Living and Raw Food Diets

Evidence has shown that unheated plant-based foods are known to carry more of a food’s essence within them. They contain a wider range of essential food nutrients with live enzymes that aid food nutrient absorption. The usual raw food selection include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, grains, legumes, herbs and spices as well as seaweeds, microalgae and fresh juices. Also included are dehydrated or dried fruits, vegetables and herbs. They were found to support the needs of human bodily functions better than their cooked version.

The mere act of heating food destroys many of its helpful enzymes. As the heat goes up to 106 degrees, food enzymes start to degrade. While all cooked foods still carry important food nutrients, they are practically devoid of the beneficial food enzymes which happen to support virtually all of the important functions of our body’s systems. Furthermore, the act of cooking the food causes changes to the molecular structure of food, which renders it to become toxic. In this light, the level of nutrients sourced from raw foods is enormously higher than the nutritive values they deliver when they are cooked.

The Raw Food Diet Philosophy

A diet based on raw foods also known as raw diet is presented as an effective solution to man’s addiction to cooked and processed foods. The convenience and ease of preparation of cooked dishes and processed foods managed to gradually make them become staples of modern diet. Give the busy schedules that most working people are living these days, the turn for more convenient meals and food options is inevitable. With that, people have lost grip of the importance of nutrition, putting convenience and ease on their meal planning priority.

The result of this sudden shift to fast foods, instant foods and cooked foods is evident on the medical reports that we read on the newspaper and internet. The medical community ranks obesity, heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of deaths. In fact, these diseases share common grounds. Aside from genetics, these diseases are more commonly caused by bad food choices.

Raw and living foods make up 75% of the food eaten by man. All of the known diets followed by man involve raw foods in hope of enjoying the benefits delivered by food enzymes. Food enzymes are considered life force. To its number of significant health benefits, the most important would be their role in aiding food digestion, which ultimately results to more energy, strengthened immune system and generally a full life.

Living foods naturally have fewer saturated fat or trans fat and low in sodium compared to a typical Western diet. They promote better digestion thanks to live food enzymes; it sufficiently meets the recommended daily vitamins and minerals as well as caloric allowance needed by the body. Since they more efficiently deliver many of helpful plant chemicals such as phytochemicals and their antioxidant and anti-cancer components, they help improve the conditions of people who have heart and cholesterol problems. As a result, raw food-ist or people who follow raw diet reduce their risk of developing diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart problems.

Benefits

The benefits of raw diet are practically boundless. The diet would bring in more benefits with organic food selections. Being easier to digest and chemical-free has its advantages. For one, it optimizes the energy sourced from food given that it needs minimal bodily effort to be digested. In delivering more of the essential nutrients and amino acids that are vital to healthy growth, the diet helps alleviate many of the common illnesses such as allergies, digestive disorders, weak or weakened system and high cholesterol. It also promotes faster and proper healing in promoting cell rejuvenation and regeneration, which also prevents cancerous cells from turning healthy cells into malignant cells. In addition, raw diet also supports natural body detoxification processes.

Caution

While raw diet is extremely healthy, it is not ideal for children, pregnant or nursing women, and people with anemia or those who are at high risk of developing osteoporosis. In following raw diet, there is a possible risk of for calcium, iron, Vitamin B12 and protein deficiency. To prevent nutrient deficiencies, careful attention must be given in selecting the living foods to complete the body’s needed nutrient levels. With that, one needs to be committed to be healthy while on raw diet. Getting more exposure on other food sources is advised. This way, you can add variety to your usual raw and living foods selection.

Identifying And Relieving Food Allergies

You should seek immediate  medical attention if serious symptoms of allergy develop after eating.  These include severe hives, itching, swelling, light headed, wheezing,  shortness of breath, and difficulty swallowing.

Identifying  and Relieving FOOD ALLERGIES.

In the past it was thought that food allergies are relatively uncommon, occurring in less than 1  percent of the population and mainly in children.

Further,  they feel that most people with food allergies are allergic to one food, or maybe two or three at the most. The allergic symptoms – mostly skin,  respiratory,  and digestive problems –  are obvious, they say, and often start within an hour or two of eating the offending food. The immune system reacts to the food allergen in the same way it might react to other allergens such as pollen or mould:  It immediately produces an antibody that causes a release of histamine, one of  the many chemicals that trigger classic allergy symptoms.

There’s one problem with this description it is for only about  5  to  10  of all cases.  Here’s what you need to know about the other  90  to  95  percent.

Food allergies aren’t  rare,  and they don’t occur mainly in children.  In fact,  the majority are adults as well as children –  are allergic to certain foods.  No one knows why so many people are allergic,  but the major causes are excess stress,  inadequate rest,  a toxic environment,  and an unnatural diet.

In addition,  food allergies don’t affect just the skin or the respiratory or digestive system.  They can affect any system,  tissue,  or organ in the body and often,  they do.

Many health problems are either caused or complicated by food allergies. These include anaemia, high blood pressure, fatigue, eczema,  asthma, migraines, ear infections, sinusitis, hearing loss, thyroid disease, hay fever, kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis, gallbladder disease,  irritable bowel syndrome, and heartburn as well as many others.

Moreover, allergic reactions to foods don’t always occur immediately. Your symptoms may show up anywhere from 2  hours to  3  days after eating the food, so you may never suspect that the cause of your discomfort has anything to do with food. And you may be allergic to many foods, not just    1  or  2,   ( 3  to 10  is not uncommon,  and sometimes it may be as many as 20 ).

Immune system reacts to food allergens  (usually, undigested proteins that pass into the bloodstream through a gut wall that’s been made permeable, or  “leaky”  by many lifestyle and biochemical factors ) by producing many different types of antibodies that attach to the allergens. These food-antibody complexes trigger an  array of inflammatory reactions that create various symptoms and diseases.  There’s one more thing you need to know:  Food allergies can be minimized, corrected, or eliminated.

DISCOVERING the CAUSE

Finding out which foods or food proteins you’re allergic to can be complicated. Many people need the help of physicians to identify their food allergies and then avoid the foods that are making them sick. But here are some steps that you can try on your own to start identifying the source – or sources – of your problems.

