Obesity and Overweight Conditions

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017


The essential treatment protocols in the overall comprehensive scheme to reverse the obesity syndrome and restore normal fat homeostasis

We see from the information in the prior sections of this article that those patients expecting the pharmaceutical industry to come up with a magic pill that will reverse obesity without correcting the whole array of physiological dysfunctions and changing dietary and activity habits are not being realistic. A complete protocol must be adopted, and an array of changes in dietary and lifestyle habits are the foundation for this treatment protocol. We also see that for a great percentage of individuals now afflicted with an obesity and overweight condition that the actual health implications are varied, and will not be solved by drastic weight loss alone (i.e. the Obesity Paradox). Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM/TCM) provides professional help and guidance, but the bulk of the work must be accomplished by the patient.

Dietary strategies present very confusing and contradictory information for patients. For instance, in the summer of 2012, a large European study demonstrated that increased protein and decreased carbohydrate as a dietary choice is associated with increased mortality and health problems, while at the same time, a much publicized American study stated that increased protein and decreased carbohydrate was the proven way to lose weight or prevent obesity for those prone to weight gain and obesity. These completely contradictory presentations now dominate the field of advice. In 2016, a meta-review of the revised DASH diet (Dietary approaches to stop hypertension) was finally conducted, by experts at the University of Tehran, in Iran, and found just 13 randomized controlled human clinical trials of this long recommended diet for obesity and cardiovascular health, but evidence of effectiveness. The revised DASH diet, just a sensible diet of 1600 to 3100 calories per day that recommends whole grains and fresh vegetables and fruit, with limited meat and dairy intake, and healthy fats and oils, not saturated fats, was found to be effective for weight loss. Revisions of the DASH diet moved away from processed carbohydrates to actual whole grains, and from low-fat to healthy fats and oils, with about a 5 to 1 ratio of whole grains to meats (including fish and poultry). While our dietary beliefs continue to be manipulated by fad diets and fake science, seemingly changing in the wind, and now becoming almost religious, it appears that the human diet evolved over many thousands and even millions of years, largely based on whole foods and predominantly plant-based, is still the healthiest protocol. What is most important is not the choice of vegetarian or meat, gluten-free, paleo, vegan or whatever, but just sticking to natural healthy whole food and not eating too much. The return of natural variety in the choice of foods has been very helpful in reversing obesity, as is the return of an emphasis on cooking rather than consuming fast food and processed foods, which have largely caused the epidemic of obesity.

The debate over the physiology of weight gain, essentially a pure caloric theory of energy versus the way caloric energy is used and stored, continues. A nuanced approach that considers the complexity of the human organism, and the wide variety of individualized nutrient requirements, seems still beyond the scope of our standard science. Hopefully, information on this website will help individuals to discover how to improve the health of the metabolism, and find their individual protocol to achieve healthy weight and metabolic function. Standard solutions to obesity and weight gain, such as 'low-fat' diets that touted margarine (transfats), avoidance of healthy fats in the diet that hurt hormonal regulation of weight, and use of 'diet' foods with artificial sweeteners that have now been long proven to actually have caused or contributed to the explosion of Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes Type 2 and obesity in our children and youth should show us that we need to look elsewhere for the solutions. Prevention of obesity and Metabolic Syndrome requires attention to a healthy diet, and a more holistic approach in medicine, and treatment of those afflicted with obesity and Metabolic Syndrome needs to focus on the whole picture of health problems, not just drastic weight loss and polypharmacy solutions. Patient education and a more proactive approach is vitally important.

The most important lifestyle changes needed to make an obesity treatment plan work for most patients are: 1) start the day with a breakfast of complex carbohydrates and healthy essential fatty acids (for example, a porridge of steel cut whole oats, sweetened with banana and a little agave syrup, or stevia, and with fresh shelled walnuts and a few dried black currants); 2) stop eating and drinking simple carbohydrates, and when the need for a sugary snack occurs, try a cup of peppermint tea with a spoonful of honey; 3) go for a period of time midday without eating, drinking only water, not soda or coffee, and quit eating in the evening and before bedtime; 4) make sure that your sleep is sound and restful, and that you have a regular sleep schedule; 5) assess your medications and discuss with the prescribing doctor whether some of these medications may be contributing to weight gain and obesity; 6) avoid environmental chemicals that could disrupt your hormonal regulation and contribute to obesity, such as soft plastic containers, canned foods, insecticides, chemical househould cleaners, flame retardant chemicals, solvents, and food additives and preservatives; 7) eat a predominantly plant-based diet with healthy fats, including a variety of whole grains and beans, legumes, fresh organic vegetables, and whole fruit that is not too sweet (not fruit juice); and 8) start a daily short exercise and stretch regimen to decrease chronic inflammatory problems and burn midsection fat (5-10 minutes per day of targeted abdominal muscle exercises after eating a small meal predominated with healthy fats, such as avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, will result in the body burning that midsection fat each day, little by little). Of course, the most important step is realizing that obesity will not be solved quickly with a miracle cure, but requires a persistent and intelligent approach. Short periodic courses of treatment with acupuncture, herbal and nutrient medicine, with advice from the Complementary and Integrative physician, or Licensed Acupuncturist and herbalist, concerning your individual efforts with diet and lifestyle routines, is very helpful to the end result.

