Project Bug Files

What Exactly Is Healthy?

For centuries the image of healthy has evolved, taking on many different shapes and forms, many of which are almost comical in light of today’s knowledge of anatomy and health. A well-balanced diet, usually following the food pyramid model, is considered the foundation for the modern healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, often including visits to the gym or using home equipment, is another key factor when it comes to achieving a healthy way of life, and the doctor’s approval that comes with it.

Yet, countless people who were model examples of this modern image of healthy not only contracted coronavirus, but succumbed to the most severe symptoms, up to and including fatality. Is this a reason to panic, as was the original response to the situation within the medical community, or is it a reason to reevaluate what it means to actually be healthy? Could this be Nature’s wakeup call, warning us of the inherent dangers that await us if we don’t change our understanding of what true health really looks like?

Traditional Healthy

Assumption: Teens and young adults have nothing to worry about with this new virus.

This assumption is based on the common flu model within these age groups, where healthy teens and young adults are both less likely to catch the flu, and more likely to recover quicker than their less healthy counterparts. Unfortunately, this theory was quickly put to the sword as countless ‘healthy’ teens and young adults not only contracted covid, but suffered severe symptoms up to and including death. Although a certain ratio seemingly remained in place, where elderly persons and those with preexisting conditions had a higher fatality rate, the numbers still didn’t match the commonly held expectation that age would make THE difference. [1]

Assumption: Following the traditional model of diet and exercise will keep you safe.

In addition to age, leading a healthy lifestyle was considered a natural preventative for contracting covid among most experts and the general population. However, it was soon recognised that even those falling into this category were filling the hospitals at unexpected rates. Even more unexpected was the number of fatalities within this group. In fact, some medical experts began to wonder at the very nature of Covid 19, given its seeming unpredictability with regard to traditional health and wellness models. At the end of the day, medical experts now agree that diet and exercise, within the traditional model, are no guarantees when it comes to surviving the pandemic. [2]

Alternative Healthy

Various trends in diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle have affected a certain evolution in terms of what it means to be ‘healthy’. The course of this evolution has been so significant, both in direction and momentum, that it has virtually created a new health paradigm. While going to the gym and eating a high protein diet may still be seen as healthy from a traditional perspective, yoga, meditation, and plant-based diets are now seen as the prescription for an alternative healthy lifestyle. The question is, does an alternative healthy lifestyle affect the impact of covid, and if so, how?

Narrative: Diet has no bearing on covid.

While eating right has been seen to have little bearing on the effects of covid, according to most experts, the question is what do they consider ‘eating right’? In a society steeped in fast food and frozen pizzas, the bar for a healthy diet is set pretty low, to say the least. Ask most nutritionists and the consensus is that a diet high in protein and dairy is the way to go (cheap animal products). However, not only are those following such a diet not showing a greater resilience to covid, they are in fact showing a greater vulnerability to it.

But is this also the case with alternative diets such as pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan? The answer is categorically ‘no’. In fact, studies have shown that while traditional healthy diets can increase the severity of covid symptoms by up to four hundred percent, alternative diets reduce the likelihood of severe symptoms, up to and including fatality, by anywhere from fifty percent to seventy percent depending on the diet. Pescetarians, who’s only meat intake is fish, were a full fifty nine percent less likely to get moderate to severe symptoms, whereas those on a plant-based diet were seventy three percent less likely to experience moderate to severe symptoms from covid. [3]

These numbers would probably be more telling were vegetarians and vegans treated as separate groups, since dairy and eggs would doubtlessly have an impact on the results. Still, the fact that a high protein diet sent people the wrong way, whereas plant-based diets produced the best results, clearly shows a profound difference between traditional healthy and alternative healthy, with alternative healthy winning the day. Unfortunately, many ‘experts’ have either ignored these studies, or tried to debunk them altogether, stating that the size of the study was too small, or that controls were too loose for the results to be taken seriously. Still, those worth their weight have chimed in stating that the results are significant enough to warrant further studies, and that the trajectory from high-protein to plant-based diets cannot be ignored.

Narrative: Organic is nothing more than a trend, and a big waste of money.

The rise of organic foods, including not only fruits and vegetables, but all forms of meat as well as dairy and eggs, has transformed the complexion of most supermarkets today. Although originally an ethical choice made by people who wanted more natural and humane conditions for what would become their food, other benefits have been coming to light in recent years. The simple truth is that more and more scientific data is suggesting that not only is organic a healthier and safer option, but it may be a necessary option to include more of it for the very survival of humanity.

One way in which our food may be killing us is in the use of antibiotics, where two thirds of the world’s supply goes towards animals and the other third on humans. Although the use of drugs and medicines in animal agriculture may sound like a good thing to the average person, the fact is that it has potentially become our undoing. Rather than improving the horrendous conditions in facilities which cuts into profit, most animal agriculture businesses choose to ‘dope up’ the animals, thereby keeping them safe from their disease-ridden environment. Overuse of antibiotics in both animal and human applications has led to greater antibiotic resistance all around. As a result, higher doses are needed to achieve the same results that low to moderate doses could achieve in the not-so-distant past. Worse still, in the case of around 700,000 people per year, no amount of antibiotics can do the trick anymore, resulting in fatalities that could otherwise have been prevented.

We should always tread carefully and only kill what absolutely needs killing with these drugs, as Nature always serves back at us. If not us in this generation, it will be our children in the next one. Our continued abuse of science in this area is empowering ‘superbugs’, which are viruses and infections that have evolved an immunity to antibiotics as a result of such high exposure to them. More and more cases of superbugs are being reported each year, leading some to speculate that this current pandemic may be only the beginning of something much worse. In fact, so strong is the evidence to support the damage done by antibiotic use in animal agriculture that some experts have gone so far as to recommend a plant-based diet in addition to the vaccine for the best chance of surviving covid.

Further studies suggest that there are also indirect consequences for this ‘drug abuse’ taking place in animal agriculture. One such consequence is the impact of stress on the quality of meat itself. Since using antibiotics enables facilities to maintain tragic and inhumane conditions, animals exposed to these environments undergo immeasurable stress and despair. In addition to the psychological effects this has on livestock, it has now been demonstrated that certain physiological effects are also to be expected. This has a highly detrimental effect on the quality of meat, which in turn can cause serious issues within the consumer. [4]

Unfortunately, although organic foods are cleaner sources of energy, the reality is there isn’t enough to feed the first world, let alone the entire world. One solution would be to reduce the intake of heavier contaminants by exchanging a percentage of meat for more plant-based foods which are safer, organic or not. Compensating conventional meat with more conventional plant-based foods is still a good outcome, even though it’s not strictly organic. Although, including even a small portion of organic foods when possible is always a good thing. Perhaps flexitarianism is the path to get us from where we are to where we need to be, which is a world that stops poisoning the very food we eat.

In short, the link between covid and diet, specifically where high protein (aka meat heavy) diets significantly raise the risk of moderate to severe symptoms, may be as much the result of the conditions of animal agriculture as eating meat itself. Only further studies will show whether or not organic meat is any healthier in terms of fighting covid, but one thing is for certain; organic is much more than a fad, and it’s certainly well worth the cost.