Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food…I would love to paraphrase Hippocrates with great enthusiasm however in XXIst century there are some obstacles to it… but I will describe them later. We need to eat every day but sometimes we don’t think about food as a way of feeding but we just want to fill in our stomachs! Often we think more about our tastes and favourite flavors than if the ingredients of the food we eat have any nourishing properties … Not only we do not have time to cook but also not to eat consciously! We normally talk during the meal or we watch a movie. In addition very often we eat very fast accompanied with a lot of drinks.
Our body is not used to many types of food we eat. Great example is a processed food. If you look at the ingredients of a supermarket product it seems like the Mendeleev table! They contain many ingredients that you would never have imagined, such as additives, preservatives, emulsifiers and other ingredients that start with the letter E. And all these strange ingredients we have started to use them just few years ago, so we do not know the long term consequences…
In addition to chemical ingredients, processed food has many low quality ingredients and other elements that do not seem to be easily digestible. The example most people eat is bread. To make the bread you need three or four ingredients: flour, water and salt and fourth ingredient is seeds if you feel like. Considering this information look at the label on the packet of bread. The bread from the shop has at least 8-10 ingredients and the toast bread almost 20 ingredients and has very little to do with the real bread!
Another example that I would like to “share” is the example of McDonalds potato chips. Why? Because we consider things like this as not as bad… What can be wrong in simple chips?… Things as simple as chips in oil can be so complicated because it is the processed food. If we do fried chips at home we use 2 ingredients but the one from McDonalds to keep a flavour, shape and consistency have 10 ingredients such as dextrose, citric acid, processed soybean oil and ingredients as rare as dimetylopolisiloksan that is used as a sealant !!! And examples of the processed food and their weird ingredients are thousands!
Other problems we may have with modern food are pesticides and a transgenic vegetables or fruits. This is a quite new problem that is why the consequences and side effects we will see in the next few years. We already have been experiencing side effects of glyphosate which had been classified as a possible carcinogenic herbicide. Transgenic food that uses glyphosate does not have many health properties. If you go to a store and all apples or any other fruit or vegetable are all the same, it means they are from chemical farming and sometimes they might come from the transgenic farms. Almost all the soybeans and corn nowadays are transgenic in the world!
Unfortunately extensive farming all over the world made the soil very poor in microelements like selenium, boron, zincum or chromium and macro elements like magnesium, calcium or potassium. That is why often despite of eating certain foods we might be lacking essentials minerals and in certain circumstances like toxicity of some sort it can lead to a deficiency. Long term deficiency may cause in certain circumstances chronic states. Deficiency of magnesium for example can contribute to over 300 different conditions and metals like lead are in direct competition with magnesium making the state even deeper. Calcium also may cause insufficient levels of magnesium that is why is important to have 1:2 ratio between calcium and magnesium in nutrition taken. We generally have a lot of calcium in our diet which is added to many different foods but not enough magnesium which we also loose because of stress, drinking coffee or excessive alcohol intake. So it is important to replace magnesium and the most absorbable way is through the skin as a bath or oil.
Other minerals which we can be low on are selenium and zincum. Zincum has an important role for immunological system functioning properly and for example a course of antibiotics strips off all zincum resources in the body. Before antibiotics our defences were low but after are exhausted and in addition our zinc resources are completely depleted. That can lead to secondary infections like candida (fungal infection) or digestive problems. Selenium on another hand has an important role in treating infertility. Unfortunately the soil in most of the countries is low in selenium so we do not get it enough of it with food. Boron it is another microelement which we would also normally absorb from vegetables however soil is lacking boron so is our diet… Boron is essential for bone strength and absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D and together with selenium has a preventive cancer properties. Minerals like chromium is needed in such a miliscum quantities however without it many essential physiological processes do not work as it should for example insulin – glucose system, which controls correct levels of glucose in the bloodstream. We may also experience increased sweet cravings if our chromium levels are not sufficient. For those reasons it is important to have a variety diet to be able to deliver most of the essential minerals for our body. It is crucial to check the levels of certain vitamins like Vitamin D or if we suspect for example anemia Vitamin B12 levels, especially if we do not eat too much meat. Vitamin B12 is essential for our gut culture, normal functioning of our nervous and immune systems.
Some other levels of minerals also are important to check but the test itself might not be so straightforward as a regular blood test but they require a test from hair. This applies, among others, to the levels of silicon, selenium, iodine or other heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminum and arsenic. There are conflicting opinions about the reliability of tests from hair but in the case of heavy metal toxicity it is one of the more reliable methods of detecting them. When you think about supplementation of any mineral or vitamin minimum period of time to see a difference is in most cases 6-8 weeks, often preferably around 12 weeks. That is the time required by our body to replace something to minimum level however often if deficiency is deep or our body uses certain mineral or vitamin in excessive then replacement may take much longer and higher doses might be required. If deficiency already became a pathology then to overturn certain states supplementation may require combined methods, like oral and IV, much higher doses and close monitoring of the levels of particular element.
Also if we take any medicines short or long term we should be aware that metabolism of all medicines requires some vitamins or minerals or it may disable production of some essential metabolites. So for example antibiotics not only affect “bad” and “good” bacteria but also deplete the body from zincum, magnesium, calcium, iron and B vitamins which are essential to keep our immunological system intact which most likely already was on the lower side if infection has occurred and antibiotics were needed… It is not a single example of a vicious circle. One of the very common medicines are anti- cholesterol medicines like statins which stops cholesterol production. They also interfere with metabolic pathway of coenzyme Q10 and vitamin D production. Deficiency of coenzyme Q10 in the long round can lead to heart failure and in some cases to heart attack. For those reasons it is important to check with a pharmacist or in other available sources, what is the metabolism of prescribed medicines, especially in the case of chronic medicines which deplete us continuously. Other great examples are acid blockers which change a pH of our stomach to 7 (normal stomach pH is around 2) which means not only proteins from food eaten can not be fully digested but also most of the vitamins and nutrients which are absorbed in the stomach are affected. That is important to take into consideration especially in the case of people on the long term polypharmacy.
One more and most likely not the last factor is that our digestion abilities are being diminished with age. Some products which we used could have eaten with no apparent digestive problems like bloating or repeating the food it becomes a trigger for indigestion symptoms. So then we start to eliminate foods from our diet in the hope our digestion “goes back to normal” which sometimes might be a case but not always. Bloating is often related partially to undigested food being moved to lower digestive intestine or low amount of probiotic bacteria living in that part of the gut. I will describe an issue with probiotics in a minute. There might be some other causes like gluten intolerance or allergy and many other inflammatory states which some of them are related to diet like low fiber intake and as a consequence chronic constipation. Chronic constipation is not only related with low fiber intake but also with low number of probiotic bacteria in lower intestine track. Our intestine system should have a great variety of probiotic bacteria to digest, eliminate toxins, produce vitamins like vitamin B12. Our intestines are not called our second brain without a reason, because they produce neurotransmitters like: serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins which are essential for our brain to function. Any bowel disorder can affect the production of these neurotransmitters, which in turn can lead to lower mood and in extreme cases to depression. Probiotic bacteria preferably should come from probiotic foods like kefir, sauerkraut, sour cucumbers, kimchi or kombucha. If we don’t have a habit of eating them regularly then supplements in a form of capsule or powder are good substitute.
So is it needed to do supplementation?! There are many people who think we should have enough minerals and vitamins from food which would be very true if not the fact that vegetables and fruits come from depleted soils. That means to get sufficient vitamins and minerals from one apple in XIX century nowadays we would need to eat ten or more. Another problem is our ability to absorb minerals and vitamins from food which also diminished because of number of medicines we may take, increasing the pH of our stomach or other diet habits we may have like drinking a lot around food or drinking tea or coffee during or just after the meals. Unfortunately with the information I have presented I would be more on the side of yes then no in favour of supplementation unless we can ensure in some special way that our body has an environment to receive sufficient minerals and vitamins from food. Also other things we do to support nutrition absorption, like regular bowel movement (removing toxins from our body) or not overloading with toxins like heavy metals through avoiding or using in moderation certain foods (canned foods or drinks- aluminium, fishes and seafood- cadmium and mercury….)