FOOD DIARY: Your Personal Guide

You need to know which types of foods you’re eating all the time,  that is,  every or almost every day.  One ( or more ) of these is most likely to be your allergic food.

When you continually bombard the body with the same foods containing the same nutrients, especially in the context of a leaky gut, it eventually cries ‘uncle’.

So it is recommended that you keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat  ( including the ingredients in processed foods )  for a week.

If you find you’re eating any food or ingredient three, four, or more times a week, eliminate it from your diet  for 10 days and see whether you feel better. Then eat it again and see whether you feel worse. If not eating the food improves your symptoms, and eating it worsens them, it’s very likely that you’re allergic to that food.

ELIMINATION DIET: Round up the Usual Suspects

Most people with food allergies react to one of a small number of commonly eaten foods.  The usual suspects include dairy foods, eggs, grain, ( especially wheat, rye, barley, oats, and corn), soy beans in any form (from tofu to soy milk), citrus fruits, and peanuts.

Thus, another strategy is to eliminate all of these foods from your diet for 10 days, then reintroduce them one by one to see if anything happens. Reintroduce only one food every 4 days,  since it takes that long for your body to clear itself of a food allergen.

LIVING ALLERGY – FREE

Once you’re identified the food ( or foods )  that is causing your allergy,  you obviously need to avoid it. In addition, there are a number of simple changes that will make your body less sensitive.

ROTATION DIET: Helps Prevent Allergies

People who eat the same foods all the time are more likely to develop food allergies than who eat a wide variety of  foods. Therefore follow a rotation diet, which means eating the same food no more than once every 4  days.

This can help prevent food sensitivities from getting started. And you’ll certainly want to avoid eating processed foods, simple because they’re loaded with common allergens and chemical additives. Most people who are allergic to foods are sensitive to chemicals as well.

FRESH AND ORGANIC FOODS: Easier on the Body

People with food allergies should emphasize lots of fresh, organically grown vegetables,  non citrus fruits,  non dairy sources of  lean animal protein, and oily fish. These are among the “safest”  foods because they are the ones our primitive ancestors ate. They’re the foods that our bodies have adapted to.

MSM: Relief with Sulfur

The nutritional supplement MSM  ( methylsulfonylmethane ),  a form of  sulfur, doesn’t cure food allergies. It may relieve the symptoms,  however, perhaps by preventing or decreasing inflammatory reactions in the body.

If you take the supplement regularly you may be able to eat a food that would that would otherwise cause you problems.

BETAINE  HYDROCHLORIDE: Help Prevent Allergens from Forming

When your digestive tract doesn’t break down food properly, the body can’t recognize it as food and may treat the food particles as invaders, rather than a nutrition.

Do you feel as though food just sits in your stomach after you eat ?  If so, you may have this problem, which could be caused by a lack of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

While it’s best to have low stomach acid diagnosed by a doctor, you can test your digestion by squeezing half a lemon into a cup of warm water and drinking it with meals. If that improves your digestion,  it’s a sign that you have acid deficiency. Stop drinking the lemon  juice and take a supplement of  betaine hydrochloride before eating. Start with a dose of  300 milligrams and see if it helps. If necessary, you can increase the dose by 50 milligrams.

If your symptoms persist, see a doctor.

If you feel a mild, harmless burning in your stomach after the supplement, you may need the extra acid, drinking 12  to 16  ounces of water will quickly stop the burning.

DIGESTIVE ENZYMES:  Help for the Pancreas

A deficiency of stomach acid isn’t the only reason that foods can turn into allergens. You may also have a deficiency of the food – digesting enzymes produced by the pancreas. You can replace these enzyhmes with supplements. It is recommended choosing one that contains amylase, cellulase, protease, papain, or bromelain. Take the supplement with meals, following the directions on the label.

VITAMIN  C

Vitamin C is good for everyone,   but people with with food allergies may need extra amounts.  That’s because this essential nutrient helps stop allergic reactions to foods.  It relieves symptoms and prevents inflammation.  It helps in the manufacture of adrenal hormones,  which are needed to combat the body – wide stress of allergic reactions.  And it helps rejuvenate an immune system worn out by responding to allergens.

MULTIVITAMIN/MINERAL SUPPLEMENT: All – Around Protection

Nearly everyone should take multivitamin/mineral supplements because there’s so much over processed, nutrient-stripped food in our diets.

Those with food allergies may need extensive supplementation. Because the allergic interferes with digestion and may cause nutritional shortages. It is recommended looking for a supplement that is free of common allergy – causing ingredients such as milk, corn, wheat, eggs, soy, sugar, and yeast.

Fibromyalgia Food & Nutrition

People who suffer from fibromyalgia are plagued by persistent pain and chronic fatigue. These symptoms can make it difficult to shop for, prepare, and eat wholesome and nutritious meals. Nevertheless, a healthy diet is very important in helping people with fibromyalgia counteract stress, detoxify the body, and restore nutrients to the areas that need them the most.

If your medical doctor has given you the diagnosis of having fibromyalgia, what you may not know is that all fibromyalgia patients also suffer from:

* Nutritional deficiencies
* Food sensitivities
* Blood sugar imbalances
* Infections: yeast, viral and bacterial
* Severe hormone imbalances

When you address all of these “X” factors at the same time and provide the body with the right balance of nutrition and nutrient-dense foods (as opposed to nutrient-deficient ones), you create an internal environment conducive to restoring the natural rhythm within and enable transformation and healing to occur.

What we take into our body-be it healthy food, drink, drugs, pesticides or junk food-can dramatically affect our ability to stay healthy. Because many fibromyalgia sufferers are sensitive to food, drugs, chemicals and pollutants in the environment already, it’s important not to subject yourself to them and to avoid as many as you possibly can. Researchers from the University of Florida concluded that food intolerance and certain added chemicals in foods led to significant exacerbation of symptoms in fibromyalgia patients including pain, swelling, and joint stiffness.

