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  • Depression is an increasingly common issue in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control in 2010 estimated that 11.1 percent of the American population suffers from significant depression — a whopping 35 million individuals — and this figure seems to be steadily rising. Prescribed mood modifiers are everywhere, starting as early as elementary school and continuing on into old age. How successful are these pharmacologic approaches? Not very. Optimistic estimates maintain that such interventions are reasonably successful in only one half of those treated. Less optimistic observers note that in those currently taking an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, despite a host of side effects, most do not attain relief. Nearly two-thirds of elderly patients treated for depression fail to achieve symptomatic remission and functional recovery with first-line pharmacotherapy; they obtain better results with, for instance, tai chi.1 For major depressive disorder, a condition for which one would think that pharmacological treatments would win out over nonpharmacological therapy, it turns out that nonpharmacological therapy not only is just as effective, but also involves far fewer adverse events.2,3

    The causes of depression and mood disorders remain an area of controversy. Human beings are prepared to react to vastly varied environmental factors. Not surprisingly, many biological and psychological factors cut in more than one direction. Metabolic factors (inflammation, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress) are not necessarily one-direction in terms of causation, for example, with regard to emotional and physical stress and the resulting stress hormones (glucocorticoids). Sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen), likewise, both influence and are influenced by emotional and physical factors.

    Is Inflammation the Central Issue?
    The concept of inflammation in the last few years has been stretched to cover more and more forms of illness and dysfunction. One reason is that inflammation is actually a set of responses that occur naturally all the time, yet each of which can itself escape proper regulation. You get a sense of this from the article on inflammation available online from Wikipedia: “Inflammation is a protective response that involves immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. The purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of cell injury, clear out necrotic cells and tissues damaged from the original insult and the inflammatory process, and to initiate tissue repair.” Inflammation thus involves both destruction and repair.

    A number of researchers are looking into the issue of neuroinflammation outside of the traditional medical areas of concern, such as stroke. For instance, psychological stress has been demonstrated to increase neuroinflammation in animal models.4 Similarly, there is evidence to support the position that links chronic depression to chronic brain inflammation and acute depression to stress-triggered neuronal microdamage.5 Another line of argument is that the “metabolic syndrome and its individual components induce a proinflammatory state that damages blood vessels. This condition of chronic inflammation may damage the vasculature of the brain or be directly neurotoxic.”6

    Countering Depression without Drugs
    Inflammation and the metabolic syndrome are closely linked in physiology and biochemistry. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that studies on obesity, diet and exercise habits often turn up implications for preventing and treating depression. For example, a large study of 15,093 people published in 2015 indicated that depression could be linked with nutrient deficits. The best results were found with two essentially Mediterranean-style diets. These diets overlapped in terms of foods such as omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and moderate alcohol intake. Another finding was that there apparently is a threshold effect, meaning that a certain level of protective foods needed to be in the diet, but that benefits in terms of reduced risk of depression plateaued after this threshold was passed.7

    It is difficult to find many nutrients that can be given as dietary supplements that cross the blood-brain barrier. Many of the nutrients that are of use are from berries. Pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer’s disease.8 “Blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, grape and plum juices or extracts have been successfully tested in cognitively impaired rodents. Published trials of the benefits of grape and blueberry juice in the treatment of small numbers of cognitively impaired persons have recently appeared.”9 Another potentially useful item in this regard is the Chinese herb known as blue dogbane, Apocynum venetum. This interesting item, virtually unknown outside of Asia, exerts proven anti-depressant effects, in part, via brain monoamine levels and the dopaminergic system. The latter, again, is influenced by pterostilbene, but not resveratrol.10 Of importance regarding the impact of Apocynum venetum on inflammation is its high content of the potent antioxidant / anti-inflammatory, isoquercitrin.11

    A complementary option to the foregoing nutrients is to reduce the impact of stress. Phosphatidylserine (PS) supports the brain’s physiological processing of stress and promotes neuronal communication by its effect on cell membrane fluidity. It is a natural phospholipid that is an essential component of cell membranes. PS promotes brain function by increasing neuronal membrane fluidity (cell-to-cell communication), resulting in improved cognition. Also, PS protects against stress by mitigating the actions of cortisol (catabolic stress hormone.) Human research routinely demonstrates these benefits and suggests the usefulness of a combination with DHA, e.g., “The results demonstrate that consumption of 100 mg/day of PS-DHA might be associated with improving or maintaining cognitive status in elderly subjects with memory complaints.”12

    Finally, there is the issue of the relation between Alzheimer’s and sugar consumption. In old age, there tends to be an increasingly significant association between forms of cognitive impairment and depression. Some believe there’s a connection between sugar intake and Alzheimer’s disease. There are a number of theories as to why this might be. One argument is that increased consumption of simple carbohydrates leads to blood brain barrier degradation and subsequently to damage to the hippocampus.13 A related argument is that increased consumption of simple carbohydrates leads to elevations of specific advanced glycation end products (AGEs), especially the neurotoxic methyl-glyoxal derivatives (MG). High levels of AGEs also are correlated with reduced insulin sensitivity in older human adults. These factors promote chronic oxidant stress and inflammation in the brain.14


