I’m going to start today’s conversation with a warning—the story I’m about to tell you is upsetting. And parents in particular may find it especially hard to read.
But the message is important. It’s the same message, in fact, that I’ve been dedicated to getting out since the very beginning of my career as a doctor…
Feed your kids well.
Because if you don’t, the consequences could be dire…
The high price of “picky” eating
I recently came across a report that detailed a medical case in which a young patient’s picky eating caused him to go blind. Read that again: blind.
Why? Well, the easiest answer is because sadly, this kid didn’t receive a proper diagnosis—nutritional optic neuropathy—in time. This is a condition in which nutritional deficiencies cause the optic nerve (which you need in order to see) to malfunction.
When you catch it early, nutritional optic neuropathy is reversible. But if you don’t treat it quickly enough, it can cause permanent damage to the eyes… and ultimately, blindness. Which is exactly what happened to this young man.
Now, you may be wondering how this happened. Well, get this: The teen goes to the doctor complaining of fatigue. His file noted that he was a “fussy eater”—but his weight was normal, and he wasn’t on any medications.
Tests showed that he was anemic and had low levels of vitamin B12. So, he was treated with injections and sent on his way. But this is where my disbelief kicks in, because wouldn’t you think it was strange that a teenager—not an octogenarian—had low B12 levels?? I know I would…
A year later, the young man had begun to lose his hearing and suffer vision disturbances. But once again, the doctor didn’t find a cause. By the time he was 17, the patient was irreversibly blind.
Tests ultimately showed that he didn’t just have a B12 deficiency—he also had low levels of copper and selenium, high levels of zinc, low vitamin D levels, and low bone mineral density.
And when doctors finally asked about his diet, it was clear why he was suffering: His diet consisted solely of French fries, potato chips, white bread, and the occasional bit of ham or sausage. But because the kid wasn’t skin and bones, his doctors never bothered to inquire about this vital piece of information prior.
It’s unbelievable… and also, completely typical.
All calories aren’t created equal
In developed countries with an abundant food supply, nutritional optic neuropathy only tends to arise in exceptional cases where bowel problems or medications interfere with nutrient absorption.
But if we ever needed a reminder that the quality of your calories matters as much as (or even more than) quantity, well… here it is.
It’s a sad state of affairs when obesity outpaces hunger as a global health threat and teenagers are going blind from malnutrition, despite being a normal weight. But such is the modern food supply: Food, food everywhere, but not a bite worth eating.
Yes, this kid’s case was absurdly extreme. And I’m not suggesting that everyone following the Standard American Diet is going to suffer the same fate.
But today’s kitchens are packed with over-processed, nutrient-devoid junk. And that comes with consequences—not least of all to your vision.
And despite its reputation as an antidote, the rising popularity of veganism could actually end up making the problem worse. Because if that “plant-based” diet doesn’t come with a side of supplements to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, it’s possible we actually will see a whole lot more people going blind.
This is why I ask each and every one of my patients what they eat. All doctors should—including yours. Because ultimately, weight tells you nothing about nutritional status. If you’re not eating a variety of real, whole foods, your health could be at risk.
And whatever you do, don’t let your kids call the shots at the dinner table. You simply can’t accommodate these kinds of “picky” behaviors… or your child could very well end up in the same boat.
P.S. It’s important to follow a healthy, balanced diet. And with all of the misinformation out there, I understand why so many people are confused about what to eat. But incorporating the right diet into your lifestyle is easier than you may think—with high rewards.
In fact, I discuss a time-tested diet plan that’s linked to living a longer, healthier life in the October 2018 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“This simple weight loss plan can prevent, treat, and even REVERSE chronic disease”). So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today!
“Poor diet can lead to blindness, case study shows.” Science Daily, 09/03/2019. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/09/190903091437.htm)