Home of America's first Mixed Martial Art Training Method for the Entire Family
SELF-PROTECTION AND NUTRITION
Hardly a week goes by without a new slimming diet being publicized. It is either a "star" or an "expert" (often self-styled) who is using it with supposedly spectacular results. Naturally, there is an implied assumption that losing weight is always desirable and associated with good looks.
Because A.S.P. is concerned with man as a whole, and because we want our students to be well informed, we have decided to include a chapter on the subject of nutrition. The author has majored in Food Chemistry and Nutrition and has spent the early years of his career as a food chemist. Therefore, he is rather familiar with the subject. There is abundant truthful literature on it available from well qualified official sources, such as the Food and Drug Administration. There are also numerous scientific publications by reputable workers in the field. Unfortunately, these publications are not written in a sensational manner and, since hardly anyone can make money promoting them, they are known only to a tiny fraction of the public. It is also true that most of them make for rather dull reading.
Let us start by making a few honest statements: (1) There is a lot we do not know about nutrition. (2) There is quite a bit we think we know, but are not quite sure about. (3) There are a few things we are quite sure about, but these are a small part of the whole. (4) Other factors affect nutrition besides the mechanics, physiology and physico-chemistry of digestion. These vary from individual to individual. Nutrition and digestion are NOT synonymous. (5) There is an intentional confusion between looking good and feeling good. They are also NOT SYNONYMOUS and one does not necessarily imply the other. SOMETIMES, they go hand in hand.
Looking good relates to esthetics. These are in constant flux and have changed throughout the ages. Even today, they vary from country to country. For instance, in some countries slim women are admired, while in others rather plump ones are considered beautiful. The Greek ideal of female beauty expressed in the Karyatides and Aphrodite (Venus) of Milo, would be considered by some modern gurus as overweight. Few people would dispute the fact that the Greeks had an eye for beauty, as demonstrated by their magnificent creations.
On the contrary, feeling good has always been the same throughout the ages, and has been always identified with vibrant energy, vitality and the ability to experience what the French, who are experts on the matter, call "la joie de vivre." If there was a choice between looking good and feeling good, most people would chose the latter, and that choice should define our priorities and goals. One should strive to feel good first, and if possible, look good at the same time.
Now let us make another set of honest statements concerning facts we are sure about. In order to reach the above goal, we need three vital and interrelated elements, none of which can be ignored with impunity. We are referring to good morale (a most important factor), appropriate exercise and appropriate nutrition.
WHILE ALL ARE ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO ANYONE WHO WISHES TO FEEL GOOD AND PERHAPS LOOK GOOD IN THE BARGAIN, THEIR REQUIREMENTS AND INTERRELATIONSHIP ARE HIGHLY INDIVIDUAL, AND VARY WITH TIME.
Attempted generalizations with a view to quantize them, should be looked upon with extreme suspicion. A.S.P. P. has to offer something of value in all three areas. We make no claims that our way is the only way, but we believe it to be most valuable and effective.
While no one knows exactly the true nature of the relationship between mind and body, it is a well documented fact that they do have a great mutual influence. Our psychosomatic exercises, particularly "Concentration-Relaxation", have a markedly beneficial effect on morale. Similar results may be obtained with our isometrics, followed by a Comsek, e.g. Comsek II, performed very slowly in full concentration. The beneficial effects of concentration, described earlier, stem from its subtractive nature, which helps dispel morbid and unpleasant thoughts by replacing them with constructive and pleasant ones. Thinking in ways that transcend matter, spiritualizing our thoughts, either via religious or philosophical paths, has also a beneficial effect on our morale. Because A.S.P. is nonsectarian, we leave the choice to our students. Besides, no one can convince a person better than himself, since each one of us is inclined to believe what he wants to believe and our minds have the ability to rationalize the most improbable beliefs. While the author has deliberately chosen to leave A.S.P. out of theological and philosophical squabbles, the beneficial effect of thought spiritualization on morale remains undeniable. More about this later.
Here "appropriate" has a highly personal connotation. What is appropriate for one person may not be appropriate for another. It is for this reason that A.S.P. offers a complete gamut of physical exercises and competitions. From isometrics and Comseks, without a partner, technical sparring, involving contact, but nonresistance, to the give and take of kickboxing and grappling. Anyone in reasonably good health can benefit from A.S.P.
