Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wellness Wednesday

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In the past, I've shared about how my great-grandmother Estelle died from a disease caused by a nutritional deficiency - pellegra.  She died at a young age - in her 20s - leaving behind three small children who were sent to an orphanage for a time as my great-grandfather was a policeman who worked odd hours.  It was a rough childhood for my grandmother and her siblings.  The disease itself was rough on the victims, as well.  It was characterized by the three D's:  dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and ultimately death.  A horrible way to die.

At the time, the cause of pellegra was unknown.  There was a link between poverty and the disease and there were a number of theories as to the cause.  Many experts believed it was a contagious disease caused by poor sanitation; some thought it was due to a toxin or germ in corn.  However, ultimately it was discovered that the disease was caused by a niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency.  Little was known about micronutrients at the time and we've come a long way since then.  

Fast forward to now.  We know everything about food, nutrition, and micronutrients.  Not.  We assume that with modern science we know what we're doing with food.  We process food to the point that it no longer has nutritional value, then we add some vitamins and minerals.  We spray our food with a variety of poisons that we assume are only harmful to the weeds and bugs.  Yet, we have a variety of epidemics and new ailments to deal with.  Allergies, autoimmune diseases, cancer, and autism spectrum diseases are widespread.  And we don't know the cause of these health problems.  One of my pet peeves is the "awareness" movement (today is Autism Awareness Day).  Awareness is a point.  With 1 in 63 Americans affected by autism and most every family touched by cancer, allergies, and autoimmune disease, I don't think we need any more "awareness."  We need prevention.

I propose that maybe we don't know it all.  Maybe some combination of processed food and synthetic chemicals remove some critical micronutrients - some that might yet be undiscovered - from our food or prevent the uptake of essential elements.  If you follow scientific news, you know that scientists are making new discoveries every day.  And it has now been proven that not just one chemical but a soup of chemicals and practices is killing our bees.  However, politics has broken our food system.  Just as pellegra was a political hot potato in the South when my great-grandmother was alive - Southern politicians didn't want to admit they had a problem, especially with poverty - we also have a political situation.  The large corporations that control most of our food supply don't want their gravy train to be upset, as was evident in the attempt in California to require labeling of food containing GMOs.  Since these companies are the major source of campaign funds for both sides of the aisle (and they do contribute to both parties at the same time), studies that reveal any problem with our food system are either nonexistent or quashed by the companies at the slightest hint of a problem.  This is because the large corporations now control the studies.

We can circumvent many of the controls on our food supply and improve our health.  How?  Eat close to nature, avoid processed foods, buy organics when possible, shop at farmers' markets, and, most importantly, get to know your farmer so that you know how your food is raised.  Again, just as over 100 years ago when my great-grandmother and thousands like her suffered a painful death from a nutritional deficiency, we don't know everything about our bodies, our food, and what is required for good health.  The best thing we can do is to avoid the artificial products that pass as "food."

1 comment:

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

I was not well liked by upper mgmt at my old job- the bossy boss used to look at my "sticks and dirt," AKA my lunch, and berate my eating habits*. This all sort-of came to a head when I did not come to work with a pink shirt on for "breast cancer *awareness* day." When I was confronted with my lack of participation, I replied that since we worked in health care I think we were all *aware* that breast cancer existed and I certainly was, with both grandmothers having had mastectomies due to breast cancer. Yeah, I was not very popular with upper mgmt.

*I have since found out that after several pretty serious health scares the woman who berated my "sticks and dirt" is now eating sticks and dirt and no longer eating fast food for her 3 meals a day!