In Reply to: Health!--becoming a vegetarian (part 1) posted by porceleindoll on March 20, 2003 at 07:30:01:
(...part 2 to the above article)
Maybe it would be good to talk about just what "whole, natural foods" really are, and why they're good. Many of the things we eat are foods processed and packed by man. Whole foods are packed by nature. Nature packs the complete food, with no deletions or additions, unlike manufactured foods which are refined, milled, cooked, preserved, stabilized, powdered, colored or what have you. The manufacturing process is designed to do one thing: increase the salability of the product. Artificial coloring makes an old, or unripe, or impure food look fresh. That's why oranges are spray painted bright orange: they are usually picked green (although a ripe orange is as green as it is orange anyway) far in advance of their eventual sale date. The fruit is stored for weeks or even months, shipped, stored again, bagged, shipped again, and then displayed as "fresh fruit". Our eye sees the bright orange color, not the age of the orange. Is it any wonder that 90% of all Americans are vitamin "C" deficient, if we rely on sight alone and not on thinking?
This coloring procedure is a very minor processing compared to what the food industry can do. After all, underneath the fungicides, the spray paint and the bug sprays, it is still a whole orange. Nature grew and packed it in its rind, and nothing inside has been removed by man. In our lunchroom, when I was in grade school, a friend once waxed poetic while peeling his orange. As he removed the rind and separated the segments, he said, "Here's something that's never been seen before" (showing me a segment) "and will never be seen again." At that, he popped it into his mouth and ate it.
Nature produces a food from the first minute bud cells or seed to its final, ready-to-eat form. Commercial food processors come in at the last steps of a food's development and purposely interfere with it. This interference may be removing part (or most) of what makes the food a food of value in the first place. For example, let's take wheat. Whole wheat has been the food of millions of people for thousands of years. They would eat the wheat grains without cooking or grind the grain into wheat flour for baking. Whole wheat made bread the "staff of life" and real whole wheat bread still is; check the label and see that even store-bought whole wheat bread has 15-20% of your protein requirement for a entire day in just four slices. Today's commercial, spongy white bread would not be called the "staff of life" by anyone with common sense. That's because it's made with bleached white flour, and bleached white flour is so incapable of supporting life that even ants, bugs and mold can't live on it. Makes you wonder why we try to.
White flour is basically nothing but starch. It has great baking qualities, and almost zero nutritional qualities. That's why it's so popular with the big baking companies, and also why it is "enriched" with a few synthetic vitamins so the baking companies can at least say something on the label under "Nutrition Information." White flour started out as whole wheat flour, which is just ground-up wheat grains. But whole wheat flour is a nutritious food, and like any other nutritious food it will support life. That is why it doesn't keep that well: the wheat germ is loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and oil that will spoil if not consumed within a fairly short time. For miller, baker, wholesaler, and storekeeper to get any kind of shelf life out of their flour, these nutritious but perishable food factors need to be removed. That is exactly what milling does. The wheat bran and germ are removed in the milling process, and nice white uniform, easily stored white flour remains. As if that isn't enough, the flour is bleached chemically to insure pure white color.
Here then is an example of fairly intense food processing. Things are taken away (bran, germ, oil) and something is added (bleach) to fashion a commercially useful substance from what started out as simple, nutritious whole food. Similar things are done to corn when it is made into degerminated corn meal or corn flakes. Corn starch is analogous to white flour. Rice is "polished" to make it white and pretty... and pretty valueless. The rice grain's hull has to come off, of course, for that is like the shell of a seed. Rice "polishing" goes further, though, and mills off the rice's outer layer including the high-protein, high vitamin germ at the end of the grain. White rice is the result, and it stores a long time and doesn't support life any better than white flour. Millions of people daily live on nothing but rice but you can be very sure that it is not polished white rice. They live on whole grain rice. I'm not saying that is enough for optimum health; it takes more to make a good diet than just one food, no matter how good the one is. If these millions of people had nothing but white rice, though, it is safe to say that there would be no over-population problems in quite a few countries. In fact, the first B-vitamin studies were made almost accidentally because a wide-awake Dutch scientist, Dr. Christiaan Eijkmann, observed that chickens, and people, were dying on their white rice diet and that these same subjects recovered and thrived when fed unprocessed whole-grain brown rice.
