Nutrition | Vital Health
Definition: Nutrition is the study of food and their nutrients and their influence on the health of the body. (Wardlaw, Dr. Gordon M., Contemporary Nutrition, Ohio State, McGraw Hill., p. 3)
Main Purpose of Foods:
- Provides energy for each cell in the body, hence allowing us to move, breathe and live. This energy comes primarily in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils.
- Supplies building materials needed for growth, development, renewal and repair of the body. Proteins, good fats, vitamins, minerals and water are needed for this task.
- Supplies materials (such as enzymes and hormones) from which body controlling substances can be made to regulate body processes. The body, once again, requires proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water to complete this task.
What makes our nutritional program different from other programs is that it focuses on making whole, organic, natural food a main part of the diet. To assist in this task, meal plans and recipes are introduced. In order to obtain a proper balance of minerals, enzymes, vitamins, natural water content and fiber, food must be frequently consumed in its original unaltered state.
Some principles of good nutrition:
Properly chewing the food we consume ensures proper digestion. It is recommended to chew 25 to 30 times per mouthful, since the mouth is the first step in the digestion process. The mouth is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes and breaking down food into smaller pieces, thereby increasing the surface area of the food. Chewing food into smaller pieces ensures that more surface area will come into contact with the digestive enzymes and acids in the stomach. This allows for food to be more easily digested and nutrients to be more effectively absorbed.
One of the main benefits of a diet consisting primarily of raw vegetables and fruit is the high level of cellulose consumed. Cellulose is present in the structural part of leaves, stems, roots, seeds and fruit coverings. The fibres take on water as they pass through the small intestine. This increases the stool weight by 40% to 100%. This bulking action aids in the gastrointestinal functioning by shortening the transit time of the stool, and possibly carcinogenic materials in the digestive canal. This may reduce the chances of intestinal diseases later in life. (Burkitt, D.: Dietry Fiber. Medical Applications of Clinical Nutrition. New Canaan, CT., Keats, 1983) Also, water-soluble mucilaginous fibre, such as pectin and guar gum, can lower serum cholesterol. This particular type of fibre can be found in such foods as oats, beans, peas, carrots and variety of fruits. A daily serving (100g) of oat bran caused a 13% reduction in serum cholesterol in men with elevated blood lipids. It also had a favourable effect on the ratio of lipoprotein components present in the blood.
Present nutritional boards say that the minimum daily dietary fibre intake should be about 30g. The typical American diet contains only 20g per day. In India and Africa they consume between 40 to 150g per day. We view 30 to 40g as a proper daily amount for the average adult. Note: excessive fibre intake for individuals with marginal nutrition, however, can lead to decrease in absorption of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and other trace minerals. (Keis, C.: Edible fiber: practical problems. Contemp. Nutr., 7(2), 1982)
Each meal should be composed of approximately 40 to 50% complex and simple carbohydrates. It is important to keep an equal balance between starchy vegetables (such as yam, squash and brown rice) and less starchy vegetables (such as steamed carrots, kale, cabbage and broccoli). Protein should comprise 30 to 40% of the diet. Healthy choices for this group include fresh fish, skinned chicken, tofu, soy and eggs. The remaining 20% of the diet is fat consumed in the form of EFAs, seeds and fat present in meat.
Eating proper foods to promote alkalinity in the body’s chemistry. The standard diet is lacking in alkaline-rich foods. The diet should be composed of 80% alkaline-forming food and 20% acid-forming food.
- When the body is too acid, it becomes prone to toxins and disease.
- Acidity in the body’s chemistry also promotes an excess growth of Candida albicans; a yeast (fungus) present in the body. Candida thrives on refined sugar. Treating Candida is as simple as staying away from acid foods and adhering to a diet rich in alkaline food. Once rid of the condition, a diet of about 80% alkaline foods and 20% acid foods should be maintained.
- Sugar and acid-forming foods promote excess parasites. Parasites can inhibit the proper functions of organs they accumulate in. For example, an overabundance of parasites in the liver will inhibit its ability to make sequences of amino acids needed to make proteins. This function is especially important for cellular building and repair. The liver also makes glycogen, a complex carbohydrate used for energy. Glycogen is required to fuel the movements and contraction of body parts and organ systems. Finally, the liver is also responsible for making the enzymes and bile needed for digesting and breaking down food.
- Anti-parasite herbs, supplements and foods are indispensable. They prevent the liver from becoming weak; a condition afflicting a significant amount of the western population.
Sound nutritional choices can also be made in reference to one’s blood type. This theory illustrates the need for significant amounts of complete protein (such as protein found in fish, dairy and eggs) for those wishing to minimize their meat consumption. The risk of iron deficiency and B-12 deficiency is elevated when choosing a strict vegetarian diet. Those with a type A blood-type tend to be allergic to dairy products. Hence, they should consume more meat, fish and tofu and become less dependant on dairy products to meet their protein needs. Those with a type O blood-type, on the other hand, need large amounts of protein and must therefore adjust their meals to ensure protein (in the form of meat) is present in all their meals.
