Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm. (Hippocrates)
The world is full of health information these days. There is a lot of propaganda around low fat, low salt diets, no calorie food, vegetable oils and soy products, about how a magic pill can miraculously cure everything and everybody! It’s really overwhelming to come to a conclusion with so much conflicting advice that overflows the health arena. But to the end of it, you don’t have to be an expert to figure it all out. Common sense and logic along with careful observation of how your body works, and rediscovering your ancestral roots are just enough to get you started on the right path of your health journey.
Here I intend to challenge you to ponder over the following most common five misconceptions in the natural health world. Most probably you have encountered at least one of them in your life:
1. One Size/ Supplement/ Diet-Fits-All. Disregard for Metabolic Individuality.
If we were all the same, then why don’t the same diets / treatments work with all conditions, on all people?
We are all unique on a biochemical level as we are in our fingerprints. Biochemical individuality is responsible for the fact that nutrients behave differently in different metabolisms. William Wolcott, founder of the Healthexcel System of Metabolic Typing explains :
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Protein doesn’t make you fat. Carbohydrates don’t make you fat. And even calories per se don’t make you fat. But what does make you fat is the inability to properly metabolize, or convert to energy, carbs, proteins, fats and calories.
Eat the right foods for your Metabolic Type (metabolism) and eat the right ratios of macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbs) and you’ll be giving your body the right kind of fuel for your engines of metabolism. Science is beginning to awaken to the idea that much of what our bodies do with food is in our genes.
The theme of metabolic type was present in every ancient medical system: Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, ancient Egyptian medicine and many others treated diseases by customizing their treatment according to different functioning metabolisms.
There are metabolisms that thrive on high amounts of red meat and fat (think of an Eskimo, as an extreme protein type) and there are metabolisms that thrive on lean, white meat instead (think of a Quechua Indian as an extreme carbohydrate type). And there are those in between, that thrive on a diet where foods have to be in a certain combination and proportion. Ratios of animal proteins and fats as well as the type of proteins and fats vary tremendously from person to person, from culture to culture, from metabolism to metabolism.
Our nutrient requirements are also heavily influenced by our environments and the kind of lifestyles we lead. Both of which have shifted dramatically over the course of the last century.
So what is a healthy diet then?
The only healthy diet is the one that meets one’s genetically-based requirements.
In other words, the way your great grandma and grandma used to cook using local, wholesome foods, is good for you.
The same principle of individuality applies to taking generic supplements containing wrong quantities and ingredients that might push your metabolism even more into imbalance. It’s important to realize that the benefits of any particular nutrient do not apply to everyone.
One man’s meat (or supplement!) is another man’s poison. (Lucretius)
How did it all started?
Although the concept behind fasting goes back to ancient times, it is a totally different story in today’s modern world. Ancestrally, we were exposed to periods of lower caloric intake (if not complete absence) when, for example, the hunt was unsuccessful, and abundant caloric intake when a trophy was brought home. Across millions of years, the human physiology adapted to this to function effectively. Functional human physiology is well adapted to fasting and can even benefit from fasting in the right environment and under the right conditions.
Still a good idea today?
The problem is that, almost without exception, we are talking about a generation of people with dysfunctional human physiology. Simply put, we have become far too toxic these days. And fasting initiates utilization of stored fat for fuel and thus the release of all the toxins stored in the fat. So, fasting leads to rapid release and circulation of massive toxic loads. On top of that, many people are hypoglycemics these days and in such cases fasting is again not a good idea.
Like many other health promoting practices, fasting is just a tool. Under careful observation and with certain individuals it can promote health benefits, like improved digestive function (through rest and recovery of the system), decreased immune hypersensitivity and therefore decrease in auto-immune disease, improved insulin sensitivity, improved leptin sensitivity. But it is NOT the solution to all your health problems, and in many instances it could generate more harm than good. Bottom line, choose your fastings very wisely and for short, intermittent periods of time if you really feel you need them and/or you have actual clinical proof that these can benefit your health.
To Detox or Not to Detox?
Detox procedures are actually essential these days. We are bombarded from any direction with an arsenal of toxic substances, from Monsanto’s Round Up to nuclear radiation. Water, soil, food, air, EVERYTHING is polluted these days. Luckily, part of the genetic intelligence in every cell is the ability to detoxify. If that was not the case, every cell in our body would die from autointoxication.
But then how does the body become toxic and why would it need to detoxify ?
The answer is that in those people who need to detoxify, cells don’t have what they need in order to FUNCTION properly.
Cells need raw materials to chelate or pick up the toxins, energy, to move the toxins out of the cells, selective membrane permeability -the ability of cells to open and close their membranes appropriately, to let good things in and close to keep bad things out. But if your diet is not correct to meet your genetically-based requirements for nutrition, and you suffer from multiple biochemical imbalances, then none of these three functions needed to detoxify will work properly.
How should we detoxify our body and what can happen if we do?
The greatest detox procedure anyone could ever do is to eat right for their Metabolic Type. This is the first and most important thing, that will lead to balancing your body chemistry and seriously help with reversing health conditions.
