The health of our children has declined more in the last forty years than in the history of mankind. We have reached a point where life expectancy may actually decline in our society. For the first time ever, our children may not outlive us!
There are a variety of factors behind this decline including the accumulative effect of ongoing degeneration, a digitally inspired reduction in exercise, increased toxicity and, of course, the massive changes in the food we consume. The last of these has had the most dramatic impact. In fact, our food has changed more in the last 40 years than in the previous 40,000 years!
Lessons Not Learnt
Dr Francis Pottenger published some astounding research in a book called "Pottenger’s Cats", and this should have sponsored a wake-up call in terms of declining children's health. Pottinger monitored the progress of 900 cats over three generations to help determine the effect of diet upon their health. One group of animals was fed raw meat and milk while a second group received just processed food, including pasteurised milk and processed meat and fish. The group fed with nothing but processed food declined at an alarming rate and the problems were magnified in each generation, to the point that the third generation was horrifically handicapped. Many of the kittens were born dead and those that survived could barely walk and died within weeks. We do not have a direct parallel with children eating a diet consisting completely of denatured, processed food, but looking at the food in some of the supermarket trolleys in my local town, some kids are getting pretty close.A similar form of progressive degeneration is obvious everywhere with our children.
The need for glasses and braces is partially based on accumulated degeneration. When I was a child, 45 years ago, we had a single classmate, from a class of 47, who had glasses and someone in the next class down wore braces. Now both of these crutches are commonplace. The need for braces is about a juvenile jaw not growing sufficiently to allow even placement of the teeth. It is the dietary change humans have experienced over centuries. However, the decline does not stop with the relatively minor health issues. Our children are suffering from a plague of degenerative diseases including cancer, diabetes, obesity, allergies and brain disorders. In all cases there is a major link to the food that fuels us. Our food has changed more in the last 40 years than in the previous 40,000 years and our bodies can simply not adapt that fast.
The rise and rise of industrialized, processed food is a phenomenon driven by the desire to increase profitability in food sales and it has been sponsored by consumers seeking convenience in a time-starved world. Whole food has a limited shelf life. When you strip away the outer shell and lace the remainder with biocides to repulse bacterial invaders, you suddenly have a food that lasts two years instead of two weeks. This extended shelf life is of obvious advantage to those marketing and manufacturing food and it was the driver for the advent of the monstrous barns we call supermarkets. Consumers embraced the concept of fast food in a packet and it has all been downhill since then.
Sustenance is based on fats, carbohydrates and protein, with an additional, essential requirement for minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. Unfortunately all of these components have been seriously impacted in the industrial processing of food. Fats were altered to increase shelf life, carbs were simplified, protein was compromised when mass produced and essential nutrients and fibre were also casualties of "fast food" production. Bread, for example, is the staple food of developed countries. Nine out of every ten loaves of bread sold in Australia are white bread where the conversion from whole meal involved a loss of 80% of the minerals and vitamins and the majority of the fibre. There is no processed food that has ever involved an improvement upon the whole food from which it was derived. In fact, processed food is always a shadow of its former self and we are paying the price for this loss of nutrition. The World Health Organisation study called "Nutrition and Disease" looked at the link between nutrition and degenerative illness. Researchers were unable to find a single disease that did not have a nutrition link. In this article, I will consider wellness strategies to counter the decline in children's health and the first of these relates to the destructive power of excess sugar.
Surviving the Sugar Trap
40% of Australian children are overweight and the number has doubled in the last decade. Type 2 diabetes has increased tenfold in the last five years. The average consumption of sugar has risen from 5 kg per person per year to 75 kg per person in the US. The Australian increase has been slightly less but sugar remains a major destructive force when considering the health of our children. Soft drinks are the worst offenders as they contain ten teaspoons of sugar in a can. Americans consume over 600 cans of soft drink per person per year and this accounts for 40% of their massive sugar consumption. In a recent survey conducted by an Australian retail magazine, soft drinks accounted for seven of the top ten grocery items purchased in Australian supermarkets so we are not far behind.
