The human body evolved to make use of nutrients and protect itself from toxins found in the natural environment. It has not evolved to cope so well with molecules in food, water, air and medicine that did not exist before man created them or that were not found at the same levels as they are today (1). A new molecule is in fact made all the more profitable by the fact that it did not already exist and is thus patentable. This puts maximising profit without limit in direct conflict with human health and well-being.
Since the middle of the 20th century we have been on a health programme of vaccination, the low-fat diet, highly processed foods fortified with ‘vitamins‘ and pharmaceutical medicine yet we now find ourselves in the midst of an epidemic of chronic disease in which the goal posts have moved so much that the ‘normal’ ranges of health markers accommodate ever increasing levels of damage due to dangerously high blood sugar levels, fat accumulation and low thyroid function. Children are now being diagnosed with what used to be called ‘adult-onset’ diabetes, a condition which as adults will double (men) or triple (women) their risks for cardiovascular disease (2).
Although pharmaceutical medicine has had great success with acute infectious disease, our industrial success has clearly exerted a huge toll on human health and the current health paradigm has arguably aided and abetted our collective decline. There is now a glaring mismatch between our genetics and our environment, diet and lifestyle.
At medical school students are reputed to swear the Hippocratic Oath and it was back in the 4th of 5th century BC that Hippocrates stated “Let food by thy medicine”. Yet the traditional practice of using food as medicine has now been denigrated to ‘alternative’ or ‘complementary’ medicine. What we eat has been shown in countless studies to affect our chances of getting cancer (3, 4) and every aspect of our health from the functioning of our digestive (5), immune (6), cardiovascular (7), endocrine (8) and nervous systems (9) right down to the underlying intracellular biochemistry and the energy production in tiny organelles called mitochondria that keeps us alive (10).
The release of 85,000 synthetic and compounds into the environment (11), of which around only 200 have been tested for safety and others proven to be toxic (12), the depletion of topsoil that came with intensive farming practices, reduced sun exposure and the stress of modern life now necessitate, in many cases, the use of supplements to maintain optimal health and vitality (13,14,15,16), as well as healthy food choices, the right amount of the right kinds of exercise, adequate rest, fulfilling relationships, purpose and meaning in life and the time to find joy and pleasure away from the workplace as well as within the workplace.
It does seem like some change is afoot however, with the online journal Open Heart publishing an editorial in August 2015 proposing dietary change to be a more effective treatment than medical interventions for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (17). Furthermore here in the UK BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy), of which Tom is a member, has now been invited to join Members of Parliament and Peers in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes.