With modern commerce, we have all come to take certain things for granted. Many of these were never possible before.
For example, when else in history have we been able to get foods from any place on earth at any time of the year?
At the same time, modern commerce has ushered in the age of fast food. Along with it comes the idea that convenience matters when it comes to eating. Imagine a cave man complaining that it was too much work to go out and collect dinner. We have obviously come a long way.
The Hidden Perils of Modern Living
The effect of this progress may not be universally beneficial. A case in point is the surprising fact that many people in modern culture are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. And, to make matters worse, these deficiencies can lead to serious health consequences.
You might well ask how this could happen. Consider the following:
- Modern processing removes much of the real nutritional value of foods. If you buy it in a jar, a can, a box, a bottle or a package, you can be certain that it’s been processed. This processing reduces nutritional value. As far back as the the early 1900s, people like Dr. Weston A. Price clearly identified the increase in health problems associated with greater intake of processed foods.
- Modern commercial farming techniques are designed for efficiency over nutritional value. Fertilizer only restores 3 nutrients to the soil, leaving many agricultural soils sadly deficient in important nutrients after years of use. Minerals are particularly low. Dr. Al Sears, M.D. estimates that our foods contain as little as 10% of the nutrients the same foods had 100 years ago. Depleted soil is the culprit.
- Many processed foods are ‘fortified’ by adding specific nutrients back into them after processing. These added nutrients aren’t generally high quality. They aren’t in naturally-present proportions. And they may not even be the most useable forms for our best nutrition. In addition, it is impossible to replace everything that processing removes.
We’ll talk about the ways you can get around these problems in a moment. But first, let’s look at some of the more common dietary deficiencies and their consequences.
B-12 is crucial for many biological processes. It is also one of the most common deficiencies. This is especially true for people over 50. The reason is that as we age we have less intrinsic factor in our stomachs that allows us to absorb B-12 from our foods.
Extreme cases of B-12 deficiency cause pernicious anemia. Fortunately this is rare. However lesser degrees of insufficient B-12 can create impaired memory, confusion and difficulty thinking. It is also crucial for reducing levels of toxic homocysteine in the blood.
This is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body. It is crucial to regulate heartbeat, absorb calcium and deal with stress. Without enough stomach acid you can’t absorb magnesium well. People taking acid blockers often can’t get enough magnesium.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include constipation, muscle problems (ticks, spasms and cramping, including “restless leg syndrome”), and irregular heartbeat. Extended periods of stress uses up magnesium. So does a high level of physical exertion.
The World Health Organization says low iron is the most common deficiency in the world. They estimate 80% of the world’s population suffers from lack of iron. This leads to tiredness, anemia and increased infections.
But too much iron is a problem as well. This means that if you decide to supplement with iron it’s best to get a blood test to determine your iron levels.
Natural sources of iron include animal proteins such as red meat, turkey, chicken and fish. You’ll also get iron in lentils, kidney beans, and spinach.
You might wonder why vitamin D is on the list of common deficiencies. As it turns out, this once rare problem is more frequent recently. Even with vitamin D enriched milk products, many people don’t get enough.
Perhaps the greatest reason for this is a combination of modern lifestyles and recent concerns about sun exposure. In earlier times we got much of our vitamin D from sunlight. Modern use of sun screens, along with spending more time indoors keep most of us from getting enough vitamin D from the sun.
Low vitamin D leads to bad teeth, soft bones, fractures and muscle weakness. Also, osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle twitching and some types of cancer.
As with iron, too much vitamin D is not good. If you’re going to take vitamin D supplements you should get your blood levels checked regularly.
You can get natural vitamin D from sun exposure. Be sure not to burn! You can also get it in food sources such as cod liver oil and egg yolks.
The Bottom Line
Modern farming techniques tend to deplete soils of naturally present nutrients, particularly minerals. By some estimates, modern foods contain only 1/10th the nutrients that they would have had only 100 years ago.
This is why I encourage my patients to take nutritional supplements. The higher the quality, the better. The highest quality supplements are the same as forms of nutrients found in natural foods.
But, as you’ve seen, you can also get too much of a good thing, particularly with the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and E) and iron. It is best to be careful about what you take.
The safest and most reliable way to supplement your diet is by understanding your Metabolic Type®. Once you know how you metabolize foods, you can know the exact nutrients your body will do best with.
Contact me by clicking here if you’d like to test (or retest) for your Metabolic Typing® requirements.