By Marina Silverio
In the words of Socrates “know thyself”; what did this wise philosopher mean by that? He meant that all knowledge is within us and if we listen we will be guided to the answers we need. When we are struck down by disease, any disease, we think we are powerless and want someone else to fix it. We not only think we are powerless, we would rather be powerless than have to face such daunting responsibility especially when we don’t know where to begin. This becomes even more difficult when we are diagnosed with cancer or another life threatening disease, because that’s when the fear meter peaks at its highest! Fear makes it very difficult to move forward and it makes things even more overwhelming, and all we want to do is give the reins to someone else.
Decisions about our health are the most important we will ever make, but many of us allow other people to make those crucial decisions. Think about all the decisions you make in your life: where to invest your money, which car or home to buy, what profession to choose, who you let in your life, whether to have children, etc. We would never allow anyone to make these important decisions for us; this is not to say we would not consult with experts as needed, but we do our research, look deep into our hearts and make the final decision; this is our right and our privilege! It is imperative that we understand that the same thing applies to our health. Seek advice, do your research, and most importantly know thyself, listen to your intuitive self in order to make the best decision for your health. I understand the fear factor makes this seem impossible, but the best way to abate the fear is through literacy and knowledge.
Here is the simple truth: Food is powerful medicine, more powerful than most people realize; what we eat can heal us or make us sick. This is where knowledge becomes key, knowledge empowers and alleviates fear so we can make the best decision for optimal health. Let’s begin the journey to knowledge right here. How many people out there still don’t believe there is any connection between what we eat and the condition of our health? It’s sad when people blame it on genes and continue with the same patterns that lead them to ill-health; it’s important to understand that in the vast majority of cases genetics play a very small part and the genetic component is only turned on by completely controllable aspects like diet, the quality of water we drink, exercise, health and beauty products and cleaning products that we use; what we eat is a key component and is the focus of this article. If you think you already eat healthy, keep in mind that healthy eating is not as simple as it used to be, so you might want to read on.
This article will clearly explain the connection between food and health; it will put the power back in your hands and help you take responsibility for the condition of your health. So at this point, you may have some doubt, fear, and apprehension by this thought, or you may be resistant to the idea of having to relearn and change your ways, that’s perfectly normal; I have been in that very spot, but the knowledge I want to share with you has saved and enriched my life and if you open your hearts and minds, it may do the same for you. Let me begin with some very basic facts:
• Our body has the ability to repair itself from most anything including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental health disorders, and skin issues just to name a few.
• There are many types of healers to help us along the way, not just medical doctors.
• Hydration [water] keeps us alive.
• The nutrients in food keep us alive.
• Every macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, and fats)found in food are needed for the body to build and repair itself.
• Every micronutrient found in the macronutrients [vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, trace minerals, polyphenols, and probiotics] keep our body functioning for optimal health.
• Our immune cells fight cancer cells, bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other pathogens all the time – immune cells are made of the proteins and good fats in our food.
• Our hormones and enzymes are imperative for the thousands of chemical reactions that occur in our body every second to keep the body functioning properly – hormones and enzymes are made of the proteins and good fats in our food.
• Our body and our brain needs energy to function – this energy comes mostly from the carbohydrates and partly from the proteins and fats in our diet.
This list can literally continue forever; the human body is as infinite as the universe. You may be thinking, “I eat and drink water every day, I even eat healthy, but I’m still sick”. Well, this is where literacy and education are crucial. One hundred years ago food had much higher nutrient value, was whole and real and organically grown and raised. Today food is processed, packaged, laced with preservatives, additives, artificial colour, pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizer; moreover, it is genetically modified (GMO) to allow it to survive higher doses of chemical fertilizer containing glyphosates and to look appealing. It can be artificially ripened with ethylene gas, and eradiated to kill bacteria. As a result of all this adulteration that has been done to our food supply, the soil quality and nutrient value has been reduced significantly and the food is not as tasty. It has been shown that our body responds negatively to these toxins, some of the affects are:
• Reduced good bacteria which lowers our immune system and make us vulnerable to disease.
• Reduced cancer fighting ability of the food and the body.
• Overwhelmed liver which is responsible for filtering toxins and as a result excess toxins are stored in fat tissue.
• Sluggish metabolism leading to obesity and related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The best way to avoid all those harmful effects is to eat foods that are certified organic because the certification ensures compliance with certain principles including sustaining and enhancing the health of the soil, animals, humans, and the environment, protecting the wellbeing of the planet and future generation; it prohibits the use of chemicals, inorganic substances, and genetically engineered crop.
Here are some more facts on how certain foods can be harmful to your health and some steps you can take:
• Refined sugar has been shown to deplete the immune system, cause insulin resistance, weight gain, and fungal parasites – alternatively moderate amounts or raw honey, pure maple syrup, organic coconut sugar, organic sucanat, and organic black strap molasses are good options.
• Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and saccharine are very detrimental to health, they have been shown to increase risk of diabetes, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome because they interfere with the normal glucose energy homeostasis in the body.
• Bad fats – processed, hydrogenated, and polyunsaturated fats and oils – e.g. margarine, corn oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil, safflower oil, canola and other commercial oils – these fats are polyunsaturated and easily become oxidised (rancid) creating free radicals in the body when consumed which can increase cancer risk – alternatively organic raw coconut oil, organic grass fed butter, organic cold pressed olive oil are healthier options.
Remember you have the power to become informed and make healthier choices. Know your food and love it! To your health and the health of the planet.
Marina Silverio is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) and a member in good standing with CAHN-Pro (Canadian Association of Holistic Nutrition Professionals). She is also a writer, speaker, and teacher. Marina has a private practice in Toronto.