By Radhia Gleis, CCN, MEd.
During a period of one year, an average adult consumes more than 1,000 pounds of food without any change, hopefully, in body weight. However, the diets we now consume in the United States, which are made up of 42% of our calories from fat, (especially the wrong kind of fat), and 22% to 23% of our calories from sugar, are diets that contribute to the relative increase in risk of the major killer diseases. The U.S. Surgeon General Report states that 68% of all deaths in this country are diet related. This report does not include diseases that may be caused by toxicity. Such as Cancer, MS, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Lupus and many more.
In order for this 1,000 pounds of food or nearly one half ton of food to be properly metabolized there must be present in the food adequate levels of the vitamins and minerals to activate the enzymes in the body that are responsible for the potential in food to provide energy, thought, reproduction, immunity, intestinal activity, and digestion. The absence of proper vitamin and mineral density in foods results in a series of health-related disorders that cause accumulative risk to serious diseases.
According to a 2006 survey commissioned by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)[i], nearly six Americans in 10 (58 percent) acknowledge that they do not eat a balanced diet on a regular basis. Although 81 percent of those asked said that eating a balanced diet was important, only 20 percent say they eat a balanced diet every day.
Did you know that heart disease alone strikes half of it’s victims in the prime of life, and over 200,000 die between the ages of 35 and 64, another 235,000 die between the ages of 65 and 75. But if you get sick you can just go to your doctor and get a prescription, right?
- Number of physicians in the US: 700,000.Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year: 120,000 (Source: AMA).Accidental deaths per physician: 0.171 (Source:U.S. Dept. of HealthHuman Services)
- The office of Technology Assessment, U.S. Congress, reports that “Prescription drugs kill 125,000 Americans annually.”
- A Yale-New Haven Hospital Study reports that 2,000 people die every week from medication reaction, and 30,000 people are hospitalized every week from medical reactions, (Yale-New Haven Hospital Study).
- Nearly 1,000 more people die every week from unnecessary surgery (John- Hopkins Study).
- A 13-year study conducted by the U.S. Office of Public Health states that two thirds of all over-the-counter drugs do not do what their promoters say they do.
These statistics have led to the development of a new branch of medicine called “RiskFactor Intervention” or “Preventive Nutrition”, which is the nutrition that is designed to prevent these diet-related disorders by improving the nutrient density of the diet.
In order for individuals to stay healthy for a prolonged period of time, they need to maintain what is called, homeostasis. Homeostasis means that the organism is capable of resisting environmental disturbances and change, while regulating internal metabolic function under strictly controlled conditions.
The composition of living cells is amazingly stable, as long as it is given sufficient fuel from which it can operate. Nutrient Density is where the food we eat is nutrient rich as opposed to empty calories, such as highly processed and refined junk food. Nutrient density may also call for dietary supplementation.
A study published in the December 2004 Journal of the American College of Nutrition examined Department of Agriculture records from 1950 through 1999 to determine changes in the nutrient status of the US Produce supply. The study found that, depending on the type of produce and nutrient examined, the nutrient value of our food supply has declined from between 6% and 38%[ii]. The authors conclude this has occurred due to the overuse of available farmland, and growing techniques more suited to mass marketing than to producing truly healthy food.
“The absence of disease does not necessarily mean the presence of wellness”.
What this suggests is that a person may not have scurvy or beriberi but still not be in an optimally nourished state. Sub optimal nutritional status can result in inefficient metabolism.
It is now recognized that the type of fuel, i.e., food that you put in the human body, has a great deal to do with controlling the efficiency of the metabolism and, ultimately, the relative risk to subsequent diseases. Although, eating good wholesome food is the right thing to do, how do you know if you are digesting, assimilating, and utilizing that food properly? All of these steps must be fulfilled in order for optimal physiologic balance to result. If anyone of those steps breaks down anywhere between ingestion and excretion, there can be the accumulation in the body of toxic types of metabolites which can then produce tissue breakdown, and after some latent period, a diagnosed disease process.
This latent period, meaning the period before the diagnosis of the disease occurs, may be as long as twenty years. This means that from the early onset of poor tissue metabolism until the final expression of end-stage tissue destruction, there may be a five-, ten-, fifteen- or twenty-year period in which decreasing function develops. Did you know that twenty five percent of all fatal heart attacks come without any prior symptoms?
In some of his past writings, well known author and lecturer Dr. Jeffery Bland refers to a condition that he calls “vertical, disease” in which he tries to differentiate between a sickness that leads to a person lying flat on his back–horizontal disease — and an illness that relates to a person still standing up but moving with shuffling feet and stooped shoulders, under low energy, feeling not quite right but not being sick enough for anyone to know what is wrong with him. Dr. Bland has stated that “most of the degenerative diseases that we now see such as arthritis, kidney disease, liver disease, and even possibly some psychiatric disturbances are associated with the accumulation of these toxic metabolites within various tissues”.
Perhaps seven out of ten causes of death in America could possibly be prevented if metabolic imbalances where discovered and corrected before the disease became prevalent. How do you know if you may be producing those toxic metabolites or even have been exposed to toxins from the environment? Chances are, you don’t unless you test.
These metabolic tests are available and should be as important or hopefully more important than tune ups, oil changes and regular maintenance we do on our cars regularly. When your doctor runs routine tests he/she is not looking for metabolic imbalances but rather looking for pathologies (disease). For the most part, the doctor takes the ranges set by the lab, who base their ranges on the mean of the population.
So even if the health of the population declines, this is measured as the “norm”. They don’t necessarily consider the optimal range. A medical doctor is trained in medicine not in health. Most medical doctors are very good at treating disease but it takes special training in preventing disease. Nutrition is essentially a completely different science and takes completely different training to read lab reports based on optimal ranges and determine if there is a metabolic imbalance that will eventually become disease if not corrected.
[ii] Davis, D. PhD, FACN, Epp, M. PhD and Riordan, H. MD, Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999, Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 23, No. 6, 669–682 (2004)