Much scientific study has demonstrated that increased exercise and cardiorespiratory work, and well as periods of caloric restriction, meaning hours of time without eating snacks, will reduce excess leptin and increase deficient adiponectin. Of course, if the obesity syndrome is too pronounced, this tactic may only work when some progress on the syndrome is made first. Now, the public has been told for many years that frequent smaller meals are the healthiest approach. This is completely wrong. Much research in recent years clearly demonstrates that long periods during the day without food intake is very helpful, and essential to reverse obesity. To access such study, click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21257708. Now, to help with this protocol, one may utilize herbs and nutrient medicines to help curb midday appetite, such as hoodia, an herbal extract from an African cactus, acacia extract, and green tea or whole grape extracts. One may also drink peppermint tea sweetened with a little honey to stop the carb cravings, or eat a sheet of toasted nori seaweed. A midday exercise routine, such as a brisk long walk, instead of lunch, may also be an easy routine that can be accomplished at work. Of course, to prepare oneself for this intermittent calorie restriction, eating a breakfast of complex carbohydrate is essential, as these complex carbs take a long time to break down, supplying glucose over time without generating an insulin increase. No, quick cooking oatmeal or supposedly whole grain cheerios will not work. A breakfast of eggs and sausage will also not work, and avoiding breakfast and drinking a glass of sweet frozen orange juice with coffee will not work. Eating whole rye bread for the breakfast toast is also proven to be very effective to sustain a high glycemic prolonged blood glucose response and lower insulin demand. To see a study proving this, click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21247415. Educating oneself to intelligent dietary science, something sorely lacking in our educational system, is important when a disease such as obesity, which is integral to your dietary habits and routines, is oppressing you.

Avoiding processed and fast foods whenever possible is also essential to the overall treatment protocol with obesity. Commercially processed foods have gradually incorporated ingredients that are proven to cause obesity, and our government has been lax in regulating this industry, despite the enormous evidence of harm to public health. High fructose corn syrup and processed and altered transfats are proven to be the worst offenders, and the food industry has been very stubborn in the elimination of these harmful processed food ingredients. An article in the New York Times Sunday edition of February 20, 2011, outlines the findings of current research in obesity, which now largely utilizes study of monkeys. One of the top researchers in this field, a Dr. Kevin Grove, director of an obesity research program at the Oregon National Primate Research Center, stated in this article that obesity did not occur in the study population until these types of altered simple carbohydrates were added to the diet. A number of primate research projects on obesity have given rhesus monkeys as much food as they want, and restricted their activity, to mimic the modern human dilemma. About 60 percent of these primates put on a lot of weight, and Dr. Grove and other researchers have found that until high fructose corn syrup was added to the diet, with an equivalent to about 2 cans of soda per day, that obesity related fat changes did not occur. The standard solution, consumption of a substitute in the form of 'diet' sodas, has been found to actually have caused an enormous amount of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and other serious health problems. To see just one of the large reviews of studies proving this fact, click here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951976/ . High fat diets did not cause obesity, but altered fats, such as transfats, appear to contribute to obesity as well. Dr. Barbara Hansen, of the University of South Florida, stated that to now still suggest that humans and monkeys become fat from a high fat diet is not a reasonable suggestion based on current scientific research, and that carbohydrates, and quality of carbohydrates, not high fat, were important in the cause of obesity. The low fat diet that has been recommended by the American Heart Association for the last two decades appears to be misleading, and has actually caused dramatic harm to public health. Dr. Hansen states that her most obese rhesus monkey ate nothing but an American Heart Association recommended diet and ballooned to 70 pounds, about 45 pounds over his normal healthy weight. Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup, transfats, altered simple carbohydrates, and other commercial food chemicals, and trying to stick with unprocessed fresh whole foods, appears essential in the treatment protocol for obesity. For too long standard medicine and government guidelines on public diet and nutrition have been clearly dominated by the food industry and the profiteering at the expense of public health. This has been a dramatic travesty that we are now paying for heavily, and make take decades to reverse.

