Friday, 30 September 2011

Food & Health in the Scottish Highlands

"Food & Health in the Scottish Highlands" - another great installment from W. W. Yellowlees:
  • "The cooking oils, shortening, or margarine manufactured from the oil of maize, cotton seeds, soya beans or sunflower seeds cannot qualify as natural foods. Their mass production requires the use of techniques for repeated heating at high temperatures and of solvents, catalysts and various other chemical additives. The relatively higher levels of blood cholesterol in Western nations have for long been regarded as a major risk factor in the cause of coronary heart disease; the purpose of substituting vegetable oils, especially polyunsaturated oil, is to lower levels of blood cholesterol.

    When blood cholesterol has been successfully lowered by changes in diet or by drugs no overall reduction in death rate has been demonstrated. Indeed some trials have seemed to show that we lower blood cholesterol at our peril. In the recent WHO sponsored European study on the primary prevention of coronary thrombosis using the drug Clofibrate, blood cholesterol levels were lowered by approximately 9%. This certainly seemed to reduce non-fatal attacks of coronary thrombosis by some 26%, in the experimental group of men taking the drug.

    But there was no reduction in fatal heart attacks and an alarming increase of 37% in the treated group in the death rate from causes other than coronary disease. This unfortunate outcome was due to an increase in cancer deaths, particularly cancer of the gastro-intestinal tract. There was an astonishing increase -- more than double -- in the operations for removal of gallstones in the treated group.

    In the two primary prevention trials in which diet was used to lower blood cholesterol it seemed death rates from causes other than coronary diseases were higher in the treated group.

    To the ecologist would not these results suggest that cholesterol may have a protective function in the life of human cells, and that the raised blood cholesterol levels observed in Western societies may be a response to faulty nutrition which has nothing to do with animal fat? There appears to be no constant relationship between the incidence of fatal myocardial infraction and levels of blood cholesterol, nor between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Some statisticians have pointed out that when the effects of sugar consumption and of smoking are taken into account, eggs, meat, milk and saturated fat cease to be a more statistically significant cause of mortality than heart disease."
Ironically it MUST have been much easier to identify substances that do not qualify as 'natural' food a decade or two ago - familliarity breeds contempt and all that.

Yellowlees concludes with words that could have been written today and which show the glacial progress we seem to have made in Western disease prevention:
  • "The minutiae of human pathology are infinitely complex, but the basis of health outlined in this paper is simple. The rise and spread of diseases of civilisation in spite of all the amazing advances in medical technology, in spite of all the efficacy of new drugs, and in spite of State fundings of medical care for everyone, is a demonstration of ecological disaster on a vast scale.

    Failure by professional leaders and by Governments to grasp the truth of the ecological basis of the diseases of our time finds both Government and profession faced with ever-mounting expenditure on medical care, groping blindly for priorities in prevention. One example of such blindness is the belief that the integrity of our hearts could only be achieved by substituting unnatural polyunsaturated margarine for natural butter. Another example is the proposal, supported by finds from the DHSS, to achieve dental health by dosing the entire population via the water supply with highly toxic compounds of fluorine derived from the waste products of certain industries."
Amen to that.

No comments: