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Nutrition Notes

Increasing Prevalence of Food Diseases

It is relatively easy to achieve a consensus among experts that more than half of all diseases are caused by eating too much of the wrong food and exercising too little. While this truth is acknowledged, physician continue to categorize patients in tight diagnostic containers, each with its choices of drug therapies. The terms "diet and lifestyle changes" are token words, stated and then ignored. There are even physicians who dismiss diet revision as "complementary or alternative" medicine. Real doctors rely on scalpels and prescription pads.

I have abandoned the idea of neatly packaged diseases. Health problems tend to cluster in groups and evolve over time. Many factors contribute to the final end-stage disease, listed as diagnoses in medical records. Non-specific illnesses may be misunderstood by physicians who have only been taught to make diagnoses of specific disorders. Often patients with mild symptoms are progressing toward a major illness, but they may suffer in an ill-defined state for months or years. As illnesses progress, more specific features tend to emerge; dysfunction and tissue changes become more obvious, and medical diagnoses become more useful. A heart attack or stroke, both calamitous events with obvious features, fit the medical model well and tend to be diagnosed reliably and treated in a standard fashion.

These are end-point events - the underlying pathology takes years to develop and increasing dysfunction is often ignored as the pathology progresses toward a dramatic conclusion. Other processes may remain ill defined: chronic fatigue, muscle pains, irritable bowel, headaches and cognitive dysfunction may make life miserable for many years before a more definable disease such as inflammatory arthritis becomes apparent.

While people live longer in North America, there is growing evidence that the wellness quotient of the average citizen deteriorates and the prospect of chronic degenerative disease haunts the aging population. It is easy to point to persisting, increasing, debilitating health problems such as depression, family violence, suicide, obesity, diabetes, disability from degenerative diseases, dementias, cancer and an increasing incidence of ill-defined illnesses.

More than 50% of the adult population in the US and Canada report chronic symptoms such as headache, fatigue and joint or muscle pain. Aging citizens are vulnerable to a variety of debilitating if not tragic illnesses. The rising incidence of two disabling and chronic illnesses Diabetes 2 and Alzheimer's dementia is a major concern especially as a wave of 70 million aging citizens of North America will fully manifest these diseases in the next 20 years.

    The term “nutrition” means mean a lot of different things to different people. Some people adopt the term as a professional label; many companies borrow the term to claim a relationship to professional nutrition. Universities may have departments of nutrition. Often the study of nutrition is disconnected from the real world of agricultural practices, food processing and distribution. The intense marketing efforts of food and drug companies flood the media with deliberately biased information that confuses everyone. A majority of health problems are food-related; so these problems get a lot of our attention.

  • Topics on the left are from the book Nutrition Notes by Stephen Gislason MD. 199 Pages.
    Download Nutrition Notes. eBook edition 2018

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