Diet and Nutrition

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

A Plant-based diet is engineered into our genetic makeup, and a diversity of grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits is needed to provide the rich array of essential nutrient chemicals needed to maintain optimal function. In 2013, leaders at Kaiser Permanente Group in California recommended a plant-based diet as a standard medical care, providing "cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index (overweight and obese conditions), blood pressure, HbA1C (diabetic marker), and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates" (Permanente Journal 2013 Spring; 17(2): 61-68). Since the large studies by experts from Cornell, Oxford and other esteemed University Medical Schools, led by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and documented in his best-selling book The China Study, based on large amounts of population data collected from the 1970s through the 1990s, and continued in the book Forks Over Knives, where an enormous amount of data suggests that a meat-centered diet is the most important cause overall for cancers and many chronic diseases, an amazing amount of research has clearly proven that a plant-based diet of whole grains, fresh foods, healthy fats and proteins, and avoidance of processed and fast food will lower the risk for many common diseases dramatically, and dramatically lower overall risk of death from any cause, leading to healthier longer lives and dramatically lower healthcare costs, reducing the federal deficit and the burden of high insurance costs.

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 affected fields of seed grains that were the main 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. Early humans evolved to eat a plant-based diet rich in actual whole grains, beans and legumes.

In 2016, a large meta-analysis of the health benefits of real whole grain consumption, by experts at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Imperial College of London, the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and a number of other leading Universities in the world, concluded that: "whole grain intake is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and total cancer, and mortality from all causes, respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, diabetes, and all non-cardiovascular, non-cancer causes. These findings support dietary guidelines that recommend increased intake of whole grains to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality." To see this meta-review, just click here: . There can be no stronger proof that a real whole grain consumption is very important, as well as a plant-based diet and plant-based fats. The confusing barrage of advice to ignore such scientific fact, coming from both the advocates of high meat consumption and the processed and fast food industry, as well as the so called Paleo diet enthusiasts, and now even the amazing level of those that believe that gluten in grain is the cause of most health problems, ignoring the fact that gluten is a processed complex of proteins, sugars and fats into a glue-like substance, not an actual component of real whole grains, cannot change the fact that a simple and natural plant-based diet rich in whole grains, unprocessed, and hopefully organically grown when possible, will provide enormous health benefits. Of course, this does not mean that one has to become a vegan or even a vegetarian, but just limit meat, poultry and fish consumption to a small portion of the total diet, and hopefully eat healthy meats. The increased cost of local organically raised healthy meats and real wild fish would be offset by eating these small portions, and the health benefits in the long run would be amazing. Investing in a healthy diet and the time to enjoy actual food preparation is surely worth the while.

Another large population study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2016 showed that low-fat diets, heavily promoted in the last decades, will not improve improve the health if this fat reduction is just replaced by carbohydrates. The lead author, Dr. Frank B. Hu, a Harvard professor, stated in a New York Times interview: "Not all fats are created equal. We should eat more good ones from fish and avocadoes, instead of (saturated) animal fats. And second, the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is not beneficial for improving health and longevity." This study of 126,233 men and women, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, showed that replacing just 5 percent of saturated fats from meat with monounsaturated fat from plant sources, was associated with a 27 percent reduction in total mortality and reduced death from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. A replacement of just 5 percent of daily fat intake from saturated animal fat to polyunsaturated fats in fish and walnuts, for example, was associated with a 13 percent mortality reduction and a 29 percent reduction in death from neurodegenerative disease. No protocol in standard medicine could achieve such amazing goals. The standard diet promoted by the food industry and government lobbying, with fast and processed foods, often labeled as low-fat and low-salt to fool the public into supposedly healthy habits, but with an emphasis on processed meats and carbohydrates, has led to enormous public harm.

