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We, and every living being on Earth, are over-fuelled and under-nourished. Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colours” typifies the dichotomy —Part I

By September 21, 2018 December 8th, 2019 No Comments

We are literally bursting with affluence, and hungry for substance. We are drowning in information, yet thirsty for knowledge. In our pursuit for more, we have depleted ourselves and our planet of all sustenance, caging animals as we fatten them up, pumping them and the earth with chemicals to keep up with crops drained of nutrients to satisfy an insatiable human greed, blinded by indulgence and trapped in a cycle of gluttony and lust.

I mean every word of this.

I cry every time I listen to Dolly Parton’s song “Coat of Many Colours,” and not because everyone I know teases me for loving country music. The song talks about family, poverty, love, faith, and shame. For me, it is all that and more. It epitomizes the vast divide between empty affluence and rich poverty, in the form of a simple coat of rags sewn together with love and worn with pride. No designer coat in the universe can come close to warming a child like a simple coat lovingly created with the nourishing fire of a mother’s love.

“Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be. With my “coat of many colours” that my mama made for me.” —Dolly Parton

Preventive medicine Dr. Kathleen Hall defines nourishment as

“far beyond the limited context of diet and includes anything we consume into our bodies, minds or souls. Nourishment is all sustenance taken in through our senses into our bodies — your mouth, ears, eyes, nose, and sense of touch — and it affects your physical and mental health and subsequent happiness.”

Nourishment goes even beyond ourselves to the planet we call home and the living beings we share it with. It touches our relationships with each other too. It powers our connection with God.

Nutrition

7 of the top leading causes of death today are strongly linked to nutrition. They include heart disease, cancers, lower respiratory diseases, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and kidney disease. It is bewildering that with the advancement of modern medicine and science, we still haven’t honestly and loudly confronted the causes of these preventable diseases. Instead, we continue to produce —successfully— management tools to contain symptoms for prolonged periods of time, all the while profiteering from fringe businesses that flourish on the proliferation of these diseases of affluence, alarmingly evident in affluent societies where excess is the metric of wealth. It comes as no surprise that Kuwait, Saudi Arabic, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates are among the world’s top 20 countries with the highest incidents of diabetes.

There are no riches to be had from apples and broccoli, grown naturally and sustainably. They cannot be mass produced into a pill, placed in sexy packaging, and marketed to unsuspecting teenagers. Apple juice is as far as we have gone. While the whole apple can without exaggeration be one of nature’s powerful medicines, its reduced, extracted juice has instead gone on to fuel the diabetes epidemic that is sweeping the world.

“Every apple contains thousands of antioxidants whose names, beyond a few like vitamin C, are unfamiliar to us, and each of these powerful chemicals has the potential to play an important role in supporting our health. They impact thousands upon thousands of metabolic reactions inside the human body. But calculating the specific influence of each of these chemicals isn’t nearly sufficient to explain the effect of the apple as a whole. Because almost every chemical can affect every other chemical, there is an almost infinite number of possible biological consequences.” __Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Nutrients are chemicals that assist in creating and restoring health. Science has yet to identify every nutrient present in natural food. Think of nourishment as an orchestra of hundreds of instruments working in unison and harmony to produce magical creations of divine tunes.

Much like a sum of old rags that come together with love to create a glorious coat of many colours.

I propose that broccoli represent the essence of nourishment. This cruciferous vegetable is a powerful gift of nature. It contains thousands of chemical substances that interact with one another —and with enzymes in our saliva when we chew it. Science has not yet been able to identify the thousands of reactions that make broccoli the superfood it is. It is an excellent source of highly absorbable vitamin A, C, and K, chromium, folate, and fibre. It is a good source of manganese, tryptophan, potassium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamins B and E, carotenoids, and other nutrients. When eaten raw (or chopped and left for 40 minutes before cooking to activate the precursors of nutrients), enzymes in our saliva combine with the precursors of sulforaphane present in broccoli to produce sulforaphane, which influences genes that hinder the growth of cancer and kill cancer stem cells. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

It is a potent, powerful medicine. So are the hundreds of other whole fruits and vegetables.

