Health Through Nutrition – Keep Your Body Healthy & Your Mind Sharp

Get Better Nutrients in Your Diet the Modern Way

Photo by Angel Sinigersky on Unsplash

Everyone knows that a healthy mind and body are reliant upon good nutrition. People with disabilities especially need good nutrition to help fight their ailment. Determining what good nutrition really is and how to be sure that we are getting what we need still is not easy. I have put together some information here that I hope will help in this quest. Of course, before you take anything new, for safety, discuss it with your doctor.

Everything that Tastes Good is Bad for Me 

Or so it seems. Everyone wants to be healthy yet I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t love tasty food, treats, drinks, or deserts. In fact, it is obvious that almost all of us would like to eat our favorite junk food any time and all the time. Wouldn’t it be wonderful not have to worry about the weight gain and the real junk, the poisons in our processed food that can ruin our health.

OK, so now we are not only hungry but we’re depressed too. The bottom line is that the laws of nature just can’t be changed and if we want to get healthy and stay healthy we have rules to follow. The basic smart nutrition diet is good for all people, of all ages. 

(Photo by Dicky Jiang)

You Just Eat What I Put On Your plate – You’re Lucky to Have Food!

How many times did I hear that? As kids we just had to hold our noses and gulp it down, only to find out years later that it was actually bad for us. Our parents just didn’t know better.

It has always been hard to get a good understanding of this nutritional “what-is-good-for-me-or-Bad-for-me thing”.

Trust me on this, it is not your fault and here is why: 

One hundred years ago, no one worried about what they ate. No one ever told them how devastating it was to their health and lifespan to load up on carbohydrates, sugars, and most grains. Highly processed foods had not even hit the market yet. High sugar fruits were seen as nourishing so the more the better, right?

The Lifespan of 20th Century People

The average worldwide lifespan in the early 1900’s was around 31 years. It was a bit longer for people that lived in the U.S., primarily because of better nutrition and more sanitary living conditions.

At that time men who lived in the U.S. had a life expectancy of about 46 and women approximately 48. The current the worldwide average lifespan is now approximately 70, and in the U.S., the average lifespan has increased to 76 for men and 81 for women.

Nutrition Deficient Food – The Reason for Bad Nutrition

Poor Science and No Nutritional Education

Poor sanitation and hygiene were viewed as the root of all disease, and the solution was sterilizing food to get rid of bacteria, mold, and toxins. Rice was polished, and other grains were milled to eliminate husks. One bad side effect of milk manufacturers trying to sterilize milk with heat was that heat destroyed vitamin C, so the rates of scurvy increased significantly.

Bleeding gums and fatigue are common symptoms of scurvy and they increased among children in affluent families who were able to buy the “sterilized milk”. Despite prolonging shelf life there were some harmful consequences.

Poor Farming Practices

photo by Andreas Selter

To compound the issue, even when people were eating what appeared to be a good diet, the soil in which the food was grown continued to have a lower nutritional effect on crops grown. The photo to the right depicts an area of the Antelope Valley in California. This was filled with lush green alfalfa fields until the soil was stripped of its nutrients from not rotating the crops. This is now just desert wasteland.

So, vegetables in 1900 were less nutritional than say 1800.

The lack of sound growing practices, like crop rotation, basically killed much of our farmlands. That trend is changing but the damage is already done in many areas. Healthy  farmland has sadly turned into unusable and basically unrecoverable vast desert land where few if any nutritious foods can be grown.

THINGS ARE SLOWLY GETTING BETTER

Today moderation has started to settle in and most of us who are concerned with our health have realized that we must moderate what we eat and properly supplement everything that goes into our bodies if we want good health.

We have a great advantage over people in the past in that much of our food comes packaged and this packaging is required (in most cases) to have Nutrition Labels that are supposed to be accurate and that way we can moderate what we feed ourselves.

There are loopholes in these rules  that you can drive a truck through and I can guarantee that every food manufacturer or packager exploits them to the fullest extent possible.

What do I mean by loopholes? Well if, let’s say an item in the health foods section of our favorite grocer contains sugar which comes in various forms, it can be called sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and almost any …ose word. That way the first line of defense for the manufacturer is to “disguise” sugar as something unfamiliar to the average shopper.

Then the second loophole is that if the substance contained doesn’t even have to be listed if it is less than a particular baseline level. That one is tough to deal with. It is therefore our responsibility to KNOW what we are really buying. It is not easy and will take some time but the work is worth it. There are more loopholes but I just wanted to give you an idea of what you are really up against. It’s WAR. Be well studied and well armed.

