SPECIFIC FOODS AND NUTRIENTS

There is a lot of disinformation put out by various groups whose motivation is the profit factor. I think it necessary to make mention of some of the more common and possibly dangerous pieces of advice that are fed to us by ‘the powers that be’ through the media. The following covers some of the most commonly asked questions and misunderstood foods within the common diet.

ACID/ALKALINE FOODS

The body works at a pH of 7.35-7.45. Any movement outside this range is strongly resisted by the body, specifically the kidneys and lungs, which battles to correct the balance by breathing faster or eliminating hydrogen and other charged particles through the urine. A food is not judged to be alkaline by its own pH but by the effect that it has on the body.

Acid-forming foods Alkaline-forming foods

Animal protein Most vegetables

Most grains Most fruits

Most nuts Salty fish

Plant seeds Soya

Sugar Almonds and brazil nuts

Honey Millet and buckwheat

Coffee

Dairy products

Most berries and tomatoes

A common misconception is that milk is alkaline. If it is unpasteurized it has a neutral quality but generally the actual alkalinity in the milk itself causes the stomach to produce more acid and therefore acidifies the system.

Acid production is dependent upon the quantity eaten: the less we fill ourselves, the less acidic we are. Not mixing foods, as in the Hay diet or other food-combining disciplines, generally moves food out of the stomach quicker, thereby reducing acid production and creating a tendency towards alkalinity.

ACIDOPHILUS

Acidophilus is the best-known yoghurt bacteria, although there are many other types, including Probifidus and Bifidus. These bacteria encourage and promote the growth of the human bowel flora, in particular, Escherichia coli. There are bad E. coli and if an infection of one of these is found then acidophilus and its cousins should not be taken.

There are many different strains on the market, some found in yoghurt, others in powder or capsules. I currently recommend a French brand Lactibiane which reconstitutes from a dehydrated form when mixed with water and which, when drunk, decreases the stomach acidity, allowing the acidophilus to reach the intestine. Other brands must be in acid-resistant capsules. Not much gets past the high acid levels in the stomach, which is a good thing and one that nature intended. Acidophilus is no different, although slightly more resistant, than other organisms. Small amounts of acidophilus will escape into the alkaline intestine if enough yoghurt or powdered acidophilus is ingested but I doubt that these will have any profound effect on the colon 30 feet away where the bulk of E. coli lives. Where possible, take the compound with or after a meal in an attempt to avoid the abundant acid.

ALCOHOL

Alcohol is fun. It is not nutritious and is probably harmful if taken in excess and any suggestions that it may actually be protective of conditions such as atheroma or atherosclerosis are probably true but the risks overrule the benefits. In any case, it is probably not the alcohol that is protecting, it is the nutrients taken in coincidentally.

It is hard to define a safe level of alcohol but as a rule of thumb if you do not feel the effects psychologically then the body is probably dealing with the amount you have taken. Unfortunately, this rule of thumb diminishes in accuracy if you constantly drink enough to get drunk and then find yourself needing more. Here, the body is simply becoming tolerant. For those not addicted, a method by which a safe level can be assessed is to not drink alcohol for approximately three weeks, eat a light meal and drink a small amount of alcohol 10 minutes later. Repeat this every 10 minutes and as soon as you feel relaxed or merry then that is your limit. One or two drinks is usually found to be the level. Once this is established, that amount of alcohol in a day is not likely to do you any harm whatsoever.

If you wish to exceed your tolerance level, bear in mind that it takes the liver approximately two days to recover from the insult of being tipsy or drunk. Try to give the liver that amount of time between alcohol binges and never drink to a point where your coordination is clearly embarrassing. Regardless of how you feel, coordination is insulted by anything over your personal tolerance level, as established from the technique above, and no important manual tasks should be undertaken. Driving is an important manual task! Our body cannot deal with an impact at any speed above that of a walk without some damage occurring. Driving, even at 30mph, is well beyond the body’s capability to deal with should it suffer an impact, and consequently driving at any speed is a life-threatening condition. Do not drink and drive.

ANTIOXIDANTS AND FREE RADICALS

Free radicals are negatively charged particles that are known to affect the genetic strands within the cells, triggering a potentially cancerous change. These negative ions also damage cell surfaces in blood vessels thereby encouraging clot formation, which in turn attracts calcium and cholesterol to form obstructive plaques.

