Diet

The Chinese were perhaps the first culture in history to adopt dietary recommendations as part of a public health program by government. Of course, diet and nutrition, from a medical perspective, is a huge subject. The most sensible way to approach health benefits from diet and nutritional medicine is to both study this science and consult with a knowledgeable physician whose medical schooling incorporated nutritional medicine in its curriculum, such as a Licensed Acupuncturist or Naturopathic physician.

Considering the enormity of the subject of nutritional medicine and dietary science, the article presented here is not meant to be a thorough guide for a complete dietary and nutritional approach. Instead, I am offering a small article focused on a few key issues, and presenting just a snack of the information available from a physician such as myself. The article will be ongoing and improved over time. The key to healthy changes in diet and nutrition, which may be the most important part of your healthcare, is first to avoid being overwhelmed by the enormity of the information available, and proceed step-by-step in a logical and open-minded manner. Don't let your beliefs or your appetites control your health. Instead, let your intelligence take over and learn what could make the biggest difference in your life, both for specific health problems, and for overall quality of life and healthier function and productivity.

You may wonder if you are trying to improve your diet what exactly you should eat. Many healthy foods are unfamiliar and thus difficult to incorporate into your daily routine of cooking as well as being strange to your taste buds. Once you find a way to prepare these foods properly you will be glad that you did, but this process is a bit of work and most people will ultimately avoid it and stick with familiar tastes and habits. Unfortunately, this has led most of us down an unhealthy road, conditioned since childhood to favor foods rich in simple carbohydrates like processed sugar cane, beet sugar, high fructose corn sugar, white flour & potatoes, meats that are increasingly raised on these simple carbohydrates, and processed foods, and chemicals. We’ve been convinced by a food industry that our only protein is from meat, our only calcium is from dairy, vitamins are obtained from pills, and that foods labeled whole grain and natural are just that, when the truth is that most often there is just a little processed whole grain and ‘natural’ ingredients in these foods. Most of us convince ourselves that we are ‘eating healthy’ when in actuality this is becoming difficult, due to industry lies, propaganda, and a corporate food industry that has succeeded in reducing the essential nutrients in our crops by long term use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, farming practices that have severely depleted topsoil, and now genetic engineering. The Food and Drug Administration was created to provide minimal standards of safety in the industries of food production and pharmaceuticals, and even today, the great government of the United States, unlike even ancient Chinese governments, has very little actual input into public health and what we eat. It is up to the consumers, it would seem, to become better educated and control this important issue of public health.

The human metabolism needs a rich varied diet. This is what we have evolved into. Our bodies have always been primarily vegetable, grain, fruit, nut, seed and herb consumers historically. Meat consumption came late in our evolution, yet today we are led to believe that meat should be our primary source of nutrients. We only need to look at the structure of our teeth to understand logically that we were not originally meat eaters. Dietary habits can become a type of belief system, though, and the strength of these beliefs can be powerful. Even late twentieth century anthropologists have stuck to beliefs that early humans migrated out of Africa in search of meat, while science tells us that this migration occurred because of climate changes that affected fields of seed grains that were the main diet staple. Study of stone tools in many parts of the world show that harvesting of seed grain and vegetable roots were a key to human cultural evolution, and modern scientific tools that now can analyze microbotanical evidence clearly keep pushing back the earliest timelines of organized agriculture and trade of seed grains and root. Early humans evolved to eat a plant-based diet rich in actual whole grains.

An article in the July, 2011 National Geographic outlines how important seeds, grains, beans and legumes have been to human health and civilization, and how blind modern civilization has been in regard to their importance (Food Ark, Charles Siebert). Human civilizations thrived because of the science of domestication and breeding that created foods that local cultures relied upon for improved health and reliable resistance to local and regional disease. As plant species were bred to resist bacterial, viral and fungal infections, these plants created chemicals that helped the humans that ate them also resist these pathogenic diseases. This revolution in food biodiversity took over 10,000 years to create a worldwide diversity of crops that created local and regional protection for the civilization. With modern industrialization human civilization proclaimed that synthesized pharmaceuticals were all that we needed to stay healthy, and we could thus destroy the ancient knowledge of food crop biodiversity to improve crop yields and generate more profit. Selective breeding of crops occurred because the populations of each region of the planet found that certain combinations of foods and species of food plants provided the best health and survival. Today, the biodiversity of food crops has been destroyed in less that a century, and the health problems of the world have not improved with technology, but in many ways have worsened. What took over a hundred centuries to develop has been destroyed in less than one, and modern scientists are now realizing the need to restore the biodiversity of food crops in order to prevent mass starvation and malnutrition in the future. A handful of grains, beans and legumes now are grown worldwide due to the promise of enormous profits to international food corporations. To accomodate this high yield corporate food production, this handful of plant species now requires an enormous amount of synthesized fertilizer, pesticide and insecticide, and the nutritional value has been depleted, as well as the environment. Of course, this has yielded enormous monetary profits for the industries that produce the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, as well as the antibiotic industry, for which the depleted species of food animals depends, but at what cost to human health.

In addition to the depletion of biodiverse crops that both evolved and were chosen to increase human survival, and the massive introduction of synthesized insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics, the last decade has quietly brought us genetically modified food crops that come with heavy warnings and almost no clinical trials to prove ultimate safety. A majority of the 3 major grain staples, wheat, corn and soy, are now genetically modified, either to resist the most common herbicide, Roundup, and/or to produce their own insecticide Bt (derived from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis). Monsanto, the company that produced Roundup (N-phosphonomehtylglycine) also produced the Roundup-resistant genes to modify our food crops, and promoted them so heavily that they became the majority of these crop seeds in just a few years worldwide. While individual governments slowly balked at this potential health threat, the global economy produced such a threat of upheaval if individual governments were to selectively ban the product on the world market, that these governments were in fact held for ransom by the company. The first threat of this great business plan would be, of course, to encourage massive use of Roundup to increase crop yields. While Monsanto claimed that Roundup degraded in soil and water in about 3 days, preventing toxic buildup (Roundup is classified as a class 3 toxin by the U.S. EPA), subsequent studies showed that a toxic metabolite of Roundup survived non-degraded in soil for up to 2 years, and the pesticide itself showed a half-life (half the chemical degraded) of 141 days at a site in Iowa. Obviously, large scale use of Roundup would result in environmental concentrations that exceeded safety levels. Other studies have shown that the metabolite glyphosate can harm the bacterial ecology of soil, as well as leading to micronutrient deficiencies in food plants. To alleviate concern, Monsanto has blocked study and told us to just not worry, that corporations of course would do nothing to harm the public health, and that in fact these genetic modifications would help the environment by decreasing overall use of massive amounts of toxic herbicides and pesticides (in other words, we could stop this crazy path to adopting effective organic farming methods). On top of this, the gene that is Roundup-resistant is ingested and incorporated into the human physiology, and the human biota. The risks posed by these genetically modified foods are not immediate, but may emerge years later and in a very complex manner. In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on physicians to educate their patients to avoid genetically modified (GM) foods when possible due to animal studies that indicated a variety of serious health risks, including infertility, subfertility, immune dysfunction, dysfunction of the insulin metabolism, and gastrointestinal pathology. The doctors at AAEM stated that long-term disease consequences would probably be difficult to positively trace to the genetically modified foods due to the time it takes to develop these diseases and health problems, and the array of other potential causes in the environment. While the limited studies of safety, most of which were provided by the manufacturers of genetically modified food crops, have so far satisfied the World Health Organization (WHO), concerns among many scientists have prompted virtual bans on new genetically modified crops, especially in the European Union, and an international system of safety evaluation is being devised to allay public fears. The WHO states that new systems of safety evaluation must be holistic and all-inclusive of risk, not merely investigating specific risks while ignoring others. What the WHO is not assessing is the fact that genetically modified food crops will bring us even farther down the road to monocropping and limitations of the healthy biodiversity of seed, grain, legume and bean crops. There appears to be almost no support for restoration of natural biodiversity of food crops to promote public health.

While the mantra of corporations is that modern science has increased the human lifespan and therefore cannot be criticized, an intelligent individual can easily realize that modern science must integrate with the science developed and accumulated over tens of thousands of years of human trial and error to make a better and healthier civilization and insure survival. Devastating errors have occurred, such as the Potato Famine of Ireland in the nineteenth century, where monocropping first produced high yields of a food crop, the Bumper species of potato, but was susceptible to a pathogen that wiped out the entire crop of potato and created one of the most devastating famines in world history, killing over a million people with starvation, and driving over a million more to emigrate to survive. Today, the small number of wheat species grown have over a 90% susceptibility to a devastating fungal strain called Ug99 stem rust, that is fast spreading over the planet. Monocropping has not only destroyed the economies of much of Africa, as well as the health of these peoples, but now threatens to be the cause of a worldwide food shortage that will exacerbate an already strained worldwide malnutrition. Monocropping and destruction of biodiversity has also created a problem with food economics, where countries such as the United States maintain a relatively cheap supply of food, but poor countries have been hit with food prices relative to income that make it impossible to feed families, and cause massive suffering. Monocropping and destruction of food crop biodiversity also creates a shrinking pool of food chemicals that our bodies need to stay healthy. The intelligent person in the United States will realize that encouraging local food biodiversity by purchasing and eating a variety of local species, and stopping this support of the multinational food corporations that are creating suffering for fellow humans across the planet is an imperative for ethical and moral, as well as physical and mental, health.

Today, many of these same seed grains that were the key to our evolved health are foreign to us, as agribusiness has reduced our staple grains down to the most profitable wheats, corns, and soy hybrids. The National Geographic article cited above states that since 1903, commercially available varieties of crop seeds in the U.S. have been reduced to about 7 percent of the past variety. Local crops and home gardening, which produced a high percentage of our food in the past, have all but disappeared, and megafarms and enormous livestock factories, where animals are raised in very unhealthy conditions, produce the clean packages of preserved foods that we buy in the supermarket. This is not to say that one must suddenly become a vegan vegetarian, which presents its own set of metabolic challenges and changes in the body, but it does logically point to a healthier analysis of what we should be eating to maintain the most efficient bodily health and prevent common diseases from ruining our lives. Of course, eating healthy meats and fish as a relatively small percentage of the diet is nutritionally beneficial. Many scientific studies now confirm, though, that a diet dominated by unhealthy red meats creates various imbalances and stresses in our bodies that ultimatedly lead to common diseases. Even the beliefs of what constitutes healthy meat has been manipulated by big business, though. Lean cattle are not healthier than cows fed a traditional healthy diet, and who develop a proper degree of fat. Corn fed cows, and cows fed industrial feed are not healthier than cows that graze on grasses and fresh seed grains. Turkeys, which are now primarily hybrids that are raised in filthy conditions, do not produce the healthiest meat for your children. Spending more on naturally healthy meats and eating smaller portions guarantees a healthier diet. Experimenting with a variety of whole grains, beans, legumes, and fresh vegetables to complement these healthy meats will make a dramatic difference in your overall health.

No matter what type of diet you decide on, vegetarian, healthy meat and plant-based, vegan, raw food, etc., you still need to pay attention to healthy components in the diet that are the most essential to long term health. It is these essentials, not the overall philosophy, that distinguishes the healthy from the unhealthy diet. No matter what the dietary philosophy, an individual may still consume foods that, in the long run, do not support that individual’s health. The modern diet has moved more and more toward packaged food and eating out, and this is perhaps the biggest threat to our health. The food industry has led us down a very unhealthy road, and still we believe the packaging rather than intelligently analyzing the contents. Buying fresh, whole, locally produced, healthy foods, and cooking or preparing them properly, is perhaps the most important aspect to your health. To understand how to choose your foodstuffs properly, here is a little advice and information.

Complementary Medicine, especially Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which comes with a rich history of nutritional healing and dietary science, may be integrated into your standard health care to help build the customized or individualized dietary regimen to improve your health. Unlike standard allopathic medicine, TCM protocol, delivered by a competent Licensed Acupuncturist, has a long and rich history, as well as current medical school curriculum, concerned with dietary science and nutritional healing. Making use of a professional physician to help solve health problems, improve health, and prevent future health problems may be the most important medical decision in your life.

Healthy essential fats in the diet, necessary building blocks for important molecules, including hormones, membranes and nerve conducting myelin, and a diet that supports a healthy regulation of body acidity, are two key aspects of nutritional health that are sorely overlooked with our modern U.S. diet

The most publicized imbalance related to excess meat consumption is the essential fatty acid imbalance, commonly referred to as a deficiency of omega 3 and healthy omega 6 fatty acids. The main problem is a typical meat-centered diet without a balanced variety of essential fatty acids. Essential is a nutritional term meaning that it is essential that we obtain these nutrients from the diet, as our bodies have a limited capacity to produce these nutrient chemicals. Fatty acids are some of the most important nutritional building blocks in our bodies, which will be explained in more detail later in this article. The problem with a meat-centered modern diet is not that meat lacks some essential fatty acid, but rather that there is an imbalance of the essential fatty acids that our bodies have evolved a need for to create important molecules. Since our bodies are always replacing cells and tissues, over time, this essential fatty acid imbalance becomes a health threat.

Red meat is very high in the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid, and the high consumption of margarine, which is very high in omega-6 fatty acids, and trans fats, which are not essential fatty acids, has presented quite a problem for people not consuming food that is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids, which are explained below, are now a predominant ingredient in most packaged and prepared foods. A high ratio of omega-6 in relation to omega-3 fatty acid is shown to inhibit the production of valuable chemicals that are derived from omega-3 essential fatty acids. Both arachidonic acid and trans fats will upset the healthy fatty acid metabolism that we need to properly modulate inflammatory processess, create and maintain healthy membranes, and maintain healthy nerve sheaths. Excess red meat consumption results in excess arachidonic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid that differs from the plant-derived omega-6 fatty acids linolenic and linoleic acid. In a typical modern American diet, the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio ranges from 10:1 to 30:1, and without a predominance of fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, the type of omega 6 fatty acid in this equation is problematic, namely an excess of arachidonic acid. The end result is chronic health problems that now affect a majority of the population, and could conceivably be reversed and reduced by a change of dietary components. How many of us suffer from chronic inflammatory problems such as arthritis, and problems that stem from poor inflammatory regulation, such as atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration? A well regulated change in the American diet, and in the essential fatty acid content of commercial foods would greatly reduce health problems and reduce total health care costs.

A number of problems result from essential fatty acid imbalance. Relative deficiency of the inflammatory mediators created from the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docohexaenoic acid) and the healthy omega-1 and omega-6 fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic acids, namely healthy prostaglandins E3 and E1, are proven to reduce cardiovascular protection, neural growth, and protection against cancer. Linolenic and linoleic acids are two of the most important short chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, and form the building blocks for the long-chain fatty acids, EPA and DHA (omega 3) and the GLA, DGLA and arachidonic acids (omega 6). We get these long-chain fatty acids from essential food sources, or from our body building them from the short-chain precursors. The key to a healthy metabolism, though, is a proper homeostatic balance, especially in the formation of inflammatory mediators, or prostaglandins. When we form too many of the prostaglandins based on the omega 6 fatty acids, inflammatory mechanisms create too many of the unwanted symptoms of inflammation and struggle to use the inflammatory system to quickly repair and replace old or damaged tissues. Modern medicine then has us take prostaglandin inhibitors, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), but this approach does nothing to restore a healthy underlying system.

Eating too much meat and poor quality meat products has been shown to be very unhealthy for a variety of reasons, slowing digestive elimination, allowing excess fermentation in the gut, creating an acidic environment, etc. Our medical industry has done little to correct this basic nutrient disease-creating problem, instead creating pharmaceuticals that block inflammatory mediators, or prostaglandins, rather than restoring the ability to achieve healthy inflammatory mediation via a diet that supplies the building blocks for these inflammatory mediators and keeps us in balance. We now have warnings and restrictions on all NSAIDS and synthetic COX2 inhibitors, and lack of healthy inflammatory mediation is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer etc. (see the article on this website entitle Pain Medication: Warnings and Risks). We have been repeatedly told that we need a meat-centered diet to get our protein, but there are many amino acids and proteins in grains and vegetables, and they are much easier to digest than from a meat source. Complete protein, or protein consisting of all essential amino acids, is easily obtained from a traditional plant-based diet. Meat from animals with health problems is also deficient in certain nutrients, just like we are deficient in essential nutrients when we eat an unhealthy diet. Eating unhealthy meat creates dangerous nutrient deficiencies by both consuming deficient nutrients from the meat, and also by decreasing intake of healthy grains, vegetables etc. Visit a modern feedlot to see just how unhealthy today’s commercial meat is.

Since essential fatty acids (EFAs) are used in the body to create many important molecules, a deficiency or imbalance promotes ill health. EFAs are used to create inflammatory mediators (eicosanoids: prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, and prostacyclins, as well as lipoxins, resolvins, etc.), neuroprotective molecules, cell signaling molecules, endocannabinoids, and aid in production of immune cytokines and hormones. Imbalances create health problems slowly and insidiously, resulting in chronic health problems that are difficult to treat and diagnose.

Finally, in 2012, such esteemed institutions as the Harvard School of Public Health are finally making clear to the public that the emphasis on a low-fat, low-salt diet, and the allowance of our food industry to promote transfats, altered mineral salts, and a diet awash in unhealthy simple carbohydrates, advanced glycation endproducts, and other dietary chemicals has been a public health disaster. The Harvard School of Public Health studied over 6000 women over the age of 65, and found that those with a predominance of saturated fats, namely meat, had a 60 percent increased risk of cognitive decline, while those that had a health amount of unsaturated fats, namely olive, nut and seed oils, whole grains and fresh vegetables, were 44 percent less likely to experience a cognitive decline to the lowest 10th percentile. The importance of health fats is emphasized by this public health institute (see a link below), with European studies cited that show that a healthy intake of mono- and polyunsaturated fats actually decreased levels of LDL and increased the healthy HDL levels, as well as decreased hypertension and reduced cardiovascular risk, without drugs (OmniHeart study). The risk of Metabolic Syndrome and diabetes is also lowered with a healthy intake of healthy fats and avoidance of unhealthy fats, as well as the risk of cancers. This public health institute also explains how dietary cholesterol has a minimal effect on total cholesterol in the body, but an unhealthy diet promotes metabolic dysfunction that leads quickly to high cholesterol, which may vary dramatically in circulation depending on the immediate dietary habits.

