Dairy products, including milk, cream, butter, cheese, ice cream, and yogurt, have traditionally been eaten in cold, northern countries or mountainous regions. In the rest of the world, most people are allergic to milk and dairy products. In Asia, 80 percent of the population is lactose-intolerant, in the Mediterranean 60 percent, and among African-Americans 70 percent.
In extreme cold or hot environments where other foods are unavailable, dairy food is an important source of nutrients. Its high-fat content is warming and insulating, and energetically dairy contributes to a gentle, obedient character.
Modern dairy food is generally very poor in quality because of factory farming methods; use of antibiotics, BGH, and other growth hormones; and Pasteurization and other sterilization methods that may kill beneficial microorganisms as well as harmful ones. In modern society, dairy consumption tends to produce excessive mucus and is a frequent cause of colds, allergies, sinus troubles, asthma, intestinal problems such as candida, infertility, atherosclerosis and heart disease, and cysts and tumors, especially those of the breast.
Dairy food consumption, including milk, cheese, butter, cream, ice cream and yogurt, has fallen sharply in recent years following the association of dairy foods, high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and animal protein, with cardiovascular disease and various cancers. Medical groups are starting to warn about the dangers of dairy for infants and children. See Autism, Beans, Breast Cancer, Breast-feeding, Infertility, Kale, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporosis, Premenstrual Syndrome, Prostate Cancer, Skin Disorders.
• Dairy Associated with Allergies and Asthma - In food trials, a teenage boy in the hospital with muscular and skeletal pains, bronchial asthma, abdominal pains, headache, and dark circles under the eyes experienced substantial improvement within two days when milk and chocolate were taken out of the diet. “
Within forty-eight hours the facial pallor and the dark circles under his eyes almost completely disappeared,” researchers reported. “Most remarkable was the improvement in his mood and behavior. He became alert and interested in his surroundings, was surprisingly cheerful and began to take a keen interest in sporting activities and art classes at which he excelled. He no longer complained of vague aches and pains. His asthma was easily controlled.” Following three weeks of the therapeutic diet, milk was given to him again and the pallor, dark circles, and other symptoms returned.
Source: E. G. Weinberg and M. Tuchinda, “Allergic Tension-Fatigue Syndrome,” Annals of Allergy 31:209-11, 1973.
• Milk, Cheese, and Butter Raise Breast Cancer Risk - Dairy food may be the most potent factor in the development of breast cancer. A study of 250 women with breast cancer in the northwestern province of Vercelli, Italy, found that they tended to consume considerably more milk, high-fat cheese, and butter than 499 healthy women of the same age in Italy and France.
Breast cancer risk tripled among women who consumed about half their calories as fat, 13 to 23 percent of their calories as saturated fat, and 8 to 20 percent of their calories as animal protein.
“These data suggest that during adult life, a reduction in dietary intake of fat and proteins of animal origin may contribute to a substantial reduction in the incidence of breast cancer in population subgroups with high intake of animal products,” researchers concluded. “[A] diet rich in fat, saturated fat, or animal proteins may be associated with a twofold to threefold increase in a woman’s risk of breast cancer.”
Source: Paolo Toniolo et al., “Calorie-Providing Nutrients and Risk of Breast Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 81:278-86, 1989.
• Cheese Elevates Breast Cancer Risk - In a Swiss case-control study, researchers found that breast cancer incidence was associated with higher consumption of cheese, meat, and alcohol, with cheese elevating risk the highest (2.7 times normal). Conversely, vegetable consumption offered significant protection (40 to 60 percent on average), especially green leafy vegetables.
Source: F. Levi et al., “Dietary Factors and Breast Cancer Risk in Vaud, Switzerland,” Nutrition and Cancer 19:327-335, 1993.
• Dairy Causes Colic - Antibodies in cow milk are the likely cause of colic in babies, and mothers who consume dairy products can pass them on in their breast milk. In a study at Washington University, mothers with colicky babies had significantly higher levels of cow antibodies in their milk as mothers of babies without colic. Colic, characterized by crying spells that can last 3 hours or more, affects about 20 percent of all babies in modern society. Dr. Frank Harris, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the study told frustrated mothers: “It may not be what you’re doing. It may be what you’re eating.”
Source: P. S. Clyne and A. Kulczycki, Jr., “Human Breast Milk Contains Bovine IgG. Relationship to Infant Colic?” Pediatrics 87(4):439-44, 1991.