Many studies are finally proving that a diet rich in plant-based nutrients provides extraordinary health benefits. Currently, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health publishes a Healthy Eating Plate to counter the USDA traditional public health dietary recommendations, which have been heavily influenced by the food industry, and here we see an emphasis on real whole grains, healthy plant-based proteins, a wide variety of vegetables and avoidance of starchy staples like potatoes, variety in the colorful pigmented fruits, healthy unprocessed oils, the drinking of water rather than sugary drinks as a habit, and attention to daily physical activity. Daily physical activity does not involve expensive accounts at a gym or classes in exercise or yoga, but just increased walking and stair climbing and a short period of simple exercise or physical activity daily at home. At last the USDA recommendations in 2015 finally admitted that cholesterol in the diet had little or no impact on health, but that too much red meat consumption was a public health concern, and that low fat recommendations for decades were wrong, but healthy fats should be chosen, especially plant-based fats. Numerous high-quality research studies over decades have shown that the emphasis on 'low-fat' diets and avoidance of dietary cholesterol have not only been wrong, but have in fact hurt public health. Another large study, from Finland in 2016, showed that dietary cholesterol had no effect on cardiovascular health, even for those with the APOE4 gene that implies poor regulation of peripheral cholesterol transport and catabolism of triglycerides to healthy cell membrane lipoproteins. This APOE4 genetic variation is consistently characterized as having a problem with processing dietary cholesterol, but this is false characterization designed to confuse. To see a summary of this study, click here: Cholesterol in the diet is not the problem, but an excess of processed fats, meats, and avoidance of healthy plant-based proteins and fats is a big health problem. The practice of dumbing down these dietary concerns and adopting a binary, or black and white, explanation for everything is the problem, and was surely fueled by the food industry to confuse the public and increase sales and profits.

These USDA recommendations in the past included promotion of margarine and transfats, mineral depletion with a failure to distinguish healthy mineral salts from processed sodium, and actually included processed catchup and french fries as vegetables! Obviously, public health guidelines from government must serve the people, not the food industry. In 2015, after the World Cancer Research Fund of the United Kingdom published research showing the clear association between processed meats and cancers, and between a diet with excess red meat and colon cancer, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a meta-review of scientific studies that confirmed that cured and processed meats are a high risk for cancer, in the same category of risk as cigarette smoking, alcoholism, asbestos fiber, and heavy metal environmental toxins such as lead, mercury and arsenic. The WHO panel reviewed more than 800 high quality studies and concluded that processed meats should be eliminated from the diet, and that red meat consumption should be decreased. The World Cancer Research Council recommended that red meat be limited to no more than 500 grams per week, roughly equivalent to about 6 moderate servings, and stated that fresh plant-based foods supply us with needed cancer protective chemicals. The WHO panel also identified glyphosates in herbicides such as RoundUp as a cause of cancer, in the second tier of risk with excess red meat consumption. Part of the ban on specific GMO crops (not all GMO) in Europe, and now many countries, involves this linking of the Monsanto and Dupont genetically modified crops to glyphosate herbicides to dominate the herbicide market globally. In 2016, as the Monsanto GMO crops decline in popularity and the next generation of GMO monocropping matched to specific herbicides and pesticides is promoted, Dupont is merging with Dow (both controlled by the same financial interests and families), and this giant chemical company will merge into 3 specialized companies, one of them devoted to farming technology, and given a new name to decrease the negative perception of Dupont.

A study at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2013, showed that switching just 10 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates to plant-based fats lowered the risk of dying from any cause by 26 percent, and the risk of lethal prostate cancer by 29 percent, while the replacement of just 1-5 percent of these carbohydrate calories with animal fats, saturated fats, and transfats was linked to a 25-30 percent higher risk of death from all causes. Obviously, the advice from standard medicine to adopt a low-fat low-sodium in the last few decades was patently wrong, and driven mainly by the food corporations that profited from this advice. Consumption of a traditional diet rich in locally grown grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds is very important for your health and worth the price.

An article in the July, 2011 National Geographic outlines how important seeds, grains, beans and legumes have been to human health and civilization, and how blind modern civilization has been in regard to their importance (Food Ark, Charles Siebert). Human civilizations thrived because of the science of domestication and breeding that created foods that local cultures relied upon for improved health and reliable resistance to local and regional disease. As plant species were bred to resist bacterial, viral and fungal infections, these plants created chemicals that helped the humans that ate them also resist these pathogenic diseases, as well as the livestock bred for food. This revolution in food biodiversity took over 10,000 years to create a worldwide diversity of crops that created local and regional protection for the civilization. With modern industrialization human civilization proclaimed that synthesized pharmaceuticals were all that we needed to stay healthy, and we could thus destroy the ancient knowledge of food crop biodiversity to improve crop yields and generate more profit. Selective breeding of crops primarily occurred because the populations of each region of the planet found that certain combinations of foods and species of food plants provided the best health and survival, but today the primary emphasis has shifted to multinational corporate profit. Globalization of the economy does not have to result in a destruction of sustainable food supplies and agricultural practices, or the viability of local and regional crop diversity, but the public must speak out, and guide these multinational corporations with their investment and purchasing power.

