IF HUMANS SHOULD have learned anything the past 100 years, we should have learned valuable lessons regarding nutrition and personal finances. The fact is we are barraged with so many mixed messages and tempted with bad choices.

You would think our ancestors would have passed down from generation to generation the wisdom to eat healthy foods and wisely manage our personal finances. Yet a majority of people succumb to reckless decisions about what we put into our bodies.

All forms of media advise us about what to do and what not to do to be healthy medically and financially. It’s complicated and confusing. It takes willpower and determination to navigate the choppy waters. Most people are seduced by a flood of temptations.

On the healthy side, we’re told not to eat meat such as beef or pork, salt, high fructose corn syrup (sugar), dairy products such as cheese and ice cream, pizza, pasta, flour, baked goods, sweets and candy, anything that’s fried, fruit juices, soda, energy drinks, trans-fats, anything that comes in a box or a can or is frozen. Don’t drink alcohol.

Just about all of these bad foods have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, obesity or cancer in some way. Just a few weeks ago, researchers said the chemical acrylamide has been found in fried, baked and roasted foods like french fries, breakfast toast and cereal.

It can be discouraging to read articles on MSN about healthy nutrition. Health experts basically said it is OK to eat things you don’t care for like unbreaded fish and seafood such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and clams. Eat only organic fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs and spices.

To reduce anxiety, eat walnuts, oatmeal, bananas, salmon, kale, spinach, kiwi, dark chocolate, chia seeds, avocadoes, turkey, blueberries, black beans, beets, strawberries, tuna, collard greens, coconuts and red peppers.

To reduce high blood pressure, try eating pumpkins, tomato sauce, brussel sprouts, olives, lentils, almonds, pomegranates, beets, chia seeds and red hot chili peppers. If this is your idea of a gala celebration buffet table menu, don’t expect your guests to stay very long.

Now, back to the foods nutrition experts said are unhealthy and evil. That would include all packaged and processed meats, hot dogs, sausage, meat substitutes, cereal, breads, tortillas, bagels, grains, pasta, noodles, canned soup, cake and pancake mixes, gluten-free foods, chips, pretzels, snacks, Ritz Crackers®, buttered popcorn, fruit snacks, and everything in the cookie, bakery and pastry sections.

Prevention magazine warned us to never eat bread, grape jelly, diet soda, canned tomatoes, sprouts, chicken wings, farmed salmon, margarine, shrimp, energy drinks, pasta, fruit juice, bacon and any food microwaved in plastic.

The French claim to have the answer to keeping slim and healthy: simply don’t snack. An article in the June 17 Woman’s World magazine called celery juice the new miracle cure-all. For one thing, it will make your billfold lighter.

Here are a few things you are probably doing that would horrify your cardiologist: smoking, snoring loudly, sitting too long, eating fried foods, letting stress go unchecked, not working out, drinking too much alcohol, eating too many salty snacks, not lifting weights and eating too many sugary treats.

Despite these constant warnings, most of us will make the wrong decisions and pray that medical scientists will discover the antidote for stupidity before we’re forced to deal with heart disease, obesity, diabetes or cancer.

On the financial side, the true measure of financial success isn’t how much money you make, it’s how much you keep. Sadly, most Americans are lousy at this, too. We didn’t learn from our ancestors regarding self-control and thrift. We spend more than we make, we live for today and live to regret our lack of planning later in life.

According to Bankrate, 67% of earners would be hard-pressed to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense and more than 75% don’t save or invest skillfully enough to meet modest long-term retirement goals. It’s just not human nature.

Even wealthy families aren’t getting it right. About 70% lose wealth by their second generation and 90% by their third. Andrew Carnegie once said “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” My young granddaughter once told me “What good is money if you don’t spend it?”

Bankrate said the current causes of this bleak data are stagnant salaries amid rising costs of health care, education, housing and other big-ticket necessities have put a major strain on folks of all ages. Then, there is an almost universal lack of financial literacy.

A recent survey by American Funds found that 30% of parents wish they had started teaching their children financial matters earlier, because it is a lifelong process.

It is never too late or too early to share your financial wisdom, especially when teens are going away to college or young adults are starting their careers. Parents surveyed said the following five strategies are most critical for their children’s financial well-being: live within your means, start saving early and regularly, take advantage of your employer’s 401(k) match, manage credit effectively and don’t carry a credit card balance, and create a budget based on percentage of income.