    1. Lavretsky H, Alstein LL, Olmstead RE, Ercoli LM, Riparetti-Brown M, Cyr NS, Irwin MR. Complementary use of tai chi chih augments escitalopram treatment of geriatric depression: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2011 Oct;19(10):839–50.
    2. Gartlehner G, Gaynes BN, Amick HR, Asher G, Morgan LC, Coker- Schwimmer E, Forneris C, Boland E, Lux LJ, Gaylord S, Bann C, Pierl CB, Lohr KN. Nonpharmacological Versus Pharmacological Treatments for Adult Patients With Major Depressive Disorder [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2015 Dec.
    3. Gartlehner G, Gaynes BN, Amick HR, Asher GN, Morgan LC, Coker- Schwimmer E, Forneris C, Boland E, Lux LJ, Gaylord S, Bann C, Pierl CB, Lohr KN. Comparative Benefits and Harms of Antidepressants, Psychological, Complementary, and Exercise Treatments for Major Depression: An Evidence Report for a Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Feb 9. [Epub ahead of print]
    4. Barnum CJ, Pace TW, Hu F, Neigh GN, Tansey MG. Psychological stress in adolescent and adult mice increases neuroinflammation and attenuates the response to LPS challenge. J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Jan 16;9:9.
    5. Wager-Smith K, Markou A. Depression: a repair response to stress-induced neuronal microdamage that can grade into a chronic neuroinflammatory condition? Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan;35(3):742–64.
    6. Cherniack EP. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. Br J Nutr. 2012 Sep;108(5):794–800.
    7. Sánchez-Villegas A, Henríquez-Sánchez P, Ruiz-Canela M, Lahortiga F, Molero P, Toledo E, Martínez-González MA. A longitudinal analysis of diet quality scores and the risk of incident depression in the SUN Project. BMC Med. 2015 Sep 17;13:197.
    8. Chang J, Rimando A, Pallas M, Camins A, Porquet D, Reeves J, Shukitt- Hale B, Smith MA, Joseph JA, Casadesus G. Low-dose pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Sep;33(9):2062–71.
    9. Cherniack EP. A berry thought-provoking idea: the potential role of plant polyphenols in the treatment of age-related cognitive disorders. Br J Nutr. 2012 Sep;108(5):794–800.
    10. Zheng M, Fan Y, Shi D, Liu C. Antidepressant-like effect of flavonoids extracted from Apocynum venetum leaves on brain monoamine levels and dopaminergic system. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 May 2;147(1):108–13.
    11. Butterweck V, Nishibe S, Sasaki T, Uchida M. Antidepressant effects of apocynum venetum leaves in a forced swimming test. Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Jul;24(7):848–51.
    12. Vakhapova V, Cohen T, Richter Y, Herzog Y, Kam Y, Korczyn AD. Phosphatidylserine containing omega-3 Fatty acids may improve memory abilities in nondemented elderly individuals with memory complaints: results from an open-label extension study. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2014;38(1–2):39–45.
    13. Hsu TM, Kanoski SE. Blood-brain barrier disruption: mechanistic links between Western diet consumption and dementia. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014 May 9;6:88.
    14. Cai W, Uribarri J, Zhu L, Chen X, Swamy S, Zhao Z, Grosjean F, Simonaro C, Kuchel GA, Schnaider-Beeri M, Woodward M, Striker GE, Vlassara H. Oral glycotoxins are a modifiable cause of dementia and the metabolic syndrome in mice and humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 1;111(13):4940–5.
  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the Octobe 2018 issue of TotalHealth Magazine.

    We would like to dedicate this issue to one of our long-time contributors, Dallas Clouatre. We are saddened to tell you of the passing of this brilliant man. Jarrow Rogovin, Founder of Jarrow Formulas one of the companies Dallas worked with has generously given us an obituary honoring him, it can be found on page 5. Dallas is greatly missed.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, "Eradicating Breast Cancer." Bens shares with us how we can focus on prevention and reversing this terrible disease. Breast cancer is the second most deadly cancer after lung cancer for women.

    "Thermography for Breast Health" by Hillary Smith, DC, DHM, CCT explains "Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging (or DITI) uses a special very sensitive infrared camera to capture images related to the heat coming off the body. It is completely safe, as it is not putting anything into the person." Read on.

    Ken Redcross, MD gives us a head's up on "Your Survival Guide to Flu Season." In addition to excellent recommendations for preventing the flu, and preparing yourself and your family for flu season, Dr. Redcross explains how you can reduce flu symptoms and shorten the experience. Now is the time to arm yourself and your medicine cabinet...don't wait until flu season is in full swing.

    "Radical Metabolism—Eating Healthy While Saving" by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS. Long-time weight loss, detox, and anti-aging expert, Ann Louise has been changing the nutritional landscape for decades. In this excerpt from her new book Radical Metabolism, Ann Louise shares with readers her Top 10 Tips to keep this plan within your budget and save on time.

    Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, "The 3 Dietary Supplements Everyone Should Be Taking." This includes a multivitamin, vitamin D and omega fatty acids. At length, Bruno explains the benefits of all three of these supplements for the body. It is a well-documented article on your body's needs and uses of these supplements.

    Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, "Getting Rid of Nighttime Acid Reflux" is the final part of the four-part series on night sweats. Teitelbaum's focus is on acid reflux. If you have never suffered with it perhaps you know someone who has and you can share this article with. There are suggestions on dealing with it by raising the head of your bed. Also a recipe you can make to help acid reflux.

    Sherrill Sellman, ND reports "according to the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics–2018 Update published in the journal Circulation, nearly half of American adults are in this risk category." Sellman includes information on 120/LifeTM a new drink that is formulated with natural ingredients to effectively lower blood pressure.

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, presents "Roasted Parmesan Cabbage Recipe," includes another healthy recipe accompanied by detailed information on the health benefits of cabbage. It may surprise you.

    Shawn Messonnier, DVM, this month focus is on "Arthritis In Pets." Dogs are more susceptible than cats and large dogs more so than smaller breeds.

    Thanks to all the authors who make TotalHealth possible.

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full October 2018 issue.

    Click here to read the full October 2018 issue.

  • When I first began looking at the relationship of Nutrition to Health, I was a new doctor way back in 1975. At that time I could find very few medical doctors who would agree with my ideas and interests. Now, 30 years later, you would have to be in blind denial not to know the importance of this basic relationship. Our body, and how we look and feel, is a result of our lives. And what we feed ourselves is the basic building block. Mind you, it may take 20 to 30 years to see the adverse effects of poor dietary choices.

    When I did my first Juice Cleanse in 1976, it was a dramatic positive effect on my health and vitality (I wrote about this experience in my first book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons, 1981, 2003). I realized then it mattered what I ate; my food choices became part of me. And since I found this new love for myself and wanted to keep feeling great (and trimmer and non-allergic, or really less congested), I totally changed my food from the basic American diet to the healthy natural foods eating program I still do today. And I believe I continually experience the results from these wiser lifestyle choices.

    That’s why I wanted to share the basis and excitement about the field of nutritional medicine and applying diets and nutrients in the healing arts. Therefore, throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, I wrote and published a 1,200 page book, Staying Healthy with Nutrition. It was used by many people, lay public and professionals, as well as a source textbook for nutritional students. I was very pleased that people considered it so useful.

    However, over the past 10–15 years, nutritional science and research has advanced incredibly, and I wanted to keep up with the information and update this essential nutrition text. I remembered that Dr. Buck Levin had suggested a decade before as a nutrition educator at Bastyr university in Seattle that he would help me update and reference the text when I was ready. I called him and he put out the incredible effort to work with me the past five years to bring the reader the latest, most updated, and completely new 21st Century Edition of Staying Healthy with Nutrition. And I believe the whole team of people, along with my long-time associate and book developer, Bethany Argisle, and my longtime publisher Celestial Arts/Tenspeed Press, has done a superb job.

    It is my intention in this edition of Staying Healthy with Nutrition to investigate and substantiate the significance of food and nutrients as an integral and accepted part of the world of medicine and individual medical practice. I examine the emerging politics of food cultivation and what it takes to maintain healthy elements of clean air and water, rich and nutritious soil, and a sun that keeps shining. Supportive nutrition and our alignment with Nature are basic components of health, and certainly factors in disease when they are not present. A reasonable knowledge of nutritional biochemistry helps in the application of therapies that relieve many symptoms relating to or resulting from improper dietary habits and the resulting inefficient body functions. With the proper construction of a diet and lifestyle plan, we can help rebuild a patient’s health (or our own) before and after illness or surgery.

    Medical schools and doctors have typically been oriented to treating disease with drugs and surgery, and many health care practitioners do not yet view foods as “powerful medicine.” Although nutrition plays a more important part in preventive medicine than it does in the treatment of disease, an understanding of the body’s functioning at the nutritional level can indeed help in the treatment of a variety of problems. Clearly, we now realize that diet plays a crucial part in how the body looks and feels and whether it stays healthy. Generally, these effects—both good and bad—come over time, years, and decades. We can change our body and health as well as our energy and vitality with different diets. I explore these concepts in this new edition.

    Nutritional medicine is an emerging and fast-growing field; it is also as ancient as medicine and healing itself, however. It is a specialty much like other medical specialties and should be considered as such. Every practitioner should understand and follow the basics of nutritional application in health care. There is still a great deal to learn about nutrition and how it relates to illness and health, and how it relates to each individual’s needs, but this is true of all specialties.

  • The Evolution of Nutrition Introduction

    Nutrition has come a long way, over many years, to the point where it is finally starting to get the attention it deserves in terms of its ability to determine if a person can achieve good health and avoid chronic disease and premature death. Around 400 BC, the Greek scientist Hippocrates gave food a lofty goal when he proclaimed, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”1 It has taken over 2400 years for that famous quote to be taken seriously, and the journey, especially over the past hundred plus years, is worthy of examination. If we can appreciate how we arrived at our current understanding about the importance of food, perhaps we can better understand how we can best continue this journey of exploration, education and health improvement.