Today, the biodiversity of food crops that human civilization developed over 10,000 years has been destroyed in less that a century, and the health problems of the world have not improved with technology, but in many ways have worsened, especially as antibiotic resistance in bacteria continues to increase. What took over a hundred centuries to develop has been destroyed in less than one, and modern scientists are now realizing the need to restore the biodiversity of food crops in order to prevent mass starvation and malnutrition in the future when these monocrops are hit with a disease that our scientists cannot fight. A handful of grains, beans and legumes now are grown worldwide due to the promise of enormous profits to international food corporations, and the small farmer, the bedrock of a healthy civilization, is almost extinct in many industrialized countries. To accommodate this high yield corporate global food production, this handful of plant species now requires an enormous amount of synthesized fertilizer, pesticide and insecticide, and the nutritional value has been depleted by these and the subsequent topsoil loss that exceeds restoration. The agrarian environment is threatened by these practices, yet we now ignore this problem. Of course, this has yielded enormous monetary profits for the short-sighted industries that produce the fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, as well as the antibiotic industry, for which the depleted species of food animals depends, not only to fight increased infection, but also for growth stimulation once growth hormones were banned, but at what cost to human health. To design a public food supply around the needs for global corporate profit over local sustainable public health is obviously absurd, yet this is hardly even questioned today.

In addition to the depletion of biodiverse crops that both evolved and were chosen to increase human survival, and the massive introduction of synthesized insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics, the last decade has quietly brought us genetically modified food crops that come with heavy warnings and almost no clinical trials to prove ultimate safety. A majority of the 3 major grain staples, wheat, corn and soy, are now genetically modified, either to resist the most common herbicide, Roundup, and/or to produce their own insecticide Bt (derived from the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis). Monsanto, the company that produced Roundup (N-phosphonomethylglycine) also produced the Roundup-resistant genes to modify our food crops, and promoted them so heavily that they became the majority of these crop seeds in just a few years worldwide. While individual governments slowly balked at this potential health threat, the global economy produced such a threat of upheaval if individual governments were to selectively ban the product on the world market, that these governments were in fact held for ransom by the company. The idea that the civilization should trust one massive agribusiness corporation to produce both a universal herbicide, and a universal set of genetically modified food staples resistant to this universal pesticide, and then depend upon this huge corporation to produce factual reassurance of safety, is almost beyond belief.

This set of manipulations of our staple food industry obviously poses an enormous threat, yet even the World Health Organization (WHO) promoted the benefits of letting a single massive agribusiness corporation hold this much power, repeating the sales pitch of Monsanto that such a plan would provide for decreased use of chemical pesticide. Obviously, this plan, which we could call a global anti-trust scheme, presents a strong possibility of threat to public health in the future. The first public threat of this great business plan would be, of course, to encourage massive use of Roundup to increase crop yields while reassuring the public that this pesticide was safe. While Monsanto claimed that Roundup degraded in soil and water in about 3 days, preventing toxic buildup (Roundup is classified as a class 3 toxin by the U.S. EPA), subsequent studies showed that a toxic metabolite of Roundup survived non-degraded in soil for up to 2 years, and the pesticide itself showed a half-life (half the chemical degraded) of 141 days at a site in Iowa. Obviously, large scale use of Roundup would result in environmental concentrations that exceeded safety levels. Other studies have shown that the metabolite of Roundup, glyphosate, can harm the bacterial ecology of soil, as well as leading to micronutrient deficiencies in food plants. To alleviate concern, Monsanto has blocked study, claiming patent protection, and told us to just not worry, that corporations of course would do nothing to harm the public health, and that in fact these genetic modifications would help the environment by decreasing overall use of massive amounts of toxic herbicides and pesticides (in other words, we could stop this crazy path to adopting effective organic farming methods). On top of this, the gene that is Roundup-resistant is ingested and incorporated into the animal physiology, and the human biota, further inhibiting production of essential amino acids by our biota. The risks posed by these genetically modified foods are not immediate, but may emerge years later and in a very complex manner. To read further on this complex issue, go the the article on this website entitled Genetically Modified Food Crops and the threat to public health.

