Nutrition 101: The World Is Fat
In just a few decades, the world has become obese. Our healthcare system is literally struggling under our fat, because obesity is the root cause of many of our most expensive chronic diseases. Historically, we now have the first generation of children who are not expected to live as long of a lifespan as their parents, mainly as a consquence of childhood obesity. Interestingly, humans ate the best diet about 40,000 years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, consuming approximately 50-80% of our diet from plants and 20-50% from animals. During the Upper Paleolithic period (beginning 40,000 years ago), people ate no grains and no dairy products other than human breast milk for infants.
The greatest change in the human diet came with the advent of farming. More specifically, grain farming on a mass scale. As a result of up to $50 billion per year in farm subsidies, farmers in the United States mainly produce grains such as corn, wheat and soybeans. These crops, in turn, support the meat and poultry products industries. U.S. corn and soybean farmers typically sell their products for less than it costs to produce them thanks to farm subsidies. These grain subsidies have directly affected (lowered) the cost of pork, chicken and beef. A secondary effect of the mass production of corn and soybeans, is the production of high fructose corn syrup and 80% of the vegetable oil used in our country. So, by extension, sweets and soft drinks have been subsidized as a result of the role of high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener.
In contrast, farmers would stand to lose a great deal of money by dedicating precious acreage to farming fruits and vegetables instead of grains. So, while beef, corn, poultry, soybeans and sugar are cheaper, it is at the expense of healthier plant foods like fruits and vegetables. Thus, humans have moved to a grain based diet, high in the omega 6 fats that are inherint to grains. We are eating these grains in the obvious foods, such as breads, pastas and grain-based oils. And in the not so obvious: grain fed meats, fried foods, and high fructose corn syrup laden foods and drinks. Shockingly, global vegetable oil consumption as tripled from 1961 to 1990, with soybean oil being the most consumed worldwide.
In short, we now eat far less fruits and vegetables and eat far more grain based (omega 6) fats and sweeteners. According to Barry Popkin (distingushed professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina), “the top 40% of caloric beverage drinkers in the U.S. consume over 760 calories a day from beverages.” We also consume far less omega 3 fats than our bodies need. The result is obesity and chronic diseases directly related to diet.
Popkin sums up our current dietary and health state of affairs: “Ultimately, widespread obesity and the chronic diseases that contribute to the bulk of deaths in the world are less a result of poor individual dietary choices than the consequences of a high-tech, interconnected world in which governments and multinational corporations have extraordinary power to shape our everyday lives.”
Would you like to learn more? Come to our upcoming Nutrition Class in our Sacramento, CA chiropractic office.
.Here are a couple of great books:
Want to learn more about paleolithic humans? Visit the Institute of Human Origins. Here is a photo of Sacramento Chiropractor, Dr. Jeri Anderson, and Beth Greene, Capitol Chiropractic business director, taken recently at the Institute of Human Origins at the ASU campus in Tempe, AZ. Dr. Jeri & Beth are pictured with the world’s most famous fossil, Lucy.