Chapter 4-5 of Healing Foods by Walter Last

 

 Minimize chemicals, molds and other food problems, your body will thank you for it

CHEMICALS AND OTHER FOOD PROBLEMS

Almost all our foods contain unbiological chemicals to some degree. It starts with water-soluble fertilizers that are overused and cause mineral imbalances and trace mineral deficiencies in our crop plants; it continues with the liberal use of weedicides, pesticides and fumigants. Many of these leave residues that we ingest. Growing our crops using the common water-soluble fertilizer causes a similar disturbance to the plant metabolism as a high-sugar diet does to a hypoglycemic metabolism. The cells are flooded with some nutrients, while others are lacking.

While there are now high amounts of unbiological chemicals in our food, essential nutrients are becoming rare. John D. Hamaker in his The Survival of Civilization (Hamaker-Weaver) gives the following example of trace mineral deficiency induced by using fertilizers. In 1948 the highest iron concentration in cabbage was found to be 94 ppm (parts per million) and the lowest value 20 ppm. By 1963 the published average value had dropped to 4 ppm. The story was similar for other vegetables. The general conclusion is that the average trace mineral content of vegetables in 1963 was close to or even lower than the lowest concentrations in 1948.

The latest results show that they are much lower now. The food tables of the US Department of Agriculture for the year 2000 show, for instance, that the vitamin C content of broccoli, cauliflower and spinach is only about half of what it used to be in 1963. Also vitamins A, B1 and B2 declined sharply, calcium in corn decreased by 78%.

The content of trace minerals can vary in the same type of vegetable by more than one hundred times, depending on the quality of the soil in which it is grown. The highest and lowest values for manganese in lettuce, for instance, were listed as 169 ppm and 1 ppm respectively. The selenium content in wheat was found to vary from 0.6 mcg/100 g in parts of New Zealand to 130 mcg/100 g in parts of Canada. The vitamin content can fluctuate to a similar degree. The vitamin and trace mineral values listed in food tables are therefore often completely meaningless, especially when the original values are decades old. The trace mineral content of our arable land is by now extremely low and rapidly declining even further because of heavy cropping without replacing what has been taken out.

Trace minerals in the soil originate from disintegrating rocks. In order to re-mineralize the soil, crushed rock would need to be distributed over our cropping land. Then trace minerals do not leach out during heavy rainfalls and they can be dissolved with acids released from plant roots and be absorbed. Furthermore, the improved conditions must be maintained by returning to the soil whatever has been taken out, using composting and organic farming methods.

Heavy use of water-soluble fertilizers allows cropping in poor soils, so plants become deficient and offer little resistance to disease and insect attacks. This then justifies the liberal use of highly toxic agricultural chemicals, part of which remain in the plants and fruits and are ingested by us. The most commonly affected are commercially produced fruits.

Agricultural chemicals may accumulate in the body, especially in fat tissue, and they may also damage the liver. Organo-phosphate insecticides, for instance, may cause weakness, muscular trembling, cold sweats (an early sign of liver damage), irritability, tightness of the chest (asthma), nausea and abdominal pain.

Organo-chlorine insecticides, which include DDT, lindane, 2.4-D and 2.4.5-T, are even more toxic. They affect mainly the nervous system and can cause a wide variety of symptoms including convulsions, numbness of extremities, uncontrollable excitement, apprehensions, allergies and birth defects.

More recently pesticides and herbicides used on farms and in households are increasingly linked to neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Development of symptoms due to low-level chronic exposure is gradual. It has been suggested by researchers that long-term exposure to sub-toxic levels of chemicals is much more likely to lead to neurological disorders than to physically based diseases. In animal experiments chronic systemic pesticide exposure reproduces the features of Parkinson's disease.

People who used pesticides in their homes were twice as likely to develop Parkinson's disease as people not exposed to pesticides. Also a combination of different pesticides is more likely to cause greater toxicity problems than individual chemicals.

