Nutrition as Protection

By Candace Corson MD, Debbe Buckman RN, BSN

If you knew, would you add two things to your daily food intake that would make a world of difference for your quality of life and longevity? Two big things would make that kind of difference for all people:

1. Increasing good fat intake
2. Greatly increasing fresh fruit and vegetable intake.

Good verses Bad Fat

Good fats are called the essential fats because your body has to have them in order to build a brain and every cell in your body. Because you cannot make them, you must eat them. But very few people today are getting the needed kind of fat to make cells that actually work right. You may have heard of the omega-3’s. That’s right. Sources are deep-sea fish (like salmon, cod), walnuts, flax seeds, sea vegetables, and free-range land animals that eat green food, which allows them to produce their fat as omega-3. It is grain-feeding (in large part) that has unfavorably altered the good fat to bad fat ratio in our systems over the past decades, leading to a host of serious, long-term health problems.

So, start eating flax seeds (an economical source of good fats and excellent fiber found at the health-food store), walnuts, deep sea fish (not farm-raised; they will not work the same), and free-range (preferably organic) eggs and chickens, if you do eat meat. The worst fat to ingest is Trans Fats (or "partially hydrogenated" fats), which are to be totally avoided. In the beginning, it will take you glancing at all your processed food labels to know that trans fats are everywhere for "shelf life." In general, remember that the longer the shelf life of your food, the shorter your life

Our long-term health problems today are now known to have inflammation as the basis for much that has gone wrong. The bottom line is: The good fats are anti-inflammatory and promote normal brain function, helping you think and feel better

Plenty of Fruits & Vegetables

You can eat all the good fats in the world, only to have them immediately become harmful ("lipid peroxides") in your body as they are rapidly oxidized (damaged) by the normal process of burning your fuel in the absence of a protective shield ("anti-oxidants") against that burning process (oxidation). Fruits and vegetables are the mandatory source of our "anti-oxidants" – that protective shield against cell breakdown due to the "smoke" we are obliged to produce by having to burn our fuel (food) at the cellular level to produce the energy of life. The damaging "sparks" produced in burning fuel cause what is called "oxidative stress" at the rate of some 10,000 oxidative strikes on each cell, every single day. This causes early aging and degenerative disease when it is not quenched by the mandatory source of our damage control: fresh, raw fruits and vegetables. Please note: Vitamin pills do NOT contain the cofactors required by the body or the same protective effect.

That is why the current recommendation of 5-9 fresh fruits and vegetables every day is now revised upward to 9-13 servings a day. Aim for 5 cups of fresh, raw produce, with a variety of colors, to form a network of anti-oxidants that are synergistic – working together powerfully – and known to reduce cancer, heart disease, inflammation, and premature aging. It is also smart to add a whole-food supplement if eating the required amount and variety is not possible. Research now supports this strategy to best provide the quality and quantity of what you need daily (Kiefer et al., 2004; Nantz, Rowe, Nieves, & Percival, 2006; Samman et al., 2003). This will fill the gap for the quality and quantity of what you need daily.

Improving your diet by avoiding bad fats and eating more fresh fruits and vegetables will improve your health AND extend your energy supply. Holistic Nurse Practitioners can use these simple concepts to protect their own health…and to improve their clients’ well-being.

References

Kiefer, I., Prock, P., Lawrence, C., Wise, J., Bieger, W., Bayer, P., et al. (2004). Supplementation with mixed fruit and vegetable juice concentrates increased serum antioxidants and folate in healthy adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(3), 205-211.

Nantz, M. P., Rowe, C. A., Nieves, C., & Percival, S. S. (2006). Immunity and antioxidant capacity in humans is enhanced by consumption of a dried, encapsulated fruit and vegetable juice concentrate. Journal of Nutrition, 136(10), 2606-2610.

Samman, S., Sivarajah, G., Man, J. C., Ahmad, Z. I., Petocz, P., & Caterson, I. D. (2003). A mixed fruit and vegetable concentrate increases plasma antioxidant vitamins and folate and lowers plasma homocysteine in men. Journal of Nutrition, 133(7), 2188-2193.




Author Candace Corson has been a Community Family Practice Physician for the past 20 years. She is Past Director of the Healing Arts Center (Mishawaka, Ind.), Wellness Educator for whole-food nutrition, and National Marketing Director for National Safety Associates, Inc. Say hello to Dr. Corson at Carson Wellness

Debbe Buckman RN, BSN has been a Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse for 25 years. She was trained at the Mind/Body Medical Institute (Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Mass)-Cardiac Rehab.




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