The same diet that produces a drastic essential fatty acid imbalance also may create chronic conditions of acidity in the body

Another health problem surrounding the dominance of red meat in our diets and lack of seed grains and fresh vegetables, is the effects of a chronic acidic diet on our hormonal balance and regulation of mineral balance in our bodies. The addition of simple carbohydrates as a main caloric source may also increase acid conditions in the digestive tract that eventually may result in the poor regulation of acidity throughout the body. A tight regulation of acidity is very important for healthy chemical function in the body, and chronic acid states puts much stress onto the body to alkilinize. The chief alkilinizing, or antacid, mechanism in our bodies is the highly regualated calcium metabolism. One of the chief functions of our hormonal, or endocrine system, is the regulation of charged mineral molecules, especially calcium, in our bodies. Calcium, as well as other common minerals, are large molecules that hold a high degree of electrical charge, or ionic energy. Acidity is determined by a measure of pH, or electrical potential of hydrogen, which carries a very useable free electron. This pH is a standard for the electrical potential, which could be referred to as a type of Qi in Daoist medicine, and refers to the fact that our bodies operate optimally at a highly controlled level of acidity, namely a pH of 7.0 in most tissues, but a varied regulation of pH in the digestive processes, as well as other metabolic systems. This need for a tightly controlled acidity in the body is part or what science refers to as homeostasis.

To regulate this pH, the body mainly utilizes charged mineral molecules, especially calcium and magnesium, but also phosphates, and mineral salts containing bicarbonate, a combination of hydrogen, carbon and three oxygen molecules, which is highly regulated by the hormonal system and the kidney, to maintain optimal healthy function. When the body struggles with buffering a chronic acidic system it pulls excess amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals from the body and forms buffers. In older individuals this often leads to osteoporosis, especially if the hormonal system has also been challenged by poor menopausal health, by use of synthetic hormone replacement, of by drugs that challenge the healthy maintenance of the kidney and adrenal functions. While modern pharmaceutical medicine has treated osteoporosis with drugs that block the endocrine system from pulling minerals out of the bones to buffer the chronic acidic condition, it doesn't take a scientist to understand how unhealthy the consequences of this therapy could be. To read more of how a varied whole grain and fresh vegetable diet can reverese osteoporosis, read the New York Times article below in additional information.

Dietary imbalances play a central role in a high percentage of our health problems, and the response to this public health threat has not been one of public education and dietary regulation, but rather the introduction of more pharmaceutical products to quiet the symptoms of these health problems

How has standard medicine responded to these common disease causing problems in society? As research has uncovered the many problems that are now endemic to the U.S. population as a result to imbalanced dietary principles, the standard medical community keeps coming up with solutions to merely treat the symptoms of imbalance rather than correct it. This is a good money-making principle, but hardly the best solution for public health. A good example is the consumption of excess poor quality meats in the general diet, and subsequent fatty acid imbalance, and chronic acidity. Instead of guiding the patient population to a more balanced diet, which would solve the problem, an expanding array of pills are marketed to correct the symptoms generated by the dietary imbalances of excess arachidonic acid from a meat-centered diet we see today. Even simple nutritional solutions, such as correcting omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acid imbalances are being addressed by the medical industry not by urging changes in public dietary habits, but by trying to synthesize a patentable form of omega-3 that can generate more profit. Public education and public health regulation of the food industry is a more beneficial and ultimately a more economically sound tactic to reduce disease and health care costs, but has been inhibited by a political agenda driven by the industries that profit from these health problems.

The real solution to fatty acid deficiency and imbalance is to restore a natural fatty acid balance with diet, which takes some patient education and thought, not just an expensive omega-3 prescription. Often, as patients start taking concentrated omega-3 fatty acids, they also drastically decrease red meat consumption. This, of course, would tilt the imbalance toward a potential omega-6 fatty acid imbalance. Sensible dietary guidance is needed, and a basic knowledge of nutritional science. The question of acidity is also handled in a counterproductive manner. A large percentage of the population now takes pills to inhibit gastric acid formation. Recent research has found that the problem in a vast majority of cases with heartburn and regurgitation is a chronic hypofunction of the stomach, resulting in slow acid responses and increased dietary acidity at times that this is inapproapriate. Poor stomach function leads to poor function of the small intestine and pancreatic response. This contributes to increased fermentation and higher chronic body acidity. The food industry markets whole grain cereals to counter this dietary imbalance, yet the cereal is a highly refined carbohydrate, no matter what it is made of, and it is well known that these cereals create excess acid in the digestive tract. By listening to marketed strategies and depending on standard medicine to solve these problems related to a poor diet, the patient will not make progress. There is no substitute for a natural restoration of healthy dietary habits.

The two most common solutions presented today to essential fatty acid imbalances in the diet are problematic. Flax oil and fish oil are now heavily promoted, but problems with these products are not well publicized. The ability of both fish and flax oil to easily degenerate with rancidity are well known, yet ignored by the industry. When oil goes rancid, oxidant chemicals are produced, and the omega-3 fatty acids are lost. Flax oil needs to be fresh and refrigerated to insure quality, and little of the flax oil on store shelves is fresh or refrigerated. Processing has been devised to hide the rancidity, but this is not very beneficial. Fish oil too is easily deteriorated, and much fish oil is now harvested from farmed ocean fish, such as salmon, which studies have proven contain a lower concentration of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids due to the food fed to the fish and the chemicals used to maintain their health. Wild ocean fish consume smaller fish that eat algae and seaweed, the source of the beneficial fatty acids. A solution to this would be to consume only fresh fish oil from wild fatty fish, or to consume fresh caught oily ocean or freshwater fish. High concentrations of EPA/DHA, the most beneficial of omega-3 fatty acids are found in wild salmon, mackerel and sardines, but anchovies, tuna, butterfish, lake or rainbow trout also contain fairly high concentrations of these EFAs. Krill, a deep water tiny shrimp, contain a very concentrated amount of EPA and DHA, and also a natural preservative. Consumption of krill oil requires a much smaller amount than consumption of fish or flax oil. To get at therapeutic dosage of EPA/DHA from fish or flax oils, 2 tablespoons per day is recommended. This dosage is rarely taken. A better way to consume omega-3 fatty acids from flax seed is to grind the seed in a coffee grinder in the morning and add it to steel-cut oats in a porridge. Four tablespoons of ground flax seed is the correct dosage. Another remarkable source of omega-3 and 6 fatty acids comes from the algaes themselves, and dried spirulina, chlorella and blue-green algae is available in supplemental form, or fresh in some juice drinks.

Healthy sources of various essential fatty acids

For many Americans who have been eating a meat-centered and simple carbohydrate diet, consumption of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and the subsequent production of prostaglandins of the E3 class, may both restore healthy essential fatty acid balance, and potentially help cure chronic health problems. EPA and DHA are the two most important, or widely known beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids, and the best source is krill oil supplement, as well as changes in the diet to incorporate fresh oily fish, spirulina, fresh ground flax seed, pumpkin seed oil, tempeh, and fresh shelled walnuts and toasted walnut oil. Dairy products from cows, sheep and goats that are grazed on grasses, as well as grass-fed lamb, and herbivorous wild animals will also supply these omega-3 essential fatty acids. Excess consumption of omega-3 supplements do create environmental problems and utilizing the diet to supply most of these essential fatty acids is preferrable. For example, now that krill oil is becoming popular, some large corporations are fishing the krill not from the deep water sources that are easily renewable by the species, but from the cheaper to harvest arctic shallow water sources, directly competing with penguins and other animals that depend on these krill to survive. Consequently, we are driving many penguins to extinction. Using krill oil only when medically necessary to quickly restore balance, and making sure that the source is from a reputable company is important. Professional herbal sources often make sure that the krill is harvested responsibly. This remarkable shrimp-like creature can accelerate its reproductive rate to respond to seasonal harvesting by migrating whales. If the krill is harvested from the rise of the species to the more shallow waters, intense harvesting does not allow the krill to replace itself quickly enough to resupply the shallow eaters, like penguins.

For those who have reduced or eliminated red meat, an omega-6 essential fatty acid deficiency may occur, as well as an omega-1 deficiency, especially in the transition period. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), alpha-linolenic acid, and linoleic acid are the most important of these fatty acids, and another omega-6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid, which is normally derived from meat, may also eventually be produced from linoleic acid via the metabolism associated with the enzyme delta-5-desaturase. Unfortunately, for many individuals, the ability to produce this enzyme is inhibited, and both epigenetic factors and the inhibition of fatty acid enzymes from the consumption of transfats is thought to be responsible. Working to restore this healthy homeostatic mechanism is important, and may not take place immediately. To supply more arachidonic acid, consumption of toasted nori seaweed sheets and fresh shelled peanuts is recommended. To supply GLA, alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids, GLA supplements from black currant seed oil, spirulina, and a variety of fresh nuts, seeds, olives, grains, legumes, and garbanzo beans is recommended, as well as dark leafy green vegetables, which have a high content of alph-linolenic acid. A number of Chinese herbs are also high in these essential fatty acids, which often explains why they are so effective for some health problems. Essential fatty acids, in a balanced homeostasis, allow the body to properly regulate complex inflammatory mediators, build healthy membranes, form healthy hormonal molecules, form lipid based cell signaling molecules, and form the myelin sheaths on our nerves that conduct energy. Even the endocannibinoids, or endogenously produced cannabinoids, which are important for mood modulation, are produced from essential fatty acids.

Transfats, a lot of publicity, but little public understanding

Transfats are the subject of much debate, finally, but the articles and media surrounding transfats are usually misleading and do not get to the point when giving the public information to make a choice to eliminate these from their diet or not. The industry has gone so far in this publicity war, where the local, state and federal governments are considering a ban on transfats, that they actually sponsor television ads with actors posing as common people that tell you that fats are fats, don't worry about it. For some reason, such behavior is rarely criticized by the consumer public, although it is a potential threat to public health. Excess regulation may not be the best solution, only the last resort to fixing this problem. A better choice would be to have the public getting educated and making an educated choice, forcing the food industry to provide safe food. Many public health researchers, such as those at Harvard Medical School cited below with a web link, find that eliminating trans fatty acids (TFA) from processed foods and replacing them with healthy oils would be a relatively inexpensive and easy task, saving tens of thousands of lives per year and untold billions of health care dollars that are passed on to insurance policyholders and taxpayers.

Oils and fats are an important part of the human diet. Oils are just fats in a liquid state, and a variety of fats and fatty acids are found in both animals and plants as an important part of their physiology. Most of our hormones, and all of our cell and tissue membranes, are composed of fats, or lipids. Lipids are any of various substances that are soluble in nonpolar organic solvents (such as alcohol, and not water), that with proteins and carbohydrates constitute the principal structural components of living cells, and that include fats, phospholipids, myelin nerve sheath ceramides, and related and derived compounds. Bile is a substance that is essential to our digestive health, and is also composed of fat, and fat-derived cholesterol and fatty acids. Lipid-based hormones are derived from a hormone, or hormone-like molecule called a sterol, that we call cholesterol. As described above, many fatty acids are “essential”, meaning that we must have these nutrients to function with a healthy physiology, and that they must be derived from the diet. There is no question that fats are an important constituent of our bodies, and the proposition that we should eliminate fats from the diet is ridiculous. Consumption of healthy fats and oils is the key point in the subject of fats and oils in your diet, not low-fat, and certainly not transfats.

What is a transfat? Oils and fats vary in their saturation of fatty acids, and unsaturated fats are more liquid and bind more easily to other molecules in the body. Saturated fats are commonly derived from animal products, are more difficult to digest, and bind less easily. Saturated fats also degrade more slowly, and when you put saturated fats in foods, they last longer before rancidity occurs. Unfortunately, since saturated fats are mostly animal products, such as butter or lard, they do degenerate in a relatively short time. Some saturated animal fats, such as aged cultured cheese or sausage fats last for a long time unrefrigerated, though. Early in the twentieth century, the food industry became obsessed with saturated fats, and the creation of new types of saturated fats that would insure a long shelf-life of food products, and was cheap. Hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fats created a vegetable fat that lasted a long time and contributed to preserving foods, or giving them an unusally long shelf life. Unsaturated fats means that the fatty acids contain double and triple carbon bonds, and vegetable oils are called monounsaturated when they have one double carbon bond, and polyunsaturated when they contain multiple double or triple carbon bonds. A double bond is when two of the carbon elements in the fat are bound with four electrons instead of two, and this occurs with carbon, oxygen or nitrogen, but rarely with higher order elements, except with phosphorus, sulfur and silicon. Since we are carbon-based life forms (organic), this strong energetic carbon binding is important, and saturated fats, with no carbon double-bonding, is saturated with hydrogen atoms at the carbon elements instead of four or six electrons. Hydrogen is the simplest element in nature, and most hydrogen atoms (H) in our bodies carry a positive electron charge (H+), and they determine our pH, or electron availability, which determines what we call acidity. Hydrogenation of polyunsaturated fats transforms them into an unnatural mimic of a saturated fat. We call these unnatural fats transfats, although the trans means that the hydrogen atoms are across from each other in the molecule (the trans isomer). Trans comes from the latin word meaning across from. These trans forms of the fats are unnatural to our metabolism and create problems in absorption and utilization, as well as unhealthy byproducts.

Foods with a fat content contain various proportions of saturated and unsaturated fats. Animal products, such as meat, lard, butter, cream, and cheese, are high in saturated fat content, but certain vegetable products also contain considerable saturated fat, such as coconut oil, palm kernel oil, palm fruit oil, and cottonseed oil. These first three examples are all obtained from the coconut palm tree. When these plant-derived saturated fats are added to foods, the shelf-life, or preserved state, is much longer. Today, most preserved food products contain palm, palm kernel or coconut oil, but unfortunately, the food industry alters these plant oils in a very unhealthy, and unnecessary way. Because palm oil products are so useful to many industries, the processing of these products has long utilized heating, filtering, bleaching, refining, deodorizing, fractionation, hydrolysis, and saponification, finally yielding products with separated fatty acids. The “trans” type of fatty acid was found most useful in commercial foods to insure the longest shelf-life. In 2008, global production of palm oil products exceeded 50 million tonnes, or greater than 30% of the world's total global production of oils and fats. Now, with such an established production and method of production, the food industry is not about to change unless consumers demand it, or the government passes new laws. Both those who reject government regulation in principle, and those who support it, can realize that they have a common goal here to improve public health, and dramatically reduce health care costs and diseases, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, as well as neurodegenerative disorders, and inflammatory dysfunction, by demanding with their consumer choice that the food industry changes their production methods and starts making healthy palm oils instead of trans fats (trans fatty acids). Healthy palm oils, such as unprocessed coconut oil, are becoming a little more popular, but still not utilized by the commercial food industry.

How exactly does transfat, or partially hydrogenated polyunsaturated oil, or the trans isomer of fatty acids, hurt you? This is the question that food scientists seem loathe to answer. Scientists at Vanderbilt University say that trans fatty acids disrupt cellular functioning and therefore may effect enzymes such as delta-6 desaturase which may in turn interfere with the conversion of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids resulting in future deficiency of these acids. Deficiency of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and the imbalance in the body between these types of essential fatty acids is very pathogenic, though, or disease causing. This is why everyone is now urged to go out and buy omega-3 fatty acid in the form of fish or flax oil. Evidence also suggests that the trans isomers of fatty acids tilt inflammatory regulation in the body toward a pro-inflammatory state by altering the balance and availability of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the building blocks of important inflammatory mediators. More evidence points to the ability of trans fatty acids to disrupt endothelial (membrane) function, perhaps in conjunction with a buildup of advance glycation endproducts, leading to endothelial hardening and atherosclerosis, as well as other endothelial diseases in the body.

Since bioavailability of key essential fatty acids is important to the maintenance of the myelin sheaths of nerves, as well as inflammatory regulation, hormonal bioavailability, and endothelial function in vascular circulation, it is surmised that transfats play a very negative role in the development of neurodegeneration. In the book Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pritchford, Dr. Pritchford spoke to someone long involved in treating neurological problems created by malnutrition, John McMillan PhD, who began working with his father in the late 1930s in the rescue of severely malnourished prisoners in concentration camps, and subsequently worked with world health organizations in malnourished areas of Africa, South America and the Orient. The McMillans pioneered the growing of nutritional algaes, such as spirulina, which is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, to restore malnourished patients, as well as the use of fish oil. Dr. McMillan supported his findings that the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, found in fish and krill oil, as well as GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an omega-3 and 6 pair found in spirulina, were most responsible for renewing brain function in populations that he treated for severe malnutrition.

The unfortunate and not widely known history of transfats

The first commercial fat that was a sort of transfat was margarine. Margarine is actually a separated fatty acid called margaric acid, which is actually a combination of the separated fatty acids palmitic and stearic acids, that was discovered by a chemist in 1813. In the nineteenth century, European governments paid researchers to produce a useable margarine for military campaigns and for the poor, when butter was not available or able to be preserved. By 1877, the health risks of margarine, and the competition for dairy producers, stimulated laws banning or restricting the sale of margarine. In Canada, margarine was banned from 1886 to 1948, and across the world, health experts warned of problems with different types and qualities of margarine, and the health implications of hydrogenized fatty acids. After World War I, and the food rationing that occurred, the margarine industry took off, and the government regulation became lax. It is widely assumed today that this was merely a debate between the dairy industry and the commercial food industry, but we overlook the scientists who warned of the health risks associated with margarine and transfats at this early date. The food industry created a product called vegetable shortening (Crisco) that was similar to margarine and could be used to create food products that usually needed butter or lard. By the 1950s, margarine and shortening was heavily marketed and consumed, and by the 1970s, lobbying even had the government recommending that the public quit eating so much butter, and instead consume margarine and shortening as a supposed health benefit. So much for depending on the government to supply health information.

