Nutrition: Food as Preventive Medicine
Most chronic illnesses in America are related to dietary excesses of animal products and refined carbohydrates, rather than deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. Heart disease, cancer, and diabetes originate in the foods we eat. The most important dietary issues are summarized in the paragraphs below.
1. COW’S MILK and dairy products are a major cause of chronic and life threatening diseases. Over 30 years of research shows dairy linked to serious illness and death for both children and adults. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, ear infections, allergies, asthma, sinusitis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and menstrual disorders have all been linked to immune reactions to cow’s milk. Large amounts of dead bacteria in milk or cheese can cause inflammation and autoimmunity. Antibiotic and pesticide residues from dairy foods damage the immune system and digestive tract causing yeast overgrowth, hormonal imbalance, and chronic antibiotic resistant infections. Bovine leukemia virus may be found in 87% of U.S. dairy cows, and is associated with human leukemia rates. A strain of pasteurization resistant tuberculosis from cow’s milk has been linked to Crohn’s disease. High dairy intake contributes to osteoporosis, increasing the risk of hip fracture. Avoiding dairy is the single most important contribution you can make to your short and long term health and well being. It is the best way to lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, ovarian and prostate cancer, and recurrent infections. See Twenty Reasons for Zero Dairy. www.notmilk.com. Here’s another very interesting article on milk – It’s Not All White: The Cocktail of Up to 20 Chemicals In a Glass of Milk.
Cooked vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds are better sources of calcium than milk in quantity and quality. Soybean and rice substitutes for dairy products are many, and our favorites are Rice Dream, Westsoy, Edensoy, Soyakaas, Soyco, White Wave, and Pacific Foods products.
2. SUGAR excesses cause bacterial and yeast overgrowth with inflammation of the intestines. The toxins from this overgrowth can contribute to diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating, skin conditions, arthritis, immune weakness, depression, mental confusion and memory loss, learning difficulties, and painful menstruation. Limit fruit to one to two pieces a day, and avoid juice, refined and artificial sugars except for rare occasions. If you have any intestinal problems, avoid all fruits and sugar, and substitute cooked vegetables until you are symptom free, then reintroduce a small amount of whole fruit. Commercial orange juice and pineapple juice are usually toxic with pesticides, and should be avoided. Artificial sweeteners are damaging to the brain (Nutrasweet) and carcinogenic (saccharin).
3. COFFEE drinking has been linked to atherosclerosis and arthritis. Coffee can cause irritation of the intestines, skin conditions, and joint pain. Daily use of coffee can induce headaches, back pain, frequent urination, palpitations, and insomnia. If you have been drinking coffee in large amounts for a long time, reduce your intake slowly. Green tea is a good substitute that has beneficial antioxidants and less caffeine. See Coffee Blues.
4. WHOLE GRAINS instead of flour products as the high fiber content of whole grains sweeps the intestine clean. Flour products have been linked to inflammatory bowel disease. Whole grains give us B-vitamins for energy, fiber to prevent constipation, and complex carbohydrates for fuel. If you have arthritis or digestive problems, avoid wheat and corn and emphasize brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat and millet. Brown rice is good for the lungs, oatmeal for lowering cholesterol, buckwheat for bruising and depression, and millet for irritable bowels. Too much grain and flour products can contribute to the growth of yeast in the digestive tract, causing gas and bloat.
5. VEGETABLES prevent cancer and provide fiber, minerals, and vitamins A & C. Cooked vegetables are easier to digest and more nutritious than raw. Salads are the number one source of food poisoning according to the Center for Disease Control. Raw foods can be contaminated with bacteria and mold causing inflammatory reactions. Steaming veggies for even five minutes makes them safer to eat and more digestible. Kids can be tricked into liking vegetables if you steam them and give them a tasty sauce to dip them in (peanut butter, salad dressings, tahini). Dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli are the best sources of calcium because the magnesium and trace elements are built right in. Root vegetables like carrot, yam, and sweet potato are good sources of beta-carotene. Garlic and onions have strong antibacterial and antifungal effects, and strengthen immunity.
6. PROTEINS should be no more than 15% of our total intake to prevent osteoporosis, kidney and liver problems. Most people eat too much protein which causes calcium loss from the bones. Beans, peas, tofu and fish are preferred protein sources due to low cholesterol and fat content, and the absence of hormones and antibiotics present in beef and fowl. Fish protects against heart attack, according to a Scandinavian study.
7. COOKING METHODS that preserve nutrients are steaming, baking, and stir frying. Boiling results in loss of nutrients when cooking vegetables unless you drink the cooking water or use it in soups. Barbequed and fried foods contain many carcinogens, and should be completely avoided by those with poor digestion. Avoid frozen, packaged, and processed foods due to chemical contents and low nutrient levels. Cook poultry until well done, and throw out leftovers to avoid salmonella (food poisoning).
8. WEIGHT LOSS can be easy and permanent by eating smaller, more frequent meals (5 to 6 meals a day), eliminating high fat foods (oils, animal products, nuts, fried foods), and increasing metabolism by walking/exercising 60 minutes a day seven days a week. The benefits of exercise increase your fat burning ability, tones up your muscles, improves digestion, and releases stress. Load up on vegetable sticks and low calorie/high volume soups. One to two pounds a week is the ideal amount of permanent weight loss.