Nutrient and Calorie Imbalance - A modern catastrophe
The bottom line. Compared with the Neolithic revolution, the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions resulted in a second, and more pronounced, spike in autoimmune disease among humans. Mechanised agriculture and Industrialised food processing have magnified the negative effects of the Neolithic diet. As the Industrial revolution progressed, cheaper and less nutrient dense foods became more palatable and, crucially, increasingly profitable for the industries that produced them. Calories are cheap, nutrients are expensive and profit margins selling calories are high and profit margins for selling nutrients are low. As a result, rates of autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, mental disorders and cancer have risen to historically unprecedented levels.
With industrial concentration in the food processing industry, competition is minimal, resulting in extremely low margins for farmers. This means input costs for processed plant-based foods are very low and profit margins very high providing the processed food and grain industries with large lobbying budgets that are used to influence government health and agricultural policy to ignore the terrible health and societal cost of nutrient poor plant-based products.
The detail - The Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions added to the problems of the Neolithic. Prior to these developments, Neolithic agriculture was still heavily dependent on domestic livestock, both for food and power/transportation. Absent the technology to process many plant products, particularly grains and pulses, humans relied on the nutrient density of animal products for much of their dietary needs.
Unfortunately, the agricultural revolution brought with it a significant improvement in the ability of farmers to produce large volumes of grains, pulses and vegetables. The industrial revolution gave industry the technology to process these largely unpalatable products into palatable and cheap ‘foods’. What was previously considered ‘peasant food’ now became everyone’s food.
The result is that the average North American diet, if eaten to meet the body’s nutrient requirements, results in a 42% overconsumption of calories. In North America, 40% of the population is obese and 60% overweight. Digesting and dealing with the consequences of the calorie overload taxes the body’s digestive and immune function and the brain is starved of essential nutrients.
Vegans, on the other hand, emphasise a ‘whole food’ vegetable-based diet as ‘healthier’ than the standard diet. Absent the processed junk, they ‘should be healthier’ and are less obese as a demographic, so why do they still suffer from the autoimmune and cardiovascular disease of their obese neighbours, and share the brain atrophy problem?
The answer is simple, without processing, the whole food vegan diet is even less nutrient dense than the standard American diet. To eat to meet their body’s nutrient requirements, a ‘whole food vegan’ would have to overeat calories to the tune of 130%. The reason they aren’t all obese is because they cannot physically consume sheer volume of food that represents. They’re eating like a Chimpanzee or Gorilla with 1/3 the colon and a brain that is oversized to the tune of 900cc. They live with chronic nutrient deficiency, early onset osteoporosis and have the physiques of concentration camp inmates. The result is a group of people requiring heavy supplementation with processed foods at a cost of high industrial energy input and the terrible ecological consequences of producing the source materials, plus the economic and environmental cost of the pharmaceutical and medical system required to manage the health consequences.
The choice for vegans is simple,
Go with whole foods; suffer chronic
nutrient deficiency, autoimmune and metabolic disease
and bear the attendant personal suffering plus impose the
ecological impact of medical treatment/pharmaceutical
Use highly processed supplements to mitigate nutrient deficiency
and accept the massive energy, and associated negative
environmental impact and still have the issue of autoimmune
disease triggered by plant toxins, and attendant medical/
But despite the detrimental impact on individual and societal health, plus the destructive environmental impact, the USDA and Health Canada’s dietary guidelines, and agricultural policies, continue to emphasise plant-based over animal-based diets, and consequently, calories over nutrition and ecological destruction over ecosystem health.
In addition, the lubricants, lamp oils and toxic by-products of the 19th century found a new home in the supermarkets of the 20th century. Rapeseed oil (Canola oil), was developed as a steam engine and naval drive system lubricant. It adheres to wet metal, a valuable characteristic to a late 19th century marine engineer building the machinery to power the Dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy. Cottonseed oil, a by-product of the cotton industry, was a widely used lamp oil until petroleum was discovered and replaced it.
Sunflower, Safflower, Soybean, Corn and other ‘vegetable’ oils all made their contributions to the industrial revolution before two soap makers, Mr’s Proctor and Gamble, discovered they could, in addition to making soap out of them, hydrogenate them (make them solid) and pass them off as cooking fats in place of butter, ghee, lard and tallow. In addition, with chemical bleaching and other processing, these smelly and horrible tasting industrial lubricants could be passed off as cooking oils in place of olive oil and coconut oil.
Unfortunately, unlike the natural oils and fats they replaced, these seed oils are extremely high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and form several dangerous toxins when heated. Omega 6, in excess, is a highly inflammatory lipid (fatty acid). The medical consensus that an Omega 6:3 ratio of 4:1 is the upper limit before increased risk of cardiovascular disease rears its ugly head (overall dietary average). Omega 6 and Omega 3 should be balanced between 1:4 and 4:1, with near to 1:1 being an ideal, to avoid inflammatory responses and resulting disease. As Omega 6 is much more common in oil bearing seed grains/pulses, it is difficult to reach an imbalance or excess in favour of Omega 3.
Finally, prior to the introduction of industrial seed oils into the human diet, the total human dietary fat contribution of PUFAs was under 2.5% and those that were consumed were in a much more biologically accessible form (DHA vs AHA).
Now consider this table:
*Note: Even those traditional cooking fats/oils with a ratio above 4:1 show a very small total percentage of Omega 6, with the bulk of the lipids being made up by a combination of Omega 9 and saturated fat.
‘Crisco’, the original plant based ‘shortening’, was launched amid a widespread campaign to denigrate lard. Originally made from cottonseed oil and latterly from soybean oil, this product hit the streets before WWI and was followed by margarines and a plethora of industrial seed oil-based products. Then, just as hydrogenated industrial by-products began to dominate the market in the middle of the 20th century, cardiovascular disease began to dominate the headlines.
Who did the experts blame? Did they blame the steam engine lubricants and lamp oils turned into faux lard/butter and tell everyone to go back to the natural fats and oils they had been eating for millennia without issue?
Of course not!
There is too much money in selling battleship propeller shaft lubricant deliberately mislabelled as cooking oil. So, aided by a well-organized propaganda campaign led by a fringe religious cult based out of Loma Linda University in California, they blamed the very fats and oils that could have helped return the population to health. Dr John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, got filthy rich deliberately making people sick, a subject covered in a sidebar to this page.
If the tobacco industry had been as profitable as the industrial seed oil industry, we’d still have doctors and bureaucrats promoting the ‘health benefits’ of smoking to children in schools because smoking has killed fewer people than industrial seed oils and the processed plant-based ‘foods’ they’re laced with.
It is in cases like this that medical practitioners think a lot like Army officers. Just as a peaceful world needs fewer soldiers, a healthy population needs few doctors. So many Army officers and doctors, aware that true success means unemployment, dedicate a lot more time and effort to ‘fighting’ than ‘winning’. For extremists like Dr Kellogg, making his fellow humans sick turned out to be a very lucrative business model, especially if you convince them the root cause of their illness is actually a ‘cure’.
There are notable exceptions to this rule and, thankfully, the medical profession has a growing number of renegade doctors and other professionals who are turning to preventative medicine and healthy diet in the place of pharmaceuticals and surgery. I’ve referenced some of their work already and more references will be found at the bottom of the page entitled 'Humans: Facultative Carnivores'.