Paraquat, a common herbicide and maneb, a common fungicide did not affect mice that were exposed to either one of them. However, when both chemicals were used together, dopamine neurons began to die at rather low exposure levels or at only a fraction of what is normally being regarded as toxic. Ongoing exposure lead to progressive neurotoxicity. There are countless combinations of low-level toxic residues in our food and water and no one knows what health effects they produce.

Only one hundred years ago cancer and Parkinson's disease were relatively rare and affected only old people. Now they are epidemic and even children and juveniles develop these degenerative diseases. Cancer and especially breast cancer has been strongly linked to pesticide accumulations in the body.

Some widely used fumigants may pose an additional hazard. Organic bromides, especially methyl-bromide, destroy the pantothenic acid (an important B-vitamin) in fumigated grain and can cause serious deficiency disorders. Later on, the fumigant may not be detectable in the grain, which is then regarded as completely safe. However, the germination power of such grains may be very poor, which shows they have been damaged.

Our unsound farming, refining, processing and cooking methods ensure that we receive only a fraction of the vitamins and trace minerals that we would get from unprocessed raw food grown in good soils. However, these extremely low values are now regarded as normal by health authorities because the classical symptoms of serious deficiencies are still absent in most people. No thought is given to the long-term effects of multiple subclinical deficiencies.

Meat, poultry and eggs may contain residues of antibiotics, pesticides and synthetic hormones acting as growth promoters. Hormones are supposed to be destroyed during digestion and therefore are regarded as harmless. However, this may not be so with synthetics or when the digestive system is weak. In addition, a surprising number of nutrients can be absorbed through the mouth tissue, including giant molecules such as vitamin B12; this may also include hormones. Secondary sex changes have been reported due to the habitual consumption of hormone-treated chicken.

Besides liver degeneration and various forms of allergy and leukemia, chemical overload has also been linked to chronic fatigue syndrome or ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and motor-neuron disease. Individuals with these diseases seem to have a liver that is less able to detoxify unbiological chemicals.

Added Chemicals

An even greater health hazard is the multitude of chemicals directly added to food products. These include preservatives, colors, flavors, emulsifiers, stabilizers and so forth. Such chemicals need to be detoxified in the liver and contribute to liver damage. Many chemicals are fat-soluble and are thus stored in our fat-tissue. During prolonged fasting or disease resulting in weight loss these may be released into the bloodstream in excessive amounts and cause rather distressing symptoms.

Nitrates and nitrites are added to most processed meat products. They can damage the blood, the thyroid and the fetus, cause severe vitamin-mineral deficiencies and may be transformed into cancer-causing nitrosamines in the intestines. Sulfites (for example, sulfur dioxide, metabisulfite) are widely used in processed foods, for instance in frozen foods, dried fruits and fruit juices, wine and beer and restaurant foods. In susceptible individuals they may cause swellings of hands, feet and larynx, dermatitis, abdominal distress and respiratory problems that will especially affect asthmatics. Appropriately, also some asthma drugs contain sulfites.

Another widespread health hazard is hydrogenated fats and oils containing unbiological trans-acids, and oils with added synthetic anti-oxidants. Chemical antioxidants interfere with the oxidizing enzymes of our energy metabolism and make it even more inefficient. If traces of dishwashing detergent are inadvertently consumed, they can damage the intestinal walls.

In addition to any of the health problems described so far, food chemicals frequently cause allergies and trigger hyperactivity. This applies especially to synthetic coloring. These are also a problem in medical drugs. Artificial sweeteners and especially aspartame have been linked to a high rate of brain tumors, serious metabolic and neurological complication in diabetics, epilepsy, toxic thyroid and emotional disorders. For further details see www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/. While most of these chemicals are added only for convenience, the food industry could easily use vitamins C and E as well as lecithin and other biological chemicals as antioxidants, preservatives, emulsifiers and so forth.