BASIC NUTRITIONAL CONCEPTS
Now, we shall examine some basic nutritional concepts. Not infrequently, these are misunderstood, misrepresented, or ignored. In order to be easily understood by most of our readers, they contain some oversimplifications. We have seen that well-being cannot be necessarily equated with good looks or with being fashion-slim. Ask yourself the question:
"Who is the world s greatest expert on YOU?" Obviously, YOURSELF! No one can tell better when you are feeling good, when you have a lot of energy, when you are enjoying life! If we listen carefully to our body, it will give us proper guidance and we will rarely go wrong. We only have to be attentive and learn to listen. We should be particularly wary of momentary pleasures that later bring discomfort.
WHAT IS NUTRITION? Nutrition is the sum total of processes by which food intake and nutrient assimilation sustain life.
Very early in his existence, man noticed that some items would affect him adversely when he was suffering from certain ailments, others would affect him beneficially, while others yet should not be consumed under any circumstances. As he learned healing skills, man developed appropriate diets, which seemed to help in sickness. Part of this knowledge was based on pragmatic observation and part on superstition. Things are not very different today. As time went on, these diets were constantly subject to change and adaptation. Only very recently has man developed some truly systematic, if incomplete, nutritional knowledge. It is worth of notice that we have a "Food and Drug" Administration, because it is quite difficult, as well as unwise, to separate one from the other.
Proper nutrition implies choice. When people are living at the edge of starvation, they will eat whatever is available just to keep alive. Under those conditions, proper nutrition becomes an empty concept. In the U.S. and some other parts of the world, people are fortunate enough to have such choice. They only need to learn to use it wisely.
THE ELEMENTS OF LIFE
Here the term life is to be understood from a biological point of view and not a spiritual one. We do not mean to exclude by any means the concept of spiritual life. Several elements are needed to sustain life as we know it, and we shall review the most essential ones. Before going any further, we should point out that there is one component, which even though is not found in any food, is quite essential: our thoughts and attitudes, our will to live, to be healthy, in short, our outlook on life. A multitude of people have survived incredible hardships and starvation diets, which by whatever standards are known about nutrition should have killed them several times over, just because they had the will to live. We must recognize that the most important element of life transcends matter and is to be found in the human spirit. Yes, proper food intake is ALSO important and we shall review its major components.
Every living organism has three essential life needs:
1. Building materials to grow and replace "parts" that wear out
2. Energy to function
3. Urge to perpetuate its species
Nutrition impacts all three. Except in pathological cases, which are beyond our scope, when the two first are properly taken care of, the third takes care of itself.
EQUATIONS FOR WEIGHT
Because of the almost universal concern about weight, we shall deal first with the second item. Here, it is necessary to properly define a much misused and widely misunderstood term: the calorie. A calorie is defined as the amount of thermal (heat) energy needed for raising one gram of water at 15 degrees Centigrade by one degree Centigrade. Now, this is not the calorie every one is talking about. When people say that so much of a certain food has so many calories, they really mean kilocalories, or one thousand of the calories mentioned above. Roughly speaking, this is the energy needed to raise one liter of water (about one quart) by one degree Centigrade. Life is combustion: we are "burning" calories. In nutritional terms this definition of calories is still incomplete. A most important concept should be added, which takes into consideration the very nature of nutrition, and, also, the differences that exist between individuals. Coal can release a lot of calories, so does wood, but these calories are not available to our organism for its nutritional needs. This is why wood and coal are not foods for us. The term "assimilable" should be added to calories for their correct, nutritionally meaningful definition. This term refers to the ability of our organism to utilize the building blocks and the energy contained in a given substance, in other words, to use it as a food. While assimilation has several general common characteristics, it also includes a personal factor. Indeed, each one of us assimilates nutrients and uses their building blocks and contained energy in some uniquely personal way. Therefore, when referring to calories, we shall understand "assimilable kilocalories" (A.K.). This is not only a question of semantics, as we shall see.
In any healthy individual, we have three possible cases:
1. A.K. Intake equals A.K. Expenditures: Weight remains stable
2. A.K. Intake is larger than A.K. Expenditures: Weight increases (organism stores excess A.K.)
3. A.K. Intake is smaller than A.K. Expenditures: Weight decreases (organism sheds off excess A.K.).
In other words, weight control is a function of assimilable calorie intake vs. expenditure. It follows then, that it is very difficult to control weight when appetite is not brought under control. This can be achieved in different ways, some less desirable than others as we shall see: (1) Use of drugs (2) Attitude conditioning (3) Social and environmental factors and (4) A combination thereof.
