Malnourished in a Land of Plenty – part 1

Joel Salatin 1There is a paradox in this country……in a country of “plenty” a significant portion of Americans are malnourished.

Malnutrition conjures up depressing  frightening images of third world starvation, emaciated children,  bloated stomachs and flies buzzing around them. These are images of an underfed and undernourished population.

In America, this state is rarely seen. What we have is a population slowly starving themselves despite consuming what should be more than adequate amounts of food.

It is a grave mistake to believe that because you eat three meals or more a day that you are receiving all the nutrients your body requires.

In the latest update of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that our average intake of some of these “nutrients of concern” are so low as to be a widespread public health issue.

How can this be? Surprisingly it is not very difficult to be malnourished in America. You don’t really have to try. In fact, it is harder to properly nourish your body and keep it functioning optimally.

You may think I have finally lost it, that I have gone off the deep end and there is no coming back. What you need to realize is that dis-ease is due to cellular dysfunction at the tissue, gland, organ or system level. The two primary causes of cellular dysfunction are mal-nourishment or toxin exposure. Considering todays environment and the state of our food supply, more than likely it is a combination of the two.

In other words, if you have a dis-ease or any signs or symptoms of dis-ease or any chronic health complaints there is, to some degree and at some level, cellular dysfunction present. It is how our body functions.

What is truly amazing is our body’s ability to be so forgiving and versatile in its effort to maintain homeostasis in the absence of nutrients. Modern malnutrition is the ability to starve oneself on a full stomach. This lack of nutrition takes its toll on the body over time, sometimes decades before a chronic dis-ease manifests itself.

Consider cancer. Cancer is a growth or tumor resulting from uncontrolled division of abnormal or dysfunctional cells. Everyone currently has cancer cells present. It is the function of the body to keep these cells in check and prevent them from multiplying. A healthy, functional body can easily do so. Depending upon the type of cancer cells and the degree of dysfunctional “weakened” defenses it typically takes from seven to twenty years for there to be enough abnormal “mutated” cells to be picked up by modern testing techniques.

Dis-ease diagnosis take time. You were not healthy the day before you receive a diagnosis. A heart attack or stroke does not occur out of the blue. You did not just “catch” a cold. Dysfunction and impairment of your natural defenses have to be present to allow these states to occur.

Health is not a choice, you cannot choose to be healthy, you have to live health! Otherwise you are creating dysfunction and with dysfunction comes dis-ease and a diminished quality of life.

Your lifestyle and environment is either building health or detracting from your health.

You cannot be healthy and have a dis-ease.

It is so frustrating that modern science, modern medicine and our “symptom” care (healthcare system) is so slow to point to nutrient depletion as a fundamental cause of dis-ease. Of course they have their reasons…..namely $$$.

For this reason I strongly encourage clients to evaluate their lifestyle choices and stress that nutrition is a foundational element of health building. It does not matter what your intentions are, or what else you do. Malnourished and/or toxic cells will become dysfunctional. Over time that dysfunction will manifest outwardly as a dis-ease and the downward spiral continues.

What about the malnourished in a land of plenty? I know…..I got a bit sidetracked, though my points are relevant and very misunderstood by many.

Your food choices matter immensely!

When building health through nutrition you have to recognize a few facts which will be elaborated:

  1. Practically everything sold in a “grocery store” outside of the “fresh” whole foods (fruits, vegetables and animal products) is processed often to the point that they can not sustain a healthy, optimally functioning, body over the course of a lifetime.
  2. Of the remaining fruits, vegetables and animal products, practically all of them are grown or raised in a manner that severely reduces their nutrition.
  3. Healthy nutrient dense whole foods are available.
  4. There are no inherently “good” or “bad” whole foods for everyone. That is, your nutritional needs are dependent upon your genetic based nutritional requirements and current state of health

An important lesson to start with is that calories and nutrients are not the same.

  • Calories are not nutrients
  • Not all nutrients provide calories

A calorie is merely a measure of energy, specifically one calorie is the amount of energy required to heat 1 kg of water by 1° C.

While Calories are important, it is the nutrients that drive body (cellular) function and allow for optimal health to manifest itself outward. As a culture, and spreading globally, we are focusing more on the calorie and less upon the nutrients.

Our ancestors in their wisdom inherently sought out the most nutrient dense foods to nourish themselves. While these foods varied from geographical region to region, it was nutrient density that ruled. The work of Dr. Weston A. Price “Nutrition & Physical Degeneration” clearly showed this and should be a mandatory read for anyone interested in their own health or the health of others.

With no modern dentistry or access to modern toothpaste much less toothbrushes, Dr. Price discovered populations that had no dental cavities and facial structure that allowed wisdom teeth to remain into adulthood without problems. Why would we be given teeth that don’t appear to fit in so many mouths? Just because removing wisdom teeth is common, does not mean it is normal.

Dr. Price’s work dates back to the late 1920’s and 30’s and even then he found most traditional diets contained up to 10 times the fat soluble vitamins compared to a typical diet at home in the states. Imagine the difference today?

The food you consume fuels your body and allows it to adapt to and respond appropriately to the stressors placed upon it. It is possible to consume the right foods for you while thoroughly enjoying the experience of eating. Eating healthy and being healthy does not have to be a bland, dull experience.

To shorten your read time I have broken this information into 2 parts. Watch for part 2: The Foundation of Good Nutrition as I expand on the four food facts noted earlier.

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