Yesterday, in discussing the cozy relationship of the medical profession with big pharma while paying lip service to nutrition, I remembered an old book I have on this topic. It's quaint title is, "Intestinal Gardening for the Prolongation of Youth". It was written by Dr James Empringham, and published in 1926. It's fascinating; makes me chuckle, and roll my eyes at the same time. Why? Because it shows just how insular the average doctor was. And by proxy, still is. Much of what he writes is just plain common sense, which us fruitloops have long been wise to. There are a few interesting gems in this book, so have a gander at this lot:
The Foreward is by Dr Harvey W. Wiley who was formerly Director of the Bureau of Foods, Sanitation & Health, and Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry of the United States Government. Amongst his words, he had this to say:
"In philanthropic work, among those whose situation in life does not permit the private employment of health officers, sanitarians and physicians, the most important work is that of proper nutrition."
Let's just translate that, for those not used to 84 year old diplomacy. Read that as, "If you are dealing with charitable medical cases who can't afford doctors and live in lousy surrounding, your most important job is making sure they eat properly."
Remember that American medicine was user pays - until Obama got into the act.
He continues: "Fortunately, the proper foods are always the cheapest foods because foods which are eaten as nearly as possible as nature has made them have more vitality than foods which are manipulated, refined, overcooked or otherwise changed from their natural state. This book on nutrition, in my opinion, should serve a very useful purpose both in securing better nutrition for those to whom charity is offered, and at the same time providing a more wholesome and nutrition diet both in health and disease."
The medical profession openly acknowledge that the "classes" in which nutritional ignorance was higher, were the lower socio-economic groups.
But on a general note, given the fact that so little food was refined in those days, compared to today, I think he'd die of fright if he saw what was on most people's plates today. Including the plates of many who would consider themselves educated upper class, and who would never ask for "charity" medicine.
But who, amongst the medical profession today, makes any sort of attempt to publish a book on nutrition, like these medical doctors did in 1926?
The heading for chapter one is.... "Our bodies are gardens". Precisely. But again, unfortunately, amongst "high user" patients, who frequent the hospitals, (with their bills being picked up from everyone else's taxes)... how many would really understand the concept of a "garden" in order to metaphorically apply that to their bodies? If you said to them, "Did you know your body is a garden?" would they smile, thinking you were saying they were as pretty as that flower out front which they couldn't name? Getting the meaning of the principle might be beyond them. Why? Because neither doctors, nor schools have taught this in the recent past, and the Government just nuked the new "Gardening in schools" programme. Yet way way back, the education department used to provide schools with vegetable seeds, and gardening tools....
On page 183 in this American book, we read, "Public schools teach everything, it seems to me, except how to eat and how to live."
(Nothing's changed, 84 years later....)
"there is certain fundamental knowledge which every individual should possess regarding foods. Everyone should know the why and wherefore of eating. They should know what to choose and what to avoid. The science of foods is a vital, everyday science, a science essential to the welfare of the human race."
Very true. But you wouldn't know it, if New Zealand hospital food is used as your measure of the medical profession's scientific understanding of nutrition. I doubt that atrocious hospital food indicates that there isn't enough money, because surely, something as fundamental as good food - which can definitely shorten a hospital stay by speeding healing - should be the fundamental priority in hospitals. After all, a day's stay in hospital is a lot more expensive than a day's food for one patient.
Chapter 25, titled "Why don't doctors prevent disease?" lays out the dichotomy ....The author tells the joke about the man mopping up the water in the basement directly underneath a basin with a running tap..., because he's being paid sixpence an hour to clean it up. When asked why he didn't just turn the tap off, his reply was something like, "...because I'm being paid to clean up the mess. If I turn of the tap, I won't get paid."
Touche, and there you have it. The author of the book however, didn't like this joke. He felt that the fault wasn't with the doctors. He went on to whine:
"No class of men gratuitously give so much of their time as physicians, but they must eat and drink and wear clothes like other people, and these things cost money.
The truth is, no man will pay a cent to the doctor until he or his family are sick.
..It is perfectly true that "an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cures," and wherever the experiment has been tried on a large scale it has proved the truth of this proverb, but every successful enterprise that has yet been made in the prevention of sickness, has necessarily been carried on by government, or by philanthropy and never by the medical profession as a self-supporting proposition."
The truth hurt, but he had to admit that doctors need sick people in order to live a lifestyle to which they are accustomed, and... after all, they have no other training... What would they do out in the real world?
He then details how most of the most influential means of preventing disease in the previous century, was provision of sewage, clean water, draining mosquito marshes etc!!!
Today, such "historical progress" is attributed to antibiotics, vaccines, and the heroic medical profession. In 1926, doctors couldn't bullshit about "progress" because antibiotics hadn't been invented; there weren't too many vaccines for too many disorders and most people were in the middle of that public health revolution and could see the changes with their own eyes.
The author of this book, then comes back to the importance of nutrition and says, "Four hundred thousand American children die every year from various causes - most of them victims of parental ignorance. And those that survive, generally have laid the foundation of maladies that will curse them later in life. If you would avoid diabetes, Bright's disease, rheumatism, heart disease and other maladies, begin when the man is an infant. ... Pre-natal existence is the most important part of a man's life. If the mother's diet lack essential elements at this time, the unborn babe will not only sustain injuries itself, but will tear down the maternal body to secure the building material it needs."
Our epigenetics guru, Professor Peter Gluckman would agree. But only sort of... . An article in the NZ Herald in 2006 had the headline Good nutrition 'should start in the womb' ! But I was speechless when I read: "Institute director Professor Peter Gluckman said medical science was just beginning to understand this "novel, revolutionary idea"."
There is nothing "novel" or" revolutionary" about it. Unless you are a doctor who has never come across such a common sense idea before.
However, their solution didn't seem to be educating mothers but: Dr Kuzawa and his team at Chicago's Northwestern University hope to work with Auckland University's Liggins Institute to develop ways to treat adult diseases through prevention as early as in neonates. The lead author who has been studying child nutrition since 1997 said, "The contribution of malnutrition to ALRI disease burden in NZ requires greater clarification. Such clarification is necessary to inform the development of nutritional policy"
Well, why not turn the tap off, and deal with it when men are foetuses???
The lead author who has been studying child nutrition since 1997 said,
"The contribution of malnutrition to ALRI disease burden in NZ requires greater clarification. Such clarification is necessary to inform the development of nutritional policy"
Will this clarification process continue for at least another 13 years?
Will our great grandchildren read some knighted bright spark in 84 years time from now, talking about decent nutrition during pregnancy, or even childhood --- being described as a "novel, revolutionary" idea?
Even more importantly, what will be the health status of those children if the next 84 years is as bad as the last 84 years has been? You'd think people would be really well informed about good nutrition... but do they?
Listen to this programme, and see what you think? There are some home truths here which should be noted:
( It's a bit of a tragedy when Dr Cronin thinks that baking muffins and cake is a good sign for cooking in the future! )