The Building Blocks of Our Body Let us see now some fundamentals about the building blocks required by our body, to replace "parts" and to store energy. Here are some practical guidelines:
1. A healthy diet is based on two principles: VARIETY and MODERATION. The more varied your diet, the better your chances of getting all the nutrients you need. Moderate intake of a great variety of food is the key to proper nutrition.
2. There are neither health foods, nor junk foods. There are healthy diets and junky diets. Essentially, a healthy diet consists of controlled caloric intake from a great variety of foodstuff, low overall fat intake, low salt intake, and emphasis on complex carbohydrates taken in moderation (whole grains, rice, potatoes, etc.)
3. There is some evidence that a good balanced diet should contain about 10% simple carbohydrates, 25% good quality protein, 5% saturated fats, 15% unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and the balance in complex carbohydrates, all taken from as great a variety of sources as possible.
4. Many authorities agree that being 20% over one’s ideal weight, as defined by widely accepted tables, is being obese. Don t worry if you are 5—10% overweight. It might even be good for you assuming that you feel fine and peppy. Getting on a weight see-saw is bad for your health and your morale. It is absolutely not true that the thinner you are the healthier you are. Do not confuse esthetics with well-being.
5. To lose weight, some conditioning is helpful. In general, consistent exercise alone will not make you lose too much weight, but it will tone your muscles and increase your metabolic rate beyond the calories consumed in the exercises per se. The following pointers have proven helpful:
a. Avoid eating unless you are sitting at the table
b. Resist seconds
c. Take small bites and chew well
d. If you are strongly tempted to nibble, chose low-calorie foods
e. Think more in terms of nutrition than dieting
f. Don’t make the latter an obsession
6. Some popular foods are tasty, but nutritionally bad. A typical example is the cheeseburger with bacon, and other foods high in saturated fats, salt and cholesterol. Avoid them, keeping in mind that your morale is also very important. You must enjoy life. If you feel like having one in a long while, do so, but do not make a habit of it.
7. Be sure to take enough roughage. Good sources are whole grains bran, celery, turnips, radishes and whole apples. While there is no absolute certainty that they will protect you from certain forms of cancer, at least they will give you regularity.
8. Do not make a fetish out of so-called "natural" foods. Some of the "natural" foodstuff contain ingredients far more toxic than additives found in our food. Besides, these additives are one of the main reasons why there is no famine in our country and food is so plentiful and accessible to all. Furthermore, the government agencies in charge of monitoring their use are doing a fairly creditable job.
9. Keep in mind when reading food ingredient labels, that they are listed in order of decreasing amounts and govern yourself accordingly. There are ways of calculating the nutritional values (nutritional density) of foods. They have only comparative relative value: leave them to the professionals.
10. Drink coffee and tea in moderation. Caffeine is not as bad an actor as recent publicity wants us to believe. Tea contains more caffeine than coffee per equal dry weight, but since light tea is more palatable than weak coffee, it might be preferable for reducing caffeine intake. Perhaps products generated by pyrolysis (heat breakdown) in coffee during roasting and the tannin contained in tea are more harmful than caffeine. To cut down on caffeine from coffee, blend it 1:1 with chicory and add an equal amount of warm mild (French cafe -au-lait). Unless you know the method used for decaffeination, stay away from decaffeinated coffee. Certain solvents used in the decaffeination process have cumulative toxicity and are known carcinogens. Recently, however, most coffees are decaffeinated by safe methods.
11. Avoid alcohol and drugs. Use alcohol in great moderation, if at all. Certain legitimate drugs interfere with nutrition. For instance, there is evidence that women on contraceptive pills need folic acid supplements. Stay away from illegal drugs and NEVER experiment with them. Addiction is highly dependent on the kind of drug used as well as on the idiosyncrasy of the user. There is no such thing as recreational use of drugs. It is like slitting your throat for recreational purposes.
12. More about cholesterol and vitamins later. You don t have to worry about them, if you follow the guidelines of variety and moderation and you avoid the foods mentioned earlier. In some ways, the needs of our body are not unlike those of a car. Like a car we need "parts", fuel, lubrication and additives. The main food categories can thus be understood by analogy. We need proteins ("parts"), carbohydrates (fuel), fats (fuel and lubrication), and vitamins and minerals (additives for smooth operation). Proper nutrition entails a good balance among all these.
