Category Archives: Nutrition and Health

Coronary heart disease

Coronary heart disease is a major killing disease in the West. In Britain it is responsible for the death of two out of five men in middle age and a total in excess of 100,000 annually. Men are more susceptible to the disease than women who appear to be protected at least until the menopause.

Coronary heart disease is a general term which covers a variety of conditions. Blood vessels lose elasticity as they age and they narrow. Further narrowing can be caused by fibrous plaques which fill with fatty material. As these deposits build up, blood may not be able to circulate efficiently to the tissues which need oxygen for their metabolism. Further risk is involved as blood has a greater tendency to clot in these occluded areas and this can cause a ceasing of bloodflow. If this happens in the coronary vessels an important part of heart muscle may be prevented from functioning. Severe blockage results in a fatal stroke or milder attacks result in angina (heart pain).

Sternocostal surface of heart. (Right coronary...

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Greater fatty deposits in blood vessels are found in people who have high levels of cholesterol and fat in their blood, so these people are more likely to suffer an attack. High dietary intakes of cholesterol and saturated fat are firmly linked to blood levels and decreasing intake of these foods has been shown to cause a decrease in blood levels and risk in some groups of people. Decreasing fat intake and substituting the remaining animal fat with polyunsaturated fats seems to have the greatest effect on decreasing blood fat levels but its use therapeutically is not a guaranteed method of preventing the disease although it does reduce the risk. Dietary restriction of cholesterol and fats and the substitution of fats have been recommended, but the real mechanisms which cause attacks remain a mystery. Carbohydrates, especially sugar can cause raised blood fat levels in some people so for them restriction of these may be effective.

Nondietary factors also influence a person’s chance of coronary heart disease. Smoking involves the inhalation of toxic chemicals which can affect the tendency of the blood to clot and the permeability of blood vessel walls. People with high blood pressure are also at high risk.

Those in exacting jobs experience mental pressure which can lead to hormonal and metabolic responses which create irreversible changes in blood fats, pressure and vessels. People with inactive jobs are more prone to heart attack than their more active counterparts. The increase in coronary heart disease is correlated with the increase in sale of television licences which shows not only that this disease is associated with affluence but may be an indictment of the inactive way we spend our leisure time.

If we want to live for our full three score years and ten we stand a better chance if our blood lipids and pressure are within normal limits, if we refrain from smoking and if we alleviate our mental stress with more physically active lifestyles.

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The energy balance

We remain at constant body weight only if we achieve a balance between energy intake and energy output. Energy intake results from the ingestion of food, there is no other route for energy absorption. Energy output is achieved through a variety of mechanisms. Everyone who is alive, whether asleep or even unconscious, is using energyContinue Reading

Eating and ill health

Undernutrition, starvation and famine still prevails in many countries. Threequarters of the people in the world rely on locally produced cereal staples to supply most of their dietary energy. In any country where more than twothirds of the dietary energy comes from cereals one can expect malnutrition to be prevalent, because cereals cannot supply allContinue Reading

Deficiencies in the West

Nutritional deficiencies are rare in Britain although some cases of anaemia due to deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid are reported. Without sufficient iron the body cannot make enough haemoglobin. Vitamin B12 and folate deficiencies give rise to kinds of anaemia in which there are large blood cells and a low concentration ofContinue Reading

Eggs, chocolate and cheese

Eggs have always been considered extremely nutritious because they contain all the nutrients necessary for the growth of the young chick. Recent research into coronary heart disease has revealed that not only saturated fats, but also a fatlike substance called cholesterol which is concen trated in egg yolks, may contribute to the disease. Some doctorsContinue Reading

Sweetness

Man has always craved for sweetness but it is only within this century that the vast quantities of sugar now consumed have become available. Sugarbeet and cane are grown specially lor sugar production. Consumption now runs at an average of one kilogramme (two pounds) per head per week in Britain. Granulated white sugar is aContinue Reading

Fats

Margarine was invented in 1869 by a French chemist, who used suet to produce a cheap type of fat to supply the soldiers in the FrancoPrussian War. The Dutch invented a method of adding hydrogen to the unsaturated vegetable oils thus causing them to solidify. It has taken considerable research to develop the modern product.Continue Reading

Bread

For many centuries white bread was regarded as an expensive luxury food, owing to the low yield of flour after the removal of bran and wheat germ during milling. Wholemeal and bran breads were eaten by poor people. Several factors contributed to the increased availability of flour, that made white bread available to the wholeContinue Reading

Modern foods

There is nothing new about man’s need to preserve food for storage or convenience of preparation. Sundrying, salting, pickling and smoking are methods which have been used for centuries and are still used today. Recent advances in technology have made it possible to preserve food by decreasing the risk of microbiological spoilage with less lossContinue Reading

Vegetarianism and health foods

In 1813 the poet, Shelley, published a thesis suggesting that man’s digestive system was designed to break down only plant foods. The dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, abstained from meat eating after the age of twentyfive and lived for a further sixtynine years. Leo Tolstoy conformed to his new religion which also did not allow theContinue Reading

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