The use of nutrition in the treatment of chronic disease and other illnesses
Nutrition plays an incredibly important part in our lives and in our health in particular. Nutritional sciences have gone through five distinct phases from the early 20th century up until present day. Let’s look at them in closer detail.
Stages of the Nutritional Revolution
- Stage 1: The first stage of the nutritional revolution happened around the turn of the 20th century. Scientists at the time thought that certain body functions needed the presence of specific proteins to take place.
- Stage 2: Known as the “vitamin era”, this stage of the nutritional revolution led to the discovery of various vitamins e.g. vitamin B. Scientists also began to understand that a deficiency in a certain vitamin resulted in certain specific health problems.
- Stage 3: During the 1930’s to 1950’s pharmaceutical companies saw nutritional therapy as a way to increase their earnings. They produced many vitamin products and encouraged doctors to use them in their practices as treatment for all kinds of illnesses.
- Stage 4: This stage came about due to an adverse response to stage 3 and the promotion of vitamin products. Vitamins are more effective treating chronic disease over a long period and not producing miracle results as claimed by the pharmaceutical companies. Doctors stopped using many forms of vitamins passed on to them by these companies and as a result, sales of vitamins dropped significantly.Another problem arose in that a lot of medical schools in the US stopped featuring nutritional programmes as part of their curriculum causing many new doctors not to use nutritional science as a form of treatment as they had not been taught about it in their studies.
- Stage 5: Currently doctors seem to be using more nutritional science in their treatment. This is mostly to treat chronic problems over time and not in crisis situations, which suits the use of nutritional science as a treatment option far more. Trace (dietary) elements (e.g. iron, cobalt, copper, zinc etc.), vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids are now used to help improve people’s general health. This falls in with the shift of treatment practices to a more preventative care approach over a crisis care approach.
Nutrition revolution heroes
Dr Abram Hoffer
One of the nutritional revolutions fiercest protagonists was Dr Abram Hoffer (1917 – 2009), a Canadian psychiatrist who started practicing in the 1950’s
Forming a partnership with Linus Pauling (a Nobel prize winner and chemist), they advocated the treatment of patients through orthomolecular medicine which had being practiced by some doctors since the 1940’s. This is where high doses of vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids (generally over recommended daily allowances) are used to prevent or treat many different conditions over a long term period. This is done in an attempt to repair defects that might occur in the biochemistry of an individual.
Their approach was viewed with caution by much of the establishment. However, Hoffer was adamant that this form of treatment would not replace standard treatment and that it was not able to treat all diseases. It could help certain patients in certain situations and could be used together with orthodox treatment to benefit patients.
He suggested that it could be of particular use in curing certain mental illnesses and practiced using orthomolecular medicine till his death in 2009.
Dr William J Walsh
Another leading protagonist in the nutritional revolution, Walsh is acknowledged as an expert in nutritional medicine.
He has developed treatments for various health problems including behavioural problems, hyperactivity, attention deficit syndrome, autism, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s. In 2012, he published a book “Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain” in which he gives readers an insight into a nutrient therapy system.
Walsh’s achievements over the last few years include:
- Nutrient therapy leading to reduced violent behaviour.
- Identifying copper/zinc imbalances in autism subjects.
- Metallothionein protein depletions in autism subjects.
- A link between copper overload in the body and post-partum depression.
He currently heads up the Walsh Research Institute in the United States whose aims is to bring the assistance of biochemical therapy to persons living with various disorders including bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression.
The use of nutrition in treatment
There is absolutely no doubt that nutrition can play an important role in the long term treatment of numerous chronic diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, hypertension and many psychiatric disorders as proved by Dr Abram Hoffer and Dr William J Walsh.
Most chronic illnesses are caused by change on a cellular level in a person who is suffering from a nutrient shortage. This shortage is often caused by an inadequate diet. The severity of this cellular change can increases over time.
Often the proper nutrients over a long period can lead to a drastic improvement in the health of the sufferer, even reversing some chronic diseases. Having a favourable nutritional status also can help reduce complications after major surgery or trauma including infection, respiratory problems, heart failure, multiple organ failure or renal failure.
Lack of proper nutrition
The table below shows how a deficiency in a certain nutrient/vitamin/mineral can impact a person’s health other than the chronic diseases mentioned above.
|Lack of Vitamin/Mineral/Nutrient
|Essential Fatty Acids
||Hinders healing of wounds
||Blindness/Can impair immune function
||Scurvy (still found today)
||Rickets, thinning bones,
||Coalgulopathy (blood clotting problems)
||Impairs foetal development
Proper nutrition is imperative not only to combat various chronic diseases but to help prevent other illnesses, conditions and diseases that can affect your body.