• Dairy Increases Diabetes Risk in Children - Giving cow’s milk to babies may increase their risk of developing diabetes. Researchers reported that children with diabetes produced large amounts of antibodies against cow’s milk which may attack the pancreas cells which make insulin.
Source: J. Karjalainen et al., “A Bovine Albumin Peptide as a Possible Trigger of Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus,” New England Journal of Medicine 327:302–7, 1992.
• Dairy and Iron Deficiency in Infants - In response to reports of iron deficiency in infants, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that children under 1 year of age not be given whole cow’s milk or low-iron infant formula.
Source: “Cow’s Milk Not Advised for Infants,” Boston Globe, May 15, 1992
• Dairy Increases Risk of Ovarian Cancer - Dairy food consumption has been linked with ovarian cancer by researchers at Harvard. The scientists noted that women with ovarian cancer had low blood levels of transferase, an enzyme involved in the metabolism of dairy foods. The researchers theorized that women with low levels of transferase who eat dairy foods, especially yogurt and cottage cheese, could increase their risk of ovarian cancer by as much as three times.
The researchers estimated that women who consume large amounts of yogurt and cottage cheese increased their risk of ovarian cancer up to three times.
“Yogurt was consumed at least monthly by 49 percent of cases and 36 percent of controls,” researchers reported. “World wide, ovarian cancer risk is strongly correlated with lactase persistence and per capita milk consumption, further epidemiological evidence that lactose rather than fat is the key dietary variable for ovarian cancer . . . [A]voidance of lactose-rich food by adults may be a way of primary prevention of ovarian cancer . . . “
Source: Daniel W. Cramer et al., “Galactose Consumption and Metabolism in Relation to the Risk of Ovarian Cancer,” Lancet 2:66-71, 1989.
• Dr. Spock on Dairy - In the final edition of his best-selling book on Baby and Child Care, Dr. Spock warned against feeding cow’s milk to infants and children: "First, most green leafy vegetables and beans have a form of calcium that is absorbed as well or even a bit better than that in milk. They also have iron, vitamins, complex carbohydrate, and fiber which are generally lacking in milk. "Second, dairy products contribute to a surprising number of health problems. They can impair a child's ability to absorb iron and in very small children can even cause subtle blood loss from the digestive tract. Combined with the fact that milk has virtually no iron of its own, the result is an increased risk of iron deficiency. "Cow's milk proteins are a common cause of colic, and now the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that there is evidence that cow's milk may well contribute to childhood-onset diabetes. Some children have sensitivities to milk proteins that show up as respiratory problems, chronic ear problems, or skin conditions."
Source: Benjamin Spock, M.D. and Stephen J. Parker, M.D., Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1998).
• Physicians Warn Against Dairy - Parents should be alerted to the potential risks to their children from cow's-milk products," the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine declared. "Milk should not be required or recommended in Government guidelines." Milk is unhealthy, the committee asserted, because it contains too much fat, causes diabetes in susceptible children, leads to iron deficiency in infants, and causes colic, allergies, and digestive problems.
Neal D. Barnard, M.D., the committee's director said, "Milk is a perfect food for calves and is well tolerated by some Caucasians, but for others it's a problem. I don't recommend milk for anyone.”
Suzanne Havala, R.D., co-author of the American Dietetic Association's position paper on vegetarian diets, supported the recommendations. "After weaning, there is no need for milk of any sort in the diet in any species."
Dr. Frank Oski, director of the department of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine concurred, “There is no redeeming feature to cow’s milk that should make people drink it.”
Source: Marian Burros, "Cows Milk and Children: A New No-No?," New York Times, Sept. 30, 1992.
DANIEL, BOOK OF
During the Babylonian Captivity, King Nebuchadnezzar commanded several of the most gifted young men of Israel to be brought to court to enter government service. The king instructed Malasar, the master of his household, to feed Daniel and his three companions the best meat and wine from the royal table. The Israelites, however, refused the rich food and instead asked for the simple grain-and-veg-etable quality food they were accustomed to. The steward replied that he could lose his head if the king saw Daniel and his friends undernourished in comparison to the young Babylonians their age also in training for administrative service.
