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Nutrient deficiency and toxicity states as important in modern illness as genetics



Fruits and VegetablesNutritional deficiencies and states of toxicity within the body are being ignored by modern genetics-focused medicine despite irrefutable evidence of the prominent role they play in contemporary illnesses according to a prominent environmental medicine scientist.

In a paper published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health, Stephen J. Genuis of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta, Canada, provides a timely reminder to the medical profession and individual physicians that throughout the history of medicine it has been proven time and again that the main causes of disease are nutritional deficiency, toxic exposures, genetic predisposition, infectious agents, and psychological dysfunction.

Genuis points out that the current medical paradigm largely ignores the role lack of vital nutrients and toxic exposures (and body toxicity states) play in modern ill-health while focusing an inordinate amount of resources on genetic predisposition and often presumed psychological dysfunction. The point that Genuis makes will be welcome news to the ears of those suffering from environmental and invisible illnesses including myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), Gulf War illness (GWI), and gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and food intolerances and sensitivities. 

Going as far back as ancient Greece, Genuis relates that even then Hippocrates noted that "nutrition, inborn factors, and environmental influences were major determinants of sickness and health". With continued application of the scientific method from the time of ancient Greece to the modern day, the observations of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, still hold true. Yet medicine in the 21st Century is inexplicably ignoring both the lessons of history, and modern science, by almost exclusively focusing on genetic, infectious and psychological factors, when nutrition and toxicity influence an individual's state of health to an equal degree.

When assessing a patient today, Genuis argues that doctors use a common diagnostic approach which relies heavily on laboratory testing for known diseases and assumes that the ultimate cause of any abnormality found is likely down to genetic predisposition. He suggests that this method of diagnosis is disease-focused rather than patient-focused and neglects to seek the true underlying cause of an individual patient's ill-health. Thus nutritional deficiency and toxic exposure are not routinely considered.

This despite recent statements on the cause of disease from major health authorities that emphasise the importance of environmental factors. Genuis cites the journal Science which recently said “chronic illness is the consequence of inherited diversity of the genetic code combined with environmental biochemical influence” and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which concludes that “virtually all human diseases result from the interaction of genetic susceptibility and modifiable environmental factors.

There is then a disconnect between the conclusions drawn from modern medical research and how medicine is practiced in the doctor's office.

This is something which is glaringly obvious to those affected by the types of environmental and invisible illnesses mentioned previously. These people when discussing their health issues with their doctor are immediately confronted with the fact that they don't fit into any of the neatly organised categories of disease modern medicine accepts. Their reports that symptoms are triggered by toxic exposures or certain foods, or that they suspect nutritional deficiency is involved, are more often than not dismissed. Not uncommonly they may be attributed to psychological dysfunction. So effectively doctors are ignoring two of the historically and scientifically established causes of disease - nutritional deficiency and toxic exposure - in favour of psychological dysfunction, without any investigation.

Luckily for those suffering from MCS, nutritional deficiencies as a result of SIBO, or any other environmental or invisible illness there are some physicians who have not forgotten the lessons of history and are reading the latest statements from the likes of Scienceand the CDC - these physicians generally refer to themselves as practitioners of environmental, nutritional or integrative/functional medicine.

Genuis argues that if the two ignored pillars of disease causation were addressed my physicians, modern medicine would be in a much better position to bring about positive outcomes in chronically ill patients. He cites examples such as "restoring mental health by eliminating stockpiled toxicants, reversing some cases of autism by removing incitants and addressing nutritional deficiencies, treating pediatric arthritis by managing food intolerances..." as well as "...relieving asthma and chronic fatigue by mold remediation, ending the tragedy of habitual abortion by addressing electromagnetic toxicity, and the author's [Genuis'] experience of achieving remission from leukemia in a patient by eradicating retained aflatoxin."

In conclusion, Genuis urges the medical profession to look to the proven lessons of history that have stood the test of time rather than blindly following the latest fads which may be out of date a year from now. Let's hope the logic of this free-thinking scientist is heeded and needless suffering of patients is reduced by more doctors who look at the big picture on an individual patient basis.

Source: Genuis SJ (2012) What's Out There Making Us Sick? Journal of Environmental and Public Health 2012:605137 (Free Full Article)




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