Sugar is now considered to be amongst the most addictive of all substances, so there is little motivation for manufacturers to substitute non-addictive alternatives like stevia and xylitol. In fact, many soft drink manufacturers have actually substituted high fructose corn syrup for white sugar because it is cheaper and the body is less likely to recognise sugar saturation. As a consequence of this change there has been an increase in sales of larger soft drink servings and more product is sold as a result. High fructose corn sugar introduces health problems additional to the myriad problems associated with excess sugar. These include a dramatic increase in weight gain. In a recent Princeton University study, researchers found a profound and universal weight gain when rats were fed high fructose corn syrup at rates much lower than those found in soft drinks. The weight gain applied to every animal in the study and this is not the case when animals are fed high rates of fats. This sweetener also affects the distribution of fat and the problem relates to increased gut fat. Gut fat is now seen as the most powerful indicator of a range of degenerative diseases. In fact, your chances of succumbing to the ten degenerative diseases that kill us most often are five times higher if you are housing a spare tyre or "love handles". High fructose corn syrup is also linked to a marked increase in triglycerides which is an indicator of potential CHD (Coronary Heart Disease).
Soft drinks are also undesirable for other reasons. They contain phosphoric acid to stabilise the high sugar content and to give the desired tang. Phosphorus has a triple negative charge and the mineral is consequently attracted to positively charged calcium and magnesium like a nail to a magnet. We now know that a child's lifetime bone density is determined during the first eight years of life and that the two principle minerals involved in bone density are calcium and magn****esium. When the phosphorus in soft drink bonds with calcium and magnesium, it forms insoluble compounds that are excreted. These critical bone building components are lost at the very time that they are most important and we begin to understand a root cause of the growing plague disease, osteoporosis.
So the message here is to keep the kids away from the soft drinks. However, the fruit juice alternative is only marginally better. Fruit juice contains 8 teaspoons of sugar in a 250 mL glass and since most commercial juice comes from rehydrated concentrates, it no longer contains the vitamin C and phytonutrients that might otherwise offer partial compensation for the sugar lode. The other problem with fruit juice is that it no longer contains the fibre component that prevents the abundant sugar component from spiking blood sugar. From a health perspective, parents would be better advised to feed fruit rather than juice or to dilute the juices with soda water to lower the sugar component. There is also the option of micronising the entire fruit in a high powered blender. Water and ice can be added to the slurry produced to create a delicious fibre-filled smoothie that does not spike blood sugar and contains much less actual sugar. Another alternative involves the addition of chia seed (ChiaTone™ from NTS Health) to conventional juices. The gel created now contains the required fibre to avoid the spiking of blood sugar.
Sugar is our biggest killer. Over consumption has been directly linked to a wide range of disease and it is the biggest contributor to our two most destructive diseases, heart disease and cancer. In fact, sugar is the food for cancer and a core strategy to fight this disease is to remove all forms of sugar from the diet.
Dumping the Damaged Oils
One of the other health debilitating components of the dramatic food changes of the past few decades involves the consumption of damaged fats. Industry rallied to the course when saturated fats were first demonised in the 60s. It was soon found that vegetable oils were more profitable than butter and lard and that profitability could be further increased by hydrogenation of those oils. Hydrogenation involves the industrial manipulation of mono and polyunsaturated fats to create trans fats which are much more stable and less prone to rancidity. Partial hydrogenation ensures a much longer shelf life for the cheap cooking oils like sunflower, canola and safflower. However, the price of enhanced profitability has been the creation of substances that are foreign to the human body. Trans fats have been shown to mess with cell messaging as the body inadvertently builds them into the cell membrane, the conduit for cellular communication. Disease has often been described as cellular miscommunication.
Ironically, the modern consumption of fats is based upon flawed research and that mistake has proven terribly costly. In 1957, an American scientist named Ancel Keys linked saturated fats to heart disease and the food world changed immeasurably. It was later found that Keys had used a sample of countries that misrepresented the facts, but the wheels of industry were rolling and it was not convenient to derail the gravy train with the truth. This faulty finding sparked the advent of margarine, soy milk and a host of manipulated vegetable oils to replace the saturated alternatives. Ironically, recent research has identified that the principle fatty acid in plaque is vegetable oils. Saturated fats are actually essential nutrients. It is just that they have high calories and should not be over consumed. Raw butter and cream involve medium chain fatty acids that are extremely healthy while the plant-based saturated oils like coconut oil and red palm oil are remarkably therapeutic. A key strategy in the management of children’s health is to remove the destructive fats from the diet. Here is a list of the top ten damaged fats:
The Top Ten Sources of Damaged Fats
Donuts – Here is a favourite kids food that has no saving graces. These rings of rubbish feature white flour (80% of the minerals and vitamins are removed when wholemeal flour is converted to white flour creating a food that removes more nutrients than it adds - an anti-nutrient). This anti-nutrient is then soaked in trans fats that have been heated many times (creating more free radicals) and then coated in dyed sugar.