Proteins are made of building blocks called amino-acids. To be useful to us, these amino-acids must have certain structures and be linked together in certain ways. Some are necessary to us and we call them "essential" amino-acids. Our flesh and blood are made out of proteins. All proteins are not of equal nutritional value. The more essential amino-acids they have in complete sets, the better. The more a given protein approaches the structure of our own, the greater its nutritional value. Proteins contained in red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, and some legumes, like soy beans, have high nutritional value. The trouble is that many high value proteins, such as those in whole milk, cheese, eggs, and beef are also associated with a high saturated fat content. And this is not so good. Most of us take much more animal protein than we need. Lowering its intake would also lower saturated fat intake. High protein diets are bad, because they force the organism to burn them as fuel. The byproducts of such combustion are toxic and must be eliminated, thereby taxing the kidneys. The most statistically meaningful data, often overlooked by nutritionists, are those accumulated during many centuries by certain fasting monastic orders. Essentially, fasting means to sharply curtail animal protein and fat intake. Monks belonging to such orders usually live long and healthy lives, even in areas where abject living and sanitary conditions prevail.
These include sugars such as those found in fruit, honey, maple syrup (simple carbohydrates) and others, such as starch and cellulose, found in whole wheat bread, rice, corn, and other cereals. Both classes include members that can be assimilated by our organism and others than cannot. Carbohydrates are good fuels. A certain kind of carbohydrate is stored in the liver to be used as reserve fuel. Simple sugars are a source of fast energy, which, however, does not last long. Complex carbohydrates that can be assimilated, such as starch, release also energy, but at a slower rate. When they cannot, like cellulose in bran, they add bulk to our food and promote regularity.
It makes no difference where a sugar (or any nutrient) comes from, since our organism cannot differentiate it in terms of origin. This author has replicated natural sugars via total synthesis, which when fed to microorganisms in repeated experiments at the Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, gave no detectable differences, either in the way they were consumed, or in the growth of those microorganisms. The much publicized argument of "natural source" cannot be taken too seriously. If the supposed benefits stem from minute amounts of extraneous materials found in that source, then they cannot be attributed to the nutrient per-se anyway. Besides, this kind and similar arguments betray ignorance of the potent means of synthesis, purification and analysis available today.
Fats are the most condensed form of energy releasing nutrients that we can consume. Per equal weight, they contain roughly twice the amount of assimilable calories compared to the other basic nutrients. They are used not only as fuels, but also as lubricants in our body. It is well understood that they also serve as a form of stored energy, which, as all women know, goes to the wrong places. There are "good" and "bad" fats. Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature and are mostly known as oils, while saturated fats are usually solid and are considered as being "bad". Most of us take too much of the wrong kind of fats from red meats and dairy products. We could benefit by cutting down on their intake and replacing it with lean meats, fish, safflower, olive, peanut, or corn oil. Even better, we could limit our overall intake of fats. Saturated fat and cholesterol intake go usually hand in hand and increase our chances for a stroke, or a heart attack.
Hypertension and Cholesterol Perhaps we should again remind ourselves that we are far from knowing all there is to know, or that what we know is definitive. Therefore, excesses in any direction should be avoided. In spite of all the bad press fat is having lately, it is essential to our health and any balanced diet should include appropriate amounts and types of fat. Fats and oils are the source of some vital compounds such as linoleic acid (and other so-called fatty acids) necessary for proper growth and healthy skin. They are also carriers of vitamins that are soluble in them, for example, A, D, E, and K. Besides, they add flavor and improve the texture of foods. A limited amount of fat in the body serves some useful purposes, such as cushioning its organs. Fats and oils are part of almost anything edible. A low-fat diet is advisable for all, in order to avoid obesity and problems associated with it, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Low-fat diets are prescribed for people with high cholesterol levels who run that risk.
Let us say right away that cholesterol is not some kind of poison. On the contrary, it is an important constituent of body fluids and cells. However, it is somewhat related to fats and can get deposited in the wrong parts of the body. Carried in the bloodstream by complexes that are fat and protein together, called lipoproteins, it may get deposited along the inner linings of the arteries in the form of a fibrous plaque. This brings about two undesirable results: the arteries become less flexible and the pressure required for the blood to flow through them gets to be higher. When such deposits block completely an artery feeding the brain, a stroke occurs. If the clogged artery feeds the heart, a heart attack occurs. In general, when the blood supply to a tissue stops, there is injury and even death of that tissue.