Many health experts and various, numerous health publications advise for detoxifying where specific procedures and herbs are involved. Very few talk about the fact that detox is just a step in the whole very complex process of natural healing; it is just a tool, not a cure. Detox shouldn’t take place without previously preparing your body to do so. A pretty good digestion, liver, kidney and adrenal function are all required in order to handle the whole process well and use it to your benefit.
Depending on all of the elements of individuality, as change begins to take place, if too many supplements are taken for too long, the rate of change can exceed the body’s capacity to keep up with it. For example, as you balance body chemistry, the body will quickly begin to mobilize toxins out of storage sites into the blood stream. If the rate of cellular detox exceeds the rate at which the organs of detox can eliminate toxins from the body, then there will be a backup in the blood stream, producing all the various symptoms of detox (constipation, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, headaches, etc).
In this case, a very good thing has become bad due to the rate of change that is occurring. All that needs to be done in such a case is to start cycling, a procedure that means taking the specific supplements on and off for determined periods of time, until symptoms subside. Carefully observing all these subtle or pretty obvious signs the body is sending us on a daily basis is the core premise of true natural healing.
4. Disease / Symptom Oriented Approach vs. Patient Oriented Approach.
The conventional, western model of medicine is a symptom and disease oriented approach. There is no real prevention here. Action is taken when symptoms appear and that action is mostly based on prescribing drugs for a lifetime. Deep, underlying factors that determined the disease in the first place are not considered.
Even alternative medicine is mostly disease based, where symptoms are suppressed by natural remedies; sure, it’s not that toxic as taking drugs but it’s not the solution for long term health either.
What is the patient oriented approach?
It’s far more important to know what person the disease has, than what disease the person has. (Hippocrates)
This model is one that aims to go much deeper than symptoms and treating diseases on the surface level. This patient-oriented paradigm is a totally different approach altogether, where individual nutritional and biochemical requirements are firstly met. We are talking about METABOLIC INDIVIDUALITY, about how and why one man’s food is another one’s poison and how and why one diet/herb doesn’t fit all.
It’s not the diseases that should be treated but the underlying metabolic imbalances that have caused the diseases that need to be addressed. William Wolcott
5. Alkaline or Acidic?
The acid – alkaline body is one of the most misinterpreted and complex concepts in natural healing and nutrition. There are actually many nutritionists, clinicians, naturopaths and dieticians out there continuously advising us to “alkalinize” our body.
The famous health expert Emanuel Revici offered in his 77 years of clinical research more than 120 significant medical discoveries and revolutionary concepts. He showed that pH in a normal, healthy person should cycle twice over a 24 hour period above and below the median. The median for urine is 6.2 and for saliva is 6.7. He also proved that a
pH stuck acid OR alkaline was evidence of pathology and the body’s defense against a degenerative process. For example, he found that some cancer tumors proliferated in an acid environment but others thrived in an alkaline environment.
Even more critical, when you view a pH test result that is acid or alkaline, you do not know whether you are viewing an actual problem or the body’s defense against a problem. Following the example above, trying to shift an acid pH alkaline in a cancer patient that has an alkaline tumor would dangerously undermine the body’s (acid) defense and actually accelerate tumor growth.
pH is an effect, not a cause of problems. Health requires that the body be able to shift alkaline OR acid as the situation requires.
What about acidic and alkaline foods?
Certain foods stimulate, strengthen and support the Parasympathetic System ( alkalinize ), while other foods stimulate, strengthen and support the Sympathetic System ( acidify ). In the Oxidative System, the effects of these same foods are actually reversed! This is why nutrition can be so confusing, complex and unpredictable.
ANY food can be either stimulating or sedating, acidifying or alkalinizing, NOT due to an inherent quality of the food itself, but rather due to the effect of the food on the dominant control mechanism in your body.
The acid/alkaline ash of foods plays a very limited, minor role in the determination of pH. Far more potent is the specific stimulatory/ inhibitory influence of foods and nutrients on the specific control systems.
Have you ever observed your reactions after eating an orange? High potassium foods like this will cause certain body?s pH to shift alkaline and produce a SEDATING EFFECT. But in a different metabolism, the same amount of potassium or an orange will produce an acid shift and a STIMULATING RESPONSE.
Why is this important? It is a fact that acidosis is pathological, and can generate a lot of imbalances in your body, but what is not known as widely in the health world, is that alkalosis (resulting in a loss of intracellular potassium and loss of hydrogen necessary for production of stomach acid) is also pathological and will cause just as many, if not more problems with your health.
Now, stepping out of the complex world of clinical research and scientific studies, the message here is to: question everything, do your own research and educate yourself as much as you can about what you put in your mouth and on your body. One day you’ll realize you’ve become your own healer and feel great about taking responsibility for your own health.
For specialized consultation for your health problems you can schedule an appointment here.
Price, Weston. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
Revici, Emanuel. Research in Physiopathology as a Basis of Guided Chemotherapy
Wolcott, William. The Death of Allopathic Nutrition