Chips – Potatoes are Australia's favourite vegetable due to the popularity of these delicious but deceiving treats. Potatoes actually have a higher Glycemic Index (blood sugar spiking capacity) than white table sugar and when cut into small slices and deep fried in damaged vegetable oils they can barely be described as food. There is one way you can enjoy chips that is actually nutritious and that involves sweet potato slices cooked in red palm oil (Red Gold™ from NTS Health). Sweet potato has a very low GI and much more nutrition than potatoes. The red palm oil is so high in antioxidants that it is not able to be damaged during cooking (even repeated deep frying). Red palm oil contains the highest level of carotenes of any food and the highest level of all eight forms of vitamin E. It boosts metabolism so you lose rather than gain weight and it tastes delicious.
Margarine – This is an abomination that epitomises the bastardisation of food to fill a marketing niche and increase profit. To solidify omega-6 fats at room temperature they must be "altered" beyond recognition. It does not matter that the margarine is made from olive oil or that it contains phytoestrogens to "lower cholesterol". It has been hydrogenated, bleached, exposed to extreme heat and dyed (with questionable chemicals) to look like butter. Butter is a tremendous food and the fact that it is rapidly consumed by every living organism is testimony to its food value. Margarine is the opposite. Try feeding it to your dog sometime! Even microbes won't eat this revolting man-made concoction. The only living organisms that will eat margarine are the idiots that made it! Sorry about that outburst but this is really something you should throw from your fridge and it should never be fed to children!
Anything Microwaved – When any food is bombarded with massive levels of radiation to generate heat by the friction of the molecules bashing together at billions of times per second, there is bound to be some collateral damage. For some inexplicable reason that damage was never assessed prior to the commercialisation of this technology. Google "Russian research into microwaves" and make your own decision. The studies of the health effects of long term consumption of microwaved food have been few and far between, but all that I can locate have been uniformly negative. The fatty acids in milk and meat and vegetables are oxidised during microwaving and become damaging free radicals. LDL cholesterol in saturated fats is oxidised during microwaving creating a substance that now clogs arteries as a component of plaque. LDL cholesterol is not inherently bad, it is just more easily oxidised because it is much smaller that HDL cholesterol and has a greater surface area.
Feedlot Beef – When you feed animals a carbohydrate diet, largely based upon omega-6-dominated cereal grains to rapidly fatten them, it works. This is simply because excess carbohydrates (as with humans) make organisms fat. However, it also changes the fatty acid profile of the meat. Feedlot beef contains 50% long chain fatty acids (linked to arterial clogging) in comparison to just the 10% of this less desirable fat that is found in meat from grass fed animals. Grain feeding also means that feedlot beef contains a much higher percentage of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3-rich grass fed beef. However, in this instance we are considering damaged fats in relation to children's health. Fat is the repository for any toxins encountered during the lifespan of all mammals. That is where dioxins, the most toxic of all man-made chemicals are stored. In that case these contaminants have accumulated in the fat of arctic seals to the point that the breast milk of Inuit women is now akin to hazardous waste. Here's how it works. The liver is the principle detox organ, charged with the task of managing toxins as they enter the body. This organ is equipped to manage the majority of natural substances, but it has no mechanics to manage many man-made chemicals. It simply shunts them off to the fat where they are out of circulation and less prone to damage the body's complex machinery. These chemicals accumulate in the fat and are a prime example of the phenomenon called bio-accumulation. When growers are exposed to farm chemicals, the toxins accumulate in the fat tissue and a key strategy to remove them is the Far-Infra-Red sauna which penetrates deep into the fat and pumps out the poisons into an awaiting towel. Feedlot animals are fed huge amounts of omega-6 via their grain diet and when the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is out of whack, the animals suffer a variety of inflammatory issues that then require frequent intervention with drugs and antibiotics. It is common knowledge that most of the livers of these animals are condemned due to this level of chemical intervention but the fat remains (in large amounts) and we feed it to our children in hamburgers. This same principle of contaminated fat applies to all concentration camp animals including chickens and pork. This is why it is so important to source grass-fed beef and free-range chickens and pork.
