The Importance of Food for Maintaining Good Health
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, ‘Let food be they medicine and medicine be thy food.’ In modern times, we have paraphrased this aphorism as You are what you eat.
However, since the era of the Madmen in advertising, we have allowed ourselves to be fooled into thinking that prepackaged, fast, or otherwise adulterated food is actually good for us. Nothing can be further from the truth. While improvements in hygiene and waste disposal, along with powerful antibiotics, have contributed to lengthening our collective lifespans, we are entering old age more debilitated than our counterparts did in previous eras.
Partly due to our sedentary lifestyles, or indulgence in excessive sports, we are ever more reliant on technologies and surgeries to help us retain mobility. Some of us resort to hair color, plastic surgeries, or injections to look younger. We go on diets to remain slim and sexy, following every fad from low fat to low gluten.
However, we rarely think about the impact our actions have on our long-term health. True, most of the health conscious have stopped smoking, but have replaced that indulgence by guzzling supersized glasses of wine, focusing on the heart healthy benefits of Resveratrol while ignoring the effects of carbohydrates and sugars on their bodies. Additionally we indulge in so-called whole grains and healthy carbs, while wondering why our waistlines never seem to shrink.
Some people, on the other hand, believe our cave ancestors ate nothing but meat, which could not be further from the truth, and err on the other side of dietary spectrum. Others follow the Okinawa diet or the Mediterranean diet ignoring that the less stressful lifestyles and general contentment of those populations relative to our own culture might be the real clue to their good health.
Organic Food, Soil Depletion and Supplements
Now you might say, that’s not me, I eat an organic and balanced diet. The only trouble with that is that the organic label doesn’t always mean food is entirely raised or initially sourced organically. Even grass fed cows spend the last portions of their lives in feedlots, thus undoing most of the benefits beef eaters hope to derive from consuming ‘organic’ meat.
The most disturbing aspect about agriculture in the United States is that our soils have been leeched of vital nutrients and minerals and poisoned by pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers for decades. We think we are getting the fuel and vitamins we need to maintain a healthy body, but we are not.
We then resort to supplements. However, we might not realize that not all vitamin and mineral formulas are of the same quality. Those on sale at our local drugstores, or even in stores that specialize in vitamins, have been found to be full of additives, fillers and contaminants.
If you are going to supplement, it is advisable to purchase physician/pharmaceutical grade supplements available from holistic health practitioners. These supplements will be the ones most able to deliver benefits without any additional fillers or contaminants.
While we carry a wide range of supplements manufactured by Metagenics and Xymogen, Dr. Vulich recommends that almost everyone can begin to improve overall health by taking probiotics. As Hippocrates also said, Health begins in the gut.
Gut Bacteria and Well-being
What do we actually mean by the gut? The gastrointestinal system, also referred to as the gastrointestinal tract, digestive system, digestive tract, or gut, is a group of organs that includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestine, colon, and rectum.
What then is gut bacteria? There are three to five hundred different kinds of bacteria within the digestive tract. Along with other tiny organisms like viruses and fungi, they make up the unique microbiota that is different in each human being. One’s microbiota is determined by the mother’s microbiota, the environment that the body is exposed to at birth, and from diet and lifestyle.
Bacteria lives in the entire body, but the bacteria in the gut may have the biggest impact on well-being. Though they line the entire digestive system, the majority live in the intestines and colon.
Chronic stress, antibiotics, poor overall health, C-section births, and environmental toxins can all deplete the beneficial flora found in the gut. Symptoms can present as heartburn, constipation, bloating and excess gas while having far-reaching and damaging consequences for overall health.
Chronic inflammation can cause the body to seek to protect itself, launching an immune response and damaging its own tissues and organs in the process. Studies indicate that poor gut health may be responsible for depression, headaches, fatigue, fibromyalgia, autism, Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, obesity and diabetes.
We also have to consider the fact that our entire system works symbiotically and that the metabolism and thyroid cannot function properly without good gut health. Some physicians suggest that those with subnormal thyroid function need to improve their gut health in order for thyroid medications to be completely utilized by the body.
Certainly, gut health can be improved by eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or Kimchee, consuming bone broth, oinions and garlic, while avoiding sugars and limiting gluten or processed carbohydrates. However, supplementation can help the body get a jump-start in creating good gut fauna and eliminating a host of underlying health problems.
Dr. Bonnie Vulich will be happy to discuss your symptoms and goals with you and suggest a nutritional program along with the proper supplementation to improve your overall health. Please call today 312.867-0600.