Your nutritional status determines, to a substantial extent, your capacity to maintain health, energy levels, and your ability to adapt to your environment. Your genes express themselves in your environment – the food you eat, water you drink, air, and so on. If your environment is too hostile for them (too many junk foods, contaminated air and water, etc) you cannot adapt and disease results. If your environment is nourishing, you have a greater resistance to disease and are more likely to experience health and vitality. Of equal importance is reduction or removal of the intake of toxic substances in the body such as anti-nutrients and environmental chemicals and pollutants, which have become a major problem in our “modern” diets.

We are all biochemically unique in our needs since they depend on a whole host of factors, from the strengths and weaknesses you were born with right up to the effects that your current environment has on you. No one way of eating or diet is perfect for everyone, and it is only through direct monitoring and control of your own nutrition that you will discover your own right balance. However, our goal in the pursuit of higher energy levels is to understand that our body is fueled from the foods we eat and to understand which foods supply us with the necessary and proper ingredients to create energy, healing, and optimum health. Here are some of the attributes of nutrition and food as it contributes to your health.

Whole Foods: Organic, Raw & Live Produce

The most important foundation for health is to eat foods that provide exactly the amount of energy and nutrients required to keep the body in perfect balance. A good deal of energy is consumed and wasted in trying to disarm or rid the body of toxic chemicals from our food sources. The toxins that cannot be eliminated accumulate in body tissue and contribute to conditions like FM. It is now virtually impossible to avoid all these substances completely, as there is nowhere on our planet that is not contaminated in some way from the by-products of our modern chemical age. Therefore, we must be diligent in choosing as wisely as we possibly can.

Choosing organic foods whenever possible is the nearest we can get to eating a pure diet today. The most healthful fruits and vegetables are those that have been grown organically-without the use of pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, or growth-stimulating chemicals, which are potentially toxic to our bodies. Raw, organic food is the most natural and beneficial way to take food into the body. Raw (also called live) foods also contain enzymes and these help to digest food more completely, which increases absorption and assimilation of vital nutrients within the food. This leads to an increase in energy and vitality. Cooking food above 118 degrees F. destroys enzymes and reduces the uptake of nutrients. Try to eat at least 50% of your fresh produce in its raw state in salads and other tasty dishes. If raw produce does not agree with you because of weak digestion capabilities, steam your vegetables lightly in a steamer, cooking pan, or wok just until slightly tender.

For people suffering with fibromyalgia (and rheumatic disorders), studies have shown that a diet consisting of whole foods brings the body back to a state of health and helps improve symptoms dramatically. In addition to the fact that whole foods happen to be antioxidant laden, and antioxidant foods possess anti-inflammatory properties, there are other factors, such as fiber and essential fatty acids found in whole unadulterated foods that function together to increase immunity and improve overall health.

Remember, most fruits and vegetables are best eaten in their entirety, as all of the parts, including the skin, contain valuable nutrients. Eat at least eight to ten servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day. That may sound like a lot but we are talking about one serving is half a cup full and this food source is vital in helping to win the battle against FM. These plant foods are the basic source of the vitamins, minerals; antioxidants and phytonutrients (more on what these are next) that help create and preserve health. Nobody can argue with eating fruits and vegetables. It is the one thing that scientists all agree on to create longevity, energy, and health.

It is a good idea for people suffering with fibromyalgia to limit their intake of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, because these substances can be very stressful and acid for the body.

Fibromyalgia Diet & Food: What to Eat

o Water: Water is a vital element for the overall health of the body. Drinking at least eight glasses of purified water each day helps to improve the circulation, and move nutrients and waste through the system. A plentiful intake of liquids is also important for flushing out toxins.
o Fiber: A high-fiber diet helps to move nutrients and waste through the system more efficiently. This reduces strain on the digestive system and can help promote regular bowel movements. Fresh vegetables, especially greens, are excellent sources of fiber. Fruits are loaded with antioxidants, minerals and nutrients and are a good substitute when needing a sweet treat.
o Protein: Add Lean protein, such as that found in fish, poultry, and fresh raw nuts and seeds into your diet.
o Fish: Fatty fish such as trout, cod, halibut, mackerel and salmon also contain oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. As with flax, these nutrients work as natural anti-inflammatory agents to alleviate the pain and swelling of fibromyalgia.
o Alfalfa: Alfalfa contains saponins, sterols, flavonoids, coumarins, alkaloids, vitamins, amino acids, minerals and trace elements. These nutrients help to control pain and alleviate stiffness.
o Flax seed: Flax seed and flax seed oil are great sources of the omega-3 essential fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid. When consumed, this nutrient converts in the body to hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are natural anti-inflammatory agents that help to reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with fibromyalgia.

The Fibromyalgia Diet & Food: What Not To Eat

o Processed Foods: Foods that are highly processed, such as canned foods, foods that contain large amounts of saturated or hydrogenated fats, such as dairy products, meat, and margarine may be stressful for the body. Saturated fats, in particular, interfere with circulation, and may be responsible for increasing inflammation and pain.
o Caffeine, Alcohol, and Sugar: Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar as these substances can cause fatigue, increase muscle pain, and interfere with normal sleep patterns.
o Many fibromyalgia sufferers have food allergies and sensitivities especially to gluten. The best way to find out if you do too is to eliminate it completely for 1 to 3 months and notice how you feel and your health improves.

Preparing and Eating Meals

o Eat Small Meals: Fibromyalgia can make it difficult to shop for, prepare, and cook large nutritious meals. Try to eat four to five small meals daily rather than three larger ones, so that you will have a good supply of nutrients without the struggle of large meals.
o Take Breaks: Plan to take plenty of breaks while you are preparing and eating your meals. It will be easier and less stressful to put together a nutritious meal, if you start preparation about a half hour earlier, and allow two fifteen-minute breaks in the process.

