The relationship involving food, nutrients, and the body is a complex body of study that is perpetually significant and growing. Particularly, the swift surge of chemical-laden and processed food consumption in recent years has led to the need to emphasize the importance of the whole and organic foods in our diet to prevent currently prevalent diseases. Now more than ever, diploma courses on subjects like naturopathic nutrition and herbal medicine are timely and relevant.
Throughout history, we’ve seen the focus of nutritional science shift from one specific aspect to another, in response to certain trigger events. In the following list, we compiled some of the momentous events in the history of nutrition science:
Vitamin B1 and C were first synthesized in the 1930s. Many other essential vitamins and minerals were soon discovered after that. These discoveries were used to prevent the occurrence of nutrient-deficiency diseases and cure patients suffering from them at the time. After the successful synthesis of vitamins, scientists were able to form dietary strategies, make vitamin supplements, and fortify staple foods with nutrients to address the nutrient deficiency.
These events were timely too, as they happened around the Great Depression and World War II, which meant people from all over the world were suffering from shortages of most basic needs. This concentration on finding remedies for nutrient deficiency at this time formed the earliest models of some of our modern-day nutrition research and policies.
Of Fat, Sugar, and Malnutrition
In the 1970s, studies were made implicating excess fat and sugar as significant contributors to people’s likelihood of contracting common diseases. These diseases included coronary disease and cancer, among others. Because of this, much like the dietary strategies formed after the discovery of vitamins, the exclusion of fat and sugar from people’s diet plans was widely recommended.
When some scientists started pointing out that protein deficiency fueled malnutrition, the need to enrich foods with it also arose. They were especially concerned with severe malnutrition cases in developing countries.
Along with the advancements that science and technology made, particularly in the agricultural and industrial processing and formulation of food, more conscious efforts were made to defeat single nutrient deficiency diseases all over the world. To their credit, global organizations and authorities kept their determination to substantially reduce malnutrition, especially in places where nutrient deficiency was prevalent and the means to stop it was little to non-existent.
With time though, these developments were also met with the increase of chronic diseases related to diet. At this point, although the battle against worldwide malnutrition was not stopped by any means, there was an evident shift of focus to tackling chronic diseases like cancer, obesity, and diabetes. This led to the rise of low-fat, low-cholesterol, low-sugar food production, as well as extensive studies to improve food by fortifying them with nutrients and reducing saturated fat content.
Scientists also started doing research on how environmental factors affect people’s levels of nutrients and protein, more than just dietary adjustments. These factors include infection and sanitation, which continue to be a hurdle in low-income nations.
The developments in this branch of science are continuously being worked on. Food is a basic need. Breaking it down and studying its relationship with the body has become more than just a need to make the most of it; history shows that it’s become a way to battle global problems and make the world a better place.