Nutrition- The Complete Picture (Part 1)

By Philip Legge RNC, CH, CDMT in Health & Fitness

 

What we put into our body in the form of air, water and food is the subject of nutrition. Oxygen and water are often overlooked when we talk about nutrition, but they are essential to the life process. Some people look at nutrition in a piecemeal manner, and focus on individual things like vitamin and mineral supplements, and certain foods, and ignore other important areas like absorption of nutrients and alkalinity of the body.

 

These articles on nutrition are going to look at the big picture, and attempt to cover all the bases. In order to understand human nutrition we have to look at the subjects of complimentary protein, enzymes, grain/legume combining, alkalinity of the body, the digestive process, cleansing programs, super foods, absorption of nutrients by the cells, blood sugar, healthy fats, channels of elimination, supplements, water, vegetarian diets, animal protein, organic foods, oxygen, and fiber. We can’t go into detail in all of these areas, but we will attempt to give you some interesting ideas to help you improve your health, and the health of your family.

 

Complimentary Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient for the body, and billions of dollars are spent on protein supplements every year. In order to meet our body’s protein requirements, the healthiest way, and the time proven way, is by combining grains with legumes (pulses). For thousands of years all over the world, grain and legume combinations have provided healthy protein that also contains carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Grains such as wheat, oats, spelt, rye, barley, millet, quinoa, and kamut can be combined with legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, and navy beans to form a complete protein that our bodies can fully utilize. Grains contain half of the essential amino acids of protein, and legumes contain the other half of the essential amino acids that together make a complete protein. Animal protein such as dairy products, eggs, fish and meat contain all of the essential amino acids so they are already a complete protein that our bodies can use. In the last few years there has been renewed interested in legumes (pulses) as an outstanding protein source, and there are many excellent recipes on how to prepare them and introduce them gradually into your family’s diet. By combining grains and legumes in the diet on a daily basis, our protein intake will increase and we won’t be so dependent on animal protein to meet our protein needs.

 

Enzymes, Enzymes, Enzymes!

One of the missing links in people’s nutrition program is enzymes. Raw foods contain enzymes that are destroyed by cooking. The best sources of enzymes are raw vegetables and fruits. Enzymes provide the spark of life, and are often lacking in the diet. Enzymes are essential to the digestive process, and also in preventing and overcoming disease! As our body uses up enzymes they have to be replaced through our diet. When vegetables or fruit are cooked the enzymes are destroyed by the heat. Raw carrots, turnips, cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and beets can be used throughout the year, and in the summer they can be supplemented with lettuce, kale, spinach, endive, other greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, radishes, celery, etc.

Raw vegetables are powerful medicinal foods with an abundance of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and other phyto-nutrients (plant nutrients). Raw vegetables can be prepared in a variety of ways by cutting into sticks, slicing, chopping, dicing, or shredding. A raw vegetable salad should be a part of our daily nutrition program to supply our bodies with an abundance of living enzymes.

In addition to raw vegetable salads, making your own fresh, raw vegetable, fruit, and green plant juices and ‘smoothies’ is a great way to get an abundance of living enzymes and other nutrients into the body. Why is that? Because when we drink a glass of juice we are consuming far more of the vegetable or fruit than if we ate it. An 8 ounce glass of juice could provide the nutrients of eating almost two pounds of vegetables or fruit.

 

Two Essential Super Foods

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and raw, organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) are often considered miracle foods because of all the healing properties they offer. An excellent dressing for your raw vegetable salads is 4 parts extra virgin olive oil combined with 1 part raw, organic apple cider vinegar. The olive oil is cleansing for the liver and gallbladder, and lubricates the digestive tract. Olive oil is a monounsaturated oil so it is stable at room temperature, and does not go rancid like polyunsaturated oils do. Olive oil is a foundational part of the ‘Mediterranean Diet,’ and is known to be healthy for the heart, the blood and the digestion. Apple cider vinegar is cleansing for the digestive tract, blood, muscles and joints and helps make the body more alkaline. Combining the olive oil and cider vinegar makes one of the healthiest and tastiest dressings for your daily raw vegetable salads!

 

Cleansing Programs

Incorporating periodic ‘cleanse days’ will give our cells the cleansing breaks they need to catch up and clean out. A ‘cleanse day’ is a day when we reduce or eliminate protein for that day. This gives the whole digestive system a rest, and helps the channels of elimination cleanse and rejuvenate.

The only way to improve our health, and overcome health problems is to get to the root of the problem, and not just mask or treat the symptoms of the problem. The way to do this is to help the body to detoxify so that it can function the way it was designed to. The body is much smarter than we are, and if we treat it properly and give it what it needs to work with, it is self-healing and self-repairing.