Fibromyalgia Nutritional Supplements

Several nutritional supplements may be useful in alleviating the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Always discuss the benefits of nutritional supplements with your health care provider before adding a new supplement to your diet.
o Antioxidants: Antioxidants help to neutralize free-radical damage and reduce inflammation. Vitamins A, E, and C are good sources of antioxidants
o Evening Primrose Oil: Evening primrose oil is a good source of essential fatty acids. These nutrients act as a natural anti-inflammatory in the body, thereby reducing the pain of fibromyalgia.
o Vitamin B: If emotional or physical stress is a problem, taking extra B vitamins will help the nerves and improve energy.
o Royal Jelly: Bee products such as bee pollen or royal jelly supplements are a safe and effective way to fight the fatigue of fibromyalgia.
o Magnesium: magnesium contributes to more than 300 functions within the body including heart regulation and blood pressure. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and stool softener so it works to help you sleep well and helps with constipation.
o Calcium: A calcium supplement is great for strengthening the bones and improving muscle and nerve function. Calcium orotate is the best form.
o DHEA: DHEA has been used successfully in the treatment of other autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis and lupus. DHEA helps to restore balance to the immune system and helps to maintain the integrity of the nervous system.
o Grape Seed Extract: Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant. It also helps to support the functioning of the thymus gland.
o Co-enzyme Q10: this nutrient is another potent antioxidant that helps to deliver oxygen to cells.
o Lipoic Acid: This supplemental nutrient helps to enhance the metabolism of carbohydrates. It also helps to boost energy levels.
o Corvalen D-ribose: d-ribose helps to naturally overcome fatigue, reduce the pain and soreness of tired muscles, and helps your body make adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “energy currency” of the cell. It has been proven highly successful in helping people with fibromyalgia.

For fibromyalgia, there is no magic pill; the treatment is not a prescription medication or a drug. While some medications may offer short-term symptom relief, fibromyalgia does seem to be mostly associated in one way or another with poor diet and nutritional deficiencies. What is mostly needed is changing the way you live and living in harmony with your genes. It is not using foods and chemicals that are working against you genetically. It is a matter of eating foods and nutrients, which are nourishing and building and that help to build inner and outer balance.

By Deirdre Rawlings, ND, PhD, MH, CNC.

Deirdre Rawlings is a board certified naturopathic doctor, holistic nutritionist, master herbalist, and author of the book: Foods that Help Win the Battle against Fibromyalgia. Deirdre holds a PhD in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is a certified health and wellness coach. She lectures to corporations, colleges, and groups about the medicinal & healing powers of food and nutrition to help people to empower, energize and transform their lives.

Deirdre conducts monthly fibromyalgia group coaching programs called Eat to Beat Fibromyalgia where she educates people about underlying health conditions that often accompany fibromyalgia and how to address or heal those first plus provides proven strategies that help to restore balance and optimal health. She has worked with hundreds of fibromyalgia sufferers and helped them to reduce pain, eliminate their brain fog, dramatically increase their energy levels, and eliminate their dependence on prescription medications after using her protocols and system.

Diabetics and Food Choices

Diabetics must closely monitor their food choices. Diabetics can eat the same foods as non-diabetics; they must simply be sure to restrict the amount of the foods they eat. Although foods are marketed to individuals who are diabetic, there are no real “diabetes foods.”

Diabetes food choices are those that closely follow the rules of the diabetes food pyramid. The diabetes food pyramid is a bit different from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) food pyramid in that the diabetes food pyramid groups foods according to their glycemic index – the effect that the food has on blood glucose levels. Diabetics must be very aware of how foods will affect their blood glucose levels (otherwise known as blood sugar level, blood sugar, or just sugar). Each item on the diabetes pyramid is grouped according to its effect on blood sugar.

The diabetes pyramid groups starchy vegetables such as corn, potatoes and peas with grains and beans because they have the same effect on blood glucose levels. Cheese is grouped with meats. For some foods, the serving sizes are different in the diabetes food pyramid. Serving sizes of rice and pasta are smaller in the diabetes food pyramid than they are in the USDA food pyramid. Similarly, serving sizes of fruit and fruit juices are smaller in the diabetes food pyramid. The idea is to make the food groups in the diabetes food pyramid relatively equal in carbohydrate content so that they have similar effects on blood sugar levels.

Diabetics need to make smart food choices. Understanding the effects that foods have on blood sugar levels is important to ensuring ongoing health. Diabetics may find that there are many foods marketed to their condition. Foods that are low in sugar and other carbohydrates may or may not be the best choice in the long run. Diabetics may find that foods that are low in carbs may be high in fat. Although diabetics need to cut carbs, they don’t want to trade one health condition for another. Making sure that their diets are high in vegetables and low-carb foods, and low in foods that are high in fat and cholesterol is the best course of action for diabetics. As mentioned earlier, there are not actual diabetes foods. Diabetics eat the same foods as everyone else. There is really no need to purchase special foods for a diabetic diet. A diabetic who eats as close to nature as possible is choosing the best diet for him or her.

Diabetes food choices should be as natural as possible. We’ve all heard the hype about healthy eating. Eating foods that are close to nature makes choosing foods easier for diabetics as well as anyone who wants to follow a healthy eating plan. Diabetes food choices should include many fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains – foods that are natural. Processed foods tend to be high in salt as well as sugar. Purchasing foods and cooking them yourself will ensure the healthiest diet possible.

Ideally, the best way to ensure you are eating a healthful diet is to make as much as your own food as possible. Purchase tomatoes and make your own sauce. Purchase whole grain flour and make your own bread. And be sure to make your own sweet treats. Perhaps take one day a week and cook large quantities of foods and freeze them for use later. Many foods freeze well. For those that don’t, or for individuals who cannot find the time to make their own foods, be sure to read those labels!

A Case For Whole Food Supplements

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking in many vital nutritional components. Being largely composed of prepackaged, convenience foods with few naturally grown food products; this diet has contributed to an epidemic of not only obesity but also extreme nutritional deficiency. While many commercially available vitamin and mineral supplements exist, they are manufactured in an artificial way that reduces bioavailability and promotes chemical contamination. As Americans are not likely to return to eating home grown food directly from their garden, the solution to the nutritional deficiency of America can be found in Whole Food Supplements which are vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient rich products made from actual food concentrates.

