Dietary deficiencies and excesses as well as poor food quality underly many nutritional imbalances. A balanced, nutrient dense diet is critical to supply the body with all of the basic building blocks needed to regenerate new healthy cells as well as to balance your blood sugar and hormones.
There is so much variability within the human population that there is no ideal diet for everyone - hence the saying: One man’s medicine is another man’s poison. People from around the world are well adapted, through centuries of evolution, to the traditional diets of the region. For example, the Inuit thrive on diets high in protein and fat made up of fish, raw meat, and blubber. Native tribes of dairy herders do well on milk, meat, and blood. Orientals prosper on soy, rice, vegetables, and small amounts of meat. Native Americans found strength on corn, beans, and squash. And the list goes on.
However, no matter how diverse diets are around the world, healthy diets have certain commonalities: They all avoid refined carbohydrates (white sugar, white flour), processed foods, dangerous fats/oils (trans fats, processed vegetable oils, hydrogenated fat, etc.), and artificial ingredients. Conversely, they all consume plenty of fresh, whole foods that either walked, swam, flew, came from the ground or grew on a tree!
The best diet is one that meets the unique requirements of the individual. The majority of people react, to some degree, to certain foods whether they are aware of it or not. Food sensitivities are great masqueraders that can take the form of any symptom - from digestive issues, to chronic pain; from skin reactions, to systemic inflammation; and from chronic headaches, to severe learning disabilities. Food sensitivities are a common culprit that often underly chronic disease, mysterious symptoms, and a poor response to treatment.
The most common food sensitivities are intolerances to milk and gluten. These types of sensitivities are often the result of genetically mediated enzyme deficiencies. For example, it is estimated that about 70% of adults worldwide (95% of Orientals, 70% of Blacks, 30% of Caucasians) lack the necessary enzyme, lactase, to digest milk. One theory, which explains why so many adults lack this enzyme, suggests that we are biologically programmed to stop consuming milk after infancy. In fact, proponents of this theory point out that there are no other species (including cows!) that continue to consume dairy past infancy, and definitely none that drink the milk of other species!
Other common food sensitivity culprits include, eggs, chocolate, sugar, citrus fruit, corn, soy, peanuts, and the nightshades (tomato, potato, peppers, paprika, cayenne, eggplant, and tobacco). These type of sensitivities can be be the result of numerous factors, including genetic, immune, and/or digestive weaknesses.
Today, the problem is even more complicated as people are also reacting to foods due to factors linked to conventional farming methods. For example, many cannot tolerate homogenized milk due to the resulting denatured fatty acids; pasteurized milk products due to the destruction of beneficial enzymes and probiotics, which are needed for the proper digestion of milk; and some are also adversely reacting to antibiotic, hormone, and other chemical residues found in conventional milk products. In contrast, many are experiencing issues with gluten containing foods because of reactions to the pesticides they contain, added preservatives, genetically engineered crops (GMO), and due to rancid whole grains caused by the lengthy process to get the product from the farm to the table.
That said, it is never wise to arbitrarily impose food restrictions on yourself without first identifying your unique food culprits and understanding why they are causing you problems. For instance, if you are reacting to a food due to a digestive weakness, such as an enzyme deficiency or low stomach acid, then your priority should be to address the underlying weakness; or if you are reacting to harmful byproducts of conventional farming, then you may simply need to switch to a higher quality, Organic product. Always investigate and consider your options with a professional before eliminating an otherwise healthful food.
9 DISEASE-CAUSING DIETARY MISTAKES
#1. Low Fat Diets:
Following the advice of government agencies to cut back on fat intake, rates of chronic disease in America dramatically increased. The truth is, fat, including saturated fat, from animal and plant based sources are vital for your health. Fat provides the building blocks for your cell membranes and is needed for hormone synthesis, without which your body cannot function properly. Fat is also important for the assimilation of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, for absorbing minerals, for heart health, for weight loss, and for many more important biological functions. The 2015 USDA Dietary Advisory Guidelines Committee removed dietary restrictions of fat from their guidelines and has confirmed that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption. The American Heart and Cardiology associations have also supported these changes.