Daniel replied: “Submit us to this test for ten days. Give us only pulses [grains, seeds, and small beans] to eat and water to drink; then compare our looks with those of the young men who have lived on the food assigned by the king, and be guided in your treatment of us by what you see.” At the end of ten days, Daniel and his friends were healthier and better nourished than the Babylonians and “the guard took away the assignment of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them only the vegetables. And to these children God gave knowledge and understanding also of all visions and dreams.”
Source: Book of Daniel 1:8-17.
Tooth, gum, and other dental problems are often associated with diet. Proper tooth care is important for a long, healthy life. A growing network of holistic, preventive, or biological dentists takes nutrition into account, questions the use of fluoride, and avoids the use of mercury amalgams in fillings. See Chemicals, Fluoridation, Osteoporosis, Weston Price, Sugar.
• Global Sucrose Intake Soars - In a review of sugar consumption in developing countries, Canadian dental researchers reported that sugar use was increasing in China, India, and Southeast Asia. In the Middle East, sugar consumption was higher than other developing areas but not as high as in developed countries. Increased sucrose intake was attributed to a major growth of the soft drink industry and consumption of high-sugar desserts and snacks in urban centers. The researchers proposed that public health authorities and manufacturers/distri-butors of soft drinks and sweets in developing countries establish a dental health fund to support caries preventive programs. They recommended a donation of 1 cent for every $10 of sales.
Source: A. I. Ismail, “Current Trends of Sugar Consumption in Developing Societies,” Community Dental and Oral Epidemiology 25(6):438-43, 1997.
• Tooth Decay and Osteoporosis - According to macrobiotic cook and teacher Gale Jack, teeth problems follow the general pattern of osteoporosis, the thinning of the bones and susceptibility to fracture that is linked with excessive meat and dairy consumption.
Source: Gale Jack and Wendy Esko, editors, “Healthy Teeth and Bones,” The Women’s Health Guide (Becket, MA: One Peaceful World Press, 1997).
• Mercury Amalgams and Fillings - Mercury dental implants are linked experimentally to Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Amalgams have been completely or partially banned in Germany and Sweden.
Source: Gregory Dennis, “Holistic Dentistry,” New Age Journal, April, 1997.
Depression, or feeling intense sadness, is the second most common psychiatric disorder after anxiety. It typically affects people beginning in their twenties, thirties, or forties and may last 6 to 9 months or in some cases two years or longer. Physical disorders that can cause depression include the side effects of drugs, infections, hormonal disorders, connective tissue diseases, neurologic disorders, cancers, and nutritional deficiency diseases.
• Low-Fat Diet Lifts Depression - A low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet may lift depression and decrease aggressive hostility. A report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that in a test of 300 men and women, depression and hostility dropped markedly in all who adopted a cholesterol-lowering diet and led to greater feelings of “self-efficacy” and enhanced psychological well-being.
Source: One Peaceful World Journal 14: Spring, 1993.
• St. John’s Wort - St. John's Wort, a traditional herb used for centuries in Europe, is effective in helping sooth nerves, relieve melancholy, and treat infection and may offer a natural, safe alternative to Prozac and other antidepressants. "I started prescribing it about nine months ago, and I have had one success story after another, Norman E. Rosenthal, a psychiatrist and clinical researcher in Rockville, Md., stated. An overview of 28 clinical trials of the herb conducted by German scientists found that the herb had outperformed placebos in relieving depression and showed few side effects. Several studies suggest it performs as well as antidepressants, but further studies are need, the researchers concluded.
In another study, researchers found that the plant reduced the rate at which brain cells reabsorb serotonin, an important neurotransmitter which is associated in low levels with depression. Prozac enables serotonin to flow more smoothly between cells. Experiments also indicate the herb can reabsorb dopamine and norepinephrine, two other chemicals in the body associated with regulating mood.
Source: Edmund L. Andrews, "In Germany, Humble Herb Is a Rival to Prozac," New York Times, September 9, 1997.
Eight million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 8 million have it without knowing it. The cost of treating it soared from $5 billion in 1975 to $100 billion in 1997. Type I, or juvenile-onset diabetes, affects less than 10 percent of diabetics, while Type II is primarily adults and older people. An estimated 90 percent of Type IIs are obese. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, fatal kidney disease, amputations, and disability, as well as a major cause of birth defects and infant mortality. It is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and nerve damage. Rates among minorities in America are two to three times higher than among whites. Native Americans have the highest rates, followed by Hispanics, blacks, and Asians. See Dairy, Native American Diet, Nightshades, Obesity, Rice, Vegan, Whole Grains.