The nutritional value of food affects every living creature. Humans suffer nutritionally from two sides. Not only is our food less nutritional, but also the food our protein animals consume has taken a major nutritional hit as well. These animals are filled with antibacterial agents and lavish amounts of growth hormones which the animals pass on to us.

The Next Attack on Our Nutrition – Processed Food  

The practice of highly processed food that came along just compounded the issue.

Most people still think that if it looks like cheese and has the word “cheese” anywhere on the label, it’s cheese.  Unfortunately, a lot of the “cheese” in the dairy department is, if you look carefully at the packaging, merely labeled Processed Cheese Food or Cheese Productand is net even cheese. It is basically just colored, salted, coagulated, fat that is skimmed off in the process of making other non-nutritious quasi-food. You are better off with any natural cheese.

This is not just a dairy issue though. Natural trans fats are found in some animal products and are not harmful. Artificial trans fats are made by “hydrogenating” vegetable oils in a harsh chemical process.There are lots of foods for example that contain artificial trans fats (or trans fatty acids) which are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils.” or “fully hydrogenated fat”. This is Bad stuff for the heart among other scary things. Some say it is more dangerous than cigarettes and cigarettes don’t make you fat.

Take a quick look at this old ad from the 1920’s  

You can see the almost “magical” way  this “vitamin rich” candy was touted as an energizing health food.

The discovery of vitamins and the fact that they are good for us has fueled a belief that if you want to be more healthy, you just need more vitamins and minerals. To some extent this is true. I used to take tons of supplements and researched almost daily on the efficacy of these supplements.

I am not the only one who does this. The obsession with supplements began just as soon as the marketers discovered that people believed what they saw and read. People back then believed that if these wonder-foods are good for the health, more of them must means people would get more healthy.

No Government Watchdog

Remember, there were No “Truth in Advertising” laws, No content labels, No warnings, and that led people to believe the advertisements or word of mouth and to hope for the best. In fact, the advertisers had a heyday back in the early 1900’s because they could sell anything and basically no one was aware of the devastating effect eating poorly had on their health. For example, the once famous cooking oil Crisco was originally developed as submarine engine grease.

At the beginning of the 20th century food was only seen as having 3 important nutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. A few years ago the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published a food pyramid chart that is to this day still upside down. These days the FDA is responsible for taking action against any adulterated or  improperly branded dietary supplement product but only After it reaches the marketIt seems to me that this should happen BEFORE it reaches market.

The Start of the Supplement Craze

The initial vitamin discovery spawned various products, such as Yeast Vitamine, Double Strength Yeast, Iron Concentrate, and Super Vitamins. They typically contained “vitamin B” (individual B vitamins had not been identified yet) from yeast and various other ingredients.

Vitamins and minerals are still both in much lower quantities in our food than even 50 years ago. Our knowledge of real nutrition has increased substantially yet most people are unaware that vitamin and mineral supplements are necessary for optimum health.

Essential Vitamins

In the early 1900’s everyone, including the experts thought there were only 3 or 4 vitamins and that you could still get them and all the minerals you want from your food. Wrong!

There must be an easier, more palatable way to get these nutrients into our diets.




About David Kennedy

I am a retired Senior Development Engineer for Hughes Aircraft Company. I retired from Hughes In 1997 and moved to Phoenix with my young daughter to be with my two older sons attending Arizona State University. I am a former member of the U.S. Air Force where I was an active member of the 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron.
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2 Responses to Health Through Nutrition – Keep Your Body Healthy & Your Mind Sharp

  1. david miller says:

    It is refreshing to read about ‘special needs’ from someone who is actually informed on the topic. I really enjoyed your thoughts on supplements and also your more recent comments on self-preservation during disasters. I will follow you on Twitter and maybe you could be a guest on my podcast about disabled living? I will tweet you about this separately.
    Keep up the good work

    • Thank you David. It sounds like you are pretty knowledgeable on the subjects I talked about. I am deeply into this since my son, Little David, has SMA and is confined to a wheelchair. I am trying to provide my son, and other folks with disabilities, with the necessary tools and information so that when a disaster happens they will have the ability to wisely and independently handle any such scary and unknown sitiations. I am doing my best to help them all avoid needless death or injuries by helping them plan to survive.

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