Salad Dressings – Kids love to pour on the mayonnaise because they are chasing the sugar but it is important to understand that mayonnaise is almost always made from the damaged, omega-6-dominated vegetable oils which we are trying to avoid. It is a much better option to train them to enjoy a simple mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and rock salt. If you choose to offer mayonnaise, then make it yourself using flaxseed oil (featuring 57% omega-3 fats) eggs and mustard and use stevia or xylitol as a sweetener.
Baked Goods – The vast majority of commercial cakes, biscuits and pies are produced with cheap, damaged vegetable oils that are progressively worsening our omega-6 to omega-3 ratios. The healthy ratio between these two essential fatty acids is 2:1 in favour of omega-6. The current ratio in Australia is 20:1, while the imbalance in the US has blown out to 26:1. Omega-6 fats are the building blocks for the inflammatory phase of our inflammatory cascade, while omega-3 fats are the basis of the healing, anti-inflammatory phase. When these fats are in balance, inflammation is managed well, but when there are ten times more omega-6 fats than what is ideal (as is the case in Australia) then inflammation rules. Inflammation is linked to every degenerative disease. You can not cook with omega-3 fats because they are fragile and damage easily but you can use butter, red palm oil (Red Gold™ from NTS Health) or coconut oil in your homemade baked goods to avoid increasing the omega-6 lode in your children. In a time starved world it might all sound "to hard" to make these foods at home, when they are so easily sourced in a packet. However, at some point we need to prioritise for the sake of the next generation. We have reached a point in time where we must reclaim responsibility for our own health and that of our family. What is the meaning of a life if we have no time to allocate to our children's health.
Snack Foods – Chippies are hugely popular snacks for children, judging by the area they are allocated in the supermarkets. Once again, these crunchy treats are produced with damaged oils that become more damaged during the intense heat involved in dehydrating potatoes etc. It would actually be preferable for these foods to be produced with lard rather than canola and that applies equally to frozen chips and all takeaway foods that are currently cooked in these junk oils.
Breakfast Cereals – Most children start the day with these foods. Once again, crunch is the order of the day and this texture can only be achieved with heat and processing which damages the essential fats in the grains. There is very little nutrition remaining following this intense process and then up to 30% sugar is added to ensure that the kids return to the brand. It is the easiest thing in the world to attract children with an addictive substance like sugar. It was, after all, the tool used to entice Hansel and Gretel into the witch’s lair.
Powdered Milk and Powdered Eggs – You may be thinking "whew!" at least I don’t buy those for my kids, but you may need to think again. Powdered eggs are used in most baked goods and powdered milk is in a huge range of processed foods including low fat milks, ice cream, yogurt, cakes biscuits and chocolate. Milk and eggs are great food in their natural form but manipulation breeds desecration, as it does with all whole foods. There is tremendous heat involved in turning whole eggs and milk into powder. This heat oxidizes the LDL cholesterol present at high levels in this food and this form of cholesterol can then stick to arteries and contribute to the plague diseases of stroke and CHD. The message here, once again, is to move away from processed foods and to choose whole foods for your children.
Most of us strive to create a better future for our children but the emphasis is usually upon financial security. In reality, the most important gift you can give children is a greater opportunity to achieve peace and happiness during their lives. Health is happiness as anyone who has suffered a health challenge will confirm. We have reached a point where we must reclaim responsibility for our own health and that of our family. A combination of advertising and addiction ensures that children will invariably choose the junk. It is our role to provide the education and appealing alternatives to lure them from the jaws of sugar and damaged fats.
Disclaimer: All advice in this article is for information purposes only. You should seek professional medical advice before undertaking any procedures and supplements included in this article.