There is evidence that not only the total fat intake should be watched, but also their kind. So-called polyunsaturated fats, which are higher in vegetable oils, can result in lowering the cholesterol levels in the blood. We mentioned earlier lipoproteins. These are divided in two categories, high density (HLD) and low density (LDL), which are the bad actors, because they carry cholesterol to places where it can be deposited. People with high HDL counts are less prone to heart problems, as it seems, provided that they have also normal or low cholesterol counts. The effect of diet on HLD is not well understood. Non-smokers, joggers (people who exercise) and those who consume alcohol in moderation tend to have high HLD levels.
Revisions of do’s and don’ts are frequent. Recently it was decided that monounsaturated oils such as olive, peanut, and those found in avocadoes and other plant foods may be beneficial.
Our blood is pumped by the heart into the blood vessels and the force exerted on their inside walls is known as blood pressure. Blood pressure is affected by several factors and can change several times a day. Exercise, anger, fear, stress tend to push it up. Sleep and relaxation bring it down. For this reason, several readings are necessary to determine if there is a problem or not. This done with a sphygmomanometer and is expressed with two numbers. The first represents the pressure when the heart has just pumped blood into the circulatory system (systolic pressure) and the other (diastolic pressure) represents the pressure when the heart is relaxed and filling with blood. What is considered normal pressure varies with age and sex. Its upper limits are often quoted as 140/90.
High blood pressure has few, if any, noticeable symptoms. For this reason it is referred to as the "silent killer". Sometimes, it may cause nosebleeds, fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and facial flushing. Only your physician can decide if you have hypertension. Its exact cause is not known, but several factors such as heredity, obesity, smoking, stress, and excessive salt intake have been implicated in the most common type of hypertension, known as "essential hypertension". Left untreated, it can damage blood vessels in the kidneys, eyes, heart, and brain. This, in turn, may cause kidney failure, impaired vision, heart disease, and paralyzing stroke. For all these reasons, and particularly for those over 40, it is important to have regular blood pressure checks. If you have hypertension, follow your doctor s advice and take religiously the medication he or she prescribes. Here we are going to be concerned only with changes in lifestyle that are effective in reducing blood pressure.
CHANGES IN DIET
Reduce your intake of egg yolks, shellfish, red meats, inner organs (liver, kidneys, etc), high fat dairy products, and all prepared foods including them. Also, limit foods high in saturated fats, which actually increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood. For example, lard and suet, bacon fat, animal fats in general, coconut oil, palm oil, and butter. Read carefully the labels of the processed foods you are buying to determine if they contain any of them. Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, fresh fish, and low-fat dairy products.
STOP SMOKING. REDUCE DRASTICALLY THE USE OF SALT there should be no salt shaker on your table. Instead, use lemon juice or vinegar. REDUCE YOUR WEIGHT if overweight EXERCISE without overdoing it, REDUCE STRESS by practicing psychosomatic A.S.P, and particularly "Concentration-Relaxation." There is ample evidence that stress is a real killer. Recently, it was reported that oat bran reduces cholesterol levels and that aspirin helps in preventing recurrence of heart attacks and stroke. With changes in your lifestyle you will probably avoid the need for medication.
FOOD ADDITIVES, VITAMINS, & MINERALS
There is considerable disinformation in this area. Let us consider the chemical additives first. In order to get a clear picture of their role in nutrition, we have to examine their impact on our longevity and quality of life, and then compare their toxicity at legally allowable levels, with that of substances naturally occurring in our food.
Advanced countries have been blessed with an abundance in food that was unheard of before chemicals, such as fertilizers and pesticides, came into widespread use. At this time, pesticides are our first line of defense against the scourge of insects. Famines, such as the one that devastated Ireland in 1840, are becoming increasingly rare. If we are to continue having the abundance of food at low prices we all are taking for granted, we have to accept the fact that at our present technological level, traces of man-made chemicals will inevitably find their way in our food. So-called organic grown foodstuffs are not immune to such contamination from rain, ground water, insects and the wind which carries man-made chemicals. The premium paid for organically grown food is not justified and buyers are only fooling themselves. Besides, it is doubtful that organic growth methods could ever meet the existing demand for abundant, predictable harvests of inexpensive food. Since man-made chemicals came into widespread use in most technologically advanced countries, longevity has increased from an average of 50 years to 75+, mostly due to an ever increasing abundance and variety of food at our disposal, and a lowering of infantile mortality.
