For years we have been told, "Make small changes in your diet," and, "It's okay to cheat sometimes," or, "Just shop in the outer isles of the food stores." These eating behavior platitudes seem harmless, because anything that encourages people to eat better is a good idea - or is it?
Emerging scientific evidence suggests that eating a little better may not be good enough to prevent chronic disease and premature aging.A few years ago, the National Cancer Institute studied the eating habits of over 14,000 people between the ages of 2 and 80, and could not find one person with a really healthy diet.
In fact, a vast majority were deficient in 11 out of 14 nutritional categories. This could explain why the Centers for Disease Control estimated that over 53 percent of adults have a chronic illness, compared to only 10 percent 60 years ago.
Nutrition is the number one factor in determining our health status, and residents of the U.S. are not eating very well. The Economist Magazine has estimated that the U.S. will spend 100 percent of its GNP on healthcare by the year 2060.
There are many reasons why people are not getting the they need to live a long and healthy life. Here are some of the significant and obvious reasons:
- Over farming has depleted our soil.
- Long shipping distances cause nutrients to decline.
- Pesticides, irradiation and genetic modification deplete nutrients.
- Foods are often over processed.
- People overcook or microwave their food, causing lower nutrient value.
- Early harvesting reduces nutrient levels.
- People make poor choices.
- People do not chew their food properly.
- People are under stress, which depletes nutrients.
These nutrient depletion factors can reduce the actual assimilation of nutrients by 80 percent or more. We may think that we are consuming healthy foods, but the truth is that most of us are not eating as well as we think we are. In fact, we are eating much worse than we think we are.
The Triage Theory of Nutritional Utilization
Not consuming or assimilating enough nutrients is just the first step towards a shorter and less healthy life. The second step involves how our body actually uses the nutrients it receives. Dr. Bruce Ames has identified a priority system in our bodies that uses available nutrients in the following priority process.
Priority #1 - Reproduction systems, injury repair and neutralizing outside invaders (germs, bacteria, viruses, etc.)
Priority #2 - Metabolic functions, energy, detoxification, cellular repair, biochemical production (making hormones and neurotransmitters).
Priority #3 - Preventing chronic disease and aging.If most people are only getting a fraction of the nutrients they need, then it is obvious that the prevention of chronic disease and premature aging functions are not getting the necessary nutrients to keep us healthy.
When our cells do not get the nutrients they need to function properly, a cellular deterioration process begins, which is unavoidable. There are five steps in this process. They are as follows:
- Cell becomes stressed - Lack of nutrients, toxins or emotional stress can cause this.
- Cell becomes weakened - Continued stress causes the energy producers in the cell (mitochondria) to become exhausted.
- Cell becomes dysfunctional - Eventually, the cell cannot do its job, such as a pancreas cell needing to make insulin.
- Cell becomes mutated - Weak cells cannot protect themselves and allow toxins to damage the nucleus of the cell.
- Cell becomes diseased - After time, the nucleus is so damaged that it becomes diseased and reproduces even faster to make more diseased cells (i.e. cancer).
Conventional medicine cannot detect disease until many cells have become dysfunctional, which is often too late. There are tests, such as thermography and Electro Dermal Screening that can detect cells when they are beginning to stress, but there is much more money to be made in treating disease than there is in preventing it, so only the most value-driven, progressive doctors utilize these diagnostic tools.
Low Standards Leads to Inadequate Eating Behavior
The Federal Government establishes nutritional guidelines with tools such as The Food Pyramid and the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA). The problem with these tools is that they are not based on good science, are overly influenced by food companies and have very little to do with the treatment of disease and are thus ignored.
The nutrition and natural medicine movement has developed better food pyramids, such as the Asian Pyramid, the Mediterranean Pyramid and the Harvard Pyramid. They have also developed Optimal Daily Allowances (ODA), which are based on excellent science and can actually help to prevent most chronic disease and premature aging. The following chart is a comparison of the RDA and the ODA standards.
The Disease - Nutrition Connection
There are more than 10,000 clinical studies proving the relationship between nutritional deficiencies and chronic disease. The Natural Pharmacy by Alan Gaby, M.D. is a good place to find these studies. A few of the illness/nutrition connections are listed below:
Health Challenge Deficiency
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Vitamin B6
Spina Bifida Folate
Heart Disease Vitamin C
Cancer Vitamin D
Arthritis Essential Fats
Macular Degeneration Carotenoids
Of course, there are many other nutrients that can help to both prevent and reverse these illnesses if they are diagnosed early enough. Here are some notable prevention and reversal examples:
- In one study, 50 percent of people were able to be removed from dialysis after taking Coenzyme Q10 for 3 months.
- At MD Anderson Cancer Center, 33 percent of people were cured of a rare form of leukemia after taking Vitamin A.
- Two studies confirm that women taking 4,000-6,000 iu of Vitamin D reduced their risk of breast cancer by 77 percent.
What is the Perfect Diet?
Everyone is a little different in terms of the nutrients they need due to their age, gender, level of activity, metabolic type, genetics and stress level. However, there are some overall guidelines everyone can follow.
- Buy foods grown in healthy soil; organic and local, if possible.
- Eat whole natural foods that are not processed.
- Do not overcook or microwave food. Eat 50 percent raw.
- Do not eat food that is too old. It loses nutrients each day.
- Eat 8-9 helpings of vegetables and fruits daily.
- Avoid red meat and dairy products.
- Eat organic poultry, fish and protein powder.
- Eggs are good for you (one a day, soft boiled is best.)
- Eat every 3-4 hours in small portions.
- Take nutritional supplements - use the ODA guidelines and add Vitamin D, CoQ10, fish oil and a multiple vitamin.
- Get extra vegetables from a green powdered drink.
- Stay hydrated with pure water throughout the day.
- Avoid whole wheat, as it causes weight gain and allergies (eat brown rice, millet and quinoa in small amounts.)
- Avoid sugar; it is not a nutrient, and it contributes to all diseases.
These are very general recommendations. It is highly advisable to use tests to determine your specific nutritional needs. This includes blood tests, urine tests, symptoms analysis, nutritional analysis, thermography, electro dermal screening and other tests that can be ordered and interpreted by a Naturopathic Doctor or a Holistic Medical Doctor.
Every time we eat anything that is not very high in nutritional value, some of our cells are being cheated out of what they need to function properly, stay healthy, create healthy replacement cells, avoid disease and avoid premature aging. This is a choice, and if you decide to ignore the science behind this, or rationalize that a little cheating is okay, then do not be surprised when you face a health challenge in the future.
Notice I said "when" and not "if." Even if you have good genes, this only accounts for 15-25 percent of your health. The other 75-85 percent is the choices you make every day, with special emphasis on food choices because that is the number one factor determining our future health.
As a final suggestion, do not trust anyone else with your health; not your doctor, not your insurance company, not the food or pharmaceutical companies, not the farmers and especially not the government. Our healthcare system has become so distorted by money and weak science that you must take full responsibility to learn how to become healthy.
This article can, and hopefully will, motivate you and point you in the right direction, but do not ever think you know enough about nutrition. Become a student for life, and you may just be able to live a long and healthy one.
About the Author
Charles Bens, PhD.- Healthy at Work, Sarasota, Florida - October 8, 2014
Dr. Bens is a wellness consultant with his company Healthy at Work in Sarasota, Florida. He works with progressive brokers and employers to help employees prevent and reverse chronic disease with evidence-based educational programs.
He has written nine books, over 200 articles and three university courses. He is one of the highest rated health speakers for Vistage International, the largest CEO organization in the world and was recently named the Vail Visiting Professor for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.