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A Commentary by Kimberly Hartke

Our nation reels from yet another tragedy, the monstrous attempted assassination of a lovely Congresswoman, Gabby Gifford, and the outright murder and maiming of numerous civil servants and civilians.

We all wonder about what triggered this murderous mayhem. The sheriff and the commentators have it right, the over-the-top, violent rhetoric has got to stop. It serves to shut down dialog instead of furthering understanding between people. But, there is still the underlying cause of mental psychosis to consider.

I have long thought, it is not what’s eating our young people that causes them to lash out with such destructive force, but, what they are eating.

Recently someone told me that one of the violent offenders in one of these incidents had a refrigerator in his bedroom stuffed with junk food and sodas. I would love a dietary survey to be done in each of these cases.

I am 54 years old. In my youth, the mental illness that is so evident in the school shootings and this latest outrage, was unheard of. Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Arizona beg the question. Why are are these young men so unhinged?

Last night, I attended a screening of the documentary, Food Matters. In it, Andrew Saul, Ph.D., of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine told the story of a woman who overcame depression through high dose niacin therapy. Niacin is vitamin B3, found in food high in protein, such as milk, cheese, eggs and meat.

All of these foods are commonly demonized in our culture. Vegetables and fruits are frequently highlighted as the healthier option. Soy is often recommended as a “low fat” protein replacement.

What in the World are we Feeding our Babies?

Last year, Gail Elbek wrote for this blog about her work to sound the alarm about soy foods, particularly, soy infant formula and its damaging effects on the development of the brain, resulting in physical and psychological effects.

Now that soy is a common ingredient in many processed foods and soy products are being mistakenly touted as a healthy option, how many pregnant moms or young mothers are unwittingly putting soy in their shopping cart?

In her article, Metals and the Mind, Southern California nutritionist, Theresa Vernon states that Copper toxicity can also cause mental disturbance.  A diet emphasizing vegetables and grains that shuns eggs and meat is likely to be very high in copper, because vegetables are a plentiful source.

Could our Food Policy Need to be Changed?

Our USDA dietary guidelines currently advise to restrict meat and eggs, in favor of vegetables and grains.  In fact, a careful look at these guidelines, reveals that they come close to recommending a vegetarian diet. The new guidelines, about to be released, actually now stipulate a “plant based” diet for Americans.

Could our government policies be misguided and leading us down the wrong path? Many experts testified as much, decrying the proposed guidelines at hearings last summer before the USDA.

Just consider, what is standard breakfast fare in America today? Boxed Cereal, oatmeal, food bars and toaster pastries have supplanted the traditional eggs, bacon and toast. If we are feeding  our children the wrong diet, how can they help but turn out to do wrong things?

The Overlooked Importance of Animal Fats

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a  nutrition education non-profit, that promotes the vital importance of animal fats in the human diet. In an article on nutrition and pre-natal development, the Omega 3 fatty acid, DHA, in particular, is reported to be essential for fetal brain development. DHA can be obtained from cod liver oil, fatty fish and in small levels in grassfed animal fats.

How many pregnant moms know that a daily dose of cod liver oil is an essential part of growing the brain of the child inside them? I daresay, not near enough.

The famous research scientist, Dr. Mary Enig, whose valiant efforts warned us of the dangers of trans fats, says our USDA dietary guidelines are a danger to the health of our children.

Let’s stop focusing exclusively on the environmental influences in the home and in our culture, but start looking at the internal influence of the Standard American Diet on mental health.

Kimberly Hartke is the publicist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit based in Washington, D.C.