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Malnutrition Pandemic: Too Much of the Wrong Ingredients

A Ketogenic Food Pyramid
A Ketogenic Food Pyramid


Early Programming

 “Eat Your Vegetables” How we all remember those three daunting words from our parents & grandparents encouraging us to eat the right foods so we would “grow up to be big and strong.” Then there was the food pyramid, the federal government’s misdirected attempt to misguide our dietary choices by placing grains such as wheat & corn squarely as the foundation of our daily nutrition. These two examples, both good & bad, illustrate the profound impact of dietary choices on overall health, wellness & cognitive function, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to nourishing both the mind and body while acknowledging our ancestral nutritional origins & devolution to today’s “Modern Western Diet”.

Our Nutritional Heritage

 Diets rich in green leafy vegetables & the plant-based oils they contain are consistent with the type of diet our forefathers ate more than 5,000 years ago when they were foraging through the forests as nomadic hunter-gatherers. Our digestive systems including our digestive juices & enzymes have slowly evolved over tens of thousands of years to effectively digest & assimilate necessary nutritional elements from these types of food sources. Protein back then was garnered by eating nuts, seeds, bugs, worms, snakes, squirrels, or fish if we lived near the water. We might have scavenged off a dead animal carcass after the lions & hyenas had finished their meal.

Modern Day Nutrients

What wasn’t on the menu back then were today’s “modern” domesticated grains such as wheat, corn, rice & oats. Nor did any of the animals we ate back then eat these grains.  Cane Sugar as well as today’s modern engineered fruits with their high Fructose content were not there either. High fructose corn syrup? NO!  In short, our diet has changed radically over the last few thousand years and our digestive physiology has not. The modern Western diet with its emphasis on grains and animals that are erroneously fed these grains e.g. “Corn fed beef” or “corn-fed chicken” represents an ill-fated nutritional devolution that many nutritional historians believe is the beginning of our end as a viable species on this planet. The result is a malnutrition pandemic: too much of the wrong nutrients.


The Result: Inflammation

The consequence of this modern-day pandemic is an increasingly overweight & unhealthy population being robbed of their opportunity to enjoy optimal health & wellness. Today in the United States 40% of elementary school children are obese. 59% of all adults in this country are either overweight or obese. Type 2 Diabetes, which is largely a diet, weight & lifestyle “modern” disease, is an epidemic. At the heart of these maladies is the malnutrition of our “modern” Western diet. Central to these trends and the general decline of our health is the high caloric content & inflammatory nature of grains & sugars once we ingest & digest them. Inflammation in the human body is generally regarded as a main contributor to the loss of optimal well-being & the acceleration of the aging process. Many forms of cancer including breast cancer have inflammation as a core driving force. Most of the chronic degenerative processes associated with aging such as Osteoarthritis, Cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s dementia are based on inflammation of the organs involved. Our “gut flora”, the multitude of bacteria that reside in our intestines, are determined largely by our diet. These bacteria can be an additional source of inflammation & detract from our health or can help us greatly by minimizing inflammation & helping us unlock critical nutrients in our food. It all depends on our diet. The types of nutrients we “feed” these bacteria determine the types of bacteria that are in us: good or bad, healthy, or unhealthy.

The Cure

Making sensible & practical dietary & lifestyle choices as outlined below is at the heart of living an optimal & healthy life. Managing (not eliminating) life’s stresses, routine regular physical activity, healthy productive sleep & balancing responsibilities with leisurely activities are all part of a healthy lifestyle.

Prioritize Whole, Nutrient-Dense Foods: Choose whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. Opt for organic and locally sourced options whenever possible to minimize exposure to pesticides and additives.

1.    Limit Grains and Gluten: Consider reducing or eliminating grains from your diet, especially gluten-containing grains. Explore alternative grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth as substitutes.

2.    Embrace Healthy Fats: Include sources of healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats support brain health and provide sustained energy.

3.    Moderate Protein Intake: Ensure a moderate intake of high-quality proteins to support muscle maintenance and overall well-being. Consider incorporating sources like grass-fed grass-finished meat, wild-caught fish, and plant-based proteins.

4.    Explore the Ketogenic Diet: If suitable for your health goals, experiment with a ketogenic diet. Gradually transition into a low-carbohydrate, high healthy-fat approach, and monitor how your body responds.

To your health,

Scott B. Elsbree, M.D.

 Scott Elsbree, M.D. is board certified in Internal Medicine by The American Board of Internal Medicine. He is a graduate of Sarasota High School, Duke University (Summa Cum Laude, Biochemistry) & The University of Florida School of Medicine. Dr Elsbree has enthusiastically cared for his patients in the Sarasota & Bradenton area since 1985. He has been voted as a 

“Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly every year for the past 12 years. He and his wife Cheryl have been blessed with 4 children & remain very active in supporting our community through multiple organizations.

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