Food: More Than Calories Count : Part 2 of the Good Health Series

onion jicama bell pepper carrots lettuce

Part 2: Good Health Series               By Cynthia DeWitte

People are asking why they cannot lose weight, why they don’t feel good and why they are sick. There are various reasons why people are facing these issues, but from the reading I have done and from what I see all around me, I believe the main culprit is malnutrition. This may seem hard to believe in our nation where food is abundant, but hang in there with me to see why this makes sense.

According to Encarta Dictionary, malnutrition is “a lack of healthy foods in the diet, or an excessive intake of unhealthy foods, leading to physical harm.” There are a whole host of books by medical doctors that have diet based cures for many diseases. If a change in eating habits leads to a return to health, it seems likely that the health related problem was originally related to not getting the nutrients needed, which is malnutrition.  In a country where over 35% of the adult population is considered obese* and even more are overweight, it doesn’t seem possible that malnutrition would be a problem, but it could be that malnutrition can also lead to obesity. This is because nutrition is not simply about getting enough food to eat. Nutrition is about getting enough vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and calories; each of these needs must be met in order for a body to be properly nourished, otherwise the result is malnourishment. It would be difficult for a person to get all the nutrients necessary to be healthy and still not get enough calories, but in today’s American culture, it would be simple to get an excess of calories and a deficiency of nutrients.

Eating a diet high in processed foods normally leads to a diet high in fat, sugar and calories, but low in vital nutrients, thus causing obesity and malnutrition – at the same time. Processed foods are stripped of their nutritional content and often laden with fat, sugar, salt and additives. Additives that 100 years ago were not even invented, must less ingested. Due to this issue, people in the United States are not usually overweight from eating too much nutrient packed, healthy foods. Of course it is possible to over eat lots of healthy food and to gain too much weight, but these days that is not usually the problem. Furthermore, if a person is eating a nutrient packed diet and otherwise taking care of herself, a few extra pounds are not going to have nearly the impact as they would on a person who is also malnourished. In other words, a lot of health problems are being blamed on overweight and obesity, when the true problem is malnutrition. People are usually overweight from eating high fat, high sugar foods stripped of their fiber and nutrients. It is possible that a person may be driven to eat a lot of food, because her body is telling her that she isn’t getting the nutrients she needs, so she will still be hungry, having an insatiable appetite for nutrients. Not knowing that is the problem, she will continue to eat the same foods that are causing her to crave more foods and never be satisfied unless she changes her eating patterns to stop the cycle.

The unhealthy cycle of eating processed foods while neglecting nutrient dense foods can cause a myriad of diseases. As mentioned earlier, many diseases are at least partially a result of malnutrition. This does not mean that every case of those diseases is a case of malnutrition. There can be more than one cause for a disease to present itself. However, there are many diseases that in most people can be controlled or even completely cured with dietary changes and even more that will have a dietary component, along with other healthy lifestyle changes, that lead to recovery.

Many books today are focused on nutritional cures for a wide range of diseases. Here are some examples:

Minding  My Mitochondria: How I Overcame Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Got Out of My Wheelchair

Restoring Your Digestive Health: How the Guts and Glory Program Can Transform Your Life

The Dash Diet (Dash stands for “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”)

The Omni Diet: The Revolutionary 70% Plant + 30% Protein Program to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, Fight Inflammation, and Change Your Life Forever


Minding My Mitocondria Restoring Your Digestive HealthDash Diet Action Plan Omni Diet





The common factor in these nutrition plans is that despite their differences, they all call for eating a lot of vegetables and fruits, cutting out processed foods and eating whole foods exclusively. Click on a link above and read the comments section for the books. The most extraordinary comments are in Minding My Mitochondria. People write about healing everything from MS to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

With the issue of malnutrition, it could be that the agent that causes a disease in the first place is able to get a foothold in a body due to the body’s lack of resistance from not having the resources available to fight off disease. If the body does not have all that is necessary to create the mechanisms to fend off problems, the system will be overwhelmed and disease will be able to take over. In other cases, the disease is caused solely by not having the nutrients necessary for proper functioning in the body, so certain processes shut down or do not work properly. Sometimes people are diagnosed with multiple diseases, which could be due to the system simply not having the resources available to build resistance or various systems not being able to function properly due to not having the supplies needed to perform their normal functions, therefore multiple illnesses can take hold. In other words, the same root can be the cause of any number of physical breakdowns in the body; lack of nutrients to enable the body to fend off trouble or lack of nutrients making some processes impossible to complete.  A general breakdown will normally be improved by proper nutrition, but if there is an underlying infection that has taken a stronghold, it may take additional measures to resolve the infection. It is always good to feed the body nutritious foods to keep it running in peak condition. Proper nutrition will work in tandem with other actions to eradicate a whole range of illnesses.

This is not to say that all diseases are caused by malnutrition. There are many other possibilities, including injuries and exposure to toxins. Even antibiotics and other medications can cause an imbalance in the body and lead to disease. It is also true that no matter how well nourished a person is there is still the possibility that the body cannot fend off every attack from illness. When usual measures are not bringing about wellness, a trained health care provider can assist you in finding the root problem to deal with it from numerous fronts in order to get the body back into a state of good health. Overall, it can only help to eat a healthy diet and give the body everything it needs to perform at an optimal level.

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Stay tuned for the next segment in The Feminine Review’s Good Health series.

Good Health: The Basics: Part 1 of the Good Health Series

Quick Start Guide to Good Health: Part 3 of the Good Health Series

Whole Foods and Real Foods: Part 4 of the Good Health Series

Mom Says, Eat Your Vegetables: Part 5 of the Good Health Series

Supersize Your Vegetables: Part 6 of the Good Health Series