I was searching through the dusty shelves of a friend's bookcase and came across a 1971 book titled "Are You Confused?" by Paavo Airola, PhD.,N.D. The book detailed his philosophy of nutrition and "health secrets." The diet was based on the three basic food groups: 1) Grains, legumes, beans, seeds, nuts. 2) vegetables and 3) fruit. He recommended only vegetable proteins with almost no complete proteins from animal sources. Sounds good, right? But I get confused when unfortunately Airola at age 64 suffered a fatal stroke. OK, there may be many reasons for his death, but it makes one question his advice.
In 2000, Dr. Sears wrote a book for vegetarians called "The Soy Zone." He mentions that traditional vegetarian diets rely heavily on grains and starches with relatively little high- quality protein. These diets are hormonally unbalanced. Eating a diet based solely on carbohydrates causes insulin levels to soar, and many find themselves gaining weight while increasing their risk factors for chronic conditions. Most fruits have a high glycemic index (GI), they cause an increase in blood sugars and insulin and should be limited to one serving per day. All grains, including organic sprouted grains, have a high glycemic load (GI x grams of available carbohydrate) and should be consumed in very small amounts. However, Dr. Sears discusses how the right vegetarian diet may reduce the risk factors of chronic disease, i.e., heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, etc.
Big pharma is always searching new markets for existing drugs. Minoxidil, a hypertension drug, was renamed Rogaine. The side effect? It grows hair. Drug companies are always searching for new disorders that can be treated with medications from every-day experiences, such as sleeplessness, sadness or jumpy legs. It's called medicalizatoin when human conditions are defined and treated as medical conditions. I get confused when someone implies I may have a "disorder." Last month I had a cup of coffee a few hours before I went to bed, and surprise I couldn't fall asleep. I was informed that I had a coffee-induced sleep disorder, and there's a medication for that. I have been known to be neat and orderly and have been accused (falsely) of having an obsessive disorder. There's a medication for that. Because I'm always on the move and get numerous projects done, I've been informed that I may have an ADHA disorder. There's a medication for that. There seems to be a pill for every situation so you don't have to be accountable for your actions or your health. I wonder if there's a pill for creativity when writing newsletter articles. Someone said taking LSD works. I'll pass. Then there's that couple sitting in two separate bathtubs in the middle of the nowhere, and I get confused. How do they get hot water out there? Then there are the confusing and misleading media articles and research studies. Examples:
- Headline: Study Confirms: "Fish Oils May Raise Prostate Cancer Risks" Dr. Sears' comment: The assumption that consuming fish or supplementing with omega-3s increases prostate cancer is not supported by the data. Even if it were true, then the Japanese, who are largest consumers of fish in world, should be decimated by prostate cancer. Yet the Japanese have among the lowest rates of both incidence and mortality from prostate cancer in the world.
- The American Heart Association Science Advisory on omega-6 fatty acids tells us to consume more omega-6s. See: Circulation Jan. 28, 2009, "Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Mortality." In essence, the authors were trying to make the case that it's OK to consume a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. Dr. Sears' response:
- Dear Sirs: I read with great interest the AHA Science Advisory on omega-6 fatty acids. However, none of the references in that article referred to the Lyon Diet Heart Study, which represented one of largest dietary intervention studies ever conducted. In the Lyon Diet Heart Study, the AHA dietary recommendations were compared to a much lower intake of omega-6 fatty acids. At the end of the study, the participants in the low omega-6 fatty acid group had a 70-percent reduction in both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks compared to those on the AHA diet, which contained a high level of omega-6 fatty acids. The failure to discuss this major study and its implications on cardiovascular mortality and myocardial infarction in your Science Advisory greatly undermines its conclusion that the current consumption of omega-6 fatty acids is safe for the American public.
- Coffee: Good or Bad for Us? Two new studies disagree.
- It was thought hormone therapy protects women from heart disease, but now it doesn't.
- Headline: "All people over the age of 50 should take statins every day for life: according to Big Pharma research." I'm confused. Do I have a statin deficiency?
There's one thing I'm not confused about, it's taking control of your health by reducing processed foods (who doesn't like an occasional bagel) while consuming more whole foods, such as colorful non-starchy vegetables, lean proteins and supplementing with a fish oil low in heavy metals and PCB's. Exercise and meditation are also part of a proactive approach to reducing your risk factors for chronic disease.