When you look at the average American, generally overweight, you probably don’t see them as malnourished. When we think of that word we envision someone who is emaciated or anorexic. But the truth is obesity is also a condition of malnutrition. How can someone who is overweight be malnourished? Because what they are eating has little nutritional content. Yes, it may have the carbohydrates, proteins and fats that are needed, but what about the quality of those foods? We are filling ourselves with empty calories and little nutritional density.
This is because our supermarket shelves are no longer stocked with wholesome, nourishing foods. Instead it is stocked with foods that are canned, fried, boxed, pickled, frozen, freeze-dried, homogenized, pasteurized, flaked, puffed, baked, refined, dehydrated, concentrated, and basically processed to the point that the nutritional content is missing! Each step of processing a food diminishes the nutritional value. As a result, despite grocery stores full of food, we are suffering from nutritional deficiencies. We are overfed, yet undernourished.
Nutrition is about nourishing our body. As simple as that statement is, it is often the most ignored. It is about giving our body what it needs to sustain life. Sustaining life isn’t just about getting by. It’s about a quality of life. A quality of life means a quality of nutrients so that each organ can do its job. Without each organ doing its job, we have disease. When we have disease, our quality of life deteriorates. As our quality of life deteriorates, our bodies deteriorate even more and the vicious cycle commences. With that we feel tired all the time, our minds are no longer clear and enjoying life is more of a wish than a fact.
For such malnourished people, why does obesity abound? Today, more than any time in our history it is starting with our children. Childhood obesity is increasingly of concern. If these trends continue, we are in trouble! According to one study “for each increase of 250 calories in a child’s typical daily diet, there is a 20% increased risk of death from certain cancers”. The findings confirm the importance of optimal nutrition in childhood and suggest that the unfavorable trends seen in the incidence of some cancers [as well as obesity] may have their origins in early life.”
Our bodies are made up of a complex of protein, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, carbohydrates and water. If any of these elements are missing, the body is unable to make the myriad of cells, hormones and enzymes needed for normal function. If they are not in the diet, how is the body supposed to make something out of nothing?
Depletion of the nutritional value of our foods started with WWII. With food in short supply, the issue of losing flour to rancidity and bugs became a major concern. In the wisdom of the food industry, if you could eliminate the oil, you would eliminate the rancidity issues. If you could eliminate the bugs in food – in the case of flour, the wheat germ and the bran, you would eliminate the bugs. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? The wheat was then bleached to give it a cleaner look. Soon, “white wheat” became the rich-mans food. The beautiful, soft, pure white substance became somewhat of a delicacy only the wealthy could afford. Then came the age of industrialization. If this could be mass-marketed, more people could afford it! They could, and their original tactic of controlling product loss worked. The bugs left it alone. What amuses me is the fact that the bugs are smarter than we are! They knew that there wasn’t enough nutrition left in the flour to support their own nutritional needs, so they left it for better sources. Yet somehow we grew to believe that we could survive on it. If there wasn’t enough nutrition in flour for a bug to survive, how could we?
Mass production began to sweep the nation. We got busy. Processed foods became easy. We could buy “Hamburger Helper” and just add our fresh ground beef. We had T.V. dinners. Fast food restraints became popular. In the beginning, it was just a once in awhile “treat”. Soon it became the norm. In the 80’s we quickened it by microwave ovens. And now, we can buy meat that never spoils and everything is hydrogenated!
Somewhere along the line, we started noticing a rise in heart disease and obesity. We blamed fat. We created man’s answer – margarine, the spread that stayed soft, even in the refrigerator and didn’t melt if you left it out. The problem was we were plasticizing our cells. Today we know that margarine has contributed to 40% more heart disease than butter ever did!
So what else have we done? Processed sugar to death, and now replaced it with an artificial sweetener. Replaced water with sodas, replaced whole fresh fruits and vegetables with canned, boxed and packaged counterfeits.
As a result, we are a malnourished, obese society!
©2005 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.