• Controlling Diabetes with Macrobiotics - In an Oregon study, six borderline diabetics were put on a macrobiotic diet for thirty days. Excluding the one obese subject, the researchers reported a significant drop in cholesterol levels from a mean of 140 to 110. The subjects were primarily lacto-ovo-vegetarians, accounting for their low cholesterol levels to begin with. A control group of ten macrobiotic subjects showed average cholesterol levels consistent with the Harvard Medical School findings in the mid-1970s.
Source: Mark Mead, “In Search of the Sweet Life: A Dietary Approach to Diabetes Mellitus,” Reed College Biology Thesis, in cooperation with the Oregon Health Sciences University, 1984.
• Diabetes Among the Pimas - Desert plants appear to have protected Native Americans from diabetes before their exposure to modern foods. A study of ancestral diets among the Pima Indians of Arizona showed that a return to mesquite pods, acorns, white and yellow tepary beans, lima beans, and a traditional strain of corn long cultivated by the tribe significantly lowered insulin production and blood sugar levels after meals compared with diets high in potatoes and white bread.
About half of all present-day Pimas over age 35 have diabetes. This is the highest incidence of the disease in the world and has been associated with their shift to a modern diet of sugary and fatty foods. The researchers concluded that the benefits of the Pimas’ traditional grains, beans, and other foods extended beyond tribal boundaries and would be beneficial for the health of modern people as a whole.
In another study, researchers found that Pimas in Arizona who eat a diet high in fat and processed foods have a diabetes rate of 38.2 percent, while Pimas in Mexico who eat a traditional low-fat diet of tortillas and beans suffer only 6.4 percent.
Sources: R. Cowen, “Seeds of Protection,” Science News 137:350-51, 1990 and Jane Brody, “Arizona Indians Reclaim Ancient Foods,” New York Times, May 21, 1991 and Marie C. Sanchez, "Despite New Medical Tools, Diabetes Rates Are Soaring," Boston Globe, August 24, 1998.
• Potatoes and Refined Carbohydrates Elevate Diabetes Risk - Potatoes, white bread, and white rice contribute to diabetes, according to Harvard researchers. In a study of 65,173 women, those who ate a high starch diet that was low in fiber and drank plenty of soda had 2.5 times as much diabetes as women who ate less of these foods or whole grains high in dietary fiber.
Dr. Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that the carbohydrates in potatoes and refined grains are digested and absorbed quickly, causing a large surge in blood sugar and contributing to a large increase in insulin. He said these foods elevated glucose levels more than sugar. "Bread, rice and pasta should be in the whole-grain form; brown rice and whole-grain pastas and breads," he added. "And go easy on the potatoes. Potatoes have been a staple when people faced starvation and needed calories, but they're not a staple food for a relatively sedentary population like the United States'. I'd eat potatoes in small amounts, and not every day."
Source: Denise Grady, "Diet-Diabetes Link Reported," New York Times, February 12, 1997.
• Diet Controls Diabetes - A whole grain-based diet can control diabetes, according to a California study of 4587 patients with non-insulin-depen-dent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). "The results of this study show that a very low-fat, high-complex-carbohydrate diet combined with aerobic exercise, primarily walking, can be effective for controlling diabetes and reducing serum lipid levels and other CHD risk factors. The ability of this lifestyle modification program to control diabetes was far more effective in patients either taking no medication or oral hypoglycemic agents compared with those taking insulin."
Source: R. James Barnard et al., "Diet and Exercise in the Treatment of NIDDM," Diabetes Care 17(12): 1-4, 1994.
• Diabetes Linked to Modern Diet in the Middle East - In Yemen, diabetes was virtually unknown among the Jewish minority. However, when they moved to Israel and adopted the modern diet and lifestyle, incidence of the disease rose to that prevailing in Israel. Kurdish immigrants also experienced the same pattern.
“The change which both communities underwent, as a result of their immigration to Israel,” the researcher concluded, “is the transition from an ‘oriental’ to a ‘Western’ environment” in which diet may play a central role.
Source: A. M. Cohen, “Effect of Change in Environment on the Prevalence of Diabetes among Yemenite and Kurdish Communities,” Israel Medical Journal 19:137-42, 1960.