Avoidance of these unhealthy foods is not the complete answer to the problem, though. There are a variety of food molecules that should also be added to the diet to reverse metabolic dysfunction and obesity. For example, phytosterols are chemicals found in foods and herbs that have been heavily researched and now proven to improve lipid metabolism, decrease cardiovascular risks, and even prevent cancers. Phytosterols are hormonal molecules found in plants, similar to cholesterol, which is the precursor for most of the steroid hormones in our bodies. Such renowned medical institutions as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic now state the the first strategy that should be utilized to lower excess lipid cholesterols is to increase the consumption of phytosterols and modify the diet with increased fiber and healthier fats. The combination of sufficient phytosterols and stanols with a healthier plant-based diet rich in complex carbohydrates and healthy fats has been proven to lower excess LDL cholesterol in circulation by 20 percent, outperforming cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. Phytosterols, such as sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol and ergosterol, are found in wheat germ, rice bran oil, unrefined sesame oil, pumpkin seed oil, buckwheat and peanuts, as well as whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. In Europe, phytosterol spreads, yoghurts, salad dressings and mayonaisse are promoted as healthy substitutes for normal processed fats. Phytosterols are also key chemical constituents in a number of Chinese herbs, such as bitter melon, saw palmetto, sea buckthorn, fennel seed, Reishi mushroom (Ling zhi), American ginseng, hawthorn flower, black cumin seed, gou qi zi berry, mai men dong, tian men dong, huang qin, sheng di huang (rhemannia), licorice root, gotu kola and Ashwagandha. Phytostanols are similar to phytosterols, and plant stanols are still the source of much statin drug production. These chemicals are found in a number of food seeds and unprocessed oils, but modern vegetable oil production has destroyed phytostanol content. Choosing unprocessed healthy vegetable and seed oils, despite higher costs, will pay dividends in health benefits in the long run. No, just one of these herbs or foods that contain beneficial phytosterols will not guarantee an immediate and dramatic loss of weight, and a comprehensive protocol needs to be adopted to reverse obesity and lose weight.

The cause of the remarkable rise of obesity in the United States may seem obvious, but science has been unable to identify the exact physiological causes

While scientists in the past have tried to explain the explosion in rates of obesity in the past by implying that eating too much and not exercising enough is the problem, changing this pattern in the individual did not appreciably correct the obesity. Genetic blame was a prevalent explanation, but the large increase in rates of obesity cannot be explained by a change in the gene pool, and a complete mapping of the human genome has failed to identify specific genes responsible for obesity. Adopting a low fat approach in the commercial food industry has not slowed the rise of obesity rates at all. The most prevalent scientific explanation is that the human organism evolved energy conserving physiological mechanisms to maintain a healthy energy in the absence of food intake, and that the modern civilization has ignored this, and instructed the population to eat constantly, and often. Coupled with this, is the lack of adherence to physical activity each day, as more and more, we sit sedentary in front of a computer or television, and ride in vehicles instead of walking. Even the amount of required physical activity in early schooling has been cut as budget problems occur. It is clear that we have designed a modern diet and lifestyle that creates obesity, and that public health experts have failed us in countering this enormous health threat. The only real explanation for this phenomenon is that this modern design of the way we live creates more profit for larger companies and corporations, and has been well sold.

A 2014 study by the U.S. National Health Nutrition Examination Survey (HNANES) found that a dramatic rise in the percentage of the population that reports no physical activity has occurred in the last 20 years, while the average caloric intake in the diet has remained the same. In 1994, the survey found that 19 percent of women and 11 percent of men reported no physical activity, while in 2010, 51 percent of women and 43 percent of men reported no physical activity. For many, a lifestyle of no physical activity and exercise leads naturally to a more constant habit of snacking, while we need to eat less when we have less physical activity. The quality of the calories has fallen as well, with more calories now obtained from unhealthy forms of processed sugars, carbohydrates, and transfats. Clearly, increased daily physical activity and decreased intake of food is both sensible and necessary. Finally, the role of the unhealthy gut microbiota, or Biome, now described as a superorganism that is integral to human health and physiology, has become apparent. This superorganism of gut microbiota, or the complex balance of symbiotic microorganisms in the intestinal tract, is defined by both the genetic and epigenetic controls, and by environmental factors, such as diet and environmental toxins, and antibiotic resistance. It is abundantly clear that constant intake of food, especially processed food and snacks, and more sedentary time spent with televisions, computers, and smart phones, is a diet and lifestyle that benefits the companies that sell things, not public health, and is driven by advertising and public opinion generated by advertising and 'infomercials'. Developing a more pragmatic and thoughtful approach in life may be the key to reversing obesity and overweight conditions.

