Supposedly we live in a free country, but if that is so, how is it that most Americans end up as people they do not wish to be? As a primary care physician, I have witnessed first-hand the explosion of chronic disease, multi-organ failure and poly-pharmacy. Most would agree that these are undesirable conditions, and we need some solutions. But is the underlying problem related to our nature or our nurture?
Very few Americans are fulfilling their natural destiny or natural potential because obesity, chronic disease and disability have become the new "normal" states within our society. Already, more than 150 million Americans are robotically (without question) marking the hours of their lives by the pharmaceutical pills they ingest and tens of millions are checking their blood sugars by pricking their fingers several times per day. Our children and young adults are also suffering, by developing chronic medical problems that were once seen primarily in the senior population. Our future appears dire, such that by the year 2050 it is predicted that one-half of us will be living with diabetes. Within this scenario it is difficult to discern exactly what our true nature is.
Nurturing also appears questionable in American culture. Beginning as children, we are trained to be sick people, first by the consumption of manufactured foods (empty calories) that promote sickness, then by the health care industry that usurps our power over health matters. We are consistently prodded by health care systems and pharmaceutical company advertisements to undergo screening tests, ingest pharmaceutical drugs and use artificial devices to sustain our lives. Real health that is derived from personal responsibility and maintained through nature-aligned behaviors such as physical activity and eating natural, whole foods has been replaced by a culture consisting of disease awareness days, mandatory tests, pills and procedures. These modern circumstances bring new meaning to the word "nurturing."
Ultimately, before we can debate nature versus nurture with respect to our fates, we must realize that we are not likely experiencing either, real nature or real nurture. It is time to reinstate Mother Nature back into our lives by subsisting on whole foods (not manufactured food products) and routinely enjoying physical activities, especially outdoors. By adopting a more nurturing lifestyle, one aligned to the natural order of things, we are more likely to physically express our true biological nature, one less prone to chronic disease.