    Early Farming Influences
    About 10,000 years ago farming began to take the place of hunting and gathering as the primary source of food for many people.2 Planting crops allowed farmers to begin to make changes in the variety of plants grown, as well as to experiment with interbreeding to create more productive hybrids. Almost immediately, farmers began to create hybrids that were sweeter in order to accommodate human taste preferences, with the negative consequence of food becoming less nutrient dense.3 Monocultivation (one crop per area) also contributed to the gradual reduction in nutrient levels in the soil. While crop rotation and better fertilization were eventually introduced, the concept of growing as much as possible, at the lowest possible cost, was firmly established. With the introduction of chemicals, like pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, this concentration on productivity and profitability took on a heightened level of importance.

    The introduction of corporate farming pushed this manipulation of plant genetics and economical farming practices to extreme levels with serious consequences for the nutritional value of our food. To illustrate how serious this problem is, consider these three examples of wild plants compared to their commercially grown counterparts:

    • Dandelions have 700 percent more phytonutrients than spinach.4
    • Wild purple potatoes from Peru have 2800 percent more cancer fighting anthocyanins than farm grown russet potatoes.5
    • One species of wild apples has 10,000 percent more phytonutrients than the orchard grown Golden Delicious Apple.6

    The United States Department of Agriculture has studied the deterioration of plant nutrition over the past 25 to 40 years and identified the following declines in key nutrients in the foods we eat:

    • Some nutrient deficiencies due to nutritionally depleted soil:7
    • Calcium in broccoli is down 50 percent (1975 to 2001)
    • Iron in watercress is down 88 percent (1975 to 2001)
    • Vitamin C in cauliflower is down 40 percent (1979 to 2001)
    • Vitamin C in sweet peppers is down 30 percent (1963 to 2001)
    • Vitamin A in apples is down 41 percent (1963 to 2001)
    • Magnesium in collard greens is down 81 percent (1963 to 2001)
    • Potassium in collard greens is down 57 percent (1963 to 2001)

    Early picking also causes the loss of nutrients.8 In addition to depleted nutrients in our soil, there is also significant nutrient loss due to early picking, and here are just a few examples:

    • Cherries can lose half of their vitamin C if picked too early.
    • Blackberries can lose up to 75 percent of their cancer fighting anthocyanins if they are picked too early.
    • Tomatoes have twice the vitamin C and beta-carotene when they ripen on the vine, compared to being picked green.

    Other nutrient depletion factors:
    There have been many other changes in farming over the past 100 plus years, and most of them have resulted in a loss of nutrients. These include synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetic modification, storage of foods for later use, shipping foods long distances and not replacing all of the nutrients depleted with each crop. The quantity of food available at lower prices has been one positive factor leading to more availability of food for people with limited financial resources. However, considering the overall depletion of nutritional value, this increased quantity is probably not very beneficial in the long term.9

    Societal Influences On Our Food and Its Nutritional Value
    During the past century, while science was making steady progress in the understanding of what nutrients are in our foods, and how they impact our health, we have been transforming our daily eating behavior based on many influencing factors. For example, a recent study by the University of Colorado found that the nutrient density of our food has declined considerably over the past 100 years. Food today has over 50 percent fewer nutrients compared to the foods eaten by our grandparents. Not only is food less nutrient dense, we are also eating less of the really healthy foods. Our grandparents consumed an average of 131 pounds of homegrown vegetables every year, compared to 11 pounds today.10

    Another surprising comparison is the amount of sugar consumed today, compared to 100 years ago. Our grandparents consumed about 63 pounds of sugar every year, while we now consume over 150 pounds per year. It should be no surprise that we are suffering an epidemic of obesity and chronic disease. We are eating way too much sugar and considerably fewer fresh vegetables.11

    There are many other factors that have influenced our eating behavior and nutritional intake over the years. Here is a summary of many of these influencing factors:

    1. Urbanization—In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cities grew rapidly and suburbs followed after WWII, as the baby boomer generation looked for inexpensive housing and safe neighborhoods to raise their families. Both expansions consumed valuable farmland, which was a crucial factor in the reduction of locally grown produce. Farms became bigger and more mechanized, as farmers attempted to produce more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.12

    2. Wars—Several wars occurred during the 20th century and each one had a unique influence on our food and our nutritional intake. Rationing was a common feature of the wars in the first half of the century. Victory gardens actually helped people to produce their own homegrown foods, and canning of vegetables and fruits was commonplace. Wars in the latter half of the century seemed to have less influence as agribusiness was in full production.13

    3. Synthetic Fertilizers—Synthetic fertilizers, mostly nitrogen, provide plants with a quick and abundant source of food. However, this synthetic fertilizer source is petrochemical based, thus creating major problems, such as killing earthworms and beneficial organisms, sterilizing the soil, erosion, pollution of the water supply, algae blooms, killing of sea life and cancer in humans. It also goes into the atmosphere leading to greenhouse gases, acid rain and respiratory problems in humans.14

    4. Pesticides—Pesticides help to control crop damage done by insects and other plant diseases, however they are also chemical products with a wide range of problems. When consumed by humans or animals, these toxins cause damage to internal organs, such as the liver, where toxins are supposed to be neutralized.

