Food for thought- Is my “healthy diet” harming me?Posted: March 16, 2012
How can you imply that I have malnutrition! I eat a full, balanced diet including meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, etc. I take a multiple vitamin every day and even shop for organic foods at my local farmer’s market. In fact, I shifted my diet to follow the American Heart Disease Association and USDA Food Plate and Pyramid guidelines!
Evolution optimized human genetics for a hunter-gatherer diet but in the last few centuries our diet has radically changed and is totally different from the ideal diet of our ancestors. We now mainly eat foods that were not part of our diet five to ten thousand years ago such as corn, wheat, milk and all packaged and processed foods. We eat on the average 160 lbs of sugar instead of less than two pounds of honey a year, and steaks instead of the organ meats such as liver which would have provided essential vitamin A, D, etc.
A healthy diet is much more than nutritionally poor a high caloric foods (e.g., cereals, hamburgers, white rice or flour) with some vitamins and minerals added; instead, it is congruent with our evolutionary past —a hunter gatherer diet–which supports the growth and maintenance of our body and brain. This diet would predominantly consist of natural, non industrialized produced foods such as vegetables, leaves, fruits, berries, nuts, roots, tubers, wild fish and meats from free ranging animals. When eating this type of diet, it significantly exceeds the FDA’s Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) guidelines which is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals in the United States.
These minimum RDI for vitamins and minerals are often too low and do not include the myriad of micro and macro nutrients necessary to achieve and maintain optimum health. Nutrients do not act in alone but in concert with each other as Michael Pollan pointed out in his superb book, In Defense of Food.
Dietary guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) My Plate and Food Pyramid and organizations such as the American Heart Association are more the result of successful lobbying by large agribusiness than from research findings. By following USDA and FDA guidelines, we may set the stage for long term subclinical malnutrition which reduces our resilience to fight disease.
If the recommended modern Western diet was sufficient then there would be no need to take additional vitamin or mineral supplements to prevent illnesses. This is not the case! Controlled research studies have shown that numerous illnesses can be reduced or prevented by taking specific supplements.
- The risk of having a baby with Spina bivida (neural tube defect) can be reduced by71% when women before becoming pregnant take 400 µg of folic acid (vitamin B9) per day. Taking the folic acid supplement may not have been necessary if the woman had eating foods naturally high in folic acid such as leafy vegetable (spinach, asparagus, turnip greens), egg yolks, sun flower seeds and liver.
- Pregnant women can reduce the risk of their babies having eczema by 42 percent and egg allergies by 40 percent when they take fish oil capsules (1000 mg of Omega 3s) daily during pregnancy as compared to the women whoonly took vegetable capsule. Taking Omega 3s may not have been necessary if the woman had eating foods naturally high in Omega 3s such as cold water oily fish, flax seed, eggs produced by free ranging hens who are not fed corn or soy, and brains from mammals.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be significantly reduced when children eat unprocessed foods and lots of green, vegetables, roots.
- Teenage girls who took vitamin D supplements had significantly lower bone fractures than girls who did not take vitamin D supplements. Is it possible that chronic low levels of vitamin D (chronic malnutrition caused by our industrialized agribusiness diet) and use of sunscreen are significant co-factor in the increasing epidemic of osteoporosis in older women? Taking vitamin D may not have been necessary if the girls had eating foods naturally high in vitamin D such as alfalfa shoots, fatty fish, beef liver and whole eggs produced by free ranging hens and enough sun exposure.
Eating the industrialized produced western diet may also increase the risk developing neurological degenerative diseases. Adults with low omega-3 blood levels had significantly lower total cerebral brain volume than adults who had the highest levels of omega-3s. More importantly, adults with low levels of omega-3 levels did significantly worse on abstract memory, visual memory and executive function than the adults who had high omega-3 levels.
These research findings are worrisome; since, shrinking brains are a feature associated with neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Is it possible that our diet contributes to the expanding epidemics of Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD?
If some illness can be prevented by taking supplements, would it not be wiser to eat a diet which provides sufficiently nutrients for the brain and body?
Watch the inspirational presentation by Dr. Terry Wahls, MD, Minding Your Mitochondria, who cured her multiple sclerosis which was untreatable by western medicine. She reversed her illness by eating a hunter and gathers diet which provided the optimum nutrition for her brain. Over a period of three to a year, she got out of herwheel chair, started to ride a bicycle, and eventually rode horseback as shown in her Youtube video.
Experience the benefits of eating a hunter gatherer diet. For one month eat as a hunter and gatherer. Eat nine cups of organic vegetables, leaves, berries, roots, fruit as well as tubers, some fish, and some organ meat from free ranging animals. Do not eat corn products, sugar and processed foods. In four weeks, you may notice a difference: more energy, less inflammation and improved cognition. For dietary guidelines see chapter 9 in the book, Fighting Cancer-A Nontoxic Approach to Treatment.