A Science-Based Approach to Healthy Eating
Information abounds on how to live a healthy life. Advice columns, recipes, scientific studies, testimonies, print articles, affirmations, advertisements and anecdotes flood the senses and sensibilities of everyday life. The information is often confusing and conflicting. And it is not uncommon for information revealed years or even months earlier to be contradicted by the next discovery. What is a person to think or do? Pondering this question through the lens of human history is a good place to start.
Human beings have never been healthy. From the beginning of time, humans have had to carve out an existence under extremely harsh and dangerous conditions. Scavenging and foraging was part of day to day life. Prehistoric man was short in stature, infertile and not alive for very long, often dying in the first year of life. It is well documented that the discovery of fire allowed humans to become more fertile, grow taller, have bigger brains and live longer. Cooking food did and still does kill deadly parasites and bacteria and neutralizes some of the poisons in the food not compatible with human life.
Written records from the ancient Babylonians, dating to the 4th and 5th century BCE, describe remedies for digestive skin, eye and joint abnormalities. Ancient Egyptians refined medical practice by adding surgical techniques for a population suffering from diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts, joint disease, digestive issues and cancer. “Let thy medicine be thy food, let thy food be thy medicine”, came out of a Greek tradition witnessing the deaths of thousands of people at the hands of practitioners of the healing arts using herbals remedies and potions for the treatment of disease. Socrates was famously poisoned with hemlock. Hippocrates advocated watchful waiting and supporting the natural healing process in a holistic way, as opposed to “intervention” to cure the disease, which was often fatal. Food was supporting life and healing, not killing people.
Disease and pestilence continued to plague mankind through the Dark Ages into the Renaissance and through the Industrial Revolution. Led by the discovery of chlorine and the sterilization of drinking water, advances were made in sanitation and public health, eliminating epidemics that wiped out millions of people several times over. Now, in the 21st century, even though life is seemingly less harsh and dangerous, optimal health remains elusive. Billions of dollars are being spent on both traditional and alternative medication, with a population living longer, but not better. What is wrong with this picture? With all the scientific advances that have been made and the discovery of new drugs and therapies, why is there still an unbalanced focus on the care and treatment of symptoms and disease, instead of a better understanding of what is required to be healthy? Is there a way for a human being to function in an optimal, holistic way, holding a strong position in the universe, instead of being defenseless in this still toxic world? To answer this question, a person must first understand the role one plays as part of Nature, not separate from her.
Plants, animals, humans and microbes are on planet Earth to assure their own survival, which assures survival of the ecosystem. No living organism is above or below another and no living organism can exist without the other. It is truly a circle of life. As such there are mechanisms in place supporting all of Creation. These mechanisms revolve around the interchange and exchange of energy and the creation of a structure that allows an organism to function in a “place” in the universe. Different organisms have different structures which create different functions. Plants have a structure and function that requires higher amounts and different ratios of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium than the human body. Plants use not only the “light” minerals, but “heavy” minerals as part of their structure and function. Humans are designed for light minerals, not heavy metal. Plants release oxygen and consume carbon dioxide. Humans do just the opposite: consume oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Animals are raw meat eaters, having developed the structure and function to process raw food completely, including enzymes to process cellulose and digest bones, feathers, hair, and hide. Humans cannot process cellulose, cannot process all parts of animal structure and, as has been discussed in previous articles, do not have the enzyme systems to fully detoxify all the chemicals made by plants as part of plant metabolism and plant defense. Humans have developed an enzyme system for only a very few foods raw. For optimal health, humans must eat most foods cooked, a lesson learned millions of years ago with the discovery of fire, but somehow forgotten.
Ultimately no food is safe to consume. The fact that humans must eat to live sets the ball in motion for death of the human body. Having to reduce food to nutrients is work, work requiring electrical energy that produces fire which “inflames” the cells. Is it any wonder where the word inflammation comes from? The paradox is that inflammation is an integral part of living just as is anti-inflammation. The key is to find the balance between the two, ultimately reducing inflaming to a minimum, which thereby reduces anti-inflaming to a minimum. This is the key to optimal health in a human body. So how does one know what is safe to consume and how to not produce inflammation in the first place?
There is a widespread misunderstanding that there are only nutrients in food. This is only half the truth. Foods contain not only nutrients, but anti-nutrients as well. This means that there are good things and bad things in the same food. This is a natural law. There is a positive and a negative in everything. Healthy eating requires consuming those things that have more good than bad and/or preparing things in such a way that any bad is reduced or eliminated. Although sensory clues are important, a person cannot know whether a food is good or bad by simply seeing, touching, smelling or tasting it. In order to know the chemical composition of a food or any consumable for that matter, there must be a chemical analysis. This is done through a process called chromatography, which is a technique allowing the separation of foods, drugs, herbs, oils, supplements, lotions, shampoos, water, pigments, virtually any substance, into the component parts of which it is made, including proteins, fatty acids, carbohydrates, starch, sugar, vitamins, minerals, DNA, RNA and thousands of chemicals substances that are part of the biologic structure of plants, animals, humans and microbes. As an example, Figure 1 shows the chromatography of green chlorophyll, containing numerous individual pigments. Knowing the chemical composition of food, beverage or other substance being consumed, combined with an understanding of the chemistry, biology and physics of cell nourishment leads the way to a new and improved definition of healthy eating.
