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Forensic Nutrition: Part 1

by Harry Howell(more info)

listed in clinical practice, originally published in issue 224 - August 2015

 

We are going to be looking at the cause of disease as relating to the dynamic forces that regulate life in an individual rather than the orthodox medical view that disease is based on pathology, cystology and histology.

Life is ruled by opposites, and the struggle to maintain balance between the two. Life and death, yin and yang, health and disease, night and day – all of these opposites are immutable and we have no control over their inevitability. Most other aspects of life depend on the choices we make: where we live, where we work, what we eat and drink, our social life et cetera.

Forensic Nutrition (FN), despite the connotation in its name, is not only concerned with nutrition – as though it were the only thing in the world that mattered – but with health and disease itself: what causes illness and how it can be overcome. Nutrition may be, and often is, the primary cause of illness, but we need to be able to distinguish one cause from another. We cannot do that if we only know about nutrition. One cannot be an expert in every form of health care, but it is extremely helpful if we know enough about the basics of different branches of health care to be able to find our way in the search for answers to health problems.

Howell Diagram Redrawn

Diagram Outlining Causes of Illness

We can probably all agree that any kind of illness comes from either inside or outside ourselves – yet another pair of opposites. It is interesting that opposites always come in pairs – not in threesomes or foursomes, etc. Yet the factors within each of these pairs can be multiple – often extending to thousands or even millions of possible factors. Our task is not always going to be a simple one, and we need as many tools in our kit as possible.

Let’s take a more detailed look at the Exogenous and Endogenous Causations listed above.

Exogenous

Environments include:

  • Where you work: in a mine, mill, factory, chemical factory, farming industry - subject to chemical sprays, etc. - construction industry - subject to dust and possibly asbestos, etc. - even hairdressing can involve inhaling toxic sprays, or any other occupation that carries inherent health hazards. It is important to note not only present work environment but also previous employment that might have involved health risks;
  • Where you live: perhaps in a damp place, lack of light or air movement; congested conditions; dirty, unhygienic conditions; poor cooking facilities;
  • Where you socialize: noisy, congested night clubs, football grounds - anywhere in confined spaces, densely packed, where you could be exposed to a variety of health hazards.

Poor Diet

Our bodies consist of approximately:

  • 70% - 80% water (H2O, consisting of 65% Oxygen and 10% Hydrogen)
  • 18% Carbon
  • 3% Nitrogen
  • 1.5% Calcium
  • 1% Phosphorus
  • 0.35% Potassium
  • 0.25% Sulphur
  • 0.15% Sodium
  • 0.05% Magnesium
  • 4% - 5% trace elements, including Iron, Zinc, Copper, Fluorine, Chlorine, Iodine, and a range of other trace elements and gases.

During the course of the day, we expend some of these elements, e.g. through excretions, like sweating, defecation and urination, etc. It follows, therefore, that what we use has to be replaced, otherwise we enter into a deficit of a particular element. For example, loss of Calcium can lead to osteoporosis; loss of Sodium can lead to acidity, and so on.

Since we replace these elements from the food we eat or drink, it follows that we need to eat foods or drinks that do actually contain the elements required. Many foods purport to contain certain beneficial elements, but for any of a variety of reasons might actually be lacking. Equally, of course, we should ensure that we don’t have too many of any one element at the expense of others, because too much of an element can be equally harmful. Eating too much prepared food can be undesirable: the additives in ready-prepared Supermarket foods can contain too many unhealthy elements; frequent take-away meals can be lacking in essential elements or have too many of the unwanted elements.

Unhealthy Habits

These can include sedentary occupations, watching too much television, working too long at a computer or game station without getting adequate exercise. Lack of sleep or rest can also contribute to ill-health.

Drug Habits

  • Social drugs and/or narcotics
  • Tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol

Trauma

  • Injuries, wounds, fractures, etc.
  • Haemorrhage
  • Foreign bodies, like standing on a rusty nail, cuts from broken glass, etc.

Specific

  • Poisons, from chemicals, inhaled fumes, ingested mercury from fish, etc.
  • Bites from animals, snakes, spiders, mosquitos, horse flies, etc.
  • Micro-organisms, like bacteria, viruses, moulds, fungi, etc.
  • Protozoa: malaria, amoebic dysentery, etc.
  • Parasites, usually worms - e.g. tapeworms, threadworms, etc. - ticks, etc.

