You are here: The 6 Healthy Habits › Lifestyle Malnutrition
Our unhealthy diet has made us overfed and overweight, but undernourished.
The malnutrition of affluence now affects almost every person in the modern world.
Pretty much everyone you know suffers from it.
Probably you do, too.
It's because our modern diet fails to provide a sufficient and balanced supply of the nutrients that our body needs.
You may think this is an overstatement.
"Sure, we may be mildly malnourished if we don't always eat the way we should. But if you feel O.K. you must be O.K. Right?"
You have malnutrition when your body doesn't get the nutrients it needs to maintain optimum health.
You get plenty of calories - too many in fact. And you put on weight when when your metabolism fails to burn them off.
Over time the effects of lifestyle malnutrition on your overall health may become serious - even if you lack just one vitamin or mineral that's essential for your well-being.
The long-term consequences for your health can be disastrous.
Many of today's main killer diseases including heart disease, stroke and cancer, show links to the malnutrition of affluence.
The recorded cause of death will likely be heart disease, stroke, cancer, lower respiratory disease or some other form of lifestyle (degenerative) disease.
But we know that poor diet is a major cause of lifestyle diseases that are the biggest killers of western populations.
And we know the failure of our food to adequately nourish our bodies over the long term is a major contributor to the development of these diseases.
Do you sometimes feel washed-out, drained, just 'not 100%,' for no reason you can put your finger on?
Whatever the immediate reason, the chances are that the 'cause behind the cause' is some degree of long term nutritional deficiency.
Malnutrition, except in its most extreme forms, does not strike you down instantly, like lightening.
You do not become bed-ridden in weeks, or unable to perform.
You do not have a doctor giving you six months to live.
The malnutrition we suffer from in the West is a silent, creeping killer.
Over decades it gradually, cumulatively, reduces your body's ability to maintain your youth and vitality, and to defend you against disease and degeneration.
Other important factors, like being overweight or obese, not getting enough exercise and having excessive stress levels, work hand in hand with nutrient deficiencies to ruin your health over time.
Without sufficient balanced nutrients your body cannot function optimally.
It becomes compromised in its ability to protect you from disease, to repair and replace your damaged and dying cells and to heal you when you become sick.
These and thousands of other processes that occur continuously within your body are compromised.
Yet you need these functions to keep you alive, active and vibrant with energy. And you need them to maintain and sustain your body over a long, healthy lifetime.
Even 'mild' malnutrition prevents you from performing your best, getting the most out of life and staying healthy.
It's too high in sugar, salt and animal (saturated) fats, and too low in fiber and many other nutrients we need for optimal health.
And it includes many toxins - chemicals used in modern agricultural and food processing methods.
The standard Western diet is a slow-acting form of poison!
The facts are, in affluent countries, even though we have more than enough food to go around, too many of us end up overfed and overweight but badly undernourished!
The problem is endemic in our modern world.
The major causes of lifestyle malnutrition include our depleted soils, industrial mass agriculture, commercially driven food production methods and a cultural obsession with refined, packaged and chemically distorted foods.
Together these factors destroy many of the nutrients in our food that our bodies require.
Toxins and a stressful lifestyle reduce the efficiency of our bodies in absorbing what nutrients we do get.
As a result, we too suffer from malnutrition.
There are three sources of degenerative diseases:
malnutrition is the big one. It's a deficiency, imbalance or excess of the nutrients your body requires for optimum health. In the long term a deficiency or imbalance of nutrients leads to conditions ultimately associated with the development of lifestyle (degenerative) diseases.
These conditions include for example being overweight or obese, excessive levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
toxicity is the result of toxic (poisonous) molecules interfering with the normal biochemical reactions in your body. Combined with malnutrition it is linked to numerous lifestyle diseases.
Processed food additives like preservatives and artificial colorings and flavorings have a toxic effect on your body due to the use of chemicals in food processing, which are foreign to the human body.
You also take toxins into your body through the air you breathe and the water you drink. The air in our cities, our workplaces, and even in our homes, contains many toxic substances.
Toxins pose a serious threat to your health. Increasing awareness of this is the reason why 'detox diets' have become so popular.
genetic defects occur when an error (mutation) in a person's genes interferes with normal biochemical reactions in the body.
This is relatively rare. It has been estimated that about 5 in 1000 people have a genetic condition with serious health implications. If you are unlucky to be one of these, leading a natural lifestyle may help you to manage the consequences, but it may not cure you completely.
If you want to look good, feel good and live a long, healthy and productive life, you need to get an adequate and balanced intake of nutrients.
The healthiest lifestyle diet emphasises moderation and variety, and is largely vegetarian, largely raw.
Your body is designed to get the nutrients you need simply by eating a large variety of organically grown, uncooked plant foods: vegetables (especially leafy greens), fruits, seeds and nuts.
These foods should be a substantial part of your diet.
My 70/30 rule is the perfect guide. It sets a minimum standard which I think everyone can and most definitely should aspire to as a way of life.
When it comes to choosing the actual food you consume, simply be guided by the following:
Make natural plant foods a minimum 70% of what you consume:
Make all other foods maximum 30% of what you consume:
If you want to do more than just the 70/30 rule, moving even closer toward a vegetarian or raw foodist lifestyle, that's great.
There are significant health benefits to be obtained from a 'stricter' approach. However, you may find it hard to keep it up unless you're one of those people who are inclined towards that way of life. Discipline and denial alone rarely produce permanent personal change. see if it works for you. Many people love it and would never go back. Just be sure you do consume the range of nutrients needed for good health.
There's plenty of advice on this website, and links to more specific resources to help with that.
For everyone else, just sticking to the 70/30 rule should provide enough nourishment for most people to lead a long, healthy, fruitful life.
Doing less than the 70/30 rule makes you a candidate for lifestyle malnutrition, placing you at greater risk of serious disease.
If your life circumstances make it too hard for you to follow the 70/30, then at least find some other means of providing additional nutrients (i.e. supplements and superfoods).
Or change your life circumstances.
The risk of disease and even death being triggered by long term lifestyle malnutrition is very real.
For example one 2009 study in the U.S. showed that overweight - obesity were factors in 10% of all deaths.
The main dietary risk factors found included:
- a high salt intake
- a low intake of fruits and vegetables.
The largest number of deaths were associated with:
- High dietary salt
- low dietary omega-3 fatty acids
- high dietary trans fatty acids
Poor nutrition is caused by a lack of sufficient and balanced nutrients required for good health.
Understand the major causes of malnutrition.
Learn more about nutrition here.
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Once, whenever I heard the word malnutrition I would think of starving children in Africa.
I've always been distressed by images of those poor unfortunate kids with their bloated bellies and bony limbs. Life seems so unfair. To this day their plight remains a dark stain on the conscience of the wealthy world.
They suffer from malnutrition because they can't get enough to eat.
We in the affluent West have no shortage of food. We have too much of it, in fact.
A majority of us are overweight or obese.