Figure 1 - Thin layer chromatography is used to separate components of a plant extract, illustrating the experiment with plant pigments that gave chromatography its name.
Healthy eating is low in total calories. This means eating the least amount of calories required to maintain proper cell function, no more, no less. Reducing calories reduces cell work, which reduces heat production. Reducing heat is necessary for optimal cell health and optimal cell function. A person has to know how many calories are being consumed every day. Without a handle on daily calorie consumption, there can only be an illusion of healthy eating. Don’t assume because something is considered “healthy”, calories don’t have to be considered. Calories are always a primary consideration.
Healthy eating meets essential needs for protein, carbohydrate and fat on a daily basis. In order to reduce calories without being hungry, a person must meet nutrient needs for a specific amount of the major nutrients, protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal, every day. Balancing protein, carbohydrate and fat calories with each meal sets up the right signals to balance heat and cooling functions inside the cell, keeping heat and inflammation to a minimum. Requirements for protein, carbohydrate and fat calories are determined by a person’s lean body weight and activity level. Therefore, for healthy eating, a person must know their lean body weight and must know how much protein, carbohydrate or fat is in a given food. Basic information about nutrition content in foods is available on labels or in reference books. If necessary, seek help from a biochemist or exercise scientist who can help you with calculations and further explanation. The Wanek Medical Center has been teaching the principles of biochemical eating since 1998.
Healthy eating creates an enzyme surplus. Food is processed by the machinery of the body, also known as enzymes. Enzymes are not obtained in a pill or a capsule. Human enzymes do not come from plants. Enzymes are made by the cells of the body under the right conditions. Eating for an enzyme surplus starts with eliminating foods that destroy enzymes. Foods that destroy enzymes include alcohol, pork and pork products, corn and corn products, nuts, seeds, nut oils, nut butters, and nut milks, such as coconut and almond. Then foods that block nutrient absorption must be eliminated, primarily foods that containing heavy metals, citric acid, oxalic acid, salicylic acid, and phytic acid. These foods include whole grains, citrus fruits, spinach, chocolate, rhubarb, all berries, peaches, apricots, plums, cantaloupe, honeydew, snow peas, lima beans, green beans and the larger, darker legumes, including soybeans, black beans, kidney beans lentils and split peas. Foods containing citric acid as a preservative are also block nutrient absorption.
Healthy eating means selecting and preparing foods in such a way as to make the food safe to consume. Most people are not aware that no food is safe to consume, organic or not. How many people seeing the list of chemicals in Figure 2 would consider ingesting this food?
Cyanide, goitrin, butane, propane, methane? This is a list of the forty nine natural pesticides and chemicals found in 100% natural organic raw cabbage. Is it any wonder eating cabbage creates gas? Food scientists have prepared lists like this for all foods, identifying well over 100,000 different natural chemicals. Thousands of others remain unidentified. 99.9% of all the chemicals that a person is exposed to on a daily basis are coming from 100% natural, organic, pesticide-free, non-GMO, hormone-free, antibiotic-free food. Raw food eaters have the highest intake of natural toxins. The therapeutic science called Symptometry has taken food science and cooked the cabbage until soft and seen all the chemicals disappear except the indoles, a cyanide derivative. Cooking food makes some, but not all, foods safe to consume because heat reduces the chemicals to the elements of which they are made. Chemicals are toxic. The elements of which chemicals are made, however, like carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen are not toxic, necessary for proper cell function. Heat processing reduces chemicals to elements, making cooking an essential element of healthy eating.
5. Healthy eating is eating slowly and thoroughly chewing the food. Chewing is the first stage of digestion. Food must be chewed until nothing but saliva remains, which maximizes the surface area for digestive enzymes and digestive juices to fully and completely reduce large molecules in food into much smaller elements which are used by the cells. These elements are amino acids, fatty acids, simple sugars and purines and pyrimidines required to build and rebuild DNA. Even food which is soft must be chewed for digestion to be maximally effective. Liquid foods miss the first stage of digestion, increasing the likelihood they will not be reduced to the smaller elements. Any food not reduced to smaller elements becomes metabolic trash in the blood and lymphatic system, which is very difficult to clean up.