Occupational Diseases

These particularly include those people who are continually exposed to noxious fumes, gases, dusts, chemicals etc. in the course of their normal work:

  • X-ray burns, or any form of radioactivity;
  • Painter’s colic, can lead to chronic intestinal pain and constipation as a result of lead poisoning;
  • Anthracosis, also called pneumoconiosis, caused by inhalation of anthracite from coal dust;
  • Silicosis, an incurable lung disease caused by inhalation of silica dust, experienced by those exposed long-term to dust found in stone, rocks, sands and clay. Gold miners also developed this disease which can cause scarring and damage to lung tissue;
  • Miller’s asthma, sometimes called occupational asthma, is caused by continual inhalation of smoke from fried food, feathers, hair, etc.

Infections

This is a huge category, including:

  • Virus - ranging from smallpox (which has affected people for thousands of years, but eradicated as a result of global immunisation programmes that began in 1980) to measles, chickenpox, mumps, hepatitis, rubella, rabies, Ebola, etc.;
  • Bacteria - salmonella, shigella, campylobacter, staphylococcus, streptococcus, escherichia, helicobacter, brucella, chlamydia, etc.
  • Rickettsial - (nothing to do with rickets, which is a Vitamin D deficiency), which includes typhus, trench fever, flea-borne spotted fever, etc.
  • Mycotic - relating to fungal infections, including the most common form, Candida albicans (which is a particular problem for diabetics who are especially vulnerable to this form of infection because of their difficulty in controlling glycaemic levels), athlete’s foot, etc. This category is determined by the tissue level of infection, i.e. that found in the outer layers of the skin and hair is regarded as superficial but in later stages can develop in lymph nodes and viscera.

Protozoal

These are classified according to the modes of transmission, as follows:

  • Enteric, including giardia, toxoplasma, cyclospora, entamoeba, etc.
  • Sexual, e.g. trichomonas;
  • Arthropod, plasmodium, Leishmania, etc.
  • Other, blastocystitis, etc.

Deficiency Diseases

A deficiency of vitamins or minerals can lead to acute and chronic conditions developing. Some vitamins can be manufactured in the body - e.g. Vitamin D (now regarded as a hormone by many physiologists), some of the Vitamin B range, etc. Usually, however, the body is unable to make sufficient vitamins to satisfy our needs and we rely on foods to make up any deficits.

A deficiency of Vitamin C can lead to scurvy, or of Vitamin B12 can lead to pernicious anaemia, etc. Blindness can be caused by a deficiency of Vitamin A and rickets can be caused by insufficient Vitamin D.

Some vitamins are water-soluble, meaning that they can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream and carried around the water to wherever they are needed. Being water-soluble also means that, like water, they can be excreted through the kidney/bladder. They cannot be stored in the body and for this reason they have a shorter life and need to be constantly replaced.

Other vitamins are fat soluble and travel in the lymph vessels or in the bloodstream if accompanied by a water-soluble protein which acts as a carrier. This range of vitamins can be stored in the body - usually in the liver or fatty tissue - and needs to be replenished through diet less frequently than water-soluble vitamins.

Minerals and trace minerals are also essential for maintaining health and all need to be supplied through diet.

Accidental Diseases

These arise from a variety of causes, mostly unforeseen, such as injuries, burns, scalds, frostbite, animal or insect bites, radioactive exposure, etc.

Endogenous

Predispositions

  • Hereditary diseases are caused by genetic factors passed down through successive generations, such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Down’s syndrome, etc. Some hereditary diseases can be gender-linked, like colour blindness, haemophilia, etc.
  • Familial diseases are frequently regarded as hereditary diseases, but a subtle distinction can be made: families who tend to eat all the same foods, follow many of the same habits, and perhaps engage in the same kind of occupation, often suffer the same or similar illnesses;
  • Age: certain conditions are more likely to occur at specific times during a person’s life, e.g. teething problems as a child, impotence as an adult, dementia in the latter stage of a person’s life;
  • Sex: some diseases, conditions, are gender-specific, e.g. prostatitis only applies to male, menopausal conditions to a female.

Emotional/Nervous Excitation

Here we need to distinguish between emotional causes - like anger, rage, grief, etc. - and nervous excitement - like seasickness, airsickness, car sickness, etc.

Metabolic

This relates to any disease that disrupts normal metabolism, which is the process of converting ingested food to energy through a series of biochemical actions and reaction at a cellular level.