Nature is replete with an endless variety of toxic substances and many natural components of foods are harmful to laboratory animals at dosages in excess of probable human intake. Do you like coffee? Each cup contains 0.2 grams of chlorogenic acid, a mutagen. How about chocolate and tea? Both contain caffeine-like substances, theobromine and theophylline, which are known to activate various carcinogens. Potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant contain solanine. Celery contains furocoumarine, shellfish contain arsenic and mushrooms contain hydrazine. All these are either toxic or carcinogens. Defects in the immune system can be generated by canavanine found in alpha-alpha sprouts. Want more? Any book on toxicology will provide a wealth of examples. What then? We must recognize a basic fact: toxicity is a function of quantity. Sounds simple? Yet there is hardly a concept, with the possible exception of statistics that has been so misused and manipulated for self-serving purposes.
How come we are still alive in the midst of such numbers of toxic substances? It is because of our natural defense mechanisms. These extraordinarily effective defenses of ours keep us going. They are complex and marvelous. Our bodies, like all living organisms want to live and perpetuate life. Surely, we should take care of them the best we can, but let s also recognize that those who look after the safety of our food have, in general, served us well and we have reasons to trust their judgment. Yes, there is always the possibility for error.
Man in not infallible and we are far from knowing everything we should know. We should also trust our defense mechanisms, which can handle rather large amounts of naturally occurring toxic materials. Here again, mind reigns supreme. In some religions, which emphasize faith healings, a change of mental attitude by faith or understanding, brings about beneficial results, "healings". These religions take credit for the healings, never recognizing that they only contribute with faith to mobilize our existing defense mechanisms, which are always in place ready to be used. Ingesting poisons and handling venomous snakes harmlessly fall into the same category. And this certainly does not detract from the gratitude we owe our Creator, who has granted us such defenses.
Let us now take a closer look at food additives. What are they? Simply, they are substances added to foods deliberately, with a specific purpose in mind. They may be added in small or rather large amounts depending on the desired end-result. Some additives facilitate food preparation, others help to retain freshness and make food more appealing, while others are used for maintaining or improving nutritional value. The most common additives used in North America are sugar, salt, corn syrup, citric acid, baking soda, mustard, pepper and vegetable colors. Foods like milk, flour, cereals and margarine are improved by the addition of vitamins and minerals. With the help of these additives, dreaded diseases due to lack of some elements in foods have been essentially eliminated. Iodine is added to table salt to prevent an enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter), while vitamin D is added to the milk to prevent rickets, a disease which affects normal bone growth in children. A large number of additives are used, including some essential amino-acids which are contained in animal products and our body cannot synthesize. Therefore, we must take them from an outside source. Thus, vegetable proteins are "fortified" with essential amino-acids, such as methionine, lysine, leucine, and thryptophan. The assumption that adding vitamins and minerals to foods makes them necessarily superior to "unfortified" ones is not correct, because our body s finely tuned mechanisms will use only what it needs. Adding nutrients in excess of these needs, is not only useless, but can be downright harmful. For example, vitamins A and D, copper, zinc, selenium, and molybdenum are toxic beyond their useful levels.
Foods can go bad either by sustaining the growth of harmful microorganisms, such as the one causing deadly botulism, or by loss of color and/or flavor. Salt, sugar, sodium propionate and potassium sorbate slow down the deterioration of margarine, mayonnaise, breads, cakes, and others. Sodium nitrite is used in various delicatessen to preserve their red color and prevent botulism. Oxygen has an adverse effect on the color and/or flavor of foods. For this reason antioxidants are used, such as vitamins C and E, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) in baked goods, cereals, and other foods. Artificial and natural colors and flavors are used to make foods more appealing. Among the most popular flavor enhancers is monosodium glutamate (MSG). We do not know exactly how it works, but there is evidence that used in large amounts or consistently, it has undesirable effects.
