Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How to Fix the Health Crisis

There can be little doubt that we are in the middle of a health crisis in the United States and it is rapidly being exported to the rest of the world. Obviously there is no simple solution to a very complex problem, but I would like to propose, at least, a start.

King for a Day

One of my favorite podcasts is Mark Hyman's The Doctor's Farmacy. In this podcast, he interviews well known figures in the areas of functional medicine, nutrition, health, and spirituality. One question Dr. Hyman always asks each guest is, "If you were King/Queen for a day, what is the one policy you would like to enact to have the greatest impact?" As I listen to his podcast, I like to think about how I would answer that question.

In a recent episode with Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, I was very intrigued by Mozaffarian's answer to this question. Since listening to the episode, I have been thinking more and more about this. So I decided to write out my answer this question in this week's blog. If I were King for a Day, this would be my "executive order."

My Executive Order

Date: September 26, 2018
Executive Order Number 1
Title: Overhaul of Health and Nutrition Policy
The following measures are to be implemented immediately:
  1. All government subsidies for corn, wheat, soy, and dairy will be immediately terminated.
  2. All pasturing of animal livestock on government and public lands will be immediately terminated.
  3. The funds that were previously used to subsidize wheat, corn, soy, and dairy will be used to create farmer subsidies for organic, non-GMO green vegetables, fruits, and root vegetables. In particular, government assistance would be given to those farmers who wanted to change from the production of wheat, corn, soy, or dairy to the production of organic, non-GMO green vegetables, fruits, and root vegetables.
  4. All tax cuts for the production of processed foods will be eliminated.
  5. All sweetened carbonated soda (where sweetened with sugar or a substitute) will be taxed at $0.05 per fluid ounce.
  6. All processed foods will face a federal tax of 1% of the retail price.
  7. All processed foods that contain added sugar will face a federal tax of 3% of the retail price.
  8. The funds from the soda and processed foods taxes will go into a fund that may only be used for nutritional education and assistance with healthy lifestyle change
  9. Income tax deductions will be created in the tax code for activities that support health and exercise. Examples include yoga classes, gym memberships, nutrition classes, etc.

Faithfully executed,
Mark Andres
King for a Day

My Reasoning

While I know there is very little likelihood of this actually happening because it would be violently opposed by the medical establishment, big pharma, big food, big soda, and the agriculture lobby. However, I do think it is a system that would in time allow these industries to continue to do business, just under a more healthy and sustainable model. The only way to make this work is to involve big business and allow them to continue to be profitable.

The problem that we see right now is that almost all of the big players are rewarded for keeping us sick. Obviously, big pharma and the medical establishment makes more money if the general population is chronically ill. Currently, big food is rewarded with tax breaks for producing highly processed, unhealthy food that contributes to diabetes and obesity. Likewise, farmers, both small and industrial, are rewarded for producing crops that are designed primarily to feed animals rather than humans. In addition, their subsides support wheat, corn, soy, and dairy which contribute to many chronic diseases.

Therefore, my solution is to simply flip the rewards. If we can reward these industries for keeping us healthy rather than keeping us sick, they will be motivated to do so. While we may never be able to make this palatable for big pharma and big medicine, we can certainly do this for other industries. 

I would love to hear your ideas either in the comments or by contacting me directly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MSP Rescue

Over the past month, I have been busy working on a new project and I would like to unveil it today. As you may know, I have worked in IT for over 25 years with the last 12 or so years being an IT Consultant. My long term goal was to eventually work as a "consultant to the consultant" helping new IT consultants start and develop their business. Well, as they say, the future is now. Recent circumstances led me to start this now. Thus, MSP Rescue was born!

What is MSP Rescue?

MSP Rescue is a service to help sole IT consultants or small managed service providers (MSP) build their businesses. This involves a few services:

  • Business development coaching and consulting - I can help them learn all aspects of sales and marketing so they can learn how to attract and land ideal clients.
  • System setup - I can help with setup and use of basic software systems for MSPs such as PSA (Connectwise, Autodesk) or RMM (Kaseya, N-Able, Labtech).
  • Project management and staffing - I can help manage and/or execute large client projects such as office moves, cloud migrations, or AV setups.
  • Temporary staffing - I can provide temporary staffing and back-fill work for staff loss or vacations.
  • Remote hands staffing - For consultants not in the San Francisco Bay Area, but with clients that have some presence here, I can provide on-site remote hands work such as equipment installation, network configuration, etc.