Examples of this are:

  • Gaucher disease (enlargement of liver or spleen), caused by defect of beta-glucocerebrosidase
  • Porphyria (abdominal pain, rashes, dark urine, neurological symptoms) caused by heme biosynthesis defects
  • Phenylketonuria (behavioural disturbances, retarded development, mental retardation if left untreated) caused by low activity of phenylalanine hydroxlase

And many others.

Endocrinic

Diseases of the endocrine system are very broad, and can be divided into three categories: hypersecretion (an excess of hormone release), hyposecretion (a deficiency of hormone secretion), and/or tumours (benign or malignant) of an endocrine gland. Most common endocrine diseases are:

  • Diabetes - insufficient insulin;
  • Hypoglycaemia - excessive insulin secretion;
  • Goitre - usually the result of iodine deficiency;
  • Addison’s disease - in which the adrenal glands are not able to produce adequate glucocorticoids and/or mineralocorticoids;
  • Cushing’s syndrome - in which the adrenals produce too much cortisol.

Congenital Diseases

These are diseases that exist at the time of birth, before birth, or within the first month after birth - e.g. cleft palate. Causes of congenital disease can be:

  • Infection of the mother, during gestation, by bacteria or virus - even occasionally by parasite;
  • Nutritional deficiency of mother during gestation - e.g. lack of folic acid can lead to spina bifida
  • Maternal diabetes, can lead to congenital heart disease in the baby;
  • Alcoholism  during pregnancy can also lead to congenital heart disease;
  • Dysplasia is a disorder at the organ level that is due to problems with tissue development.

Systemic Diseases

These are diseases that affect several tissues or organs, or even the whole body, as opposed to diseases that affect only a local area. There is a vast range of them, so I will give only an outline in this section:

  • Nervous System diseases: neurosis, neuropathy, neurofibromatosis, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, neuromyotonia, etc.
  • Circulatory System diseases: angina, acute coronary syndrome, apoplexy, etc.
  • Respiratory System diseases: asthma, tuberculosis, emphysema, bronchitis, etc.
  • Systemic Allergic diseases: hay fever, atopic dermatitis, atopic eczema, etc.
  • Skin System diseases: acne, Behçet’s disease, Ichthyosis, psoriasis, etc.
  • Chromosomal disorders: Down’s syndrome, Turner’s syndrome, etc.
  • Cardiovascular system diseases: hypertension, arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, endocarditis, etc.
  • Endocrine system diseases: diabetes mellitus, Cushing’ disease, Addison’s disease, hyperthyroidism, etc.
  • Alimentary System disorders: Crohn’s disease, pancreatic disease, Whipple’s disease, etc.
  • Musculoskeletal diseases: myasthenia gravis, Paget’s disease, muscular dystrophy, etc.
  • Systemic viral infections: varicella, rubella, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, mumps, infectious mononucleosis, etc.
  • Systemic bacterial infections: diphtheria, brucellosis, gonorrhoea, syphilis, etc.
  • and several others.

Miasms

This category derives from Dr Hahnemann’s original concept of miasms - the root cause of all chronic diseases - and can be a contributing factor in some acute problems. They are the vibrational foundation of genetically inherited diseases in the body, which are passed on from generation to generation. While they may lie dormant in the cells for generations, they occasionally flare up, which can lead to chronic or acute illnesses, trauma, stress, and degeneration of organs and structures. Just to be clear, they are the potential for disease, not the disease itself.

 Hahnemann stated that there are three inherited miasms:

  1. Syphilitic: has a destructive effect on all tissues, especially bones;
  2. Psora: leads to skin disorders, congestion, deformities of bone, and mental and physical imbalances;
  3. Sycotic: produces digestive and assimilative disorders, which in turn can lead to congestion and tumors, rheumatism, and disorders of the respiratory and urinary tracts.

In the 1880s there were many debates amongst homeopaths as to whether tuberculosis was a fourth inherited miasm. Today, this is generally accepted as a fourth inherited miasm, and can lead to such problems as circulatory disorders, including lymph circulation.

Nearly forty years ago, three new inherited miasms became more widely known - not all of which have been accepted by all homeopaths. They are:

  1. Radiation: can lead to premature ageing, deterioration of endocrine system, allergies, bacterial infections, cancer, especially leukaemia and skin cancer;
  2. Petrochemical: deterioration here is generally of a mental nature rather than biochemical, e.g. schizophrenia, paranoia, etc.
  3. Heavy Metal: can lead to allergies, baldness, fluid retention, osteoporosis, viral inflammations.

Miasms can block vibrational remedies from working effectively, and it is becoming increasingly understood that certain chemical agents, like steroids, also tend to block homeopathics.

