If you were told that there was an entity that quadrupled the amount of cardiovascular disease in men over 40, caused a skin disease in adolescents that never existed before, and caused a cancer in women that was previously unknown; you would be shocked and would want to know what the FDA was doing about it. This entity actually exists-it is the American Diet.
As diets contain more refined and processed foods, disease increases and 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.
But the simple truth is to avoid problems in the future as it is easier to stay well than to get well. You can help the process by paying attention to your diet. The goal of any dietary approach is to balance the body’s chemistry.
Invest some time and effort to improve your diet and reap the reward of good health and excellent energy. Following these eight tips is a great place to start!
1. Drink plenty of water each day: 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. Drink more water and less soda, coffee, tea or juice.
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.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables: Plenty means that at least ½ to ¾ 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, such as the following:
- 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.
- Vegetables nourish normal flora, which in turn nourish the lining of the GI tract, produce vitamins and inhibit yeast and other undesirable organisms.
- Vegetables 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 (preventing 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 co-factors, 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, and help reduce the symptoms of allergies, asthma, arthritis, skin problems, digestive problems, sinusitis, chronic pain and many other health problems.
- Eating vegetables helps to alkalize the diet.
Corn and potatoes don’t count as vegetables. Fruit is also good for you; it is a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Eating vegetables is stressed here because when people are told to eat more fruits and vegetables, they tend to increase fruit intake but not vegetable intake.
3. Avoid deep fried food, Trans fats, partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil: As time passes, we keep finding more bad things about hydrogenated oil and fried foods. Hydrogenation is the food industry’s way of turning liquid oils into solid fats. 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 the following:
- 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.
- 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.
- Heart disease: High levels of Trans fats create platelet aggregation, which is the beginning of the plaque associated with coronary heart disease. Lately a lot has been written linking inflammation with heart disease.
- Trans fats are incorporated into the cells and make them less resistant to chemicals, bacteria and viruses. This could be a source of immune system problems.
- There may be a link between Trans fats and ADD, depression and fatigue. Brain and nerve tissue have a high content of fat. Some researchers believe that when Trans fats 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 often found in margarine 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 150 pounds of refined sugar per year. Compare that to seven pounds per year consumed in England in 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 and 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, thus 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.
- Eating sugar creates insulin insensitivity. More sugar is eaten, more insulin produced, etc. This stresses the pancreas and sets the stage for adult-onset diabetes.
- There is a connection between sugar consumption and high cholesterol. Patients with Syndrome X (high cholesterol, high LDL, low HDL and high triglycerides) often have the problem because of consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- 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.
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. They create all of the same health problems created by refined sugar.
Refined carbohydrates fill you up-but not with vitamins and minerals. This stresses your digestive system and your endocrine system. Eating refined carbohydrates 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.
Refined carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, and pasta that are 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. Stay away from packaged foods with chemical additives.
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. 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.
For more specific information about diet please see my article on the “Alkaline Ash Diet”.
By Dr. Richard A. DiCenso