As mentioned earlier, with age and due to other problems we do not produce sufficient amount of digestive enzymes and nowadays they are also available in the form of supplements. Using digestive enzymes can improve digestion and bowel movement the same time improving assimilation of nutrients from food. One of the enzymes in adult life we have insufficient amount if we produce at all is a lactase to digest lactose, which is a core sugar in dairy products. Dairy products in general, unless they are fermented, are not so friendly to be consumed in adult life. In many countries, adults do not consume lactic products, which not only can lead to digestive disturbance like bloating but also could cause calcium imbalance and bone problems like osteoporosis and osteopenia. Dairy products cause mucus to the respiratory and digestive systems by the fact that we do not digest them completely, which causes the body’s response in the form of inflammation. If you want to check if you digest dairy products, don’t eat them for a month and see if it changes anything in your general feeling.
Our body apart from vitamins and minerals needs three main elements to function: carbohydrates, proteins and fats. I am not going to write about their role but I just want to highlight some of their aspects. Sometimes we think we can manipulate with quantities between the main elements and for example we eat more sweets (carbohydrates) and almost eliminate fats to compensate it. But unfortunately our body has no ability of synthesizing fats called essential fatty acids despite possibility of converting fats into carbohydrates and vice versa if needed. Essential fatty acids are very important for the hormonal system and the immune system.
In addition, processed sugars change an acid – alkaline balance within the cells, making the body more acidic and they have inflammatory properties in different body systems. Chronic diseases develop easier in the acidic environment. Sugars cause body fatigue because of the level of glucose that rises and falls very quickly after consuming them. They also have a negative influence on the adrenal glands which are responsible for our general energy, stress hormones which means impact on the level of cholesterol and many other things in the body. If you need more information about cholesterol and its role in the body, I have described it in detail in my third blog “What is wrong with cholesterol?!”.
The same importance for our health as food has good quality water and natural salt that has irreplaceable properties. Water not only keeps us hydrated but eliminates toxins for example from our digestive system and respiratory system. Unfortunately, tap water nowadays carries many toxic elements such as chlorine, fluor and other contaminants such as medicines. On the other hand water from plastic bottles are not much better because they carry elements of microplastic which mimic sex hormones in our body which can lead to infertility or other conditions of hormonal disorders.. It is much safer to drink water from the glass bottles. The minerals also come from salt, if we use unrefined salt as Celtic salt or Himalayan salt, and they have an important role in different processes in our body. Refined salt does not have many properties and if we eat a lot of salt we lose intracellular water which increases cells blood pressure. Water with natural salts has many interesting properties, like healing the lining of our stomach and gut and alkalising our body. Together with lemon or lime are the best ways to increase body pH and stimulate elimination of the toxicity. Often dehydration can cause tension headaches which not only means lack of water but most importantly low levels of essential minerals in the cells. So when we have an ordinary headache we can try to ameliorate with a pinch of salt and a glass of water in the first instance before we take medicines.
I could still continue describing other examples however I just wanted to highlight some aspects which we face in everyday life with food. In summary, I want to say if our food is to be our medicine we need to spend our time and energy to choose healthy ingredients and cook them with a good quality fats and some suitable herbs and spices. Our cells needs right nutritious ingredients and we are simply made of what we eat! So taking into account how difficult is to always eat as healthy as we would wish it is reasonable to use some kind of supplementation short or long term. Homeopathic prophylaxis is also something to consider, especially in the case of children, vulnerable adults or while you travel or when you simply need some gentle support on the way to equilibrium. Spending our energy and time to nourish well ourself we live healthier and happier. 🙂 It is a process but it is worth it!
Mastering Homeopathy 3-Obstacles to cure: toxicity, deficiency and infection Jon Gamble
“Drug muggers” by Suzy Cohen where you can find which minerals and vitamins you may lose due the medications and how to restore them:
“Hidden therapies- What your doctor won’t tell you” Jerzy Zieba
“Treatment essentials: practising natural allopathic medicine” Dr Mark Sircus
Hair test analysis: