Updated 3/20/07 (for current updates to information, see our new website here)
QV Summary Food production and processing methods have drastically changed the American health scene over the last fifty years. Adding vitamin supplements to the standard American diet benefits about as much as burning a match in an electrical power blackout. You have to know how to survive the current shortcomings of foods before you can expect to be healthy. Beef now contributes too much omega 6 fats in relation to omega 3, dairy lowers the magnesium to calcium ratio, and sugar contributes more to obesity and diabetes with higher amounts of fructose, especially high fructose corn syrup. And all these contribute to chronic inflammation, the bottomline event that precipitates many diseases.
INTRODUCTION to Survive Alive
The United States is currently involved in one of the largest food studies ever attempted. An estimated 150 million people were enrolled at the start. It has been running for 50 years now. The Survive Alive Study chronicles the population from cradle to grave, recording what diseases they acquire and what causes their death. Let's see what the conditions were at the start of this study and how they have changed.
Cattle had just started leaving the green pastures and entering grain feedlots. Cooking beef before this was extremely physical, as beef have to be beaten with a mallet to "tenderize" it. Adolph's meat tenderizer powder was very popular (a papaya extract called papain). An empty coffee tin can sat near the sink that was used to collect the bacon fat, or lard, which was used to fry foods. Milk was delivered in glass bottles a couple of times a week and once a week, the bakery truck came around delivering fresh bread. Real butter was spread on bread and fresh cream was used to make ice cream by manually turning the crank on the ice cream maker. It was kept cold by the ice delivered in big chunks by the ice truck.
...bacon fat was used to fry foods....
Children spent most of the daylight hours playing outside when not in school. Only a few homes on each block had early televisions and only a few shows were available. The first McDonald's restaurant opened during the early years of the study. Most meals were eaten at home. Very few mothers worked outside the home.
But then, something changed. Out went the lard tin can and in came something called Crisco to take its place. Milk started coming in waxed paper cartons bought at the now bigger food market. Meat started to just melt in your mouth. Refrigerators started getting bigger and didn't need ice anymore to keep foods frozen. Food markets started stocking greater amounts of frozen foods. Ice cream was available that you didn't have to make yourself. Backyard food gardens became smaller. The changes from the fifties until now have been truly astonishing. But, the question has to be asked: Were they all for the better? This article will examine five or six of these changes and the ramifications they have left behind. Prepare to be astonished again.
The fat composition of beef changed significantly when cattle started being led out of the grass pastures and into the grain feedlots. This dramatically increased the animals' weight by adding extra fat. It is the kind of fat that increased which created the serious unhealthy state Americans exhibit today. More than any other change, this single-handedly increased disease promotion.
...beef fat before the grain feedlots......
Beef fat before the feedlots contained omega-3 and omega-6 fats in a 1 to 4 or less ratio. This represents a healthy ratio that more or less is near the levels that existed for thousands of years. As cattle started eating grains in the feedlots, this ratio climbed until it reached the 1 to 20 or more ratio of today. The total percentage of fat also increased as well. The meat is extremely tender and tastes better than it did 50 years ago. But, the body cannot maintain health at this level. If beef was only an occasionally consumed food, the unbalanced omega fat ratio would not be such a factor. ref
SIDEBAR: Substituting chicken for beef, while it does lower the saturated fat load, may actually be more like pouring gas on a fire than water. Chicken has it's own problems with inflammatory producing elements.
The bottom-line ramifications of this change in ratio result in creating a continuous inflammatory condition in body tissues. Scientists are now of the mindset from research results that a chronic inflammatory state exists in most degenerative diseases; cardiovascular and heart, cancer, Alzheimer's, osteoarthritis, and others. How this happens is no mystery. It is simple chemistry. You just follow the path of breakdown of both omega 3 and omega 6 fats. You discover that when the proper level of EPA from the breakdown of omega 3 is reached, it sends out a messenger to stop the body from processing any more of both omega 3 and omega 6. ref Read the conclusions here.
...creates spontaneous inflammatory conditions....
