This is going to be a multi-part post, about a topic that’s a bit off research science but rather goes into healthy food & lifestyle. Not long ago, I used to be a “true believer” in a healthy diet being the key to a healthy life. Through my studies however, I had to turn a lot of these ‘conceptions’ upside down, rethink and redefine them to a completely new meaning. Upfront, i also want to mention that this is my personal opinion based on studies and experience.
Let’s back up
The term Homeopathy was first described by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796, and nowadays involves the use of natural substances to speed up the natural healing process. However, it is a pseudoscience – research on homeopathy effectiveness shows that it’s a misleading, one-way road with no credible benefits at the finish line, a bogus science. Now, I don’t say this because I have a degree in biomedical science, and am supposedly pro-pharma cause its good for business. I say this quite bluntly because I spend years learning about the human body, the pharmacology of molecules and most importantly, I too believed in homeopathy before I started studying.
There are definitely natural remedies that support your health, with a healthy diet being beneficial. However, it’s important to clarify and define the limitations of a healthy diet. No, acai berries are not going to cure your cancer, and celery juice isn’t going to ‘detox’ your liver from cirrhosis. All a healthy diet can do, is support your body’s own defense system, by supplying it with the building blocks it needs – it’s not able to cast a golden armor around you with little supermen cursing through your veins. Because I don’t want this to be a “believe me’ post, I‘m educated”, I’ll walk you through my reasoning, and then you can decide for yourself if it sounds reasonable. In this first post I’ll focus mainly on the underlying reasons why I say a healthy diet has its limitations with a final remark on why I don’t believe in supplements.
For us, a lifetime appears like a considerably long time period. But what we are today, started developing more than 80 million years ago. Maybe you have heard of “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest”, because the reason we are here today, was the ability of our predecessors to survive and adapt. I’m not talking about the invention of the computer, but rather basic skills like language and complex thoughts.
Now, lets take a look at healthy eating, this has been a “trend” for maybe 15-20 years now, but reality is that our body didn’t evolve with the variety of foods we have today. It evolved on a simple, locally attainable diet, in symbiosis with nature. Which is why our body will be just fine, as long as the food we eat is natural and balanced. No need for fancy supplements.
Its like watering your cactus at home with apple juice because it has vitamins – which you might say is ridiculous, but similarly, this is true for us.
2. Our body
Without going into too much detail, most substances that pass through our digestion system (i.e. we eat) never see the red day light of our blood stream in their original state. With that I mean that uptake of substances starting with our digestion in the stomach, and uptake in the intestines is extremely complex and specific, with substances being broken down in multistep processes. It’s hard to imagine but think about it this way: our body is like an underwater maze highway, precisely monitored by a police state that detects any alterations in every aspect of someone’s commute.
In it’s defense though, it did have a couple million years to develop this way.
Let’s take antioxidants for example: they have antioxidant properties outside our body but do not have the same effect inside of our system. In short, because you eat antioxidants, this doesn’t mean they actually, ever, reach your bloodstream and get to your cells in that form. (nice article on this in NordicScience: http://sciencenordic.com/scientist-hypotheses-antioxidants-are-complete-nonsense).
That said, eating vegetables and fruit is still very beneficial, because they contain a natural variety of vitamins and other molecules that stimulate our immune system and digestion. Produce from nature is what our body knows and has been consuming for millions of years, and therefore is adapt to digest those. What I’m getting at is that for a healthy diet, NATURAL products are key – followed by BALANCE/ VARIETY.
The latter is important because our body isn’t great at hoarding vitamins, Vitamin D being and some other fat soluble vitamins being the exception, as it can be stored in the liver for a couple months. (Again, shout out to mother nature for considering dark winters.) But back to vitamins, we need a quite constant supply of them, which requires variety in our diet to cover these. With that I mean everything from fish to eggs to a lot of veggies, nuts and fruits. Going back to evolution, no one could afford to be, let’s say vegan, because they were happy if they had anything to eat – selective eating being a product of our comparatively luxurious lifestyle.
But again, evolution build in a pretty useful feature for our bodies to tell us what they need: our taste buds. When you crave something its often because your body is trying to tell you that you need it or that you have too little of something. Now you could say: okay, well my taste buds are telling me I want a triple cheeseburger with extra mayo, fried onion rings and cheesy fries – but nothing about any of those items is natural.
Therefore, the less refined and processed the product, the better. A diet rich in natural produce and variety combined with paying attention to your body is key. When it comes to quantities, the good old food pyramid is a solid standard.
On a different note, a fact worth pointing out is that food supplements or natural remedies do not have to be FDA approved. Which means it is comparatively easy to bring a food supplement on the market, while you can charge people insane amounts of money. What these companies rely on, is marketing. They literally tell you what you need to be happy, healthy, and to be in control over your health, and give you this in their golden formula. As harsh as this sounds, it is promising but nonetheless, manipulation. The exception to this are of course cases of deficiencies, intolerances, or when women are pregnant – but no healthy person should really require supplements.