It is not news to many people that processed foods lack many vitamins and other important nutrients. Experts say that processed food often lacks nutrition because many of the processing methods use heat which destroys a number of nutritional substances. If your diet is dependent on processed fruits and vegetables in either cans or microwave ready to serve meals, the vegetables you eat are lacking in vitamins and other nutrients that were originally in the vegetables. Of course, there is no way we can really know how much nutrition was originally in the vegetables. However, if you eat “fresh” fruits and vegetables meaning those in the produce aisle of the supermarket, how do they stack up as far as their nutritional value?
This is a serious question because there have been explosive increases in numerous common health disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune diseases over the last 30 to 40 years. If you were to graph the increases in common health disorders and then graph the decreases in vital nutrients such as antioxidants, other vitamins, minerals and glyconutrients, you could compare the 2 graphs and they would appear be the exact inverse of each other. The higher prevalence of common health disorders would be associated with the lower levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients holistic nutrition degree.
However, this is not a trend seen only in the U.S. One study conducted in Canada looked at the nutritional content of food grown in the 1950s, 1970s and 1990s. The study revealed information that was very similar to analyzes performed in the United States and the United Kingdom. The results clearly showed that there have been significant reductions in vital nutrients as indicated by food tables created by governmental agencies at those times. In one study, the estimated reduction in vitamin C was about 50% between 1950 and 1990 with a number of different vegetables tested. The one that had lost the most nutritional value was broccoli.
Yet, we are being told to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for good health. If fresh fruits and vegetables are deficient in nutritional value, is that really enough for us to eat or can we really even eat enough vegetables during meals to provide a sufficient amount of nutrition for good health? Probably not . And it would be naive to think that the lack of nutrition in fruits and vegetables and the increased prevalence of common health disorders is not related.
Nutritional research has found people with specific health problems to be deficient in certain nutrients. In 1996, The Sullivan Study of Arthritis and Rheumatism concluded that low levels of glycoproteins may eventually make the immune system vulnerable. The study discovered that 100% of patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, (SLE) who added glyconutrient supplements to their diets reported a significant reduction in all of their lupus symptoms. Lupus is considered to be an immune dysfunction and it can be helped by supporting the immune system with specific nutrients.
There are a number of reasons that have been hypothesized for the decline in nutritional value of our fresh fruits and vegetables including:
Modern Farming Methods:
Methods employed by large corporate farms that are the mainstay of our food supply in America have changed the way that land is farmed for economic reasons. Rather than leaving fields “fallow” or uncultivated which is an important step in allowing the soil to rejuvenate so it can grow healthy food, fields are continually planted. Even crop rotation which has been a mainstay of family farms for centuries may cost more than simply throwing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium into the soil and keep on farming. Those 3 minerals will grow vegetables that will look fine but when they are actually analyzed they are missing vital nutrients that the human body needs. These vegetables may be little more than fiber and water.
Picking Fruits and Vegetables Before They Are Ripe:
In addition to modern farming methods, picking vegetables and fruits before they are ripe is a common practice now because they are being shipped thousands of miles before they get to the supermarket. There is no way that these fragile fruits and vegetables can make the trip before they start rotting so they are picked before they are ripe. The problem is that vital nutrients never form. Only vegetables allowed to fully ripen on the vine have the full amount of phytonutrients that the plant produces. In addition to vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients are another class of plant nutrients that are essential for good health. Examples of other phytonutrients are lycopene and lutein. In fact, researchers continue to discover biochemicals in fruits and vegetables that are found to be important to good health. If produce is picked too early, these important vital nutrients never fully form.
We produce an amazing amount of food in the United States that feeds a hungry world population that is growing by leaps and bounds by the hour. Family farmers should be applauded for the work that they do to feed the rest of us and they know how to produce food that is full of the nutrition that we need to stay healthy. It is the large corporations that have set up these huge corporate farms that may be more responsible for these changes in farming methods that may be affecting nutrition. Hopefully, there can be answers found that can continue to help feed a hungry world without sacrificing the nutritional value of our food supply. Until that can happen, it is wise to consider taking natural nutritional supplements to make up for the shortfall in nutrition that we are experiencing with fresh fruits and vegetables.