When we try to restore your health with nutrition and other natural therapies, we are working with body’s biochemistry. The most basic, and sometimes most effective therapy is your diet. Many people don’t make the connection between their day-to-day habits and the symptoms that they suffer with.
The problem with the American Diet
If you look at what happens to people who are newly “civilized” and recently exposed to the modern Western diet, you can get an idea of the problems caused by eating a refined, processed diet. Jonathan Wright, MD, presents two examples of the deterioration in general health caused by the Western diet in Healing with Nutrition. The groups examined are Eskimos in North Central Canada and Pacific Islanders.
Consider Eskimos in Northern Canada, who, prior to the 1940s, had no exposure to Western civilization. Prior to 1940, these people were much healthier than they were after eating the type of diet we take for granted. Some women developed breast cancer, which was unheard of before 1940. Teenagers began to have acne, another condition that didn’t exist before they began eating a more “civilized” diet. Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and gross obesity all became more common.
Pacific Islanders have been studied. People living on Pukapukaeat a traditional diet. Their diet averages about 1800 calories per day, which includes about 70 grams of fat and 9 grams of sugar. People living on Rarotonga eat a combination of Western and traditional diet. Their diet averages about 2100 calories per day, which includes abut 63 grams of fat and 35 grams of sugar. The Maori of New Zealand eat a completely modern diet. They average 2500 calories with125 grams of fat per day and 71 grams of sugar per day (the average American eats 150 grams of sugar per day).
In Raratonga, gross obesity is 5.2 times more common than it is on Pukapuka. The New Zealand Maori have 13 times more gross obesity than the people on Pukapuka. Diabetes is 3.1 times more prevalent on Raratongathan on Pukapuka. There is almost six times more diabetes in New Zealandthan on Pukapuka. Heart disease is twice as common onRaratongaand 2 1/2 times more common in New Zealand than it is on Pukapuka. High blood pressure is seen in 10 times more people on Raratongaand in 8 1/2 more times more people in New Zealand than on Pukapuka.
As diet contains more refined and processed foods, disease increases, we begin to see more obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer. Eating a nutrient deficient diet causes other problems like fatigue, allergies, depression, chronic pain, skin problems and many other problems that affect the quality of our lives.
So what exactly is the modern American diet like?
A recent survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute asked Americans about their diet from the previous day. Only 9% of those asked consumed three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit on the previous day. One in nine surveyed had no servings of fruits or vegetables on the previous day.
In the United States, 46% of every food dollar is spent on meals and snacks away from home. Convenience stores have increased by 50% in the last decade. The typical American consumes 48 pounds of high fructose corn syrup annually, usually in soft drinks. In 1990 Americans consumed their body weight in sweeteners and salt.. Four percent of the energy use in the United Statesgoes to packing food, which is about the same amount as the energy used to grow food. This is almost as much energy as flows through the Alaskapipeline. The 36 million tons of food packaging used in 1990 equals about 290 pounds per person.
Americans drink more carbonated soft drinks than plain water. Soft drink output rose from 64 billion servings (12 ounces) in 1980, to 85 billion servings in 1990. In 1990 Americans spent $5 billion on potato chips and corn chips, $66 billion on fast food and $44 billion for soft drinks.
Improve your diet now
The decision to get rid of chronic health problems, prevent disease and improve the quality of your life begins with fundamental improvements in your diet and other aspects of your lifestyle. A proper diet provides your body with the raw materials (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) to begin to detoxify and heal itself. This is the foundation of your nutritional program.
Basic nutrition is an important first-step on the road to health. Following these dietary guidelines will make the other aspects of your nutritional program much more effective. If you are not yet able to follow this plan perfectly, the important thing is to keep improving, set goals for compliance and persist in improving your health.
1. Drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water each day:(adults): You need water to keep your cells hydrated and protected, to eliminate waste and ensure the health of your mucus membranes. Adequate hydration will improve a number of health problems including sinusitis, constipation, inflammation, allergies, fatigue, joint pain, headaches and many other afflictions.
Your body cannot adequately eliminate waste products without enough water. If toxic chemicals or heavy metal poisoning is at the root of your health problems you will have a much easier time getting better when you are properly hydrated.
