Most Americans are aware of the controversy surrounding our culture’s low-fat diet scenario that promotes weight loss and protection against certain diseases.
But it is the type of fat that is the most significant factor in reversing chronic degenerative disease. Cells’ membranes require omega-3 fatty acid derivatives (EPA and DHA) for fluidity. Monounsaturated fats found in nuts and extra-virgin olive oil balance the fluidity in the cells’ membranes. Too much omega-3 would have an oxidizing (disease-causing) effect on the cells. Those healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E prevent that from happening.
Our bodies are able to manufacture these omega-3 derivatives from vegetarian sources, particularly green foods when we are healthy. The elderly and people on drugs or in a weakened state may not be able to make enough omega-3 derivatives. In those cases, we must consume the omega-3 fatty acids directly from animal sources by eating cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, as well as grass-fed beef.
When we store excess fat in our bodies, we store mostly saturated fat. Grain-fed beef that dominates the beef market in the United States is high in saturated fat. The organic grass-fed beef that is now available in some markets has not been injected with hormones, does not contain pesticides and is high in omega-3 fatty acids.
The Mediterranean diet of the 1960s, high in monounsaturated fats, offers enormous health benefits. And it convincingly proves, in comparison with the Chinese low-fat consumption, that it is the type of fats, rather than the quantity of fat, that is the distinguishing factor in healthy diets.
Poor Fat Sources
When we consume excessive amounts of carbohydrates (especially the processed, devitalized, no-fiber varieties), we end up with a diet that produces saturated fat. Even though we are consuming zero-saturated fat from animal sources and are following a low-fat diet, we are storing saturated fat from our high-carbohydrate intake.
Eating excessive amounts of “junk” carbohydrates is the single deadliest feature of the American diet. Everything from devitalized grains to sugary soda and candy, foods that are not real foods at all are the products Americans crave most. Yet they are advertised as “fat-free” items in order to convince us that we should include them in our low-fat diets. This is one of the reasons we have become a nation of sick people who are getting sicker.
At the other extreme, a high-protein diet can be equally as harmful as a high-carbohydrate diet. We need adequate protein, but too much protein also makes us sick. Physical activity does have a bearing on the amount of protein the body requires. If we consume more protein than we require daily, it is converted to body fat when our energy requirements have already been met by other dietary components.
As baby boomers enter middle age and beyond, many of them struggle with mild to intense physical agony caused by bone degeneration. Whether this degeneration is due to swelling of the tissues that line the joints, muscle strain, or fatigue, the joints, muscles, bones, and tendons break down too soon for one out of every four American midlifers.
The joint problems they experience can initiate changes in both body and mind that ultimately affect the spirit. Joint problems cause mental stress as well, which increases the release of adrenaline. Ultimately, excess adrenaline leads to exhaustion.
Then depression sets in because serotonin levels drop when the action of “feel good” brain chemicals is hindered. Sleep is disrupted by the pain, tension and exhaustion, further inhibiting the body’s ability to release natural mood elevators known as endorphins.
In an effort to break the cycle of pain so they can carry on with their daily responsibilities, midlifers often use over-the-counter or prescription medications. They spend billions of dollars on NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX2) inhibitors.
Boomers are usually too busy, too stressed, and too tired to actively take care of their muscles and joints. They believe they have to live with this “inevitable” part of midlife. A friend recently told me that these days his back goes out more than he does!
Can midlifers find relief from the pain and suffering that affects their bodies and minds–without taking medications that have negative side effects?
Absolutely! But they must become active participants in their own recovery through the use of natural therapies.
Some nutritional approaches are highly effective. In fact, there is hope that natural substances will someday revolutionize the treatment and management of arthritic disease. They may even help the body rebuild functioning joints.
Willow bark is rich in salicin and salicylates that metabolize into salicylic acid. Salicylic acid, the base of aspirin, was first prepared from willow bark in the late 1930s. Willow bark has fewer side effects than aspirin and has a long tradition of use in Europe. It has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Fish oil helps regulate inflammation. Omega-3 oils (EPA and DHA) and flaxseed oil suppress inflammation especially well in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients.Publications from around the world now confirm that omega-3 oils are effective in relieving morning stiffness and the tender joints associated with RA. In some instances omega-3 oil actually eliminated the need for NSAIDs. Further, fish oil and low-dose aspirin taken together have been found to have better effects on inflammation than either substance alone.
Chondroitin sulfate is a major component of cartilage that reduces pain while increasing range of motion with long-term use.
Glucosamine alone or in combination with chondroitin sulfate is becoming the treatment of choice for osteoarthritis (OA). It has the ability to repair and improve joint function in addition to providing pain relief. Most important of all, it offers no dangerous side effects.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that has been reported to diminish pain. Free-radical damage is a factor in the development of OA and RA patients.
Nettle leaf has a long history of use as a safe remedy for arthritis in Germany. It is a natural COX2 inhibitor, which means it suppresses the pro-inflammatory enzyme known as Cyclooxygenase-2.
Ginger root (not to be confused with wild ginger, which can be hazardous) is a powerful herb that possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It has been used for thousands of years in China for rheumatism, stomach distress and nausea.Natural therapies can be effective for the midlife pain that comes with arthritis. They should be tried first, in my opinion, because they can provide relief from pain and inflammation without the negative side effects common to NSAIDs.
Janet Maccaro, Ph.D, CNC, is a respected lecturer and the author of several books on health and nutrition. Her most recent release is 100 Answers to 100 Questions about How to Live Longer (Christian Life).
No matter how spiritually mature you are, an unhealthy lifestyle and diet will limit your potential.
As a Christian, you are free to eat anything you want. Your diet will not keep you from heaven, but if you continually eat unhealthy foods, you will probably get there much sooner.
All foods are not created equal. In fact, some food should not be labeled “food” but rather “consumable product” or “edible, but void of nourishment.”
Living foods were created for our consumption. They exist in a raw or close-to-raw state. They are beautifully packaged in skins and peels, and no chemicals have been added.
Living foods are plucked, harvested and squeezed, not processed, packaged and put on a shelf. Living foods are recognizable as food.
Dead foods are the opposite. They are living foods that have fallen into human hands and been altered to make them last as long as possible at room temperature and to be as addictive as possible to the consumer.
Life breeds life. Death breeds death. Your body is made up of whatever you put in your mouth. You really are what you eat. And even fashionable clothing can’t hide an unhealthy body. It’s time to make over your pantry and fridge with more living foods, so you can look and feel your best.
FOOD IS A BLESSING
Exodus 23:25 says: “‘You shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you'” (NKJV). The word here for “bread” is also translated “nourishment.” God wants us to enjoy food. So it’s important to know which foods He made to bless your body.
Organic fruits and vegetables. At least half of what you eat should be living foods, preferably organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and living oils such as extra-virgin olive oil. It is an established fact that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the lower your chance of heart disease, cancer and many other health problems.
Even adding one serving a day can lower your heart disease risk. The current recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is five to 13 servings a day.
Many times a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is able to reduce your blood pressure as much as medications do. People who eat more than four servings a day also have significantly lower levels of bad cholesterol. Studies clearly show that for preventing cancer, fruits and vegetables are the best medicine you can take.
Eat your fruits and vegetables raw or steamed because food in its fresh state has all its enzymes. They should be eaten unpeeled whenever possible because many vitamins and minerals are concentrated just beneath their skins. If you have not purchased organic items, it is imperative that you wash these fruits and vegetables carefully.
If no fresh produce is available, choose frozen fruits and vegetables, though their nutritional value is mildly compromised. Canned produce is usually heated very quickly, destroying many vitamins and enzymes.
Organic foods are produced without the use of artificial pesticides and chemical fertilizers. These foods deliver superior nutrition without the harmful chemicals or substances that can wreak havoc on our health.
Carrots, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, strawberries, tangerines, grapes, blueberries and hundreds of other colorful, living fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants and phytonutrients, protecting you from a myriad of diseases, including cancer. Eat plenty of nonstarchy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, collards, radishes, turnips and cauliflower. Eat colorful salads with balsamic or red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil or other healthy oils.
Starchy vegetables such as beans, peas, lentils, corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes are fine, though if you are overweight you will need to eat them in moderation. Beans, peas and lentils are high insoluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and control blood sugar.
One of the important ingredients in fruits and vegetables is indigestible fiber, which soaks up toxins and water in the digestive system and sweeps them out. High-fiber diets move food, toxins and parasites through your gastrointestinal (GI) tract quickly and harmlessly. Generally speaking, the higher the fiber content the better.
Whole grains. Another living foods staple is fiber-rich, living grain products such as sprouted-grain breads, brown rice, whole-grain pasta and whole-grain cereal. These are nutrient-dense and pass on lots of vitamins and minerals to your body. Whole grains also contain lots of fiber, which is a fabulous toxin-trapper.
