Unravel The Mystery To Better Healthsam
By Kathy Gruver
With so many options for health, it can be a tough road to navigate. Here are some healthy suggestions of what to add and what to do away with.
There is plenty of evidence to show that our food is not as healthy as it was two decades ago. No matter how good you think you eat, we all need to add a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. Many people take a vitamin, but we need minerals for all functions of the body, don’t forget them. Everyone hears so much about calcium but remember there are so many more that are needed like copper, zinc, manganese and molybdenum. Magnesium is great for constipation, muscle aches, mood issues, sleep and PMS.
Soda; diet or regular, I don’t care. Regular soda contains high fructose corn syrup which has been linked to obesity in some studies and diet drinks contains dangerous artificial sweeteners. Both contain artificial colors, phosphorus which depletes minerals from the body, carbonation which can be hard on the system, and soda keeps you from drinking healthy beverages. Also remember not everyone can handle caffeine.
Amino acids. This is a commonly overlooked addition, but amino acids are the building blocks of protein that we need for our bodies to function properly. Many are “essential”, meaning the body can’t manufacture them and often we don’t get enough in our food, especially vegetarians. I recommend L-Tryptophan for people experiencing sleep or mood disorders but don’t take if you’re on SSRIs for depression.
Milk, unless you’re drinking raw, unpasteurized, un-homogenized milk straight from an organic cow in a wild field. Many people are lactose sensitive and cannot handle milk products. I see many parents complaining of their children getting repeated ear infections and having to take lots of antibiotics. Often the child is allergic to milk and it’s manifesting as ear infections. I recommend they take their kids off milk to see if the condition clears but many are reluctant. There are many other ways to get calcium, I remind them. rBGH is a dangerous hormone and our cows are filled with antibiotics, neither of which we need.
Essential Fatty Acids, specifically omega 3s. It used to be that we obtained omega 3 and 6 in equal quantity, but because of our change in diet (more meats, corn oil and soy oil), we are now getting far more omega 6 which might be contributing to the rise in depression and inflammation in the body. Add flax seed or fish oil. It’s good for the skin, mood and heart.
Artificial sweetener has been around a long time with Sweet n Low (saccharin) being the first used back in the 70s. Saccharin has been linked to bladder cancer, breathing problems, headache, skin eruptions, diarrhea, and larger reactions in people allergic to Sulfa drugs. I have to say, of all of the sweeteners, this seems to be the most benign and since it’s been around the longest has the most research behind it.
NutraSweet, equal, sugar twin (Aspartame) is a big no-no to me. It’s been linked to cancer, hair loss, depression, dementia, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, seizures and increased hunger! Studies show it may reduce the hormone Leptin in the brain which tells us when we’re full, thus we eat more. There have not been intensive studies on this chemical and many scientists feel it never should have been approved by the FDA. Once in the body it converts to methyl alcohol which converts to formaldehyde.
In 1988, 80% of the complaints to the FDA were about aspartame yet it remains on the market and is found in countless products. Read the labels carefully!
Splenda (sucralose), the newest addition to the sweetener family contains chlorine and has been shown to cause G I issues, wheezing, coughing, depression, mood swings, and it has only studied short term on animals. I had a client that was having chest pains and breathing issues. Upon examination of what might be different in his life, he had recently switched to Splenda from Equal thinking it was healthier. When he eliminated the substance his chest and breathing issues went away. These sweeteners act as excitotoxins in the brain…and we wonder why we have so much ADHD….
Probiotics which are the good bugs that live in our intestines. Yogurt is great, but not enough. If you’ve ever been on antibiotics, these are essential. Make sure you get one with 60 billion CFUs (colony forming units). This good bacterium not only keeps your digestive system healthy, but they also produce needed vitamins.
MSG. This is another dangerous excitotoxin that causes hyperactivity, nausea, headaches, flushing, racing heart in sensitive individuals. It does not have to be labeled as MSG so you might be consuming it without your knowledge. It is known by many names and is common in processed foods. Here are just a few:
- Glutamate, Glutamic acid, Gelatin, Monosodium glutamate, Calcium caseinate, Textured protein, Monopotassium glutamate, Sodium caseinate, Yeast nutrient, Yeast extract, Yeast food, Autolyzed yeast, Hydrolyzed protein (any protein that is hydrolyzed), Hydrolyzed corn gluten, Natrium glutamate (natrium is Latin/German for sodium), Flavorings, Seasonings.
Digestive enzymes. Many of us have compromised digestive systems and as we age its function often declines. We need enzymes for every function in the body. Why pull them from other important tasks when you can take them with your meals? Protease, Lipase, and Amylase are the most common, digesting proteins, fats and carbohydrates respectively.
High Fructose Corn Syrup. Please don’t believe the propaganda TV commercials. Corn is natural but HFCS isn’t as far as I’m concerned. It could be making this country obese and diabetic. There is evidence that fructose suppresses Leptin, the hormone that gives the sensation of fullness, causes a raise in triglycerides and insulin resistance. Make up your own mind, the rate of obesity almost identically mirrors the rate of our HFCS consumption.
And let’s just say their research is correct and it’s just as safe as sugar. It still indicates a highly processed food which I recommend eliminating and it’s probably genetically modified which I also think should be avoided (see below).
Our bowel habits are less than optimal. Make sure you get enough water, exercise and fiber. There are two types of fiber, soluble and in-soluble. Get a good combination of both. Aim for 2-3 bowel movements a day and note your transit time. Food should appear at the other end of you in 16-24 hours. You can check this with sunflower seeds (with the shells on), corn or beets. If the time is too slow, you will be accumulating feces in the colon and absorbing toxins and if it’s too fast, you’ll be missing out on needed nutrients.
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The most commonly genetically modified substances are corn and soy. Not the corn that you eat at the BBQ and not the good soy products like edamame but things like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soy Protein used as a filler and Soy Oil. These two products are in most processed foods and trying to eliminate them can be challenge. Buy organic or products that are labeled NON-GMO. Learn about Monsanto, the company responsible for most of the GMOs. Recommendations are Food Inc, The World According to Monsanto and The Future of Food, great films on our food, GMOs and farming.
Luckily, at this point there is no commercially available produce that has been GMO with the exception of Papaya from Hawaii. Organic is still best though to avoid pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizer.
I know, this seems like a pretty intense list and you wonder what is left to eat. What our grandparents ate…natural, unprocessed foods. You’re body will thank you and you’ll see your health improve! Have a healthy day!
Kathy Gruver, author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet, has earned her Doctorate as a Traditional Naturopath and Masters in Natural Health. Gruver has been featured as an expert is numerous publications and has written dozens of health and wellness articles. She has appeared as a guest expert on over 30 radio shows covering topics such as back pain, mind/body medicine, nutrition, and patient advocacy. Kathy has produced an instructional massage DVD, Therapeutic Massage at Home; Learn to Rub People the RIGHT Way. Free health tips and information about her and ordering her book and DVD can be found at www.TheAlternativeMedicineCabinet.com