Proper food combining
- Eating compatible foods makes digestion much easier. When incompatible foods are consumed, the digestive system receives mixed signals about which digestive juices and enzymes be released. Consequently, the food remains in the digestive tract longer and begins to ferment. This produces sugars that feed yeast and parasites which, in turn, weaken our immune system. (The Body Ecology Diet, Donna Gates, Linda Schatz)
- Fruits should be consumed alone and on an empty stomach because they are digested quickly. Food that is high in protein and starch takes longer (3 to 5 hours) to digest. Therefore, if fruits are eaten shortly before or after these foods, they will ferment and produce sugars that promote the growth of Candida and other parasites.
Understanding the basics of the digestive system
- The first organ of the digestive system is the mouth. The mouth breaks down food with the help of enzymes that are secreted. The food proceeds to the stomach where different enzymes break down protein. Afterwards, the small intestines work on absorbing and breaking down fats, protein, minerals and other nutrients. The large intestine is the last step in the digestive process. It is made up of the colon and acts as temporary storage of fecal matter. The synthesis of vitamin K and vitamin B and the absorption of salts and water occur here.
- Many problems can arise in the colon, especially when the transit time of food is slow. This is caused by inadequate fibre and water intake along with the consumption of mucus-forming foods
The effects of stress, oxygen and exercise on digestion
- Stress frequently causes our digestion to stop or malfunction. Emotions can affect the healthy functioning of our cells and, consequently,our digestion. Dr Candice Pert illustrated, through the study of neuropeptides, that cells throughout our body react to thoughts in the brain.
- Stress also negatively impacts breathing. A lack of oxygen coming into the body translates to an inadequate amount of oxygen reaching the cells of the body. Proper breathing techniques can help in feeling more relaxed. It can also help relieve constipation. Deep breathing, with short intervals of holding one’s breath, helps the lymph to circulate and move. This aids digestion and the peristalsis contraction of the smooth muscles of the intestine.
- Exercise increases one’s awareness of the importance of breathing and oxygenating the blood. Muscle tone around our digestive tracts and organs is also crucial. Muscles hold the organs and bones in place. They also aid in the transportation of food through the digestive canal. Therefore, the peristalsis wave functions better when the waist and torso muscles are toned. The muscles actually aid in the digestive process more easily. This is just one of the many benefits of exercising the muscles of the body.
- The heart rate and numerous body functions speed up during exercise. Even the digestive process speeds up. Bloating decreases, excess gas is eliminated faster and food is more efficiently absorbed.
Avoiding foods that have been partialized and toxic
- Food, in its natural and whole state, can be digested far more easily by the body. A larger amount of nutrients, vitamins and minerals can therefore be assimilated.
- When food is high in preservatives, refined sugars, salts and refined flour, the body does not recognize it and experiences difficulty in breaking it down. Consequently, more energy is used to digest it. This means the body now has less energy to devote to cleaning and rebuilding itself.
Examples of food toxins
- MSG in foods
- Aluminum in Bicks pickles to make them crunchy
- Piperonal used for vanilla flavour, also used to kill lice
- Ethyl acetate for pineapple flavour, also used as a cleaner for leather and textiles
- Calcium citrate in processed cheese, also used as a plasticiser
- B-vitamins and vitamin C are needed because they are lost in urine and sweat. They therefore must be replenished every 48 hours
- Multi-mineral, fat soluble vitamins are recommended due to inadequate levels of these in our food as a result of processing, environmental pollution, pesticide sprays and depleted soil.
- Good fats are essential. They can be found in the form of cold pressed oil blends like the three omega fats extracted from fresh seeds and fish.
- Probiotic foods should also be consumed. Miso paste, fermented tofu, fermented vegetables and probiotic supplements help populate the intestine with healthy bacteria which optimizes the immune system.
- Fermenting vegetables is quite easy; place shredded cabbage, dill, garlic and lemon juice into a sterile mason jar. Keep the jar refrigerated and it will be ready to eat in one week. Have it as a side dish to help with digestion.
- Adding cloves and fresh ginger root to tea helps kill unwanted parasites in the body.
- A daily (14 oz) glass or two of fresh vegetable juice helps keep the digestive system clean. The increased enzymatic action will enhance digestion and ensure eliminations occur frequently and easily.
Some Western and Chinese Herbs
- Aloe vera gel has anti-inflamatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and also increases blood flow to damaged tissue.
- Tincture of nettle, baikal skullcap and ginko can treat respiratory allergies.
- Tincture of valerian and feverfew relieve headaches by relaxing blood vessels.
- Tincture made from the chinese herb named “Dan Shen” invigorates blood circulation. It has a vasodilating action on the coronary arteries. It is used to treat angina, atherosclerosis and ischemic strokes. It has the ability to impede the formation of blood clots, making it a strong antithrombotic.