    Pesticides can cause cancer and some produce absorbs more than others. A list of the worst fruits and vegetables, in terms of pesticide toxicity, can be found on the internet at www.

    5. The Depression—The economic depression of the 1930s created economic hardship for millions of people leading to the consumption of a less healthy diet.

    The depression meant hunger, malnutrition and poor health. Many people ate weeds or food from garbage dumps. Farmers’ prices dropped by 50 percent and the federal government bought much of this food to give to the poorest families.16

    6. Refrigeration—Refrigerators and freezers allowed people to buy more food at one time and encouraged food companies to make frozen products. This had positive and negative impacts. On the plus side, frozen fruits and vegetables often are higher in nutritional value because they are frozen soon after being picked. On the negative side, food can sit in the refrigerator too long and lose much of its nutritional value.17

    7. Food Processing—Food companies used processing to extend shelf life in order to increase profits. This leads to omega-3 oils being taken out of foods because they oxidize. Grains are ground and bleached, which can remove up to 80 percent of some nutrients. Canning requires foods to be heated to destroy germs and bacteria, but it also causes the loss of nutrients.18

    8. Agribusiness—Mega farms owned by large corporations have produced larger quantities of inexpensive foods. This helps families with lower incomes.

    However, the profit motive leads to the higher use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, early picking before crop maturity, storage for long periods of time, long shipping distances, over processing and the overall reduction of nutrients.19

    9. Preservatives—Agribusiness and food processing also led to the development of synthetic food preservatives. These chemicals extend shelf life, but also often deplete nutrient content and introduce toxins that the human body does not like. Many of these preservatives have been shown to cause cancer and other health problems.20

    10. Pollution—Toxin levels have increased steadily over the last 100 years from automobiles, industry, farming, human and animal feces, production waste and electromagnetic influences, such as computers and cell phones. All of these toxins can find there way into our water, air and food supplies. This creates a problem for our bodies, which need to extract these toxins and process them through our kidneys, liver, lungs and skin. These toxins are one of the main reasons for the increase in cancer and heart disease over the past 70 years, and are one of the main reasons why everyone should eat as much organic food as they can.21

    11. Artificial Coloring and Flavoring—In the 1950s and 60s, food companies began to increase the use of artificial coloring and flavoring. Making food more appealing visually, and in terms of taste, was important in an increasingly competitive marketplace. However, many of these ingredients come from chemicals that are toxic and potentially dangerous to our health. Government regulation of these additives has been virtually non-existent and many of these ingredients have now been directly connected to various diseases.22

    12. Added Fat, Sugar and Salt—There are many articles, books and even movie documentaries exposing the food industry’s obsession to get us to eat more of their unhealthy foods. Adding fat, sugar and salt became one of the best ways to accomplish this in the 1970s and 80s. This practice continues to this day, but it is beginning to be challenged by various studies and reports, which have pointed out the illnesses caused by these three very tasty ingredients.23

    13. Women at Work—World War II saw a substantial increase of women in the workplace where they made all of the materials for war. They continued to work throughout the second half of the 20th century, which dramatically changed the way many families ate.

    • Processed food made shopping and meal preparation easier.
    • Microwave ovens greatly reduced cooking time.
    • Fast food outlets made cooking unnecessary.

    While these so-called “improvements” saved time and money, they also caused our foods to be less nutritious, leading to a major increase in chronic disease over the past 50 to 60 years.24

    14. Commercials—Food knowledge and cooking skills were lost by many families in the last half of the 20th century, and commercials about what foods to buy increased at the same time. Children would demand the foods advertised during their TV programs and exhausted mothers would relent just to avoid an argument.25 The result is a health crisis of the greatest magnitude in the form of soaring rates of childhood obesity and diabetes. For children born after the year 2000, the risk of diabetes, according to a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, will be:26

    • Caucasian 35 percent
    • African American 43 percent
    • Hispanic 49 percent
    (This is an increase of over 400 percent compared to current rates)

    15. Government Influence—Our governments have tried to address the emerging nutrition crisis in our country, but their efforts have fallen woefully short of what was needed. Here are some examples:

    1. School lunch program—This was a good idea, but ended up being too much of a dumping ground for meat, dairy, sugar and grain products, which have actually made our children less healthy.27
    2. Irradiation and Genetic Manipulation—These programs were intended to increase the supply of food, as well as reduce cost. They did both, but in the process, also made our food less healthy, leading to serious health consequences. (Foods treated in this way are not well absorbed.)28
    3. Fortification Programs—The government began to recognize how many nutrients were being lost in processing, shipping long distances, picking too early and adding dangerous chemicals. The fortification of food was mandated in some cases and done voluntarily by food companies in other cases. This is probably one of the better things done by government and businesses. As usual, it is probably too little, too late, and not being done as well as it could be. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowances) are too low to be really effective in the prevention of most chronic diseases.29

    Some Significant Scientific Breakthroughs

    The following scientific breakthroughs are merely a sampling of the many events that have shaped nutritional history over the past 100 plus years. They are presented here to illustrate how each discovery helped to pave the way for others, which allows us to enjoy a much greater understanding about how food impacts our health and our longevity.