When the ratios are near 1 to 3, the body maintains a healthy balanced state. But if the amount of omega 6 consumed far exceeds the amount of omega 3, as it does today, more omega 6 gets processed before EPA levels reach the cut off point. One of these omega 6 breakdown factors is responsible for creating inflammation at injury sites to facilitate the healing process. BUT, without an injury, and with too many of these factors (called prostaglandins) floating around in the body, spontaneous general inflammatory actions occur. One area where these factors gather is in fat cells. People with larger fat cells are more likely to have this reaction happen or at least on a larger scale. This is most likely a cause in many of the conditions seen in obesity. ref 1 ref 2 ref 3
NOTE of special interest: The breakdown cascade of omega 6 fats is the area where the NSAIDS operate. NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) include aspirin, ibuprofen, and the selective COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxxtm and Celebrextm. Aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit the action of both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. COX-2 is the inflammatory producer while COX-1 has many positive functions, including protecting the mucous linings of the stomach and intestinal tract. That is why these drugs can cause intestinal bleeding. The Vioxxtm drug type was developed to just inhibit COX-2, which did lessen the bleeding issue but has been found to increase heart attacks and strokes. It seems that many functions in the body are related and arbitrarily stopping one action can upset a synergistic function. In this case, the drug upset a balance and caused another element to dramatically increase it's activity as a compensation which created these unfavorable conditions. Balance and harmony are nature's hallmarks. Even natural herbal remedies could fall into this trap without proper guidance.
The term "protein" increased in significance over this period of time. Early dietary guidelines were represented in a food chart consisting of 4 boxes. Meat, fish, and eggs were in one top box and dairy foods were in the other top box. This gave protein foods a full 50% of the guideline chart, compliments of the cattle and dairy industries. Meal presentations were heavily dominated by these animal protein foods. Plant proteins were given second class status. This has turned into one of the driving forces behind our current degenerative diseased state.
Scientists early on discovered this connection but were powerless to counter the momentum quickly built into the whole system from the bottom education of children to the top control of research funds. Restaurants and food markets catered to this new health plan and protein foods, sugars, and refined bakery portions increased while vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and legumes decreased to background supporting positions.
The results of these changes, which are still the norm today, are increased cardiovascular disease, cancers, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and many others. How could higher animal protein intake create these conditions? One way, Scientists have a term for the condition: net endogenous acid load. Simply this is how foods influence the acid-base balance in the body. Why is this important? The body has to maintain the acid-base balance chemistry within a very narrow range. Elaborate measures are available for the body to control this chemistry. A tiny change would upset health dramatically. During a heart attack, the heart is beating so rapidly and weakly that oxygen does not get picked up and carbon dioxide released in the lungs. This starts the blood pH chemistry increasing toward acid and only minutes are available for paramedics to start a pH neutralizing bicarbonate solution or death results. It's just that simple; pH chemistry levels are critical to life.
Animal proteins, which form a significant part of today's diet, put more stress on the body to balance this chemistry than plant proteins. Coupled with other acid producing foods, such as sugars, refined grains, and oils, animal proteins rapidly use up the base reserve elements and force the body to rob bones of minerals to help buffer the acid build up. Usually a high vegetable and fruit intake would control this function by supplying ample potassium bicarbonate. Nutritional guidelines are now recommending nine servings a day of vegetables and fruits for this and other reasons. ref 5
What is different about animal protein? It contains more of the few amino acids that are high in sulfur (methionine and cysteine). Sulfur from these amino acids forms sulfuric acid and other high acid elements on breakdown in the body. While some sulfur is needed for important functions, too much contributes to the bodies' acid load. While plant proteins have fewer sulfur containing aminos, the protein still adds to the net acid load. A positive note for plant-based protein foods is that usually they also provide minerals and other base-forming elements to help with the acid load, as well as fibers, which animal protein foods are almost completely lacking.
...the body cannot maintain health....
Today's diet reality is simply that the increase in animal proteins, simple sugars, refined grains, and oils has increased the net acid load to the point where the body cannot maintain health and degenerative disease states are created.
NOTE: Some scientists point out that a few native people have survived on high animal food diets, such as the Eskimo's in Alaska. Upon careful analysis, their diets might actually supply generous base-buffering minerals to compensate for the high animal protein foods. In this case, Eskimo's boiled bones and also made blood soup.
Historically compared to today, diets were much higher in potassium than sodium and were many times higher in fibers. This high potassium over sodium is still present in natural foods, but is reversed after foods are processed, refined, or prepared with added salt. High dietary potassium is protective against a high net acid load from animal proteins and other acid forming foods. Caution: Potassium should only be consumed from foods and not from supplements unless under a doctor's care. Supplemental potassium can irritate the linings of the intestinal tract, and it is severely limited to only 99 mg. or 3% in over the counter supplements to prevent this action.
to be continued
top next page Hearts of FIRE