Nutrition Has to do With the What, How,
When and Why We Eat
Introduction to Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
PUTTING STRAWS ON THE CAMEL'S BACK
Physical health is a vast topic; it ranges from frontal lobe neurotransmitters to toenail fungal infections. In writing this series of articles, I feel like I am trying to jamb an elephant into a matchbox.
Libraries contain whole volumes on this topic. I will endeavour to summarise the main aspects of each subject and then, where possible, provide links to videos, books, etc. which provide the evidence. Our 'camels' of health are often loaded down with the 'straws' of wrong choices that damage our health. Some choices place 'straws' on the camel one at a time; some load the camel with handfuls, and others weigh the poor beast with bales at every meal. I aim to suggest ways of lightening the burden for your 'camel', so you will get more miles out of it.
A WORD OF CAUTION
I would like to remind you that I have not had training in the physical, medical field and would recommend you seek professional advice before implementing any change in your diet or lifestyle. You can understand that some changes you make could be detrimental if you have pre-existing health problems. Even though my articles, and the resources I recommend, are evidence-based, and even though professionals produce them, they are still opinions. Please use your logic and reason in assessing the material, then obtain your own, independent professional advice.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES PROVIDE THE EVIDENCE
NUTRITION AFFECTS EVERYONE'S BEHAVIOUR
Nutrition has a bigger impact on health, moods and behaviour than most people think and it includes more than what goes into the stomach. For convenience sake, I have had to summarise the research-based information that is available on the web, in books and DVDs. Nutrition is a huge topic, and future articles will contain more information. Nutrition is a particularly relevant issue in any discussion about behaviour management, whether it is our own or that of the children in our care.
YOU WOULDN'T WANT TO DIE EARLIER THAN YOU NEED TO
Please take this article seriously as poor nutrition causes, or contributes to, most of the lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. To put it bluntly, most people in the western world will die years earlier than they need to because of poor choices, or wrong information, regarding nutrition. By making changes in your lifestyle, many of these western, lifestyle diseases can be prevented or reversed.
YOU MIGHT CALL THESE LIFESAVERS
The following research-based suggestions could have a very positive impact on the emotional mood in your home, classroom or office. Each one reduces the amount of straw on your camel's back. The more you can implement these, the better off you and your family will be:
- PLANT-BASED DIET: Move towards a plant-based diet. It would improve your immune system and significantly decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.
- REFINED FOOD: Cut down on, or avoid, as many refined foods as you can. Refining food takes out many of the essential nutrients that help us fight disease. Many of the additives in processed foods are downright poisonous.
- ANIMAL PRODUCTS: Cut down on, or avoid, as many animal products as you can. Apart from animal fat that contributes to many of the western diseases, eating animal products impairs the production of neurotransmitters that aid in frontal lobe function.
- DAIRY PRODUCTS: Avoid dairy foods and look for substitutes such as soy and nut products. Research strongly indicates that dairy products are also a significant contributor to heart disease, allergies and cancer.
- FRUITS, VEGETABLES, NUTS & GRAINS: Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. A balanced intake of these natural foods gives you optimal health, maintains a robust immune system and erects a barrier against disease.
- FRUIT JUICE: Avoid concentrated fruit juices. Fruit is high in sucrose (sugar). Juicing fruit concentrates the sugar, and our sugar intake is greater than if we ate the whole fruit. We might drink the juice of five apples, but we would be struggling to eat five whole apples. Fibre is lacking in fruit juice.
- FAST FOODS: Avoid fast foods. They cater for our taste, not our health. They have a reputation for being high in saturated fats, salt and sugar which turn your body into a time-bomb.
- DRINKING STIMULANTS: Avoid, or cut down on, stimulants such as tea, coffee, energy drinks and chocolate. We experience accentuated mood swings when we ingest stimulants. Our highs will be higher, but our lows, lower. We might experience heightened tendencies to anxiety and depression. Artificially pushing a low to a high eventually leads to more exaggerated mood swings. These substances are very addictive and play havoc with your moods. Tea, coffee and alcohol are astringents, i.e. they leach water from the system. If you drink one cup of coffee, you need to drink two cups of water just to keep your water levels even.
- ALCOHOL: Avoid alcohol and other mind-altering drugs. These substances have a dramatic effect on our thinking and behaviour; they damage our mental and physical health and can have an enormous negative impact on our relationships.
- EATING BETWEEN MEALS: Avoid eating between meals. It takes an average of five hours to digest a meal. Just eating a banana between meals will reset the digestive process back to the beginning, keeping food in the stomach that should have passed into the intestines. That food begins to ferment creating alcohol. If you have your regular three meals as well as morning and afternoon tea, it is possible that some food you ate for breakfast will still be in your stomach at tea (dinner) time. Eating between meals interferes with the digestive process.
- EARLY TEA (DINNER): If possible have your last meal three hours before bedtime. For the digestive system to work at its best, we need to be vertical. If we lie down while still digesting food it impairs our digestion and the assimilation of food. Sleep time is also repair and rejuvenation time, and while we are digesting the food, we significantly reduce the time our body spends refreshing itself. Eating late can also be the reason why some people feel they didn't have a good rest or they wake up tired even though they slept long enough.
- GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMO): Avoid food containing genetically modified organisms. Genetic modification occurs at the intercellular level. The genes, which have a lot to do with the production of enzymes and antioxidants, are changed. The result can be that what was once food becomes toxic or impairs our immune system.
THERE IS MUCH, MUCH MORE
I have only given a summary of how our eating habits can affect our physical and mental health. There are many other factors that I have not touched on; each one has the potential to add more straw to your camel's back. Did you know that many heart attacks end in sudden death? Many people who have died this way had not experienced any symptoms of heart disease beforehand. We don't know when that last straw will break the camel's back. The last straw about cancer may have caused the camel irreparable damage years before.
THE HARE AND TORTOISE
Some strong-willed people seem to be able to quickly implement change in their lives, while the rest of us struggle. A word of caution here. With certain medical conditions, change needs to be immediate and permanent. Those who are most successful in losing weight are those who are happy with losing weight a little bit at a time. More often than not those who go on extreme diets give up within a few weeks and put on more weight than they had lost. For change to become permanent, slow and steady wins the race, as illustrated in the fable about the hare and to the tortoise. Don't try to change everything all at once; start with changing the things which affect your health the most. Then, once you establish better health habits, move on to other things that need changing.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART
The resources that follow are the most important part of this article because they detail the results of research that supports the content above. There is a wealth of informed and research-based information on Youtube and some websites. I hope for your own and your families sake that you look at the videos. When doing something radical, you need to have confidence that you are doing what is best.
Seeing the Evidence Will Help You Make the Best Choices
Go to Multimedia Library - Nutrition
THESE PROFESSIONALS HAVE THE EVIDENCE
- Prof. T. Colin Campbell
- Dr John DeWitt
- Dr John A. MacDougall
- Dr Michael H. Greger: Creator of NutritionFacts.org
- Dr Michael A. Klaper
- Dr Douglas J. Lisle
- Dr Neal D. Barnard
- Prof. Walter Veith
- Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn
- Rip Esselstyn: Son of Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn, wrote 'Forks Over Knives'