Our average diet today unfortunately includes less broccoli and whole apples, and a more sexy yet limited variety of approximately thirty foods primarily high in corn products (which are all genetically modified) and refined sugar (robbed of all nutrients and supporting enzymes). Sweetened, refined grains “fortified” with non-absorbable vitamins (to partially address the obvious nutritional deficiency in the product while also requiring vitamin supplementation), along with animal products, have become a staple of every meal loaded with saturated fats and devoid of nutrients. Add 5-6 meals of this to your day if you are an athlete who leads an active, “healthy” lifestyle to “nourish” the growth and repair of muscles. If you are lucky, by the time you hit your 40s, your body will begin to send clear warning signs of impending damage. You continue to fuel up on your dirty protein with one hand, and pop pills to manage the resulting dirtier fumes with the other. And the cycle continues.

Take a look at this chart borrowed from Dr. Campbell’s Centre for Nutrition Studies, highlighting some of the nutrient composition of 500 calories of energy of plant versus animal-based foods.

NUTRIENT COMPOSITION

PLANT AND ANIMAL-BASED FOODS (PER 500 CALORIES OF ENERGY)

Nutrient

Plant-Based

Animal-Based

Cholesterol (mg)

197

Fat (g)

4

36

Protein (g)

33

34

Dietary Fiber (g)

31

Vitamin C (mg)

293

4

Iron (mg)

20

2

Calcium (mg)

545

4

Beta-carotene (mcg)

29.919

17

Vitamin E (mg_ATE)

11

0.5

Folate (mcg)

1168

19

Magnesium (mg)

548

51

Modern agriculture has also contributed to the depletion of nutrients in crops, so that the occasional few whole apples and broccoli we do consume end up with much less nutritional wealth than nature intended. In order to meet the soaring demand for crops —mostly to feed the outrageous number of raised cattle to feed humanity— we have opted to focus our science and intellectual insight on producing quantity over quality.

Darin Olien writes in his awesome book Superlife that scientists from the Bio-Communications Research Institute and the Biochemical Institute of the University of Texas tracked nutrient changes in 43 garden crops from 1950-1999. The report concluded that “43 foods show apparent, statistically reliable declines for 6 nutrients (protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron, riboflavin and ascorbic acid.”

“We conclude that the most likely explanation was changes in cultivated varieties used today compared to 50 years ago. During those 50 years, there have been intensive efforts to breed new varieties that have greater yield, or resistance to pests, or adaptability to different climates. But the dominant effort is for higher yields. Emerging evidence suggests that when you select for yield, crops grow bigger and faster, but they don’t necessarily have the ability to make or uptake nutrients at the same, faster rate.” — Dr. Donald R. Davis, lead researcher.

The non-discriminating use of pesticides is another chronic problem whose magnitude is just beginning to unfold. Pesticides and herbicides kill everything in their wake, including healthy micro-organisms that live in the soil and contribute to the intricate balance of the planet —and our bodies. Glyphosate (known as Roundup) is Monsanto’s broad spectrum herbicide used to kill weeds and grasses on genetically modified crops. It has been unquestionably linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and Parkinson’s disease.  A jury recently awarded the terminally-ill Dewayne Johnson a staggering $289 million in his lawsuit against Monsanto. The company is facing hundreds of new lawsuits now. Those deadly chemicals remain in the ecosystem, interacting with other pollutants and toxins to cause more havoc. This is only the tip of the iceberg. And the iceberg is melting.

We take better care of our cars than we do our bodies, the planet, and its inhabitants. It is not too late to correct course. Simple is healthy. Less is more. What is sewn with love is rich with nourishment. I don’t know about you, but a juicy apple picked from my mother’s apple tree is worth a million cheeseburgers.

“One is only poor, only if they choose to be.” —Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colours

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