Isn’t it amazing that the ‘hippy diet’ the authorities once warned would corrupt a generation is now officially endorsed by the medical establishment, says Craig Sams
Your NHS No Claims Bonus is just one click away!
In 1965 I had the misfortune to be quite low in cash and lying by a roadside in Delhi unable to walk because of the debilitating pain and exhaustion of hepati- tis. The Holy Family Catholic hospital doctor told me I was in urgent need of hospitalisation, but their reception told me there were no beds. Maybe I should have tried a bit of baksheesh.
So, half walking, half crawl- ing, I ended up in Delhi General. After a day I knew I had to move on. I ended up in Peshawar, then Kabul, where a diet of unleavened wholemeal naan and unsweetened tea finally brought success. Within 3 or 4 days I was back on my feet and functional.
Since then I haven’t messed with my health — when you look into the abyss and realise how fragile life can be, you take more care. I never wanted to find myself in such desperate straits again — helpless, hoping someone can save you and feeling sorry for your parents who might never know what happened to their beloved son.
Since 1967 I have dutifully paid, like every good citizen, my National Insurance contributions which, in today’s money, amounts to about £400,000 over 44 years. During that time I have never cost the NHS one penny and haven’t taken up one minute of a doctor’s time with my health problems. That’s partly down to luck, but I cite diet as the main factor.
The experience in India trig- gered my interest in macrobi- otics and led to a career deci- sion to spread the word about healthy diet. This was the foun- dation on which my brother Gregory and I built Whole Earth Foods and which led, indirectly, to the founding of Green & Black’s. I’ve been OK almost all of the time, despite setbacks, bereavements, financial anxieties and stress from business competition. Sometimes I thought I was going mad, but I had seen enough of the dam- age anti-depressants can cause to know that I would never go down that route.
“IF I WERE A CAREFUL DRIVER I’D GET AN ANNUAL REDUCTION IN MY INSURANCE TO REFLECT MY CLEAN CLAIMS HISTORY. WHY NOT HEALTH?”
When Beveridge mapped out the NHS in 1942 his budget projections confidently predict- ed a steep decline in healthcare costs through the 1950s as indoor sanitation, better nutri- tion, clean water and health education would all reduce dis- ease and its treatment costs. Instead there has been a steady increase in sickness and chron- ic illness, triggered by obesity, environmental toxins, sedentary lifestyles and junk food. How disappointing it would have been for him.
Sir Jack Drummond was the man who named Vitamin A and B and who mapped out Britain’s healthy wartime diet that led to record levels of health, despite all the stress and strain of wartime life. Sir Jack was mysteriously murdered in 1953, or he would have been kicking ass at the DOH to make them do something about the Brits’ abysmal post-war dietary choices once they were free to choose.
If I were a careful driver I’d get an annual reduction in my insurance to reflect my clean claims history. Why not health? If a reduced level of claims reflects a saving in expenditure, what’s wrong with the principle extending to National Insurance? Charging people higher contributions/premiums for being sick all the time might be going too far, but rewarding people for conscientiously look- ing after their health shouldn’t be seen as reprehensible. I’d settle for a ‘cashback’ — or perhaps the money saved could be tagged onto my pension on retirement? Good national health policy should include carrots as well as sticks. The state offers no material incen- tive to look after one’s health, just confusing exhortations. A no claims discount would address this. I’m sure Beveridge would approve. And Sir Jack.