DIET AND HEALTH
Diet and Health, the National Academy of Science’s landmark 749-page report on “The Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk,” called in 1989 for the United States to substantially reduce animal food consumption and increase intake of whole cereal grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
After a comprehensive review of the epidemiologic, clinical, and laboratory evidence, the panel’s 19 experts concluded that the modern diet influences the risk of several major chronic diseases including atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancers of the esophagus, stomach, large bowel, breast, lung, and prostate, dental caries, chronic liver disease, obesity, and noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Conversely, the researchers found that a diet characterized by plant foods is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease, cancers of the lung, colon, esophagus, and stomach, diabetes mellitus, diverticulosis, hypertension, and gallstone formation. The committee recommended that the intake of carbohydrates be increased to more than 55 percent of total calories, especially complex carbohydrates as found in whole cereal grains, legumes, breads, vegetables, and certain fruits. Regular consumption of green and yellow vegetables was also encouraged.
“The committee notes that several countries with dietary patterns similar to those recommended in this report have about half the U.S. rates for diet-associated cancers. This suggests that the committee’s dietary recommendations could have a substantial impact on reducing the risk of cancer in the United States.”
In a review of “Alternative Diets,” the report noted: “[T]he U.S. population consumes relatively large amounts of meat and sugar, more refined than whole-grain products, and larger amounts of commercially processed than fresh foods. In contrast, most of the world’s population today subsists on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets for reasons that are economic, philosophical, religious, cultural, or ecological. Indeed, humans appear to have subsisted for most of their history on near-vegetarian diets.”
Reviewing current studies of vegetarians, the panel found that they “had lower intakes of protein, preformed niacin, and vitamin B-12 than nonvegetarians, but that their average intakes of all three nutrients were above the RDAs. All other nutrients were, on average, at the same level or higher in vegetarian than in nonvegetarian diets.” These included calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium. The committee also found that vegetarian females of reproductive age (19 to 34) had comparable iron intakes as nonvegetarians and higher intakes of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and thiamine.
The dietary recommendations of the committee are as follows:
• Reduce total fat intake to 30 percent or less of calories. Reduce saturated fatty acid intake to less than 10 percent of calories and the intake of cholesterol to less than 300 mg daily. The intake of fat and cholesterol can be reduced by substituting fish, poultry without skin, lean meats, and low- or nonfat dairy products for fatty meats and whole-milk dairy products; by choosing more vegetables, fruits, cereals, and legumes; and by limiting oils, fats, egg yolks, and fried and other fatty foods.
• Every day eat five or more servings of a combination of vegetables and fruits, especially green and yellow vegetables and citrus fruits. Also, increase intake of starches and other complex carbohydrates by eating six or more daily servings of a combination of breads, cereals, and legumes.
• Maintain protein intake at moderate levels.
• Balance food intake and physical activity to maintain appropriate body weight.
• The committee does not recommend alcohol consumption. For those who drink alcoholic beverages, the committee recommends limiting consumption to the equivalent of less than 1 ounce of pure alcohol in a single day. This is the equivalent of two cans of beer, two small glasses of wine, or two average cocktails. Pregnant women should avoid alcoholic beverages.
• Limit total daily intake of salt (sodium chloride) to 6 grams or less. Limit the use of salt in cooking and avoid adding it to food at the table. Salty, highly processed salty, salt-preserved, and salt-pickled foods should be consumed sparingly.
• Maintain adequate calcium intake.
• Avoid taking dietary supplements in excess of the RDA in any one day.
• Maintain an optimal intake of fluoride, particularly during the years of primary and secondary tooth formation and growth.
Source: National Academy of Sciences, Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press) 1989.