    Around 1900—Dr. W. O. Atwater and his colleagues identified the energy yield from carbohydrates, protein and fats (4,4 and 9 Kcal per gram), which is still used today.30

    1906—Frederick Hopkins identified “accessory food factors” essential to health. He shared a Nobel Prize for this discovery of what would later (1912) be named vitamins by Casimir Frank.31

    1913—Elmer McCollum discovered the first specific vitamins, fat-soluble vitamin A and water-soluble vitamin E.32

    1914—1920—Dr. Joseph Goldberger identified niacin as the nutritional deficiency responsible for pellagra, instead of an infection, which was thought to be the cause.33

    1920—Alfred Harper suggests that disease might be caused by nutritional deficiencies, as well as outside invaders.34

    1927—Adolf Otto Reinhold Windaus synthesized vitamin D for which he won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1928.35

    1929—Dr. Christian Eijkman identified thiamine deficiency as the cause of beriberi, for which he won a Nobel Prize.36

    1943—First attempt to establish national standards for nutrition in order to prevent nutritional deficiencies in the armed forces. This was undertaken by the Food Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Science. The Recommended Daily Allowances for energy, protein and eight essential vitamins and minerals was established.37

    1948—Framingham Heart Study begins with just over 5,000 people submitting information about their eating and lifestyle habits. The study was designed to help identify the possible connection between diet/lifestyle and chronic disease, especially heart disease. The study continues today with over 120,000 participants and has produced over 1,000 medical studies. Several significant findings have led to changes in nutritional guidelines, as well as medica treatments.38

    1948—Oxford University closes its nutrition department after announcing that the subject seems to have been completely studied between 1912–1944, with nothing more to be learned. As it turned out, we only knew about 1 percent of what we now know about nutrition, and this prestigious university could not have been more wrong.

    1949—Drs. Wilfred and Evan Shute begin to use vitamin E to treat burns and diabetic gangrene. Eventually, they also used vitamin E to treat 30,000 patients, successfully, who had heart disease.39

    1949—Linus Pauling co-publishes “Sickle Cell Anemia, A Molecular Disease,” which was the first time a disease was understood at the molecular level. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for his work.40

    1956—Roger Williams writes “Biochemical Individuality,” which, for the first time, identifies major differences in nutritional needs from one person to another. Some people may need 10 or 20 times more of a specific nutrient due to their genetic uniqueness. In terms of today’s crisis of Type 2 diabetes, this is extremely important. Williams found that some people only had 200,000 insulin producing beta cells, while others could have over two million. That means some people are 10 times more likely to become diabetic.41

    1959—Abram Hoffer identifies niacin as a nutrient that could lower LDL cholesterol. He also recommended niacin for the treatment of schizophrenia. He was a leader in the Orthomolecular Medicine movement.42

    1968—Dr. Kilmer McCully begins his research into the connection between low homocysteine levels and heart disease. It took the medical establishment nearly 30 years to appreciate his findings that nutrients folic acid, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and betaine could be used to prevent and treat many people with heart disease.43

    1980—Saul Kent and William Faloon are co-founders of the Life Extension Foundation, a membership organization dedicated to the finding and publishing of research on the prevention and treatment of the chronic disease of aging.44

    1980s—Dean Ornish, M.D. conducts landmark study showing that dietary and lifestyle changes can reduce arterial blockage (plaque). This was accomplished with a near vegan diet with only 10 percent comprised of fat.45

    1990—James Balch, M.D. and Phyllis Balch write a book entitled “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” with nutritional and herbal protocols for over 300 diseases. The book is a national best seller with nearly 10 million copies being sold by the year 2013.46

    1992—The first USDA Food Pyramid is released based on Recommended Daily Allowances. Subsequent research from the Framingham Heart Study conducted by Walter Willett, M.D., Ph.D. of Harvard University discredited The Pyramid, which was found to be overly influenced by input, and financial contributions, from the meat, dairy, sugar and wheat lobbies.47

    1994—The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act is passed by Congress, which provides open access to nutritional supplements to all residents of the U.S. without FDA restrictions or oversight.48

    1994—The NIH is given funding to conduct research on the efficacy of nutritional supplements, and other natural therapies, for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease.49

    1997—Life Extension Foundation releases the first edition of its book entitled, “Disease Prevention and Treatment,” with natural protocols for hundreds of chronic diseases backed by thousands of scientific references.50

    1997—The ACIR, a cancer research institute, releases a report entitled “Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer.” The findings from a review of 4,500 studies are that there would be a decrease in cancer rates of 70 percent if people ate a plantbased diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, in addition exercising more and stopping the use of tobacco and alcohol.51

    1999—Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D. writes “Genetic Nutritioneering,” a book that explains how food speaks to our genes and can either help to suppress negative genetic predispositions (healthy foods), or both activate and even create new negative genetic predispositions to disease (unhealthy foods).52