6. Healthy eating does not include alcohol in any form. Alcohol is a poison. It kills liver cells on contact. It fuels a desire for more food and depletes nutrients. Alcohol is metabolized to aldehydes, which are pickling and preserving agents. No amount of phenols, improved cardiovascular health, improved brain acuity or antioxidant benefit can outweigh the downside of alcohol. It is much easier to prevent cell death than trying to get the cell machinery to regain lost ground. Alcohol should be left alone.
7. Healthy eating includes heme iron. Heme iron is required to make the two oxygen transport pigments, hemoglobin and myoglobin and used by all red organs of the body, especially blood, liver and kidneys to produce enzymes. Heme iron receptors have been identified in the intestinal lining of human cells of prehistoric man. Heme iron gains entry into the human body in preference to any other form of iron. Heme iron is produced by bacteria in the stomach of ruminant animals and is primarily obtained by eating red animal flesh. Heme iron is available as a supplement for those who abstain from red meat. Other forms of iron, including ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate and ferrous gluconate are not a substitute for heme iron.
8. Healthy eating does not include coffee in any form, black tea or herbal tea. These foods contain thousands of natural plant chemicals, 80% of which are volatile organic chemicals and up to a dozen shown to cause cancer in lab animals at high doses. Coffee, black teas and herbal teas destroy enzymes. Healthy eating does not include these beverages.
9. Healthy eating understands that plant metabolism and human metabolism are different. There is more to a food than meets the eye. All plants contain cyanide which is used to circulate nutrients. Cyanide can be neutralized in some foods, but cannot be eliminated from others, including all nuts and seeds. All plants contain MSG which acts as the temperature control system. MSG levels are too high in kale and sea vegetables like kelp, chlorella, wakame and nori. Chemicals, called alkaloids, which function to deter predators including solanine, nicotine, cocaine and indoles are found in many plants. Alkaloids are poisons. Alkaloids destroy enzymes and block nerve transmission in the human body. In order to eat plants containing alkaloids a person must know how to neutralize the poison. Plants colored deeply blue, deeply red and deeply yellow contain very high amounts of black, yellow or red phosphorous, an element highly flammable in the presence of oxygen. This makes blueberries, blackberries, plums, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, red grapes, red pepper, yellow pepper, apricots, peaches and pears unsafe to consume. Human cells need phosphorous in small amounts. Excess phosphorous is toxic. Excess phosphorous produces too much heat inside the cellular machinery. Excess heat destroys enzymes.
10. Healthy eating is low in fiber. Plant fiber does not nourish human cells. Plant fiber produces a good bowel movement, but does not create healthy colon cells. Plant fiber does not nourish the colon cells to make a tissue called elastin, which produces a normal, expulsive bowel movement. If a person wants to find out the true health of the colon and the entire digestive system, remove fiber from the diet. If a person is constipated without fiber, there is a serous enzyme deficit and serious cell malnutrition, which has to be corrected for optimal health.
11. Healthy eating is low in acid and low in base. A pH of 7.0 is neutral. A pH of 6.0 is 10 times more acidic than pH 7.0. A pH of 5.0 is 100 times more acidic than pH 7.0. A pH of 4.0 is 1000 times more acidic than 7.0. A pH of 3.0 is 10,000 times more acidic than a pH of 7.0. A ph of 2.0 is 100,000 times more acidic than a pH of 7.0. A pH of 8 calculated in terms of hydrogen ions is 1/10 that of pH 7.0. A pH of 8.0 is 1/100th that of pH 7.0 and so on as shown in Figure 3.
All cells in the body function in a very narrow range of pH, from 6.5 to 7.5. Foods that are either too acidic or too basic require more work to process and overload the cell machinery. Citrus fruit and all berries, carbonated beverages which high in carbonic acid and phosphoric acid, ice cubes, beverages with ice cubes and beverages chilled in the refrigerator high in carbonic acid are not safe to consume. Baking soda, salt water, chocolate, Milk of Magnesia, Tums and sea salt are too alkaline and are not safe to consume.
Human beings have to eat because a continuous supply of amino acids, fatty acids, simple sugars, purines, pyrimidines, vitamins and trace minerals is required to support ongoing daily needs. These substances are contained in what is called nutrition, but nutrition is not cell nourishment. Humans are not able to process everything in all “whole foods”. Humans are designed with an enzyme system to reduce whole foods to nutrient elements that drive cell machinery. This doesn’t mean, however, that everything in the whole food is tolerated. In fact many chemicals in the whole food are toxic. An enzyme system that is overwhelmed with chemicals, both natural and manmade, meal after meal, day after day, month after month and year after year, cannot function and is on a fast or slow course to disease and death with a whole lot of symptoms and symptom treatment along the way. Symptom treatment is plain and simple disease management. Symptom treatment is not cell nourishment. Cell nourishment is meeting the nutrient needs of the cell. It is not magic. It is a very complicated science. If there is difficulty understanding these concepts, but a desire for optimal health, please rely on a professional who can guide you through the science of cell nourishment to practical application in daily life.