Nutrition as Protection
By Candace Corson, M.D. Health and Wellness Educator
In America today, we have a health crisis directly linked to a new kind of malnutrition: calorie-dense and yet grossly deficient in protective micro-nutrients and high-quality omega-3 essential fatty acids. Unique in human history, we are now seeing an epidemic of chronic disease at ever younger ages, challenging the best of physicians. Three major additions to daily intake would vastly improve our quality of life and longevity, at all ages: 1) the Essential Fatty Acids in proper balance, 2) the Phyto-Nutrients of whole-plants: vegetables, fruits and berries of broad-spectrum variety & synergy (see http://www.MyPyramid.gov for new guideline: 7 -13 per day); and 3)*Vitamin D*
1) The GOOD fats (Essential Fatty Acids or EFA’s)
These are truly essential; our body MUST have them to build a brain and every cell membrane. We cannot make them, so we must eat them. Few people today get the kinds needed to make a cell membrane (lipid bi-layer) that functions properly. These essential fats include omega-3’s. Sources: deep-sea fish (salmon, cod), walnuts, flax seeds, sea vegetables, AND land animals that eat green food (not corn or other cereal grains). This means the base of their food chain is green plants (as originally designed), allowing them to produce their fat as omega-3. Grain-feeding has unfavorably altered the good fat to bad fat ratio in our systems over recent decades, leading to a host of serious, long-term health problems. Plant-based nutrition is protective.
Practical sources: whole Flax-seeds (found at quality health-food stores) are a very economical source of good fats and protective fiber lignans); walnuts; deep-sea fish (NOT farm-raised, which will not work the same); free-range (preferably organic) eggs and meat, if used.
Toxic Fats to Avoid at all costs: Trans Fats (“hydrogenated” fats).
Avoid totally. Processed foods contain them almost everywhere, simply for “shelf life”. Often labels say “No trans fats” (but the ingredients list will have them anyway). David Katz, M.D. of Yale teaches, “Step away from the box and nobody will get hurt.”
Poor fatty acid balance is one of our major long-term health problems today, contributing to inflammation and poor receptor function at every cell membrane. Think of the implications.
Bottom line: the good fats are anti-inflammatory and promote normal brain function.
We can think better and feel better over time, with EFA balance.
2) “Quenching the Fire” ~ Why Fruits and Vegetables? = THE MOST CRUCIAL OF ALL
Even the good fats we eat, immediately become harmful free radicals (“lipid peroxides”) as they are rapidly oxidized and damaged by the process of burning our fuel in the absence of a protective shield (“anti-oxidants” / phyto-nutrients).
Fruits, vegetables and berries provide the mandatory source of synergistic, complex “anti-oxidants”: the protective shield against cell breakdown due to free radicals (“sparks”) we are obliged to produce by having to breathe oxygen and burn our fuel (food) at the cellular level to produce the energy of life. The damaging “sparks”, produced in burning fuel, cause what is called “oxidative stress” at the rate of some 10,000 oxidative, damaging hits to EACH cell daily. This causes early aging and degenerative disease, when not quenched by the necessary source of damage control: fresh, raw produce. Note that isolated, fragmented “vitamin” molecules don’t contain the cofactors and thousands of unique phytonutrients required by the body synergistically. Good science all over the world shows that fragments simply do not provide the same protection.
That is why the old recommendation of 5 – 9 fresh whole fruits and vegetables a day, has now been revised to 7- 13 servings a day, equal to 5 CUPS of fresh produce of many differing kinds. This forms a vast network of anti-oxidants that are synergistic, working together as an effective shield against oxidative stress and cell damage. To get this wide variety of fresh produce every single day, it’s wise and cost-effective to add a high-quality, research-supported whole-food concentrate, to anchor and enhance the very best we can do at our tables and on the run.
Bottom line: Eat a wide variety of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables every day to protect against inflammation, toxicity, heart disease, premature aging, cancer and other degenerative diseases. These practical, smart and simple concepts will enhance our well-being, longevity, vitality and quality of life, at all ages. “Our grandmothers were right.”
3) * I now add * Vitamin D-3 (“Sunshine Hormone”) 4,000 iu/day, then get a Vitamin D level checked by your physician with your next routine bloodwork. (Papers: Dr. B. Hollis; M. Hollick; The Vitamin D Council, non-profit website: http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/
Candace Corson, M.D Email via: http://www.CorsonWellness.com