5 Diseases Virtually Eradicated Through Nutrition

5 Diseases Virtually Eradicated Through Nutrition | Online Nutrition Training Course & Diplomas | Edison Institute of Nutrition

We don’t hear much about diseases like rickets or scurvy these days, especially living in the western world.

Thanks to an advanced understanding of nutrition, as well as the widespread availability of a variety of foods and supplements, many diseases caused by malnutrition have all but disappeared.

Even so, it’s important to learn about our past to know where we’re going, and if you’re considering a diploma in holistic nutrition then learning about the ways nutrition has been used to eradicate disease is something you should be interested in.

Keep reading to learn about five diseases which have been all been eliminated, thanks to a better understanding of nutrition.


Scurvy is a disease which develops when someone doesn’t get enough vitamin C.

In the 1600s and 1700s, it was a huge issue for sailors who were at sea for lengthy periods of times, as their diets often didn’t contain many fresh fruits.

Symptoms Of Scurvy

Some signs of scurvy include:

  • Development of red or blue spots on the skin
  • Feeling weak and tired
  • Bruising easily
  • Joint and leg pain
  • Irritability
  • Feeling sad

What Causes Scurvy?

The cause of scurvy is vitamin C deficiency.

Some factors which can put you at higher risk of this include:

  • A diet lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Undergoing treatments which make you feel sick and result in eating less, such as chemotherapy
  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Drug or alcohol dependency

How Nutrition Helps

A study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine notes that due to the prevalence of fortified foods in developed countries, scurvy is much less common now than it once was.

It can still occur in individuals who don’t eat many fresh fruits and vegetables but can be easily avoided by incorporating more foods rich in vitamin C into your diet.


Pellagra is a disease which occurs in people who don’t get enough niacin, or vitamin B3.

Although its prevalence has been reduced in Europe and North America, it is still an issue in many developing countries where corn is a major part of their diet.

It can also be an issue in individuals whose bodies don’t properly absorb niacin.

Left untreated, pellagra can be fatal.

Symptoms Of Pellagra

The three primary symptoms of pellagra are known as the three D’s – digestion, dermatitis, and dementia.

Symptoms related to atopic dermatitis include:

  • Patches of skin which are burning or itchy
  • Flakey, red skin
  • Crusty, scaly, or cracked skin
  • Discoloration


Neurological symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Apathy
  • Anxiety


Other symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low appetite
  • Sores on the lips, gums, and tongues
  • Difficulty eating and drinking

What Causes Pellagra?

Primary pellagra occurs when an individual has a diet low in niacin or tryptophan (an amino acid which the body can convert to niacin).

Secondary pellagra is when the body is unable to absorb enough niacin, and some reasons for this can include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disease
  • Some types of medications
  • Carcinoid tumors
  • Hartnup disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

How Nutrition Helps

Nutrition can be useful for treating primary pellagra.

Niacin supplements can be used to supplement diet or can also be given through an IV.

Treatment for secondary pellagra generally focuses on the underlying cause.

how vitamin D supplementation has help eradicate disease | Online Nutrition Training Course & Diplomas | Edison Institute of Nutrition


Rickets is a condition which occurs in children and affects bone development.

It’s usually caused by low levels of calcium and vitamin D, however there are rare cases where rickets is genetic.

Symptoms Of Rickets

In children with rickets, their bones become weakened which leads to deformities.

Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Fragile bones, more prone to fracture
  • Pain
  • Poor growth and development
  • Bow legs
  • Dental issues

What Causes Rickets?

The major cause of rickets is a lack of vitamin D and calcium, however it can also occur due to genetics or other health conditions.

In some cases, rickets is linked to conditions involving the liver, kidney and intestines which affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals.

How Nutrition Helps

In cases where rickets is related to a lack of calcium and vitamin D, the treatment generally involves increasing the amounts of these nutrients in one’s diet.

If it’s due to issues with absorbing nutrients, then it’s important to address the underlying digestive issues.


Beriberi is a deficiency of vitamin B1, also known as thiamin.

Thiamin helps your metabolism and plays a role in the functioning of your nervous system.

When beriberi affects the cardiovascular systems it’s called wet beriberi, and when it affects the central nervous system it’s called dry beriberi.

Symptoms Of Beriberi

Symptoms of beriberi include:

  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Brain fog
  • Tachycardia
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling in the feet and fingers

What Causes Beriberi

Factors which can increase the risk of beriberi include:

  • Alcoholism
  • High stress levels
  • Babies who are breast fed, when the feeding parent is thiamin deficient
  • People who have high carbohydrate diets
  • Individuals who exercise excessively
  • Digestive issues which can affect nutrient absorption
  • Hyperthyroidism

How Nutrition Helps

The best way to protect against beriberi is eat a diet rich in thiamin.

Some great foods which can help with this include:

  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Beans
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Thiamin enriched rice and noodles
  • Thiamin fortified cereals


Vitamin A is important for eye health.

If you don’t get enough, it can cause your eyes and tear ducts to dry out.

Over time, xerophthalmia can develop, causing damage including ulcers on the corneas and white spots on your eyes.

Symptoms Of Xerophthalmia

Xerophthalmia starts out with mild symptoms and gets worse over time if the vitamin A deficiency isn’t addressed.

One early symptom is night blindness, which is the inability to see in dim light.

As the disease progresses, ulcers and lesions can develop on the cornea, eventually leading to blindness.

What Causes Xerophthalmia

The primary cause of xerophthalmia is a lack of vitamin A.

It’s more common in areas where people have limited access to animal products.

How Nutrition Helps

The most efficient sources of vitamin A are in animal-based products such as:

  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Meat
  • Fish liver
  • Poultry

It can also be found in some vegetables; however, this form of the vitamin is less efficient.

Individuals who avoid meat and other animal products may want to talk to their registered holistic nutritionist about the possibility of supplementation.

Contact The Edison Institute Of Nutrition

Are you interested in the ways in which proper nutrition and diet changes can make positive impacts on people’s lives?

Do you want to take your interest in holistic nutrition to the next level, and work towards a career where you will be able to help others take control of their health?

Contact the Edison Institute of Nutrition today, to learn more about our programs, and how we can help you take your career to the next level.