Perhaps you are not aware of the studies conducted by Dr Francis Pottenger back in the 1930’s. Taking over his father’s Tuberculosis Research facility, Pottenger was distracted from his usual research by an unlikely discovery. This discovery lead him into a 10 year research program that revealed startling results.
Pottenger was conducting studies on cats, researching his father’s theory that Tuberculosis was caused by adrenal deficiencies. As part of the research it was important that the cats, as test subjects, consumed a consistent and balanced diet, according to relevant theories at the time regarding feline nutrition.
The cats were fed a diet of cooked meat scraps, organ meats, bone, raw mild and cod liver oil.
At a point where the cat population in his holding pen began to outgrow the food supply, additional food was brought in from a new source. These cats were fed raw meats instead of cooked meats. Over time, Pottenger noticed a marked difference in many health markers in these cats. This intrigued him so he decided to develop a completely separate study.
He separated the cats into groups and fed them differing diets from fresh raw meat and milk in one group, right through to a diet of cooked meat and sweetened condensed milk at the other end of the spectrum.
What prevailed was stunning. The cats consuming the raw diet, remained strong, were energetic and active, were interested in things and explored, gave birth to healthy off spring and showed general signs of strength and robust health.
The other cats in the study began to deteriorate. They were weaker, smaller and less active and energetic. Some even failed to land well on their feet when thrown a short distance. As the cats bred, the new generations began showing significant signs of weakness and deformity. Reproductive habits reduced, still births became common, changes in bone structure abounded, tooth and gum disease were almost normal and the cats were often anxious and reactive.
Pottenger’s study revealed was that as the species moved away from a natural diet toward a more processed diet, the health of the animal deteriorated and that deterioration was passed down to following generations.
I got interested in this yesterday as I was talking to an AFL Senior Coach. He is an interesting guy who likes to explore all facets of the preparation of his athletes. He said to me that he felt this generation of young footballers was not as robust as those in the past. He said that whilst they arrive at his club with talent, there is so much they lack and the work that goes into turning them into footballers is costly and time consuming.
He lamented that when he first started in the system, young blokes would arrive, already strong and tough, with incredible natural agility. They could kick with either leg, stood up easily to the intense physical contact of the game, and pretty much arrived at the club ready to go for it and play at the top level. And he said that it was a great deal more physical back then, in fact it was violent. And I agree with him.
He said he felt that it was because kids are so wrapped in cotton wool these days and don’t get outside and “ go for it” after school and on weekends. He said they sit at home because parents feel it is too dangerous to go outside without supervision. Schools have reduced physical education in place of maths and science and in general, the kids grow up without the battle hardening of an adventurous childhood and youth.
I am inclined to agree with him and his viewpoints warrant some investigation. But then I also remembered Pottenger and thought to myself that maybe we are already seeing the genetic developmental drop off resulting from a highly processed diet.
When I was a kid in the 60’s, we got to drink soft drink about once every fortnight, and it was one glass. Kids now, and for several decades, have been consuming it daily, in large quantities. As kids we lived on a farm and drank raw milk. For decades now kids have been drinking pasteurised milk, often with added flavours and sweeteners.
So much food is processed and now so much of the meat that people eat is far from the natural grass fed, free range flesh eaten years ago.
But I suppose we can never really know for sure. It will all just be observation. Cats have a shorter life cycle and over 10 years we can observe and simply assess many generations. With humans, it is a little more challenging.
The closest we can come to a real life human observation is the work done by Weston A. Price who observed the health decline of indigenous populations when they moved away from their traditional diets and lifestyles and began following a modern western way of living. His studies revealed significant and wholesale degradation of health and general wellbeing.
So perhaps our kids are not as robust as prior generations? But what do we do about it now?
I guess the belief that we are an aging population living longer than ever before takes our attention off such things. But, I am afraid that is not a fact, just a sales pitch designed to sell a whole lot of political and commercial agendas.
Perhaps the best way to describe Australians today is “Too rich, too comfortable, too fat, too lazy, over fed and under nourished and living in still trying to convince ourselves we are as tough as the Anzacs”.
And only one part of this causes me irritation. There are passionate, interested, courageous and dedicated parents out there striving to change things for their kids and the get attacked for their efforts. Maybe f we took time to get interested in what they are saying, many more could become inspired, could learn and could lend a hand in changing the status quo.
After all, who is going to fund the healthcare in the future?
Watch the Pottenger Cats Video….