Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that what and how much we eat profoundly affects growth, development, aging, and the ability to enjoy life to its fullest. Dietary intake and lack of exercise is linked to risks for development of a variety of common, chronic diseases that are disabling and life-threatening.
Dietetics has a long history that stretches back at least to Hippocrates, who regarded it as virtually inseparable from medicine. Four of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States are diet-related conditions – diabetes
, heart disease, stroke
and cancer. The effort to drive health care costs down has encouraged many physicians to shift their focus from the treatment of diseases to their prevention, which, of course, involves nutrition. There is no question that better nutrition can result in delaying the onset of many chronic diseases and significantly improve the quality of life.
Nearly everyone is familiar with the old nutritional saying that states: "You are what you eat." This saying urges you to think about the origins of your food. If your food was raised in an environment riddled with pesticides, herbicides, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) and growth hormones, it will absorb those chemicals – and so will you. This is particularly true of animal foods because animals accumulate and concentrate many pounds of vegetation into each pound of meat or milk that they produce.
Many pesticides, such as DDT, DDE and PCP, have been shown to mimic the effects of estrogen
in the body and have been linked to the growing epidemic of estrogen-related health conditions such as PMS
, breast cancer, and low sperm counts.
The EPA, in a continuing examination of pesticides, has so far found sixty-four that are potentially carcinogenic
. Many others have yet to be tested. Growth hormones such as rBGH
that are found in conventionally-raised dairy and meat products have been shown to have detrimental effects on the human body. And the EPA and FDA can not guarantee there will be no negative effects from GMOs. In today's world, no one of us can escape pollution completely, but there is a big difference between the amount and type of toxins present in organic foods
and in those raised by conventional means. By choosing organic foods, you can significantly reduce the amount of environmental toxins in your body and the environment as a whole.
Among those diseases linked strongly to diet, the cost for medical treatment and care exceeds $200 billion per year. The annual economic impact of cardiovascular
disease in the U.S. exceeds $80 billion, that of obesity exceeds $86 billion, osteoporosis
$10 billion for care alone, cancer $104 billion, and cataract
surgery $4 billion. The American Cancer Society estimated in 1996 that one-third of the 500,000 cancer deaths annually in the U.S. are due to a variety of dietary factors.
Treatment and Prevention
Here are some simple rules:
- Do not over-eat.
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Consider organically grown food.
- Eat as much of your food raw or lightly-cooked as possible.
- Eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as possible.
- Avoid drinks containing sugar or caffeine.
- Avoid sugars.
- Avoid processed and refined foods.
- Avoid hydrogenated trans-fatty acids. Use only certain oils for frying. Keep essential fats in balance.
Beyond this, many other factors – such as digestive problems – contribute to the diet that is best suited for any specific individual.