What hope now for real food?
Watching the avid consumer of fast food, President elect Donald Trump, thank his supporters this morning I recalled seeing his final campaign rally on television yesterday. It struck me at the time because the position of the podium made his campaign slogan appear to be “MAKE AMERICA EAT AGAIN”.
Could this perhaps be the most important messsage not to feature in either campaign?
The actual slogan, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” drew on “Let’s Make America Great Again” which featured in Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign. The irony is this was the same year the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines. The most prominent recommendation: the promotion of a low-fat diet, designed to improve health and control waistlines. Well we all know how that turned out.
Make America eat real food again and inspire the world
This slogan cuts right to the chase and in my humble opinion should have featured in someone’s campaign during the otherwise gruesome eighteen-month presidential electoral battle. But the critical importance of nutrition in the fight against chronic disease will now clearly face a struggle to be accepted in the White House. Yet, as the world holds its collective breath to find out what the Trump administration policy might hold on so many fronts, a report earlier this week might just get this businessman President’s attention.
COMMON FOOD ADDITIVE CAUSES CANCER
Could this five-word headline finally strike fear into the hearts of the managements of Big Food? Or spark a revolution in food production and consumption? Well, get ready for all sorts of fireworks, because Dr. Emilie Viennois, assistant professor at the Georgia State University Institute for Biomedical Sciences, was reported on Monday as believing there might be a connection between a common food additive that alters intestinal microbiota and colorectal cancer.
A link to the full story can be found below, but in summary, research by Dr. Viennois’ team at Georgia State University research labs showed that low concentrations of two common emulsifiers – carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80 – induced low-grade inflammation and obesity/metabolic syndrome in mice. A new study hypothesized that emulsifiers affect the gut microbiota in a way that promotes colorectal cancer, and this is exactly what the team found.
Unsurprisingly it is also reported that the researchers are now further investigating specifically which microbiota are responsible for this effect, as well as the precise mechanism that promotes cancer.
But this is not just a problem for America
In Ireland it was reported last week that poor diet and lifestyle habits are pushing up the country’s cancer rate, which is now the sixth highest in the world.
The recommendations for the consumption of more fruit and vegetables, high-fibre breakfast cereals and oily fish will be a challenge to swallow for a population that is raised on breakfast fry ups, potatoes and a penchant for pork, as I recall from my time spent in Belfast.
Researchers at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast published the study in the Journal of Public Health having examined data from 184 countries highlighting how Ireland has the sixth highest overall cancer rate in the world. The incidence of cancer is also rising faster in Ireland than in most other western European countries, with lifestyle-related cancers to the fore, including bowel, oesophagus, breast, prostate and lung.
The study further found that poor eating habits were further compounded by low physical activity levels and increasing obesity rates, all of which heighten risk.
Funding for prevention rather than cure
Yet some of the most encouraging health news came from America last week with the announcement that Medicare is to begin paying for diabetes prevention strategies.
As reported in The Washington Post, federal health officials announced that beginning 2018 Medicare will start paying for a strategy to help millions of older Americans at high risk of diabetes from developing the disease. This is a significant development in funding preventative remedies aimed at keeping people healthy in a system dominated by expensive long term palliative treatments. It also displays an example of joined up thinking across US government health initiatives (see The task force reprogramming a nation’s nutrition?)
This initiative should set an example to all governments, including the Irish, where failure to provide targeted funding for the recently launched national plan to tackle obesity now looks even more mistaken, especially bearing in mind the findings of the DIT study.
Will prevention continue to trump cure?
Every new President finds a packed in tray waiting on their desk in the Oval Office, but when Donald Trump takes up residence in 2017 let’s hope that tackling the consistent rise in chronic disease in that great nation will not be buried at the bottom of the pile – or that he reverses the important steps now being taken in the final days of the Obama administration. The financial benefits alone make the case to keep faith with the new programmes and indeed to continue to move this issue up the agenda, with the most recent research from the Georgia State University Institute for Biomedical Sciences, Atlanta, making it a priority.
Analysing and determining what the nation eats, particularly the importance of distinguishing between Real Food with the many benefits it delivers versus processed ‘fake foods’ and the damage it can cause, has never been more urgent or important.
Over to you, President Trump.
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About the author
Malnourishment is caused by the body suffering from a deficiency of vitamins, minerals and proteins from the lack of the right kind of food. The absence of key nutrients can have a severe impact on our health, including decreased immunity, weakening of the heart and respiratory system, while also affecting our mental health.
Why Real Food matters
The average Brit eats 140tsp of sugar per week, over three times the recommended amount. If we consume more sugar than we need our liver converts the excess into fat and stores it around the body.