Not only partially hydrogenated palm, coconut and soy oil, margarine, and shortening are transfats, though. Some commercial processing of other monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils transforms a percentage of these oils into unhealthy transfats. The deodorization of canola oil transforms some of its omega-3 fatty acids into transfats. A Dr. O'Keefe and other researchers at the University of Florida analyzed such commercial canola oil and found that 4.6% of the fatty acids had been transformed into transfats. Some healthy oils, such as flax or rapeseed, go rancid easily, and so commercial producers “deodorized” these oils to preserve them, transforming healthy fatty acids to the trans version in the process. A smart person sticks to relatively fresh unprocessed oils, buys them in small dark containers not exposed to the sun, and buys natural butters and meat and fish fats that are not processed, but whole, local and fresh.

Today, there is no doubt that transfats, most of which are products of the complex refining of oils for other industrial purposes, and which could easily be eliminated and substituted with healthy fats by the food industry, are serious contributors to a variety of diseases that have increased in incidence proportionally to the increased use of transfats. Large studies in the 1980s already showed that cardiovascular disease and deaths increased in the U.S. dramatically with the increase in use of trans fatty acids in the form of margarine and shortening following World War I, and with the huge increase in the use of transfats from palm oils in the 1990s, obesity has now become the most serious health threat our culture has ever faced, and costs an enormous amount of money each year in medical care. Atherosclerosis, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, insulin resistance, chronic inflammatory dysfunction, neurodegenerative conditions, and more have been positively linked to transfats (see study links below). The health reform legislation that has been and will be passed is seeking to reduce the explosive growth of health spending in the United States, but a simple thing like eliminating transfats has the potential to reduce overall health spending dramatically by making us healthy, not by denying care. We don't need to wait another ten years until research shows us the exact specific mechanisms that show proof of transfats causing a specific number of these diseases and deaths. This is eerily like the decades of waiting for more data to support the effects of cigarette smoking on public health.

Fat, salt and calories, don't get confused by the hype

In the last few decades, the American public has been inundated by the notions of low-fat, low-salt (actually lowered sodium, not salt in general), and caloric intake (the number of energy producing units in foods). For the most part, the commercial food industry has manipulated the debate to sell products and keep the public confused enough to believe some outrageous misinformation and generalization. Public health experts around the world do not, and never have, found that starving the body of dietary fat and salt was healthy. The problem is that these scientists speak in a technical language, which is easily turned on its head when reporting their findings to the public. The real threat to public health occurred when the commercial food industry was able to lobby the government to promote a low fat diet, which opened up the market for substitution for tasty fats with an enormous increase in fructose to make commercial foods taste better, as well as commercial salt in the form of sodium. Both sugar in the form of fructose (sucrose is also half fructose) and sodium (commercial salt) increased the appetite enormously, resulting in much more food consumption. Since fructose is metabolized not like glucose, a quick fuel for our cells, but like fat, this change in the commercial food content created even more fat in the body. Even in the portion of the public that fixed their own food from raw ingredients, the generation of the notion to drastically decrease healthy fats and stop using healthy salt has generated ill health.

The real threats to public health in regards to fats, salt and calories boils down to these simple recommendations: 1) a significant amount of total daily nutrition should be in the form of healthy fats and oils, but the modern average diet is too high in meat and dairy fats, altered oils (e.g. transfats), and unhealthy fat/sugar/protein chemicals (advanced glycation endproducts); 2) daily intake of mineral salts is important to maintain healthy function, but the commercial industry has reduced natural salts to a high sodium product and put it in everything commercially produced, even sweets. Eating too much of these processed and commercial fast foods, even sweet snacks, creates a mineral sodium imbalance that is hard for your body to handle. 3) In general, we do not need to eat all the time, and some of the modern processed foods that we take for granted supply many more energy units, or calories, than we can use, especially if we aren't particularly active (such as sitting at a desk and lying on a couch watching TV). We don't need to eliminate salt, stick to low-fat food products, and eat all the time. When we feel tired and fatiqued, it is usually not because we are hypoglycemic and need to eat a snack, but because insulin flux is occurring, usually due to unhealthy dietary habits. Although eating some simple carbohydrate food or stimulant such as caffeine, guarana etc. will, of course, provide some quick feeling of energy, a short burst of glucose, caffeine, or nicotine does not address the real physiological problems of fatique, asthenia, and sluggishness. Carbohydrate rich foods, such as candy and soda, supply many food calories of energy units, and were meant to eat in small portions when we can't get a bigger meal. Instead, we now consume massive amounts of these simple carbohydrates, and eat normal big meals as well. Such smug overconsumption is the privilege of a wealthy society, but not a prescription for health.

The American public, even those that feel that they have adopted healthy diets and read a lot on the subject, generally are still confused over these basic issues. The amount of media hype available in press and internet sourcing has only strengthened the notion that these fundamental ideas of healthy diet cannot be challenged. Many individuals that switched to a vegan diet did not actually fulfill their natural physiological needs, and most people that adopted a dietary faith in one type of system over another ended up believing that the dietary system that they joined up with would provide a promised health. Now, any type of dietary regimen is completely workable, as humans are very adaptable, but ignoring fundamentals and believing that a particular belief system is going to solve all problems by itself, is a fundamental neuroses that seems to pervade human society more and more as time goes by in the modern world, not only in dietary beliefs, but in sociopolitical and religious beliefs as well. Joining a group does not make one a good person by itself, other groups are not composed of intrinsically bad people, and a particular type of dietary protocol does not in itself solve all your dietary health problems.

No matter what type of dietary protocol one tries to lose weight or improve health, a number of basic dietary principles must be adhered to. Number one, try to avoid processed and commercial foods, which are now inundated with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, transfats, other unhealthy fats, and imbalanced salts, and almost always lack fiber. Even commercial foods touted as natural, organic, low fat, and healthy alternatives generally lack real fiber, contain much fructose and sodium, contain altered fats, and short chain fatty acids. They also may contain healthy ingredients, but this does not negate the unhealthy ingredients. The diet chosen should provide for the type of individual metabolism, rather than be chosen with a one-size-fits-all mentality. We are not all alike, and out diets should reflect real individual needs. Changing dietary protocols creates adaptive stress and should be accomplished slowly and methodically.

Diet as an important part of medical treatment protocol in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Complementary Medicine - combining centuries of public health traditions with modern scientific research

Unlike standard allopathic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Complementary Medicine has always emphasized the importance of healthy dietary measures and restoration of essential nutrients to prevent and treat disease. China was the first country in history to officially create public health guidelines for dietary protocol, and the first to recognize that nutrient depletion is a cause of disease. Medicinal herbs help restore these nutritional depletions, and many Chinese herbs contain linolenic and linoleic acids, and other common essential nutrients that many be depleted and causative of your health problem. Certain plants develop high concentrations of these nutrients, which make them ideal medicines to quickly restore health. Nutrient cofactors also evolve in these medicinal plants, making them much more efficient than simple supplements in correcting nutrient imbalances.

Today, TCM practitioners, or Licensed Acupuncturists, utilize professional herbal medicines that combine herbal formula with specialized nutrient supplements that help restore your nutrient balance and health based on sound scientific research. In addition, TCM physicians receive much dietary and nutrient training in medical schools, and often continue to educate themselves in clinical practice to better serve their patients. The history of Traditional Chinese Medicine has always been closely entwined with dietary and nutritional medicine, and in fact, many TCM doctors in China treat patients with diet and nutrition, sometimes exclusively using diet and nutrient medicine in curing and maintaining health in individual patients.

The Chinese and their history with the soybean

One example of how public health experts in China have long maintained valuable public health nutritional guidelines that were important concerns the soybean. While the growing of soybeans came to this country from Asia, it was not initially a food product. Long ago, China and Japan planted soy beans for the sole purpose of returning nitrogen to depleted soil, since growing rice was nitrogen depleting. Public health experts in these countries knew that dried soybeans were hard to digest and caused gas and bloating. Eventually, though, these countries found that this hard to digest bean could be eaten when processed properly with fermentation. Miso paste, tempeh, soy sauce and natto were created and added to the national diet. In Japan, an elaborate way to make tofu, utilizing a Chinese herb, also made this product digestible and nutritious. In the United States, soy eventually was grown and used in commercial production, making early plastics for Henry Ford, and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg promoted soy as a healthy alternative to meat. Even in Europe soy flours and foods were promoted when World War II created food shortages and a demand for cheap sources of protein. Soy was also heavily grown as an animal feed protein, as cows have multiple stomachs and elaborate fermentation as part of their anatomy and phsiology, wheras humans do not. There were many health negatives to the unfermented dried soybean, but also many important health benefits for humans, when the right processing was used. The soybean presents not only beneficial proteins and other nutrients, such as isoflavones, but contains a number of potentially unhealthy chemicals, most of which are eliminated with fermentation processes. In Asia, a rich history of sensible public health convinced the public to adopt healthy soy processing, while in the United States, there was no public health mandate or education, but a complete reliance on commercial food producers to do right by the public.

Eventually, though, soy fell out of favor due to health negatives in the early half of the century. The food industry, though, just waited until the public no longer remembered these health negatives. In the 1970s, soy was again touted as a very healthy source of plant protein, and in the 1980s was touted as a potential supplier of key nutrients that helped correct hormonal imbalance in menopause. The problems with potentially harmful chemicals in unfermented soy was largely overlooked by all but devoted “health nuts”. The potential problems with soy chemistry were not publicized, or taken seriously, in the West, until a surplus of soy prompted American companies to use it in baby formula that was heavily promoted in Africa. In 1985, Syntex was ordered to pay a $27 million settlement for infant death related to a baby formula called Neo-mull-soy. Neo-mull-soy had already been implicated in numerous infant health problems in the United States related to alkalosis and had been voluntarily removed from the market in 1979. Alkalosis occurred due to chemicals in the soy that were not properly processed in this soy formula, causing hypochloridia and hypokalemia, and leading to metabolic alkalosis. The CDC investigation concluded that infants that were switched to other soy based infant formulas did not have further health problems (a controversial decision). The introduction of Neo-mull-soy into a heavily subsidized infant food program in Africa, though, was highly unethical. When this occurred, and injury to many African infants resulted, researchers once again publicized the potential problems with soy foods that were not processed properly. The negative implications of improperly processed, or unfermented, soy foods, though, were diverted in the press by articles discussing potentially harmful chemicals in soy that could alter the hormonal balance. Confusing the public was once again a useful tactic to preserve profits, and unfermented soy food products again emerged as a big seller on the American market.

In the 1990s, publicity surrounding the various chemicals in soy beans that make it difficult to digest and cause potential health problems again occurred, but were again overshadowed by questions regarding the phytohormone isoflavones. The chemicals in soybean that inhibited digestion were once again overlooked in the press, and in public health. These difficult to digest chemicals in soy were theoretically created by the plant to afford protection against destruction of the soy seed in the guts of animals that ate the plant, and included phytates, oxalates, protease inhibitors, and saponins. Phytates evolved in the soy seeds to keep them from sprouting too early and when heavily consumed pass through the digestive tract undigested and bind tightly to calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc, potentially leading to, or contributing to, a number of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, anemia, prostate cancer, and immune deficiency. Phytates can also chelate (remove from tissues and cells) niacin, contributing to niacin deficiency when heavily consumed. Niacin deficiency may cause or contribute to chronic pigmented skin rashes, inflammatory bowel disease, and many neurological problems, such as dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinsonism. When all three of these are seen together, the disease is called Pellagra, a disease of niacin deficiency. American food companies heavily marketed such foods as soy milk that were not fermented and when a large enough amount was consumed, could cause health problems from phytates. Fermented soy products, as are traditionally consumed in Asia, provide the beneficial chemistry of soy, such as isoflavones and lignans, without potentially causing health problems. Soy extracts in topical progesterone stimulating creams also deliver healthy soy isoflavones and lignans without causing problems. Efforts by the industry to confuse the public with alarming reports of the negative health effects of soy usually did not specify that these effects were produced by the food industry and their stubborn and perhaps malicious use of improperly processed soy food products.

Negative effects of unfermented soy food products will differ from individual to individual depending on the health of the Biota, or intestinal health and function

Now, in most people with a healthy intestinal flora and fauna, probiotic lactobacilli, and other beneficial symbiotic microbes, create the enzyme phytase in response to large amounts of phytate, which breaks down the phytate quicker, and releases the bound metal ions and other cations, in some cases actually improving the intestinal absorption of these nutrients. In other people, a lack of healthy gut flora and fauna allowed nutritional malabsorption to occur with heavy unfermented soy food ingestion. Women that thought that some of the isoflavones in soy would relieve menopausal symptoms were disappointed to find that the heavy soy milk consumption, and even improperly prepared tofu, and soy protein powder, were causing some of the problems that they were trying to prevent, such as osteoporosis. The whole picture, though, must be analyzed in each individual case, while sensational news articles present a limited number of facts, and confuse the issues. Consequently, there was much expert argument and controversy over soy isoflavones, and most of the U.S. public still does not know what to believe. Fermentation of the soy, though, acts in the same way as probiotic bacteria, protecting the human from the harmful chemicals. Phytate, a salt, may also be transformed into a beneficial chemical in the body called phytic acid (inositol hexacotinate, or IP6). Phytic acid is created when enzymes speed the catabolism of phytate, and phytic acid, or IP6 is a beneficial nutrient chemical that is taken in low dose to help decrease neovascularization, or angiogenesis, in a number of tissue diseases, including cancer. Once again, taking unfermented soy foods when one has a less than optimal intestinal flora and fauna is even more problematic, but consuming fermented soy products is potentially very beneficial to the health.

Other chemicals in the soy that make it hard to digest also may contribute to digestive health problems when the soybean is not fermented. Saponins are soap-like chemicals in the soy that may contribute to damage of the intestinal mucosa, and make the soy protein hard to digest. Oxalates are well known to bind to calcium and potentially create kidney stones. Protease inhibitor in soy interfere with pancreatic digestive enzymes, and oligosaccharides raffinose and stachyose are hard to digest and create gas. The enzyme in the product Beano works by helping speed that breakdown of these oligosaccharides to reduce flatulence. When these health problems were publicized in the U.S., the manufacturers did not change their production practices, yet did such things as add calcium and zinc to soy milk, which they knew would not help since the phytates in unfermented soy would bind these tightly and make them undigestable for patients without a healthy probiotic intestinal microbial colony. A true public health authority would not let commercial interests determine public health issues, and would educate the public properly so that advertising and media would not control public knowledge.

Now, the experts in the United States responded to all of this information about soy not by recommending that the public consume only fermented soy products, or properly prepared tofu, as in traditional Asia, but by diverting public attention to the supposed dangers of the soy isoflavones, which act as weak phytoestrogens. Many sensational stories were run due to a few industry funded studies claiming potential harm from soy phytoestrogen isoflavones. These hormone-like bioidentical isoflavones, though, do not act like estradiol, but do stimulate an estriol effect by competing at hormonal receptors, potentially stimulating increased estriol production, which is an abundant human estogen that does not have the harmful impact of excess estradiol. The phytohormonal isoflavones in soy act in a complex modulating manner, and easy explanation of the effects of these chemicals is not possible. Once again, the whole picture must be analyzed and considered in this analysis to judge the potential benefit and harm in each individual, and the amount consumed must be considered. The tendency in the United States, though, is to simplify, make issues superficial, fool the public, and make all issues binary, either good or bad, without nuance. This is not the way that the intelligent patient approaches nutritional medicine and diet, though, and is a formula for failure with this subject. Soy nutrition is an excellent example of what happens when oversimplification of a public health issue occurs, and the market is allowed to make public health decisisons.

The questions concerning carbohydrates and health risks associated with certain types of simple carbohydrates and sugars, as well as artificial sweeteners as substitutes for saccharides

The term high glycemic index is now used to describe types of food that contain simple carbohydrates that are too quickly affecting the insulin response and blood sugar levels. For persons lacking the metabolic capacity to handle these surges of simple sugars, or carbohydrates, this presents quite the health problem. On the other hand, people with a high capacity for handling a surge of simple carbohydrates, or sugars, this presents no problem. The type of simple carbohydrate also makes a difference, since different types are processed differently in our systems. The problem in society is that those people that consume simple carbohydrates in a regular routine and excess often damage their ability to properly regulate blood sugars. Over time, the stress put upon the sugar metabolism in these people may create an inability to process these simple carbohydrates, resulting in excess stored energy in the form of fat, or fat accumulation in the liver inhibiting the metabolism of nutrients, and eventually a resistance to normal insulin levels in the fat cells. Often, those people that eat a fairly balanced and healthy diet are the ones that avoid foods with a high glycemic index, especially refined sugar, while those that are used to a more typical modern diet of refined and processed foods, do not avoid simple carbohydrate foods and refined sugars that may be toxic to a person with a metabolic syndrome, or inability to process these foods. The degree of toxicity increases as the ill effects accumulate.

There are basically three issues concerning sugars in the diet that people should be aware of, and have an understanding of. First, understanding that excess consumption of simple carbohydrates puts a lot of stress on the system, and affects the hormonal regulation of blood sugars negatively. Second, that fructose, a type of simple sugar, does not directly affect the hormonal regulation of blood sugar, or the insulin metabolism, but does immediately affect the metabolism of conversion of sugars to fat, and amount of fatty storage. Third, that the degree of insulin resistance, or the affects of the hormone insulin on our cells, is vitally important to how our bodies handle carbohydrates. If we acquire chronic problems of insulin resistance and fatty accumulation (Metabolic Syndrome), we need to pay particular attention to the type and quality of carbohydrates we consume.

