If you’ve heard its name before, you probably associate it with the navy, pirates, and more generally, with a time gone. And yet, scurvy is gradually making a comeback among developed nations. This fatal disease resulting from a deficiency in vitamin C spreads to United States, this nation who throws a quarter of his food in the trash every year, and in other corners of the world.
Scurvy, a sailor’s disease
Noticed from the Renaissance, scurvy follows the first maritime expeditions around the world like a threatening shadow. Also nicknamed ” sea fish », It is rife mainly among sailors, deprived of certain foods for several months during their long journeys (the crews of Vasco de Gama and Magellan will pay the price); but it also affects certain circles on the terre farm (prisons, hospitals, workshops).
Between the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century, doctors noted that the consumption citrus – especially lemons and oranges – as well as certain herbs like sorrel, helps protect travelers against this disease, without yet knowing exactly why. These discoveries are included in the Treatment of scurvy, published in 1754 by the Scottish physician James Lind.
It was not until the 1930s that the vitamin C is identified and isolated, and the disease finally recognized as a nutritional deficiency. Since then, it has experienced a large decline, in particular thanks to faster means of transport, reducing travel time, better health education, as well as an increasingly widespread access to fresh fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C. Scurvy seemed to have almost completely disappeared, at least in industrialized countries.
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An insidious return to precarious environments
Video: Should we stop the salt? (Dailymotion)
Unfortunately, it seems that this age-old disease is gradually gaining ground again. In a new documentary titled Vitamania, the famous Youtuber Derek Muller notes the sad return of scurvy in United States. There he meets Sonny Lopez, a resident of Massachusetts as bleeding gums, decaying teeth and hair loss led to consult in doctor Eric Churchill. Diagnosis: Sonny Lopez has scorbut.
It would also seem that he is not the only one in this case: ” We diagnosed our first case five or six years ago. This initial case was sent to us by the hospital and was at the very least impressive : the person ate only cheese and bread », explains Doctor Churchill to the site ScienceAlert. « Since then, we have diagnosed between 20 and 30 cases of scurvy. »
The root cause of this return of disease lies in the precarious living conditions of the people it touches. Sonny Lopez has been prescribed the consumption ofan orange a day, but for this man forced to limit himself to one meal daily, this simple remedy is far from being accessible.
« Many people in financial difficulty tend to choose foods high in fat, calories, and appetite suppressant Explains Churchill. Unfortunately, the distinction between eating a lot and eating well is made here: if the dishes fatty and sweet are the most accessible today financially, they fall far short of meeting all the nutritional needs of individuals.
An international presence?
A report published in 2016 also reported cases of scorbut, in Australia this time, in patients with diabetes. ” [L]most ate a reasonable amount of vegetables », concedes researcher Jenny Gunton, at the origin of the study. ” They were cooking simply too much, which destroyed vitamin C. »
So it would seem that the precariousness as long as education has a role to play in the reappearance of this disease which we thought disappeared. So remember to continue to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and rich in vitamine C rregularly and if you want to help a person in need with food and that you can, consider leaving the pasta aside.