Of course there is controversy about which kind of water is best. Tap water can be a source of chemicals like fluorine, chlorine and even lead. Filtered or bottled water is usually best. Many prefer distilled water. Call for a consultation and we will be able to discuss this and other health issues with you.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables: Plenty means that at least half of the food you eat (by volume). Vegetables are very high in fiber, vitamin C, folic acid and minerals. They provide you with many health benefits:
- Fiber in vegetables slows the absorption of fat and toxins. One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat plenty of fiber. Eating adequate fiber can help normalize cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- They nourish normal flora which in turn nourish the lining of the GI tract, produce vitamins, and inhibit yeast and other undesirable organisms.
- They speed up bowel transit time, which reduces bowel toxicity and prevents irritation of the GI lining.
- Vegetables contain folic acid, which is necessary to produce serotonin (a neurotransmitter—the same one doctors try to give antidepressant drugs to enhance, it helps prevent depression and overeating), increases energy and helps reduce the chances for a heart attack.
- The minerals in vegetables help prevent osteoporosis (other nutrients besides calcium are important for healthy bone). Minerals are also important enzyme cofactors, so most major functions of the body are dependent on minerals.
- Eating vegetables can reduce the instance of cancer and heart disease, increase your energy and mental clarity, reduce the problems caused by bowel and liver toxicity, helpreduce the symptoms of allergies, asthma, arthritis, skin problems, digestive problems, sinusitis, chronic pain and many other health problems.
Ideally 1/2 or more of the volume of the food you eat should be vegetables. Corn and potatoes don’t count as vegetables. Fruit in moderation is also good for you; it is a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
3. Avoid deep fried food, partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil: As time passes, we keep finding out more and more bad things about hydrogenated oil and fried foods. Hydrogenation is the food industry’s way of turning liquid oil into a solid fat. This gives packaged foods a longer shelf life than if they were made with natural oils. Hydrogenation produces trans fats, which have been linked to a number of health problems such as:
- Cancer: Women with higher levels of trans fats in their cells are much more likely to develop breast cancer than women with low levels of trans fats.
- Heart disease: High levels of transfats create platelet aggregation, which is the beginning of the plaque associated with coronary heart disease.
- Pain and inflammation become much worse for patients who consume hydrogenated oils. They chemically prevent the formation of natural anti-inflammatory. substances that are normally produced by the body. If you suffer from chronic pain or have recently been injured, strictly avoid hydrogenated oil.
- Trans fats are incorporated into the cells and make them less resistant to bacteria and viruses. They are a source of immune system problems.
- There may be a link between transfats and ADD, depression and fatigue. Brain and nerve tissue have a high content of fat. Some researches believe that when transfats are incorporated into the nerve cells they affect function creating problems like ADD and depression.
- Muscle fatigue and skin problems are also linked to hydrogenated oils.
Most chips and fried snacks contain hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils are found in a lot of packaged foods like crackers, cereals and even bread. They are in margarine (margarine is much worse for you than butter), mayonnaise and a lot of bottled salad dressings. Read labels.
Not all fats are bad for you. Permissible fats include raw nuts (not roasted), virgin or extra virgin olive oil and avocados.
4. Avoid refined sugar: The average American eats 120 pounds of refined sugar per year. Compare that to seven pounds per year consumed in Englandin 1750. Refined sugar increases insulin and adrenal hormone production and can cause the following health problems:
- Increased production of adrenal hormones causes the body to excrete essential minerals.
- Sugar consumption increases the body’s need for vitamins B & C.
- Eating a lot of sugar aggravates many of the problems we associate with emotional stress. Sugar stresses the adrenal glands.
- Sugar feeds yeast and other one-celled organisms found in the bowel, causing them to multiply. These organisms produce toxins, irritate the lining of the GI tract and take the place of normal, more beneficial flora–removing the benefits of helpful bacteria.
- Eating sugar causes blood-sugar swings. Blood-sugar increases immediately after consuming sugar, prompting the body to produce insulin. Excess insulin creates more sugar cravings. More sugar is eaten, more insulin produced etc. This stresses the pancreas and sets the stage for adult-onset diabetes.
- Sugar consumption can make pain and inflammation worse.