The Problem with the Standard American Diet

In the first part of the 1900’s most Americans ate a healthy, whole food diet because they had no choice. All food was grown either by the family or obtained from immediately local sources. America in the 1900’s was a largely agrarian society with most people living in rural areas and able to grow their own food. During the last century, a massive migration to urban areas has occurred. This has meant that even if one has the desire, most people no longer have the ability to produce self grown food. Either because there is no land or because many do not know how, very few people have a garden and even fewer produce protein in the form of dairy products and animal husbandry.

In spite of this developing migration, during World War II, families were encouraged to have a “victory garden”. This was not to ensure that Americans had a great diet but actually to ensure that American families could feed themselves at all, while allowing most of commercial food production to be sent to the troops overseas. That was the last period in history that America got most of their nutrition from locally grown food.

Beginning around the 1950’s, Americans did begin to recognize the value of vitamins and minerals within their diet. This was discovered because more and more pre-prepared, highly processed food products became available and nutritional deficiencies began to emerge.

After the end of World War II, many families became two-income families. In addition, many more single parents are now raising children by themselves. This means that in most homes, all of the adults present in any one household are likely employed outside of the home full-time leaving little time for food preparation alone much less any time for food production. America has become a convenience food nation consuming much of the diet from unnatural food sources.

Prepackaged and easy to prepare food products are just that, food “products”. Though they may contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats and some “essential” nutrients, they are not real food. The entire food supply chain is rife with contamination and chemical processing and many Americans are unaware of how little nutritional value the food that they consume every day contains. So much publicity and education has focused on the so called food pyramid. The governmental and educational agencies that have devised the perfect American diet have never truly addressed the lack of nutrients, other than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of basic vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Calcium.

While these RDA levels of vitamin and mineral consumption may be an absolute bottom line essential to avoid obvious diseases of deficiency such as scurvy or rickets, they are hardly adequate and do not reflect but a small portion of the nutrients contained in whole food, necessary for promotion of health and prevention of disease.

A Crisis in America: Obesity and Other Diseases in the Face of Malnutrition

The main focus of the American diet in recent years has become reducing fat and increasing carbohydrates in the diet. This stream of thought was intended to reduce the growing epidemic of obesity but over the past 20 years, obesity has risen into numbers that appear to be a crisis for Americans. In fact, over the past 20 years the number of adult Americans who are obese has risen by 60% to an unprecedented level of almost 35% of American adults being considered obese. A much worse situation is that a similar number of approximately 32% of American children qualify as overweight or obese. For the first time in American history, the life expectancy of these children may be lower than that of their parents or grandparents.

This has led to an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and other weight related problems occurring in record numbers not only in adults but seen in children as young as 18 months of age. Additional diseases that may be related to a lack of appropriate nutrients other than simple vitamins in American diets may include a wide variety of conditions ranging from immune disorders implicated in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Cancer to psychiatric and neurological conditions such as ADHD, Autism and Depression.

Most people believe that obesity occurs simply because people eat too much. While that is true in part, obesity also results from continuously consuming the wrong types of food. In the 1900s when Americans were consuming a largely natural, whole food diet directly from farm to table, obesity was an extremely rare occurrence.

As our diet has changed from an agrarian society’s nutrient rich food supply to the urbanized highly processed, artificial foods, our total food consumption has risen. This is in part because, though the body gets more calories from more food, it is still starved of nutrition causing one to eat even more. In addition, in our sedentary lifestyle our bodies actually need less food than when we lived and worked each day on the farm, yet we still eat more because of lack of proper nutrients, abundance of easily obtained processed food and other psychological conditions such as stress eating. In the end, America has become a nation of people who are obese but still malnourished and disease ridden.

An Attempt to Fix the Problem

The ideal diet truly would be that of returning to whole food “farm to table” eating where families either grow their own food and prepare it within minutes of harvesting or at a minimum obtain locally grown food from the market and prepare it within a day or so of harvesting. In today’s society this is no longer possible. Even when fresh vegetables and fruits are consumed as a large portion of the diet, our nation’s food supply is contaminated by the use of pesticides, herbicides and hormones and much of the nutrient value is lost by transportation of the food crop from thousands of miles away. Food is harvested before it is truly ripe, irradiated, stored cold and transported across states, nations and even oceans before it arrives in our grocery stores as tasteless, substandard, nutrient poor produce.

Many people are attempting to eat only organic, locally grown produce for this reason. While this may be an improvement over the nutritional value of the standard American diet, it is nearly always much more expensive and therefore unaffordable for many and unavailable for others as most markets do not focus on obtaining such products. So this effort, while valiant is still not enough.

The good news about the American nutritional situation is that it is quite easy to fix. Given appropriate nutrition, the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Many diseases and conditions caused by overconsumption and malnourishment can be easily corrected by supplementation with whole food nutritional products.

As Americans cannot rely on the food supply to provide adequate nutrition and also cannot count on the source, quality and purity of most commercially available nutritional supplements, the only answer appears to lie in whole food supplementation.

What is a Whole Food Supplement?

Whole food supplements are defined as nutritional supplements derived entirely from food. This is a much more natural and beneficial method of obtaining nutrition from food and herbal supplements alike.

Unfortunately, most commercially available nutritional supplements including vitamins, minerals and herbal products are made completely of single ingredient extracts or worse, artificially synthesized in a lab using chemical processes. While synthesized supplements may in fact provide basic vitamins and minerals known to be vital, artificially prepared products are missing many of the alkaloids, antioxidants and phytochemicals that are thought to play a major role in complete nutrition and disease prevention.

The same is true for herbal supplements and treatments as most commercially available herbal products do provide an extract or synthesized form of the primarily active chemical within the herb, they are still missing many of the synergistic ingredients thought to provide additional benefits of herbal and nutraceutical treatment.

Simply Taking Vitamins isn’t Enough

Vitamins and Minerals are absolutely necessary for life but the RDA is generally both inadequate in its estimate and unattainable through the average American diet.

While many commercially available nutritional supplements are available at every corner, through necessity, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does little to regulate the manufacturing of food supplements such as vitamins, minerals and herbal products. The FDA cannot apparently manage even its’ main tasks of regulation of the pharmaceutical industry and assurance of the safety of the American food supply.

In the last several years, many counterfeit pharmaceutical products have been discovered such as flu medication being sold online, manufactured outside of the United States was found to be gelatin capsules filled with sheetrock particles. In addition Americans have seen case after case of E. Coli and Salmonella contamination of both American and foreign farm crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and peppers enter our grocery stores. Some of these products were even the so called “organic” products, purported to be safer than traditional crops.

Why a Whole Food Supplement

As there is inadequate supervision of the pharmaceutical and food production industries, there is even less of the nutritional supplement market. The average vitamin or nutritional supplement is manufactured using chemical synthesis and heat processing which destroys the nutritional value of the product within. In addition, many commercially available products are manufactured with fillers, additives, preservatives and other dubious chemicals. Whole food supplements are not.

Within the last several years, significant shortcomings have come to light in terms of foreign made food and health products. Many products have proven to be contaminated with not only the known chemicals that are present in the American food supply but also with much more dangerous unknown chemicals that should never enter the manufacturing process. The only way to ensure that this does not happen is to purchase high quality products from a company with a well established reputation for maintaining high standards of manufacturing and purity. As whole food supplements are natural products, it would be optimal if the manufacturer employed practices of sustainability and green policy.

The ideal food supplement manufacturer recognizes that vitamins do not exist in isolation. The nutritional value of whole food is due to the interweaving of the entire spectrum of nutrients with vitamins and minerals acting in a synergistic fashion with hundreds of other plant alkaloids, phytochemicals and enzymes. The cofactors and bioflavonoids such as terpenes and isoflavones present in whole foods and whole food supplements are integral in the process to restore biochemical balance to the body.

This is quite easy to identify when examining the label of a nutritional supplement, vitamin or herbal product. Though the FDA doesn’t do an adequate job of monitoring the food supply or pharmaceutical industry, they have established standards of labeling which include appropriate identification of all ingredients contained in a supplement. Close examination of most regular supplements when compared to whole food supplements will show that most products contain synthetic vitamins, chemicals and filler products while whole food supplements contain natural vitamins and minerals obtained from concentrated food sources such as fruits and vegetables.

Supplements manufactured from whole food sources will contain not only the natural form of vitamins and minerals but also all of the important phytochemicals and phytonutrients important to restoration of nutritional health and prevention of disease derived from whole food concentrates.

Choosing a Quality Supplement

Whole food supplements are nutritional products which have been manufactured directly from food. Food grown in natural conditions is concentrated using carefully designed and conducted cold processing techniques. These methods allow the concentration of the entire spectrum of nutritional value without removing the phytochemicals, alkaloids and other valuable natural substances that ensure adequate nutritional support and help to prevent disease.

When choosing a whole food supplement one should ensure that the product is from a manufacturing company known to have a long standing reputation for quality and experience in whole food processing. The products should be constituted entirely of whole food products which have been refined using cold processing without the nutrient reducing effects of extreme heat, pasteurization and irradiation. They should also be free of artificial filler products and preservative chemicals. The manufacturer should have a process of testing for purity and guarantee of quality and ideally should offer a money back guarantee if one is not satisfied with the product. For the American consumer, optimally an American product will be purchased an in an effort to aid the environment, a company with “green” policies should be chosen to promote sustainability of the food supply.

Specific Nutrient Needs

Vitamin A

Vitamin A and the carotenoids are highly present in many vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables along with fish and animal livers and are essential for:

o proper functioning of the eye and skin including the gastrointestinal tract
o acts as an antioxidant, protecting against cancer and diseases of aging
o important in support of the immune system for protection against viruses and infections of the organ linings of bladder, kidneys, lungs and mucous membranes
o essential for protein utilization

Vitamin A deficiency causes dry hair, skin, eye disorders, fatigue, reproductive difficulties, frequent colds and infections, and skin disorders.

Traditional vitamin supplements will typically contain synthetic Vitamin A Palmitate and/or beta carotene isolate. Whole Food Supplements will contain Vitamin A1, Vitamin A2, retinal, retinoic acid and a number of more the 500 carotenes all of which are precursors to Vitamin A along with essential fatty acid, natural sugars, minerals and other phytonutrients found only in whole food.

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B is actually a number of similarly related compounds found in yellow and green fruits and vegetables particularly leafy green and cruciferous vegetables along with nuts, grains, eggs, dairy products and meats and are known to be essential for:

o maintenance of skin, eyes, hair, liver and mouth
o healthy gastrointestinal tract and brain functioning
o coenzymes involved in energy production
o proper functioning of nervous system particularly in the elderly

Specific Vitamin B Deficiencies:

B-1 Thiamine deficiency – Beriberi, canker sores, mental disorders such as dementia, depression and dizziness, fatigue, indigestion, diarrhea, numbness and muscle atropy

B-2 Riboflavin deficiency -mouth sores, cataracts, dermatitis, hair loss, neurological symptoms on skin, light sensitivity, seizures

B-3 Niacin deficiency – pellagra, bad breath, skin and mouth disorders, memory impairment, confusion, depression, muscle weakness

B-5 Pantothenic Acid deficiency – abdominal pains, skin disorders, hair loss, muscle spasms and poor coordination, immune impairment, low blood pressure

B-6 Pyridoxine deficiency – eye, skin and mouth inflammation, mucous membrane disorders, lack of wound healing

B-12 Cyanocobalamin deficiency – pernicious anemia, unsteady gate, dizziness, drowsiness, depression, hallucination headaches, memory loss, tinnitus, spinal cord degeneration

Folic Acid deficiency – certain types of anemia, fatigue, mental disorders, insomnia, diarrhea, spina bifida in developing infant

Traditional Vitamin B supplements will generally contain only the synthetic form of one or more of the B vitamin group, while whole food supplements will contain all of the Vitamin B family along with the added benefits of phytonutrients such as inositols, PABA, biotin and choline derived from concentration of whole foods.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is found in citrus fruits, berries and green vegetables and is essential for:

o tissue growth and repair
o adrenal gland function
o healthy gums
o production of anti stress hormones and interferon
o absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal system
o metabolism of amino acids and vitamins
o activity as an antioxidant and support of the immune system

Vitamin C deficiency causes Scurvy, poor wound healing, gum disease, edema, weakness, frequent infections, fatigue, and joint pains.

