This book is designed to give a completely up-to-date summary of Nutritional Medicine as it applies to front line medical professionals, medical students and the interested layperson. Newspapers often give contradictory and confusing reports on issues such as alcohol intake, dietary sugars versus fats and the value or not of taking supplements. In addition, many GPs are as confused as their patients on these matters as they get very little education in nutrition either at medical school or afterwards. But nutritional medicine is not really that confusing. There is some disagreement among experts but there is a consensus on the most important issues, albeit with slight variations.
I have summarized these generally agreed opinions but explained where there are differences of opinion and the reasons for these. This book is written in a style I use to communicate with patients and GP colleagues, using minimal scientific jargON.
John Nichols graduated from Liverpool Medical School in 1967 and entered General Practice in Guildford in 1971. He spent six months as research assistant to Ian Watson at the Shere GP practice in Surrey working on various projects including a trial of revaccination against measles 5-10 years after primary immunisation which showed a decline in immunity that was boosted by revaccination. In 1973 he joined The Fairlands GP Practice near Guildford where he was able to collaborate with university colleagues on a number of research projects. He was also a GP trainer for 20 years. He graduated the MSc Nutritional Medicine in 2005 and was subsequently appointed as a Visiting Research Fellow in 2011. He has published research on zinc status and postnatal depression, trace elements and female infertility, smoking cessation, diverticular disease and the use of probiotics in primary care. Published books include three books on Nutritional Medicine and three works of fiction (e-books) that are available through Amazon books.
There is a mismatch between our stone-age genetic legacy and the modern environment. Apart from the nutritional problems explained in this excerpt, there are issues of pollution, work stress and chemical exposure. Food has been adulterated intentionally or unintentionally for hundreds of years and modern processed food is by no means free of this risk. Until recently trans fatty acids were added to various foods to make them tastier and to improve shelf life. Now we know that they were one of the main reasons for an epidemic of mid-life heart attacks and most governments are working to reduce trans fatty acids in food to a minimum. However, mismatch problems continue to haunt us and there is no easy route back to a stone-age lifestyle and diet.
Nutrition and Science
Because our modern diet is energy dense and, compared with the Stone Age diet, short on minerals and vitamins, there is a very real risk of health problems associated with “empty calories”. We have already considered the implications for reproductive health in Chapter 3. The developing embryo is particularly vulnerable to borderline low levels of mineral and vitamin intake and the developing fetus and newborn infant, though not quite as vulnerable, may also be affected. The mature adult is less vulnerable, but a persistently poor diet has been shown to play a major role in the development of many cancers and cardiovascular disease. I must remind the reader, yet again, that many of us who are on a poor diet genuinely believe that our diet is good and this probably includes most vegetarians. A really good vegetarian diet has many health benefits, but it is not easy to attain.