Antioxidants bind with free radicals and remove their danger. The antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E, selenium, grapeseed extract, coenzyme QIO and, to a lesser extent, zinc. Many different plant extracts contain some or all of these components and therefore have antioxidant activity and we are constantly being advised by our nutritional scientists of newer and stronger antioxidant compounds.

Free radicals are found in animal products, fried foods and any fat exposed to heat, oxygen and light. Barbecued and smoked products are particularly full of free radicals. Anything smoked, including tobacco and engine fuels, provides free radicals.

Five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables will protect the average adult provided that excessive free radical intake is not encouraged, otherwise daily supplementation from as early an age as possible is recommended.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

When artificial sweeteners were first developed in the 1950s the compounds, known as cyclamates, were found to be linked to cancer. These were replaced by saccharin, which petered out due to similar fears. These were replaced by a compound called aspartame, which is made from the amino acid phenylalanine, another amino acid and an alcohol. Phenylalanine is the precursor to serotonin, one of the body’s natural calmers, and an increased production of this due to extra availability of its precursor leads to a diminution in other relaxation neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. This can have mild effects on the nervous system, which may or may not be noticed. The alcohol may actually cause a hangover effect and it is known that large amounts of aspartame can even cause seizures. This compound may also be considered as foreign matter and set up an immune response or food allergy. Rashes and itching are not uncommon. Might it even be responsible for the increase in asthma that is being seen in the West? I think it might.

Insulin levels are principally governed by the levels of sugar in the system. There is a possibility that aspartame, which is over a thousand times sweeter than sugar, molecule for molecule, may trigger insulin production via a reflex caused by recognition of sweetness by the taste buds. Do not use artificial sweeteners as a general rule.

BEVERAGES AND DRINKS

Water, and water alone, is what the body utilizes in the form of fluids. The body knows exacdy what to do with water and can place it in the right compartments swiftly and easily. Anything mixed with the water has to be separated and this requires energy, which in turn utilizes water, thereby decreasing the availability for the rest of the body. Very dilute fruit juices and herbal teas may not cause the body too much trouble, but anything sweet, caffeine- or alcohol-filled or flavoured artificially requires processing, which is a strain on the system.

Milk is discussed as a separate entity later on here but is a wholly inadequate method of obtaining hydration .

These facts do not mean that enjoyable flavours cannot be imbibed. Select and enjoy from a vast number of herbal teas and fresh fruit and vegetable juices with the knowledge that they will have cleansing and nutritious effects, but do not assume that they will substitute for water.

Artificial drinks such as colas, squashes and carbonated, highly artificially sugared drinks are not just not good for you but they are actually harmful. They dehydrate, put pressure on the biochemistry and organs in the body and stimulate the nervous system. The same can be said for caffeine and alcohol but multiply the damage by ten. If you are going to enjoy these ‘sins’, match every glassful with at least the same amount of water, preferably half an hour before or after imbibing.

BOWEL FLORA

As soon as we are born, we start to swallow bacteria from our environment. We pick up flora as we travel down the vaginal vault from the uterus and continue to pick up bugs from the inevitable kisses and close contact with parents, relations and friends. Breast feeding also passes bacteria into the system. Those that require oxygen tend not to survive within the intestine but the outcome is the development of 1014 anaerobic bacteria per square centimetre of bowel content. Less live in the stomach and the upper part of the small intestine, but the numbers increase the lower we go.

These flora are essential for the breakdown of indigestible foods, the release of nutrients from plant cells and the provision, as biproducts of their own metabolism, of vitamins and trace elements. Our body is very dependent upon bowel bacteria for the production of vitamin B12, for example.

The majority of these bowel flora are Bifido-lactobacillus. Eschericha coli , and streptococci strains make up the rest, with a smaller fluctuating group known as en-terobacteria. Within the bowel, these bugs are of great use but outside they can be dangerous since they multiply rapidly and may produce a considerable amount of toxin which is harmlesss within the bowel but potentially harmful elsewhere. There are thousands of different strains, only a few of which are particularly harmful.

Maintenance of healthy bowel flora is a prerequisite of health and many conditions from allergies and all their associated conditions and arthritis to chronic conditions such as cancer may be associated with poor bowel function which, in turn, is caused by or creates gut ‘dysbiosis’. This term indicates incorrect function or proliferation of the wrong sort of bowel flora.

Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and the ‘leaky gut syndrome’ are, in my opinion, invariably linked with gut dysbiosis and more chronic conditions such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis may also be related.