A link to a comprehensive 2009 review of scientific studies related to the physiological effects of glycemic index by the University of Toronto is provided below in additional information. This meta-analysis found that low glycemic index diets (i.e. whole foods and grains with natural sweeteners) have been found to improve serum lipids, reduce C-reactive protein (the most important marker for chronic inflammation and cardiovascular risk), aid in weight control, are associated with improved levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterols (HDL-C), decreased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and positive associations for decreased risk of various cancers, including breast, colon, and prostate. Dramatic results are found in some studies. For instance, in one study, 80 patients were given a low-glycemic index diet for 28 days, then switched to a high-glycemic diet for 28 days. These patients, with a high body mass index, showed that a low glycemic index diet reduced CRP (inflammatory responses), while a high glycemic index diet raised CRP (inflammatory responses), acutely. There obviously is a public health need to promote a low-glycemic index diet.

Carbohydrates are the most important and usable fuel in our diet. The type of carbohydrate, and the form that it comes in, is the important issue, not the amount of carbs ingested, although a decrease in total cosumption of food calories (energy units), is often necessary to loose weight. The issue of a high-carb versus a high-protein diet is often not a key issue as well, as the body will adapt to these changes in eating habits to supply energy, converting proteins to glucose. The real issue for most people is the healthy quality of the carbohydrates that they consume. The key question concerning healthy carbohydrates is whether one is consuming carbs that take longer to process, giving our bodies the chance to respond to the normal evolved way of processing and storing food nutrients, or whether one is consuming refined carbohydrate forms that the body needs to respond quickly to, creating more stress on the metabolism. For many individuals, this stress creates disease. Depending on the health and liver function of the individual, refined carbohydrates, and unnatural carbohydrates, may lead to excess physiological stress, dysfunction, and disease. One type of carbohydrate is particularly toxic over time, and this is fructose, which has become a common type of sweetener in processed foods. The widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup, and other sweeteners with a high percentage of fructose, has led to altered fatty metabolism, creating diseases associated with fatty liver accumulations, high triglycerides, increased fatty stores (obesity), and difficulty controlling appetite and blood sugar balance. This increase of fructose in the general diet may also have led to problems with consumption of the natural source of fructose, fruit. Once we understand how poor quality carbohydrates affect our health, we can make better decisions in our diet.

To reiterate, high glycemic foods are those that contain simple, poor quality carbohydrates that break down too fast and give an immediate stress upon the blood sugar regulating system, or the insulin/glucogan hormonal regulation. Each individual needs to understand how these high glycemic foods may hurt them, assessing their individual capacity to process simple carbohydrates. If one has developed obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, or insulin resistance, foods with a high glycemic index present a serious challenge to one's health. On the other hand, if one has a healthy metabolism, indulging occasionally in high glycemic foods presents no danger to the health. Still, there are types of refined sugars, combinations of refined sugars with fats and proteins in unhealthy products called advanced glycation endproducts, and artificial sweeteners, that may present problems even to a healthy individual. Simply replacing poor quality carbohydrates with other harmful chemicals in the form of artificial sweeteners and high-fructose sweeteners is not a sensible solution. The sensible approach to food is to eat whole complex natural foods, where fiber and carb are combined, and the type of carbohydrate adheres to what our bodies are built for. Unfortunately, modern science and advertising have convinced us that the more refined and processed the food, the better it is. Adding an array of sweeteners, salts, and other flavorings to these processed foods has made them even more appealing. Breaking down the nutrient chemicals to their pure forms allows food scientists to play with chemicals that we naturally find appealing, such as fructose and glucose. Fructose is called fruit sugar because originally chemists found this molecule in the sucrose stored in fruits. In actuality, fructose is just one of the simplest forms of sugar, or monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose. Fructose consumption is not unhealthy, as long as we don’t consume too much of it. The main type of sugar, or simple carbohydrate, in nature, is sucrose. All sweet foods, including many vegetable roots, honey, tree sap (maple syrup), contain sucrose, as well as most fruits, which can be broken down into fructose and glucose. Fructose does not just come from fruit. The problem we have with sugars is not eliminating fructose, just eliminating over-consumption. Eating sugar is healthy, as long as we eat healthy sugars in the form complex carbohydrates, fresh whole foods, and whole grains.

Foods with a high glycemic index include glucose, maltose, most processed breakfast cereals, potatoes, potato or corn chips, white or refined breads, refined pastries, white refined rice, candies, and very sweet fruits, such as watermelon. Not all high glycemic index foods are equal, though. Some foods with a high glycemic index have little nutritional value other than carbohydrate, while others have a high nutritional value and provide fiber as well. For instance, millet, broad beans, parsnips and dates are considered high glycemic index foods, yet provide valuable nutritional benefits over processed cereals and pastries. Even so-called healthy breakfast cereals are high or medium glycemic foods, such as quick cooking oatmeal and shredded wheat, and processing has depleted their natural nutrient content considerably. Starting the day with a complex carbohydrate porridge, such as steel cut oats, amaranth, or other whole grain, such as corn grits, provides a healthy carbohydrate alternative to our normal breakfast routine.

Of course, many commercially processed foods contain glucose and maltose, which we call sugar. Sugar comes in a variety of forms. The term sucrose refers to sugars made from sugar cane and sugar beet, but many commercial sugars are heavily refined, or processed, and often come to us in the form of fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and glucose. Sucrose is actually a form of sugar that is a stored combination of the glucose and fructose molecules. Fructose is an isomer of glucose (same molecular formula but different structure), and glucose is the main fuel in our bodies. How quickly these sugars are broken down in our digestion and assimilation is perhaps the most important aspect of the glycemic index, which is a measure of the capacity of a carbohydrate to increase blood sugar levels and stimulate insulin response. Obviously, the more refined the carbohydrate, the quicker it is converted to glucose, and thus the quicker the body needs to respond by secreting the insulin and glucagon hormones and converting the glucose that is not immediately used for fuel into stored forms, namely glycogens, lipids (fats), and proteins.

High fructose corn syrup and other processed sugars

While this term glycemic index is important, it is perhaps today not the most important aspect of carbohydrate health, as the food industry has inundated our commercial foods with high fructose corn syrup, and various other types of refined sugars that give us a large dose of fructose. Now, fructose has a low glycemic index, which is confusing for many individuals when assessing the health of the carbohydrate intake. Fructose is a basic saccharide, or sugar, and is an isomer of the monosaccharide which is the measure of our blood sugar, glucose. Fructose is not processed in our bodies the same way that glucose is, though, and in nature, there is generally not a high percentage of fructose, or its precursor, sucrose, in food, even fruits. Since fructose tastes sweeter to us, though, we have created hybrid fruits with more fructose, or sucrose. Fructose does not turn into blood sugar, though, and does not subsequently stimulate insulin response, and thus it is a low glycemic index carb. Fructose does have a lot of negative effects if overconsumed, though, creating toxicities. Fructose goes almost entirely to the liver, where it is turned into glycerol, or stored sugar in the form of a fat precursor. To accomplish this takes much energy, uses citric acid excessively, and creates stored fats from this process as well. Fructose in essence turns into fat. While fructose is listed along with healthy carbohydrates as low glycemic, it is an unhealthy food to take in with much quantity, and excess intake of fructose and its precursor sucrose will do more to generate metabolic dysfunction, obesity, and cardiovascular problems than high glycemic foods. To learn more about fructose, a lecture by a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California in San Francisco, Dr. Robert Lustig, click here to see the lecture on a youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM. If this link is problematic, you may google: sugar the bitter truth to find this informative video.

While the response to fructose studies, and education of the public to the dangers of excess fructose consumption, have been met with strong criticism, sponsored, of course, by the food industry, which even lobbies our government to delay the inevitable regulations prohibiting this practice of promoting excess fructose consumption, reasonable people see now that excess fructose consumption has created enormous harm to the public health. Studies in recent years have clearly elucidated how this harm occurs. For instance, researchers in 2008 at the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington, and the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, worked together to confirm the measurable effets of fructose. The conclusion: “Acute intake of fructose stimulates lipogenesis and may create a metabolic milieu that enhances subsequent esterification of fatty acids flowing to the liver to elevate triglyceride synthesis postprandially (after a meal).” In other words, eating high fructose foods stimulates fatty tissue stores (lipogenesis and triglycerides) in the liver, and alters the essential fatty acid homeostasis, which is very important to our health (re: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). Subsequent studies in 2011, published in the Journal of Endocrinology (1/6/2011 Paul W Caton et al), showed that this increased fatty tissue production, and elevated gluconeogenesis (glucose creation) after consuming high fructose foods leads to insulin resistance and dyslipidemia (imbalance of cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins and stored fats). The digestion, absorption, and metabolism of fructose differs greatly from that of normal sugar, and of glucose. The metabolism of fructose, unlike glucose, does not stimulate the regulating effects of insulin and leptin on blood sugars and appetite, but instead contributes essentially to fat stores. While consumption of normal sugars and sweet high caloric foods would create a response of satiety and meeting of acute energy needs, the intake of high-fructose sugars would not appreciably send signals that these energy needs have been met. In other words, food researchers knew that switching to high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener would contribute to overconsumption, especially if the industry “super-sized” soft drinks and sweet snacks. This, in turn, would create insulin resistance, or metabolic syndrome, fatty liver syndrome of dysfunction, and obesity.

White refined sugar is normally almost entirely sucrose, which may be broken down into glucose and fructose. Sugar cane may come in less refined forms, including molasses and unrefined cane sugar, but is seen more often as pure cane sugar, typically 99 percent sucrose in its pure refined form. Beet sugar, which is now the more common type of refined sugar in our processed foods, may have a variety of combinations of percentages of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, depending on the ultimate type of processing, although refined beet sugar is 96 percent sucrose. Molasses is separated from the pure parts of the processed raw sugar cane, and is a combination of glucose, sucrose and fructose. The food industry has not been content with leaving sugar refined from sugar cane and sugar beet alone, though, and a number of forms are marketed, all of which look and taste basically the same. Invert sugar is a mix of glucose and fructose formed by the hydrolysis of sucrose. Some refined sugar is derived from sugar cane molasses or sugar beet molasses, as well as in-process beet or cane sugar, meaning that the endproduct may contain a variety of combinations of sucrose, glucose and fructose. Sucrose is considered a medium glycemic index food, and fructose (not high fructose corn syrup) is considered a low glycemic index food, so these distinctions are important, but not as important as the facts about fructose metabolism. Now, honey, maple syrup, and agave syrup are more complex forms of sugar, and contain less fructose and sucrose than commercial sugars, and more importantly, take longer to process. This gives our livers the chance to process these sugars in a healthier way, and also slows the glycemic effect on blood sugar. These natural sugars, though, do contain the same basic saccharides as refined sugar, and for both reasons, need to be limited in the diet as well. Once again, the two reasons to avoid sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the glycemic effect, and the difficulty and ultimate adverse effects of processing fructose in our livers.

Ultimately, sugar has gotten more complicated over time as the industry finds more ways of making more money from sugar. With the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup, which is now the sugar seen in most commercial products, the subject of the type and content of sugar has become even more complicated. Fructose was a simple sugar with a low glycemic index, and was initially substituted in processed foods to improve its glycemic index. Today, much misinformation is distributed about sugars, and one expert will claim that physiologically there is little difference between cane or beet sugar, and high fructose corn syrup, while another expert will say the opposite. Of course, the intelligent person realizes that some of these experts are being paid by the food industry to say whatever makes more profits. High fructose corn syrup is called glucose-fructose in many countries, which have government regulations not permitting the widespread misinformation to occur. The corn syrups in these products are processed with enzymes that convert glucose to fructose. This type of sugar is very different from pure refined cane or beet sugar, which is almost entirely sucrose. While sucrose does break down into fructose and glucose, this process is slower, and the endproduct may vary from one individual metabolism to another. Various types of high fructose corn syrup contain between 10 to 55 percent glucose, a high glycemic index carbohydrate itself, and consequently, some types contain a very high content of fructose. So, high fructose corn syrup hurts us eventually in two ways. One, a higher dose of glucose, affecting blood sugars and insulin responses immediately, and two, a high dose of fructose, which is not affecting blood sugar levels immediately, but will negatively affect liver function and health, and eventually do the most damage in promoting metabolic syndrome and increased fatty storage.

Further research has proven that high fructose consumption contributes greatly to both acute and chronic health problems. A February 2012 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reported that high fructose consumption may increase cardiovascular risk due to the generation of organ fatty tissue accumulation, not only in the liver. A study of 559 14 to 18 year old subjects in Georgia also showed that higher fructose consumption was associated with increased systolic blood pressure, C-reactive protein (a marker for cardiovascular inflammation), and reduced high density lipoproteins (HDL), commonly called “good cholesterol” euphemistically. The researchers, led by Norman K. Pollock (Georgia Health Sciences University), found that these cardiovascular and metabolic (or diabetic) signs of pathology were all related to an immediate increase in organ fatty tissue accumulation. While industry researchers continue to claim that high fructose corn syrup is not proven to directly cause these pathologies, this research proves that indirectly, high fructose consumption leads to an immediate cascade of harmful effects due to the nature of the beast, namely how the fructose is transformed and stored. What is the food industry response to this enormous public health threat? Food researchers have confirmed that high fructose corn syrup has caused enormous harm to public health, and have cynically suggested that the industry replace this disease-causing sweetener with artifical sweeteners, themselves proven to cause disease. This cynical and harmful approach, intended clearly to benefit profits, and not the public, should be scrutinized and assessed logically by the public.

So, in conclusion, each individual should understand that carbohydrates are important, but that different types of carbohydrate, and the forms that they come in are the key facts that we need to apply to our diet. Less simple carbohydrates and sugars is important, and more complex carbohydrates, in the form of fresh whole natural food, is also very important. The health of our metabolism may be affected by carbohydrates in a number of ways, and a balance of nutrients in the most healthy forms creates the most potential for our physiologic metabolism to maintain the complex health that we have evolved. We are adaptive, but this potential for adaptation decreases in the individual as he or she becomes metabolically unhealthy. The less healthy we are, the more attention we should pay to consuming healthy complex natural carbohydrates.

Sugars, carbohydrates and our appetite controls

Another important consideration is that our bodies have a number of chemical feedback mechanisms that control our appetite, and when we consume simple carbohydrates, and especially when we consume high amounts of fructose, these feedback mechanisms stimulate excess craving for more food. The food industry has tricked us in this regard as well, even getting the U.S. government to recommend frequent small meals as the healthiest habit, and eventually convincing the population that they must eat often. This is patently untrue, and in recent years the government has reversed itself on this recommendation due to findings that those individuals that go for a substantial period of time each day without eating solid food or sugary beverages have a much better health profile in the long term, and an incredibly lower incidence of the most common diseases. This advice to consume frequent small meals does make money for the food industry, though, and fits right in with foods that disrupt our normal controls of appetite. When we consume high glycemic index foods, the blood sugars in circulation go up quickly, the insulin response is high, and a number of chemicals are produced to then reduce our appetite to keep us from getting our blood sugars too high. Ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach in response to carbohydrates to limit appetite, glucagon is a hormone produced in conjunction with insulin to balance sugar metabolism and control appetite, and leptin is a chemical secreted from the fat cells in response to insulin and sugar metabolism that mainly affects the brain and hypothalamic controls of appetite. All of these chemicals are subverted as the individual develops insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and consumes fructose.

Often, the individual feels the ill effects of excess refined carbohydrates and improper neurological appetite controls and convinces themselves that they need more sugar or refined carbohydrates, or perhaps a sugary stimulant drink with caffeine or guarana, to feel better. The most common justification for this seen in the clinical setting is the patient that diagnoses themselves as anemic or hypoglycemic to justify these cravings. As the central nervous system stimulates an improper craving for more simple carbs, the patient feels less energetic and sometimes a little dizzy, or unsettled. Too often, the person will say to themselves that they must be anemic or hypoglycemic, and just need another shot of carbohydrate to compensate. Since fructose does not affect the insulin, glucogon, ghrelin or leptin appetite controls directly, there is little or no inhibition to prolonged appetite or energy craving when consuming this carb. When the physician hears from a patient that they think that they are anemic or hypoglycemic, standard blood tests are often run, and these usually show that there is no problem with either anemia or hypoglycemia. This usually does not stop these patients from believing that they are hypoglycemic or anemic. The loss of normal appetite controls is stronger than we imagine. Most obese patients clinically will say that they do not have an abnormal appetite, although most studies show that unconscious cravings are very prevalent in obesity. Often, the obese patient will satisfy their cravings for more carbohydrate fuel by drinking a sugar beverage, rather than eating. This is the worst habit, as the amount of sugar or fructose in these beverages are usually very high, even when the beverage is promoted as a fruit drink or green tea beverage.

When the appetite for simple carbs is excessive, the individual often resorts to foods and drinks with artificial sweeteners as part of the diet. This often does little to curb the carb appetite in the nervous system, and presents health problems linked to the artificial saccharides. Aspartame (Nutrasweet) is a common artificial sweetener. While studies have shown that a normal consumption of aspartame (methyl esters of the amino acids L-aspartic acid and L-phenylalanine) is not acutely toxic, excess consumption, effects in individuals with metabolic problems, and long term toxicity are all a significant concern among health experts. When the person has altered acidity, either an acidic or alkaline condition, aspartame may generate excess methanol. Other breakdown products that may cause problems with excess include phenylalanine, formaldehyde, and formic acid. Concentrated fruit juices may produce excess methanols as well, compounding the chronic toxicity. While the common byproducts of aspartame, especially aspartate and glutamate, common central neurotransmitters, are not in themselves toxic, imbalance of these chemicals in the CNS are associated with a number of pathologies. Imbalances of glutamate and aspartate are associated with anxiety and depressive disorders, sleep quality disorders, fatique, migraines and headaches, and nausea. The American Societies for Experimental Biology stated in a review that it seems prudent for pregnant women, infants and children to avoid aspartame due to potential endocrine responses of elevated cortisol and prolactin, especially with chronic use. Excessive levels of phenylalanine with chronic use may also cause depression of serotonin levels, explaining a link to depression and anxiety. Particular individuals may have a lowered capacity for clearing methanol, which forms toxic formaldehyde and formic acid, leading to mild to moderate methanol toxicities with excess consumption of aspartame, particularly when the aspartame is heated to above 86 degrees farehnheit with improper storage during shipping. The U.S. EPA considers methanol a cumulative toxin due to the low rate of normal excretion. Who would have the most difficulty with these chronic toxicities? The answer may be those individuals that are resorting to the use of artificial sweeteners due to health problems and metabolic syndrome.