The first defence in the body exists within the skin, which acts as a barrier between the self and the outside environment. Beneath this comes intestinal and mucous membrane resistance. Any disease able to penetrate this is confronted by an electrical and energy defence system. Passage through this enables a disease to enter the cellular level.

It must be understood that a miasm is not the disease itself but the potential for disease. They are a vibrational predisposition which may, or may not, cause an illness at some stage in an individual’s life.

Histopathic Diseases

This refers to the manifestation of disease as revealed by microscopic examination of tissue - usually after a biopsy - which is difficult to determine by other methods. Such diseases include:

  • Inflammatory
  • Suppurative
  • Degenerative
  • Malignant
  • Indurative

Biochemic Diseases

These are  series of diseases that are brought about by a deficiency or defective nutritional elements, e.g. enzymes, proteins, hormones, etc. They include:

  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome - due to low lecithin in premature babies;
  • Goiter - enlargement of the thyroid gland.  Causes include: iodine deficiency, defects in thyroid enzymes, Hashimoto’s syndrome, Grave’s diseases, etc.
  • Celiac sprue - due to an autoimmune reaction to dietary gluten that leads to decreased lipid absorption
  • Gigantism - a disease caused by the pituitary gland secreting excess GH prior to epiphyseal closure that leads to tall stature, accelerated long bone growth;
  • Rickets - due to deficiency of vitamin D;
  • And many others.

This, then, provides the basis from which we can examine health issues from a forensic approach. In the next article, we can discuss Causal Disease - Diabetes mellitus, as an example - enabling us to go beyond symptoms to the causes of symptoms, and how to treat the different aspects of diabetes.

Further Reading

Olshansky SJ, et al. “A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century.” New England Journal of Medicine 1 vol. 352, pp. 1138-1145. 2005.

McGinnis JM, Foege WH. “Actual Causes of Death in the United States.” Journal of the American Medical Association  2 vol. 270, pp. 2207-2212. 1993.

Basiotis PP, et al. “The Healthy Eating Index, 1999-2000: Charting Dietary Patterns of Americans.” Family Economics and Nutrition Review. Winter, 2. 2004.

Wang F, et al. “The Relationship between National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Weight Guidelines and Concurrent Medical Costs in a Manufacturing Population.” American Journal of Health Promotion vol. 17, pp. 183-189. 2003.

Aldrich, Lorna. Food Safety Policy: Balancing Risks and Costs. FoodReview, U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Res. Serv., Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 9-13, May-Aug. 1994.

Amler, Robert W., and Donald L. Eddins. Cross-Sectional Analysis: Precursors of Premature Deaths in the United States. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Vol. 3 (suppl.), pp. 181-187, 1987.

Block, Gladys, Blossom Patterson, and Amy Subar. Fruit, Vegetables, and Cancer Prevention: A Review of the Epidemiological Evidence. Nutrition and Cancer, Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 1-29, 1992.

Goldman, Paula, and Maria G. M. Hunink. Coronary Heart Disease. Risk in Perspective, Vol. 5, Issue 6, June 1997.

Harper, Alfred E. Diet and Chronic Diseases and Disorders. Chapter 23 in: Dean O. Cliver, ed. Foodborne Diseases, New York: Academic Press, Inc.  pp. 319-349. 1990.

McGinnis, J. Michael, and William H. Foege. Actual Causes of Death in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 270, No. 18, pp. 2207-2212, Nov. 10, 1993.

Willett, Walter C., Graham A. Colditz, and Nancy E. Mueller. Strategies for Minimizing Cancer Risk. Scientific American, pp. 88-95, Sept. 1996.

Gesch CB et al. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adults. British Journal of Psychiatry; 181:22-28. 2002.

Doll R, Peto R. The causes of cancer: quantitative estimates of avoidable risks in cancer in the United States today. Journal of the National Cancer Institute; 66:1191-208. 1981.

Comments:

  1. Mary Hart said..

    So informative and through, everyone interested in learning about health and illness will learn from this. Send it to your GP


  2. Catherine Crawford said..

    Excellent article. Can't wait for the next one.


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About Harry Howell

Harry Howell DSc had over 30 years clinical practice before retiring in 1999.  He taught and worked in England, Portugal, France and the Indian sub-continent, specialising in nutrition. He also practised and taught acupuncture, homeopathy and kinesiology. Harry Howell may be contacted on harhow@gmx.com; his books may be purchased from Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias=stripbooks&field-keywords=harry%20howell

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