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It seems like almost everything I like fits this category. Especially when it comes to food. There are various theories as to why everything wonderful and luscious will eventually kill you. My mother, a nutritionist, claims that during human evolution sugar, fat and salt were rare. Because we need them in small doses to survive, those people that craved them and ate them survived and passed a genetic or cultural affinity on to their descendants. Then of course we progressed to the point at which we can get far more than we need, and satisfy our cravings not just occasionally but at every meal. I, on the other hand, think that there might be some inherent human need to define all that we enjoy as dangerous. In a scientific self-obsessed age, we still have temptation, but it is no longer seen as having moral consequences. Instead we have replaced that focus with a focus on consequences for appearance and health.

            Health is defined as the general condition of the body or mind. It incorporates a number of aspects including, nutrition, exercise, and hygiene. The people of today’s modern society are becoming increasingly concerned with their health and are taking the necessary precautions to maintain “good health,” in other words: not dying.

            People are living better and longer because of preventive medicine. Medical care has evolved from a general-care doctor with literally no more than a portable black bag of medical supplies to the extensive array of doctors, nurses, specialists, pharmacists, dentists and hair-dressers that make up the behemoth that is modern medicine. Because of this, the average life expectancy has increased nearly 30 years since the turn of the 20th century, and the fastest-growing group of people is those aged 85 years and older. Why? People are getting adequate care for their bodies.

            Like any machine the human body requires maintenance. It’s not that prior to 1900 the human body was a temple for misuse per say, rather, everyone was simply too worried about staying alive than worrying about a seventh toe or that thing growing out the back of their neck. Anyhow, science has proven that people who get proper medical attention live longer than those who do not. Consider, for example, this hypothetical situation: there is a man—let us call him Dave—working out in the fields; suddenly, he looks down and finds that his partner, Jim, has accidentally nestled a pitchfork in his midsection. Both men exchange a quick look of disbelief and finally Jim blurts out an apologetic “Oops.” Now, a man of the modern age would immediately recognize cause for alarm and promptly seek medical attention. Yet to Dave, a man ignorant of any medical knowledge, the solution would not necessarily be quite as obvious. His initial response being: “Dang!” Let us not be so quick to judge his intelligence though. Upon further examination of the wound, Dave might reply, “Well Jim, looks like you got me pretty good.  Mind pulling this puppy out of me? <schunck> Thanks. Now just give me a minute while I vomit up some blood, and then I’ll help you shoe the horses.” While his machismo might be admirable at first, Mrs. Dave might not appreciate cleaning up the trail of blood or the subsequent bill from the undertaker since Dave has reached the ripe old age of 40 anyhow and it is probably his time to go, pitchfork or not.

            However, medical attention is not solely responsible for the increase in lifespan; diet and exercise play a significant role as well though studies in these fields have only emerged over the past few decades. Fifty years ago, the nutritionally conscious would have opted for a burger and a shake as opposed to the staple food: lard. But in today’s world, a healthy meal consists of a protein rich lettuce shake served with a multivitamin and sand. I myself dabbled in this lifestyle and emerged the paragon of human perfection that I am now, albeit a little gritty from the sand. Just kidding, but seriously, don’t eat sand; it gives you all sorts of digestive complications and your dentist will probably drill a hole in your hand for being so stupid. This leads us to hygiene.

            Personal cleanliness has become instrumental in the development of the modern world. Don’t believe me? Do you think Adolf Hitler would have been as popular if he smelled like a corpse? No! Aspiring young Germans took one whiff of him and lined up to join his fascist machine. Oh yes. The origin of Nazi Germany can be traced back to cheap perfume and fast women (popular belief will insist it was the Treaty of Versailles). And what about Bill Gates? He didn’t become the richest man in the world by smelling like a street rat. He knew that a prerequisite to acquiring immense wealth was a shower at least every Saturday and sometimes Tuesday. His partner, Paul Allen, initially resisted the innovation; this move would unfortunately mark him with the epithetSecond Banana” for the rest of his career. Nevertheless, prospective yuppies would expand upon Gates’ example and begin practicing daily showers and donning fragrances with enticing names like Aqua Ding-bat and Gypsy Desire.

            As a result, one need not look further than the nearest grocery store to find these and an alarming array of other scented and flavored hygiene products from toothpaste to deodorant to soap to candles and everything in between. Everybody buys them; everybody uses them. Long gone are the days when a man could go to sleep wearing the same juices he woke up in. You’d think that all the artificial ingredients would have started to produce chemical babies or something, but on the contrary, people seem to be living longer. Go figure.

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