Hippocrates gave this principal to us some 2000 years ago and wiser words have never been penned. In more recent times we’ve said, “you are what you eat”. The question is “how do we ensure adequate levels of nutrients in the body?”. The first place to start is basic nutrition. How may times have you heard “I don’t need to take vitamins- I have a good diet”?What frightens me most is the fact that the RDA’s are the levels at which disease from deficiency occurs. If you consistently take in less than 60 mg. of Vitamin C you’re likely to develop Scurvy. A diet with less than 1.5 mg. of Vitamin B1 can lead to Beriberi and less than 20 mg. daily of Niacin can cause Pellagra. The RDA has little in common with optimal health and wellness.
These are merely the levels of intake of essential nutrients considered to be adequate to prevent disease due to deficiency – Beriberi, rickets and similar. Is that what proper nutrition is all about? Or is proper nutrition about increased health and vitality? Dr. Linus Pauling has taught that our Vitamin C consumption should be on par with what other animals produce by themselves, typically 10-12 grams a day.
These are far from “the nectar of life”. It sometimes seems that the quote of the Twenty First Century will be:
“Let your food be refined and let your medicine be manufactured drugs”.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II), completed in 1980, 91% of Americans do not eat the suggested 2 servings of fruits and 3 servings of vegetables that have been shown to be the hallmark of health. To further compound the problem, those of us who try to “eat healthy” are at the mercy of modern agriculture. Mechanized farming has led to nutrient deficient soils and an over-dependence upon pesticides and herbicides. Instead of letting our fruits and vegetable vine-ripen we pick the crop before it’s ripe, truck it across the country and chemically induce ripeness just before the point of sale. Is it any wonder that so many of us fail to obtain the RDA’s (really dumb allowance) or DV’s (dumb values)?
Before we get too far into this, remember that the field of nutrition has, as one of its main tenets, the fundamental belief that we must treat the whole person – not a disease state - not a condition and certainly not a group of symptoms. Every individual has a mind, a body and a spirit.
I will try to take you through the basic steps towards achieving what I like to call optimal wellness. It’s the basic, fundamental elements that we often overlook that can make the most long-term changes in our health.
Robert J Lukasik, DCN