    2001—The National Institute of Health conducts a clinical study of 3,234 pre-diabetic people with two treatment protocols. Diet and exercise prevented 58 percent of people from advancing to diabetes, while the drug Metformin only prevented 31 percent of people in their group from advancing to full diabetes. The natural approach is nearly twice as effective.53

    2006—Dr. David Eddy releases his report on the efficacy of conventional medical treatments. His findings reported in a Business Week article entitled “Medical Guesswork” reveal that conventional medicine does not have good scientific evidence for 75–80 percent of what they do.54

    2009—Mark Hyman, M.D. testifies before the U.S. Senate hearing on the Take Back Your Health Act and declares, “You will not solve the current healthcare crisis if you just try to do the wrong things better.”55

    2010—The Institute of Medicine reports in the Wall Street Journal article that a holistic approach to healthcare that uses the best of conventional medicine, along with alternative therapies, such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and herbal medicines, has been scientifically documented to be medically, as well as cost, effective.56

    2013—In the British medical journal Lancet Oncology, a large study found that diet (plant-based), yoga, meditation and lifestyle changes were able to stop or reverse diseases, such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and prostate cancer.57

    2014—The Cleveland Clinic announces that Mark Hyman, M.D. will help them to move towards the use of Functional Medicine in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Their CEO, Delos Cosgrove, announced that this dramatic shift away from conventional medicine was based on the fact that Functional Medicine is the medicine of the future. (Functional Medicine is based on the identification of the root cause of disease and the use of natural approaches when possible to prevent and treat these causes.)58

    Barriers to Nutritional Awareness
    In spite of the many scientific breakthroughs, clarifying the impact nutrition can have on our health, we do not seem to be using this knowledge very well. Consider a recent report titled the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey” that examined the dietary behavior of 17,311 people. They found that very few people had a truly healthy diet. About 80 to 90 percent of people in each age and gender group had serious nutritional deficiencies.59

    Perhaps that is why the Centers for Disease Control now calculates that nearly 60 percent of adults have a chronic disease. In 1960, only 10 percent of the population was chronically ill. This may also be the reason that the CDC calculates that children born after the year 2000 will be the first generation ever that will not live as long as their parents. And, The Economist estimates that the U.S. will spend 100 percent of its GNP on health care by the year 2065.60

    People are not eating as well as they think they are, and breaking these unhealthy eating habits has proven to be one of the most difficult challenges facing our country. Here are some of the commonly reported solutions to improving eating patterns in the U.S.:

    1. Take the responsibility for the Food Pyramid away from the USDA. The agency that is responsible for promoting the food industry, which includes meat, dairy, sugar and wheat, should not be responsible for setting dietary guidelines.61
    2. Create more distance between the USDA and the School Lunch Program. Students should not be the dumping place for excess meat, dairy, sugar and wheat. School lunch nutritional standards should be increased considerably and should follow the guidelines set by Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine.62
    3. All food stores should be required to label foods based on their nutritional value. Some stores have done this on a voluntary basis and use a program called Guiding Stars. There are other similar programs such as Nutripoints, NuVal and Nutrition IQ and all food stores should be required to adopt one of these programs.
    4. There should be limits established for the percentage of calories allowed from fat and sugar. Guidelines have been recommended in several books and reports and legislation should be passed that establishes healthy limits on sugar and fat.
    5. All doctors should be required to take a certified program on nutrition so they can incorporate dietary recommendations into all of their protocols.
    6. Hospitals should provide nutritional guidelines for every mother giving birth in their facility. This should greatly reduce the scientifically documented illnesses and diseases caused by nutritional deficiencies. If we do not reach mothers on this subject, we will never change our eating patterns.
    7. Every school should be required to provide nutrition education to every student, as well as courses for parents to take in the evening. This is not a frill; it is an urgent priority.
    8. Food must become more nutritious. Farmers should be required to replace all of the lost nutrition from the soil and use fewer chemical fertilizers and pesticides. There are many other changes possible to improve the eating behavior and the health of our population, but these would be a good beginning. We should establish specific goals to reverse childhood obesity, the incidence of diabetes and other chronic diseases by a specific date in the future. We know that 80 percent of all illness is preventable, and yet our current health system only spends 5 percent on prevention. This must change now or we will reap the dis-benefits of a continually increasingly sick population and a healthcare system that will bankrupt our country in the near future.63

    Summary of Scientific Breakthroughs
    It has taken over 2,400 years to get back to Hippocrates’ statement that food should be our medicine. And, the journey has not been an easy one for the many scientists and doctors who have had to endure threats and abuse from those who supported the treatment of symptoms, rather than the causes of chronic disease. At this point in time, the truth and good science seems to be winning this war of words and the shift in medical treatment to a more evidence-based natural approach. Hopefully people can finally start to take full advantage of the powerful nutritional and natural prevention and treatment therapies that have been developed over the past 100 years, and begin to reverse a very serious national disaster.