- Sugar can cause or aggravate allergies, sinusitis, asthma, irritable bowel, Candidiasis, migraine headaches, fatigue, depression and even heart disease.
- Syndrome X: An increase in cholesterol (with a decrease in the good cholesterol and increase in the bad cholesterol), increased triglycerides and possibly high blood pressure. Syndrome X increases your risk of heart disease and is the result of eating sugar and other refined carbohydrates.
5. Avoid refined carbohydrates: The average American gets 50% of his or her calories from refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates are grains that have had the fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins, bran and germ removed. In other words, the nutrients have been removed and you are left with the starch.
Refined carbohydrates fill you up–but with a lack of vitamins and minerals. This stresses your digestive system and your endocrine system. Eating them uses up precious vitamins and minerals.
Often people eat refined carbohydrates because they are low in fat and mistakenly think that because they are “complex carbohydrates” that they are actually good for you. They create all of the same health problems created by refined sugar.
Refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, and pasta that’s not labeled “whole grain”. Read the labels on bread. Brown-colored bread labeled “wheat bread” isn’t usually whole wheat. If the label says “enriched, white flour” on it, you’re not getting a whole grain. Use brown rice instead of white rice.
6. Avoid chemical additives: Avoid processed foods and chemicals. The average American consumes 10 pounds of chemical additives every year. This has had a devastating effect on our health. The FDA tests single additives, but no one has any idea what combinations of additives do to us. Here are some chemicals that you may find in your packaged food:
- Mono and diglycerides: Used to maintain softness in baked goods. These are on the FDA list of food additives to be studied for possible mutagenic, teratogenic, subacute and reproductive effects. This is medicalese for birth defects, cancer and reproductive problems.
- Yellow #6: Possible link to kidney and adrenal tumors. It has been banned in Norwayand Sweden.
- Brominated vegetable oil (BVO): Used as an emulsifier. The FDA has it on the suspect list. Bromates are highly toxic They can cause death through kidney failure or nervous system problems. Bromates can inhibit the body’s defenses. Between two and four ounces of a 2% solution can poison a child. When they are in oil they are stored in fat (and nerve tissue).
- Red #40: Suspected carcinogen. Whenever you see a color followed by a number avoid that food.
- Sodium nitrite: Makes meat bright red and kills Clostridium Botulinum spores (botulism). Found in luncheon meats. Nitrites combines with natural stomach acid and chemicals in the food to form nitrosamines, which are powerful carcinogens.
- Aspartame (sold as Equal and Nutrasweet): Possible link to brain cancer. May cause headaches, depression and anxiety attacks, or memory loss. Some individuals react strongly and may have heart palpitations, nausea, seizures or blurred vision. It also raises the pH of urine and may be linked to kidney and bladder infections.
- THBQ (Tertiarybutylhydroquinone): Food manufacturers had a hard time getting this approved. Death has occurred from ingestion of five grams (about 1/5 of an ounce). Eating one gram can cause nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation and collapse. It gives foods a long shelf-life.
You get the idea. The list of harmful additives is much too long to present here; these are just a few examples. Stay away from packaged foods with chemical additives and you will be much healthier.
7. Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly: Ideally, chew your food until it is liquid. You will be satisfied with less food and you will have better digestion. Your saliva has enzymes that facilitate digestion. Also, it is easier to digest small particles than large ones. Most people eat too fast. Not chewing well stresses your digestive system and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems like gas and bloating and promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.
8. Never skip meals: Skipping meals stresses your adrenal glands. If you are trying to lose weight, not eating is a poor strategy because your metabolism will slow down to accommodate the reduction in calories. As a result you become fatigued and will ultimately gain weight.
Alcohol consumption: Stresses the liver and nervous system and, in excess harms every organ in the body.
- Coffee and tea: Caffeine stresses the nervous system. Also, coffee and tea are heavily sprayed with fungicides. If you must have coffee or tea, buy organic. Many people experience severe withdrawal from caffeine when they quit consuming it.
- Stop smoking: The problems here are obvious. Talk to us for strategies.
- Regular exercise: We will discuss an individualized program with you.
- Deep breathing: Increases your energy and removes stress.