This is possibly the greatest problem challenging our health status today.
It has been said that many people in the West are overfed and undernourished.
The concept behind this statement is true, our total energy intake is high, the quantity of food excessive. This large quantity is often so poor, that the actual nutrient intake in terms of vitamins, minerals and certain amino acids is inadequate, to the point of producing disease. This is in contrast to certain developing countries, such as Ethiopia or Bangladesh, where there simply is not sufficient food of any kind to sustain healthy life. This is true "under nutrition", which is seldom found in the West. What the west suffers from is malnutrition. Throughout the course, we shall be looking at how and why such malnutrition comes about, and the effects it can have on the health. Many of the diseases which are prevalent in the West have been ascribed to excessive fat, excessive protein, and excessive refined carbohydrate intake. Refined carbohydrates are the carbohydrates that have been processed, and have had most of the nutritious components removed.
A pioneering work in the 1930s, of an American dental surgeon, named Weston Price, studied the dietary habits of thirty of the primitive cultures, and observed that when they moved from their traditional diets and started consuming a typical western diet, they developed the identical diseases of that country, whose diet they adopted - cancer, heart attack, dental decay, allergies and so on. This has now been confirmed by many other researchers. Nutritional factors have been proved to cause those diseases that are mainly found in Westernised countries. This fact is no longer considered crank or way‑out.
Common myths about the Western diet being excellent and healthy needs to be exposed as a myth. Here are just a few truths that are still widely considered to be erroneous even by some doctors and nutritionists: -
True facts: -
- Animal protein is not necessary for optimum health.
- Nutrient deficiencies can and do affect people on a typical western diet.
- Sugar (as sucrose) is not an essential nutrient.
- Sugar is completely devoid of minerals and considered a poison.
- Pasteurised milk is not necessary to maintain adequate calcium balance.
- Pasteurised milk actually causes osteoporosis.
- Food colourings and other additives have adverse health effects in a growing percentage of individuals.
- Pesticide residues in foods are dangerous.
- Animals generally are diseased to the stage that, here in Australia, there has not been seen one single completely healthy animal in the past 20 years.
- All animal products contain arachidonic acid which causes inflammation. Inflammation stimulates cancer growth.
So, in conclusion, the Western diet leaves a lot to be desired and when compared with a theoretical 'natural' diet, there are enormous differences.
Put simply, it contains: -
- too much animal fat
- too much salt
- too much sugar
- too much refined flour products
- not enough fibre
- too many processed foods
- potentially harmful insecticides, pesticides, herbicides and so on.
- potentially harmful colourings and other food additives
- too much tea
- too much coffee
- too much alcohol
- too many carbonated drinks
- not enough water.
Once food is digested and has been absorbed into the blood stream, it is then a matter of how efficiently the body uses it.
Someone who excretes large quantities of nutrients in the urine for example, will have higher nutritional requirements compared to someone who uses nutrients more efficiently. Some people also have metabolic faults, that prevent their body from efficiently utilising nutrients that are present. Some nutrients are out of balance, and they are rejected or only a small amount is utilised. This in turn reduces the functional nutritional status of that person. Such metabolic blocks can be caused by genetic factors, food intolerance, other nutrient deficiencies, toxins in foods and environmental pollution.
For example, the '"hydrazine" group of chemicals, which are found in some pesticides, are potent vitamin B6 antagonists.
If there is a significant level of any of this group of chemicals in the human body, the body cannot utilise B6 properly, and thus the dietary requirements for B6 are significantly increased. But this then unbalances the B vitamins and causes a deficiency in this group of vitamins.