Traditional dietary science and healthcare worldwide emphasized protocols developed to help maintain a healthy microbiota and adopt daily routines to counter obesity, and nowhere do we see the long history of government support for such practices as China. The development and encouragement of fermented foods and beverages to increase nutritional value, provide natural preservative, and to create specific medicines was an important part of traditional Chinese culture, and the encouragement of daily health maintenance with physical activities such as Qi gong and Dao yin practices is well documented. Martial art practices, including Tai chi, which was purportedly a form created by Qi gong masters for a famed heavyweight boxer to prolong his successful career, were not just used to maintain the army, but widely encouraged as a daily health maintenance for the entire population. The famed physician Hua Tuo (141-208 AD or ACE) promoted the daily exercise with the animal forms, or Wu Qin Xi, a Daoist design mimicking the natural movements of the tiger, deer, bear, monkey and bird, and this practice succeeded in helping to cure a famous regional emperor so well that he instituted a public health program to teach these exercises to the masses. The benefits of such dietary and lifestyle recommendations were well studied and formulated, and today modern research is revealing that these healthy practices and habits are proven to have amazing health benefits, not only to counter obesity, but to maintain mental health, healthy aging, and numerous other 'side effects' of disease prevention and better overall health. Today, we take this research and try to create allopathic products to cure disease with heavily advertised 'miracle cures', ignoring the basis for such traditional public health regimens, which was to create simple programs to maintain the mind body's innate homeostasis, or healthy balance.

Equation of obesity with body mass index (BMI) has also led scientists down a road that ignores the holistic field of factors responsible for acquiring an imbalance in the energy utilization homeostasis that we all need. The tendency to see this health imbalance in binary terms, and separating the genetic predisposition from environmental factors has also damaged our scientific ability to define a field of factors that together create the obesity pathology. Studies in recent years have shown that there is a high association with inherited traits in relation to BMI, but that these traits appear to be most associated with epigenetic inheritance, which are determined largely by environmental factors, and may be reversed in just a few generations. The effects of inherited epigenetic traits associated with BMI appears to be similar for all ages and body types. Leptin is a fat cell hormone highly associated with obesity and BMI, or fatty accumulation, and studies examining the genetic traits of twins have shown that genetic variance tied to leptin expression appears to be correlated with additive genetic factors, especially epigenetic effects on leptin expression, accounting for 34% of the influence in women, and 45% in men. The other effects on leptin expression variance appears to be attributable to unique environmental effects. In other words, epigenetic additive traits and immediate environmental factors appear to about evenly affect the expression of leptin in both men and women, which plays a large role in appetite and energy metabolism (PMID: 1124469: Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2001 Jan;25(1):132-7). This large Finnish twin study followed 5967 adult Finnish twins in gathering this data. As recently as 1995, scientists were convinced that a few major genes contributed to the development of obesity. Since then, the entire human genome has been mapped and no such handful of genes have been found. Epigenetic traits, acquired from habits and the environmental factors, are also able to be affected by intelligent choices in diet and lifestyle, as well as by acupuncture stimulation. Normalizing the leptin metabolism, and the whole array of metabolic hormones associated with leptin, and their receptor expression, can be accomplished with persistent effort when using a holistic approach. Both insulin resistance and leptin resistance develop over time and can be reversed over time to achieve an end to obesity and Metabolic Syndrome.