Traditional Vitamin C supplements will have only Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbate, while Whole Food Supplement vitamin C will contain phytonutrients such as rutin, bioflavonoids, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen, vitamin C factors such as J, K and P along with mineral co-factors necessary for vitamin C activity all derived appropriately from whole food.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is present largely in dairy food products but also in fish and fish oils, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, egg yolks and sweet potatoes and is necessary for:

o bone and teeth growth and development in children
o muscle performance including skeletal and cardiac muscle
o prevention of bone and tooth loss in elderly
o thyroid and immune system functioning
o normal blood clotting

Vitamin D deficiency includes rickets, osteomalacea, loss of appetite, burning of mouth and throat, diarrhea, insomnia, and visual difficulties.

Most commercial Vitamin D products including prescription formulas will contain only Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is less absorbable and more difficult to use but has a longer shelf life than it’s cousin Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) while whole food supplements will contain significant amounts of Vitamin D3 along with many other beneficial phytonutrients in the form of whole food concentrates.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in cold pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and grains and is essential for:

o antioxidant activity important for the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease
o circulation and tissue repair
o blood clotting and healing
o skin and hair health

Vitamin E deficiency may result in damage to red blood cells, nerve destruction, infertility, menstrual problems, and neuromuscular disorders.

Traditional vitamin E supplements will generally include only one of the 8 active components of the vitamin E family, alpha-tocopherol. Whole food supplements will contain not only alpha-tocopherol but also the 7 other alpha, beta, gamma and delta forms of both tocopherol and tocotrienol derived from concentrated food.

Calcium

Calcium is vital for the formation of bones and teeth and the maintenance of gums. It is essential for the functioning of all muscular tissue, particularly the heart and participates in cellular functioning in virtually every area of the body. Calcium is highly present in dairy products, meaty and oily fish and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium deficiency can lead to brittle bones, teeth and nails, skin disorders, cardiac disorders such as high blood pressure and heart palpitations, cognitive impairment, hyperactivity and seizure disorders.

Calcium contained in most traditional supplements will contain only calcium carbonate or calcium citrate with the possible addition of Vitamin D or may contain D1-calcium-phosphate which is completely insoluble and cannot be absorbed. Whole Food Supplement calcium products will contain additional nutrients such as amino acids and vitamin C which are necessary for calcium absorption and utilization.

Iron

Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin which is vital to the supply of oxygen throughout the body. Iron is also important for production of many important enzymes within the body. It can be found in meats, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, nuts and grains in large amounts as well as a number of herbs such as alfalfa and milk thistle.

Deficiency of Iron includes symptoms of anemia, weakness and fatigue, hair loss, mouth inflammation, fingernail malformation and mental impairment.

Most commercially available iron supplements will contain iron sulfate or iron gluconate as a singular product or in combination with other vitamins and minerals. Iron is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin C and when consumed as a constituent of a food source. Whole food supplement iron will result in better absorption and less stomach upset as it is derived from whole food.

Magnesium

Magnesium is vital as an enzyme catalyst especially with regard to energy production. It also aids in cellular calcium and potassium uptake which makes it essential for the transmission of muscle and nerve impulses. It can be readily found in many foods especially animal products such as dairy, meat and seafood but also in many fruits and vegetables such as apples, apricots, bananas, whole grains and soy products.

Deficiency of magnesium will cause muscular irritability, mental disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes, depression and pulmonary disorders along with being a factor in hypertension and sudden cardiac death.

Traditionally prepared magnesium supplements will contain only magnesium usually in the form of magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate while whole food supplements will contain other minerals such as calcium and potassium along with vitamin c and other nutrients from whole food concentrates necessary for the proper absorption and utilization of magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is important in the growth and function of reproductive organs and may help regulate oil gland activity and prevent acne. It is essential for protein and collagen synthesis and vital to the functioning of a healthy immune system and has been shown to have potent antiviral activity. It plays a major role in wound healing and the sensation of taste and smell. It is also a constituent of many physiological chemicals such as insulin and various enzymes. Zinc is highly present in eggs, fish, beans, meats, mushrooms and many seed such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Deficiency of zinc may result in a loss of taste and smell and may cause the fingernails to become weak and thin. Other signs may include delayed sexual maturation, growth impairment, disorders of sexual organs of both males and females, fatigue, hair loss, slow wound healing and recurrent infections.

Many commercially available supplements will contain either zinc gluconate as a singular product or in combination with other minerals without regard as to the appropriate ratios for optimal absorption and utilization within the body. As whole food supplements are derived from actual food, the appropriate ratios necessary for maximum benefit are already present established by nature.

Unique Benefits of Whole Food Supplements

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 70% of Americans do not consume enough whole food products to provide even the RDA of vitamins. While vitamins are necessary for life, ordinary vitamin supplements will not entirely fill the gap. Unlike most commercial dietary supplements which are stand alone chemicals, whole food supplements contain any number of several thousand known and unknown phytonutrients such as:

o Carotenoids
o Polyphenols (Flavonoids)
o Phenols
o Indoles
o Lignans (Phytoestrogens)
o Phytates (Inositols)
o Saponins
o Sulfides and Thiols
o Terpenes

Research has proven these nutrients to be protective against many diseases. Some types of phytonutrients are known to provide such benefits as enhanced immunity, cancer prevention, detoxification and DNA repair.

Carotenoids

The phytonutrient category of carotenoids has been shown to protect against certain types of cancer, optical failure from diseases such as macular degeneration and assist in the prevention of cardiac disease. Carotenoids are partially responsible for the vibrant colors of many fruits and vegetables.