Excitotoxins are taste or flavor enhancers that release glutamic acid or glutamate. Also aspartic acid and cysteine are brain-active amino acids. The best known example of an excitotoxin is MSG or mono-sodium glutamate, a salt of glutamic acid. High blood levels can cross the normally protective blood-brain barrier. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is present in the extra-cellular fluid only in very low concentration. If levels are inappropriately raised then neurons fire abnormally, and at higher levels brain cells begin to die. Oxygen deficiency and lack of fuel (hypoglycemia) both interfere with the energy production of brain cells to make them susceptible to damage by these excitotoxins. This may be an important factor in the development of neurological diseases.

Excitory amino acids cause problems mainly when they are used either in high concentrations or in free form while bound as in most natural foods they are slowly released and therefore harmless. Most processed foods contain excitotoxins, especially if any kind of commercial taste or flavor enhancers has been added, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy protein extract, yeast extract, beef stock and caseinate; commercial soups, sauces and gravies are usually most affected. On the label any of these products may just be called 'natural flavoring'. Aged proteins, processed meat, cheeses and tomato puree have higher levels of free glutamate as well but fresh tomatoes are fine. All of these should be avoided by sensitive individuals and minimized by others.

Chlorination

Chlorination of our drinking water is yet another instance of a substance added that is detrimental to our health. Besides microorganisms in the water all other organic matter present will be chlorinated. This produces a wide range of chlorinated chemicals with carcinogenic and other disease-causing properties.

Reluctantly, even health authorities now admit that there is a health problem, but they play it down by focusing only on Trihalomethanes (THMs). These are very small compounds, consisting of one carbon atom with several attached chlorine or bromine atoms. The most prevalent of these is chloroform (trichloromethane), a THM that is carcinogenic to rats and mice. You cannot protect yourself against THMs, as they are absorbed through the skin if you swim in a chlorinated swimming pool, or have a hot bath or shower. A hot shower may raise the level of THMs in the blood ten times higher than drinking a quart of chlorinated water.

While a large number of studies found an association between chlorinated water and secondary chlorination products with an increased risk of cancer, especially cancer of the bladder, I regard this only as the tip of the iceberg. The association of THMs with bladder cancer shows that they are relatively harmless, because they are being excreted. I contend that the main health damage is caused by long-chain chlorination products that remain in the body.

The level of chlorine in treated water is about one hundred times higher than the level of THMs. There is no doubt that chlorine reacts with all organic matter, but especially with sensitive biochemicals, such as unsaturated oils, cholesterol and vitamins. This reaction occurs when food is washed or cooked, when bread is baked, when commercial fruit juices or soymilk are made, and it occurs within your body if you drink chlorinated water. These chlorination products have long carbon chains and remain stored in the body, just like chlorinated insecticides (e.g. DDT) to which they are closely related. In the same way that health authorities did not believe that ingesting pesticides would cause health problems, so they now believe that these long-chain chlorination products do not cause problems. I regard this as being complacent and incompetent in protecting the health of the public.

All or most chlorinated organic compounds that have been tested have been found to damage our health. It is also a fact that our liver is not equipped to detoxify chlorinated chemicals. Putting all of these facts together leads to the inescapable conclusion that chlorinated water damages our health to a considerable, although unknown, degree. In the next chapter I provide more information on the connection between chlorinated water and cardiovascular disease.

Focusing only on THMs, health authorities maintain that the anti-microbial benefits of water chlorination outweigh its health dangers, and that there is no reasonable alternative to keep water supplies safe. I strongly disagree. I do not regard water as being safe that causes cancer and very likely contributes to most other chronic and age-related diseases. There are thousands of water treatment plants in Europe that provide safe water without chlorine, using ozone, ultraviolet light, membrane filters, and slow sand filters instead. While this may be initially somewhat more expensive than using chlorine, in terms of preventing chronic diseases it will be immeasurably cheaper for individuals as well as the public purse.

In the meantime, you need to protect yourself from the dangers of chlorinated water. If you live in the country you may have access to rainwater or bore water; otherwise use filters or reverse osmosis to purify water used for drinking and cooking, and install a shower filter. Distilled water needs an additional carbon filter to remove chlorine and THMs. For temporary use, when these are not available, you can remove most of the chlorine and THMs by shortly boiling the water and use it after it has cooled again. Also a bath may be filled with hot water and the room ventilated before getting into the bath. Skin contact with chlorinated water not only allows the absorption of THMs, it also ages the skin. You can counteract this by rubbing the skin afterwards with reduced ionized water or with a diluted vitamin C solution.      