In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on physicians to educate their patients to avoid genetically modified (GM) foods when possible, due to animal studies that indicated a variety of serious health risks, including infertility, subfertility, immune dysfunction, dysfunction of the insulin metabolism, and gastrointestinal pathology. Added to this is the health threat from the glyphosate herbicides (e.g. Roundup) that now monopolize world agriculture, which the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 listed as a cause of cancer, and which depletes mineral bioavailability in our crops as a chelator. The doctors at AAEM stated that long-term disease consequences would probably be difficult to positively trace to the genetically modified foods due to the time it takes to develop these diseases and health problems, and the array of other potential causes in the environment. While the limited studies of safety, most of which were provided by the manufacturers of genetically modified food crops, have so far satisfied the World Health Organization (WHO), concerns among many scientists have prompted virtual bans on new genetically modified crops, especially in the European Union, and an international system of safety evaluation is being devised to allay public fears. The WHO states that new systems of safety evaluation must be holistic and all-inclusive of risk, not merely investigating specific risks while ignoring others. What the WHO is not assessing is the fact that genetically modified food crops will bring us even farther down the road to monocropping and limitations of the healthy biodiversity of seed, grain, legume and bean crops. There appears to be almost no support for restoration of natural biodiversity of food crops to promote public health. Food corporations appear to be largely controlling the debate about public health, foisting ideas that globalization of human diet by corporations can only bring about benefits, and providing their own elaborate research to support these ideas. Independent research is finally revealing the fallacies of this strategy, showing how decreasing local agricultural biodiversity and sustainable agriculture methods has hurt not only public health, but destroyed local economies.

While the mantra of corporations is that modern science has increased the human lifespan and therefore cannot be criticized, an intelligent individual can easily realize that modern science must integrate with the science developed and accumulated over tens of thousands of years of human trial and error to make a better and healthier civilization and insure survival. Devastating errors have occurred, such as the Potato Famine of Ireland in the nineteenth century, where monocropping first produced high yields of a food crop, the Bumper species of potato, but was susceptible to a pathogen that wiped out the entire crop of potato and created one of the most devastating famines in world history, killing over a million people with starvation, and driving over a million more to emigrate to survive. Today, the small number of wheat species grown have over a 90 percent susceptibility to a devastating fungal strain called Ug99 stem rust, that is fast spreading over the planet. Monocropping has not only destroyed the economies of much of Africa, as well as the health of these peoples, but now threatens to be the cause of a worldwide food shortage that will exacerbate an already strained worldwide malnutrition. Monocropping and destruction of biodiversity has also created a problem with food economics, where countries such as the United States maintain a relatively cheap supply of food, but poor countries have been hit with food prices relative to income that make it impossible to feed families, and cause massive suffering. Monocropping and destruction of food crop biodiversity also creates a shrinking pool of food chemicals that our bodies need to stay healthy. The intelligent person in the United States will realize that encouraging local food biodiversity by purchasing and eating a variety of local species, and stopping this support of the multinational food corporations that are creating suffering for fellow humans across the planet is an imperative for ethical and moral, as well as physical and mental, health.

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. The National Geographic article cited above states that since 1903, commercially available varieties of crop seeds in the U.S. have been reduced to about 7 percent of the past variety. Of these 7 percent of the varied food grain genotypes typical in our past, the industry has now selected just a few of these hybrids to alter genetically to produce the most profitable types. Unfortunately, public health has apparently not entered into this equation, just yield and other financial considerations, and already farmers are finding out too late that there are both adverse effects on soil, genetic alterations in other seed crops, and the creation of superweeds that have both evolved immunity to the ubiquitous glyphosate pesticides and inherited the glyphosate-resistant genes from the crops. The rosy picture of higher immediate profits from these genetically modified crops from such a limited gene pool of hybrids is turning into a nightmare, and the idea that these Agribusiness companies will keep coming up with solutions for the farmers when they ignore a rich history of farming technology is proving untrue. On top of this, the public and public health scientists are becoming alarmed at the potential for disaster, both in the adverse health effects of the GMO crops and matching pesticides and insecticides, as well as the the real threat of global diseases that could destroy these monocrops and create mass starvation.

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 we 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, and will be an important part of a plant-based diet for many individuals. Many scientific studies now confirm, though, that a diet dominated by unhealthy red meats creates various imbalances and stresses in our bodies that ultimately 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, and emphasizing smaller and less frequent meals and snacks, and more healthy physical activity will pay big dividends for future health and prevention of disease.

The mantra of the meat eaters that deride the plant-based diet has always been the importance of meat protein. A 2013 meta-review of all scientific studies of protein intake and health, by the National Food Institute of Denmark (cited below in additional information) showed that there that there was an inverse relationship between plant-based protein intake and cardiovascular risk and mortality, but an inconclusive relationship between total protein intake and cardiovascular risk. Vegetable protein intake also correlated with lower blood pressure, and soy protein correlated with lower LDL cholesterol. The researchers noted that "Vegetable protein intake was associated with decreased risk (of overall mortality and morbidity) in many studies". It is very difficult to find studies that affirm such positive findings for a meat-based diet.