Carotenoids can help prevent vitamin A deficiency by acting as precursors to Vitamin A which assists the body in manufacturing Vitamin A. In addition several carotenoids are known to be anti-oxidants and may protect against diseases of aging and exposure to environmental toxins. Carotenoids may also be a factor in the prevention and treatment of other diseases such as:

o Cancer – including cervical, throat, lung, prostate and skin cancers
o Heart disease – including angina pectoris and congestive heart failure
o Infections – including AIDS, Chlamydia, Candidiasis and pneumonia
o Immune system mediated disorders – including rheumatoid arthritis, and photosensitivity
o Other conditions – such as asthma and osteoarthritis

A balanced formula of carotenoids such as found in whole foods and whole food supplements will be better absorbed than individual supplements as too much of any one carotenoids may inhibit the absorption of others. This is one of the many reasons why whole food supplements are more beneficial than simple vitamin supplementation.

Carotenoids known to be present and beneficial can be found in the following fruits or vegetables:

o alpha carotene – carrots
o beta carotene – green cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, yellow/orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots
o beta cryptoxanthin – orange fruits such as mangos, peaches and apricots
o lutein – leafy green vegetables such as turnip greens, collard greens and spinach
o lycopene – red fruits such as watermelon, guava, tomatoes and red grapefruit
o zeaxanthin – green vegetables such as green beans and broccoli, yellow food such as eggs mangos and citrus fruits

Polyphenols

Polyphenols (Flavonoids) are known to be active antioxidants and are thought to be important in preventing diseases caused by oxidative stress such as some cancers and some forms of cardiac disease and some inflammatory processes which cause diseases such as arthritis and other diseases of aging. Some examples of polyphenols found in food products include:

o anthocyanins – red foods such as berries, red cabbage, red grapes
o flavones – celery and parsley
o ellagic acid – berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
o catechins – tea, wine and chocolate along with other tart foods such as berries and apples
o flavanones – found in citrus fruits
o coumarins – found in grains and grasses such as wheat grass

Phenols

Phenols encompass a number of anti oxidant nutrients such as Resveratrol and are known to be powerful antioxidants. Phenols have proven to be effective in the prevention of age related disorders and many diseases caused in part by oxidative stress such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Phenols are present in purple fruits such as grapes and blueberries along with wine and tea.

Indoles

Indoles are known to aid in hormone production and maintenance of balance. Indoles are also thought to provide cellular protection against cancers such as colon cancer and endometrial cancer along with others. They are largely present in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbages.

Lignans

Lignans (Phytoestrogens) have weak estrogen like activity which is important in the prevention and possible treatment of hormone mediated cancers such as breast, testicular and prostate cancer. They also may block inflammatory processes which may aid in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis and platelet aggregation leading to stroke. Lignans highly present in flax seed and soy products but are also found in other grains such as wheat, barley and oats along with beans and vegetables such as garlic and broccoli.

Inositols

Phytates (Inositols) may help lower blood cholesterol and aid in prevention of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Inositols and Phytates are present in large amounts in grains, nuts and melon family members such as cantaloupe, squash and cucumbers.

Saponins

Saponins are known to lower cholesterol and may act as an immune booster protecting the body against infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi. They may also provide some protection against heart disease and have proven to be effective in the treatment of cancer. Several anti cancer drugs are based on the saponin molecular structure. Saponins can be found in foods such as asparagus, red onions, alfalfa sprouts, and soybeans.

Thiols

Sulfides and Thiols are vital to the functioning of the cardiovascular system including the smooth muscles of the arteries and arterioles and the linings of both veins and arteries. Thiols have proven instrumental in the development of plaques contributing to atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction and stroke. Sulfides and thiols are highly present in members of the odiferous Lilly family such as garlic, onion, chives and leeks

Terpenes

Terpenes are thought to protect against cancer and free radical damage which may contribute to diseases of aging such as stroke and alzheimers disease. Terpenes are highly present in foods such as green foods, grain and soy products and also in many herbs such as Gingko biloba.

These phytonutrients are just a few examples of natural molecules known to aid in promotion of health and make the case for the use of Whole Food Supplements. There are thousands more, yet to be identified that are present and beneficial and cannot be synthesized in a lab. Supplementation with isolated vitamins and minerals alone will not solve a nutritional deficiency.

As Americans are unlikely to return to the farm, consumption of a whole food supplement appears to be the only way to actually bridge the nutritional canyon that the American diet has created due to a lifestyle of convenient packaged food that is easy to prepare but sorely deficient in nutritional quality.

Anthony Antolics RN, BSN [http://www.thenutritionnurse.com]

* Bachelor of Science Nursing…Excelsior College, Magna Cum Laude

* Bachelor of Arts Psychology Mental Health…Southern Connecticut State University, Summa Cum Laude

* Sigma Theta Tau, The National Honor Society of Nursing

* Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology

* Zeta Delta Epsilon, Honors Service Society by invitation, Southern Connecticut State University

* Tau Kappa, Excelsior College Nursing Honors Society

At 62 years, with a lifelong interest in nutrition and a consistent practitioner of nutritional supplementation, I suffered a heart attack. After extensive research I realized that my program of supplementation had actually caused further nutritional deficiencies. Many of the supplements I had been taking were synthetic compounds and bio-identical hormones. This lead to comprehensive research in whole food supplementation, where the vitamins, minerals and herbals came from and the methods used to process them.

It became quite evident that the best supplements must be derived from whole foods, organically grown herbals and botanicals and all must be processed using little or no heat to preserve the efficacy of all the various enzymes, flavenoids and phytonutrients only present in raw whole foods. Processed this way, whole food supplements are recognized by the body as nutrition and readily metabolized and utilized to improve health and function, strengthen the immune system and increase one’s sense of well-being.

This eventually led me to Shaklee Corporation, a fortune 500 company and the number one natural nutrition company in the US. They have been making people healthier for over 50 years. Shaklee is also the first company in the world to obtain Client Neutral ™ certification and totally offset their CO2 emissions, resulting in a net zero impact on the environment.