Another major class of additives relates to sweeteners. These are either nutritive or non-nutritive. Nutritive sweeteners include sucrose (common sugar), glucose, fructose, lactose and some naturally occurring sugar-alcohols, such as mannitol and sorbitol. All these are metabolized in our body and furnish energy. Non-nutritive sweeteners are not metabolized, however, they are not without effect on our metabolism. Examples are, cyclamates, saccharin, and nutra-sweet. Foods containing sugar-alcohols are not truly "low-cal", as they can lead to the production of some sugar. For this reason, they are not quite safe for diabetics.
Among the many other classes of additives, let us mention humectants, used to retain moisture in foods, leavening agents, alkalizers, thickeners, stabilizers, and emulsifiers. One of the latter, found in nature, is lecithin, widely used in ice cream and mayonnaise.
If one eats well-balanced meals, he does not need to take vitamin supplements. As earlier mentioned, if we take more than we need, our finely tuned organism will, in general, reject the excess. Major vitamins are important for our well-being and good health, but we also need all other necessary nutrients. Vitamins do not release energy, and do not contribute any of the building blocks we need. They are like the lubricant additives in a car, helping in the transmittal of energy. We notice them more by their absence than their abundance. Some, like C and B-complex are soluble in water, while others, like A, D, E, and K are soluble in fats and can be stored in our fatty tissues. Water-soluble vitamins are used daily, as needed, and the excess is eliminated, mostly through the urine.
Minerals have two functions in our body: building and regulating. Our skeleton and soft tissues are examples of their building function, while blood clotting, internal pressure of body fluids, nerve responses, oxygen transport and heartbeat illustrate their regulating function. Calcium and phosphorous are present in large amounts in the body, particularly in the bones and teeth; their relative ratio is most important for good health. Abnormally high amounts of calcium in the blood are often indicative of hidden cancers. Sodium is found in the blood plasma and helps, with potassium, to regulate body fluids and balance. Chloride, as hydrochloric acid, is very important for the digestion in the stomach. Magnesium is found in all tissues, and particularly in the bones. Sulfur is essential to life and is found in amino-acids and two vitamins, thiamin and biotin.
Other elements, known as trace or oligoelements are also essential to life. They are usually found in the body bound to organic molecules. Iron is widely distributed in the body, mostly in the blood and is essential for transporting oxygen to the tissues. Copper is involved in the storage and release of iron to form hemoglobin for red blood cells. Iodine is required in small amounts for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, while manganese is needed for normal tendon and bone structure. Cobalt is part of vitamin B12, chromium acts with insulin in the utilization of glucose by the body, selenium has some action on vitamin E (fertility) and fluorine has a demonstrated beneficial action on our teeth.
A.S.P. is practiced by men and women. Both have similar needs for most nutrients, but there are situations where women s needs exceed those of men s. For instance, older women seem to be more sensitive to the lack of calcium than men of the same age. Also during their childbearing years women need more iron than men. Their vitamin and minerals requirements may also be affected by the methods of contraception they are using. Blood loss is greater for those who use intrauterine devices (IUD ‘s) as compared to those who use oral contraceptives. Iron deficiency can be prevented to a large extent by proper nutrition. There are two types of iron in foods: heme and nonheme. The first is easier assimilated and is found in meat, fish and poultry. Non-heme iron is found in other iron containing foods and its assimilation is enhanced by eating meat, fish, or poultry along with them. Examples of non-heme iron containing foods are nuts, particularly hazelnuts, lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, raw spinach, seeded raisins, eggs, and soybean curd. Foods rich in vitamin C, like citrus fruits, help iron assimilation. On the contrary, certain components of foods known as phytates, and found in tea (which also includes tannin); some fruits and whole grains interfere with iron assimilation, as do antacids. The proportion of iron assimilated depends also on the degree of iron deficiency. It has been determined that the average woman of childbearing age needs about 1.8 milligrams of iron daily. Do not take iron supplements without consulting your doctor first.
