The father of western medicine, Hippocrates, said: “Let your food be your medicine and let medicine be your food.” Good nutrition provides the building blocks the body needs to create healthy bone and tissue; and helps not only to cure ailments but prevent future ailments. (For example, nutrition plays an enormous role in cancer prevention and cure.) And of course it is possible to have good nourishment and at the same time enjoyable foods. The days of “health food” that was without color or taste are long gone. With good nutrition it is also possible to grow older without aging. Each individual is unique. Therefore, no single diet can fit everyone and it is the task of the physician and the patient working together to figure out an ideal eating program. It is good for both to remember that sometimes a specific diet for a specific purpose is necessary; but and a big but ( pun intended), that diet may be good only until the person is alleviated of the problem. After being better that same diet may not be appropriate for different reasons and a new diet may be the best route. As an aside I have found the same to be true with pharmaceuticals and supplements. When a person follows a healthy routine it is always a good idea for the healer after awhile to see if the benefits of the medicines are still necessary and beneficial. When the person is following a whole different life style they may not need what they originally needed. This is often over – looked by the healer and the client is kept on substances that they no longer need and the expense of them. In the case of pharmaceuticals this can even lead to grave side affects.
Again we must watch out for overdoing too much of certain foods, especially true of red meats and dairy. People can develop allergies from eating the same food all the time even if they never had an allergy to this food. There is a difference of intolerance to certain foods and a true allergy. Some people just cannot digest certain foods well and get gas, bloating etc when they eat them. Allergies have a more severe affect such as vomiting, headaches, dermatological reactions etc..
Certain “food myths” should be discussed, for example “all fats are bad for you”. Certain fats, such as the omega 3 fatty acids, are essential to our well-being. A certain amount of cholesterol is essential because its basic chemical structure is the basic building block of forming all the sex hormones, cortisol, aldosterone and vitamin D. Too low of cholesterol in the body can alter all the latter productions and the symptoms that go with a decrease of them. (Please see my book or my blogs about cholesterol myths. Holisticsecondopinion.net/vampires)
There are four premises for good nutrition: nutritious non-toxic foods (often referred to as whole foods or live foods), digestion, absorption, and elimination.
- Nutritious, non-toxic foods: An appropriate balance of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and plenty of water is the foundation of a healthy eating program, utilizing foods that are produced without artificial hormones or pesticides and now non GMO. Processed refined foods (referred to in holistic circles as the Standard American Diet or SAD & dead food) do not provide the vitamins and trace minerals that the body needs to form enzymes, hormones and building blocks to rejuvenate the body. It is not only the latter point I have discovered that brings on poor health. If one is eating “junk food” then they have no room for nutritional food. Sought of like the child that is permitted to eat sweets before dinner and then cannot eat their dinner. I also believe in whole grains which some physicians are against. Whole grains (non-GMO) if one is not a celiac person I believe are healthy. Even for a celiac person there are enough other grains to choose from besides rye, oats, barely and wheat. The physician must also consider celiac disease, which leads to an intolerance for products containing gluten. There are very accurate blood tests that can give the client an answer whether they are celiacs or not; of course one can also experiment by cutting gluten foods out of their diet for a month and see how they feel. I usually tell people to eat colors which gives them the vegetables and fruits of variety. Also, if it comes in a plastic bag it is probably a good hint that it is processed.
My belief is not to be too strict with diets in most cases. Why, because in general the client will not stick to it after a short time. At first the human is excited about a healthy diet and after a short while bored. Certain items in specific cases must be eliminated, that is true: But most people want to enjoy life and eating is part of that joy. People eat not only for nutrition but also for social reasons and this needs to be remembered since it can be a stress reducer (until the bill arrives). Therefore, the healer must judge the personality of the client and work with this, which may includes a lot of of explanations.
- Digestion: This is the process by which food is broken down into a form which can be used by the body. Maldigestion due to inadequate digestive enzymes can lead to the discomfort of indigestion and other diseases because of needed nutrients not being supplied to the vital cells.. Some people can have an inadequate amount of stomach acid which very often is caused with aging; while some people can have none. This can be corrected with supplements such as adding hydrochloric acid with the meal routine (betaine HCL, pepsin). One can develop poor digestion by eating too fast. In fact, some people swallow so much air when drinking fast they they constantly feel bloated. This is called aerophagia. It is also seen with people that are stressed out either hyperventilating or/and gulp in air when crying (babies can get colic from crying so much and bottle feeding giving aerophagia). Another thing that affects the stomach are people that eat too much and are taking antacids so they can eat and eat. If the antacids happen to work for the person they are masking the natural message that what you are doing is not good for you. A similar situation is presented to the stomach when people take aspirin (any thing that is salicylic acid [salicylates] related) for pain. They are really taking an acid that as it is relieving the pain while it is eating the lining of the stomach to give one gastritis. It is one of the top causes for ulcers. some ant – acids contain salicylates and even aluminum. The TV adds that show people “pigging out” and then using such and such antacids are a disgrace and shows how little marketing cares about a persons health.
- Absorption: It is often said that we are what we eat. It would be more accurate to say that we are what we absorb. If something is interfering with the absorption of good nutrients, even if we are following a healthy diet and taking supplements we do not derive the full benefit from them. The healthy natural food and the expensive supplements simply pass through the system and are eliminated. Malabsorption can be due to dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is the term for bad microbes of the intestine taking over the necessary good microbes of the intestine. There exists in the intestine 3 types of microbes. The good ones that help absorption and produce certain vitamins like some of the B vitamins and vitamin k. Then there are the “opportunistic” microbes lurking and waiting for when the good microbes are gone or diminished to fight them and take over. Then there are the plain nasty, bad microbes that flourish when opportunity lets them or they are introduced by oral means. So when the small intestine has an overgrowth of pathological flora it is called dysbiosis. The final result of this dysbiosis is leaky gut syndrome. When this is created the small intestine lets through its wall molecules that it should not, and blocks the nutritional molecules that it needs The good microbes were guarding our borders but defeated by antibiotics and poor nutrition. Also to be considered is the common possibility of having intestinal candidiasis (an overgrowth of yeast in the intestine). Both of these situations often happens when a person has been on antibiotics or steroids. Even if the event was years before the yeast flourished or dysbiosis developed and manifested symptoms. While these events are taking place the person may generate more gas as bloating, erudition (burping), flatus, feeling tired and full as if s/he just ate a big meal. This is why if I put a person on antibiotics I always and immediately also put them on probiotics – which is really just giving back the good bacteria. I actually suggest taking probiotics all the time because of the environmental toxins we swallow and the difficulty of escaping some junk foods continuously. Just a good thing to do.
- Elimination: Poor elimination is often the cause or result of unhappiness and/or intestinal pathology. Both constipation and loose bowel movements can be caused by not taking in the right foods and/or taking in the wrong foods (There is a difference in the latter two). Either way these can lead to dysbiosis, leaky gut syndrome and malnourishment.
- Poor nutrition:Nutritional counseling: Nutritional counseling for weight loss, muscle enhancement, disease cure and prevention, involves a personal and family history and identification of the client’s goals and the best way to achieve them. Fortunately, most problems can be corrected and one can age gracefully. The person must take responsibility without procrastination for their own health. A good healer can only guide you and be there for problem solving.
- Yoga: Big and taut muscles are great; but if your joints, tendons, ligaments are a limiting factor yoga is both restorative and preventive for arthritic problems. Looking good is not good enough it is only part of the whole picture. But yoga also helps restorative properties not only to the joints and muscles but to your internal organs that are needed for good digestion. Yoga also alleviates a lot of stress, and stress is a big target to hit for proper digestion. This for the reasons that under stress most people eat or drink the wrong substances (and some do not eat). Also under stress when cortisol is released inappropriately it interferes with the stomach processing protein into amino acids that are essential for proper reparations of the bodies tissues and hormonal production. Stress is also pulling your blood supply into the muscles for flight or fight and taking this source from non-essential organs for flight or fight, the stomach being one.
Alan J. Sault MD, ABHM-diplomat