Fluoridation

Equally shortsighted is the official campaign to fluoridate our water supply. Modern dentistry tries to retard the growth of plaque bacteria that causes caries by mechanical means and by poisoning the bacteria with fluoride. Fluoride is a strong enzyme poison. When present in sufficient concentration during development of the teeth, it is incorporated into these, mainly as insoluble calcium fluoride. The lactic acid produced by plaque bacteria after the ingestion of sweet food dissolves traces of calcium fluoride from the teeth and this poisons their enzyme systems, retarding the development of caries.

However, the fluoridation of our water supply and the liberal use of fluoride toothpaste introduce dangerously high concentrations of fluoride in a very active and toxic form. This endangers our enzyme systems and greatly contributes to a weakened metabolism in many people, and thus to the development of allergies, arthritis, cancer and hypoglycemia.  Excessive fluoride exposure has also been linked to hip fractures, hypothyroidism, Alzheimers disease, and reduced IQ. The bulk of scientific research shows that added fluoride does not protect the teeth of adults or children.

In natural ground water, such as bore or spring water, fluoride sufficient for tooth protection (up to 1 ppm) occurs mainly in the form of calcium fluoride. While this is insoluble in high concentrations, it is sufficiently soluble in the minute amounts required for tooth protection. In this form, and also when the blood level of calcium is high, fluoride is less toxic. Fluoride causes most damage in calcium-deficient bodies, usually children and hypoglycemics or fast oxidizers.

Seafood and especially kelp are high in a safe form of fluoride. However, using these in addition to fluoridated water and toothpaste might exceed safe fluoride intake levels. Caries, and the health problems due to artificial fluoridation, can be avoided by using kelp and restricting the use of sweet foods.

The United States is one of very few counties that still promote water fluoridation. Most of Western Europe has outlawed it; even most of U.S. communities, when allowed to vote, have rejected fluoridation; this happened in over 50 communities since 1999. For further information on the health dangers of fluoride and a good bibliography of the scientific literature on fluoride see www.fluoridealert.org.

Aluminum

Another mineral harmful to our health that is added to our drinking water, to precipitate impurities, is aluminum. This is not a so-called heavy metal, but it causes health problems nevertheless. We may also ingest it with some brands of baking powder, and free-flowing salt, or from aluminum hydroxide antacids, but most commonly we absorb it through using aluminum cooking utensils. Most dangerous to our health are acidic foods that are left in contact with aluminum surfaces. Aluminum easily dissolves in weak acids, which are present in fruits, tomatoes, cucumber, rhubarb and beets. Even tap water or rainwater can be acidic. Heating water in an aluminum pot was shown to add 1,600 mcg of aluminum per liter of water, which is 3,200% over the recommendation of the World Health Organization with a limit of 50 mcg per liter.

In the body aluminum acts as a neurotoxin, causing brain disorders, though symptoms develop slowly. They may include senile dementia (Alzheimer's disease), Parkinson's disease, reduced memory, slow learning, motor neuron disease, overactive parathyroid glands and fatigue. Aluminum lowers the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to other harmful chemicals and increases the incidence of epileptic fits. You can protect yourself from aluminum ingestion by using filtered water, and glass, ceramic or enameled cooking ware.

Mercury

Chronic mercury poisoning can originate from certain pesticides and fungicides, calomel laxatives, predatory fish, and especially amalgam tooth fillings. Such fillings release mercury from broken off pieces that dissolve in the stomach and also from evaporation that is caused by pressure on the fillings during chewing. Old fillings are thus much lighter than new fillings, because they have lost most of their mercury. Acidic foods increase the rate at which mercury fillings disintegrate. The mercury loss from several amalgam fillings over 10 years has been calculated at about 560 mg, or 150 mcg per day, and almost all of this is absorbed and stored in body fat, especially in the brain.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning may include: fatigue, lethargy, depression, irritability, shyness, loss of short-term memory, allergies, respiratory infections, decreased immune response, increased salivation, gingivitis, loose teeth, mouth ulcers, nervous heart problems, digestive problems, dermatitis, as well as changes in hearing, vision, speech and writing. Most prominent are nervous system disorders with serious mental disturbances. Many symptoms are actually the same as in multiple sclerosis. The present epidemic of autism has been linked by some researchers to a high level of organic mercury compounds used as preservatives in some vaccines.

Case reports for patients after removing all amalgam fillings include cure of leukemia and Hodgkin's disease, re-gaining vision after 23 years of blindness, cure of moderate to severe headaches that had persisted for 50 years, cure of arthritis, and a reversal of general malaise with fatigue and depression. Minimize amalgam-related health problems by refusing any new fillings containing mercury, and contemplate replacing any old amalgam fillings, for this see a holistic dentist. For more details on dental health review Dental Problems.

Mercury exposure from eating fish has greatly increased in recent decades. Even health authorities acknowledge that there is now a problem and advise avoiding large predatory fish, especially for pregnant women. Some studies show that on average more mercury is accumulated from fish than from amalgam fillings. The same health problems, previously outlined for mercury from teeth, also are caused by mercury from fish. Only non-predatory fish or small predatory fish are reasonably safe to eat on a regular basis. You may check the safety of commonly used fish species at www.ewg.org.

Cooking

Cooked food has been a hallmark of civilization. Cooking breaks down cellulose in vegetables and connective tissue in meat and thus makes these foods easier to chew and more palatable. Bacteria are destroyed at the same time, making these foods safer to eat, but only if eaten immediately after cooking. During storage, raw food remains much more resistant to microbial contamination than cooked food.

The price we pay for this convenience is a loss of vitamins and minerals, the destruction of enzymes and plant hormones, denaturing of proteins, oxidation of lipids, loss of vitality or life-force, and formation of harmful chemicals at temperatures above the boiling point. Vitamins are destroyed by the combined action of oxygen and heat; minerals react to heat in ways that make them less easily absorbed; and both vitamins and minerals are lost if cooking water is discarded.

When food is heated above 800-900C (1800 F), protein becomes denatured or unbiological; it changes its internal structure, the way it is folded, and the immune system reacts as if it is attacked by foreign invaders. The digestive system is flooded with white blood cells after eating this food. This is called digestive leukocytosis. The white blood cells or leukocytes try to prevent food toxins from reaching the bloodstream. The higher the food is heated or the more refined it is, the stronger is the resulting leukocytosis. This defense reaction against toxic food does not take place after eating raw food. Leukocytosis is a continued strain on our immune system and is an aggravating factor in leukemia and immune deficiency. Animals and humans evolved on raw food only; cooked food is a recent invention in evolutionary terms.

When food is heated above the boiling point, chemical reactions take place that create toxic chemicals in the food. For a long time it has been known that carcinogenic substances are produced in highly heated meat, but the more recent discovery of similar chemicals in heated cereal or grain products has come as a shock to the food industry. When foods are heated to above the boiling point, advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed, some of these are known as acrylamides. These toxic products result from a reaction of carbohydrates with proteins. They are produced at a slow rate at low temperatures, but in high amounts when food is highly heated as in frying and baking. Acrylamides are known to be cancer-causing in animals and to cause DNA damage with gene mutations.

Another scientific finding is that acrylamides are pro-inflammatory, the more of these chemicals are in the diet, the more inflammation they cause. Almost all diseases are associated with inflammations, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The more inflammation the worse is the disease and associated pain. This may be a main reason why most diseases greatly improve, and chronic pain tends to disappear on raw diets. 

AGEs are yellow-brown, like another group of chemicals related to heat and oxidation, the lipofuscins, which are composed of oxidized fats and proteins. Together, these chemicals accumulate as waste material in nerve and skin cells and impede their functions. Sometimes they can be seen as “age spots” or “liver spots”. 