DIET, NUTRITION, AND CANCER
In 1982 the National Academy of Sciences issued Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer, a 472-page report in which the modern diet high in saturated fat, animal protein, sugar, and chemical additives was associated with a majority of cancers, including malignancies of the breast, colon, prostate, uterus, stomach, lung, and esophagus. The panel reviewed hundreds of current medical studies associating long-term eating patterns with the development of of 30 to 40 percent of cancers in men and 60 percent in women. “Just as it was once difficult for investigators to recognize that a symptom complex could be caused by the lack of a nutrient,” the panel noted, “so until recently has it been difficult for scientists to recognize that certain pathological conditions might result from an abundant and apparently normal diet.” The report issued interim dietary guidelines calling for substantial decreases in meat, poultry, egg, dairy, and refined carbohydrate consumption and increased consumption of whole cereal grains, vegetables and fruits:
1. There is sufficient evidence that high fat consumption is linked to increased incidence of certain cancers (notably breast and colon cancer) and that low fat intake is associated with a lower incidence of these cancers. The committee recommends that the consumption of both saturated and unsaturated fats be reduced in the average U.S. diet. An appropriate and practical target is to reduce the intake of fat from its present level (approximately 40 percent) to 30 percent of total calories in the diet. The scientific data do not provide a strong basis for establishing fat intake at precisely 30 percent of total calories. Indeed, the data could be used to justify an even greater reduction. However, in the judgment of the committee, the suggested reduction (i.e., one-quarter of the fat intake) is a moderate and practical target, and is likely to be beneficial.
2. The committee emphasizes the importance of including fruits, vegetables, and whole grain cereal products in the daily diet. In epidemiological studies, frequent consumption of these foods has been inversely correlated with the incidence of various cancers. Results of laboratory experiments have supported these findings in tests of individual nutritive and nonnutritive constituents of fruits (especially citrus fruits) and vegetables (especially carotene-rich and cruciferous vegetables).
These recommendations apply only to foods as sources of nutrients—not to dietary supplements of individual nutrients. The vast literature examined in this report focuses on the relationship between the consumption of foods and the incidence of cancer in human populations. In contrast, there is very little information of the effects of various levels of individual nutrients on the risk of cancer in humans. Therefore, the committee is unable to predict the health effects of high and potentially toxic doses of isolated nutrients consumed in the form of supplements.
3. In some parts of the world, especially China, Japan, and Iceland, populations that frequently consumed salt-cured (including salt-pickled) or smoked foods have a greater incidence of cancers at some sites, especially the esophagus and the stomach. In addition, some methods of smoking and pickling foods seem to produce higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and N-nitroso compounds. These compounds cause mutations in bacteria and cancer in animals and are suspected of being carcinogenic in humans. Therefore, the committee re-commends that the consumption of food preserved by salt-curing (including salt-pickling) or smoking be minimized.
4. Certain non-nutritive constituents of foods, whether naturally occurring or introduced inadvertently (as contaminants) during production, processing, and storage, pose a potential risk of cancer to humans. The committee recommends that efforts continued to be made to minimize contamination of foods with carcinogens from any source. Where such contaminants are unavoidable, permissible levels should continued to be established and the food supply monitored to assure that such levels are not exceeded. Furthermore, intentional additives (direct and indirect) should continue to be evaluated for carcinogenic activity before they are approved for use in the food supply.
5. The committee suggests that further efforts be made to identify mutagens in food and to expedite testing for their carcinogenicity. Where feasible and prudent, mutagens should be removed or their concentration minimized when this can be accomplished without jeopardizing the nutritive value of foods or introducing other potentially hazardous substances into the diet.
6. Excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, particularly combined with cigarette smoking, has been associated with an increased risk of cancer of the upper gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. Consumption of alcohol is also associated with other adverse health effects. Thus, the committee recommends that if alcoholic beverages are consumed, it be done in moderation.
The report noted in conclusion, “The dietary changes now underway appear to be reducing our dependence on foods from animal sources. It is likely that there will be continued reduction in fats from animal sources and an increasing dependence on vegetable and other plant products for protein supplies. Hence, diets may contain increasing amounts of vegetable products, some of which may be protective against cancer.”
Source: National Academy of Sciences, Diet, Nutrition, and Cancer (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1982).
DIETARY GOALS FOR THE UNITED STATES
Summarizing its conclusions on the nation’s way of eating, health, and future direction, Dietary Goals for the United States, the historic Senate report that launched the modern diet and health revolution in 1977, stated: “During this century, the composition of the average diet in the United States has changed radically. Complex carbohydrates—fruit, vegetables, and grain products—which were the mainstay of the diet, now play a minority role. At the same time, fat and sugar consumption have risen to the point where these two dietary elements alone now comprise at least 60 percent of total calorie intake, up from 50 percent in the early 1900s. In the view of doctors and nutritionists consulted by the Select Committee, these and other changes in the diet amount to a wave of malnutrition—of both over- and under-consumption—that may be as profoundly damaging to the Nation’s health as the widespread contagious diseases of the early part of this century. The over-consumption of fat, generally, and saturated fat in particular, as well as cholesterol, sugar, salt, and alcohol have been related to six of the leading causes of death: Heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.”
