Intergenerational Nutrition

I’m going to begin this brief article with a hypothetical example.  Let’s assume we have a woman who has come to the realization that her diet, which is rich in highly processed foods containing synthetic ingredients and grown in contaminated soils, is causing her health problems.  Allergies, inflammation resulting in arthritis, disruption of hormones, periodontal infections, and fatigue are some of the current issues she is dealing with.  She performs some study and decides to go on a cleansing diet.  For four weeks she consumes nothing but chia seed (for its insoluble fiber to absorb toxins in the GI tract), dandelion root (for its beneficial effects on the liver), and bilberry (promoting diuresis and blood return from extremities).  Only clean spring water accompanies these three plants.  At the end of the month, she has lost weight, removed toxins from her body, greatly decreased the pain she was feeling, and has a tremendous sense of well-being.  This is all good news.

Then comes the mistakes. (1) She assumes that this healing diet (one meant to correct health issues but not necessarily one to provide for ongoing nutritional needs) is the correct diet for her for the rest of her life.  (2) She promotes the diet to everyone she knows because it made her feel great (despite the fact she has only been on said diet for one month). And (3) she chastises everyone who does not accept and practice this diet. Though the diet in this example is fictitious, the three actions she pursued are very real and very common.  Let’s examine what she has actually done.

This person did not understand that diets (all diets) can be broken down into three subtypes:  healing, maintaining, and building.  She was on a healing diet, one designed to produce a specific action (in this case, cleanse), but not one that provided ongoing nutritional support for her body.  A building diet is one that could be used by athletes, expecting mothers, or even cancer survivors to provide nutritional support and also increases certain foods to develop musculature, nourish a fetus, or create a strong immune defense.  She also did not think long-term.  She was excited for her success (and should be) but did not consider ramifications of her diet down the road—most diets that are practiced today are relatively new to our experience.  She focused on her own health.   She focused on herself, now (which is, unfortunately, the norm in our civilization).

I used a woman in my hypothetical example not because I wanted to attack one gender but because I wanted to really push a certain point:  very few people in this country interested in healthy diets ever consider what the diet does to the next generation (again, they think about themselves and how the diet works for them).  We are not accustomed to thinking generationally (as evidenced by the fact we pollute knowing full well we leave the world in a worse place for our children).  Nurturing a growing fetus requires more nutrition than an adult needs on their maintaining diet (i.e., they need to engage in a building diet).  Folate, biotin, choline, and vitamins A, D, and K2 (among other vitamins and minerals) are required in large amounts for a healthy, properly formed baby.  Almost everyone in the United States was malnourished in utero.  It is evidenced by the fact they have crooked, crowded, and/or impacted teeth—their faces are too narrow to fit all of their teeth (note that people eating wild and traditional diets have broader faces than we do, with straight, properly spaced teeth and all teeth emerging, including wisdom teeth).  Almost all Americans show this evidence of nutritional deficiency but no one realizes it because it is so common (there is evidence suggesting also that pelvis form is affected by poor diet, creating potential complications for birthing a child).  Keep in mind that a diet that does not create a large enough skull for our teeth also does not create a large enough cranium for a very important organ protected by the cranium (and, if you are wondering, our brains are slightly smaller than those of our indigenous ancestors).  So how do we consider the next generation in our diet?

From a nutritional standpoint, there is really only one diet (with variations) that has shown it can produce healthy adults AND healthy, well-formed children—an omnivorous diet that consists of wild foods (entirely) or a combination of wild and traditional foods.  Traditional foods are organically raised heirloom plants prepared to maximize nutrition or organically raised animals fed a biologically appropriate diet.  These diets consisted of a mix of raw and cooked foods, always consumed animal fat in some form, and had special diets (i.e., building diets) for expecting parents that usually began pre-conception.  These wild and traditional diets had a nearly even ratio of essential fatty acids (Ω-6 and Ω-3), something that is almost impossible to attain on any other diet (due to the high use of grains, nuts, legumes, and grain-fed animals, which are generally rich in Ω-6 fatty acids).  This essential fatty acid balance has important ramifications for neural development of a fetus.  Today, all diets maximize the use of plants that have been genetically modified (through breeding and sometimes also laboratory methods), resulting in losses in nutrition, muted levels of phytochemistry, and alterations to essential fatty acid profiles.  All of this affects the health of the individual AND the next generation.

Anyone who is concerned about the health of the next generation will need to understand that our form has changed as a result of the food we have consumed.  We practice what we are told to be healthy diets, but most of these diets have no track record, no proof they build well-formed children (which translates to healthy, long-lived adults).  In fact, evidence indicates these new diets cannot build well-formed children.  Examine images on the web of any indigenous culture around the world still enjoying their traditional diet (this is a key point) and you will notice broader faces, wider mouths, and wider noses (these traits are also found in the indigenous of Europe).  Our current form is one of nutritional deficiency, one we have arrived at by focusing on the individual and not focusing on the effects of our diet on the next generation.  Many parents have relatively healthy and happy children and assume they have eaten appropriately.  But these are relative comparisons made to other contemporary people, people who are not necessarily the best standard against which to compare health and vitality.  What these parents have not considered is our ancestral form, a form that was lost when we stopped relying on the nutritional wisdom that had been gathered over many millennia of examining what food did to the next generation.  Nowadays, we focus on the dietary effects to the present-day individual.  Our real form, the one that is within all of us to produce (in the next generation), is one that can only be generated through wild and traditional diets.