Following the idea that lessons need to be extracted from adversities so we don’t end up with the same experience later on, I keep asking what can be extracted from COVID-19 for the future. On the face of it, I tackle one very important lesson that we must take away from this: consume less. Keep reading to find out how adhering to this principle could have prevented (and will certainly prevent in the future) the suffering that many are experiencing today.
The coronavirus pandemic managed to highlight two crises in parallel: a health crisis and an economic crisis. Please note that I am not suggesting that the pandemic caused these crises. Health was already in crisis and so was economy. The pandemic only served to expose the shit that was already in existence. As they say, you never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out.
Now, let us start with the health crisis. The virus has demonstrated its deadly effect predominantly on already sick people. And what are these people sick of? As it turns out, most of COVID-19’s victims are people with various cardio-vascular conditions and diabetes, both of which are already among the leading death causes in the world. Importantly, modern medicine has subsumed cardio-vascular conditions and diabetes under the so called metabolic syndrome which, in a nutshell, is caused by excessive consumption of junk food. Yes, that’s right! Metabolic syndrome (i.e. high blood pressure, high blood sugar, hyperinsulinemia, excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides and low levels of “good” cholesterol) is mostly caused by junk food. The underling inflammation caused by junk food is also responsible for asthma and other types of auto-immune conditions, all of which put you again at a higher risk of coronavirus death. The good news though is that all of these conditions can be reversed with life style changes only (no medication needed in 99% of the cases). Hence, the rule consume less is imperative to apply when it comes to increasing health and preventing not only disease but also death (in fact, especially death, and especially death from COVID-19). Importantly, if you give up junk food you are actually killing many birds with one stone. Firstly, you reverse metabolic syndrome thus improving your cardio-vascular markers and sugar metabolism (among many other health markers such as mental clarity, energy levels, sleep, mood, etc.). Secondly, you will naturally start to consume less food in general. Here is how it works: junk food is designed to make you addicted and to want more (of everything). So by not consuming junk food you can regulate your appetite, kick off your addiction habits, increase your satiety and start eating less overall calories. (Incidentally, reducing caloric intake is a leading factor in longevity). Last but not least, you will end up saving money on food (not to mention the savings on toilet paper and drugs!), which brings me to the next point – the economic crisis.
So assume you have committed to not eating junk food and you now have surplus cash. (Remember: not eating junk means you are not constantly hungry and/or addicted to food which in turn means you need far less real food to feel satiated). Now, what do you do with this surplus cash? Use it to buy more stuff, go more often to restaurants, or travel more? Not at all! You apply the same rule to your finances as you did to your eating habits: consume less! And save more! Just imagine if we had applied that rule before the pandemic, diligently and consistently! Imagine if you had one to two years’ worth of expenses stashed away for rainy days. Imagine if businesses were in that position. Imagine if governments were in that position. Would we be experiencing an economic crisis of that extent today? Of course not! And how do we make sure we don’t experience it again in the future? Quite simple – consume less. We need to learn to live below our means and to save more. If we don’t learn that, we haven’t learnt anything from COVID-19. If we don’t learn to consume less (of everything), there is another crisis around the corner waiting to teach us the same thing again.
Incidentally, do you think it is random luck that USA was hit the hardest by the pandemic? Unlikely! As “luck” has it, USA happens to be home to the largest number of fat people with the biggest debts. Talk about overconsuming and paying the price for it.
Finally, I would like to address a notorious argument that the Planet cannot accommodate so many of us and is forcing a population cull through the pandemic. I strongly believe that the planet could accommodate all of us. If only we altered our consumption habits…