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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

More About Vitamins

July 7, 2011

Tags: food, beta-carotene, cancer, carrot, Colbin – Annemarie, food – organic, fructose, heart disease, honey, megadoses vitamins, More About Vitamins, Nurses’ Study, nutrition, obesity, Pauling – Linus, soil depletion, sugar, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin delivery system, vitamins

Glad that we are getting an interesting discussion going here … if only I didn’t have a day job – or several ...

We can agree on several things, namely

1. that food is not as good anymore than it was. We certainly have depleted soils in some agricultural areas. BUT the main problem with food today is not that we can’t get good food (we can, if we grow our own, and if we buy mostly organic); the problem is that, as a nation, we usually choose the wrong food. Hence the obesity epidemic, and heart disease, cancer, and so on. One could actually make a point that we can get much better food today than fifty years ago, or even twenty years ago.

Well, I wanted to agree with my ardent critic – but then thought the better of it. Let’s see the next point:

2. that vitamins are no substitute for food: totally agreed.
3. that we can get “better brands” of vitamins, and that they will be the real thing. Here I disagree. I wrote yesterday that the sudden overload in vitamins is detrimental for the body. And there have been several studies in the last few years that seem to corroborate this. In those studies (The Nurses’ Study is a famous example), they first look what people eat. They find that those who have the highest intake say, of vitamin A, judged by food diaries, have the least cancer. So far so good. In a follow-up study they give vitamin A (or no vitamin A) to people. And then the outcome is: More cancer in the vitamin arm than in the arm where people eat normal food. Now, such studies have been done for vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E. It seems to prove that vitamins are not the same in food as in the bottle. Notwithstanding that they are chemically the same. The difference lies in the delivery system: To digest a vitamin, to use it in your metabolism, you need many more chemicals that are not present in the vitamin bottle, but come in whole foods. As my friend Annemarie Colbin once said: If you pop a vitamin A pill in the morning, your body is searching for the rest of the carrot the whole day ….

Honey? I have never recommended honey much – you are right that it is mostly sugar, and fructose at that. Therefore one should use it only sparingly. Apart from that most of our honeys have been heated and made worthless.

And Linus Pauling? Great scientist. But I can’t follow him into his vitamin fixation. Some people are convinced that vitamins will save their lives. Some are not – it probably is not useful to discuss it forever. Why some arguments seem true to us, and others not, is highly individual. For me, one man who made it to 93 is no proof that he did everything right regarding nutrition. Without his mega-doses of vitamin C, perhaps he would have made it to 107??

Nothing will get me away from good, whole, fresh foods!

Soy - The Tainted Miracle Food

August 12, 2010

Tags: food, water, allergies, almond milk, beans, deforestation of the Amazon rainforests, edamame, fermented foods, garbanzo, gene-manipulated, health bar, indigestion, joint problems, legumes, lentils, milk, miso, organic, over-fertilization, pests - susceptibility to, rice milk, skin problems, soil depletion, soy, soymilk, Soy - The Tainted Miracle Food, tempeh

Soy is the new wonder food - sooo healthy! Drinking soymilk is a nice first step to get away with the ubiquitous milk and dairy. But there are problems with soy. But what with all the health claims?

Many people get allergies to soy. I observe it in my patients that, roughly after five years, the soy problems are starting – indigestion, joint and skin problems. But during those five years, people get out of the milk habit – and that is a good thing in my eyes. After soy, there is still rice milk and almond milk. And after those, there is always water.

Soy’s estrogenic effects are well-known. Less well-known is that all legumes (beans, lentils, garbanzos) contain estrogenic-like compounds: phyto-estrogens. Yes, soy is highest – but by now we could have learned that bigger is not always better. Especially not, when it is non-organic and gene-manipulated (the verdict on that is still out - until then, I prefer to be on the safe side). Avoid soy as a powder and filler. Especially, avoid it in so-called health bars which contain soy for a sole purpose: That you might think it is healthy and buy it.

New studies have shown that the marvelous properties of soy do not apply across the board; they only happen with fermented soy products – like miso or tempeh – but not with unfermented soy products. I think of soy as one of the beans. Not as a miracle food.

Soy has become the next super mono crop, with agricultural subsidizing, big time. And with all the ensuing problems: depletion of soils, over-fertilizing, and susceptibility to pests. Not to mention massive destruction of the Amazon rainforest to accommodate this new hyped-up crop. We need don’t more soy; we need a few healthy soy food items: Edamame (the young, tender soybeans still in the pod, often steamed with soy sauce. Miso: Use the fermented paste, not the dried stuff from a package. Tempeh, the Indonesian pressed and fermented soybeans. Delicious in all kinds of stir-fries - way better than tofu if you ask me. Tofu is a highly processed thing, coming in a perfect block. Once in a while, of course, you may indulge min tofu. But stop thinking about tofu as health food. Nothing in nature comes in a block.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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