No matter what type of diet you decide on, vegetarian, healthy meat and plant-based, vegan, raw food, etc., you still need to pay attention to healthy components in the diet that are the most essential to long term health. It is these essentials, not the overall philosophy, that distinguishes the healthy from the unhealthy diet. No matter what the dietary philosophy, an individual may still consume foods that, in the long run, do not support that individual's health. The modern diet has moved more and more toward packaged food and eating out, and this is perhaps the biggest threat to our health. The food industry has led us down a very unhealthy road, and still we believe the packaging rather than intelligently analyzing the contents. Buying fresh, whole, locally produced, healthy foods, and cooking or preparing them properly, is perhaps the most important aspect to your health. To understand how to choose your foodstuffs properly, here is a little advice and information.

Complementary Medicine, especially Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which comes with a rich history of nutritional healing and dietary science, may be integrated into your standard health care to help build the customized or individualized dietary regimen to improve your health. Unlike standard allopathic medicine, TCM protocol, delivered by a competent Licensed Acupuncturist, has a long and rich history, as well as current medical school curriculum, concerned with dietary science and nutritional healing. Making use of a professional TCM or Naturopathic physician to help solve health problems, improve health, and prevent future health problems may be the most important medical decision in your life.

Healthy essential fats in the diet, necessary building blocks for important molecules, including hormones, membranes and nerve conducting myelin, and a diet that supports a healthy regulation of body acidity, are two key aspects of nutritional health that are sorely overlooked with our modern U.S. diet

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 healthy omega 6 fatty acids. The main problem is a typical meat-centered diet without a balanced variety of essential fatty acids. Essential is a nutritional term meaning that it is essential that we obtain these nutrients from the diet, as our bodies have a limited capacity to produce these nutrient chemicals. Fatty acids are some of the most important nutritional building blocks in our bodies, which will be explained in more detail later in this article. The problem with a meat-centered modern diet is not that meat lacks some essential fatty acid, but rather that there is an imbalance of the essential fatty acids that our bodies have evolved a need for to create important molecules. Since our bodies are always replacing cells and tissues, over time, this essential fatty acid imbalance becomes a health threat.

Red meat is very high in the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid, and the high consumption of margarine, which is very high in omega-6 fatty acids, and trans fats, which are not essential fatty acids, has presented quite a problem for people not consuming food that is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids, which are explained in a later section of this article, are now a predominant ingredient in most packaged and prepared foods. A high ratio of omega-6 in relation to omega-3 fatty acid is shown to inhibit the production of valuable chemicals that are derived from omega-3 essential fatty acids. Both arachidonic acid and trans fats will upset the healthy fatty acid metabolism that we need to properly modulate inflammatory processes, create and maintain healthy membranes, and maintain healthy nerve sheaths. Not all omega-6 essential fatty acids are the same, though. Excess red meat consumption results in excess arachidonic acid, an omega-6 essential fatty acid that differs from the plant-derived omega-6 fatty acids linolenic and linoleic acid. In a typical modern American diet, the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio ranges from 10:1 to 30:1, and without a predominance of fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, the type of omega 6 fatty acid in this equation is problematic, namely an excess of arachidonic acid. It is the balance of these types of essential fatty acid that is important. The end result of this imbalance is chronic health problems that now affect a majority of the population, and could conceivably be reversed and reduced by a change of dietary components. How many of us suffer from chronic inflammatory problems such as arthritis, and problems that stem from poor inflammatory regulation, such as atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration? A well regulated change in the American diet, and in the essential fatty acid content of commercial foods would greatly reduce health problems and reduce total health care costs.

A number of problems result from essential fatty acid imbalance. Relative deficiency of the inflammatory mediators created from the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docohexaenoic acid) and the healthy omega-1 and omega-6 fatty acids, linolenic and linoleic acids, namely healthy prostaglandins E3 and E1, are proven to reduce cardiovascular protection, neural growth, and protection against cancer. Linolenic and linoleic acids are two of the most important short chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, and form the building blocks for the long-chain fatty acids, EPA and DHA (omega 3) and the GLA, DGLA and arachidonic acids (omega 6). We get these long-chain fatty acids from essential food sources, or from our body building them from the short-chain precursors. The key to a healthy metabolism, though, is a proper homeostatic balance, especially in the formation of inflammatory mediators, or prostaglandins. When we form too many of the prostaglandins based on some of the omega 6 fatty acids, inflammatory mechanisms create too many of the unwanted symptoms of inflammation and struggle to use the inflammatory system to quickly repair and replace old or damaged tissues. Modern medicine then has us take prostaglandin inhibitors, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS), but this approach does nothing to restore a healthy underlying system, and now all NSAIDS come with mandated black box warnings of adverse health effects and disease risk. Clearly we need to utilize dietary protocols to counter the imbalance of pro-inflammatory immune mechanisms over anti-inflammatory controls.

