We may all be familiar with the old maxim “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It may even sound like wisdom to many of us who follow it. But in reality, it’s meaning and relevance has begun to fade.
An apple is hardly the same today, as it was perhaps a decade or more ago. It has less of everything from phytonutrients – compounds which help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia – to anthocyanins – compounds that fight and prevent cancer – and even other trace nutrients.
For the sake of comparison, consider this chart:
- Apples have 41% less Vitamin A
- Bell peppers have 31% less Vitamin C
- Watercress has 88% less Iron
- Broccoli has 50% less Vitamin C and 50% less Calcium
- Collard greens have 60% less Potassium and 85% less Magnesium
- Cauliflower has 48% less Vitamin B1 and 47% less Vitamin B2
Studies have found some staggering truths. A research that compared on-store produce to the same vegetables from 1950’s found declines of 20%-75% in certain nutrients. Other studies too have concurred with similar results.
The Nutrient Drain
Scientists have called this incessant stripping of nutrition from our food – The Nutrient drain. And have named several causes for this decline.
- Global topsoil erosion crisis – Throughout the world, the nutrition-dense topsoil is being degraded due to urbanization, farming and agricultural activities, environmental impacts and climate change. Plants that rely on the soil for nutrition and the animals who rely on the plants are in-turn being handed-down low nutrition. Human beings are on top of the waning food chain, receiving lower nutrition than ever.
- Modern farming practices – Agriculture is being conducted on land that is stripped of its native foliage. Modern agriculture employs high-intensity farming equipment, methods and techniques. Additionally, the GMO crops that are being sown and planted do not contribute to the quality of the soil.
- Fertilizer “dilution” effect – With such low quality of soil available to farmers, they are forced to use powerful fertilizers, pesticides and chemicals to affect the same growth of their crops. The fruits and veggies that mature with these concoctions of chemicals carry them to us, and over time the soil loses its value altogether.
- No opportunity to put minerals back into the soil – with the loss of forested areas, parklands and bushlands, it is not easy to find the opportunity to replenish the soil with the same speed as nature. With each passing day, we are leaving behind a larger carbon footprint. And nature is simply unable to cope.
A Few Alternatives To Consider
This means simply heaping our plates with fruits and veggies may not be the way to optimum health. We may need to adapt our diet to this nutrition deplete age. Here is what you could consider:
- Include more whole foods – fruits, veggies and grains in your diet. Use energy-wise cooking practices and conserve water.
- As far as possible grow your own food. Even a small herb garden counts. Test the quality of the soil. Supplement your soil with natural manure.
- Buy local in-season and fresh produce from your neighbourhood farmers markets. Pick organically certified foodstuffs.
- Cook your own meals. Cook for optimum times and do not overcook foods. Cook with your friends and family, making mealtimes occasions for conversation, connection and celebration.
- Exercise regularly. Take brisk walks in nature, out in fresh air and sun. Your body is enabled to receive nutrition, and it even manufactures a few nutrients itself under the right conditions.
- Talk to your trusted Health Coach. Have your blood tested and analysed. Consider dietary supplements for nutrients you lack. The right supplements will enrich your life.