A popular cleansing program is one ‘cleanse day’ per week, and three ‘cleanse days’ in a row once a month, and seven ‘cleanse days’ in a row once every three months. A ‘cleanse day’ is simply reducing or eliminating protein for that day. The body gets protein everyday from our diet, and when we don’t eat protein, the body looks for protein sources internally within itself. Instead of using healthy tissue, the body consumes bacteria, viruses, dead cells, diseased cells, parasites and other wastes products in the body to meet its protein requirements. Fasting or cleansing has been practiced since the beginning of recorded history in all cultures around the world, because of the health and cleansing benefits it provides. There are proven health benefits from giving our bodies the opportunity to do their necessary ‘housecleaning’. The largest organ in the body is the liver, and it is a ‘master chemist’ performing over 500 functions! On a cleanse day, the liver is not busy digesting heavy foods, so it can turn its attention to detoxifying the body.

 

Foods For Your Cleanse Days

            On our ‘cleanse days’ the focus should be on alkaline foods such as vegetables and fruits. Raw vegetable salads as described above with the olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing are filling and satisfying because of the bulk (fiber) they contain.    Freshly made RAW vegetable and fruit juices are a wonderful source of high quality nutrition that can be directly absorbed by the body in about 10 to 15 minutes. This is because the fiber has been removed, and the normal 2 to 3 hours for digestion is not necessary. There is no food on earth that can equal the healing and restorative powers of these freshly made RAW juices. Remember, an 8 ounce serving of vegetable juice could provide the nutrients of almost two pounds of vegetables. Because of the abundance of nutrients, the therapeutic benefits are so great that these juices are a ‘Natural Medicine’ which can feed and stimulate the body to overcome disease, and to reach a much higher level of health.

Juices possess definite medicinal properties. Juices have a cleansing and detoxifying effect on the whole body. They purify the blood, neutralize waste products, and help build healthy tissue. They are rightfully called the ‘internal baths of health and youth.’ Juices provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements, and other necessary nutrients. Different vegetable and fruit juices have different therapeutic effects in the system. They can also be used in different combinations to increase their desired effectiveness.

RAW carrot juice is a natural solvent for ulcerous and cancerous conditions. It also prevents infections and works with the adrenal glands. Carrot juice is very beneficial for intestinal and liver diseases. In cleaning up the liver sometimes there is more waste than the intestinal and urinary channels can handle, and the remainder is passed to the lymph system and is eliminated through the skin. Carrot juice has so many therapeutic benefits, and it combines so well with other juices, that it is often used as the base for many healing juice formulas.

RAW beet juice is another excellent juice. It contains a very high quality iron, and is capable of building up the red blood cells. If enough is consumed the stool and urine will turn a reddish colour. The high potassium content provides excellent nourishment to the entire body. The natural, organic chlorine content of 8% is an amazing cleanser for the liver, kidneys, gall bladder, and the lymphatic system. This is why if a person consumes more than the recommended amount of beet juice they can experience a ‘cleansing reaction’. Beet juice can be combined with carrot juice in the ratio of ¼ beet to ¾ carrot.

Vegetable broths have been used since the beginning of time to help prevent and overcome disease. It’s true that the enzymes have been destroyed because of the cooking process, but vegetable broths provide several benefits that the raw juices do not offer. The cooking process helps to release more of the nutrients from the fiber, and also some of the nutrients, especially the starches are more easily absorbed by the body. Remember that raw juices have a powerful detoxifying effect, and some people can only consume a small quantity of raw juice because their bodies are so toxic. Supplementing your raw juice ‘cleanse days’ with cooked vegetable broths keeps the cleansing process going without interfering with the detoxification benefits of the raw juice.

Vegetable broths are quite satisfying, and can provide more energy for people that are working on their ‘cleanse days’. There are also some people who do not own a juicer, and vegetable broths are easy for anyone to make. Many of the same vegetables that you would use for raw juice can be used to make vegetable broths. Carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, turnip, beets, kale, onions, and garlic along with herbs for seasoning are all very popular and tasty. Try to pick a variety of different coloured vegetables to provide a good mix of nutrients and taste. Remember, different colours mean different nutrients with a variety of health and medicinal benefits. Be creative and have fun with your healing broths!

 

We have just scratched the surface on the subject of human nutrition, but we have made a good start. Next month we will be talking about nutritional supplements, the value of animal protein, the benefits of a vegetarian diet, more super foods, and the importance of nutrient absorption by the cells. If the cells don’t absorb efficiently then a good nutrition program has little value! So don’t miss next month’s Rural Route Magazine.

 

This article is for educational purposes only. We do not diagnose, prescribe or treat for a specific condition. If you have a health concern, consult a health practitioner of your choice.