It makes sense, doesn't it? The body thrives on good, whole foods and the body doesn't thrive (big surprise!) on partial, tampered-with foods. We can take a highly processed or refined substance and add to it all the vitamins, minerals and other factors that are known to be important to good nutrition and still not have a food as good as nature makes it. Why? Because we can put back what we know we took out, but we can't possibly put back what we don't know we took out. The "enriching" process is only as good as our limited ability to analyze what a food contains. On top of that, some think they can decide what a food should contain. How can one state that, say, these three minerals and these four vitamins should be in bread? Who are we to argue with the Nature that actually formed our very body? Enriching a food with a select few vitamins is like telling our Creator that He may use a select few elements, of our choice, to give life. We may think that certain food factors are important to health and life; Nature knows what factors are important, or they wouldn't be there in the first place. For that matter, neither would we. That's why we should eat whole, natural foods.
If you would like to see actual research papers from leading medical and nutritional journals showing evidence that whole foods can cure and prevent disease, you could start by printing out the bibliography for this website (found under "References") and taking it to your local library and asking a librarian for assistance in searching for them. You will really get your eyes opened to the tremendous body of knowledge behind common sense whole food nutrition. Some classic articles that are personal favorites of mine (all listed in the bibliography) are "The Illusion of American Health and Longevity" by Dr. H.H. Hillemann (1960); "Have We Forgotten the Lesson of Scurvy" by Dr. Wm. McCormick (1962); "The Changing Incidence and Mortality of Infectious Disease in Relation to Changed Trends in Nutrition," also by Dr. McCormick (1947); "Iodine: Its Use in the Prevention and Treatment of Polio and Related Diseases" by Dr. J.F. Edward (1954); "New Concepts in Bone Healing" by Dr. Lewis Barnett (1954); and "The Fight Over Vitamin E" by Eric Hutton (1953).
You might want to start with my concise list of more accessible papers found at this website under "Essential References."
Prepare to be quite surprised at how many illnesses can be and have been cured by good nutrition alone. More often than not, the researchers and authors of papers such as these are medical doctors whom you can bet would use drugs unless the whole food therapy worked. If you want to do your family physician a favor, consider making a copy of the best ones for him or her. Among the major diseases that have successfully been treated by diet and dietary supplements are cancer (Gerson, 1977; Wigmore, 1964, 1982, 1983), multiple sclerosis (Smith, 1988), heart and circulatory diseases (Shute, 1969, 1977), tuberculosis (Sandler, 1950), ulcers (Cheney, 1952), diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumonia, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, encephalitis, meningitis, and hepatitis (Cathcart, 1981, 1984; Klenner, 1949, 1971; McCormick, 1952; Smith, 1988). This list is all the more surprising because it is merely an abbreviated survey. Believe it or not, the medical evidence for nutritional cures is in print (and has been for many years), quite available for anyone to read.
The simple practical point here, again, is eat whole, natural foods. Every person's health will immediately benefit who does so, and you can prove it yourself in your own life.
Step Three: Clean Out Body Wastes
Along with cutting out meat and eating whole foods, the third quick step to health is to help your body clean itself of the toxins it has accumulated from years of neglect. I certainly don't mean that you never took a bath, never brushed your teeth, or that you went about coughing on everyone. Neglect simply means inattention to your body's real needs. Your body, like an automobile engine, consumes its fuel (food and air) and also produces exhaust wastes (carbon dioxide, urine, sweat). Quite a few organs in the body are involved in filtering, reclaiming and excreting waste materials. These organs include the kidneys, lungs, liver, colon, spleen, bladder and skin. Your skin is your body's largest organ.
If these organs of excretion are "clogged up" by years of "foodless" foods, meat eating, chemicals, additives, cosmetics, liquor, smoking, over-weight, vitamin deficiencies, and stress, you can imagine that they will not be functioning properly. You know what a "backed-up" septic tank or sewer system can do to a home. A backed-up bowel does the same to a body; so does a toxin-filled liver; so does an overworked kidney; so does a cosmetic-covered, anti-perspirant coated, deodorant soap and moisturizer treated skin. If the body wastes don't get out, they stay in. Naturopaths believe that this is the basic cause of all mankind's various illnesses: the polluted body, or systemic toxemia. In another section, we will discuss how a polluted lake provides the perfect medium for bacteria to thrive. So does a polluted body.
