A Lifestyle Consultant's Course in Natural Living - Sample Lesson 112b

Subject: Nutrition & Dietetics

By John L. Fielder

Introduction to Nutrition & Dietetics

Introduction

Nutrition and dietetics means many things to many people and in an endeavour to define it we have taken the following quotations from which to formulate our definition for presentation in this paper.

Nutrition

The Macquarie Dictionary: The act or process of nourishing or of being nourished.

The Heritage Dictionary: The process of nourishing or being nourished; especially the interrelated steps by which a living organism assimilates food and uses it for growth and for replacement of tissue.

Dorlands Medical Dictionary: the assimilation of food.

Nourish

The Macquarie Dictionary: To sustain with food or nutriment; supply what is necessary for life.

The Heritage Dictionary: To provide with food or other substances necessary for life and growth.

Dorlands Medical Dictionary: no listing.

Nutriment

Macquarie: any matter that, taken into a living organism, serves to sustain it in its existence, promoting growth, replacing loss and providing energy.

The Heritage Dictionary: Anything that nourishes; food.

Dorlands Medical Dictionary: Nourishment; nutritious food.

Dietetics

The Macquarie Dictionary: The art or science concerned with the regulation of diet.

The Heritage Dictionary: The study of diet and dieting as it relates to health and hygiene.

Dorlands Medical Dictionary: The science of diet and nutrition.

Diet

The Macquarie Dictionary: Food considered in terms of its qualities, composition and its effects on health.

The Heritage Dictionary: The usual food and drink of a person or animal.

Dorlands Medical Dictionary: The total food consumed by an individual.

Our Definition

"The art and science concerned with the regulation of the usual food and drink of a person as it relates to health and hygiene, serving to sustain it in its existence, promoting growth, replacing loss, and providing energy."

In these lessons we shall be looking at the various ideals and theories that have been put forward over the preceding decades as being that which is right and proper nutriment for us as human beings. We will then draw certain conclusions which we shall then present as our view as being the best and most wholesome way of providing nutrition to us as human beings for the fulfilment of our definition as listed above.

Prior to making this assessment I would wish to remind us that just as it is important that we select the correct nutriment if we are to maintain health, so it is equally important, and this may well be proven to be even more so, that the quality of the food chosen be of the highest value. In the words of Sir Robert McCarrison: "The greatest single factor in the acquisition of health is properly constituted food."

As I have pointed out in the lessons on Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture, to produce quality nutriment requires great care in the treatment of our soils. In the past it has been considered that an apple is an apple, is an apple, and a tomato is a tomato, is a tomato, and so on, as if there is no difference from one to the other. This, as we all should know, and some of us may not yet be aware of, is not true. In fact, it is very far from the truth as has been shown by numerous current researchers over the years.

Dr. G. T. Wrench in his outstanding book The Restoration of the Peasantries reminds us in the following words of the necessity to care for the soil if we wish to maintain the balance between life and death:

"By returning to the soil as its food that which has once taken its life from the soil, the balance between life and death is kept… In the lack of reverence for this principle… the modern era has failed and death is overtaking life."

Further on this theme we have the words of Professor N. S. Shaler of Harvard University writing in the National Geographic Magazine of 1896:

"If mankind cannot devise and enforce ways of dealing with the earth which will preserve the source of life, we must look forward to a time—remote it may be, yet clearly discernable—when our kind, having wasted its great inheritance, will fade form the earth because of the ruin it has accomplished."

To Professor Shaler the ruin of earth appeared, in 1896, to be remote in time, but such has been the degradation of our soils over this extremely short period of time that we can rightly say that it is imminent. As long ago as 1929, Sir John Orr wrote in his book Minerals in Pasture:

"The process of depletion and the resulting deterioration which shows itself in decreased rate of growth and production, and in extreme cases by the appearance of disease, is proceeding on all pastures from which milk, carcasses, and other animal products are taken off without a corresponding replacement being made."

I would also wish to point out that the same principle applies to our agricultural lands where huge amounts of grains and other produce is harvested and shipped elsewhere without any corresponding return to the soil. Professor F. H. King, one-time Chief of Soil Management, United States Department of Agriculture, in his classic work Farmers of Early Centuries, wrote:

"On the basis of data of Wolf, Killner, and Carpenter, or of Hall, the people of the United States and of Europe are pouring into seas, lakes and rivers, or into underground waters from 5 million to 12 million pounds of nitrogen, 1 million to 4 million pounds of potassium, and 1 million to 3 million pounds of phosphorous per million of population annually."

As these figures which Professor King quoted were for the early 1900s, we can well see that they may be multiplied many times over to arrive at the situation as it is today.