Eating too much meat and poor quality 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. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally released an extensive report that proved that processed meats and excessive red meat in the diet are major contributors to cancers,, especially colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer. 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 restoring the ability to achieve healthy inflammatory mediation via a diet that supplies the building blocks for these inflammatory mediators and keeps us in balance. 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. (see the article on this website entitle Pain Medication: Warnings and Risks). We have been repeatedly told that we need a meat-centered diet to get our protein, but there are many amino acids and proteins in grains and vegetables, and they are much easier to digest than from a meat source. Complete protein, or protein consisting of all essential amino acids, is easily obtained from a traditional plant-based diet. 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 deficiencies 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.

Since essential fatty acids (EFAs) are used in the body to create many important molecules, a deficiency or imbalance promotes ill health. EFAs are used to create inflammatory mediators (eicosanoids: prostaglandins, leukotrienes, thromboxanes, and prostacyclins, as well as lipoxins, resolvins, etc.), neuroprotective molecules, cell signaling molecules, endocannabinoids, and aid in production of immune cytokines and hormones. Imbalances create health problems slowly and insidiously, resulting in chronic health problems that are difficult to treat and diagnose. Reestablishing a healthy balance between omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids is important, and improved fats in the diet as well as occasional supplementation with omega-3 rich krill oil and omega-6 rich black current seed oil (GLA) helps one reestablish this balance. Of course, just taking fish oil alone, or flax oil, will probably not do the trick, and both of these types go rancid easily.

Finally, in 2012, such esteemed institutions as the Harvard School of Public Health are finally making clear to the public that the emphasis on a low-fat, low-salt diet, and the allowance of our food industry to promote transfats, altered mineral salts, and a diet awash in unhealthy simple carbohydrates, advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs), and other dietary chemicals has been a public health disaster. The Harvard School of Public Health studied over 6000 women over the age of 65, and found that those with a predominance of saturated fats, namely meat, had a 60 percent increased risk of cognitive decline, while those that had a healthy amount of unsaturated fats, namely olive, nut and seed oils, whole grains and fresh vegetables, were 44 percent less likely to experience a cognitive decline to the lowest 10th percentile. The importance of health fats is emphasized by this public health institute (see a link below), with European studies cited that show that a healthy intake of mono- and polyunsaturated fats actually decreased levels of LDL and increased the healthy HDL levels, as well as decreased hypertension and reduced cardiovascular risk, without drugs (OmniHeart study). The risk of Metabolic Syndrome and diabetes is also lowered with a healthy intake of healthy fats and avoidance of unhealthy fats, as well as the risk of cancers. This public health institute also explains how dietary cholesterol has a minimal effect on total cholesterol in the body, but an unhealthy diet promotes metabolic dysfunction that leads quickly to high cholesterol, which may vary dramatically in circulation depending on the immediate dietary habits.

The same diet that produces a drastic essential fatty acid imbalance also may create chronic conditions of acidity in the body

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. The addition of simple carbohydrates as a main caloric source may also increase acid conditions in the digestive tract that eventually may result in the poor regulation of acidity throughout the body. A tight regulation of acidity is very important for healthy chemical function in the body, and chronic acid states puts much stress onto the body to alkilinize. The chief alkilinizing, or antacid, mechanism in our bodies is the highly regualated calcium metabolism. 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 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. This need for a tightly controlled acidity in the body is part or what science refers to as homeostasis.

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. 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, of 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, 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 reverse osteoporosis, read the New York Times article below in additional information.

While supposed experts in standard medicine, who receive almost no instruction in nutritional medicine in medical school, have been quick to decry studies of acidic environments in the body as a cause or contributor to disease, including osteoporosis, cancer, and other chronic conditions, more and more studies are accumulating that show that an alkaline-acid imbalance is a problem. What is missing in most of this criticism is the fact that the individual homeostatic mechanisms in the body are the key to acid-base balance, and this fact has been integral to standard study of medical science and physiology for hundreds of years. The modern view expressed ignores the need to aid these homeostatic mechanisms of balance to maintain health, and instead provides more of an analysis of whether the tank is full of acidity or alkalinity, and whether this is proven to be a direct cause of disease. The direct proof of an acidic diet on disease is problematic, because each individual has strong homeostatic mechanisms to maintain balance, no matter what we eat. The point is that for many individuals with health problems and risks may need help, and the diet is an important part of this holistic approach. As usual, the dumbing down of this question of homeostatic alkaline-acid balance does not help us arrive at a healthier holistic protocol in disease prevention and treatment. Of course there are relatively few studies that even explore this aspect of medicine, because there are almost no medical school in the U.S. and Europe that even have an adequate curriculum in nutritional science. Nutritional medicine competes with pharmaceutical profits, and does not generate a sizable income, and is thus ignored in standard medicine.

What about the "Paleo" diet?

In response to the vast research on the health benefits of a whole food plant-based diet, there has, of course, been a vast effort to provide a scientific explanation for continuing to eat a mainly meat-based diet. Unfortunately, the most popular explanation has nothing to do with health research, and is based on theories that humans are not adaptive to diet changes and should thus eat the diet that all humans ate 2.5 million years ago, in the stone age, or Paleolithic period. Unfortunately, two obvious fallacies to this theory exist: 1) the evidence of what we were like biologically 2.5 million years ago, and what we ate, is relatively insufficient to make definitive assumptions, and available evidence in the field points to a probability that humans ate whatever was at hand locally that could sustain them and keep them healthy, and 2) humans have evolved a very adaptive system in relation to diet and nutrition that is tied to not only our human genetic data, but to the microbiome, which allows us to be extremely adaptive to change by providing us with the nutrition we need but do not eat. There is thus little evidence to support the theory that we need to eat a relatively unknown Paleolithic diet because we have not genetically evolved an adaptation to modern foods, that there was any universal diet at that time in human evolution, or that any of the foods available today are anything like the foods available to humans 2.5 million years ago. Assumptions based on just a few fossilized remains of humans from this period obviously are just that, assumptions, and recent gene mapping technology and a new understanding of our genetic and epigenetic data shows that past assumptions of a strictly static trait gene determinism were very wrong. Our genetic code was not cut in stone, not even in the stone age.

The Paleolithic Era of human development is defined by a time period roughly from 2.5 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago, but varying from region to region of human habitation across the planet. During this extremely long time period, there was no specific diet, and in fact not even a specific human species. Evidence exists proving that several species of humans existed during this time period, including Neanderthals, and genetic research shows that they in fact interbred. Until recently, we thought that farming originated about 12,000 years ago, roughly at the end of the stone tool age, or Paleolithic Era, but researchers in 2014 discovered a large number of seeds used in farming at a site known as Ohalo II, on the Sea of Galilee, in Israel, from 23,000 years ago. Most of these seeds had scars, a mark that distinguishes domesticated species, and a large number of plant specimens were retrieved, with more than 140 species identified, including cereal grains such as emmer, barley and oats. Dr. Marcelo Sternberg of Tel Aviv University authored the study, and colleagues from Harvard University, Bar-Ilan University, and the University of Haifa published these findings in the journal PLOS One. A stone grinding slab was found with cereal starch granules on it, implying that humans at this time also processed the grains that they cultivated into flours and meal. The belief that a Paleo Diet consists of no grains, porridge or flour is thus proven wrong. The 140 plant species identified also indicates that early Paleo humans, or whichever species, but especially the surviving Home Sapien Sapiens, ate a predominantly plant-based diet in this part of the world, the cradle of civilization. Of course, a large number of sites have identified a large variety of diets among a large array of human civilizations during the Paleolithic era, as genetic testing is now able to clearly identify food species. Paleolithic humans ate what was at hand locally, but also cultivated plants at a much earlier time period in our development than we had imagined, almost twice the number of millenia that we had thought, and who knows, we may have to extend that time period back much further in the near future with new findings.

