THERE IS NOT A SHADOW of a doubt in my mind that medical science has in the past neglected nutrition to the point of disaster. Whereas, to the contrary , nutritional science should be woven into the warp and woof of all medical training.
Modern nutrition had its beginnings coincidental with the discovery of vitamins which, in the human realm, have been associated with the prevention and cure of diseases. Vitamin A prevented or cured night-blindness; vitamin Bl prevented or cured beriberi; vitamin C prevented or cured scurvy; niacinamide prevented or cured pellagra; under appropriate conditions vitamin D prevented or cured rickets. More recently folic acid prevents or cures macrocytic anemia, and vitamin Bl2 prevents or cures pernicious anemia.
These findings have been accepted by medical men who have tended to conclude, "Well and good; we can now control these diseases, and have little further interest in these vitamins or in other nutritional factors that do not cure diseases."
Nutrition and Total Environment
HOWEVER, WE NEED TO SEE nutritional science in an entirely different light and in far truer perspective. Think first of all of the environmental factors of the physical universe around us that impinge on our lives: the heat and light we get from the sun, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and, finally, the food we eat.
These environmental factors all contribute to and become apart of the internal environment which bathes all the functioning living cells in our bodies. Unless this environment is continuously supplied to these cells and tissues, they cannot maintain themselves and their health.
The cells and tissues of our bodies, like all other cells, may be furnished environments of widely varying quality with a hundred gradations between very poor and excellent. If the environment is poor, then cells and tissues limp along as best they can; when the environment is improved, the limp may disappear . In my book The Environmental Prevention of Disease I have established as a reasonable thesis that the principal cause of non-infective disease is the poor environments we habitually furnish our cells and tissues. This proposal is based upon the far-reaching observation that throughout the entire biological world cells commonly live under conditions of suboptimal nutrition, and hence are always ready to respond to an improved environment. Yeast cells growing in a fruit juice may be thought of as being well-nourished until we recognize that if the yeast cells in a half ounce cake of compressed yeast were to be furnished an excellent environment for one week, the generated yeast cells would weigh over a billion tons! Corn growing in a field may produce as little as 2 to 4 bushels per acre; yet with improved fertilization and water supply, the yield may be 5, 10, 20 or 40 times this high. In fact the yield would be incredibly large if everything in the environment—fertilization, soil, water, sunlight, temperature, carbon dioxide—were all maintained at the most suitable levels. The cellular environments which we must support by food consumption are exceedingly complicated, for we must take in, as we eat, approximately 40 different nutrients, all in about the right proportions. These include a series of amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Nature is on our side; otherwise getting the essential nutrients would be an impossible task. A wonderful unity exists in all living things; the very same building blocks which are used to build "the metabolic machinery in the cells of human bodies are also present in the cellular machinery in the tissues of plants or animals. When we consume green plants, mushrooms, oysters, fish or meat, we automatically get some of everything we need. If we eat a reasonable variety of such foods, we will be nourished at least passably well. On a functional basis, the constituents of food we eat (aside from water) may be placed in three groups: I) fuel, 2) roughage, and 3) material needed to build and maintain our metabolic machinery.
Our bodies are not highly restrictive with respect to fuel requirements; they can use many assortments of carbohydrate, fat or protein and derive energy from each. Without the metabolic machinery to transform this fuel, however, our bodies cannot function. In other words, calories are useful only if they can be metabolized.
Let us look carefully at just what nature does for us. Are there limitations? Or does nature spoonfeed us with the best possible of all foods?
The answers to these questions become clear when we look at different aspects of our environment. Does nature furnish us with a climate where the temperature day and night is always just right, where the wind always blows at just the right speed, where it rains only when rain is needed and the sunlight is always bright enough but never too bright? Obviously not. We move about, use clothing, shade, shelter, heat, light, ventilation and cooling, and in various ways adjust to the environment in which we find ourselves.
Nature handles our food environment in the same way. Suitable food is to be had, but we must exert ourselves; we must select it; we must search it out, procure it, prepare it and store it as best we can. Nature does not furnish us ready-made exactly what is best for us. No single plant or animal food gives us anything like an ideal assortment. In order to better this situation we must diversify our food selection, and the more wisely we diversify, the better results we get.
Misuse of Biological Energy Storehouses
A SERIOUS MISTAKE HAS BEEN made by civilized man in that he has misused the storehouses of energy which plants and animals have built—these are mainly in the form of sugars, starches, fats and oils which should not be designated as foods; they are merely energy sources. In order to function as foods, they must be consumed in conjunction with a reasonable assortment of the nutrients which help build and maintain the metabolic systems in our body cells and tissues, namely