Have you ever wondered why it seems that so many little ones are so very sick so early in life, and why it's becoming more prevalent as time goes on? Each generation seems to succumb to serious illness younger and younger, with diseases common to people their grandparents' ages. Even some of the more recent maladies like the various forms of autoimmunity are plaguing the very young. What's going on here?
I got a glimpse of the root of the problem studying with the Nutritional Therapy Association this past year. I wasn't very familiar with the work of Dr. Francis Pottenger, Jr., before then. His claim to fame is a study he carried out in the 1930's and 1940's involving cats and the effects of their diets on their health. He took four groups of cats, and fed them foods varying in their level of processing. The first group he fed an unadulterated diet: raw meat and raw milk. The second group he fed raw meat and pasteurized milk. The third group received raw meat and evaporated milk, and the fourth group consumed raw meat and sweetened condensed milk. The varying factor in each group was the level of processing present in the milk that the cats' drank. It's understandable that the cats fed an unadulterated, unprocessed diet of raw meat and raw milk remained healthy. But the results of Dr. Pottenger's experiment on the other three groups were quite surprising.
We would perhaps suspect that these cats fed the different processed diets would show signs of degeneration themselves early in life, but that is not what happened. The greatest effects didn't show up until the second and third generations, with each generation becoming sick sooner than the one before. There was no fourth generation of cats of those who ate the processed diet -- some third generation cats were infertile, and those who were fertile produced kittens who died, some before birth. The second and third generation cats suffered from structural deformities, social problems, allergies, and reproductive difficulties. This module in our course of nutritional therapy included viewing photographs of the autopsied cats, which showed the level of decline progressing with each level of milk processing. We saw videos in which the cats hurled themselves at each other and demonstrated other abnormal behaviors. It didn't take long for us to make connections between what happened with the cats and what appears to be happening in our own species. We don't have to look far to see evidence of the similar physical and emotional deterioration, even in the very young.
The cat study ended on a happy note, however. Dr. Pottenger reversed their adulterated diets and fed them all raw meat and raw milk. Can you guess what happened? Yes, the cats actually did recover their health, but it took four generations to do it; four generations of feeding them the unprocessed diet they were meant to consume. It's worth noting that the decline came about much quicker and easier than did the return to health. But it did come about.
Where are we on the Pottenger continuum? Will our great-grandchildren enjoy the robust health that is their birthright? Will we see a decline in structural deformities, social problems, allergies, and hormonal difficulties at some point? Certainly there are other factors to consider, and although it may seem somewhat of a leap to apply the discoveries of a cat study to the human species, our current situation mirrors that of Pottenger's study pretty closely. Take a walk through your usual grocery store and note the ratio of highly processed food-like substances to foods that are unprocessed and in their natural state. Then begin to notice the health of our general population, even in our young people. It's a sobering thing.
Yet there is hope! If reversing the processed food diets in cats worked to restore the health of future generations, couldn't it do the same for us? Commit to changing the status quo. Vote with your dollars at the grocery store. Support your local growers when you can. Become politically active where our food supply is concerned. Be intentional in passing all this along to your children and grandchildren....and let's check back in a few generations. Let's take a lesson from a guy and some cats.