Why I Started MSP Rescue

Throughout my career, I have always been passionate about working with small businesses and helping entrepreneurs attain success. To that end, I decided to focus on helping smaller MSPs and consulting firms (especially, one or two person operations) be successful and learn how to compete with the "big firms." I believe that by following the right steps, you can build a successful IT consulting business and I want to help you do just that.

In particular, I have learned that "selling" services, and especially IT services, is vastly different from selling products. Unfortunately, many sales books, seminars, and techniques are designed for selling products and do not translate well to selling services. I want to help IT consultants learn how to market and sell their services, so they can build successful MSP companies.

My Core Values

  1. Building a lasting relationship with your client is the key to long-term success.
  2. Trust is the most important element in the relationship. When trust is broken, the relationship is doomed.
  3. Integrity and honesty will set you apart from your competition.
  4. You have to know where you are going to get there. A failure to plan is a plan for failure.
  5. How you do one thing is how you do everything. You can't fake a successful mindset.

Check out my new website:

In addition, I also have have a new MSP Rescue blog that comes out on Fridays:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Is Sugar the New Cocaine?

Several years ago, when I first heard sugar compared to cocaine, I thought the comparison sounded a little bit exaggerated. I mean, come on! How can something we eat everyday be compared to a very serious drug? However, the more I researched into processed sugar, the more I feel that the comparison holds up.

Processed vs. Natural

Cocaine comes from the coca leaf, native to the northwestern regions of South America. In its natural form, the leaves have been used as a traditional medicine to treat altitude sickness, digestive issues, and headaches. Used as both an anesthetic and a pain reliever, the coca leaves were considered a sacred plant in traditional Andean cultures. They would chew the leaves or make a tea (mate) from the leaves.

To become cocaine, humans process and refine the chemical compounds in the coca leaves to produce the white powder that we call cocaine or Benzoylmethylecgonine. In fact, cocaine is so processed, that eating or ingesting cocaine typically has little or no effect because it is neutralized the acid in our stomachs. To get any effect from ingesting cocaine, you typically have to consume it with a highly alkaline substance such as lime. This is why cocaine is typically snorted or injected.

In sum, in its natural form, coca leaves provide a mild analgesic and stimulant effect and were prized in traditional medicine for their curative powers. When you refine it into a white powder, it becomes dangerous and very addictive. What about sugar?

In nature, sugar is found in many plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables as well as in milk. In breast milk, the lactose (milk sugar) is there to provide energy for a growing baby. However, humans, like all other mammals, are evolved to stop drinking milk after being weaned. The sugar that is found naturally in plants is accompanied by fiber. Even a sugar cane, the juice of which is used to make table sugar, is very fibrous.

Sugar cane, sugar beets, and many fruits all have a high content of sugar. However, typically, those foods that are high in sugar are also high in fiber. For example, a mango has a lot of sugar but also a lot of dietary fiber. The fiber helps to slow the absorption of the sugar into the blood stream, preventing the blood sugar spike that you get from eating processed sugar.

Like cocaine, humans process and refine these plants until you end up with a white powder: sugar. Alternatively, they take corn, which is produced in an extreme over-abundance in the United States, and they process the corn to extra the fructose, leading to high fructose corn syrup.

Addictive Qualities

While still not accepted completely in scientific literature, increasing research shows that sugar is highly addictive. The study that stands out is one where rats that were addicted to cocaine gave up cocaine for sugar or saccharin and became addicted to those instead. Here is the original journal abstract.

There are some who oppose this view. Here is a journal article that disputes the addictive nature of sugar in humans. One thing to note is that the food and sugar industry regularly sponsor research that only gets published if the results shine a positive light on sugar or other processed foods.

The Food Industry's Role

Which brings us to the food and sugar industry. If I told you that the manufacturers were adding cocaine to baby formula in order to get babies addicted to cocaine so they would later crave and buy foods with added cocaine, you would probably freak out. However, that is exactly what is happening with something even more addictive. Baby formula has added refined sugar and this is exactly what the food industry wants. Over the last several decades, the food industry has purposely added sugar to more and more foods to get consumers both addicted to the sugar and hooked on the "sweet taste" of foods. Here is a graph that shows the increase in sugar consumption over time in the US.

A Final Note

If you would like to kick the sugar habit, I have a free gift for you. I created an e-book with eight simple steps to help you kick processed sugar and end your addiction. It is free for anyone to download. Just follow this link.

I am back after a week off. I am working on a new big project and I will be unveiling that project in next week's blog.