To again quote from Dr. G. T. Wrench, we can well see that our direction and pursuit in agriculture and the production of food from all sources has been one of 'wealth' in contradistinction to one of 'health':

"Man in pursuit of his own individual interests, has been allowed…, even encouraged and justified to flay the virgin soil of its protective covering in order that he might turn the rich soil foods beneath it into saleable goods, the acquirement of wealth being considered as the universal object of man's desires."

The degradation of our soils, which is only another symptom of the degradation of our environment, is therefore an issue which we must, of necessity, that is if we are to grow and produce foods of a quality necessary for the production of good health, confront and deal with. In his book The Key to Rational Dietetics, Otto Carque sums up the points which I have outlined here, so succinctly that I would like to share them with you. He wrote:

"The nutritive value of fruit and vegetables depends largely on the chemical composition of the soil and the kind of fertilisers that have been applied. In buying vegetables, we seldom know where and n what kind of soil they have been grown. Only soil rich in the essential mineral elements can produce sound and wholesome vegetables, while the continuous application of manures and commercial fertilisers supply an excess of nitrogen and phosphoric acid, causing rank and rapid growth, which leads the inexperienced consumers. Large sized products generally suffer from a surplus of ammonia and from lack of alkaline bases. They have no keeping qualities and easily fall prey to bacteria and fungi and quick decay.

"Vast sums are annually spent for various nitrogen compounds with no other result other than the production of rankness in early growth, like that produced by a hotbed. The leaves and stalks become weak because during the brief time of their abnormal and rapid growth they cannot absorb from the soil a sufficient amount of such substances as silicic acid, iron and lime. These are the elements which give to the plant the necessary firmness and power of resistance against injurious atmospheric influences and insect pests. Insects do not propagate very well on leaves and fruits rich in lime and iron, while the stalks of plants stimulated in their growth by an excess of nitrogen fail to acquire the necessary stiffness and strength and are always liable to be laid by heavy wind and rain…

"Plants and trees often suffer from a deficiency or excess of certain elements in the soil. These conditions naturally cause poor crops and lowered stability of the plant protoplasm, making it susceptible to rapid disintegration and the attack of fungi and insects. The annual loss to farmers and orchardists in the United States caused by insects amounts according to statistics, to the staggering sum of 1500 million dollars, or about 10 percent of all farm products.

"We should therefore recognise the fact that the soil must contain all the essential elements for the growth and propagation of plant life in assimilable or available form and in the right proportions in order to bring forth wholesome and durable products, which in turn are necessary for the normal development of animals and man. Frequent and comparative analyses of soils and their various products in regard to their mineral elements should be made to determine their dietetic and therapeutic value. We shall always be dependent on the soil, whether directly or indirectly, for our sustenance, but we can never expect to build healthy strong and enduring bodies from foods grown on impoverished soil.

"Intelligent soil culture will be one of the most important problems with which the growing population of the earth will have to deal, for the health and welfare of nations depend on national nutrition."

Returning once again to our original comments upon the various theories, ideals, etc. as to what is right and proper nutriment for us as human beings, I shall, on occasion, touch on areas that you, the student, may hold dear to you. I ask your forbearance at all times, particularly in those situations that conflict with all that you have been taught and believe wholeheartedly in.

If after due investigation you find that you return once again to your original belief, then that is well and good. If on the other hand you do find that you feel your previous stance to be in error, then this is also well and good. Let us not be afraid to change where change is needed, or for that matter to stay put until such time as we feel we have sufficient evidence to make a change—if ever.

Until very recent years, the differing groups of vegetarians, fruitarians, and vegans etc. have all based their philosophical theories regarding the natural food of man upon the theory that the anthropoid apes, and in particular, the gorilla, were, and are, genetically speaking, the closes of our relatives. It was also held that the gorilla was a fruit and nut eater, with the consumption occasionally of some vegetable matter.

In recent years, studies carried out by such people as Jane Goodall and George Schaller, the former with the chimpanzees, and the latter with the gorillas, have shown that far from them being primarily fruit and nut eaters, they in fact consume a wide variety and range of foods, including leaves and roots. In the case of the gorillas, it was noted that everything consumed was consumed with a handful of green leaves, the article of food being consumed was usually wrapped in the green leaves. In the case of the chimpanzee, they have been notes as consuming ants and other insects, and on rare occasions, cannibalising their young.

As well as addressing the foregoing questions, I will direct your attention to such matters as raw food versus cooked food, eating according to the climatic conditions in which we live, eating according to the seasons, eating according to instinct, and of course, the ever present question, breatharianism—do we need to eat at all, or is it possible to live by the breath alone? And no, I am not going to pre-empt the question by endeavouring to answer it here.

continued

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