Living within the confines of the gut is a myriad of yeasts, fungi and other parasites that are kept at bay through what is known as competitive inhibition. There is only a certain amount of food available and if the bowel flora is in abundance and healthy it eats most of the nutrition available. This means that the ‘bad bugs’ have a limited food supply and cannot, therefore, multiply at any great rate. If the bowel bacteria are insulted, their competitive edge diminishes and yeasts such as Candida can flourish. The ingestion of antibiotics from doctor’s prescriptions or inadvertently through foods , nitrates and other food additives and the preservatives we have in our foods all kill off the bowel bacteria but do not affect the yeasts and fungi.

A normal balanced diet should not challenge the bowel flora but the regular use of yoghurt bacteria in supplemental form is strongly advised when the Western diet is the predominant intake because these encourage the ‘good bacteria’.

CAFFEINE

Caffeine is a marked stimulator of the nervous system and is found in abundance in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate and other cocoa products and a myriad of over-the-counter drugs used for anything from the common cold to stomach upsets.

Initially caffeine’s stimulation of the nervous system gives a ‘buzz’ of increasing energy, concentration and a sense of euphoria. Caffeine is, at the end of the day, an adrenaline-like compound. Caffeine’s effect is to raise blood sugar levels, giving a short-term supply of available energy.

Decaffeinated coffee is rarely completely free of caffeine and the chemicals used to remove the compound may themselves be stimulating and are potentially carcinogenic . It is also worth remembering that most coffee-making countries will be treating their coffee plants with pesticides and insecticides, and these are going to be fed into your system as well.

Coffee causes cancer? I am afraid so. There are associations between caffeine and cancer of the pancreas, prostate and bladder. It is also known that caffeine may be associated with miscarriage, diabetes, hypertension and I hypothesize that it may create a food allergy state leading to asthma, eczema and hay fever. In fact, I place caffeine at the top of the list of health hazards, even above smoking and the eating of refined foods.

Give it up absolutely and totally. There is no benefit in it whatsoever. If you find the thought of actual withdrawal difficult, then you are addicted and the long-term effects of any addiction are going to be detrimental to your well-being. Ask for help with the same determination that a heroin addict might should he choose to withdraw from his drug.

CALCIUM

Calcium is found throughout the body, either as a structural or biochemical necessity. Calcium is the main component of teeth and bones and is the reason that muscles can contract. It is very difficult to be calcium deficient because it is spread throughout the foods we eat. It is a fallacy to assume that milk is an essential aspect of calcium intake or that a lack of milk will create calcium deficiency problems such as osteoporosis. In fact, the majority of the world’s population does not consume milk products, and is intolerant or unable to utilize the calcium in milk. The incidence of osteoporosis is highest in countries that consume the most milk .

Calcium is found in abundance and in an easily absorbable form in sesame seeds, kelp, almonds, meat, poultry, fish, especially salmon and most deep-green vegetables. These foods should be used regularly, especially in young children and teenage girls, the latter of whom will benefit from reduced osteoporosis if their calcium levels are high when the bones are forming.

CARBOHYDRATES

A carbohydrate is an organic substance containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. That tells us nothing unless we happen to have done a degree in chemistry! Put simply, sugar molecules such as glucose are built up into chains and at some arbitrary point, when five or six carbon atoms are present, a carbohydrate is formed. As these chains get bigger, compounds such as cellulose are formed and around these the addition of proteins and nutrients attach and we have plants. Change the molecular configuration slightly and add in one or two other compounds and starch is born. Carbohydrates encompass plants and their products, such as potatoes, berries, fruits and anything sweet. We should derive up to 70 per cent of our energy from carbohydrates, the remainder coming from protein and fats .

CHOLESTEROL

Studies over the last 30 years have shown cholesterol to be a danger if it is found in excess. There are several types of cholesterol. The three better known are high-density lipoproteins , low-density lipoproteins and very-low-density lipoproteins . The LDL, VLDL and another fat-containing protein called apoli-poprotein attach to damaged areas within arteries to help them repair . Unfortunately this process has a poor control mechanism and the over-repair process causes plaques to form, which eventually clog up the artery. The HDL acts by blocking LDL action and takes fats to the liver for processing. Putting it simply, HDL is ‘good’ cholesterol and LDL is ‘bad’. Doctors will look at the total cholesterol: HDL/LDL ratio and the risk ratio is discussed below.

