I’ve had several conversations about nutrition politics this week, so I decided to write a bit about it. This blog will hopefully clear up some confusion about where our nutrition and health practices are at today compared to where they were at in the past (even as recently as pre-WWII). It will also attempt to help you understand that, in America, as well as in other countries, the advice we are given has financial backing, rather than keeping our health as priority. I must warn you that this topic can sometimes be a point of contention, and it may even make some angry; however, I assure you that some of the points I will make are things we need to wake up to in order to take back our health and well-being!
I named this blog “Follow the Money” because that is really what a lot of the advice we are given is based on. This seems to happen on many levels when it comes to nutrition. Think about it carefully. For many of us, much of our lives have been filled with the ideas of eating “healthy whole grains,” making sure we get our daily allotted amounts of fruits and veggies, staying away from cholesterol, and eating low-fat. Why exactly are we given this advice? Is it because these things have been proven to help our bodies? Well, the epidemic of metabolic syndrome, health issues, and obesity we are in now should clue you in to that answer…no, obviously this advice has not helped. We have not gotten better. In fact, we have gotten worse!
First, let’s think about what advice used to be in the area of nutrition. What advice did our ancestors follow? Did the medical professionals of the past recommend taking drugs for everything (as seems to be the case now)? If not, what did they recommend? When did this change occur? What were the factors leading up to that change? If the advice was different, what was the difference in health and health afflictions? Let’s take a look:
One of my favorite sayings is by Hippocrates. It is “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine thy food.” He said this in around 400 B.C. to his students. This, in my opinion, should be the basis of what we all understand and follow about nutrition. Think about it: Medical professionals must take the ‘Hippocratic Oath.’ What is this oath based on? (clue: look at the first word and the name above)..yes, it is based on that man many believe is the father of western medicine: Hippocrates. So, if Hippocrates believed that food could be your medicine and that medicine could be your food, why are we now chasing after chemicals and man-made creations to try to heal ourselves?
Also in 400 B.C., there seems to be some stories of Vitamin A from liver being squeezed into the eyes in order to treat eye disease. Of course, now we do know that Vitamin A can help prevent and treat eye disease, but we don’t have to squeeze it into our eyes!
Moving into the 1700s, we find that scurvy was a huge problem. A doctor named James Lind has been cited as the person who discovered that scurvy relates to Vitamin C deficiencies (although, this was not known as the reason, then). Limes given to British sailors were found to prevent scurvy; hence, they became known as Limeys.
In the 1800s, nutrition got a major influx in knowledge. First, it was found that foods were mostly comprised of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. Then, a German named Justus Liebig discovered that carbohydrates were made up of sugar, fats of fatty acids, and proteins of amino acids. Finally, a Dutchman named Christiaan Eijkman sought a cure for Beriberi…and found one in food!
Let’s skip ahead, though. We want to understand that distant past, but we also want to understand when and where the money part came in.
Until the mid-1920s, the above nutrition discoveries were only being discovered in their infancy. The focus of the general public and governmental, medical, and scientific officials was not as sophisticated as it would soon become. Quantity, rather than quality was a focus (Mayhew, 1998). Then, in 1920, the British Medical Research Committee (later, Medical Research Council) was formed. The goal of this group was to organize research into health problems of the day (Mayhew, 1998). A professor named Edward Mellanby began looking into one of the main concerns of that time, rickets. He started research that seemed to suggest that cod liver oil and butter had fat-soluble vitamins in them which seemed to cure rickets in animals. This seemed to suggest the disease was caused by vitamin deficiencies (Mayhew, 1998). Unfortunately, his efforts to understand and spread this knowledge and more were interrupted by the war.
Once it was discovered that nutritional deficiencies caused many of the afflictions of the early and mid-1900s, the government decided to step in. At the time, there were many things going on. Prohibition in the 1920s, the Great Depression in the 1930s, and much experimentation by food and product developers. Combining all of this with the poverty of the time, we can look at the money and false science trails.
In the 1930s, many Americans suffered from malnutrition. The government decided to “enrich” or “fortify” foods that were commonly considered nutritionally devoid of these vitamins and minerals (grains etc.), but that were more readily available to poorer areas. Thus, a problem with malnutrition AND overconsumption and overweight began.