    1. “Breeding the Nutrition Out of Our Food,” Jo Robinson, May 25, 2013, The New York Times.
    2. Ibid.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Ibid.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Ibid.
    7. “Vitamin-less Vegetables,” Terri Mitchell, Sep; 2005. Life Extension. and “Is Conventional Produce Declining in Nutritional Value,” March 2001, Life Extension.
    8. Ibid.
    9. Ibid.
    10. “Has Your Food Changed Over the Past 100 Years?” Dr. Stoll, October 1, 2014,
    11. Ibid.
    12. “The Economic Impact of Farmland Loss: Implications of Low Density Urbanization and Urban Sprawl,” Gerhardus Schultink, Izuru Saizen and Lisa Szymecko, October 2007, Land Policy Institute.
    13. The Taste of War, Lizzie Collingham, The Penguin Press, New York, 2012.
    14. “Health Effects of Synthetic Fertilizer,” Department of Preventative Medicine Health, University of Iowa, American Journal of Public Health, 86(a):1289–96, 1996.
    15. “Pesticides in Food: What to Eat and What to Avoid,” Travis Walter Donovan, May 25, 2011, Huffington Post and “Effects of Pesticides,” March 7, 2014, Global Healing Center.
    16. “Great Depression,” Christina D. Romer, August 25, 2014, Encyclopedia Britannica.
    17. “How Has the Refrigerator Changed Our Lives?” Lydia King, May 2, 2014,
    18. “The Impact of Food Processing on the Nutritional Quality of Vitamins and Minerals,” Manja B. Reddy and Made Love, Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, Volume 459, 1999, pp. 99–106.
    19. “You the Taxpayer are Funding the Agri Business Takeover of Our Food Supply,” Brian Shilhavy, Nov. 1, 2014, Health Impact News.
    20. Food and Healing, Annemarie Colbin, Ballantine Books, New York, July 12, 1986.
    21. Toxin Toxout, Bruce Laurie and Rick Smith, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2013.
    22. What to Eat, Marion Nestle, North Point Press, New York, 2006.
    23. Food Politics, Marion Nestle, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2002.
    24. “Work Conditions and the Food Choice Coping Strategies of Employed Parents,” Devine, C.M., Farrell, T., Justran, M., Wethington,m E., C.A. (2009), Appetite, 52, 711–19.
    25. Food Fight, Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D., Contemporary Books, New York, 2004.
    26. “Children’s’ Life Expectancy Being Cut Short by Obesity,” Pam Belluck, March 17, 2005, New York Times.
    27. Food Fight, Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D. Contemporary Books, New York, 2004.
    28. What to Eat, Marion Nestle, North Point Press, New York, 2006.
    29. Is Food Fortification Necessary? A Historical Perspective, IFIC Foundation, June 24, 2014.
    30. “Nutrition,” Ellen B. Fung and Virginia A. Stallings, 2003 Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
    31. Ibid.
    32. Ibid.
    33. Ibid.
    34. Ibid.
    35. Ibid.
    36. Ibid.
    37. Ibid.
    38. Ibid.
    39. Genetic Nutritioneering, Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., Keats Publishing, 1998.
    40. Ibid.
    41. Ibid.
    42. Ibid.
    43. Ibid.
    44. “Life Extension Foundation,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Nov. 4, 2014.
    45. Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, Dean Ornish, M.D., Ballantine Books, New York, 1990.
    46. “Nutrition,” Ellen B. Fung and Virginia A. Stallings, 2003, Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
    47. Ibid.
    48. Ibid.
    49. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, James Balch, M.D. and Phyllis Balch, CNC, Avery Publishing, New York, 1990.
    50. “Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective,” Nov. 2007, American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.
    51. Genetic Nutritioneering, Jeffrey Bland, Ph.D., Keats Publishing, 1998.
    52. “Battling Diabetes With Diet and Exercise,” Michelle Andrews, October 10, 2008, U.S. News and World Report (Originally reported in the U.S. National Library of Medicine).
    53. “Disease Prevention and Treatment,” Melanie Seyala, Editor, Life Extension Media, Hollywood, Florida, 1997.
    54. “Medical Guesswork,” John Carey, May 29, 2006, P. 72, Business Week Magazine.
    55. U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Business Integrative Care: A Pathway to a Healthier Nation, September 26, 2009.
    56. Integrative Medicine to Tackle the Problem of Chronic Disease, Rustum Roy, Journal of Ayurvedic Integrated Medicine, 2010, Jan.-Mar; (1);18-31. (Also reported in the Wall Street Journal).
    57. “Healthy Lifestyle May Reverse Cellular Aging, Study Suggests,” Dennis Thompson, Healthday, Sep. 16, 2013 (Originally from September online issue of The Lancet Oncology).
    58. “Cleveland Clinic Gets “Functional,” Erik Goldman, Holistic Primary Care, Vol. 15: No. 3, p.1, Fall 2014.
    59. Study: “Most Americans have poor nutrition and consume foods low in nutritional value,” Oct. 27, 2010, Journal of Nutrition.
    60. “Patient, heal thyself,” March 17, 2011, The Economist. (Quote in article by Sir John Oldman, British National Health Service)
    61. Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, Walter Willett, M.D., Simon and Schuster, 2001.
    62. Best Practice Guide for Increasing Plant-Based Options in the National School Lunch Program, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, July 2014.
    63. “Patient, heal thyself,” March 17, 2011, The Economist.