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.
Here are some simple rules:
Beyond this, many other factors – such as digestive problems – contribute to the diet that is best suited for any specific individual.
Malnutrition can cause pale fingernails.
Changing one's diet to include more nutritious and balanced foods can also help with diet related problems such as problems with sleeping. Lack of sleep in itself can cause memory lapses and cognitive deterioration. A healthier diet which helps with sleeping problems may therefore have a knock-on effect and also help to improve poor memory.
Various dietary deficiencies can cause endolymphatic hydrops (excess fluid) in the inner ear.
Excess salt and sugar, found in junk foods, leach calcium from the bones into the urine.
Out of 50 consecutive COPD patients presented with acute respiratory failure upon admittance to a hospital, malnutrition was observed in 60% of all patients but only 39% of those whose body weight was equal to or above 90% of ideal body weight. These results suggest that assessment of nutritional status should be systemically performed for COPD patients with acute respiratory failure, especially those who are in need of mechanical ventilation. Aggressive, early nutritional support in acute illness might have beneficial effects on the weaning of patients off mechanical intervention. [Nutritional Status of Patients With COPD and Acute Respiratory Failure, Chest, May 1993;103(5): pp.1362-68]
A diet high in meat, dairy, processed sugars and unhealthy fats has been implicated.
Black tea has some healthy components (although green tea is better, and white tea better still), but it can interfere with the absorption of some nutrients such as iron, especially when taken with meals.
Everyone should stay away from fast food and deep fried foods as much as they possibly can because of the trans fat content. The National Academy of Science recently released a damning report on these toxic fats and concluded that the only safe intake is "zero".
July, 2011: Following a detailed review of more than 7,000 clinical studies covering links between diet and cancer, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has declared, "Processed meats are too dangerous for human consumption. Consumers should stop buying and eating all processed meat products for the rest of their lives."
Processed meat products are usually manufactured with a carcinogenic ingredient known as sodium nitrite. This is used as a color fixer by meat companies to turn packaged meats a bright red color so they look fresh. Unfortunately, sodium nitrite also results in the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines in the human body. And this leads to a sharp increase in cancer risk for those who eat them.
October 2014: Research at Uppsala University in Sweden and published in the British Medical Journal followed the diets and lifestyles of two large groups of men and women over a number of years and found that milk consumption can increase the risk of dying prematurely.
In women, the study found no reduction in bone fracture risk with higher milk consumption, but those who drank more than three glasses of milk a day had a higher risk of early death than women who drank less than one glass a day. Men also had a higher risk of death with higher milk consumption but this was less pronounced than in women.
In contrast, a high intake of fermented milk products such as yoghurt was associated with lower rates of mortality and fracture, particularly in women.
If you are consuming 4 or more tablespoons of safflower, sunflower, corn or cottonseed oil each week then you really should consider an "oil change": replace the omega-6-rich oils in your house by olive or canola oil.
Garlic may be the most medicinal of foods and should be consumed regularly unless there is a valid reason not to.
A well-balanced diet provides the body with the tools (nutrients) it needs to repair wounds.
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