Equally damaging is the total destruction of all the enzymes in cooked food. Raw food contains a complement of enzymes specifically designed to digest it. Starchy foods contain large amounts of the starch-digesting enzyme amylase; fatty and oily foods are provided with the fat-digesting enzyme lipase, while protein foods contain the protein-digesting enzyme cathepsin. According to the food composition there may be mixtures of these and other enzymes.

If food enzymes are destroyed, we must produce considerably more digestive enzymes, and our overall enzyme capacity declines much more rapidly with advancing years than it would on raw food. Thus we age much sooner and develop degenerative diseases that may otherwise be avoided. Food enzymes and digestive enzymes not only break down and absorb food, but also keep our inside free of inappropriate accumulations of fats and proteins, and avoid or reverse atherosclerosis and cancer. High-dose supplements of protein-digesting enzymes are frequently used in natural cancer therapy to break down tumors.

Not only animal experiments show the profuse development of degenerative diseases of cooked foods, and the good health and longer life that result when on raw diets. There are numerous reports of human cures from all kinds of degenerative diseases - including advanced cancer - on raw diets of organically grown food. My own successes of healing patients in advanced and difficult conditions have often been due to raw-food diets.

Modern processed foods generally combine the negative health effects of cooked, refined and chemicalized food. Tinned food, for instance, causes even more leukocytosis than normal cooked food, indicating that it is more toxic. Equally harmful is microwaved food, as this process violently shakes and twists the delicate molecular structures. Abnormal changes in the blood and immune system were noticed after ingesting microwaved food.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to protect yourself from the dangers associated with cooking: avoid or minimize the use of processed food; heat food only to the boiling point, and maximize ingesting raw, fresh and organic food. Before eating heated food, have some fresh, raw food beforehand, and also together with the cooked meal. In this way digestive leukocytosis can be reduced or even eliminated.

I noticed that for many people cereals are especially difficult to give up. These cause problems for many individuals, contributing to overweight, diabetes and hypoglycemia. However, some individuals and therapists report that raw grains do not seem to cause these problems. Therefore, if you are so inclined, you may experiment with soaked non-gluten grains as an addition to breakfast or a salad.  

Harmful Eating Habits

The way we eat our food can also negatively affect our health. Commonly the food is not sufficiently chewed while our mind is busy with other matters. Thus the food is not properly broken down and mixed with the starch-digesting amylase in saliva. This greatly adds to the burden of an already overworked pancreas. The composition of the required digestive juices is already signaled from the mouth. If food is eaten too fast, especially cooked food, the signals are inaccurate and we also do not receive the signal when we have had enough; we tend to overeat.

Overeating is not only unhealthy because we become overweight; excessive amounts of metabolic waste products are formed that stress the enzyme systems and the organs of elimination. In addition, food remains partly undigested in the intestines, which encourages putrefaction and an overgrowth of harmful microbes. The overall effect is not only a shortened life span but also an early onset of degenerative disease. Many animal experiments have confirmed that life span as well as health can be greatly enhanced if the quantity of food is restricted. Rats, for instance, doubled their life span on half the normal diet and earthworms lived 16 times longer on a starvation diet.

A famous example of a long and healthy life through restricted eating is the Italian nobleman Luigi Cornaro who lived about 400 years ago. He was born with fragile health and by the time he was 40, he had severe arthritis and many other afflictions and was close to dying. He cured himself within one year by restricting his food intake to about twelve ounces daily, consisting of bread, meat, egg yolk and soup. He continued with this in good health until his seventy-eighth year when he gave in to the persuasions of his family and increased his food intake by 2 ounces. Within days he became very sick. Again he escaped death by returning to his old frugal habits. From then on he lived in good health, with excellent mental faculties and without knowing fatigue until his ninety-ninth year. In his last years he wrote a comedy and treatises on longevity and health.

Eating meat or a large meal is especially unhealthy in the evening when our digestive powers are much weaker than in the morning. What we eat during the daytime is usually converted into energy for the activities at hand, but the evening meal is mainly converted into fat deposits and an increase in the accumulation of wastes.

