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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Columnist: Dr. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu

Why Agricultural sector is to blame for the increasing incidence of diseases

The Agricultural sector is the central nervous system in fighting against diseases. But it is rather unfortunate it has been neglected as part of preventive medicine. Even in terms of curative medicine; it is still the central nervous system. If we want to win this war on the increasing cancer incidence and mortality rates; then we have to redirect our attention at the agricultural sector.

Today, we are battling with numerous diseases without knowing the causative factors. No wonder God warned his people during the time of Exodus to obey him and do his will. So that he will take away sicknesses and diseases from their food and water. God knows his people are capable of neglecting everything naturally he created and it will be problematic in the future.

Today, sperm counts are plummeting; fertility issues graced both sexes coupled with premature ejaculation etc. People are battling for their health. Why do we have to lose our health before trying to regain it? The problem is simple: our diets have been crippled because our farm lands have been crippled! The only solution available is collaboration between Ministry of Agriculture and the Health Ministry in terms of policies to help save the lives of our people. We have totally deviated from nature and blamed everything on our genes-heredity.

Do you think that our genes have completely changed and it’s totally different from our forefathers’ era? The answer is NO! The genes are the same but the environment and everything in it has changed compare to our forefathers’ era.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine said, "Let food be your medicine," and this proposition is still the guiding principle in the naturopathic approach to nutrition. Nutrition is the building block of the body's tissues, while proper levels of nutrients are essential to normal physiological function.

The connection between diet, health, and disease is now well established. Levels of fat, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other constituents have been linked to the prevalence of certain diseases. A healthy diet can help prevent these conditions and, in some cases, can be therapeutic.

Tolerance

Many diseases are due to systemic inflammatory responses to food allergies or intolerances. For example, naturopathic physicians often find that children with chronic otitis media have a history of early food introduction to dairy, grains, and meats, often before 6 months of age. These children are more prone to develop immunologic sensitivity to foods.

This extends beyond the foods they ate during their early development. They seem more allergies prone in later life. The too-early introduction of food seems to set them up for more food sensitivity. Each cohort of children born since the early 1960s (when immunology began to make advances) has shown progressively increased prevalence rates of allergic disease, especially atopic asthma and atopic dermatitis.

Current rates are three times those of 1960. This has been seen in developed countries in the West, in particular those of higher socioeconomic subgroups. This has had a great impact on healthcare. Asthma treatment alone is a multi-billion dollar industry. Each person has his own profile of what he can tolerate in foods, and some people have immune reactions to various foods.

Blood tests

If you battling with any allergy or concerned a simple blood test such as ELISA tests can help detect levels of IgE and IgG against specific foods. Common Food Intolerances.

These are some food intolerance I have seen in my practice: Dairy products (lactose), Grain products (gluten), Corn products, Meat products and citrus

Mineral Depletion

Some patients will report eating a diet of highly processed foods. Such diets can often be low in key minerals, particularly iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. For example, many women in North America have calcium and iron intake below the RDA, which is not enough to prevent osteoporosis and microcyanemia. In addition, some soils that food is grown on, especially if over cultivated, can be mineral depleted.

This can lead to a sub-optimal amount of miner intake, and, in some cases, outright deficiency, especially in minerals that are required in smaller quantities, such as selenium and chromium.

To avoid problems of mineral depletion in the diet naturopathic doctors will often recommend eating organic food. Organic food is grown in conditions that conserve nutrients and support the soil. Not only does this help maintain our topsoil, but it also provides a soil richer in minerals.

Although foods grown under other conditions can be nutritious, foods grown with minimal use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides should be consumed if possible.

Toxicity

Toxicity potentially, all foods can contain toxic substances that require breakdown and disposal by the body. We need to choose foods that are free of external toxins, and if we should ingest toxins, to eat foods that assist this detoxification process. Modern agriculture makes extensive use of pesticides and herbicides to reduce crop damage, placing a heavy demand on the body's detoxification system. In our age of global trade, foods from all over the world can end up at the local supermarket.

The use of pesticides is more liberalized in some countries and the illegal use of banned pesticides probably continues. Environmental degradation and heavy metal contamination of foods can be an inadvertent source of contamination. A recent example is the high heavy metal content of farm-raised seafood exported by China to the United States.

The storage and cooking of food may also release substances from plastics, although the type of plastic and storage time can influence this. Both storage plastics and exogenous contaminants, such as pesticides, can dysregulate the hormonal system.

Sustainability

In response to the degradation of nutrients in the topsoil through intensive agricultural practices, massive amounts of fertilizers are being used to make up for this over-cultivation. Increasingly, foods are being transported long distances to meet consumer demands for exotic or off-season foods. We now find heavily fertilized, over-sized fruits and vegetables in our food stores regardless of the season.

Although our current food supply is heavily dependent on factory farming technology and efficient transportation systems, flaunting natural crop cycles may be ecologically short-sighted in the long term. Many fertilizers rely heavily on hydrocarbons in their manufacture and application, and run-off of fertilizers pollutes lakes, rivers, and wells. Exotic foods transported long distances have lost much of their nutrient content, making them less nutritious than eating locally grown.

organic food. Foods produced by sus¬tainable local agricultural practices not only enrich the diet, they also help support a local farming community.

It is up to consumers to support a food supply system that is sustainable.

In simple biological terms, we need a respite in order for our systems to recharge themselves. Many animals rest half the time only to perform brilliantly when they are "on".

This would seem slothful to us, but we can take a cue from nature. Good rest, recreation, and relaxation will make us stronger and more effective. Time with friends and family, time for reflection and meditation all work to restore us mentally and spiritually.

These are the building blocks of health. Let's have no illusions, food is a major part of our lives - biologically, economically, and socially. Striking the right balance of health, practicality, and enjoyment makes for a positive and sustainable habit of eating.

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