The Simple Eating Hack That Could Prevent Most Diseases Including Blindness by Dr. Joseph Mercola for Mercola
Dr. Chris Knobbe, an ophthalmologist, is the founder and president of the Cure AMD Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
AMD, a leading cause of blindness in the U.S. — and the third leading cause of blindness globally (after cataracts and glaucoma)1 — is said to be a disease associated with aging, but, in the presentation above, Knobbe asks, “Could age-related macular degeneration be a disease of processed food consumption?”
Nine years of research and investigation have led Knobbe to conclude that AMD is, indeed, being driven by nutrient deficiencies and toxicity caused by processed foods. This common denominator isn’t linked only to AMD, however — it’s also linked to chronic diseases of all kinds, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
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The root of the problem lies in mitochondrial dysfunction, which is caused by the excessive consumption of a Westernized diet, including toxic industrially processed seed oils (incorrectly called “vegetable oils”), refined flour, refined added sugars and trans fats.
Chronic Metabolic and Degenerative Disease ‘Didn’t Exist’
According to Knobbe, chronic metabolic and degenerative disease “clearly didn’t exist 125 years ago,” at least not nearly to the extent they do today, citing a study by Dr. David Jones and colleagues, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012.2 The study looked at the history of disease over the past 200 years, comparing the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. from 1900 to 2010.
In 1900, the top four causes of death were infectious in nature: pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal infections and cardiac valvular disease. The latter is classified as heart disease, but, Knobbe says, “This wasn’t coronary artery type heart disease. This was cardiac valvular disease driven by syphilis, endocarditis and rheumatic fever … It was infectious still.”
By 2010, this had all changed, with chronic diseases replacing infectious diseases as the top killers. “Today, heart disease, cancer, stroke, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, all chronic diseases account for seven of the top 10 causes of death.” In reviewing the data, Knobbe found that diabetes of any type was rare in the 19th century, but it increased 25-fold in a period of 80 years.
He also cites data that found the obesity rate in the 19th century was 1.2%. By 1960, it had already risen to 13% — an 11-fold increase — and continued to climb steadily to this day. “Obesity is on target to be 50% of adults obese in the United States by 2030, half obese,” Knobbe says. “So the increase looks something like … a 33-fold increase already in 115 years.” He continues:
“Again, you have to ask, you know, what accounts for this … All right, well, let’s go back to the dietary history now. So you’re going to see Westernized disease correlate to modernized diets. That’s the theme of this, essentially …
And I will submit to you that this has really been a global human experiment that began in 1866, it didn’t begin in 1980, you know, with our low-fat, low saturated-fat dietary guidelines, it began in the 19th century and nobody gave informed consent of us. Not one of us knew what we were getting into and most of us still don’t.”
Four Primary Processed Food Culprits
The four primary components that make up processed foods that are, in turn, contributing to chronic diseases like AMD are sugar, industrially processed seed oils, refined flour and trans fats. Knobbe says:
“ … Sugar has been in the food supply for hundreds of years, but between 1822 and 1999 sugar increased 17-fold … Cotton seed oil, the world’s first, highly polyunsaturated vegetable oil introduced right here in the good old US of A in 1866, the entire world, or at least 99.9-plus% of it had never seen a polyunsaturated vegetable oil, ever. All right, 1880 roller mill technology was introduced.
And in the United States, it was introduced in Minneapolis … roller mill gives us refined white, wheat flour, which is a nutrient deficient food. And then fourth, 1911, Proctor and gamble introduced Crisco. That’s trans fats, they’re hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils … by 2009, our own USDA reports that those four foods make up 63% of the American diet, 63%. That’s the recipe for disaster.”
As the consumption of processed foods rose, so too did chronic diseases. According to Knobbe, AMD was rare from 1851 to about 1930, but had reached epidemic proportions by the 1970s. As of 2020, 196 million people worldwide suffer from AMD.
“And what we always see is that the processed foods come first and then the AMD hits later,” Knobbe says.
“It’s always this way. There’s a temporal relationship. It’s at least 30 years of this consumption, probably closer to 50. You know, these are chronic … diseases that take a long time to develop, right? There’s a dose response relationship … I believe if you look at all of our data, this becomes nearly a mathematical certainty that this relationship between food and macular degeneration exists.”
Knobbe also cites the work of Weston A. Price, the dentist who wrote the classic book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” In the 1900s, Price did extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases.
He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his research revealed native tribes that still ate their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and were almost 100% free of tooth decay. But when these tribal populations were introduced to refined sugar and white flour, their health, and their perfect teeth, rapidly deteriorated. In many ways, Knobbe is the 21st century equivalent of Price.