By Marilynn Preston – Energy Express

began in my previous column what I plan to finish now: a look back over 40 years of writing this syndicated column and advising about what it means to live a healthy, happy, vibrant life, free of stress, strong and lean, conscious and carefree, joyful every moment, no fried foods, ever. Forget that, dear readers. It’s an impossible goal that sets you up for failure. Nobody gets through life without upsets and setbacks. Even the good life is predictably unpredictable, and so are some of the developments I’ve seen over the last 40 years. Here are a couple of the best, followed by three I wish would vacate the building tomorrow:

HOLISTIC MEDICINE HAS TAKEN HOLD

I mentioned this unstoppable force for positive change previously, and I hope to mention it about a million more times before I retire to the forest.

The mind-body connection is mainstream now, and millions of consumers of U.S. health care are waking up to what an overmedicated and undernourished country we have become.

We Americans still have an expensive and mediocre health care system compared with other developed countries, but I’ve seen notable progress. We the people, in order to form a more perfect union between our physical fitness and our mental fitness, are seeking out proven practices of the East in record numbers, spending time with yoga masters, body workers, qi gong practitioners, acupuncturists and others who help us activate our inner healer.

Many of the practices make us healthier, and some don’t, just like Western medicine, where 97 percent of funding in the U.S. goes to pay for medical services and almost nothing – three cents of every U.S. health care dollar – is spent on patient education and prevention. It’s shameful. 

No one dies from an overdose of ginger tea, whereas improper treatment by doctors and hospitals is the third-leading cause of death in America. Third! Rhymes with absurd. Prescription drugs are also killing Americans in record numbers, and the billions of dollars spent treating the side effects of these drugs is outrageous.

The moral of this developing story? Be vigilant. Be informed. And even more important – in fact, most important – be responsible for your own health and wellness.

Others in the healing professions can and will help and guide, but you’re in charge. You will live longer and better if you set your own health goals and back them up with self-discovery, self-monitoring and accountability.

OUR BRAINS KEEP LEARNING

Thank God for neuroscience. Over the last 40 years, researchers have used hard science and brain imagery to confirm something we didn’t know before: our brains are neuro-plastic geniuses and never stop growing. Neurons do die, but others come to life, and you can make sparks fly and new neural connections right up to the end. At which point the battery dies and we flatline into the mystery.

Meanwhile, here are three trends of the last 40 years that it’s time to kill off:

REST IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS

It’s time to stop mocking people for getting the rest they need for their bodies and minds to recover from the stresses of the day. People who go around bragging that they get by on four hours of rest a night are sleep-deprived.

SUGAR IS BENIGN

Sugar is toxic at 22 teaspoons a day, which is the amount the average American consumes. Yikes! It is a leading cause of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and – this just in – Alzheimer’s. We recently discovered that Big Sugar paid off Harvard doctors to minimize the dangers of sugar and to instead lead Americans to believe that saturated fat is the enemy. It’s not. Processed food is. Oops.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU NEED THIS DRUG

Only America and New Zealand allow drug companies to advertise directly to consumers. It’s not such a problem in a country where sheep (who rarely watch TV) outnumber people 22 to 1. But here it’s past time to end those persuasive and dangerous ads on TV, in newspapers and magazines, on the radio and Internet. Even the American Medical Association has argued for a ban, but the ads continue, and the results are sickening, as people insist on taking drugs they don’t need, that they misuse, that kill them.

It shouldn’t take 40 years to get Congress to act. How about 40 days?

– Marilynn Preston is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, marilynnpreston.com, and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.