Compiled by Stephen A. Downs for Vince Gironda.
PART I: Processed Food and Physical Deterioration.
If there is one thing that we could speculate as being highly probable concerning the life style of primitive man, it is that he obtained his food primarily from the vegetable kingdom and ate it raw. Historically it appears that complexities in food preparation and processing have come with the more complex and technical societies. Corresponding to the rise in production and consumption of refined and processed food has been the rise in physical deterioration, and the birth of heretofore unknown degenerative diseases.
In his landmark publication, Nutrition And Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston A. Price draws a most profound corollary between the consumption of refined and processed foods among primitive peoples of the world, and the corresponding rise in physical deterioration. Dr. Price’s investigations took him completely around the world, studying cultures on every major continent. As Dr. Price was a dentist, he took most interest in individual jaw formation, tooth structure, and general oral hygiene. He studied the live subjects that he encountered, and compared them with past generations that he uncovered for study at burial sites. He found that where past generations had subsisted on raw, unprocessed food, the jaw formations were near perfect, dental arches were well formed, tooth structure was a work of art, carries were nonexistent, and all thirty-two teeth were intact. In studying generations following the introduction of refined and processed foods into the dietary, certain degenerative changes in the mouth were noted: 1) jaw formations were malformed, 2) dental arches were misshapen, 3) tooth structure was uneven, faulty, and badly decayed, and 4) many teeth in the mouth were missing. In Africa, Asia, the South Seas, and Australia, the story was the same; with the introduction of refined and processed foods into the dietary of primitive peoples through the influx of so-called civilization came the corresponding rise in degenerative processes. In the final analysis, Price’s studies proved conclusively that human physical health and well being is dependent upon a raw, unprocessed dietary; and, that processed food seemed to pave the way for disease and degeneration.
Another monumental work in this area was done over fifty years ago by Dr. Robert McCarrison. In 1927, Dr. McCarrison was appointed Director of Nutrition Research in India under the Research Fund Association. His travels had taken him through the remote section of the Himalayas where the people of Hunza had lived since the time of Alexander the Great. In his Studies in Deficiency Diseases, McCarrison states concerning the health of the Hunzas:
“During the period of my association with these people, I never saw a case of asthenic dyspepsia, of gastric or duodenal ulcer, or appendicitis, of mucous colitis, or cancer . . . among these people the “abdomen over-sensitive” to nerve impressions, to fatigue, anxiety or cold was unknown. The consciousness of the existence of this part of their anatomy was, as a rule, related solely to the feeling of hunger. Indeed, their buoyant abdominal health has, since my return to the West, provided abdominal contrast with the dyspeptic and colonic lamentation’s of our highly civilized communities.”
Dr. McCarrison decided to perform some experiments to find if diet had a role to play in the superior health possessed by the Hunzas, and their virtual freedom from the variety of degenerative diseases that plagued Western Civilization. For his work he chose albino rats because of their love for human food, and also because their short life span would enable observation of a complete life history. The first phase of his experiments entailed taking at random healthy rats, and placing them in ideal conditions; fresh air, sunshine, and clean surroundings. Their diet consisted of foods liberally consumed by the Hunzas: whole grains, raw milk and butter, sprouted pulse, and a variety of fresh raw vegetables. On rare occasions he would include a small portion of meat with some bones (the Hunzas were basically vegetarians, eating meat only on festive occasions), and always provided abundant fresh water. After twenty-seven months on the Hunza diet, the nearly 1,200 rats were killed and carefully examined. McCarrison reported:
“During the past two and a quarter years there has been no case of illness in the “universe” of albino rats, no death from natural causes in the adult stock, and, but for a few accidental deaths, no infantile mortality. Both clinically and at postmortem, examination of this stock has been shown to be remarkably free from disease. It may be that some of them have cryptic disease of one kind or another, but if so, I have failed to find either clinical or microscopic evidence of it.”
After finding in later experiments that diseased rats were returned to health on the Hunza diet, McCarrison took batches of rats and placed them on a diet typical to that of the people of India; rice, pulses, and vegetables cooked with a variety of condiments. It wasn’t long before the over two thousand rats fed the deficient Indian diet developed a variety of disease conditions: heart, kidney and glandular weaknesses, gastrointestinal disorders, ulcers, anemia, crooked spines, bad teeth, eye ailments, various skin disorders, and loss of hair. These results led him to take still another batch of rats and place them on a diet typical to that taken by the poorer classes of England: canned meat. boiled vegetables, white bread, margarine, jarns and jellies, and sweetened tea. Mc-Garrison reported that not only were a variety of disease conditions produced on the faulty diet, but also the rats became hypertensive. They fought among themselves, and by the sixteenth day of the experiment the stronger rats were killing and eating the weaker ones.
The frightening conclusions to be drawn from Dr. McCarrison’s research findings are the unfortunate realities of today’s world. More than sixty years after one of the most massive experiments ever performed on mankind viz., food technology, refining and processing, the results are most evident. Hospitals are filled with masses of humanity plagued with a variety of disease conditions virtually unknown prior to the turn of the century.
In his “Briefe aus dem Lam-barenespital” (Letters from the Lambarene Hospital) in Africa, 1954, Professor Albert Schweitzer, world renowned doctor to the peoples of Africa, relates findings similar to those of both Price and McCarrison. He states:
“I have to point out a happening in the modern civilization of the Hospital, something which happened this year. We had to perform the first appendicitis operation on a native of this region. How it turned out that this so frequent sickness of white people did not occur in the colored of this country cannot be convincingly explained. Probably its still exceptional occurrence is traceable to a change in the nutrition. Many natives, especially those who are living in larger communities do not now live the same way as formerly – they lived almost exclusively on fruits and vegetables, bananas, cassava, ignam, taro, sweet potatoes and other fruits. They now live on condensed milk, canned butter meat and fish preserves, and bread.
The date of the appearance of cancer, another disease of civilization, cannot be traced in our region with the same certainty as that of appendicitis. We cannot state decisively that formerly there was no cancer at all, because the microscopic examinations of all tested tumors revealing their real nature, has only been in existence here for a few years. Based upon my own experience, going back to 1913, I can say, if cancer occurred at all it was very rare, but that it became more frequent since. However, it is not spread as much as it has among the white race in Europe and America.”
Research from every corner of the globe has shown a definite correlation between the consumption of refined and processed food, and the incidence of physical degeneration. If this seems like a strong indictment against the food processing industry, it is meant to be; the evidence against them is just too voluminous and conclusive. Refining and processing foods to preserve their keeping qualities almost completely destroys their life giving potentials. Vitamins and minerals are lost, enzymes are completely destroyed, proteins are coagulated, fats are rendered unutilizable, and the list goes on and on.
In our next instalment we shall investigate one of the refiner’s most insidious masterpieces, sugar – the 99.9 per cent pure product.
(IronMan Magazine May 1974 Vol. 33 No. 4)