Key Ideas for a Healthy Diet

As a result of many requests from my patients, I have decided to start a series of newsletters on diet and nutrition. This is an extremely large subject which I don’t expect to be able to cover fully in a series, let alone a single newsletter. What I’d like to do in this series is to sort of hit the high points in nutritional theory as well as my own personal and clinical experience.

In this first installment, I’d like to lay out some general guidelines for diet and nutrition. I fell that guidelines must be general for two reasons. First, nutrition is an infant science. What we think we know (nutritional “science” is made up largely of theories which are sometimes contradictory and frequently proven wrong as new data comes in ) about nutrition is only a small percentage of what there is left to learn on this subject. Secondly, and most importantly, each person’s metabolism is unique. While it is true that we all have needs for general categories of nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and water, the amounts and best form of those nutrients may vary substantially from person to person. This, of course, is why Applied Kinesiology (AK) testing procedures are so useful and important in working out nutritional needs. These procedures allow the well-trained Doctor of Applied Kinesiology to tailor-make a nutritional program for the individual by “consulting” with the ultimate authority – each patient’s body.

With this in mind, I’d like to list some general nutritional guidelines which are fairly well agreed upon and which I have seen work consistently in my patients.

It is generally a good idea to eat foods in as near to their natural state as possible. The more processed (refined, milled, cooked, irradiated, homogenized, pasteurized, hydrogenated, artificially flavored, colored, and preserved) a food is, the lower it usually is in nutrition. Several vitamins and all enzymes are destroyed by prolonged cooking and many vitamins and minerals are leached out of food by cooking in water – unless you’re making soup or you’re going to drink the cooking water, then this becomes less of a problem, (soup is a good food). When a grain is refined into white flour, it usually has both the bran and germ removed, stripping away dozens of nutrients and leaving you with the starch and a few vitamins and minerals the food companies put back in to “enrich” it.

Chemicals that have been added to food to color it, flavor it, or prolong shelf life are often given their final test by using us as guinea pigs. Many food additives that at one time were thought to be safe, were later discovered to cause degenerative diseases, cancer etc. The most recent example of this is aspartame, otherwise known as NutraSweet which is now used in virtually all artificially sweetened beverages and most other “low cal” foods. This substance was put on the market almost untested. So far it has been involved in certain types of urinary diseases, and learning/concentration problems. It is also well established that aspartame will degrade into formaldehyde if exposed to temperatures over 85 degrees F. I’m not trying to pick on NutraSweet, but I feel this is a good example of the kind of chemical russian roulette the FDA and food companies play with the American consumer.

Another good reason to eat food in as close to its’ natural state as possible is to obtain synergistic factors. These are substances naturally “packaged” with vitamins and minerals that will aid in their digestion and absorption and may even be necessary for a vitamin to perform its’ role as a nutrient. Phytonutrients are important nutrients, found most abundantly in darkly or brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The more intense the color, the higher the phytonutrient content is likely to be. Phytonutrients seem to be involved in many health benefits including protecting the cardiovascular system, improving the aging process and protecting against certain types of cancer. Once again, phytonutrients are often lost as foods are processed and changed form their natural state.

Since nutrition is such a young science, it is very likely that there are many essential nutrients that we may not know about. People living mostly on processed foods would be missing both known and yet to be discovered nutrients. An obvious example of this principle is the difference between infant formula (once thought to be a scientifically superior infant food) and mother’s milk. Contrary to scientific beliefs of a couple decades ago, it is now well accepted among enlightened pediatricians and obstetricians that breast fed babies are generally healthier and develop faster, have less colds, etc. than formula fed babies.

When my patients hand in their diet charts, most of them are deficient in two areas; vegetables and water. The body uses water for many important chemical reactions. It is also important in regulating blood pressure and body temperature and helping rid the body of toxins. White blood cells use water to help hydrolyze and destroy bacteria, cancer cells, etc. This same process of hydrolysis is used in the digestion of the food we eat (but don’t drink a lot of water with your meals) There is evidence that the body treats water differently from other fluids (milk, juices, tea, etc.) and that, while one could stay alive drinking only other fluids, pure water is needed for optimum good health. As a general rule of thumb, the average adult will need about 8 cups of water per day. The quota will need to be increased with very hot or very cold weather, for lactating women, very active people or any other condition which would increase water use.

Vegetables are a source of many vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. Since some of these nutrients are destroyed by cooking, most vegetables are better eaten raw. Some notable exceptions are carrots (the high cellulose content may interfere somewhat with nutrient absorption unless they’re cooked, but if you want more fiber in your diet, they should be eaten raw),most beans, (many beans, especially soybeans, contain an enzyme that inhibits protein digestion. This enzyme is destroyed by heat.) and, in some cases, raw spinach, which is high in oxalic acid and can aggravate certain types of urinary disorders. The best way to cook most vegetables to preserve nutrition is to steam them for anywhere from 5 -20 minutes.

Other general dietary considerations would include: cutting down or eliminating refined (white) sugar and sugar products and exercising moderation in your intake of animal fat and meat. More on these topics in future newsletters.

As you can see, even a basic introduction has turned into a rather long newsletter topic! I hope this information will get you off to a good start. Please give me your feedback, ideas, etc. on this diet series.

Posted in Health Articles.