When you buy grain products, look for the words “sprouted,” “whole wheat” or “whole oat” on the ingredient list. I encourage you to eat sprouted breads and flat breads. Ezekiel bread and manna bread are both terrific flour-less breads made from live, sprouted grains and should be refrigerated. Limit your consumption of whole-grain products that contain corn.
Good fats. The good types of fat are necessary every day for the health of your heart, brain, skin, hair and every part of you. Good fat nourishes and strengthens cell membranes. They include: (1) monounsaturated fats and (2) omega-3 fats.
Monounsaturated fat is found in extra-virgin or virgin olive oil that is cold-pressed (not heated). You can also get monounsaturated fats in natural organic peanut butter, avocados, olives, macadamia nuts, and especially almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts. Raw nuts and seeds should be a mainstay of your diet. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats and contain about 20 percent protein.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found mainly in cold-water fish, some marine mammals and algae (seaweed). I recommend that you eat wild salmon as a good source of omega-3 fats.
Fresh organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains and monounsaturated fats you can eat almost unreservedly. However, meats and diary products should be eaten with a little more caution.
EAT MEAT WITH CAUTION Humans are omnivores, and meat can be an acceptable and healthy part of your diet. But many people don’t understand the dangers of eating too much meat or the wrong meats.
Red meat has a higher concentration of toxins than nearly all other foods. Any pesticide, sulfa drug, hormone, antibiotic, chemical or other toxic residue an animal eats generally gets stored right into its fat. If you eat that fat, the same toxins go into your body and lodge in your fat.
White meat is better, but most chickens are given antibiotics, especially tetracycline, to counter salmonella and other bacteria. In the past, it was common practice to give growth hormones and estrogens to animals to add bulk to increase their value. Fortunately, now these practices have changed.
Eating too much meat and protein makes it harder for your body to detoxify on a cellular level. It may also put a strain on the kidneys. Individuals with kidney failure must restrict their intake of protein, especially meats.
Men usually need only 20 to 30 grams of protein (3-4 ounces of meat) with each meal. Women usually need only 14 to 21 grams of protein per meal (2-3 ounces of meat).
I recommend organic, free-range or grass-fed meat. If you cannot afford these, get the leanest cuts and trim off any visible fat.
Recognize and avoid irradiated meats or other foods. Evidence suggests that irradiation is unsafe. It has been confirmed that it harms the nutritional value of foods. Labels on packages of irradiated food are legally required to carry the phrase “treated by irradiation” or “treated with irradiation.”
Turkey breast usually contains the least amount of pesticides and toxins. Other relatively safe meats include the leanest cuts of lamb, venison (U.S.), rabbit and buffalo.
When preparing poultry, peel the skin off and cut away any visible fat before cooking. Bake, broil, grill or lightly stir-fry your meat.
Don’t deep-fry your chickens or turkeys. Scrape off charred portions because char contains benzopyrenes, which are carcinogens, associated with colorectal cancer. Cook meats thoroughly because most poultry contain dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, and red meat may contain a dangerous form of E. coli. Once you start buying the right kinds of meats and preparing them in a healthy way, you can fully enjoy them as part of your regular diet.
WHAT ABOUT FISH? New studies keep emerging about the high mercury content of fish. But the following fish are usually safe: Wild Alaskan or Pacific salmon, mahi-mahi (Florida), sardines, Tongol tuna (found in health food stores) and grouper (Argentina, Chile, Mexico).
Fish can be your best source of healthy omega-3 oils, which studies have shown is one of the best oils on the planet. The highest concentrations of omega-3 oils are found in Pacific herring, king salmon, wild Pacific salmon, anchovies and lake trout. Wild Pacific salmon contains higher omega-3 fat than farm-raised Atlantic salmon.
Avoid shark and swordfish. They have some of the highest levels of mercury and pesticides of any fish in the sea. In many areas trout also have been subjected to contamination through industrialization. Select fish taken from fresh, pure water areas.
Shrimp contains higher levels of cholesterol than other seafood, but it is usually free from contamination from pesticides. Like most shellfish, it usually contains the heavy metal cadmium, which is associated with hypertension. If you choose to eat shellfish, do so infrequently. Cook thoroughly, since raw or undercooked shellfish may be associated with food poisoning or hepatitis A.