The issue of starch avoidance in Paleolithic times has also recently been challenged by evolutionary biologists. Much evidence now exists that extends the time frame for the use of fire in cooking for human species back to at least 1.8 million years ago, from the assumed estimate of 300,000 years ago. The time era for human species to even start eating meat, which most hominid and ape species do not do as a rule, except humans, is still debated, but chemical residues from tooth enamel of hundred of fossils from 1 to 4 million years ago point to a diet much like modern chimpanzees, or predominantly vegetarian, with about 3 percent of the diet meat. Stone tools appeared to change around 3 million years ago, with some tools found that had marks implying that they may have been used on scavenged meat, breaking the bone. All of these clues are inconclusive, though, but Professor Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at the University College London, and formerly a researcher at Cambridge, believes that evidence of the era of cooking coincides with a period of evolution of the modern human brain, which today uses about 60 percent of our glucose. This implies that when fire and cooking became common, that human species started roasting roots and tubers that were starchy, which releases a lot of sugar. Humans have evolved the ability to produce a lot more amylase, an enzyme that controls that breakdown of starchy carbohydrates, than any other hominid species. Professor Thomas links the introduction of roasted starchy foods, which releases about 20 times the amount of carbohydrate sugars than raw starchy foods, to the rapid development of the human brain. Evidence suggests that human species developed the ability to express a lot of amylase protein way before they started farming, and many other evolutionary biologists have stated that Professor Thomas has made a good point. So, it appears that it recent years we have discovered that Paleo humans started farming grains at least 23,000 years ago, and started eating starchy roasted foods at least a million years ago, and maybe 2 million years ago. That leaves about a half million years of the long Paleo period where some human species around the world may have adhered to the so-called "Paleo Diet". Go figure. Maybe they didn't have the internet. Stupid Paleos.

Research published in 2015 from experts at Tel Aviv University, in Israel, identified proof of the diet of the population from 400,000 years ago in the remains of the Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv. Teeth that were well preserved showed that these people had a much more sophisticated diet than we had assumed, with evidence that they at vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and in fact had developed methods of roasting meat and controlling the fire and smoke. An array of tortoise shells showed that they both roasted tortoise whole in pits and also cut them up into small pieces for meal preparation with stone knives that were much more sophisticated than we had assumed during this period of human development. The remains also showed that the people fashioned implements to clean their teeth from plant fibers. These remains were sealed in this cave for more than 200,000 years, providing evidence that is unprecedented. The prior evidence of this sort was from the El Sidron cave in Spain, finding similar evidence of a varied diet and more advanced tools and cooking techniques from a population dating 50,000 years ago. Such evidence completely negates the speculation upon which the so-called 'Paleo Diet' was built on, and clearly shows that humans had evolved a diverse array of foods and methods of cooking at a very early stage in human history that involved a plant-based omnivore diet based not upon natural 'Paleo' genetic programming, but upon the intelligent choices based on local food options and cultivation of foods at a very early stage of human development, during this long Paloelithic period, where tools were fashioned in sophisticated ways from stones and minerals before modern methods of mineral smelting and metal production occurred. To see the story of the Qesem Cave people, click here: and also here: .

The issue with the so-called Paleo diet seems to be the basis of confusing theories and contradictory facts that make it difficult to discuss, which appears to be an evolved human trait in the era of social media and the internet. It seems that the real issue, though, is a new way to cling to a meat-based diet and deride those who choose a plant-based diet, without sounding like you are too obviously expressing a bigotry against "vegetarians". Thus, the Paleo believers can be politically correct in deriding the vegetarians and plant-based diet adherents. The good news is that this meat dominant Paleo strategy at least goes back to whole natural foods and seems to emphasize limiting the intake of processed foods, but the bad news is that it is very confusing to most people and seems to result in a fear of grains, which are a predominant staple around the world. There can't be anything healthy about creating a confusing fear of staple foods in the human mind, resulting in a neurotic anxiety around eating. Humans are adaptable to diet, this is beyond doubt in our science, and the question is not whether all humans have not adapted beyond an unknown and extremely varied Paleolithic human diet, but merely a question of individual choices in the modern diet to create both a healthy organism and enjoy the foods we eat. Fear of whole grains and beans is absurd, and avoidance of plant foods because they are different from the plants eaten 2.5 million years ago is obviously absurd, since most of our plant foods today did not exist in their present form in that era, and neither did most or our meat foods. The various human species from the long Paleolithic Era did not raise farm animals. To truly attempt to get closer to the Paleo Diet one may actually limit meat to a small portion of the diet and try to consume actual heirloom whole grains and beans, and more heirloom varieties of roots and vegetables. The biosphere evolves and changes, though, and humans are just part of that biosphere. The real choices involve healthy or unhealthy foods in whatever diet one freely chooses. A couple of links to articles reporting the known science of Paleolithic human diet express the main points: - and with social media: .