Just what are "Diseases of Civilization" and why should you care?
by, 06-16-2010 at 21:14 (970 Views)
That's a very good question, if I do say so myself.
During the 20th century, scientists traveled to numerous primitive and otherwise geographically isolated societies to catalog the health of the people therein. One such scientist was a dentist by the name of Weston A. Price. He wrote a book about his travels called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, and I highly recommend it to everyone who is at all interested in how we got to be so sick and decrepit here in the Western world.
In it, Dr. Price details his visits to:
Isolated and Modernized Swiss
Isolated and Modernized Gaelics
Isolated and Modernized Eskimos
Primitive and Modernized American Indians
Isolated and Modernized Melanesians
Isolated and Modernized Polynesians
Isolated and Modernized African Tribes
Isolated and Modernized Australian Aborigines
Isolated and Modernized Torres Strait Islanders
Isolated and Modernized New Zealand Maori
Isolated and Modernized Peruvian Indians
The book contains dozens of pictures of people in these societies, old and young. As a Dentist, his primary thrust was to document tooth decay and dental malformations, but he began to notice a surprising lack of diseases which were becoming prevalent in modern societies. He was especially interested to see that these diseases began to show up in these isolated populations within a generation of their opening trade for foodstuffs with Western society, especially as they began to integrate white flour and sugar into their diets.
He was also surprised to see that average adult lifespans were higher than anticipated. A study done by Michael Gurven and Hillard Kaplan found that:
That leaves a lot of time for these diseases to bear out.The average modal age of adult death for hunter-gatherers is 72 with a range of 68-78 years. This range appears to be the closest functional equivalent of an "adaptive" human lifespan.
So what diseases are we talking about?
Autoinflammatory Disorders such as Lupus and Crone's disease
Tooth Decay/Oral/Facial malformations
These diseases simply weren't there.
People still died, yes, but they tended to do so after a long life filled with strength and activity, not a slow, lingering twilight filled with pain and misery.
Now, I won't even pretend that carbohydrates are the cause of all of the above diseases. I never said that. However, a diet high in carbohydrate is almost certainly going to be lacking in the nutrient-dense foods which prevent those diseases, since carb-rich foods are for the most part low in micronutrients.
All digestible starches and sugars which contain or metabolize to glucose raise blood glucose levels, and this puts a strain on the body. It eventually burns out the pancreas' ability to produce insulin, causing diabetes (after years of hypoglycemia). All that sugar gets shoved into your fat cells to keep it from poisoning your other tissues in your body.
So what causes the rest of the list above?
1. A lack of specific micronutrients found in diverse sources, such as Vitamin K2 in the milk and flesh of pastured animals, or Vitamin D3 created by your body from cholesterol that is exposed to ultraviolet radiation courtesy of the sun. Magnesium, Calcium and Silicon from hard water which people no longer drink.
2. An overabundance of Omega-6 fatty acids, way out of proportion to the Omega-3 which we should be getting more of (some say a 1::1 ratio is best).
3. The very polyunsaturated oils which contain those Omega-6 fatty acids, and their predisposition to oxidization (becoming rancid). Way too much vegetable oils (hydrogenated and otherwise) being pushed today.
4. Not enough saturated fat. Really.
There's some very good science being done out there as I type this. The following blogs are by doctors and other scientists who are trying to piece the whole puzzle together:
So, to bring it back to the beginning, if you have any of the problems on the above list, or someone you care about does, it doesn't have to be that way. Removing starch and sugar from your diet and supplementing with those micronutrients which used to be part of our natural food sources but are no longer can improve them, or in many cases make them disappear.
Eat your meat.
Eat butter and cream, especially from pastured animals.
Eat your eggs.
Eat low-sugar fruits and low-starch vegetables.
Supplement with Vitamin D3 (or get out in the sunshine more!), Magnesium, Potassium, K2, and Fish Oil.
Avoid vegetable oils and trans fats.
Avoid starch and sugar.
And try to reduce stress. It does terrible things to your body.