This is a concept that you may have difficulty in accepting. Nonetheless it is one that I have been ‘preaching’ for years and has now been confirmed by studies showing people in the US, Canada and the UK are amongst the most malnourished in the world. This is the case in spite of obesity reaching epidemic proportions in the US. Malnourishment is without doubt a leading factor in a wide variety of health problems including cancers.
Does this mean that overweight people are eating all the food to the detriment of the rest of the population? Not at all! In fact, obese people figure prominently amongst those people who are malnourished.
I can sense you thinking... ”That’s a crazy statement”. After all, when you think of someone being malnourished your mind flashes to pictures which you have seen on TV of starving children in Africa. How can an overweight person be malnourished?
Much easier than you think... please read on and I will explain.
The Problem is in the Food!
A recent analysis of a range of staple foods in Canada including potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, apples, onion, broccoli etc. was commissioned by The Globe and Mail and CTV news.
The results were predictable to some and a shock to others. Let’s use potatoes as an example. This is what the analysis found:
Over the last 50 years the potato has lost:
- 100% of its Vitamin A
- 57% of its Vitamin C and iron
- 28% of its Calcium
- 50% of its riboflavin
- 18% of its thiamine
Of the seven nutrients analyzed only niacin levels had increased. The results were similar for all the 25 fruits and vegetables tested. One of the worst results was from broccoli in which ALL nutrients had declined measurably including niacin with Calcium down 63%.
The Globe and Mail and CTV used comparative figures from government researchers for the years 1951, 1972 and 1999. These earlier figures had been published in various scientific journals in the UK including the British Food journal. Release of this data in the US has been limited to a few alternative health journals.
Tim Lang a professor at the centre for Food Policy in England says as a further example of how our food has been degraded is that you would now have to eat eight oranges today to get the same amount of Vitamin A that your grandparents got from eating just one orange.
What’s gone wrong?
That’s simple to explain. Consumer demand for cheaper and ‘good looking’ food has over recent decades changed traditional farming methods as well as distribution. A farmer used to rotate his crops to suit his land and maximized his yields through natural methods and then supplied his fresh produce to his local market for distribution.
Regrettably that is largely the way of the past. Now, the emphasis is on production, appearance, storability and transportability. Nutritional value of fruits and vegetables is of virtually no concern. As Dr Phil Warman, an agronomist and professor of agricultural sciences at Nova Scotia Agricultural College points out, “crops are bred to produce higher yields, to be resistant to disease and to produce more visually attractive fruits or vegetables, but little or no emphasis is placed on their vitamin and mineral content.”
Unfortunately the situation is getting worse as more Corporations become more vertically integrated and control the entire food process from supplying the seeds through all the production stages, and distribution. Because of these controls some farmers have become little more than modern day serfs with almost no options left to them other than contract to these major conglomerates and conform to their ‘corporate’ farming methods.
Add to this the increasing foothold of GE engineered crops where nutritional value is way down on the priority list and this problem is going to become much, much more serious and will I believe flow on to an elevation of health problems such as cancer and brain disease which may well reach epidemic proportions over the next couple of decades unless the public wake up to what is happening.
Do foods that have low nutritional values play a part in obesity?
Absolutely! I believe this is a major factor in the current epidemic of obesity. If you are lacking in essential nutrients it will have a serious flow-on effect in your body. First of all you will never really feel ‘well’, you will lack energy which means you exercise less, and you will have a tendency to seek out ‘comfort’ foods which generally contain sugars and thus the cycle continues and it gets worse and worse and ultimately ends up in obesity and ill health.
What can be done about this problem?
- Try to eat organic fruit and vegetables wherever possible.
- Avoid processed foods! If you think the loss of nutrient value in fresh fruit and vegetables is bad enough, I can assure you that it is nothing compared to the nutritional emptiness of processed foods... and to add insult to injury they are full of transfats due to the hydrogenated processing methods that are used.
- Take a QUALITY multi NUTRIENT supplement. A multi vitamin/mineral tablet is not adequate for a number of reasons. The prime one is that most ‘multi vitamin’ supplements use synthetic ingredients with both questionable efficacy and bio-availability and they lack other important nutrients. Unfortunately this is an area in which many consumers are being mislead. It’s a complex subject and as such I may devote a newsletter to this very important subject in the not to distant future.
It was interesting to see that even some mainstream physicians are beginning to recognize this problem as evidenced by a recent article in JAMA which advocated people take quality supplements for preventative measures.