by Sudha Hamilton
Great leaps in understanding have recently occurred within nutritional medicine. For many years what we ate was studiously ignored by the scientific community, & with the funding for many of their studies coming from pharmaceutical companies, who focus on patenting artificial derivatives we can see why. There is no serious money to be made from food as medicine & this is another shining example of where the free market economy does not serve the whole person within the whole community. In matters of nutritional health we need some guidance beyond the money making principle, we need in my opinion our governments to get up to speed on these matters & to offer some leadership. Which we are now seeing to some extent here in Australia, with the senate enquiry into childhood obesity. The huge costs we as a community are now facing in maintaining a national health budget that continues to blow out in managing hospitals in particular, which are basically dealing with things when they have reached the ‘too late’ stage, may finally spur our political leaders to seek a preventative health strategy. It will not be cheap to begin with, we will have to spend more educating doctors, health professionals & the media so that they can pass that knowledge onto the general public. Eventually however in ten to twenty years it will save billions of dollars & improve the quality & life expectancy of our societies.
A perfect example of the institutionalised neglect of food is in our hospitals, where meals are still served with scant regard for their potentially healing properties. Unappetising fare produced by those without the most up to date knowledge of nutritional medicine & with definitely little understanding of the importance of colour, freshness & presentation is not serving us well in our healing instititions. The highly publicised TV chef Jamie Oliver & his recent attempt to revolutionise a British school canteen highlights a similar need to reappraise our attitudes to the diets of our children. It has been quite a journey that so called health food has been on, since the nineteen sixties & seventies when those who consumed mung beans & lentils were derided as hippies, up until now, where we see the large supermarkets rapidly expanding their range of organic foods to cater for ever growing demand. We in the general community tend to receive nutritional health information in piece meal bits that have filtered through by word of mouth, stray news reports & the like. For example suddenly the concern may be the high level of salt in processed foods, then it is bad fats like monounsaturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats, low carbohydrate diets or high fibre diets and so on. We hear the alarm bell warning, “don’t eat this or that,” but we do not understand the whole picture as it is either considered too complex for the media or we just want the result and can’t be bothered how we got there.