The naturopathic method calls for cleansing: cleansing fasts, cleansing foods and beverages, and internal and external cleanliness. Naturopathy holds that the organism will heal itself, regardless of ailment, if giver a chance to purge itself of the wastes that are the basis of the ailment. A good cleaning out gives the body that chance.
Here's how it is done.
The Cleansing Fast
A cleansing fast is just not eating for a meal, a day, or a week. The longer the fast, the more the body can accomplish in that time. Naturopathic theory holds that considerable body energy goes into digestion, and if you rest the digestive process for awhile, energy can go into internal healing. Fasting a sick body is just as sensible as not putting any more gasoline into a burning automobile. First put the fire out, then repair the car. Then fuel it up.
The same with the human body. The fast puts out the fire; fasting is known to eliminate fever, inflammation, infection and other symptoms from the inside out. "From the inside out" means that fasting breaks down and eliminates the diseased tissues that are the root cause of the symptoms. The repair work is done, naturally and thoroughly, by the body. When the repair is done, then it's time to eat again... and eat whole, natural foods this time.
Dr. Paavo Airola says in Health Secrets From Europe (1972):
The therapeutic value of fasting is based on the following physiological
facts: 1) Autolysis is a known metabolic phenomenon of self-digestion or disintegration of the body's own tissues. 2) Therapeutic fasting induces the development of autolysis and directs its physiological effect for constructive healing purposes. To clarify: when disease takes hold of the body it is usually because of the weakened defensive mechanism and impaired normal functions of the vital organs. Due to continuous neglect in feeding the body properly and failure to observe the other rules of health, the glandular activity and metabolic rate slows down and the eliminative organs lose their efficiency. Many of the toxins and metabolic wastes remain in the body and are deposited in the tissues, causing autointoxication. During a prolonged fast (after the first three days) the body will burn and digest its own tissues by the process of autolysis, or self-digestion. In its wisdom (and here lies the secret of the extraordinary effectiveness of fasting as curative therapy) the body will decompose and burn only those substances and tissues which are diseased, damaged, or of lesser importance to the body economy, such as all morbid accumulations, tumors, abscesses, damaged tissues, fat deposits, etc. (p. 32-33)
Dr. Airola goes on to give excellent, specific advice on how to fast, and discusses many different types of fasting. I highly recommended his work, as he's too good to miss.
Most cleansing fasts need to go for four to seven days. Some persons fast weeks at a time, although generally in nature-cure spas or resorts. Such spas are found all over Europe, but are hard to find in America. For this reason, many people undertake a fast at home, with the aid of careful reading and naturopathic advice.
"Won't I starve to death?" one might want to ask. The answer is, "No, you won't." Naturopaths feel that most of us eat far more than our bodies require to be healthy. Too much food in a body is like too much wood on a fire: it doesn't get used efficiently. Either it burns quickly and wastefully or it smolders and smokes wastefully. Either way there's a lot of ash left over. This build-up of "ash" is grounds for disease. Fasting is the great fireplace clean-out. The right amount of food for most people is far less than they think. Why else would the U.S.A. have so many overweight people?
If we missed more meals, or days, of eating we will not starve. The body can go for weeks without food. Marathon walkers trotted all over Europe for ten days covering 300 miles, on nothing but water in 1954 and 1964. Right now there is enough food in your digestive system so that if you ate no more, your alimentary canal (stomach, intestine, colon) won't be empty for a full day. Even then, your reserves of glycogen in the liver will last days more, and you have fat reserves as well. A person doesn't really begin to starve for weeks, and doesn't really begin to "fast" for at least four days.
A small amount of beneficial "starvation" or digestion of the body's errant tissue is a planned goal of fasting. Deposits in joints, lumps and growths, even tumors have been reported to be "digested" away in a long fast. This is why terminally ill patients are reliably reported to have recovered after inpatient naturopathic fasting treatment in Europe and other countries.
