Food as a Therapeutic Aid
Food needs are very specific and we require a wide variety to supply all the necessities for our health. Individuals differ in the amounts of nutrients required for their bodies. Additionally, people who are under stress, or who have allergies, or have certain inherited characteristics, may need more or less of some foods than other people. Foods that we need are carbohydrates, protein, fats, a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and water.
“Spiritual food” is as essential for our health as physical food. This is true especially for our emotional health, but even to some extent for our physical health. There are some interesting analogies between physical food needs and spiritual food needs, as you will find in the chapter, “Beginning Spiritual Life,” in my 1998
“At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being.”
Some people think that emotional or mental problems are “all in your mind,” on the one hand, or evidence of “spiritual deficiency” on the other hand. We must acknowledge after careful thought, that body chemistry, thought patterns and spiritual resources are all factors in emotional problems. However, BASIC to both mental and spiritual health is physical health. Therefore, if you have a tendency toward either physical or mental health problems, a “nutritional assessment” to see if you are getting the variety and amounts of food you need is in order.
Spiritual health, however, is not entirely dependent on physical and mental health, and often sustains individuals who are enduring severe mental and physical stress and illness.
A nutritional assessment includes the foods and amounts that you eat, supplements you take, foods you avoid, and any allergies you have to foods and any medications you take. A hair analysis for tissue levels of minerals, and a physical exam of skin, teeth, eyes, and hair are appropriate as part of the assessment. Other laboratory tests may be needed to recognize protein deficiency, blood sugar levels, and electrolyte (substances capable of electrical conduction) levels in the blood.
Dry skin and hair, dull hair and eyes are among the signs that indicate the need for a nutritional analysis. If your skin and hair are always dry and consistently require the use of lotions and conditioners, tell your health care adviser and ask for assistance in getting a nutritional assessment. In addition, you may need an evaluation for hormone replacement therapy. Some hospitals offer educational programs on nutrition that will help you determine what changes you need to make in your eating habits.
American food processing removes from food many of the vitamins and minerals essential to human health and seldom entirely replaces them in the “enriched end product” foods. Also, not all commercial food growers adhere to soil testing to replace minerals needed by, and usually found in, food plants. Plants can manufacture their vitamins, but they depend on the soil for their minerals.
Some foods retain pesticides and herbicides used to protect them from insects and weeds. These chemicals are absorbed by the human body when the contaminated food is eaten. Some of them affect human nerve tissues, including the brain. You can see why organically grown foods appeal to many people as being more healthful.
In addition, some “additives and preservatives” used in commercial food processing are harmful to the body. The added chemicals and substances may be absorbed, used, or stored in the body in ways that interfere with the normal functioning of the organs and tissues. Aluminum is of concern in packaged foods, whether dry or moist. Nitrates, sodium glutamate, sulfites, and coloring agents in other foods have appeared to affect some individuals adversely. Another concern is the use of substitutes for fat that may be absorbed by the body, but do not perform the function of essential fatty acids in the body.
Many people find that they feel better and function better if they use whole grain and fresh or fresh frozen foods for most of their meals. Foods that were frozen promptly after harvesting and are kept frozen until they are used in the next few weeks are more nutritious than “fresh” food that is a week old.
Some people have problems with meats from animals that are treated with antibiotics and antibiotics in animal food may be contributing to the loss of effectiveness of some antibiotics. Hormones used to “improve” the animals for meat also cause problems for some people. So organically grown, pasture fed animals are appealing to many people for both taste and health.
Although fish is frequently recommended for health, the concern about mercury is warranted. See
Excerpt from above website:
“How should you change your eating habits to reduce your exposure to mercury in fish?
The FDA and EPA recommend that women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children:1, 2
Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, because these all contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12 oz (340 g) a week (two average meals) of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna, has more mercury than canned light tuna. So when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 oz (170 g) a week (one average meal) of albacore tuna.
Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 oz (170 g) a week (one average meal) of fish caught from local waters, but don’t eat any other fish during that week.”
Persons who have food allergies usually do not feel well after eating the offending foods. Others actually crave the offending food. Some have an unnatural “high” or become hyperactive after eating a food to which they are allergic. Sugar affects some children and adults this way. One physician friend feels so strongly about sugar as a food offender that he says, “Sugar is a socially accepted narcotic!”
Almost any food can cause an allergic response. More common food allergies are to wheat, milk, egg, corn or sugar. Rice seems to be less allergenic than other grains, and processed milk is sometimes less allergenic than fresh milk. In extreme cases, use “soybean milk” or other modern substitutes.
Some people suffer many years before they discover that their major problem is food allergies. Allergies involve histamine responses in the body, including the brain, and also involve the body’s immune system. Another physian friend believes that persons with known or undiscovered allergies who constantly stress themselves with those foods and other chemicals or substances to which they are allergic, are indulging in a serious affront to the brain and the immune system. He believes this can be a part of a person’s current mental and physical health problems, and leads to more serious illnesses in later years. Researchers are working in the area of mental health, immunology and nutritional needs, yet much remains to be discovered.
Another physician whose written works in the field of allergies are widely respected is Doris J. Rapp, M.D. You may want to read what she says about medical problems and allergies in her 1980 book, Allergies and Your Family.
Or her more recent, “Is This Your Child?” (Paperback) 1991 by Doris, M.D. Rapp.
Or, because so many of commercial foods have additives and are grown using pesticides and herbicides, you may want to read her 2003 book on chemical sensitivities, “Our Toxic World: A Wake Up” by Doris Rapp
There are numerous books available on nutrition and health.
A recent book,”Nutrient Power” by William J. Walsh, PhD in 2012, published by Skyhorse, reviews his research related to brain-changing nutrient imbalances in patients with ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, behavioral disorders,depression, schizophrenia and repeat offenders. He also gives the names, addresses and phone numbers of physicians in various nations who are trained to diagnose and prescribe for nutritional imbalances, and some laboratories that are especially good for the special tests needed.
The University of Kentucky/s “A, B, C’s of nutritional supplements for the brain” is found at http://www.uky.edu/coa/sites/www.uky.edu.coa/files/Nutritional%20Supplements%20for%20Brain%20Health_Gregory%20Jicha.pdf (accessed 12-29-2013)
The recommendations on avoiding mercury in fish is at
http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/tc/avoiding-mercury-in-fish-topic-overview (accessed 12-30-2013)
The next few articles with deal with the essential foods: carbohydrates, protein, fats, a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and water. Food is a basic therapeutic aid to health!