Lack of calcium is conducive to osteoporosis, in which the mass of the bones decreases, making them easier to fracture and affecting posture, and height. Women also need more calcium during pregnancy. The best source for assimilable calcium is milk and dairy products. Keep in mind that the increased need for calcium begins long before the symptoms of osteoporosis appear. It is, therefore, wise for women to include enough calcium in their food intake. Osteoporosis is not confined to women only, but because women have about 30% less bone mass than men, they tend to be more susceptible. Particularly so, that during three to seven years following menopause, their bone mass decreases rapidly. Two glasses of milk (no more, to avoid the formation of stones in the urinary tract) a day and exercise will greatly help young women to avoid osteoporosis later. Some fish eaten with their bones, such as sardines and salmon, are also good sources of calcium. Do not take calcium supplements without consulting your physician. Commercially available calcium supplements such as bone meal and dolomite may contain lead in quantities sufficient to endanger your health. Oral contraceptives seem to improve calcium assimilation, while alcohol, tobacco and caffeine have the opposite effect. incidentally, oral contraceptives are known to affect the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
The bounty of our supermarkets would not be available to so many in such large country as ours, without the use of additives. While caution must be exercised in their use, we must not forget that a great variety of appealing and nutritious foods is accessible to so many, because of the use of chemicals and additives. The "down on the farm," "mom and pop" methods of preparing and preserving foods, may be fun to try for a while, but would definitely not allow for such bounty. Furthermore, they have not proven so good for our health and their results are far less appealing than modern foods.
We could give a long list of do s and don'ts, of sources of this and that, of milligrams of such and such, here and there. To the average person, who does not make a living in nutrition, and who does not have either the time or the inclination to "plan" his meals on a LIFELONG BASIS, all these are, more often than not, of academic value.
In summation, to control our weight safely and stay healthy while doing so, we must exercise self-control. There are no magic solutions and those who promote them seek only to fatten their pocketbook. Neither are there any FAST and SAFE ones. We must condition ourselves to an appropriate life style. Guidelines are simple to state, but require considerable nutritional awareness and continuing self-control to apply.
BRIEFLY STATED: WE MUST CUT DOWN ON OUR CALORIC INTAKE, BUT NOT ON OUR NUMBER OF MEALS. EAT A GREAT VARIETY OF FOODS IN MODERATION. CUT DOWN DRASTICALLY ON FATS AND SALT. EXERCISE REGULARLY TO THE POINT OF BEING TIRED, BUT NOT FATIGUED. ABOVE ALL, LEARN HOW TO RELAX (PSYCHOSOMATIC EXERCISES) AND KEEP A GOOD MORALE. THINK GOOD THOUGHTS. AS MUCH AS YOU CAN, TURN YOUR THOUGHTS AWAY FROM YOURSELF AND THE CONTEMPLATION OF YOUR PROBLEMS. THE BODY WILL FOLLOW THE MIND. IN MOST CASES PROPER MORALE, NUTRITION AND EXERCISE WILL TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH MUCH BETTER THAN DRUGS AND MEDICAL PROCEDURES.
COMMENTS ON CANCER AND DIET
Cancer is the most dreaded disease. In fact, over three hundred diseases with widely different prognoses are being catalogued under "cancer." Briefly, cancer is an unregulated, uncontrollable (malignant) growth of undifferentiated cells in various tissues. Because its etiology is linked to the basic life processes it is difficult to explore and to fight. Cancer occurrence has a statistical parameter built-in, therefore, statistically interpreted observations are valuable. Some of them are related to nutrition, and we are giving them here. Keep in mind that ALL THEY MEAN is that, under certain circumstances, there is a LESSER STATISTICAL PROBABILITY—NOT A CERTAINTY—for the development of certain cancers. This author has been involved in cancer chemotherapy over the years and has some understanding of the meaning of such findings. Apparently, certain foods have a detrimental effect on the development of cancers, while others have a beneficial one.
Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and cabbage reduce the risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal cancers, while colorectal cancers may be prevented by the consumption of fruit, whole grain cereals, and vegetables. Whole wheat, oatmeal, and bran seem to be particularly beneficial in this respect. High vitamin, or provitamin A (carotene) containing foods, such as dark, leafy vegetables, broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cantaloupes, peaches, and orange citrus fruit are, apparently, useful in preventing cancers of the larynx and oesophagus. Vitamins, such as vitamin C, probably have some beneficial effect.
Adverse influences have been linked to smoking, high fat and salt intake, cured foods (with salt, nitrates, or smoked) and to excess weight (people 40% overweight have a higher incidence of cancer). With the exception of smoking, there are no ironclad proofs. The average person, however, will have little difficulty in following these guidelines, even though they are only statistically meaningful at this time.
The prophets of doom and gloom concerning our environment aim more at making a name for themselves and at selling their publications in a market conditioned to respond to sensationalism, rather than informing the public. Yes, we are facing problems, some of them serious, but we shall overcome them. Man is eminently adaptable. If he were not, he would have ceased to exist long ago and would not have survived an early most hostile environment.
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