Raised cholesterol and tryglyceride levels have been brought to prominence because of the discovery of lipid -narrowing agents, which were a sellable and patentable drug regime. There is no doubt that raised cholesterol levels will increase the chances of heart attacks and strokes but what the orthodox medical world neglects to tell the patient is that the risk of the use of these drugs may outweigh the benefits. The drugs have many serious side effects, including a propensity to severe depression, thereby increasing the risk of suicide. Some of the lipid-lowering agents also inhibit the production of certain essential heart nutrients, such as co-enzyme Q10. Cholesterol is required for the cell membrane of nearly all tissues in the body and is also required for the production of adrenal hormones, which govern our stress and water balance, for coating our nerves to allow correct conduction and for all our sex hormones. Admittedly the level at which treatment is recommended for raised cholesterol has been rising, but the dangers of cholesterol need to be put into context with other factors that encourage cardiovascular disease, such as smoking, the oral contraceptive pill, poor exercise and diet.

Raised cholesterol by itself does not suggest danger because the amount of the protective HDL is the relevant factor. A term known as the risk ratio’ is calculated by dividing the total cholesterol level by the HDL level. If the figure is above 5 for a man and above 4.4 for a woman, then the cholesterol levels are relevant to health. If below these figures, the levels are not relevant. For example, a total cholesterol level of 6mmol/l with an HDL level of 2mmol/l gives a risk ratio of three despite the cholesterol level being above 5.2mmol/l, which is a typical ‘upper level’ of normal .

Cholesterol needs only to be considered dangerous when other factors are considered, such as deficiencies in certain vitamins, minerals and amino acids, all of which are mentioned below in the recommendations. An excess of cholesterol in the diet is occasionally relevant although most cholesterol is made by the liver at the body’s request. The following foods should be reduced, not only because of cholesterol but also because they can form free radicals, which are, probably, much more involved in arteriosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.

High-cholesterol foods

Red meats

Offal – especially kidney and liver

Cheese

Cow produce

Prawns and shrimps

Pork

Those who have read about the evils of cholesterol may be surprised to see that eggs and avocado are not included in this list. Eggs, whilst having a high cholesterol content in the yolk, actually promote a rise in HDL and, in any case, a combination of cholesterol with the lecithin in the white of the egg whilst digestion takes place in the acid environment of the stomach causes the cholesterol to bind with the lecithin and not be easily absorbed. Avocados actually contain no cholesterol. They are a high-fat food and are not useful if triglyceride levels are high or someone is trying to lose weight but a small avocado will not be harmful in comparison to, say, a slice of bacon.

So, in a nutshell, cholesterol and other lipids are not the dangers that the orthodox medical world say they are. The real problem lies in deficiencies and other factors that damage blood vessels and high levels of LDL may enhance the problem.

A regular check on cholesterol levels is advisable but please put it into context with the co-risk factors mentioned below.

Consider the Ornish or Pritikin diet.

Avoid smoking, caffeine, stress, oral contraceptives, refined sugar, pollutants and additives.

Consider using the macrobiotic diet.

Those with a family history of heart disease, atherosclerosis or strokes should consult with a complementary medical practitioner and special attention should be paid to levels of copper, chromium and magnesium, a low level of which will predispose to problems.

Ensure that the diet is rich in vitamin C, niacin , vitamin E and the omega 3 and omega 6 essential oils. This can be done by enjoying mackerel, herring, salmon or halibut three times a week. Vegetarians should consider taking supplements of these oils. Three to five portions of fruit or vegetable each day will cover the vitamins.

Avoid the high-cholesterol foods listed in the text above, which may increase cholesterol levels.

The body will create more cholesterol to wrap around cells to hold in water if an individual is dehydrated. Ensure that adequate amounts of water are drunk each day should be avoided. The faster the liver works, the more cholesterol it makes.

If cholesterol levels are raised and reduction in dietary sources has proved inefficient at bringing the levels down, then consider taking the following supplements in divided doses per foot of height three times a day with food: vitamin C , vitamin B3 , vitamin E , copper , magnesium , chromium , L-carnitine and N-acetylcysteine . This all gets a bit complicated and it might be simpler to discuss the matter with a complementary medical practitioner. More simply, take garlic capsules .

Not only because it can reduce cholesterol levels but also because of its protective factor from the damage that cholesterol may cause with other co-factors – reduce your stress by changing lifestyle or meditating.

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