Many benefits to nutritional therapies

It’s easy to find articles about the “big” topics in medicine, like health, fitness, and quality of life. This article is relevant to all and concerns diet as a means of inducing disease. We continue to discover more every day, about what is a good diet, about diet as a treatment for various conditions, and how an inappropriate diet can lead to disease. As research continues to show, diet and life-style are major keys to a rewarding quality of life and the development of disease.

There are numerous examples of bad medical and nutritional advice. This is common when big business and medicine are combined. When you desire a specific result from a study, statistics can be skewed and misinterpreted. Knowledgeable physicians are now being forced to admit they dispensed bad advice to many Americans. This was a big one, right up there with the food pyramid of the 60’s, which proclaimed that starches should be the basis of your diet. This erroneous proclamation: the primary cause of heart disease is consuming too much cholesterol.

Poorly researched, wholly inaccurate recommendations were made about cholesterol, and more importantly, published and disseminated to the masses. Bad science is to blame, but much damage was done by declaring some of these findings. It has become painfully apparent that cholesterol levels have little to no effect on the risk of heart disease.

What is cholesterol? It is a substance present in the covering of all the cells of the body (aka the membrane). It is also an essential component of many processes of the body, including the production of hormones, absorption of many vitamins from our foods, and the creation of new cells. Our liver carefully regulates cholesterol, and when you don’t eat enough of it, the liver produces more! So why have we been told that high cholesterol in the blood causes heart disease? Even the famous Framingham study, the most extensive study on the risk factors for cardiovascular disease ever done, found that there is absolutely no correlation between large amounts of cholesterol in the diet and risk of heart disease.

So what does cause heart disease? Whatever the answer to that question, our approach has not been working. Heart disease is the number one killer in our country today, which is startling considering that a little over a hundred years ago, it was practically unheard of! In fact, the first heart attack wasn’t even described in scientific literature until 1912. Yet heart disease rates have risen steadily since. More Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before, despite the fact that almost a quarter of Americans take expensive statin drugs, while reducing the fat content of their diets.

Certainly saturated fats have been blamed, but an analysis of all studies found no correlation between saturated fat consumption and the risk of heart disease. Actually, as the rate of heart disease has increased, intake of saturated fats has fallen. Perhaps the strongest association between diet and heart disease has been made between the so-called “heart healthy” vegetable oils. These oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which lead to increased inflammation in the blood. The process of inflammation now seems to be a key factor in the increased rate of heart disease in the industrialized nations.

Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped to the wall of our blood vessels. Inflammation is the body’s natural defense to foreign invaders like bacteria or toxins. But, chronic exposure to injury allows the development of chronic inflammation, and this is what occurs when we consume foods the body was never designed to process.

Americans have simply been following the recommendations. Many of us have tried to follow the diet prescribed, one that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not realizing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This chronic inflammation leads to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. The newest advice is simple; eat as much like your grandparents as possible. Because this cliche is accurate: you are what you eat! Eat smart: it’s a clear path to wellness.


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