The simple answer to these carbohydrate problems is to just try to avoid processed foods, read the labels, and consume complex carbohydrates in the form of real whole grains, beans, legumes, fresh vegetables, and whole fruit. Since packaged foods contain little of these foods in their natural fibrous form, one should take up the habit of cooking and preparing food from scratch. Eating less and purchasing quality foods, trying an ever increasing array of natural whole grains, beans, legumes and vegetables, is the ticket for a healthy future.

The problems that have been created nutritionally by twentieth century industrialization and farming methods

Studies have shown that vegetables, fruits and grains today often contain over 30% less of key nutrients than 70 years ago because of modern farming methods and loss of topsoil. U.S. history is full of political mistakes that led to destruction of the nutrient topsoil in this country, beginning with the homesteading push and subsequent dust bowl of the 1930s, and continuing today with the accomodation of corporate farming and synthetic fertilizer as a substitute for healthy nutrient rich topsoil. In 2011, the U.S. department of agriculture announced that studies showed a 10-50 times larger loss of topsoil than expected due to corporate farming and the destruction of more forested land in response to worldwide food shortages and higher prices, as well as to the unregulated use of biofuels. Topsoil needs to be replenished faster, and farming methods need to be changed. The loss of topsoil not only depletes the source of crop nutrition, but creates large chemical runoff due to the increased need to replace soil nutrients with chemical fertilizers. The Gulf of Mexico now has an enormous dead zone past the Mississippi delta created by increased farm runoff and erosion. This dead zone is much larger than the impact of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, and unlike the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, continues each year.

Corporate farming in the United States has also brought back a complex problem that we have dealt with before, but of course now have little memory of, namely the impact of a wholesale destruction of Agroforestry. Trees have been a useful part of agriculture for many centuries, not just a nuisance as you try to drive your enormous machinery from field to field. Corporate farming has wiped out almost all of the trees that once lined the crop fields, prevented erosion, maintained creeks and ponds as water sources, kept some crops cool to increase yields, provided habitat for important wildlife that maintain pollination of crops, maintained air moisture, and provided shade for animal herds. The science of agroforestry goes back many centuries and provides a complex benefit to agriculture. Agroforestry helped saved our economy in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, when politics disrupted our ecosystem drastically by a misguided and poorly planned homesteading act created purely to procure votes. Here, scientists utilized agroforestry to provide a massive planting of trees in shelter belts to stop severe wind erosion and replenish depleted soils. Yes, trees replenish our soils and help provide important nutrients to our crops. Some trees take in nitrogen from the atmosphere, or draw it up with deep roots, and when they drop their leaves in the fall the soil is replenished with this most valuable chemical. Various species of trees provide various benefits to crop chemistry.

A noted expert in crop biology, Professor Gene Garrett of the University of Missouri, who directed the Center for Agroforestry there, stated in a New York Times interview that “The biggest problem with food production is environmental degradation”, and the destruction of agroforestry is a significant threat to our nation’s healthy food production. Studies have shown that trees along streams, along with the vegetation that grows with them naturally, can filter out 95 percent of the soil sediment that washes off of fields and preserve up to 80 percent of the phosphate and nitrogen runoff. This is both fed back into the crops, and keeps our waterways healthy, as well as the oceans that our rivers run into. Today, with the high prices of monocrops, especially corn, due to the subsidies for corn enthanol production, corporate farming has eliminated the last vestige of tree rows and hills that have prevented runoff and erosion to increase crop yield, leading to a massive and unexpected problem with farm chemical runoff, soil erosion rate, and a massive increase in the gulf dead zone from the runoff. The responsible consumer will start to demand a restoration of agroforestry and healthy agriculture by ceasing to buy corporate food products until this problem is addressed. Local crops grown in a responsible manner are more expensive, but in the long run are less expensive for the economy and population as a whole. The development of Agroforestry is so important that countries like China have been heavily investing in this development. The rewards with well planned agroforestry not only increase crop production, make foods more nutritious, and prevent erosion, but also may cut green house gas impact, decrease costs of watershed management, provide valuable timber, protect water resources, preserve species habitats, and even provide valuable foods and herbal medicines. China has increased forested growth by over 4 million hectares of tree cover per year since their heavy investment in agroforestry in 2000. The United States has done very little, and in fact has allowed massive destruction of the forest cover. A country this rich should be ashamed by this fact.

The United States media and the public, as well as the government, blames the deforestation of our planet on other countries, particularly Brazil, where American and European companies are creating corporate farming in the Amazon with massive deforestation, mainly to provide for the growing demand of cheap beef and soy products. What is not revealed by our media is the deforestation that is occurring in our country, and in our neighboring country, Canada. A 2010 study at the University of California in Berkeley by Matthew C. Hansen et al, entitledQuantification of Global Gross Forest Cover Loss, reports that the United States exhibited the greatest proportional gross forest cover loss between the years of 2000 to 2005 of any large forested country, and that Canada nearly matched the gross forest cover loss of Brazil, with 160,000 square kilometers deforested. What is driving this massive yearly deforestation? Primarily American-based global agribusiness. Unconditionally supporting corporate food producers without demanding change is destroying our planet, our economy, and our health. The regulation of global warming is accomplished by the ecosystem, and any man-made attempts to correct this problem pale in comparison to the natural ecosystem. By refusing to understand how our individual food habits and purchases contribute to this problem, we are existing in a self-deluded state of mind and not taking responsibility for our, and our children’s, future, as well as our individual health.

The public is finally starting to realize that their health depends on nutritious food, and the market for local, small farm, organically produced foods is expanding rapidly. By supporting these small local farms, despite higher costs, the consumer is not only helping to insure their own health, but eventually the health of the economy. By lowering consumer demand for corporate farming products and supporting a healthy restoration of conservation the future of our agricultural economy with be preserved, costs of environmental damage and clean-up reduced, and the massive health care expenditures that are causing most of our future federal deficits will be lowered. Hopefully, it is not too late for many American citizens to reverse the depletion of our important food chemistry that maintains human health. The number of serious health problems that may be attributed to the destruction of topsoil nutrition, hybridization and genetic crop engineering, and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is enormous. Purchase of organic local produce is thus vitally important when you need nutrients to get healthy, to prevent disease, and to benefit the health of your country. If you are already in the peak of health, you may not have much to worry about, but those with health problems should be concerned about the nutritional content of their foods and buy fresh, local, organic produce whenever possible. Even those of us in good health should consider the full ramifications of their food purchases, supporting a growing market for healthy local foods to eventually bring down the prices, and to encourage the growth of sustainable agriculture and the decrease in destructive corporate farming. The choices are more than a comparison between the price per pound of your foods.

Hormonal chemicals in plants and the importance of Agroforestry

The modern focus on monocropping in agriculture and reducing the variety of sources of plant nutrients in our diet, as well as the destruction of the diversity of the agricultural environment, has resulted in a massive drop in the amount of plant hormones that we consume, and that are consumed by the animals that we eat. In addition, the processing of foods destroys a high percentage of delicate phytohormones. Our bodies have evolved a symbiosis with the environment that we ignore. Plant hormones, or phytohormones, are vitally important to our health, and some of the most important phytohormones are consumed as lignans, isoflavones, coumestans, and a variety of phytosterols. While the study of phytohormones has largely been devoted to uncovering potential risks to our health, more recent scientific study is revealing their importance to our metabolism, and the need for a variety of phytohormonal molecules in our diet. Although the study of isoflavones in soy has dominated the news, the study of lignans produced by trees, particularly spruce and pine resins, and found in seeds, whole grains, cruciferous vegetables, and some fruits, has revealed the importance of these food chemicals in our biology. The concentration of these important phytohormones in herbs is also an area of much study in the treatment and prevention of disease. Agroforestry may present the United States with a means to restore these important food molecules to our diets, especially with the incorporation of garden agroforestry into small farming, where relatively small plots of land can be packed with select trees, berries, nuts, seed crops, and herbs to provide sustainable crop income, timber resources, benefits to free range animals, and carbon credits to supplement small farm incomes.

Public research worldwide is now heavily focused on health issues related to nutrient medicine, and while phytohormones are not technically a nutrient, the study of phytohormones is now a vast area of research. Lignans and enterolactones are chemicals that are now highly studied in relation to cancer prevention. Lignan precursors are key nutrients found in healthy grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and green vegetables, and are essential to our bodies creating healthy lignans, enterolactones and enterodiols. There are a variety of lignans and lignan precursors, and certain lignans are concentrated in medicinal plants. These lignans stimulate increased production of enterolactones and enterodiols that help maintain hormonal balance, prevent cancer, act as hormonal stimulators when there is hormonal deficiency, reduce cardiovascular risk, and play other key roles in health maintenance. Commercial food processing has been shown to destroy lignans, and a host of other beneficial chemicals important in hormonal health, such as isoflavones, and phytohormones, which are lipid, or fat, based, may easily go rancid and breakdown, not only losing value, but creating a number of oxidized chemicals that may themselve create ill health. Eating fresh, local, well-preserved nuts, seeds, grains, berries and green leafy vegetables, and cold-pressed vegetable oils, will allow one to take advantage of these healthy lipid based nutrients such as lignans. Commercially processed foods may eventually create deficiencies of these valuable phytohormones over time.

Whole grain bran and many beans are the chief traditional source of plant lignans, as well as nuts and seeds. Sesame and flax seeds are particularly high in certain phytolignans, but aren't the usual chief source. These plant lignans are potential precursors for important hormones in our bodies produced by certain symbiotic bacteria in the intestines, the enterolactone and enterodione. The term entero refers to the intestinal metabolism, and the enterolactones and enterodiols are produced when the bacterial balance in the intestines is healthy and we eat sufficient foods or take herbs rich in lignans and lignan precursors. To fully benefit from these chemicals and restore health, we need to take a holistic and comprehensive approach, restoring healthy flora and fauna to the digestive tract (clearing and probiotic restoration), eating locally grown organic vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts and fruit, and correcting health problems that may inhibit our bodies' ability to utilize and metabolize these nutrients. One step only, in this regard, instead of a holistic approach, may not be effective, such as only taking probiotics. If your gut flora and fauna are unhealthy, probiotic foods and supplements may not colonize efficiently. You may need to correct unhealthy intestinal environments first with herbal therapy and acupuncture, and then introduce quality probiotics and nutritional cofactors to restore healthy gut flora and fauna. A healthy diet should be accompanied by healthy medical treatment and restoration (you may read the article on probiotics on this website). This attention to the whole picture is the key to success, a holistic approach. Numerous studies show that a wide variety of cancers occur more frequently in patients with gastrointestinal dysfunction and inflammatory bowel disease, and the poor production of enterodiol and enterolactone are a part of this problem. A knowledgeable Licensed Acupuncturist can help identify and correct health problems, provide quality nutrient products that are specific to the individual, and guide the holistic approach to full restoration of your bodies' metabolism to prevent disease.

To help in this complex subject of healthy diet, since it is a very complex subject, let me urge you to buy a Paul Pritchford book on nutritional healing, called Healing with Whole Foods, and access the website of the Linus Pauling institute. Let me also urge you to seek professional guidance when necessary from a practitioner of Complementary Medicine, and finally, let me give you a few bits of information that may help. Of course, a small webpage article is insufficient to fully educate on the vast subject of nutritional health, and this is why we study this subject for years in medical school. Keep in mind that your medical doctor has received zero formal training in nutrient medicine. The Licensed Acupuncturist and Naturopathic doctor may have received much formal training. To instruct and entertain a little, here is a small list of some foods and why they are valuable:

Comfrey: extremely high in allantoin in both leaf and root. This simple herb food can be grown in a small garden, or the leaf & root are available, usually in a dried form or capsule, but unfortunately still unpopular in a fresh form. The young leaves are very tasty in a salad or with braised greens, and the root is tasty in soup stocks or other root dishes. Mature leaves should be avoided. Allantoin is a powerful antioxidant & anti-inflammatory immunostimulant, so comfrey is often found in topical herbal creams for skin healing. It is also a very good sunscreen and antidandruff agent topically. Allantoin is also useful to control excess stomach acid and treat indigestion. Other foods with a sufficient amount of allantoin include beets, turnip, rapini, soy, rice and tea (real tea, or camellia sinensis). Pumpkin seed: high in arginine and essential fatty acids of benefit, as well as plant steroid hormones, beta-carotene, copper, cystine, iron, lysine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, potassium, urease, tryptophan & tyrosine. The amino acids are often deficient in chronic health problems and essential fatty acids are essential to regulate inflammatory process. This food is available as an oil, or as a seed snack, or you can fix pumpkin and save and wash the seeds, lightly toasting them with a bit of soy sauce and oil. They taste great. Pumpkin seed has been found to be very beneficial to control benign prostate hypertrophy, a disease of deficiency in hormones & minerals as well as poor inflammatory regulation. Pumpkin seed would also benefit the woman with menopausal problems or fibroids. In fact, it would benefit all of us as we age. Pumpkin seed oil is also available and may be used in dressings, as a butter substitute on toast, in baking, or as a light finishing oil on whole grains and cooked vegetables. Avocado: rich in the useful and often deficient Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), as well as essential fatty acids, amino acids (alinine, arginine, etc.), beta-carotene, biotin, calcium, copper, cystine, complex carbohydrates, iron, isoleucine, fiber, dopamine, serotonin, tryptophan, lecithin, magnesium, methionine, niacin, plant hormones, vitamin D, zinc. A few weeks of eating one avocado a day will do wonders to fulfill many nutritional deficiencies that you may be experiencing. Vitamin B6 is often a deficient nutrient, and is a group of chemicals that is very important in our metabolism. All of the vitamins are a group of chemicals, and not just a single chemical. Often, it takes a healthy liver metabolism and other nutrients to transform our vitamins into active metabolites. Just taking a pill will not always do the trick. B6 pyroxidine helps with pain relief, spasms, PMS, acne, depression, atherosclerosis, infertility, diabetes, neuropathy, kidney stones, anxiety and insomnia. Other sources of B6 include whole wheat, barley, barleygrass powder, soy, lentil, steel cut whole oats, & corn. Walnuts: like avocado, walnuts are rich in essential fatty acids, amino acids and serotonin. Other serotonin rich foods include nettle, banana, and plum, although these common fruits have small amounts. Nettle can be purchased as a dried herb supplement, or if you are adventurous, stinging nettle is a common forest herb that can be harvested fresh using gloves. The stinging part goes away when the plant is cooked, and it tastes quite good as a vegetable or tea. It also prevents getting poison oak rash. Walnuts should be purchased in the shell to insure that the nut isn’t rancid, which breaks down all of the useful chemicals and creates a lot of unhealthy oxidants. Toasted walnut oil is also a good source, but get a high quality in a metal container, as this oil goes rancid easily. Walnut is also high in plant hormones, biotin, inositol, calcium, citric acid, copper, beta-carotene, iron, lecithin, potassium, protein, quercetin etc. Shallots: speaking of quercetin, a very valuable nutrient, tasty shallots are very high in this beneficial substance, as is evening primrose oil and steel cut whole oats. Quercetin helps with allergies, pain, viral infection, cancer, PMS, aging, asthma, autoimmune disorder, diabetes, prostate hypertrophy, candidiasis, poor liver function, birth defects, and neurological disorders. It is also a strong antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and MAO-A-inhibitor in depression. Other plants rich in quercetin include okra, garlic, beet, tea, escarole, endive, cilantro, parsley, buckwheat, sour cherry, black currant, rose hips, cranberry, ginger, spinach, valerian and milk thistle. Melons: cantelopes, melons & muskmelons are all very high in linoleic acid, essential fatty acid of much merit. Linoleic acid is anti-inflammatory, liver protective, cholesterol reducing, cancer preventative, immunomodulator, and helps with eczema, prostatitis, skin disorders, allergic symptoms, arthritis, acne and heart disease. Other foods rich in linoleic acid include walnuts, avocado, safflower oil, hemp seed, pumpkin seed, cumin, coriander and evening primrose oil. Sage, basil, cumin, coriander & caraway seed: these common cooking herbs are rich in beta-sitosterol, an important plant hormone that stimulates human hormone production of androgens, progesterone and estrogen while also being regulatory of estrogen excess. Beta-sitosterol is antioxidant, antiviral, anti-candida, antitumor, and helps with high blood sugars, blood lipids, and leukemia. Oats: the grain Avena sativa is now a common staple in our diet, yet what have we done to destroy its nutritional content? Processing oats with heat and compressing them into quick cooking flakes is just a strategy to fool the public into believing that these now depleted simple carbohydrates deliver the same nutrition as complete whole oats, which are traditionally cut with steel blades into pieces that cook into a nutritious porridge easily, required just 10 minutes to cook in the morning, especially if they are soaked overnight. Now, MacDonalds is heavily promoting oatmeal with the claim that this company, a threat to public health, is going healthy. A simple fact check by the New York Times (reported in the Feb. 23, 2011 edition) found that the MacDonald oatmeal contained more processed sugar than a Snickers candy bar, along with 11 chemicals that are potentially injurious to your health. This is a far cry from real plain steel cut oats, but many Americans will be easily fooled. Steel cut oats contain the natural array of whole nutritional chemicals that quick cooking oatmeal and oat cereal do not. The chemicals in oats, as well as barley, have been the subject of many recent research studies proving that inclusion of these grains into the daily diet has amazing potential to prevent common health problems, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, chronic inflammatory diseases, etc. Whole steel cut oats contain bran, which is a good source of plant lignans, the precursors to human lignans enterolactone and enterodiol, which are proven to help prevent breast, prostate and colon cancers, and exert significant antioxidant activity. Here are just some of the other nutrient chemicals in whole oats and their medical, or biological, activities, found at the U.S. Department of Agriculture website of Dr. David Duke:

Benzaldehyde: allergenic, anticancer, antitumor, antispasmodic, candidicide, immunostimulant, tyrosinase inhibitor. Beta-ionone: allergenic, antitumor, cancer-preventive, fungicide, hypocholesterolemic. Caffeic acid: allergenic, antiatherogenic, anticancer, antiherpetic, antihepatotoxic (liver toxicity), antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiviral, anxiolytic, cholagogue (stimulating normal bile flow), COX-2 inhibitor, cytotoxic, immunostimulant, DNA-protective, lipoxygenase inhibitor, metal chelator, collagen-sparing. Ferulic acid: antiaggregate (inhibiting atherosclerosis and thrombi), antiarrhythmic (inhbiting cardiac arrhythmias), anticancer of the colon and skin, antioxidant, antithrombic, arteriodilator, candidicide, cholagogue, hepatoprotective, metal chelator. Limonene: antiasthmatic, anticancer, antiinflammatory, antimetastatic (stomach cancer), antispasmodic, antitumor, antiviral, fungistat, NO-genic (stims nitric oxide vasodilation), myorelaxant (muscle relaxant), lipolytic (helps break down fats). Quercetin: allergenic, antiasthmatic, antiatherosclerotic, anticarcinomic (breast cancer), anticataract, antiherpetic, antihypertensive, antileukotriene (decreasing the chronic inflammatory dysfunctions), antithrombic, antipsoriac, antiprotanoid, antitumor, candidicide, copper chelator, COX-2 inhibitor, estrogenic, cytotoxic, immune stabilizer, insulogenic, MAO-A-inhibitor (anti-depressant), PGE2 inhibitor (antiinflammatory), TNF-alpha inhibitor, VEGF-inhibitor (growth factor implicated in breast cancer).

