I believe that medicine’s potential is much more than the version we see in the world today. A doctor should be an educator with the goal of bringing patients to a place of deeper understanding of who they are in the world. To me, medicine is ultimately about self-empowerment through self-knowledge and growth.
For starters, let’s check in on how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Consider dressing your corned beef and cabbage tonight with a side of potatoes and some traditional Irish soda bread. However, do like most good Irish Americans do and eat it only one time per year. It’s actually a meal based on economics, rather than a nourishing ritual, and it’s not even traditional to Ireland.
Corned beef and cabbage’s popularity took shape during Irish immigration to the United States.
When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they often faced discrimination and lived in slums alongside Jewish and Italian groups. It was at Jewish delis and lunch carts that the Irish experienced corned beef and noticed its similarity to Irish bacon. Cooking the corned beef with cabbage was another choice based on cost efficiency [like the pork back home]. Even better, the entire meal could be cooked in one pot, making it cheap, easy to prepare.
— Meaghan Glendon, March 10, 2021, HV MAG
1st St Paddy’s takeaway: Economics and food are a bad combination, and getting worse.
Restaurants, grocery stores, and farm operations are industries that make concessions on food quality to generate their profit. Industrialized food is more about the market than about health.
As time passes, food is getting more processed, more refined, and more manufactured; nutrients are more and more watered down to help the harvest and the market. These industrialized foods are a big source of inflammation and chronic illness.
Food quality is not a place to save money. If you have the means, consider making the commitment to better quality food. Spend the extra on organic or biodynamic if possible.
Growing your own food is an important option. Not too long ago 90% of people were involved in some way in the production of their own food. Modern life changes that, and there is a cost.
Challenge: We also need to support efforts to provide access to good quality food. Not all communities have access to it. In fact, it is certainly only a minority of communities that do. How do underprivileged communities access good quality food? Why should only certain income brackets have these benefits? If I had my way, some of the national healthcare budgets would go towards improving our baseline food quality situation. I think the efforts would easily pay for themselves.
Green Mediterranean diet
2nd St Paddy’s Takeaway: We are better off emulating the Mediterranean countries.
We have, of course, all heard about the Mediterranean diet and its benefits for heart health. Here’s a brief recap:
“Plant-based foods, such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, are the foundation of the diet. Olive oil is the main source of added fat.
Fish, seafood, dairy, and poultry are included in moderation. Red meat and sweets are eaten only occasionally.” (Mayo Clinic)
But, have you heard about the Green Mediterranean diet? It’s a real thing and maybe even healthier for fat loss and heart, brain, and liver health. St Patrick’s Day is a natural day to explore it.
The Green Mediterranean diet is similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet with a few adjustments that not only make for better health outcomes (as far as a few studies suggest) but are even being touted as more eco-friendly (“greener“).
Specifics of the Green Mediterranean diet:
it cuts out the red and processed meats entirely
adds green tea several times per day
adds a specific type of green shake. (with green plant Wolffia Globosa which is high in plant protein)
It’s worth a look.
Famous Irish Hospitality
On this of all days, it would be wrong to only knock the Irish for not being closer to the equator and because their traditional meal is not hugely nourishing and not so traditional. The Irish have intangible health-promoting traits that must be mentioned. For example, their hospitality is world-famous and that’s a big deal.
We now know well that there is an interpersonal and social aspect of health and heart health, in particular. It plays a major role, even if it’s hard to measure. If you are a contributor to society, if people need you and you need them, then a kind of protection accompanies you. Community matters.
The Irish have cornered the market on this, at least in their own way.
Hospitality is ingrained in Irish history and culture.
In earlier times it was expected of each Irish person to offer a “stranger” hospitality. It was even legally enforced. Any person unwilling to provide a meal, drink, bed and company to a stranger risked a fine or shame.
May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.
— Irish Saying
So whatever you do this evening to celebrate your new health efforts and pursuits I hope you can find some good craic and steer clear of too much blarney.