Today the majority of cases of illness in the West are caused by lifestyle factors such as excessive stress, poor relationships, a life without purpose, lack of exercise, smoking and poor nutrition. To effectively address these issues we need to improve the nutritional status of our bodies. It is difficult for the mind to be fully functioning when the body lacks the raw materials to generate health. (See Persuading The Body 1, 2 and 3). Let us take a closer look at some of the key factors.
The Nutritional Status Of The Body Is Dependent Upon
a) Our food choices
b) The nutrient content of the food we eat
c) Our ability to assimilate nutrients
d) Environmental influences which give rise to extra nutrient needs or interfere with absorption and/or uptake of certain groups of nutrients
The human body is made up of food, water, air and light so it should come as no surprise that the things we need most are as follows : –
a) Food – nutrient-rich, whole food, with adequate diversity
b) Water – natural source. A source of minerals and an energetic transport medium
c) Air – fresh, unpolluted and clean
d) Light – sunshine filtered by ozone, bright and clear
Where Have We Gone Wrong
Up to the 1930s we could say that many of our needs were being met through the intimate relationship that we had with food and the environment. Now, as a result of our neglect and abuse of the planet we are scampering around trying to address those core needs and most of us are desperately failing. Why?……
a) Food Choices. Diets in the 1930s mainly consisted of fresh, free-range meat and locally grown seasonal fruit and vegetables. Meals were home-cooked, freshly prepared. Processed foods and fast food were simply not available.
b) The Nutritional State of the Food. Fruit and vegetables used to be grown in mineral rich soil. Rotational farming methods used to ensure that once crops were harvested (which removed minerals from the soil) nitrogen fixing crops would be put in their place. Animal waste would also help in restoring the nutritional integrity of the soil. The absence of chemical fertilisers and pesticides meant that the bacterial balance of the soil was not compromised. As a result there was much more naturally organic produce; free-range animals produced meat much higher in omega 3. So put simply, the mineral status of the soil was constantly maintained by good growing practices, waste being returned to the soil and natural colonies of bacteria not being destroyed as with modern methods. Healthy plants grew in that mineral-rich environment which in turn provided both humans and animals with essential phytonutrients (nutrients derived from plant sources), which are essential for optimum health.
c) Ability of our Bodies to Assimilate Nutrients. In the 1930s our bodies were relatively unpolluted. There were limited drugs, minimal chemicals, insecticides, pesticides and preservatives. There were few environmental influences that were negatively affecting our ability to break down and absorb vital nutrients. How this has changed!
Our Current Position
In 1992 Earth Summit Report found that the mineral depletion of the soil is over 76% in Europe and 80% in America.
“You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency”
Dr. Linus Pauling (Two time Nobel Prize Winner)
1) Nutrients from Food. In the main, over the last 50 years children are eating fewer calories, yet getting fatter. There has been a 19% reduction in calorie intake for boys (29% for girls) but increased sugar and non-essential fat consumption combined with a lack of exercise has brought us to our present position. In addition we are increasingly eating de-natured food (food with vitamin and mineral deficiencies).
2) Water. No longer pure and ‘’vibrant’. It’s treated with fluoride and other chemicals, many of which affect the way the body absorbs nutrients.
3) Air. No longer clean, fresh and pure. It is full of pollution from industrial waste and fuel fumes. There are also now more free radicals which pollute our bodies and increase our antioxidant requirements.
4) Light. Marred by smoke and smog. Pure light is important for cell growth and development.
Without addressing these factors the quality of our lives will struggle to reach its highest point.
Food Has Become So Depleted Because…
* Fewer minerals are returned to the soil than are taken out. Growing plants can use in excess of 60 minerals but modern day farming generally only returns 3 to the soil! These are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium because they encourage plants to grow quickly. This might mean bumper crops but what about the 57 other minerals?
* Pesticides and insecticides further upset the natural pro-biotic eco balance of the soil. The natural probiotic (necessary for life) bacteria are necessary for transforming inorganic minerals to a form useable by plants. So, if those probiotic bacteria are not present in the soil minerals remain in the soil in an unusable form, which means they are not present in the plants and therefore we are not getting them in our diets!
* Falsely ripened produce does not have fully developed vitamin and mineral potential. So much of our produce is cut early and stored for convenience. However, this storage depletes the vitamin content. Once again creating a situation where we’re eating demineralised food.
* The birth of fast and processed food – that is foods which have lost most of their vitamin, mineral and enzyme content – has meant that the more we rely on such foods the more our bodies are forced to struggle in two ways. Firstly, the body’s ability to meet the increasing challenges of the modern world is drastically reduced and secondly we cannot be the best versions of ourselves – as the energy simply isn’t available to us. Food processing dramatically reduces the mineral content of food by anything up to 80% dependent on the processing method.
(McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Food)
* Additives such as chemical colorants and flavourings in food further compound the problem as some act as anti-nutrients which means they inhibit the uptake of essential nutrients. The body then has to use vital nutrient resources to deal with them.
* Factory farming of animals – whose movement is restricted. This changes the essential fatty acid content of their meat from high omega 3 (free range) to low omega 3 and high omega 6. The growing imbalance between omega 3 and 6 now means we (in the developed world) are often getting enough/too much omega 6 and are nearly always not getting enough omega 3.
* Organic food would be answer but sadly there is no guarantee that it contains any more minerals than ordinary food. Organic farming uses chemical free methods of fertilisation but has not yet been able to replace the minerals, which have for many years been removed from the soil and not replenished. Plus our on-going pollution of the planet means that until we devise a way of getting acid rain not to fall on organic fields, the food that we are eating will remain a lottery! Hence the importance of good supplementation
Look At Some Of The Facts…..
* In 1988 the Surgeon General of the USA concluded that 15 out of 21 deaths involved nutritional deficiencies.
* Research shows that 267mg vitamin E reduces the risk of heart disease by 50% – on average we intake 9.3mg in the West. Research shows that 500mg of vitamin C daily can cut death rates by 50%. The average Western intake is 58mg.
* Research shows that sufficient intake of omega 3 essential fatty acids helps prevent circulatory problems and reduces the incidences of strokes and heart disease. The average intake is 150mg. The RDA has not yet been established but is likely to be set around 650mg.
* The World Health Organisation says we need 2-5ug/kg body weight of selenium per day for health and protection from viruses. (i.e. a 60kg person needs around 150ug/day) The average UK diet gives 39ug/day.
Until we have radically changed the way we are living the environmental problems we are facing are inevitably going to get worse and we should all where we can take responsibility for our own health. We were not born to be supplementing our diets with tablets, liquids and potions but until there is a radical transformation, these are some of the best weapons we have. When sourcing supplements we would recommend opting for ‘food state’ nutrition i.e. supplements conceived from natural food sources rather than synthetically created in the laboratory. Food state supplements survive in our bodies for longer because they match our biological profiles better, therefore their consequences to our health is infinitely better than their synthetic alternatives.