Which diet should I follow? I get this question several times per week. Should you follow the Atkins diet? The Zone diet? Paleo diet? Marcobiotic diet? Blood type diet? or is it the official U.S. government diet which promotes commodity agriculture? To most people (and some doctors!) this is very confusing.
Before World War II, the typical American diet consisted of whole raw milk, fish eggs, butter, cream, broth, shellfish, meat, fruits and vegetables. There was a great variety in traditional diets around the world. Some diets included raw vegetables, some had mostly cooked foods, some had no plant foods, some had grains, some did not. What are the underlying characteristics of these healthy diets?
The main characteristic that is a common denominator is that these diets did not have any processed, refined or denatured foods. In the 1930’s, refined foods consisted of refined sugar, condensed milk, white flour, vegetable oil, and canned foods. Today, our foods contain refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, pasteurized milk, hydrogenated fats, refined vegetable oils, isolated protein powder, additives and artificial sweeteners.
Another characteristic that varied greatly from today’s typical diets is that traditional diets were nutrient dense. They had four times the amount of calcium and other minerals. It also contained ten times the amount of the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K.
Although deficiencies may be due to illness, it is likely that other factors may be contributing to the problem also, some of which may be contained in the food you eat every day.
A few factors typical of the “food” commercially available in all grocery stores and restaurants include microwaving, food coloring, synthetic additives, flash freezing , preservatives, hormones and antibiotics (found in meat, chicken, etc.), harmful chemicals and metals (such as pcb’s and mercury in some fish).
If any of these are involved in the creation or processing of your food, then what you are eating is really just “disguised” as food.
Not only does this “food” have insufficient nutritional value, it may also contain toxings which work against your body and your health.
One of the more frightening sources of food allergies prevalent today that was not seen in the 1930’s is the emergence of genetically modified foods. FDA scientists stated that they warned against allergens, new diseases and toxins. Gluten sensitivities and other allergies can be linked to the prevalence of GMO’s. Soon after GMO soy was introduced in the UK, soy allergies skyrocketed fifty percent.
One of the most important nutrients missing or lacking is the adequate quantity of essential fatty acids (Omega 3,6 and 9).
Omega 3 deficiency is the sixth biggest killer of Americans and more deadly than excess trans-fat intake, according to a new study.
The Harvard University researchers looked at 12 dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors such as tobacco smoking and high blood pressure and used a mathematical model to determine how many fatalities could have been prevented if better practices had been observed.
The study, jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the Association of Schools of Public Health, drew on 2005 data from the US National Health Center for Health Statistics. They determined that there were 72,000-96,000 preventable deaths each year due to omega 3 deficiency, compared to 63,000-97,000 for high trans-fat intake.
“This is a very interesting analysis,” said Andrew Shao, PhD, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN).
“I think this analysis reinforces the long-held notion that the diet has a tremendously powerful impact on health and longevity and that the consumption of omega-3’s (along with fruits and veggies) by Americans is far from adequate.”
Most people do not consume enough cold water fish! (Salmon, Tuna, etc.) I also would recommend that the fish be wild caught as many farm raised fish contain lower amount of essential fatty acids. Be careful to get your fish from a good source as it may have higher levels of mercury.
Some signs and symptoms that one may be deficient in fatty acids are small bumps on the back of the arms, dry skin, brittle hair, cracked heels, high cholesterol, chronic pain and inflammation, suppressed immune system, high blood pressure, just to name a few.
Getting enough essential fatty acids is just one of the recommendations that I frequently advise to my patients on a regular basis.
As you can see, each individual has different needs as far as their diet is concerned. It is important to look at what you are eating on a regular basis as I do with my patients. I recommend what I like to call Designed Clinical Nutrition. The elements of your personal designed clinical nutrition program are nutrients that your body is not currently receiving and/or assimilating. It is specifically designed and taylor made for what the body needs. With Nutrition Response Testing there is no guesswork. It tells us specifically what the body requires to be healthy. We can then restore and maintain an individual’s health to its fullest potential.
Free Nutrition Seminar
At Nutrition Specialists of Florida
January 1th @ 6:30pm
Topic: Food Allergies
Limited seating please RSVP: 239-947-1177