Then, the Roosevelt administration decided to do something which I feel was the most ridiculous idea of all time: in order to keep farmers from flooding markets and lowering costs of food, Roosevelt decided to subsidize them with taxpayer dollars. The farmers would be paid to allow their fields to go bad and slaughter their animals, creating false scarcity. This, in turn, would drive prices up (Most, 2009). Now do you see where this is going? Money and politics created this cycle that led to poor diet and health problems. Science was trumped by profit and politics.
Throughout history, there have been a number of mis-steps that caused such things to get worse. With the advent of organizations like the USDA, there came more politics and more payoffs – in the form of lobbying, partnering, and payoffs to scientists that would turn a blind eye to legitimate research evidence contrary to a company’s products.
One prime example of this would be the McGovern Report. This report, and more can be reviewed at this site: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread654969/pg1
I do not want to go into it because it could get very long and tedious, but I found the above site to be wonderfully explanatory about the money and politics behind such a report.
The site above also mentions Ancel Keys. He was also a researcher that tailored his studies toward what was wanted from the politicians and food companies. Because of this, many medical associations began to also follow poor advice. It was also taught to doctors and nurses, leading to poor advice.
THEN, in steps Big Pharma! As medicine advanced, so too did medications. Since diseases and health concerns were previously fixed with nutrition, the medical profiteers had to figure out a way to get people to pay for medicine rather than turn to the past to “fix” themselves. This was successfully done by lobbying (again), pay-offs, and mis-information to the politicians as well as the public. Now, we have a society that thinks it can be fixed by taking a pill, when in actuality, if we would get back to true healthy eating practices (avoiding processed foods, eating healthy fats like butter, olive oil, coconut oil, cod liver oil, and the like, and lowering our carb intake to MUCH MUCH lower than we do now), we will “fix” ourselves rather than cover up the real problems.
Just think about this: You eat as the USDA recommends, as has been pushed for the past 30 years. You get sick with diabetes, heart disease, or other ailments. You go to the doctor (money). You pay your insurance (money). You get medicine to “fix” your ailment (money). You remain on the medicine for life (big money). You don’t ever get better, so you continue to support those things above. All the while, you are eating frankenfoods created by companies who make these foods that have made you sick (money). As long as you continue to support them by buying those foods that are cheap for the companies to produce and push off on you, you continue to support their greed. You also continue to support the greed of lobbyists for those companies, greed of Big Pharma, greed of politicians who ignore your health for the profit they can make from those companies, and the greed of the medical industry (who are supposed to care about your health…not their pocketbooks). Please do keep in mind, though, that many doctors just do not know. They get very little to no training in medical school. They do get biochemistry, but often forget much of this in order to specialize in their various fields. Your doctor may not be particularly greedy, but he or she may be blind to the brainwashing and payoffs that do happen. You can help educate the doctors by educating yourself. Cure yourself through nutrition, and you will be better for it…and so will the country…but those with the greedy money grubbing and power hunger will then suffer…and isn’t that a good thing? Would you rather see this country filled with unhealthy people who are controlled by wealthy elites and want you to serve them; or healthy, intelligent people who care about our species, well-being, each other, human health, and the planet? The choice is yours! Think about it! Defy the past 30 years and get back to what we knew…that food is our sustenance…and fake foods are death! Real, whole foods cure us and keep us well…fortified, enriched, subsidized, chemical-laden, GMO, poorly raised, treated fake foods keep us unhealthy and subservient…and I don’t know about you, but I want to be free…not a slave!
Have a healthy day!
Nutrition Breakthroughs. (2001 – 2011). A history of nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionbreakthroughs.com/html/a_history_of_nutrition.html
Mayhew, M. (1998). The 1930s nutrition controversy. Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 23, 445-64. Retrieved from Sage Publications website: http://www.jstor.org/pss/260692
Most, N. (2009, Dec. 20). Food and nutrition policies of the 1930s. Retrieved from http://www.helium.com/items/1687970-1930s-nutrition
While I did not quote this, I do REALLY want you all to check it out. It is EXTREMELY informative!