The problem with modern civilization and science is that both the individuals in society, and the scientists, are neurotically focused upon simple allopathic solutions to the problem of obesity. The search for the single answer, and simple change or chemical medication that will reverse a disorder that is systemic and holistic, is preventing us from realizing what is needed to correct the problem of obesity and metabolic disorder that has become a dire threat to our health. Not only is the individual health threatened by obesity, but now the financial health of our nation is threatened. By 2001, about 60 percent of all health care expenditure for children and teens was related to Metabolic Syndrome and obesity. These costs have risen dramatically across the world since then, for children and adults. Health care costs are bankrupting our nation, and are the biggest contributor to the U.S. federal deficit. If we want to keep our tax cuts, we need to fix obesity and decrease healthcare spending. It is time to reverse course from an oversimplified explanation and treatment of obesity, and realize the sense of holistic explanations, and the problems with a non-adherence to natural dietary habits, that results in this extreme endemic health problem of obesity and related comorbid health problems

The origins of obesity in the lack of adherence to natural dietary needs in infancy

The human body has evolved dietary needs that help maintain the complex homeostasis of its energy metabolism. A stubborn ignorance of these needs, driven by the marketing of man-made foods has led us to a place where soon, a majority of the population may suffer from obesity. The lack of adherence to natural dietary habits may even begin in early infancy. Researchers at Children's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School studied 847 children to determine the effects of diet on health in a long-term study called Project Viva. These researchers found that for those children who were not breast fed for the first 4 months of their lives, but given formula at an early age, that those children who were fed solid baby food before 4 months of age were 6 times more likely to be obese by the age of 3 years. Babies breast fed till the fourth or sixth month did not develop early obesity, even if solid baby food was introduced at this early age. Our medical establishment, and the marketers of infant formulas and baby food for infants, often give mothers the impression that breast feeding is not important, that science has created infant formula even superior to breast milk, and that a variety of baby foods are scientifically proven to benefit the baby, even at an early age. Even producers of organic baby foods show pictures of early infants eating a variety of gourmet organic baby foods, and modern mothers sometimes get the impression that their children will be better off eating a variety of solid baby foods, pureed, at an early age, rather than following a traditional pattern of slowly introducing simple foods into the infant diet between the age of 6 months and 2 years in age. Research in recent years has shown that an increased risk of obesity is correlated with low folate (folic acid) levels in pregnancy, use of antidepressant medications during pregnancy, Caesarian birth failing to allow the creation of a health initial Biome, reduction in the normal duration of breast feeding, excessive antibiotic medication exposure in infancy, and use of atypical antipsychotic medication in childhood to control mood and behavior, especially when combined with ADHD medication. We clearly see now that our public health experts have failed us miserably, and that traditional habits of diet and lifestyle were indeed highly scientific.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (CIM/TCM), the advice has always been to breast feed the infant for at least six months, if possible, then introduce a very limited diet to the infant in the first three years of life. Avoidance of soy milk, and undiluted sweet fruit juice is recommended. If infant formula must be introduced at an early age, Traditional Chinese medicine has advocated a dilute, slow cooked, strained rice soup, or rice-based formula. Boiled whole cow's milk, slightly diluted with water, or goat milk, is also preferrable to a complex soy infant formula. Juices at an early age are given with precaution, in small quantities, and diluted, using juices that are not too sweet, such as apricot, peach, plum, papaya and pomegranate. Overfeeding is a typical mistake with infants, leading to food stagnation, fullness, and reflux. Many early infant symptoms are due to overfeeding, feeding too much at night, feeding on demand, and early introduction of more complex foods. Establishing a healthy dietary routine of feeding in infancy may prevent a tendency to bad eating habits in the future. A majority of pediatric diseases are thought to be due to indigestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Allergies, asthma, cough, and eczema are thought to be most often caused by digestive problems. The system of the spleen, pancreas and stomach does not mature until about age 6, and Traditional Chinese medicine advocates slowly introducing solid foods only when the infant starts naturally grabbing for solids at about 5-6 months of age, and then avoiding all raw foods, cold foods, cheese, meat, fish, poultry, wheat and corn until the child's digestion is shown to be strong enough to handle complex proteins and raw foods. Foods are introduced one or two at a time, with mashed roots and vegetables, squash or pumpkin introduced with dilute strained rice soup during the first year, and sweetened foods are not given children until age five or six, and then only in small portions and at special occasions. Complex infant diets do not benefit the child, are unnecessary to their health, and throw off their developing digestive and pancreatic system.

This traditional advice is a very hard sell in modern society, yet such studies as the Harvard Project Viva are showing that our modern introduction of complex foods at an early age disrupt the pancreatic energy regulation and often result in early obesity. Even as adults, we assume that our bodies do not actually need to adhere to millions of years of evolved dietary habits, and that eating the modern diet is not only harmless, but probably best for us. What does Nature know that science doesn't. This mistake is proving to be very costly, and even those of us that adopt Vegan diets, and various dietary regimens that we consider healthy, are still ignoring basic natural dietary rules and regulations. A common mistake with Vegan diets is to give in to cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates, while justifying bad dietary behavior by telling oneself that strictly avoiding all animal products is a morally superior behavior, and thus should keep one healthy. Traditional diets are shunned, but these diets of our prior generations, full of garden grown vegetables, and traditional combinations of foods, are very important to our health.

