All addictions rob you of your strength and make your body weaker. It’s not about how you look on the outside. It’s about being strong! Next time germs invade, your immune system will stand up tall and say, “Oh, no. Hell no. Not in this house!” I’m not saying you’ll never get sick. But if you do, you may not get as sick. Your soldiers will beat up on those germs and eventually they’ll run off, holding their hands over their bottoms as you pelt them with all your healthy ammo. If nothing else, you’ll look and feel better. You can do this. Start today!!
America’s Bodies and Immune Systems. The strong. The proud. The free!