These are but a few of the many wonderful sources of beneficial nutrients often lacking in the modern diet. To explore more of these nutrient sources, purchase the nutritional guide books of Paul Pritchford or the good doctors Bach, or go the internet and search the Dr. Duke database at http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/.

Utilizing nutrient supplements efficiently

Nutrient supplements are not a good subsitute for a healthy diet. Many studies have demonstrated scientifically how the nutrient availability from food sources is much higher than that from pills. Patients who lack the patience to really explore nutrient science believe that if they take an inexpensive multi-vitamin and/or multi-mineral package, that they are fully covered and do not need to take other nutrient medicines or even worry about their poor diet anymore. This is ridiculous. The general population has been fooled with marketing strategies to believe that poor quality supplement packages take the place of a healthy diet or utilization of naturopathic medicine. While it doesn't hurt to take these products, and they do benefit the general health, they absolutely do not substitute for intelligent improvements in the diet, or the intelligent prescription of specific medicinal nutrient chemicals to correct health problems. Even when taking nutrient supplements correctly, utilization of these pills is much higher when they are taken with foods that contain the same chemicals. When our digestive system fully recognizes these food molecules, processes are stimulated that greatly increase their absorption and utilization. With some nutrient supplements, if this protocol is not followed, almost all of the nutrient medicine will be excreted unused in the urine or feces.

Today, increasing progress is being made in nutritional medicine, though, with reputable companies relying on a wealth of new research to supply the specific nutritional chemicals with the correct dosage and delivery. The science of nutritional medicine is no longer simple, though, and the belief that there are just a small number of important vitamin and mineral chemicals that are easily supplied by a cheap drugstore product is wishful thinking. The FDA still lags behind the rest of the world in regulating this important field of medicine as well, with almost no attempt to insure that the products are what they say they are. The first piece of significant FDA regulation occurred in 2005 and was cynically entitled the Final rule, and only covers infrequent inspections of manufacturing companies to inspect product line quality, and seems to have been used mainly to drive small professional companies out of business. Studies have shown with random selection that commercial products do not have what they purport to have on the label in up to 80 percent of products on the shelf at groceries and drug stores. The intelligent patient will rely on professional prescription to obtain the correct nutritional medicine that will help their bodies correct specific health problems.

There are two basic reasons to take nutrient supplements. One, you might have a common nutritional deficiency. This is increasingly common in the population as our topsoils are depleted with modern corporate farming methods and chemicals, meat production is handled very poorly, with overcrowding and unnatural animal feeds and overuse of chemicals to produce increased profitability, and increasingly poor dietary habits with processed foods, fast foods, and high percentages of meat with low percentages of natural grains and vegetables in the diet are the norm. So much money is spent on marketing unhealthy foods that increase our national healthcare costs that we could see a dramatic improvement in our monthly insurance bills within a few years if this practice would just be curtailed a little. Our government is supposed to be looking out for public health, yet industrial lobbying, as well as pharmaceutical lobbying, is paying for our elected representatives to ignore the public health responsibility and promote only the healthy bottom line of these corporations. Public health should educate the population to create a greater understanding of common nutritional deficiencies and do more about them. The key to supplementing nutrients for the individual, though, is a thoughtful analysis of which nutrients may be deficient in each individual, and which nutrients are most likely to cause health problems. A number of professional ways to assess each individual profile and recommend the most important nutrients in a protocol exist today, including blood tests of circulating levels, and analysis of the individual dietary habits, as well as the signs and symptoms that may be related to important nutritional deficiencies. The subject is not simple, though, and trying to oversimplify is not a ticket for success.

The second basic reason for taking nutritional supplements is to stimulate a specific physiological process in the body that promotes correction of a health problem. This requires a high degree of nutritional knowledge, and to believe that marketing will provide the untrained person with the tools to understand and intelligently utilize this science is not reasonable. Medical doctors each have their specialty in science, but very few have any real training in nutritional science. Most medical doctors are also prescribing nutrient medicines based on marketing. The smart patient will seek out a professional and knowledgeable physician to best utilize nutrient medicine in their treatment protocol. Of course, Naturopathic doctors are highly trained in this regard, and should be more utilized. Patients today, though, may seek out a Licensed Acupuncturist, Naturopathic doctor, or a Chiropractor that has taken a great interest in this subject and continues to be research oriented and expands their knowledge over time. This type of physician may provide excellent nutritional advice and treatment along with an array of manual therapies, providing a very comprehensive treatment protocol. As with all medicine, identifying the specific physiological dysfunction and utilizing sound research to choose the right nutritional medicines to help correct it is the ticket for success.

Information Resources

A 2010 study at the University of Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, reviewed the sparse amount of scientific study of genetically modified food crops and concluded that the low-dose hypothesis of accumulation and biotransformation of xenobiotics associated with genetically modified foods is sound, supporting the statistical association between increases in endometriosis and introduction of genetically modified foods. This complex association involves hormonal disruptors, immune toxicants, pro-oxidants, and epigenetic modulators:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21111655 A 2000 study at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, showed that the herbicide Roundup inhibits steroidogenesis, potentially causing hormonal imbalance, by disrupting a key regulatory protein in the body. The study also cites prior proof that organochlorine and organophosphate insecticides disrupt steroidogenesis:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10964798 A 1983 study reported in Acta Pharmacology and Toxicology of Copenhagen, Switzerland, found that glyphosate, the herbicide constituent of Roundup, not only disrupts plant enzymes associated with the production of key amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine, but also disrupts animal enzymes, potentially causing complex human harm in the long-term. This study showed that glyphosate seems to inhibit monooxygenases, and decreased the level of P-450 and the intestinal activity of hydrocarbon hydroxylase. The P-450 pathway in the liver is used to break down both toxins and pharmaceuticals, potentially contributing to both toxicity and abnormal circulating levels of many pharmaceutical drugs. Another common herbicide type, MCPA, increased the intestinal activity of ethoxycoumarin, O-deethylase and epoxide hyrodlase. : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6624478 A 1997 summary of concerns of the herbicide Roundup and the Roundup-resistant crops created by Monsanto shows that there are serious concerns for public health and the environment addressed over 15 years ago and still not thoroughly addressed by safety studies. The U.S. Dept. of Justice has prosecuted 2 of the companies contracted by Monsanto to study the safety of Roundup and Roundup-resistant genetically modified crops for fraud, and the World Health Organization has stated that there is an urgent need for scientific study of these public health threats utilizing a more comprehensive and holistic research model to assess real risks:http://web.archive.org/web/20070312022520/http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/usa/press/reports/weed-killing-crops-glyphosate.html A 2011 New York Times article on the bestselling book The China Study reveals how researchers from Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine accumulated 20 years of data that show how high consumption of animal-based foods is associated with more chronic disease, while a predominantly plant-based diet resulted in a healthier life:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/24/health/24brod.html A 2009 New York Times article reveals research that finds a low-acid diet with reduction of meat and simple starches and high consumption of alkaline fresh vegetables to significantly prevent and reverse osteoporosis: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/nutrition-advice-from-the-china-study/?ref=health DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure), a study by th NIH (National Institutes of Health), and endorsed by the American Heart Association, found that a diet with predominantly whole grains and fresh vegetables, 3-6 servings per day of legumes, nuts and seeds, and only 1-2 servings per day of lean meat, fish or poultry, was proven to significantly reduce chronic hypertension: http://dashdiet.org/ A 2009 study of genetic material at sites of both modern humans and Neanderthals in 30,000 BC, or the Middle Paleolithic Period (first age of sophisticated stone tools), reveals that these groups prepared grain flours and cooked vegetables in a sophisticated manner even at this date. Three sites were examined in Italy, Russia and Czechoslovakia:http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/flour-human-ancestors-neanderthals.html A large 2006 study of dietary fats and oils, conducted by the Women's Health Inititative, found that a low fat diet did not significantly reduce the risks of breast, colorectal and other cancers, or cardiovascular disease for postmenopausal women. The recommendation, supported by new guidelines of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization, suggests that healthy fats be consumed as about 20-35% or total calories, with saturated fats (mainly meat and dairy) making up less than 10%:http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/feb2006/nhlbi-07.htm/ A 2012 study by the Harvard School of Public health found that saturated fats, found in meat, when predominant in the diet of aging women, were associated with a 60 percent increase in risk of cognitive decline, while consumption of unsaturated fats was associated with a 44 percent less likelihood of cognitive decline. This comprehensive review of dietary fats and physiology by the Harvard School of Public Health confirms the benefits of a plant-based diet rich in healthy fats, and the negative impact of both low-fat and high saturated fat diets, as well as trans-fats: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/index.html A 2006 study of Transfats (trans fatty acids) by the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Channing Laboratory, and Harvard Medical School, found that transfats are highly associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes, with pro-inflammatory effects, immune dysfunction, and endothelial dysfunction explaining this connection:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science A 2008 study of Transfats (trans fatty acids) by the Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology, found that transfats adversely affect lipid profiles, raising triglycerides and LDL, and lowering HDL, as well as exacerbating obesity and insulin resitance. The documented health risks associated with trans fatty acids (TFA), and the easy ability to substitute healthy fats in food production, call for an immediate elimination of these fats from commercial foods, which the researchers say would surely result in tens of thousands of lives saved yearly from cardiovascular deaths:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science A comprehensive analysis of lignans and isoflavones, key plant hormone nutrients, is presented in the book, Phytoestrogens: Occurrence in Foods and Metabolism of Lignans in Man and Pigs, available online: http://docs.google.com/viewer A comprehensive analysis of the physiological significance of glycemic index was performed utilizing the available research in 2009, by the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Department of Nutritional Sciences, and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Research findings showed that foods with a low glycemic index are associated with improvement in serum lipids, reductions of the key marker for inflammatory disease and cardiovascular risk, C-reactive protein, aid in weight control, improve levels of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), decrease risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascualar disease, and various cancers, including breast, colon, and prostate:http://www.jacn.org/content/28/4_Supplement_1/439S.long

 

Maintain proper nutrition and diet to reduce and prevent excessive weight, especially weight around the waistline that taxes lower back muscles. A diet with sufficient daily intake of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D helps to promote new bone growth.

Eating a healthy diet also is important. For one thing, eating to maintain a healthy weight—or to lose weight, if you are overweight—helps you avoid putting unnecessary and injury-causing stress and strain on your back. To keep your spine strong, as with all bones, you need to get enough calcium and vitamin D every day. These nutrients help prevent osteoporosis, which is responsible for a lot of the bone fractures that lead to back pain. Calcium is found in dairy products; green, leafy vegetables; and fortified products, like orange juice. Your skin makes vitamin D when you are in the sun. If you are not outside much, you can obtain vitamin D from your diet: nearly all milk and some other foods are fortified with this nutrient. Most adults don’t get enough calcium and vitamin D, so talk to your doctor about how much you need per day, and consider taking a nutritional supplement or a multivitamin.

A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss for Better Health

Generally, the population in the United States continues to gain weight as a whole, and scientific studies now place the United States as the industrialized country with the highest rates of overweight citizens (64%), and the highest rate of citizens with obesity (37%). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a United States government federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, estimated that direct medical expenditures for obesity-related health problems reached $147 billion by 2008, with rising costs each year. By 2009, 9 states had obesity rates of 30 percent or more. This research indicates that there are a number of common health problems and diseases associated with obesity, and treatment for the now very common problem of obesity must address the whole health, not just weight loss. What this means to the patient with a weight problem is that a medical problem with losing weight, which is what obesity is, in effect, produces a variety of health problems that create serious consequences in the long run, and should be corrected at the earliest possible stage. Since the problem involves a more extensive array of health problems than just being overweight, a more comprehensive holistic approach to the correction of the problem is sensible.

In 2012, a prominent expert on obesity and weight loss at Rockefeller University, Dr. Jules Hirsch, explained why it is so hard for many people to lose weight: “What your body does is sense the amount of energy it has available for emergencies and daily use. The stored energy is the total amount of adipose tissue in your body. We now know that there are jillions of hormones that are always measuring the amount of fat you have. Your body guides you to eat more or less because of this sensing mechanism. This wonderful sensing mechanism involves genetics and environmental factors, and it gets set early in life. It is not clear how much of this setting is done before birth and how much is done by food or other influences early in life. There are many possibilities, but we just don’t know.” (New York Times, In Dieting, Magic Isn’t a Substitute for Science, July 9, 2012)

We might divide the problems with weight loss into two categories, a simple overweight condition and medical obesity. If you wish to lose weight, and you are able to lose weight when you diet and exercise, then you may not have a problem with medical obesity. A Licensed Acupuncturist, or Complementary Medicine physician, can offer a number of treatments that can help you with either a simple overweight condition, or a problem with obesity. The ways that Complementary Medicine can help with simple weight loss problems include nutritional supplements that have been well studied, herbal formulas that are individually tailored to your overall health profile, instruction in and understanding of healthy dietary regimens, and acupuncture. Acupuncture does not miraculously cause one to lose weight, but does stimulate improved metabolism. There is no secret point on the body that, when stimulated, causes weight loss. What acupuncture does accomplish is a stimulation of the various systems and processes in the body that need to work better to help you lose weight as you diet and excercise. Acupuncture as a weight loss treatment should be combined with a holistic multidisciplinary approach that includes simple changes in habits, individualized nutrient therapy, and herbal medicine. Since one absolutely needs to burn more calories that one takes in, and achieve efficiency in metabolising and utilizing food nutrients, eaten and stored, to actually lose weight, one cannot continue with bad habits and lifestyle and expect some pill or acupuncture to force your body to lose weight without improving the diet and lifestyle habits that made you overweight. The first step in solving a health problem is to address the cause of the problem. This takes some level of physiological understanding, and the Licensed Acupuncturist can offer explanation and advice as well.

If you try to lose weight, and you can't, you may be suffering from obesity. Obesity does not translate as being fat. Obesity is defined as an abnormal increase in fat in the subcutaneous connective tissues, and is mainly associated with hypothalamic dysfunction, or poor hormonal control of the various processes that regulate storage and usage of fat. This has been a poorly understood health problem for many decades, but recent research has confirmed that obesity is related to specific dysfunctions involving inflammatory mediators affecting the fat cells coupled with hormonal imbalances that create insulin resistance in these fat cells. Insulin is a steroid hormone very similar to estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisone, etc. Correction of underlying hormonal problems as well as chronic inflammatory dysfunction is key to correction to the underlying causative process. Of course, as with any systemic health disorder, there may be a number of contributing factors that lead to hormonal and immune dysfunction, as well as a number of metabolic concerns that contribute. All of these concerns should be discussed, understood and addressed in therapy. Allopathic, or standard medical approaches, may seek to alter just one of these health factors, and this has been unsuccessful as a whole.

The failures of standard medicine to address weight loss in a meaningful manner and without alarming health risks has driven most thoughtful patients to seek an answer with Complementary Medicine when their own attempts have failed to produce results. Science has shown us that a calorie is a calorie, and different diets and amounts of fats, proteins and carbohydrates do not alter the inflexible physical law that energy taken in to the body must equal energy used. The challenge in each individual case of overweight or obese conditions is to find the healthiest way to burn stored energy and reset the complex hormonal mechanism that may make this difficult.

