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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

We Are Not That Fragile

Consider the following statement.

The words ‘well-balanced meal’ and ‘balanced diet’ apparently suggest that a healthful diet is a precarious achievement.” It’s not. The human species would never have survived to this point if we were that fragile.

That statement from an article posted at stands in stark contrast to what usually passes as sound nutritional advice these days. The typical mantra is, in so many words, eat your vegetables and cut back on red meat for optimal health. Yet for all of the messages flying our way via various media outlets today rarely will one come close to saying “hey, we eat pretty will here”. If that is a difficult pill to swallow then consider a few observations.

First when is the last time you heard of a case of Pellagra. Pellagra is a disease characterized with symptoms ranging from dermatitis to death. It is causes by a deficiency of vitamin B3 commonly known as niacin. Historically Pellagra was unknown in cultures where corn treated with lime was a staple. In our modern diet niacin is commonly added to grain products to enrich or fortify the nutritional content. So the next time you eat a fast food burger remember the bun has niacin and you don’t have Pellagra.

Next can you recall the last outbreak of scurvy in America or the world for that matter? Since 1932 when ascorbic acid more commonly known as vitamin C was isolated and recognized as the cure for scurvy there have been few issues with the disease. Prior to that time scurvy was a deadly disease especially among those travelling across the Atlantic to the New World. So the next time you supersize your fries just remember that you are getting vitamin C from those potatoes as well as warding off scurvy.

Finally have you ever heard of someone being thiamine deficient? If you have then you are really old because thiamine deficiency from a poor diet that resulted in Beriberi a disease that causes weakness, wasting, mental confusion and many other harsh symptoms was eradicated in the early 1900’s. Now because our food supply is enriched with many essential vitamins and minerals such diseases are no longer a threat to anyone.

So the next time you hear how bad our American diet is take it with a grain of salt because it is not always true. The abundance we have may contribute to some being a little heavier but even still we are far healthier as a nation than at any other time in the history of the world. We may even have to say that even junk foods are good for us. The truth is we are not that fragile.

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