Good Nutrition: Necessary, Not Sufficient
Posted on Monday, August 12th, 2013
Recently seen in our Facebook news feed:
That’s a compelling message – compelling but not entirely accurate. Certainly, some conditions may be helped by nutritional improvements, but modern chronic illness generally requires more, as this article by colleague Dr. Christopher Fabricius explains:
Can Nutrition Alone Cure Illness?
Good nutrition is the foundation of health, and there’s nothing especially mysterious about it. It’s about eating the way your body was designed to be fed.
This means a diet based on whole foods, GMO-free and, ideally, organic. It means lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, rounded out with moderate protein, whole grains and healthy fats. It means little or no added sugars, and processed foods rarely or never.
But can healthful eating alone reverse the course of cancer, autoimmune disorders or other illness? A lot of people seem to think so, resting their belief on Hippocrates’ famous dictum, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
Obviously, where nutritional deficiency is the cause of illness, nutritional therapy is the way to go. It can improve some conditions, as well – for instance, antioxidants for depression and anxiety.
Most modern chronic illness, however, is multifactoral. Poor food choices are just one of many challenges to the body’s greater defense systems, giving you less of what your body needs (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, healthy fats, fiber, etc.) and plenty of what it doesn’t (artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, residues of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc.). We’re exposed to a vast array of toxins in the environment, in the products we buy, in conventional medical and dental treatments. We may not take enough of the exercise or sleep we need to effectively and efficiently perform all the metabolic tasks essential for life. Physio-emotional factors such as stress, anxiety and unresolved conflict and trauma take their toll, as does spiritual neglect.
When a person’s biological terrain and basic regulative system become overwhelmed by such challenges, the information sharing among the cells get disrupted and confused. When cellular communication is compromised, dysfunction and tissue damage ensue.
Do you know the old party game called Telephone, where one person whispers a message in someone’s ear, and they whisper it to the next person, and so on around a big circle? At the end, you learn how mangled the message has become in transit, and everyone has a good laugh.
Now just think of how messed up a message sent through millions of participants would become. Imagine the consequences if the message were not some trivial phrase but information about how to stay alive. Think of how error would compound upon error.
This is essentially what happens as one’s terrain gets more polluted and disordered. Ultimately, the body’s attempt to self-regulate and even make use of available resources – both materially and informationally – is compromised.
At this point, nutrition can only help so much. The body simply can’t assimilate enough of the nutrients it needs for normal functioning, let alone healing from illness or injury.
We also need to face the fact that we live in a very different world than Hippocrates dwelt in. Artificial light and 24/7 global connectivity have disrupted our natural circadian rhythms. Our air, soil and water are poisoned with chemical residues. Our exposure to radiation and other electromagnetic pollution only grows along with our reliance on mobile, imaging and surveillance technologies.
Even if you make all the “right” choices – buying organic, using green cleaning products, avoiding home furnishings and décor containing VOCs – you’re still exposed to far more environmental hazards than Hippocrates would have been in his entire lifetime.
This environmental pollution affects the quality of food we eat, as well – and not just because of toxins absorbed from air, soil and water. The industrial farming practices that depend on pesticides and such also deplete the soil of nutrients. When you grow a single crop year after year in the same soil, using nitrogen-based fertilizers to try to restore what’s been lost, you lose even more nutrients. Although there’s still debate on the matter – and much research yet to be done – there is considerable evidence for conventional and organic foods having different nutritional profiles.*
Even so, eating “cleanly” is just not enough. It does reduce your toxic exposure. It likely provides some nutritional boost. But putting good fuel into a fouled up engine, so to speak, can only help so much. You simply can’t eat enough to get therapeutically sufficient levels of natural medicaments, especially once illness is manifest.
And, after all, it’s not the bricks that build the bridge; it’s the builders. Granted, our wondrously made bodies are infinitely more complex, but the analogy is apt.
- The architect must conceive a sound and ideal design.
- The draftsman must thoroughly and accurately convey the design in blueprints.
- The contractor must fully understand the blueprints in order to organize and coordinate the right construction teams in the right sequence, using the appropriate materials.
- The foreman of each team must orchestrate the procurement and use of materials, and direct specialized subsets of workers to fulfill their unique tasks.
- Workers must use their craft-specific knowledge and tools to follow their foreman’s instructions.
Quality control is essential at all stages. Good communication and understanding is key to success. Timing is critically important so each task follows sequentially to build a sound, durable and beautiful structure.
Now think of the bricks. As important and integral as they are, they have little influence on correcting any problems that may arise through the building process. Making sure you have the right number of good quality bricks is a part of it, but this alone won’t build, maintain or repair the bridge.
This is why we use a range of informational therapies including homeopathic remedies and other supplements. They are foundationally essential for remodulating information and restoring damaged tissue. More often than not, this is just as important as spurring the body’s natural defenses (and thus, detox) and its ability to assimilate the nutrients it needs.
- Influence of Organic versus Conventional Agricultural Practice on the Antioxidant Microconstituent Content of Tomatoes and Derived Purees; Consequences on Antioxidant Plasma Status in Humans
- Grain Mineral Concentrations and Yield of Wheat Grown under Organic and Conventional Management
- Ten-Year Comparison of the Influence of Organic and Conventional Crop Management Practices on the Content of Flavonoids in Tomatoes
- Trace Mineral Content of Conventional, Organic and Courtyard Eggs Analysed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)
Original, used with permission