Nutrition Back Story
"In the beginning..." If you have opened the Bible, you have read that passage. It is the very first verse in Genesis. To truly understand nutrition, we need to start at the beginning. There is so much confusion in the world right now, with what we are supposed to eat, drink, even which bathroom to use. Why are we the only species on Earth that doesn't know what we are supposed to eat?? If we refer back to the Bible in Chapter 1 of Genesis, God created fruit, seeds, and vegetables on Day 3, fish and birds on Day 5, wild animals and livestock on Day 6. He then gave dominion over the Earth to humans who he made in his image. Scouring the first chapter of the Bible over and over, I do not see Mt. Dew and Honey Buns as a creation of God that we have dominion over. What I see is fruit, seeds, vegetables, fish, foul, wild game, and livestock.. We are going to make several references to sources in this blog post, including the Bible because that is our guide to life including health and wellness. I think several of you are going to say, "Cassie, they broke bread, explain that from the Bible." I will get to that. Let's keep going with the back story..
Moving on and to quote again from the Bible "and it came to pass" that the populations grew and grew throughout the world as did the invention of Agriculture. Defined by Science Daily (2019) as the the process of producing food, feed, fiber and many other desired products by the cultivation of certain plants and the raising of domesticated animals (livestock). More people had to be fed and so advanced farming practices progressed to meet the needs of the people. Looking throughout history our Asian Ancestors and Roman Empire were practicing farming and agriculture advancements in the B.C. time period. There are also evidence of the Mayans and other South American cultures who were also providing for large populations of people with advanced agriculture practices as well. What we can derive from this is that we have been relying on farmers and agriculture from basically the start of time for a lot of our food resources.
Lets fast forward to the United States and the evolution of nutrition and the introduction of politics into recommendations for what we fuel our bodies with. I need to preface this portion of my blog post to say that this is not a political post and I am not going to tell you who to vote for. However, looking back into history, most of you will agree that when the government gets involved, most things go to the "pooper." If you are offended, please feel free to quit reading at this point.. it is only going to get deeper :). Prior to the 1950's most people died in the United States from illness and injury. By illness, I mean tuberculosis, pneumonia, car accidents, ect.. It was rare to hear that people died from diabetes, hypothyroidism, or even Cancer. Of course there were heart disease and heart attacks that killed people, but there was also not the advancements in modern medicine that there are today. So why did we not have diabetes, hypothyroidism, or this huge obesity crisis then? Well, there hadn't been a huge change in nutrition over the previous years. People had made it through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and other economic declines without the increase of chronic disease manifestations. People were still eating meat and vegetables, sugar was a "treat."
In 1977, the world of health changed as we know it. Health care providers can exactly pinpoint this as the start of Diabetes Epidemic. The United States Government published the Dietary Goals for the United States (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). Orchestrated by Senator George McGovern, he flipped the food pyramid upside down. Increasing the carbohydrate intake to 55-60 percent of daily intake (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2005), decreasing fat, cholesterol, and salt. Mr. McGovern also decreased sugar to 15 percent of total calories during the day, making 75% of daily intake Carbohydrate and Sugar (I got that from 60+15) (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). Now you may be wondering, who is Mr. George McGovern? He must be a doctor or dietitian, someone in the healthcare field. A quick search of Wikipedia reveals, that in fact, he was an American historian, author, U.S. representative, U.S. senator, and the Democratic Party presidential nominee in the 1972 presidential election... no medical background can be found. To further aggravate the issue, lobbying from special interest groups further backed this theory and even more recommendations from the government came out in 1980 (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). Some of you reading this will remember this.. the push from the government for the LOW FAT DIET!! I am a child of the 80's and I even remember my mom, talking about doing a low fat diet. You cannot go into the grocery store in this day in time and see something that isn't "low fat." Marketing for this industry grew resulting in a multi-billion dollar business. Everything was low fat, fat is bad. Well most people knows, if you take fat out of a meal, it doesn't taste the best. SO, to further infuriate you (the reader) they replaced the fat with SUGAR to improve taste and appearance. Now some of you may be wondering what happened to all the fat that was taken out of dairy products... two words, government cheese. That is another post for another day..