#2. Type of Fat:
The true culprit is trans fats (i.e., heated and fried oils), highly processed vegetable oils (i.e., soy, canola, etc.), and hydrogenated fats (i.e., margarine). These sources of fat are very toxic, contain oxidized cholesterol (i.e., major factor driving heart disease), are high in omega 6 fatty acids, disrupting the omega 3:6 ratio, usually come from GMO sources, and are associated with numerous health concerns, including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, weight gain, immune disorders, learning disabilities, birth defects, liver problems, bone disease, sexual dysfunction, sterility, vision reduction, digestive disorders, etc.
Healthy Sources of Fat: avocados, coconut milk, raw nuts and seeds, grass fed meats, wild fish (especially Alaskan salmon, anchovies, and sardines), Organic/pastured eggs, butter from raw/grass-fed milk, dark leafy greens, organic/cold-pressed oils (olive, flax, coconut, etc.).
#3. Refined & Artificial Sugar:
Both of these substances are very dangerous and are linked to weight gain, obesity, food cravings, addiction, brain damage, cognitive impairment, behavioural issues, mood disorders, depression, substance abuse, headaches, migraines, anxiety disorders, inflammatory diseases, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. They also act as anti-nutrients, depleting the body from vital nutrients, creating a “nutritional debt,” and leading to malnutrition.
Avoid: Nutri-Sweet, Splenda, Sweet’N Low, Aspartame, Cane juice crystals, Evaporated cane juice, Caramel, Carob syrup, Fruit juice concentrate, Brown rice syrup, Corn syrup, Molasses, Sucanat, Treacle, Turbinado, Barley malt, Dextrin, Dextrose, Ethyl maltol, Glucose, Fructose, Lactose, Malt syrup, Maltose, D-ribose, Galactose, Maltodextrin, and any other synonym for sugar!
Healthy Choices: raw, unrefined, unpasteurized honey, 100% pure Canadian maple syrup, stevia (whole, raw, and unrefined - sold as light green powder), refined stevia (maltodextrin-free sold as liquid and white/granulated) in moderation, medjool dates (from california, loose/non-sticky, no added syrup/sugar), unrefined coconut sugar.
#4. Refined Carbohydrates:
This category includes flour based products such as bread, pasta, cookies, crackers, muffins, cakes, etc. Refined carbohydrates adversely affects the body much in the same way that sugar does. All grains, even whole grains can spike your blood sugar, and increase both your insulin and leptin levels. Refined carbohydrates are quickly converted to sugar in the body and lead to similar health risks as sugar, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and cancer. It also acts as an anti-nutrient, depleting the body from vital nutrients, creating a “nutritional debt,” and leading to malnutrition.
Healthy Choices: gluten-free grains (amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, wild rice), gluten grains (barley, kamut, oat, rye, spelt, triticale, wheat). Choose Organic, whole, sprouted, and fresh grains and flours. Grains should be consumed minimally and gluten containing grains should be completely eliminated from the diet if a sensitivity is present.
#5. Processed Foods:
This category includes any food that has been transformed from its original state such as bread, pasta, cookies, muffins, condiments, candies, margarine, etc. In other words, if you can’t identify the animal or plant from which the food came from, then it is likely processed. These food items are dangerous for many reasons: (1) they typically contain GMO ingredients unless otherwise stated, (2) they are contaminated with pesticides, unless Organic, (3) they are often contaminated from the chemicals of the packaging, such as plastic containers and aluminium foils/cans, (4) they usually contain preservatives and artificial ingredients (many of which have been classified as neurotoxic and are linked to numerous diseases, including learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, depression, etc.), unless otherwise indicated, (5) they often contain refined and/or artificial sugar, and (6) they lose most of their nutritional value during the processing and are usually enriched with synthetic vitamins, which should be avoided, (7) they act as anti-nutrients depleting the body from vital nutrients, creating a “nutritional debt,” and leading to malnutrition.
Healthy Choices: Plenty of fresh, whole-foods that either walked, swam, came from the ground or grew on a tree!
#6. Unfermented Soy:
Thousands of studies have linked unfermented soy to many damaging health effects, including: breast cancer, thyroid disorders, food allergies, brain damage, cognitive impairment, kidney stones, malnutrition, heart disease, immune dysfunction, digestive issues, problems with pregnancy/breastfeeding, reproductive/fertility disorders, developmental issues in children, etc. In addition, most soy is GMO, contains compounds known to disrupt hormones and deplete the body of vital nutrients (including B12 and Vitamin D), and is often contaminated with high levels of toxic metals.
Healthy Choices: high quality fermented soy products such as miso, natto, tempeh, and tamari.
#7. Conventional Meat, eggs, and Produce, & Farmed Fish:
Conventionally raised meat/eggs should be avoided for several reasons including: (1) lower nutritional value, (2) unhealthy fatty acid ratios, (3) toxicity from pesticide, antibiotic, and hormone contamination, (4) increased chance of food born illness from contamination of infectious disease (i.e., E. coli, Salmonella, etc.), and (5) unsustainable for the environment. Similarly, conventional agriculture poses health risks due to inferior nutritional value, increased exposure to toxic chemicals, and environmentally unsustainable farming practices. In addition, farmed fish is often highly contaminated with chemicals (neurotoxins and carcinogens), toxic metals, and infectious pathogens, while also being environmentally unsustainable. Recently, GMO salmon has been approved for sale and may pose serious health risks.
Healthy Choices: Choose Organic, free-range, grass-fed, antibiotic/hormone free meat; Organic & pastured eggs; Organic produce; and wild & sustainably caught fish.
#8. Tap water:
Tap water used for drinking, cooking, and showering is a major source of toxicity. Of particular concern is the presence of chlorine, fluoride, toxic metals, pesticides, pharmaceutical residues, and environmental contaminants. Many of these chemical compounds are known to cause cancer, damage the brain/nervous system, block important biochemical pathways, and are linked to numerous chronic diseases.
Healthy Choices: use a high quality filter such as a reverse osmosis system to remove as many contaminants from your water as possible (Add a pinch of Pure Himalayan “Pink” Crystal Salt to re-mineralize the water).
#9. Homogenized & Pasteurized Dairy:
The quality of milk and dairy products available on the market is, in most cases, very poor, can be quite toxic, and is not well tolerated by most people. Cow dairy is a poor source of calcium because it is poorly absorbed and is even thought to leach calcium from the bones. Homogenized & Pasteurized dairy products are often contaminated with toxin-producing pathogens (i.e., clostridia) as well as antibiotic, hormone, pesticide, and other chemical residues. Consumption of these forms of dairy have been linked to numerous diseases, such as allergies, asthma, arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, digestive disorders, obesity, as well as, numerous learning disorders and mental health conditions.
Healthy Choices: Choose raw, unpasteurized, and organic dairy products from grass-fed animals, free from antibiotics and hormones. Goat/sheep based dairy is more chemically similar to human milk and better tolerated. Small amounts of raw butter and fermented dairy products such as homemade yoghurt, kefir, and cheese can be well tolerated and healthful for some. Homemade yoghurt that has fermented for at least 24 hours contains little to no lactose and contains a high amount of probiotics (approx. 700 billion cfu per cup) making it tolerable for many and can support the digestive system. If a sensitivity is present, dairy should be avoided completely.
THE KEY PRINCIPLE
The best diet is one that meets your unique requirements and that closely resembles the diet of your ancestors, including: Fresh, whole foods that are sustainably raised and minimally processed, if at all. These are the foods that you are genetically and biochemically adapted to and that fuel your body with the basic building blocks it needs to keep you strong, healthy, and to reverse disease. Follow the guidelines above to start making dietary changes today - you will be amazed at the positive benefits you will experience!
For a more personalized experience, work with a holistic nutritionist to:
Cut out the guess work and help you quickly identify your unique food sensitivities and dietary needs based on body type, genetic make-up, levels of physical activity, and more!
Identify and resolve nutritional deficiencies and underlying digestive weaknesses.
Receive disease specific support through specialized nutritional protocols.