You might think that fasting would weaken a person, but the exact opposite is true. Fasting strengthens. How strong do you feel right after a big roast beef dinner? Pretty stuffed and wanting to just sit are common feelings after a big feed. On such occasions, one of my brothers used to declare that he felt "bloated". Now: how do you feel on a camping trip, before breakfast? Hungry, certainly, but with the strength, drive and energy to gather wood, make a fire, and cook some pancakes. (Whole wheat flapjacks are very good, by the way.) This is only a mild degree of fasting, but it is invigorating.
Most naturopaths would agree that a really long fast should always be conducted under supervision of a naturopathically-oriented doctor, and that going to a nature-cure establishment is ideal. However, many people fast over a weekend for four or five days during the flu, severe colds or other common ailments without any special arrangements (except for not eating!). During a fast, it is important to drink water or vegetable juices regularly. You need to take in quite a lot of fluids because your body excretes fluids in urine and sweat, and balance must be maintained. In fact, you may find that you need extra water or juices during a fast, because your excretory organs are working overtime to clean your system out. Fluids help flush out bodily wastes. They also will give you some feeling of "fullness" in your stomach and curb your appetite during the early part of the fast.
It is common to be hungry for the first few meals you don't have, but as the fast continues, the appetite diminishes. Vegetable juices contain minerals, vitamins and other trace substances that are good for you, and aid in cleansing. Also, the complex carbohydrates in vegetable juices may make work or other activity more comfortable if you are unable to take time off to fast. Some naturopathic authorities feel that there is no need for anything but water for a fast, and that energy and blood sugar levels are not seriously affected by fasting. This probably varies from person to person, and I would do what is comfortable for you. Anyone with a medical reason why they should not fast simply should not fast. For example, fasting is not for pregnant or nursing women, nor is it appropriate for growing children. Check with your doctor before fasting, especially if you are on medication. Stay in touch with good books, experienced "fasters," and a naturopathically-minded doctor for your first time at it.
During water-only fasts in particular, some persons choose to employ a daily enema to assist the body in its cleansing efforts. The bowels don't move, or don't move much, during a fast. The reason is that there is no food being taken in to stimulate movement, or peristalsis, in the digestive tract and the bowel stays still. An enema helps clean out whatever happens to be collected in the very lowest regions of a non-moving bowel. The enema, although it doesn't sound all that thrilling, helps dissolve and rinse out residual feces in the bowel from before the fast, and also aids in removing toxins accumulated in the bowel during the fast. It also makes you feel better. I know this because I've done it. I am not enema-happy. Once a day is plenty, and only while water-fasting. One can easily do a vegetable-juice fast instead, and dispense with enemas entirely. In my opinion, this is the more practical and more popular choice.
After fasting, it is important to gradually resume eating. No steak dinners, please! The best foods to start into are fruits. Along with fruits, some steamed vegetables and vegetable soups are fine. Vitamin food supplements are more important now than during the fast, for now your body is keenly interested in all the good nutrients it can get. Easy does it on everything; get plenty of rest; chew your food well (do I sound like your mother?) and enjoy. Remember, your body makes you well. All we can do is help supply it with good things to eat and do.
Remember also that the hardest meals to miss are the first two or three, and after that it's easy. And if you're really sick, it will be easy to miss the first meals, too. The first thing a sick animal does is "go off its feed." That is fasting, and we'd all do well to take our example from nature.
One thing that we humans can do that animals cannot do, or perhaps do not need to do, is practice some organized form of stress reduction. Stress reduction techniques provide deep physiological rest and development of consciousness. Since many people fast for these same reasons, it all fits together nicely and is really worth doing. You might call stress reduction the Fourth Quick Step to Health. I feel it's very important.
The first Three Quick Steps to Health again are: Stop eating meat; eat whole, natural foods; clean out body wastes. Try these steps you're off and healing already.
Reprinted from the book DOCTOR YOURSELF: A Guide to Wellness Self-Reliance Copyright C 2002 and previous years by Andrew W. Saul, 8 Van Buren Street, Holley, NY 14470 (585) 638-5357.