Take Responsibility for Your Future

Food, nourishment and lifestyle plays a vital role in the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and autoimmunity. Diet is one of the significant risk factors for premature death and disability around the globe.

Leading causes of death in Australia include heart disease, stroke, cancer, medical mistakes, and diabetes. All but the medical mistakes can be attributed mainly to diet and lifestyle. And perhaps mistakes may be less if the system was not overcrowded with chronic disease.

Chronic disease affects around 40% of children in Australia. In both Australia and the US, 80% of adults above 65 have a chronic disease.

Despite the overwhelming evidence proving diet is vital for good health, today’s medical professionals receive almost no education on diet or nutrition: in some cases it has been estimated to make up only 1% of the medical curriculum.

A recent report (2019) out of the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) calls for greater nutrition education in the medical field. Doctoring Our Diet: Policy Tools to Include Nutrition in U.S. Medical Training emphasises the past and current lack of education on diet-related diseases and nutrition that doctors receive over the course of their medical careers and illustrates the impact of this knowledge gap on healthcare costs and patient health.

Although this report was written for the US medical curriculum, it can easily be used in any country where nutrition is not being taught to our primary healthcare practitioners. But, thanks to bureaucratic pace, it may be decades before the first graduate of medicine understands the principles of nutrition as it relates to disease.

Taking responsibility for your knowledge and health is a must in the current climate of ‘disease equals prescription of a medication and/or operation’.

Ignorance is a choice. There are many avenues to find information about diet-related maladies, but the problem is there are so many differing opinions. No longer do we see one diet for every human on the planet – the dietary guidelines of high carbohydrates, low fat proved that to be a fallacy. Now we see everything from vegan to carnivore and the raving fans that follow.

I’m not here to tell you to be a vegan or a carnivore to prevent or treat a disease, but what I am here to tell you is that there are basic principles that we know to be true. If we stick with those principles, then perhaps we will have a pretty good idea of what food should be on our table and in our pantries and fridges.

A Historical Perspective of Food

It’s always good to have a historical perspective of how humans have eaten throughout their history on this planet. It’s safe to say that a variety of diets helped in their subsistence: including the tropical diet of sweet fruits and root vegetables with fish and coconuts, to the desert diet of meat, dairy and blood, and up to the arctic circle where the diet included blubber and meat with a few plants scattered through the year. There are also the Hindus who lived for the past 5,000 years as vegetarians on the equator with plants, animal products, legumes, grains and nuts as a variable diet. I could go on, but I think you get the idea – humans survived on a variety of food combinations.

However, although the food varied, it had one thing in common: it was grown on the land where they lived. Their food had no agricultural chemicals, synthetic biology, chemical food additives, GM foods and nor was it packed in plastic.

These days, for the majority of people living near a grocery store, the diet consists of breakfast cereals, modified milks, bread, margarine, pasta, cheese, muffins, biscuits and packaged foods filled with additives, preservatives, acidity regulators, emulsifiers, colours, flavours and fortified with synthetic vitamins and mined minerals.

When we look at the biochemistry and science and correlate this type of diet with chronic disease rates, it’s as plain as the nose on your face that the SAD (standard Australian/American diet) is a disaster, creating chronic sickness both mentally and physically.

So, then the question is asked: Should I eat plants or should I eat animals?

Both have been eaten by humans for eons, but they have been eaten without chemical farming practices and processing. Instead they were eaten seasonally, locally and prepared culturally. It all depended on where you lived and what was available, which is a good rule of thumb when choosing a healthy food.

Vitalism vs Nutritionism

It is also important to consider the opposing principles of vitalism and nutritionism when it comes to the type of food to eat.

Nutritionism is a term coined and explained by an Australian professor, Gyorgy Scrinis. This is where we look at the parts of the food in a mechanistic manner, by considering the macro nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and sugars, and the micro nutrients, vitamins and minerals to decide whether the food should be eaten or left on the shelf or plate. It’s a sort of reductionist theory.

For example, a protein powder processed with dubious chemicals with a patent pending, that includes flavours, colours, fillers, binders and acidity regulators may show a perfect nutritional panel of macro and micro nutrients. But each one of the ingredients has been processed in a chemical laboratory, sometimes using synthetic biology with studies for GRAS (general regarded as safe) for individual ingredients tested only on rats for two weeks. There are no long-term studies for safety and health for humans. The only study of this kind that ensues is when someone chooses to eat that food for a long period of time and becomes anecdotal evidence – perhaps even proving that the human body did not evolve to eat multiple foods from a laboratory.

Vitalism is the exact opposite. It is where we don’t look at butter because it’s 50% saturated fat, which in the science is seen as a BAD fat, and then dismiss it completely as a BAD food.

Or we don’t look at eggs for the cholesterol content as cholesterol is seen as a BAD fat in the science and then dismiss the food completely as a forbidden BAD food.

Rather we look at the food with two things in mind. Firstly, did we eat these foods throughout history without chronic disease and, secondly, has the food got a vitalistic component to it? In other words, foods are not considered only by their physical and chemical components, but in conjunction with the knowledge that our bodies and foods from nature have an innate intelligence. Food is delivered by nature in a mix of macro and micro nutrients that synchronise for maximum resilience, not only for its own survival but that of humans and animals.

By using vitalism to decipher the merit and health of a food for the human body, we usually find that the food we choose will give health and vitality.

For example, we have eaten butter for as long as we have herded animals without heart disease – but we’ve eaten it in its natural state without additives, from animals that ate grass and produced full-fat milk without the use of agricultural chemicals and antibiotics.

We’ve also eaten eggs for as long as we have been able to rob nests. Going by the fact that an egg produces a live bird, it’s hard to fathom that, by looking solely at cholesterol in the egg and not the rest of the nutrition bound in it, it could be bad for our health. But remember the eggs we ate were not from chickens or birds cruelly tortured in confining places and fed a diet of GMO grain and antibiotics.

At The Nutrition Academy, the first two course modules explain anthropological principles and a vitalistic approach to food and health. From there, we teach critical thinking when it comes to how food is produced, what disrupts health, what creates health and the food myths perpetuated by the food industry and nutritional guidelines when it comes to fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt. We also teach you about diseases associated with nutrient deficiencies, which means you may well be ahead of your local GP when it comes to knowledge in this area.

We do not talk about panacea diets but rather the individuality of humans and food. By the end of the course, graduates are inspired with information that enables them to make the right choices for themselves and their family – and if they want to share it with their community, they have the skills and knowledge to create incredible change around them.

When we clean the slate of propaganda produced by the chemical, agriculture and food companies and educate with a philosophy and a critical mind that questions the food we eat, then we begin to find our own way to health and wellbeing. We also find the need for doctors decreases, except in a critical situation or emergency, and we have a whole new lease on life, both mentally and physically.

Now more than ever it’s important to educate yourself and take responsibility for your own health. I’ve been doing this for four decades – I’ve seen it all: the wonder vitamin, the miracle diet, the one-pill wonder…none of them are sustainable, nor do they address long-term health for humans, animals and the planet.

What I’ve learnt is that it’s about knowing where your food comes from. It’s about going back to basics, having a simple pantry and fridge filled with real foods, single ingredient foods, and creating meals to feed and nourish a family in order to heal our nation.

When I choose a food, I want to know that I’m supporting a local farmer; that I am not contributing to the problem, but I’m part of the solution that can heal our planet. The power is in the hands of the consumer – the more who eat this way, the less the chemical and drug companies will have power over our health and, ultimately, our lives.

We have a new intake of students happening in August 2020 with a special offer valued at $1,497! To find out more and take advantage or our very special offer on our Functional Nutrition Course, click here https://thenutrition.academy/functional-nutrition-course/

Cyndi O’Meara

Nutritionist