Of course, a diet of fast food, hamburgers and fries, is the worst diet ever, yet even those of us that have adopted a more natural dietary scheme are often deluded into thinking that some dietary fad that we read about is superior to a traditional natural diet. Slipping into bad dietary habits for relatively short periods of time may also create health imbalances that take longer to correct. The documentary Supersize Me presents that most vivid example of how the modern diet can produce Metabolic Syndrome and obesity in a very short time. The film producer in this documentary went from a plant-based fairly health diet, with a moderate amount of meat and fish, to eating only MacDonalds meals supersized for two months, monitored by his M.D., and acquired Metabolic Syndrome, with high cholesterol and LDL lipids, high triglycerides, fatty weight gain at the midsection, high blood pressure, etc. in just two months. If this isn't a wake up call to America, and the rest of the world, I don't know what is. Poor dietary habits are the root of the problem, and dietary intelligence should be incorporated into each of our lives, and into our educational system, before it is too late.

Diet & Nutrition in Relation to Obesity and Metabolism

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 benefit 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, white flour & potatoes, and 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 (FDA) 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 effected that fields of seed grains that were the 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 roots. Give it up meat lovers, humans are essentially a whole grain eating animal.

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. 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 be 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.

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 6 fatty acids. This refers to the fact that excess red meat consumption produces excess arachidonic acid, and relative deficiency of the inflammatory mediators created from linolenic and linoleic acids, namely healthy prostaglandins. Eating too much meat and uhealthy 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 restore the ability to achieve healthy inflammatory mediation. 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. There are many amino acids and proteins in grains and vegetables, and they are much easier to digest than from a meat source. 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 deficienies 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.

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. 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, or energy, 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. 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. Circulating carbon dioxide may also serve as a modulator of acidity, and is affected both by kidney function and the amount of cardiorespiratory activity.

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, or 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 (biphosphonates), 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.

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 (CIM/TCM) 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.

Studies have shown that vegetables, fruits and grains today often contain over 30 percent less of key nutrients than 70 years ago because of farming methods. 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. 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. Purchase of organic local produce is thus vitally important when you need nutrients to get healthy. 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 when possible.

Public research worldwide is now heavily focused on health issues related to nutrients. One example is the vast amount of research devoted to phytohormones, or plant-based hormonal chemicals. 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. More potent lignan extracts have been patented and stimulate a great production of enterolactones that may help reverse the obesity syndromes.

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, eating locally grown organic vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and fruit, and correcting health problems that may inhibit our bodies' ability to utilize and metabolize these nutrients. One step instead of a holistic approach may not be effective, such as 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 enviroments first with herbal therapy and acupuncture, and then introduce quality probitics and nutritional cofactors to restore healthy gut flora and fauna. Healthy diet should be accompanied by healthy medical treatment and restoration. This is the key to success. 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 and Perilla: 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). Similar foods traditionally benefiting digestion and health include the wild mints, such as Perilla (Zi su ye), and gingers. Perilla leaf contains valuable aromatics as well as linalool, ursolic acid, rosmarinic acid, anthocyanins, and flavonoids such as luteolin, and Perilla seeds contain valuable essential oils, such as alpha-linolenic acid. In Japanese cuisine, Perilla leaf is called red shiso, used in sushi, and added to umeboshi (pickled plums). Ginger comes in many forms, wild and cultivated, but the common Zingiber officianale contains essential oils, 1,8-cineole (anti-inflammatory, allergenic, antirheumatic, candidicide), pinene and terpinene, capsaicin, curcumin, kaempferol, limonene, myricetin, quercetin, and many ginger sterols unique to this species. Many of these valuable chemicals are found in the leaves, like comfrey, and can be grown and picked as young leaves, finely chopped, and used in soups, grain dishes such as couscous, in stir-fry, or salads.
  • 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.
  • 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 (e.g. polenta or grits).
  • 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. Fresh garden nettle is also available in healthy groceries these days. 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. Wild black walnut meats are even more nutritious. Studies in recent years showed that the risk of diabetes and heart disease was dramatically reduced in the population that ate a sufficient amount of fresh walnuts per week. Eating cold-processed toasted walnut oil is also a very healthful addition to the diet.
  • 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.

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/.