By Jena Williams

According to the website EHow, using a high-octane gasoline in an engine will help it run smoother; lower the octane in the gasoline and the vehicle will run rough. The same is true if you use a low-cetane fuel in a diesel engine.

Our bodies, like our trucks, need the right fuel to run smooth.

It’s not news to anyone that according to the Centers for Disease Control, 35.7% of U.S. adults are obese or that the World Health Organization states that worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980.

However, with all this talk of obesity, eating right, calories, and how much is too much, is it possible that we are ignoring one of the main culprits in our nation’s obesity epidemic?

Some studies show, that in an effort to increase the volume and longevity of crops, the nutritional value of our nation’s food supply has decreased. Additionally, we are consuming more processed foods, so eating 2,000 calories today does not make our bodies as healthy as eating 2,000 calories 30 years ago.

It’s easy to point at obese people and say eat right, eat less, exercise more. But instinct takes over when bodies are craving nutrition. Quality and quantity don’t matter when you are overly hungry. Until you are at a point of satiation, it’s difficult to make rational decisions about food. And can you ever be satiated when your belly is full, but your body’s cells are starving for nutrients?

An extreme example of this was demonstrated in Band of Brothers: Why we need to fight, Part 2, (Dir. David Frankel and Mikael Salomon. Home Box Office, 2001). You may remember the scene where the few surviving, starving prisoners of the Nazis were about to be liberated from a concentration camp. Seeing them dying of starvation, we were all longing for them to be handed food (in huge quantities,) but a physician stopped the release from the camp. He stated that in their current state, they would overeat if released and needed to be gradually reintroduced to food. Their nutrition needed to be carefully managed or they would die. Oh how my heart broke for them in that scene.

On a much less drastic scale, if our bodies are starving for nutrition that we aren’t getting, are we also capable of eating ourselves to death* to meet an instinctive need?

In a report titled “Still no free lunch,” by The Organic Center, “Government data from both America and the United Kingdom have shown that the concentration of a range of essential nutrients in the food supply has declined in the last few decades, with double digit percentage declines of iron, zinc, calcium, selenium** and other essential nutrients across a wide range of common foods.”

The authors go on to say “Fewer nutrients per serving translate into less nutrition per calorie consumed.” Less nutrition per calorie equals people over-eating to sustain minimal nutrition. In addition, what happens inside the body when it’s not getting enough nutrition? Doesn’t a starving body behave like a vehicle with not enough fuel or the wrong fuel by breaking down? Is the upswing in chronic diseases and some kinds of cancers linked to reduced nutrition in our food?

I’m not a physician, so you should talk to yours before making changes to your diet, including adding supplements. WebMD also recommends looking for a seal of approval from an organization that tests supplements such as the U.S. Pharmacopeia or NSF International.

Keeping our truck drivers healthy is vital to our nation. Not only because we need you to keep driving (as there is a shrinking labor pool to replace you), but also because driver health is being more tightly regulated (DOT physicals.) Maybe this can be one more tool in your arsenal for good health.

Just some thoughts to chew on. I’d like to hear yours in the comments.

References:

Get The Organic Center’s Full Report Still No Free Lunch: http://organic-center.org/reportfiles/YieldsReport.pdf

CDC obesity information: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

Link to WebMD http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-faq

http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Taste-nutrients-decline-as-size-of-crops-grows-1249451.php

*Wink to those who just thought of Pizza the Hut in Space Balls, (Dir. Mel Brooks. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [MGM], 1987).

**Linked to prevention of pancreatic cancer: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23620017