The report listed six dietary goals:
1. Increase carbohydrate consumption to account for 55 to 60 percent of the energy (caloric) intake.
2. Reduce overall fat consumption from approximately 40 to 30 percent of energy intake.
3. Reduce saturated fat consumption to account for about 10 percent of total energy intake; and balance with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which should account for about 10 percent of energy intake each.
4. Reduce cholesterol consumption to about 300 mg. a day.
5. Reduce sugar consumption by almost 40 percent to account for about 15 percent of total energy intake.
6. Reduce salt consumption by about 50 to 85 percent to approximately 3 grams a day.
The goals suggest the following changes in food selection and preparation:
1. Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
2. Decrease consumption of meat and increase consumption of poultry and fish.
3. Decrease consumption of foods high in fat and partially substitute
polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat.
4. Substitute non-fat milk for whole milk.
5. Decrease consumption of butterfat, eggs, and other high cholesterol sources.
6. Decrease consumption of sugar and foods that are high in sugar content.
7. Decrease consumption of salt and foods high in salt content.
Source: Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, U.S. Senate, Dietary Goals for the United States (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977).
Heart disease is the leading cause of death throughout the world, in poor countries as well as rich ones. In a study of global mortality for the World Bank, researchers at Harvard University and the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that heart disease, with 50.4 million deaths annually in 1990, was the number one cause of death. Ischemic heart disease, including heart attacks, killed 6.3 million people that year, including just 2.7 million in industrialized countries. About 3 million of the annual 4.4 million stroke deaths took place in developing countries. The other leading causes of death were diarrhea diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, tuberculosis, measles, low birth weight, traffic accidents, and lung cancer.
Source: "Study Says Heart Ills Lead Deaths Worldwide," Boston Globe, May 3, 1997.
• Global Epidemics of Chronic Disease Forecast - In its World Health Report 1997, the World Health Organization forecast that dramatic increases in life expectancy, combined with profound changes in lifestyles, will lead to global epidemics of cancer and other chronic diseases in the next two decades. Infectious diseases kill about 17 million people a year and afflict hundreds of others, particularly in the developing world. In the industrialized world, chronic diseases are now responsible for 24 million deaths a year. The leading causes are circulatory diseases, including heart disease and stroke, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Inappropriate diet was described as a major risk factor in the development of chronic diseases, along with smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and inadequate physical activity.
Source: "The World Health Report 1997: Conquering Suffering, Enriching Humanity," World Health Organization, 1997.
• Global Burden of Disease - Non-infectious diseases now account for 56 percent of all deaths worldwide, according to a new five-year study of global health. Researchers for the Global Burden of Disease Project projected that chronic diseases will rise to nearly three-quarters of global mortality in the next 25 years. Depression and mental/neurological disorders are among the most rapidly rising ailments.
In weighing the impact of disease on health, the scientists came up with a new index, the DALY, or disability adjusted life year, which measures the amount of healthy years lost to death of disability for different afflictions.
Source: Richard A. Knox, “Changing World, Changing Ailments,” Boston Globe, September 16, 1996.
Adverse drug reactions are a major cause of death in hospital patients in the U.S. Researchers who examined 39 studies estimated that an average of 106,000 deaths in American hospitals in 1994 were caused by bad reactions to drugs. This would make them between the fourth and six leading cause of death. See Watercress.
Source: J. Lazarou, et., “Incidence of Adverse Drug Reactions in Hospitalized Patients,” Journal of the American Medical Association 279(15):1200-05, 1998.
Drug-resistant strains of bacteria and viruses that cause middle ear infection, pneumonia, sinusitis, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases emerged in the 1980s and 1990s as “miracle” drugs lost their effectiveness. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics and vaccines are considered a main cause, along with increased use of pesticides and other chemicals in the environment that upset the ecological balance and create new, virulent microorganisms. See Antibiotics, Infectious Diseases.
• Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads - Malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that affects an estimated half billion people around the world each year and kills 2.7 million, mostly in Africa, is spreading rapidly as new strains are coming out in Southeast Asia, the Amazon region, and sub-Saharan Africa which are resistant to mefloquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, chloroquine, and other standard drug therapies.