As time goes on, the scientific community and patient population is learning that the most common of weight loss medicines and surgical procedures has incurred unacceptable risks. In 2009, the French drug Mediator (benfluorex), used for over 30 years as a diabetic treatment and weight loss prescription to an estimated 5 million French patients, was ordered to be removed from the market for new prescriptions due to cardiovascular risks. Health authorities in France determined that as many as 2000 patients died from side effects of chronic use, and many thousands more were hospitalized with cardiac damage and pulmonary hypertension linked to the drug. In France, it was assumed that the system was so secure that no drug that posed this high of risk versus benefit would be allowed to be prescribed. The fact that the same pharmaceutical company, Servier, had pulled two drugs off the market in the wake of the Fen-phen scandal, where common weight loss drugs incurred many more cardiovascular deaths and injuries than this case (the American manufacturer of Fen-phen, Wyeth, set aside more than $20 billion to pay for patient damage lawsuits, before these lawsuits materialized), had failed to incur doubt about weight loss pharmaceuticals in the patient population. Mediator, like most of the weight loss medications today, is a type of amphetamine. Why the patient population is not more skeptical of pharmaceutical weight loss drugs is a mystery.

Standard medicine has a pretty dismal record of addressing this health problem called obesity. In the 1950s and 60s medical doctors routinely prescribed amphetamines, which were successful, but produced more health problems than they solved, and turned many innocent housewives into speed addicts. Today, a similar program of supposedly benign amphetamine prescription is occurring again, this time with drugs to treat mainly children with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, resulting in alarming rates of amphetamine abuse by teenagers and young adults, but that is another story. Over the decades, there have been few successful drugs to treat obesity with an allopathic approach. The two main drugs prescribed in the 1990s, fenfluramine (from the banned Fen-phen combo drug), and dexfenfluraramine (Redux), were recalled in 1997 by the FDA due to too many documented cases of heart valve abnormalities and other serious cardiovascular risks. The pharmaceutical companies quickly got approval for today's weight loss drugs, Meridian and Phentermine (Fentamine). Meridia is a Prozac-like drug, a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It works to suppress the appetite by supposedly increasing the amount of serotonin available to the cells in the brain. Phentermine, commonly called fentamine, is another variation of the amphetamine class drugs that have been banned in the past. While the amphetamine drugs worked supposedly by increasing serotonin in circulation, which caused serious cardiovascular problems, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors supposedly work by increasing localized availability of serotonin and appetite suppression. Still, the number of cardiovascular complaints from side effects are high, with many patients alarmed at the level of restless insomnia, episodic racing heart rate, etc. An FDA advisory panel was split on whether to remove Meridia from the U.S market. Phentermine, part of the infamous Phen-Fen weight loss medication that was removed from the market after causing tens of thousands of cardiovascular events, such as stroke or heart attack, is now marketed as part of a new combo drug, combining phentermine with another problematic drug from the past, Topamax (topiramate). This drug received a recommendation against FDA approval from an FDA advisory panel. Topiramate has been prescribed for years, first as an anticonvulsant, and later as an anti-migraine, and neuralgia therapy, and common side effects include dryness, dizziness, decrease in energy, headaches, anxiety, peripheral neuropathy, sinusitis, gastric and intestinal problems such as constipation, insomnia, short term memory problems, and weight loss. In clinical trials, approximately 21% of patients enrolled discontinued use because of side effects.

Besides alarming increase in cardiovascular risk and numerous side effects occuring in more than 10% of patients selected in clinical trials, these drugs that are based on narrow clinical goals, utilizing amphetamine derivatives and serotonin modulation, have a poor record of long term weight reduction as well. In October of 2010, the maker of Meridia voluntarily took the drug off the market in expectancy of an FDA recommendation of withdrawal. This drug received an FDA advisory panel recommendation against approval when it was indroduced in 1997, and a subsequent long term clinical study showed that it produced only a 2.5% weight reduction over the long course, while consistently raising blood pressure and increasing incidence of serious cardiovascular events by 16% (see link to a NY Times article below). The main drug in Meridia, sibutramine, was also found to be a significant component of over-the-counter diet drugs, and the FDA also issued a warning advising consumers of this risk. The problems with FDA warnings is that they are largely ignored by the patient and doctor population.

This leads many patients to turn to a more benign and natural medical approach. There are many heavily advertised programs of supposedly natural weight loss products and diets, most of which promote miraculous results that appear too good to be true. This is because they aren't true, according to public health studies. Most so-called ‘natural’ programs for weight loss have been shown to be ineffective in the long run as well as being bad for your overall health. Large-scale studies have shown that over the course of a year, almost all weight loss programs resulted in reductions of less than 5 lbs. Simple programs like Weight Watchers have yielded the best long term results in general. Many programs emphasize quick immediate weight loss that the person regains easily. These programs either increase the metabolism or starve the body of certain nutrients. Serious health risks have occurred with long-term use of these strategies and hence metabolic stimulants such as Phen-Fen and other ephedrine supplements have been banned from use by any person not certified as a professional herbalist. Still, companies seek herbs that have similar effects and market them heavily as safe natural products. The public should be wary. Profit-driven medical advice is a bad idea. Professional holistic healthcare insures that you are not being fooled by these pure profit-driven packages.

The package of care in Holistic Medicine is coupled with understanding

Why are there so many different diets, programs, supplement packages and drugs to make people lose weight? Because weight loss in obesity is a complex subject with no easy fix. It is estimated that more than 119 million people are overweight or obese in the United States, out of a total population of 305 million. Clearly, present approaches are not working, and we, as a population, need to start looking at the whole picture.

Weight loss must be assessed professionally on an individual basis. The human body is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to complex problems. Basic physiological principles must guide the weight reduction and underlying causes must be assessed and explained to the individual.

Professional assessment of your inability to lose weight may look at functional issues such as exposure to toxins, psychological issues, effects of antibiotics on the symbiotic flora and fauna of the gut, triggers and mediators that maintain weight gain and inhibit proper metabolism and hormonal regulation, neurotransmitter dysfunction, inflammation and free radical production, abnormal yeast and fungal overgrowth in the gut, etc. This holistic approach may be needed. You may want to coordinate your care by an M.D. weight specialist with a Complementary physician to insure quicker and better outcome and get another perspective on this sometimes complicated puzzle. With true obesity and insulin resistance, often a complicated pattern of pathological dysfunction is occurring, with subclinical liver and hypothyroid disorders most common. In these cases, tests reveal abnormal lipid and cholesterol profiles, high C-reactive protein, high circulating blood sugars, high A1C index (an advanced glycation endproduct), and a high TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Standard medicine usually does not explore these problems thoroughly to provide an adequate explanation of specific dysfuntions. Additional testing of active hormone metabolites in saliva and veinous blood stick samples are inexpensive and provide a more detailed analysis of the whole interrelated imbalance in the body to guide therapy in Complementary Medicine.

We must first start with the basics, though, and try to see if the problem of weight loss may be handled simply. To simplify, let’s assume that there are 2 basic types of person seeking weight loss: 1) persons that have developed some degree of clinical obesity, and 2) persons that consider themselves overweight and would like to be thinner.

For the person that doesn’t have a real health problem that we could term obesity and would like to look better, intake of fewer calories and increase in the burning of calories by being less sedentary and more active, both in exercise and daily routines, will effectively result in weight loss. Going without food for a period of 3+ hours each day will also help. Herbal medicine and dietary supplements, as well as dietary changes may benefit this person very much. Acupuncture will enhance this benefit. The weight loss will not occur, though, unless the person improves the dietary intake and increases the daily activities. If excess appetite is a problem, there are herbs to reduce appetite. If depression and anxiety causes binge eating, there are effective treatments to help with depression and anxiety. If the digestion and elimination is unhealthy, with bloat, constipation, heartburn etc., these problems also may be treated effectively. The patient must make clear to the physician what problems are contributing to weight gain and difficulty with weight loss. Improved diet and increased activity must still be adhered to.

For the person that is unable to lose weight or has gained weight inexplicably, there is an underlying health problem that must be addressed. These health problems that lead to unwanted weight gains and inability to lose weight we may refer to as obesity, which does not mean that the person is extremely fat. One must get past emotional reactions to the word obesity and adopt an objective view of their health if one is to succeed in solving the problem. Here are some of the common causes of obesity:

Metabolic syndrome with insulin resistance: this may be the number one cause of excess weight in the United States at present. The basic mechanism is one of a national diet that is rich in simple carbohydrates and overloads the system of assimilating simple carbohydrates. The body responds to simple carbs (including but not limited to sugar) by producing more insulin. When excess insulin is produced over time, the fat cells develop a resistance to this chemical, especially when other hormonal stresses, such as chronic inflammation or menstrual problems, also affect the insulin system (insulin is a steroid hormone). When this occurs, over time, fat accumulates around the midsection, and blood sugars fluctuate. Cholesterol and triglyceride imbalance may eventually occur. Medications to reduce cholesterol and treat chronic inflammation do not treat the underlying problems, only the manifestations of the problems. Often, chronic use of these medications will contribute to a worsening situation. Hormonal changes around menopause and pregnancy, or associated with premenstrual syndrome or other menstrual irregularities may exacerbate this metabolic syndrome and need to be addressed in therapy when they occur. Since fat cells produce inflammatory mediators (cytokines) and leptin hormone, dysfunction with insulin metabolism and insulin receptor resistance are often closely tied to these chemicals as well. Since hormone receptors are triggered by a variety of hormones, neurotransmitters, and inflammatory cytokines, problems at the receptors leading to insulin resistance often involve pathological imbalances in these other aspects of health. Treatment needs to address this whole problem in obesity. Liver stress and inefficiency in converting fats to sugars: your body runs on glucose (sugar), yet glucose is not stored. Your liver converts sugars to fats and proteins and then converts them back to get glucose for fuel. When this system is not working well there is sudden cravings for dietary sugars and simple carbohydrate foods. To correct this situation, the liver system must be improved. In more severe conditions there is an apparent lipid imbalance showing on blood tests, with high triglycerides and low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL). If the liver is very dysfunctional, the liver enzymes will be high and the triglyceride and HDL levels will be in the disease realm. When there is less liver stress, these levels will still be within reasonable parameters, indicating that there is no liver disease. There is still a problem when the liver is not working the way it is supposed to, even when the lab tests do not show pathological levels. There are many factors that contribute to inefficient liver metabolism. Since the liver is responsible for detoxifying the blood, it works harder when chronic use of medications occurs or when chronic use of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or other drugs occurs. Sometimes, the patient must consider reducing liver stress to lose weight. Often, the physiological stresses that accompany anxiety and depressive disorders will greatly contribute to liver stress and must be addressed. Hormonal imbalances unrelated to Metabolic Syndrome or Liver Stress: often there are endocrine imbalances associated with a syndrome of chronic health problems that results in unwanted weight gain. This imbalance is usually associated with chronic pain and inflammatory conditions as well a mild hypothyroid condition that results in a slow metabolism. Since all steroid hormones are linked in the endocrine system, when there is imbalance it ultimately affects the whole system. A simple hormone saliva test will give you an accurate account of your primary active hormone levels. Once this is determined to be a prime reason for the unwanted weight, treatment can be administered that is very effective to bring the endocrine system back into balance. The length of treatment varies depending on the condition. Sometimes 5 treatments will give excellent results and sometimes it may require treatment over the course of a year. Consult with me to better understand this problem. Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is an indicator that a cyclical relative progesterone deficiency is occurring, and progesterone deficiency and relative excess of estrogens may affect insulin and leptin physiology in a number of ways. For instance, conversion of circulating hormones to their active metabolites in local tissues is controlled with enzymes such as 5alpha-reductase, and elevated levels of 5alpha-reductase are highly associated with obesity, as well as insulin resistance and polycystic ovary syndrome. Progesterone inhibits 5alpha-reductase in a modulatory fashion. Cyclical deficiency of progesterone in PMS contributes to a pattern of insulin resistance. The adrenal hormone DHEA increases 5alpha-reductase in this homeostatic balancing, and deficiency of DHEA is also linked to insulin resistance and obesity. This also links the high rates of breast cancer in obesity to specific hormonal dysfunctions. The adrenal catecholamines, cortisol and adrenaline/norepinephrine, also affect hormonal conversions and imbalances within a diurnal cycle contribute to obesity and insulin resistance, and leptin resistance both directly and indirectly, affecting the hormonal balance and neurological controls at night. As time goes on, the research is uncovering more and more complicated ways that hormonal imbalances affect the mechanisms of insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and inflammatory dysfunction at the fat cells and liver. The patient is not expected to fully keep up with the science, but it is important to realize that there is a complexity that must be dealt with by holistic restoration of physiological and hormonal function and balance. A knowledgeable Complementary Medicine physician, and persistence, is the key to success. The Leptin hormone and problems with the body’s regulation of appetite, metabolism and stored fat. Leptin is the main hormonal protein that regulates these, and with obesity and inflammatory mechanisms in the brown fat cells there is a high level of leptin released in the body, leading to leptin resistance. Decreased expression of leptin hormonal receptors in the hypothalamus and liver are found in studies of obesity and insulin resistance, decreasing the central controls of metabolic energy metabolism. With a combination of insulin and leptin resistance, seen in the fat cells, liver, and brain regulating centers, patients are unable to lose weight despite decreasing caloric intake, increasing exercise and caloric burning, and making healthy changes in the diet. Just as in insulin resistance mechanism, when the body is overloaded with leptin, and the fat cells become enlarged, there is a decreased sensitivity to the leptin hormone to release the body fat when the body needs more energy, such as in heavy exercise. This explains why some people are frustrated by lack of success with weight loss when they seem to be doing the right routines. The correction of this problem involves a variety of mechanisms in the body and may take some time. If the weight reduction is not successful, the patient must persist with intelligent therapy and not give up easily. In fact, this leptin hormone also acts on receptors in the brain, such as the hypothalamus, which is associated with both the endocrine system and the limbic, or emotional system. Problems with emotional stability or hormonal balance, as well as thyroid dysfunction, could all play a role in the dysfunction of the leptin regulation of appetite and stored fat. Simple inhibition of leptin is not an option. A holistic treatment approach is necessary for success. Inflammatory disorder: researchers at the University Pierre et Marie Curie have shown that obesity is associated with a low-grade inflammation of the white adipose tissue (WAT) resulting from chronic activation of the innate immune system and which can subsequently lead to insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance and even diabetes. WAT is the sight of stored fat as well as an important participant in numerous physiological functions and pathophysiological processes. WAT is a site for production of certain hormones as well as the site for production of important inflammatory mediators, such as interleukin 6 & tumor necrosis factor alpha. As white fat cells increase in size there is an increased infiltration of immune macrophages that secrete excess amounts of these inflammatory mediators. Sufficient essential fatty acids, liver health & a better PGE2 ratio and hormonal health are essential to correcting this problem. Excess free fatty acids induce changes in the macrophages of WAT that create harmful inflammatory mechanisms. One of the chief sources of this excess free fatty acid is commercial palm oil and poor quality meats. Low fat milk is also a source of palmitic acid because the industry uses palmitate to keep it stable. The WHO has stated that palmitate increases cardio risk. Poor appetite control and Ghrelin excess: for many patients with severe obesity, gastric banding is at least temporarily successful to lose weight. Research has indicated that this procedure works to a large extents because the stomach lining that produces the hormone ghrelin is drastically reduced, producing a sudden drop in ghrelin. Ghrelin is a fluctuating hormone that is expressed to stimulate a desire to eat. With chronic ghrelin excess, obese patients are often aware that they are overeating, and while consciously trying to curb the appetite, the unconscious, or autonomic brain, is still stimulating excess consumption of carbohydrates. Some simple carbohydrate foods supply a day's need of caloric intake with just a relatively small portion of food. For instance, a large bottle of soda supplies most of a full day's need of calories. Reducing total food consumption while continuing to consume snacks with a high simple carbohydrate caloric content is common in obesity, and seems to be controlled by the hormone ghrelin. Unfortunately, if underlying health dysfunction is not corrected holistically, once the gastric banding is reversed, or the stomach lining again heals and grows, the patient's pathological level of ghrelin returns, and the obesity and weight also return. Patients undergoing gastic banding will also benefit in the long run with a restoration of total health with holistic medicine. Hormonal effects in pregnancy may result in subsequent obesity and insulin resistance: many women have found that following pregnancies, weight loss becomes more and more difficult. Slowly, a pattern of subclinical obesity and insulin resistance is occurring. What triggers this is the subject of much research, but the whole explanation is still elusive. Certainly we know that leptin levels rise during pregnancy and normally fall after childbirth. Research in the last 10 years has uncovered a number of possible explanations for the onset of obesity following pregnancy, childbirth and nursing. Lactation and nursing has been linked to diurnal changes in serum leptin and hypothalamic expression of leptin receptors. A number of factors combine, including patterns of nursing excessively at night, that may explain why daytime reduced hypothalamic sensitivity to leptin may occur. Changes in eating patterns, and binging induced by increased circulating leptin, and leptin insensitivity at the hypothalamus, may be linked to eventual chronic changes in leptin levels and leptin sensitivity. If these problems are not corrected after birth, they may grow in severity. A number of beneficial hormones are also delivered with natural birth, and are found to play a large role in normalizing hormonal metabolism. The extreme rise in C-sections, which negates the hormonal effects seen in natural childbirth, may be implicated in failure to correct hormonal patterns acquired during pregnancy, and have an effect on the hormonal regulations during breastfeeding as well. This type of research is complicated and still speculative, but is pointing to some possible explanations. Certainly, a relationship between placental hormones and leptin is obvious and being explored.

So, we see that some thought and diagnosis must go into weight loss if it is to be effective. Unfortunately, there are no magic cures or pills. If you want to try magic cures go to the internet and believe whatever the advertisements tell you. Please do not put the professional clinician in the same realm as these companies that will tell your anything to make a buck. Effective weight loss accompanies good understanding and a whole package of health improvement. The good thing is that once you commit to this package of weight loss your life and health will be improved dramatically. If you are not willing to commit yourselves frustration will continue.