According to the guidelines of the United States, 15% of your nutritional intake should come from sugar ( 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee). I challenge you to google search sugar. I cannot find one research study that confirms that sugar is healthy and should be 15% of dietary intake as part of a health diet. Now, I do have to agree it makes things delicious, which brings me to my next point. It is literally an addiction. I come from a family of addicts whether it be illegal drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, or food. The difference in those addictions is the perception. "Oh you do illegal drugs, you are bad. Oh you drank a case of Mt. Dew a week and have diabetes, here is a pill for that." I was taught from a young age that you do not judge anyone and that all sins are sins. Now if we looked at food addiction like drug addiction, things may be different in this day and time. To further put this in perspective, since 1980 (remember the new food guidelines came out in 1977 and 1980) The World Health Organization reports the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 (Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2019). The global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014 (Diabetes Fact Sheet, 2019). This is not Diabetes Type I which is linked to genetics and not typically a preventable disorder. This is Type II Diabetes which is a completely preventable disease.
As a Family Practice Provider, I can say 100% that most costs of health care related to my patients come from Diabetes or complications related to Diabetes. Not only do they have to come see me at a minimum, every 3 months. Diabetic testing supplies are expensive. Other than metformin and glipizide, diabetes medications themselves are also very expensive, leaving little money left over to buy "healthy food." Insulin is no longer covered by most insurances either. Also if you have the diagnosis of diabetes, it is a guideline established that the patient needs to be on an ACE or ARB drug to protect renal function as well as a statin drug to treat/prevent elevated cholesterol. So a minimum of 3 drugs just to treat one condition and the side effects. Let's not even talk about the side effects of taking those medications which cause an array of side effects as well including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches just to name a few.
I get this response so often, that some of the readers of my blog may have even given it to me this week, "it is cheaper to feed my family with a big box of hamburger helper or macaroni and cheese, then it is to buy vegetables and meat." This then leads to an increase in blood glucose, resulting in poor diabetes control, which leads to increase in medication, increasing costs, more visits, ect... a vicious cycle. What is wrong with our health care system. According to John Hopkins University (2019), the United States is the highest spending country on health care. Not by like a few dollars, but the US spends an average of $9,892 per capita, 25% higher than the next country on the list (JHU, 2019). This must mean that our country has to be the healthiest country because we are spending so much money on health care, right? Well according to Becker's Hospital Review (2019), the US is ranked 35th on the list of most healthy countries. Surprisingly, this can all be linked back to the nutritional change that occurred in 1977 and 1980 which caused the massive shift in how our nation eats.
Where do we go from here? There is a huge amount of information online recommending this diet plan and that diet plan. Guaranteeing that this way of eating is the only way to eat or this way is the only way to lose weight. I know you have tried them all or at least read them all. Over the next few blog posts, we are going to explore diet eliminations such as gluten free, lactose free, as well as Whole 30, Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian, Fasting, Low Fat, and Wahls Protocol. The biggest misconception is that one size fits all. If we go back to the beginning of this blog and even the start of time, God gave us a template to go by. He didn't say "man you do not need to eat gluten." "Man you only need to eat plants." He gave us what we needed and gave us dominion and authority over it. I personally think that we each need to figure out what works for us. Not what the government recommends, but by knowing our bodies and establishing our goal of health, we get to decide. We need take back our health. Having been through every diet known to man, I can without a doubt guarantee that Mt. Dew and Honey Buns are not the answer to lifelong health. Us, you, me, your family, those currently living; we are writing the current nutritional history plan. Is this the history we want to leave our children? Over 400 million people have diabetes and health care prices are ridiculous. Here you go kids. Good luck. Hope you do better with the time you have here.
Until next time, be thinking about your health goal. You may notice I didn't say weight goal. Throw the scale out. What do you want to be able to do? Run, jump, walk to the mailbox? Is your goal not to take any medicine. My goal is to live my best life by role modeling healthy living for my kids so that they know what healthy choices to make in the future and can prevent themselves and their future families from battling the same issues we do today. Every person's goal is different, but does not make it less important. Whole 30 is our next topic. See you soon!
Agriculture. 2019. https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/agriculture.htm
Becker's Hospital Review. 2019. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/population-health/the-10-healthiest-countries-in-the-world.html
Diabetes Fact Sheet. 2019. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes.
George McGovern. 10/14/2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_McGovern.
John Hopkins. 2019. US Health Care Spending Highest Among Developed Countries. https://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2019/us-health-care-spending-highest-among-developed-countries.html.
US Department of Health and Human Services. 2005. 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/report/PDF/G5_History.pdf