by Prof. Maurice Cloarec
Medical Professor at the
Medical university of Paris
President of the National Association for Medical Prevention
Head of the Nutrition and Medical Prevention Service of the Tenon Hospital in Paris.
A considerable change can be observed today with respect to health. There was a time when we expected everything was going to be cured by scientific discoveries and the progress of biology with the creation of new, ever more efficient medication. Scientists have thought for centuries that health problems, from asthenia to depression, from lack of weight to obesity, could be solved by a whole range of medicines. Today, medical science has revised all this, drawn lessons from the past, and become aware of the importance of prevention and nutrition.
After believing blindly in science, we have now become aware that we do not know enough about the fundamental needs of the human body and that there remains much to be done before we humbly start to understand how it works. One example is the famous Framingham survey undertaken in 1949. This survey of a town was designed to isolate the factors involved in the incidence of arteriosclerosis, particularly hypercholesterolemia, high blood pressure, the role of diabetes, and the dangers of tobacco poisoning. But, with time, little by little, the organizers of the survey realised that other factors had to be taken into account: hormone levels, stress, and, more recently, the importance of the quality of sleep.
The problem of prevention is that it is much more difficult to carry out a survey on nutrition than to perform an electrocardiograph or a blood count. However, many studies have nonetheless revealed the importance of the food factor in the prevention of coronary disease, cerebral vascular accidents and high blood pressure. A better dosing of nutritional fatty acids can avert lipidic anomalies and improve our defenses against thrombosis. Furthermore, trace elements, also called oligoelements, have been shown to play an essential role in different metabolisms and in the fight against excessive free radicals.
In fact, we are rediscovering today the importance and even the necessity, in the field of nutrition, of getting closer to nature and to original raw foods. This is what is proposed here by Bruno Comby's book. But it is not enough just to eat better, we also have to learn to relax and sleep better to offset the stress of modern life . Few scientists have looked into the consequences of the disruption of our rhythms of sleep, aggravated in the modern world by magical electricity and the habit of late TV viewing.
We have therefore reached the stage where the role of a doctor is not so much to prescribe treatments as to give advice or serve as a confident able to identify and rectify errors of nutrition and lifestyle. The prescription of medicine should only be a secondary requirement.
Diet is one of the pillars of medical prevention. Here are the recent results of a nutritional survey made by our National Association of Medical Prevention on 5000 patients monitored for five years:
Initially, 32 % of them never ate fresh fruit or vegetables, 30 % ate very little fiber, and 37 % breakfasted on just a cup of coffee and some bread and butter. Qualitatively, this survey revealed a poor nutritional balance. After having given these subjects a little basic dietary advice, we observed and scientifically measured, with time, an objective improvement of the clinical and biological parameters, due to the sole effect of following this advice.
The public therefore must be taught the meaning of a healthier diet, from childhood onwards.
I therefore agree with the notion of nutritional environmentalism put forward by the author of this book, and we would like to encourage all those who participate in it.
Pr Maurice Cloarec