Source: J. C. Wetsteyn, “Malaria and Drug Resistance,” Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 140(3):151-5, 1996.
• Last Antibiotic Against Staph Infections Fails - The last antibiotic resistant to staph bacteria developed drug resistance in 1997. Vancomycin, the last drug effective against staphylococcus aureus, was powerless to contain a new strain of the bacteria that appeared first in Japan and later in the United States. Staph bacteria are the leading cause of infections contracted in hospitals. Overall, 2 million people are infected in hospitals each year with various microbial diseases of whom 60,000 to 80,000 die. Staph infection is fatal in about 40 percent of cases. Source: "New Strain of Staph Is Resistant," New York Times, June 9, 1997.
• Tuberculosis Spreads - Drug-resistant tuberculosis has spread from 13 states to 42 states in six years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 21,000 people got TB in 1994 and 1,400 died.
Source: “Resistant TB Reported in 42 States," Boston Globe, September 10, 1997.
• TB Epidemic Threatens World - In a global warning on the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease found drug-resistant bacteria, which is virtually incurable, in 12 of 35 countries surveyed. "The world again faces the specter of incurable tuberculosis," Michael Iseman of the University of Colorado said. "We have found TB hot zones on all five continents." Highest concentrations of MD-TB were found in India, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and the Ivory Coast.
Source: “Global Warning Issued on Drug-Resistant TB," Boston Globe, 1997.
• New Strains of Plague - A form of bubonic plague resistant to all antibiotics usually used to treat the lethal disease appeared in Madagascar in 1997. "If resistant strains spread in rodents, the public health implications could be substantial," U.S. officials warned. In the early 1990s, the incidence of plague—the Black Death that killed one quarter of the European population in the 1300s—more than doubled.
Meanwhile, in India strains of bubonic and pneumonic plague broke out in 1997 that were resistant to DDT and dieldrin.
Source: A. Guiyoule et al., “Recent Emergence of New Variants of Yersinia Pestis in Madagascar,” Journal of Clinical Microbiology 35(11):2826-33, 1997 and K. Kumar et al., “Entomological; Rodent Surveillance in Plague-Suspected Areas during September 1994 and Thereafter,” Japanese Journal of Medical Science and Biology 50(3):97-111, 1997.
In the United States, 2.8 billion prescriptions—11 per capita—are written every year. The rate is rising at 15 percent a year, accounting for $102 billion in pharmacy sales in 1998.
Meanwhile, the modern drug epidemic, including marijuana, cocaine, and other recreational drugs, has biological roots in society’s overconsumption of meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and other animal food. To offset the build up of this strong, contractive energy, cravings for extreme expansive substances commonly result. For some people, chocolate and sugary sweets help make them relax; for others it is alcohol. In extreme cases, drugs, pills, and other medications are craved, ultimately leading to addiction. Rather than prohibiting drugs, society should address underlying dietary and nutritional imbalance.
• Diet and Drug Use - In "On the Greater View," Michio Kushi includes an essay on drugs with practical advice on how long it takes to recover from the effects of marijuana, LSD, and other substances after returning to a more balanced way of eating.
Source: Michio Kushi with Sherman Goldman, editor, On the Greater View (Garden City Park, NY: Avery, 1986, $7.95).
• Alternatives to Ritalin - In "Raising Healthy Kids," Michio and Aveline Kushi examine dietary alternatives to Ritalin and other drug therapy for hyperactive children.
Source: Michio and Aveline Kushi with Edward and Wendy Esko, Raising Healthy Kids (Garden City Park, NY: Avery, 1994).
• Fighting Drug Lords with Diet - In Peru, site of the world’s third largest cocaine harvest, a region of farmers is taking back its freedom from drug lords and a cocaine-dominated economy by growing organic crops. In the remote Apurimac valley, DECAS, a peasant civil defense group, has successfully repelled the Shining Path terrorist network and announced plans to produce organic soybeans, corn, peanuts, and fruits, as well as medicinal herbs. Already organic sesame seeds and coffee are exported. Quinoa, amaranth, barley, wheat, and other grains and beans may also be cultivated.
Source: Alex Jack, “Peruvian Valley Goes Organic,” One Peaceful World Journal 27:1 Summer 1996.