What matters most to your health?
As you probably know I usually write about diet associated with some particular condition. And that has it’s downside because your interest depends on whether you think you have that condition. And if not, people tend to think, “Nah. I don’t have that” and stop reading. It is really difficult to focus on prevention in that context.
Prevention is my game. And just as with disease correction, vitamins and minerals are what matters the most in prevention.
Your body and that of your children did not come with an “operations manual.” As a consequence the past few hundred years have been spent by science identifying even the most basic elements. These were almost always discovered accidentally trying to find the cause of some illness or (this is so weird) figuring out how to make a test animal sick in some particular way so they could figure out how to cure it.
The essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids
So over time the essential vitamins, fatty acids, and role of minerals in the human body were identified and named. The names of vitamins started with A, B, then C, so on and so forth. Minerals already had names but their roles in the body were identified over time in exactly the same fashion. Essential fatty acids turned out to be different than most fats.
For example, vitamin B12 was finally discovered in 1948 after many years trying to figure out the cause of pernicious anemia. Searching for a “fix” for rickets uncovered Vitamin D which was finally isolated and identified in 1932. Vitamin C was discovered trying to fix scurvy. This article has much history of vitamin research. Get the picture?
And then the human genome
Absent an operations manual, science has worked for all those years trying to write that manual. Then when the human genome (genetic makeup) was identified the connections between your genes and the required nutrients became possible. The manual now has more pages but is by no means complete.
The nutrients are activators for construction, operation, and maintenance.
Some folk like Chris Masterjohn PHD have tracked and documented all that research and have a magnificent breadth of knowledge in how genes, nutrients, and various body parts like your brain (as only one example) are connected.
Essential means essential
So the central issue here is that nothing is going to go right without the essential nutrients. Without exception those activators that your clever body can’t make for itself come from animals and fish (wild and domestic) and plants from the ground. For thousands of years people killed animals, drank their milk, dug up the plants and ate them. Life was good if not particularly easy.
The commercial food industry was born
Then a bit over 100 years ago some clever person figured out how to make things more convenient/easier for you and profitable for that person. The commercial processed food industry was born. You can read that history here.
Now American’s eat 60% to 70% (depends on who you ask) of their diet from ultra-processed food, much of which is arriving in a fast food restaurant. That is on average. Which means a lot of people may be only eating processed food. And about 90% of the added sugar is coming from the same place.
The problems with that
- Problem #1: Those processed foods are nutrient deficient. They do not include the vitamins and minerals that might have been found in the original food source. When the label says X% vitamin X there is a good chance they added that chemically. Processing calls for heat, element extraction, chemicals, etc and pretty much eliminates those nutrients.
- Problem #2: Those “foods” contain added sugar and chemical flavorings big time because otherwise the stuff would taste pretty bad. For sure sugar has not nutritional value whatsoever. So your food is missing much of the essential nutrients your body needs and getting, in its place, a lot of empty calories.
- Result? You get fat and you get sick. Sometimes the fat is obvious. But sometimes the fat is just hiding out in your muscles and in/around your organs. I mentioned this in this recent post and my last newsletter.
What’s common for you?
Does an occasional taco shell, slice of pizza, bowl of macaroni and cheese, or piece of cake hurt? The operative word here is “occasional.” Probably doesn’t hurt if the common food is good old meat and vegetables. Maybe you should reassess your diet in light of what is “common.”
I will talk more about “common” in an upcoming post.
Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All About the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and president of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Her email address is email@example.com; phone number is 870-490-1836; visit her website at allaboutthefood.org