Only when the routines of eating and exercising are changed, and the chemical mechanisms regulated, will weight stay off. If this is not accomplished, the body will have a strong tendency to put the weight back on after the period of weight loss is over. This is the reason why most medications, surgeries and short-term dietary regimens will ultimately fail.

You must work with a knowledgeable health practitioner to achieve an intelligent permanent weight loss. These are the various herbal formulas which I may use in the treatment. I will need to explain specific courses and routines as we progress in weight loss, and use these formulas as aids to the diet and lifestyle changes and weight loss routines. The herbal and supplement routines will be enhanced by the synergistic effects of acupuncture. Often, the underlying health problems must be addressed first or the weight reduction will be difficult. Patients are often told that weight reduction must happen before their problems of hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes can be corrected. Actually, the opposite is often the case. Attention to the whole health is often a lot of work but necessary to achieve your goals. Ignoring the whole health aspect is a sure method for frustration and failure, as many patients have experienced.

Examples of some of the available herbal and nutrient medicines and formulas useful in designing an individualized weight loss or anti-obesity treatment protocol

Traditional Chinese Medicine has never recommended that a patient ignore the many health problems associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome and even a simple overweight condition, and just take a single herb to force weight loss. This approach would be considered malpractice in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Taking a more holistic approach to weight loss and related medical problems results in a healthier and more productive life. While it is tempting to try to just take some medication to quickly lose weight, these strategies have proven to have poor long-term benefit and many chronic side effects. Standard allopathic medicine has long promoted such unhealthy weight loss regimes as amphetamine addiction, Phen-fen, etc. while ignoring the correct holistic approaches to obesity. The results are an alarming rate of obesity. Complementary Medicine offers a sensible long-term solution, but a persistence and proactive approach is necessary.

Astra Diet Tea: suye (perilla leaf), ganjiang (aged garlic), pipaye (loquat leaf), danzhuye (bamboo leaf), ciwujia (Siberian ginseng), bohe (field mint) / TP or treatment protocol = settle the stomach, warm and dispel accumulations, promote digestion; take before meals to control appetite and improve digestion; take when craving simple carbohydrates to control these cravings; improve digestion to eliminate bloating and indigestion. Astra 18 Diet: shanzha (hawthorn), yiyiren (pearl barley), kunbu (kombu seaweed), haizao (seaweed), houpo, gangiang, banxia, chenpi (tangerine peel) with/huangqi (astragalus), baizhu, danggui, baishao, and huangqin, zhizi, xiangfuzi, zexie, and jiegeng; Treatment principle = promote functions of the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, and liver, as well as the thyroid; dispel accumulation and stagnation. This broad Chinese formula addresses many health benefits useful in correcting obesity and metabolic syndrome. Dr. Kang's Diet formula: jiao gu lan (gymnostemna pentophyllum or sylvestre), da huang (wild rhubarb root), lu hui (dried aloe), and sha ji (sea buckthorn berries) = stimulates increased bowel motility and digestive functions to aid in weight loss when constipation or bloating is a problem; sea-buckthorn berries are the source of an amazing medicinal oil that has been widely studied in the treatment of numerous medical conditions, and exerts a significant antihyperglycemic effect, as well as lowering excesses of cholesterol and low density lipoproteins (see study link below). Jioa gu lan, or Gymnostemna, is also studied in relation to restoration pancreatic function. This formula is especially effective for a combination of metabolic syndrome, obesity and constipation. Chzyme: 100 mg of amylase, lipase, alpha-galactosidase, glucoamylase, cellulase, malt diastase, cere calase, protease, with the herbs shenqu, houpo, yiyiren, guya (barly sprouts), huoxiang, fuling, cangzhu, gegen (kudzu), tianhuafen, chishizhi, juhong, bohe (field mint), muxiang, and baizhi; Treatment Principle = promote food assimilation, decrease abdominal bloat and indigestion, eliminate damp, promote motility, relieve stagnation, and aid pancreatic enzyme function; take with meals or between meals, whichever is more effective for the individual. This formula may help those patients with poor digestion of dairy and glutens as well. Gentle Senna: fanxieye, yuliren, pobuye, binglang, gehua, jinyinhua; Treatment principle = clear heat and stagnation, promote bowel movements; useful as needed when bloat and constipation affect digestion and weight loss. Griffonex 5HTP: griffonia seed extract has been shown to reduce carbohydrate cravings, regulate serotonin, and stimulate improved gastrointestinal function; take before meals or when craving sweets; (5HTP also helps with depression and insomnia, which may have an associative effect with obesity). Adrenosen: adrenal cortex with PAK, and the herbs taizishen, shanyao (wild mountain yam), biandou, wuweizi, guya (barley sprouts); Treatment principle = aids conversion of sugars to usable energy, improve adrenal hormone function, and help the cholesterol mechanisms; use in conjunction with heavy exercise to aid use of stored fats; use when there is an adrenal insufficiency syndrome suspect, or a subclinical hypothyroidism contributing to obesity. Myrtle Seng: xiyangshen (American ginseng) + Queens Crepe Myrtle: nutritionally reduces blood glucose levels postprandially (after meals) and aids glucose transport; helps treat Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and promote insulin sensitivity. Polilipid: policosanol 10mg, gugulipid 750mg, to aid the HDL/LDL ratio and treat obesity (gugulipid) by clearing fat obstruction, lowering LDL, and aiding liver function to metabolize cholesterol and help normalize triglyceride levels; Polilipid also may stimulate thyroid function and prevent atherosclerosis and platelet aggregation, exerting an anti-inflammatory effect; both this myrrh resin (gugulipid) and policosanol, a long chain fatty acid complex from rice bran, aids arterial flow as well. This formula may help in obesity and weight loss, and provide a host of benefits for patients with related disorders. Advanced Chole Clear from Dr. Kang's: this herbal formula also aids in lowering triglycerides and normalizing liver fatty metabolism, when these associated health problems are evident. Leantain (with the African cactus Hoodia, as well as a green tea extract): helps curb appetite in strict dieting, or with unusual carbohydrate cravings, as well as provide a proven weight loss aid in green tea extract. Such combinations of herbs provide a number of beneficial aids in one formula. Greenexcellent: green coffee bean extract is a relatively new find in weight loss aids, stimulating the digestive metabolism without a caffeine stimulation; this extract utilizes the healthy chemicals found in coffee beans and removes the unwanted chemicals; by stimulating an increased metabolic rate, weight loss is suddenly much easier to achieve with a little exercise and improved diet. Glabrinex, an extract from the Chinese herb Glycyrrhiza glabra, standardized with glabridin, polyphenols and flavonoid oils: medicinal licorice root has long been utilized for metabolic stimulation, but a high dosage presents problems. This new standardized extract is patented and has passed clinical trials to show that it improves fat metabolism and reduces abdominal fat, while helping to normalize blood sugars. A stimulation of fat burning enzyme activity, and increased utilization of fats, are both demonstrated in double-blinded placebo-controlled human trials. Coriolus +: turkeytail mushrooms contain oxygenating germanium to improve the health of the cellular functions and make the metabolism more efficient Supplements and Supplement formulas: There are now a wide variety of proven nutritional supplements and supplement formulas. A knowledgeable Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist, or a Naturopathic physician, may help you sort through the maze of these many options, and help provide a professional quality product. Poor quality products are the source of much disappointment with nutritional medicine, and just because you may have bought a poor quality product and found it unworthy does not mean that these nutrient medicines do not work:

Psyllium husk: psyllium, or plantago, has been widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. Psyllium seed, or plantaginis, is called Che qian zi, and has long been studied in China to improve digestive problems. The seed contains a significant percentage of linoleic and linolenic acids, as well as other essential fatty acids, such as oleic, stearic, palmitic, succinic, arachidic, and plantenolic acid. Psyllium husk is from the seed pod, and has long been used in standard hospital treatment, under the name metamucil, referring to the amazingly effective mucilage found in psyllium. The outer layer of the plantago seed is ground to obtain plantago-mucilage, or metamucil, and the yield is 25% by weight of the total seed. China has been one of the major exporters of psyllium husk, and the United States has long been the world's largest importer. We see that Traditional Chinese Herbalism has had a big impact on standard therapy for digestive disease as well as weight loss. Essential fatty acids: for example, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) was studied and shown to produce a drop of .8 pounds of fat mass a month with 3.2 grams daily in scientific studies; krill oil (EPAq) is the omega-3 essential fatty acid of choice, being the most concentrated and balanced of these dietary essential fatty acids; seeds (such as the plantago seed) and nuts contain a high amount of these dietarily essential fatty acids, as do healthy cold-pressed oils, and even the dietary algaes, such as chlorella, spirulina, and blue-green algae (see information link below); Chromium picolinate and L-Glutamine: to reduce cravings, support healthy blood sugar levels, promote lean muscle tissue, and improve nutritional metabolism; chromium is an essential trace element in the diet that is involved in healthy insulin function, and has been removed from many commercially produced foods; chromium picolinate is shown to have greater bioavailability in the body, and is supported by more than 35 reserach trials. L-glutamine is shown to increase the effectiveness of chromium picolinate, and is the amino acid building block for glucose in the body. L-Carnitine L-tartrate: this amino acid combination significantly improves metabolic conversion of sugars, fats and proteins, and helps the body manage carbohydrate storage and utilization better. L-arginine and L-lysine: also essential amino acids that may benefit the metabolism Alpha lipoic acid, or ALA: this essential fatty acid is a potent antioxidant that benefits liver lipid metabolism and is essential to regulation of both glucose and lipid metabolism. Choline and inositol: to help burn fat intracellularly, and move fat deposition out of the liver; this nutrient combination is essential as co-enzymes required for the healthy metabolism of fats and cholesterol. Inositol is a member of the B complex vitamin group and is a liptropic agent. Niacin in the form of flush-free Inositol hexacotinate vitamin B3: to increase HDL and treat depression caused by deficiency, as well as reduce high cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health; numerous studies show that this supplement is nearly as effective as pharmaceutical cholesterol lowering drugs, sans side effects, for many patients. Bitter melon extract is now also proven very effective, as well as Red Rice Yeast extract. Some combination may help the obese or overweight patient with Metabolic Syndrome or high cholesterol greatly, and perhaps help correct the underlying condition and eliminate the future need for taking drugs and supplements. Leptin X: a patented formula developed and studied at the University of Connecticut, this formula was proven to provide weight loss, fat loss, and waist size reduction in obese patients suffering from leptin imbalance and metabolic syndrome. It contains a proprietary blend of high viscosity polysaccharides (complex sugars) extracted from acacia gum (the Chinese herb Er cha), and esterified fatty acids.

Other health factors associated with obesity

Short duration of sleep is associated with hormonal changes that may lead to obesity. Study by Professor Cappuccio of the University or Warwick has shown that lack of sleep produces ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and creates less leptin, increasing appetite and slowing metabolism. Once again, this shows that only a holistic approach to weight loss will produce the optimum effects, since there is a complex interaction of body chemistry and systems in the regulation of stored fat. You may need to work with the naturopathic or TCM physician to correct problems with sleep duration and quality if the weight loss program is to be successful.

Addendum: the problems with misuse of research, and the use of study design to promote sales of weight loss medicines and discourage proven natural weight loss products

Research, especially in the realm of weight loss, has unfortunately become a tool to manipulate the market, as well as a means of discovering new useful tools in the treatment of obesity. The public must be able to judge the quality of the research and the bias involved to understand which research is to be trusted. Companies with much money at stake will spend fortunes to produce research results that destroy the competition and bolster their product.

These pharmaceutical and supplement companies will try to convince the medical establishment that the more money spent on the research equals greater confidence in the results. In fact, the opposite is more often the truth. Products that produce small profits cannot produce large money research and pay for extensive advertising, but these products are often the safest and most effective products in the weight management therapeutic protocol. Supplements and herbs cannot be patented and thus produce small profits. Patented chemicals can produce billions of dollars in profit and so pharmaceutical companies will do anything to manipulate research and increase sales of pharmaceutical weight loss medicines. The history of weight loss pharmaceuticals is dismal, though. Cases of harmful manipulation of research, such as the Merck Vioxx, GlaxoKlineSmith Avandia, and the companies producing hormone replacement therapies, are now common. A 2005 confidential survey of NIH researchers found that over 40% admitted to taking money from pharmaceutical companies to alter research findings. There is no doubt that research is often compromised by paid bias in the pharmaceutical arena. The judgment of such research by the public is a difficult proposition. Sometimes the public must find professional medical practitioners that they can trust to evaluate the studies and properly assess risk and benefit. The skeptical patient researches pharmaceutical weight loss medicines and aks their M.D. to explain the risks and side effects thoroughly.

Some misconceptions promoted with faulty research:

Conjugated linoleic acid: with the publishing of the success of this supplement in recent years, companies set out to find risks, and produced results showing that chronic use of CLA could raise levels of C-reactive protein, lipoproteins, and leptin, claiming that these were associated with risk of heart disease. When we examine this claim we find flaws in this analysis. C-reactive protein is a chemical that the liver and other tissues produce to respond to cardiovascular inflammation. The increase in CRP may be due to vessel inflammation, or it may be due to other metabolic factors. Studies show that CRP increase is a nonspecific factor on its own and increases are seen with estrogen supplementation and dialysis, as well as other medical procedures that show no link to vessel inflammation. Lipoproteins (commonly, but mistakenly, called cholesterol, since some lipoproteins carry cholesterol hormones) may be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Increase in HDL (high density lipoproteins) is found to be the best indicator of reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Leptin is a protein hormone that plays a key role in regulation of appetite and metabolism, affecting weight loss and energy. While leptin levels in the obese have been found to be high and obesity is linked to cardiovascular disease, this link to cardiovascular disease with the use of CLA supplementation is a misrepresentation of the facts. Obviously, any effective natural supplement that would stimulate weight reducing mechanisms would probably increase leptin levels because this is the way that the body naturally achieves weight loss. In fact, leptin levels dramatically increase in pregnancy because leptin is produced by the placenta, yet there is no dramatic increase in cardiovascular risk with pregnancy. CLA should be taken as part of a protocol that also looks at overall hormone balance. These study findings that try to discourage the taking of natural supplements when they are found effective are now very common, and curiously, get much press coverage as soon as the first study is completed. Obviously, some fiscal encouragement is being used to create these sensationalizing news stories.

Information Resources

Vanderbilt University offers this explanation of current pharmaceutical weight loss drugs:http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/psychology/health_psychology/Meridia.htm A common opinion of current pharmaceutical weight loss strategies is that they are only mildly effective and come with considerable risk, prompting a call for a broader integrated approach to weight loss by standard medicine:http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56559 Dietary algaes, such as blue-green algae, spirulina and chlorella contain a high percentage of essential fatty acids which are useful in restoring health and losing weight:http://www.www.a-vital-life.com/page.php?p=essential_fatty_acids Sea buckthorn berries, or Hippophae rhamnoides (Sha ji in Chinese herbology) has been well studied and proven to lower excess blood sugars, low density lipoproteins, and lower body weight in obesity: http://www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1745-4514.2010.00337.x/abstract New weight loss pharmaceuticals are still having a hard time passing regulatory scrutiny over safety. In 2010, the FDA rejects the latest designer weight loss drugs, Lorcaserin and Qnexa, in advisory panel reviews (see; NY Times Health, Sept. 16, 2010):http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/f-d-a-panel-rejects-diet-pill-2/?partner=rss&emc=rss An FDA panel was split on whether to recommend that the weight loss drug Meridia be removed from the U.S. market due to concerns of risk versus the small relative benefit of the drug (see: Wall Stree Journal online article by Jennifer Corbett):http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100915-713570.html A Drugs.com article gives the clinical study side effect reports on topirimate, part of the new combo drug prescribed for weight loss, Qnexa: http://www.drugs.com/sfx/topiramate-side-effects.html A Sept. 16, 2010 article in the New York Times Health reports that FDA advisory panels again recommended against approving new drugs targeted weight loss and obesity - medical experts on the panel report that these drugs showed little long-term benefit versus risk; the newest drug, Lorcaserin, suppresses appetite by mimimicing serotonin:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/health/17drug.html An October 8, 2010 article in the NY Times reports the history of diet drugs such as Meridia, which was voluntarily withdrawn from the market after another FDA advisory panel reported greater risk than benefit and threatened to withdraw FDA approval:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/health/09drug.html?hpw A 2007 randomized controlled clinical human study at Chongqing Medical University in China found that low frequency acupuncture stimulation, as well as manual acupuncture stimulation, can effectively lower leptin levels and raise circulating adiponectin to treat obesity: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/09/health/09drug.html?hpw A 2007 study of obesity at Dalian Medical University in China found that circulating leptin levels were correlated with total body fat in obesity, and that decreased expression of leptin hormonal receptors was found in the hypothalamus and liver, indicating that leptin resistance is a key aspect of obesity with insulin resistance:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17611900 A 2007 randomized controlled clinical animal study at Hebei Medical University in China found that electroacupuncture significantly reduced leptin levels and the size and volume of fat cells, as well as normalizing blood lipids: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17853760 A 2010 randomized controlled clinical animal study at Chongqing Medical University in China found that electroacupuncture could significantly lower serum triglyceride and total cholesterol, and the level of hypothalamic leptin expression down-regulated remarkably with 4 weeks treatment: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21090330 A 2009 study at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Ireland, confirmed that the herb Galega Officianalis (goat’s rue) showed significant aid to weight loss in laboratory in vivo studies. This herbal extract (galegine) has also shown benefits in treating Metabolic Syndrome and diabetes: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18297106 A 2012 study at the Seoul National University, Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics, found that a standardized extract of Glabridin, a constituent of the Chinese herb Gan cao (Glycyrrizha, or Licorice root), exerted significant effects on weight loss and obesity, by promoting fatty acid oxidation, and also aided normalization of fatty liver and high triglycerides: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22493094