Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Third Medicine

Once our need for air and water is satisfied, we come to all the other things that make life not only possible, but comfortable.

The food we eat, theoretically, gives us all the nutrients, minerals, vitamins and trace elements to keep the body working at its peak. People who do not get the correct nutrients fall apart slowly. Without sufficient calcium for a growing body the bones are weak. Without enough iron the blood doesn't work right. Many of the minerals and trace elements support the wet cell battery that is the brain.

So the third medicine is food.

The human body was designed for a nomadic or agricultural lifestyle--constant work, enormous amounts of food to fuel the body for the work it was required to do. If a nomad ate a 16 oz steak s/he was getting eight times the nutrients we get from the RDA of two ounces of meat per day. (The RDA is generally based on a sedentary lifestyle.) Our hypothetical nomad would be working off the excess, using it. Mostly in the hunt for more food.

We're barely into the first steps of understanding the human body and what it needs to function.

I have to laugh every time I hear someone say that a particular vitamin or other element "isn't necessary" or "has no function." If that's the case, why does the body create it, store it, or absorb it? It's another way of saying "Ignorance is bliss."

Still, in spite of scientific theory the body will try to tell us what it needs.

To some extent, cravings are the body's way of indicating that something is wrong--it's not getting something it needs, to the point that the "wet cell battery" is running low on power. Unfortunately, without knowing precisely what is needed the brain often creates cravings for things that may be related but not precise.

For example, a child is not getting sufficient potassium in his diet. When the child eats salted potato chips the brain connects the obvious taste of salt (rather than the potato under it) with the nutrient levels returning to normal. It "learns" that salt will solve the problem. There are other elements to this, but it gets the point across.

The next time that child's body runs low on potassium, he's likely to start craving salt.

Nomads ate a very healthy and balanced diet. Green foods and meat were their staples, accompanied by a great deal of exercise. Berries, grains and roots in the proper season, and if they were able to get enough food (which was difficult and time consuming) they would have had all the nutrients they needed.

As a society, we've gotten to the point where we can isolate and concentrate various nutrients, enough in some cases to make up the lack of volume. Supplements are used with wild abandon, and I've been told flatly by certain people that they don't need to eat because they're getting everything they need from the supplements they're taking.

All I can say to that one is "Duh."

Unfortunately, like water and air most of the damage from missing nutrients is done as children. A child refuses to eat any vegetable and the parents don't push it. A child doesn't like milk and the parent doesn't find another source for the nutrients. By the time a child reaches adulthood, many of the problems already exist and are waiting for a trigger.

Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, diabetes, asthma and many other lifelong ailments could be the result of nutrient deficiencies either as adults or children. It is interesting to me that people find various solutions--exercise, extra calcium, extra vitamin K, etc. One person may "cure" their diabetes with a particular element, while the cure does nothing for another person. We like to see duplicatable solutions, but the fact is that every person with the same chronic illness might have a different cause and therefore a different cure.

The best source for the nutrients remains the food we eat. A balanced diet--including a sufficient amount of protein, grains, vegetables or fruits and fats--will often help or completely eliminate symptoms of diseases we thought insurmountable.

Once we've made sure we're breathing correctly, we're appropriately hydrated and we're eating a balanced diet, if the symptoms remain it's time to do some research and check what other elements we might be missing.

Food is the third medicine.

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