Equally harmful is indiscriminate food combining. High-protein foods such as meat require different digestive juices from those used for a starch meal. The digestion of starch initiated by the salivary amylase is prematurely stopped if the starch is mixed with meat in a meal. Amylase is also inhibited when starches are mixed with acids and the release of salivary amylase is suppressed when eating sweetened starches. Mixing incompatible foods overloads the pancreas and our health suffers - and not only from indigestion.

Stimulants

Stimulants such as coffee, tea, cocoa, smoking, alcohol and various drugs are widely used and often overused. I do not suggest that stimulants should be completely avoided but, similar to sweet foods, it is much better for our health if we restrict their use, and use them in a non-addictive way.

Whether stimulants are harmful to you and to what extent depends greatly on your state of health and how frequently you use them. Someone who habitually takes a specific stimulant several times daily will be most affected by it and is likely to be allergic and addicted to it. This applies to coffee and tea as much as to alcohol, tobacco and other stimulating drugs. While the health dangers of alcohol and tobacco are well publicized and generally appreciated, the frequency of allergies to coffee and tea is often underestimated. The most common symptoms are headaches, migraine, irritability and menstrual problems.

However, coffee and tea can also make positive contributions to our health, provided that we are not addicted and allergic to these. Tea, especially green tea, is high in antioxidants and useful in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Black as well as green tea stimulate the respiratory system and are helpful with breathing problems, such as asthma. Coffee, on the other hand, acts mainly on the brain, not only to keep us awake, but it can also prevent a threatening migraine attack. Also coffee drinkers appear to have a lower incidence of Parkinson's disease.

A dry red wine with a meal can actually be beneficial, and also old-fashioned beer in moderation might not be too harmful. Unfortunately, modern beer and many wines are rather chemicalized and not so beneficial. Alcoholism appears to have a chemical basis; after each binge the digestive tract becomes overgrown with harmful microbes. Bacterial toxins resulting from this are mainly responsible for the hangover symptoms, which do not occur if the same amount of alcohol is introduced intravenously.

Cannabis probably is not worse than other recreational drugs. It actually has some useful medicinal properties with a strongly relaxing and pain-relieving effect on the body while stimulating specific parts of the brain. Habitual use is most harmful for those who are already too relaxed and without much drive or enthusiasm. Generally these are those with a weak blood-sugar regulation, lack of energy and low blood pressure. Prolonged use can is claimed to cause genetic changes and infertility in offspring.

Signs of addiction are a craving during periods of abstention or bingeing when a tempting opportunity arises. In order to improve your health, in these cases it is essential to avoid the addictive stimulant for a very long time, preferably for several years.

If your health is reasonably good, it will not be too damaging to use stimulants in moderation. Someone in good health rarely becomes addicted. The main thing to watch out for is that it does not become a habit or a craving, and also that alcohol is not used to excess. Regular smoking is almost always an addiction with no redeeming features at all.

If you do have a specific stimulant regularly, more than once or twice a week, I recommend that you stop using it for one week every few months and carefully observe yourself during abstention and when it is reintroduced for any signs of craving, discomfort or allergy. This advice to interrupt occasionally does not apply, however, to regular smoking, hard drugs or binge drinking. For these, permanent abstention is the only solution. Pregnant and nursing women best abstain completely from alcohol, smoking and drugs.

People in poor health, especially if their system is rather acid and they have a disturbed sugar metabolism, easily become addicted and allergic to any stimulant that is used for a prolonged period.

Yeasts and Molds

Yeast, molds and mushrooms are all fungi. Yeasts are widely used in baking and brewing and also as concentrated yeast extracts and food yeasts. Molds are used in some cheeses and to produce antibiotics. We all have some yeast cells resident in our intestines. Normally these are harmless as the intestinal bacteria keep them subdued. However, in many people these days the fungi have taken over; drugs and dietary changes have contributed to this condition.

Yeast proliferation is stimulated by birth-control pills and sweet food - sugars are the only energy source for yeasts - but the main reason that it has become a widespread health problem at present is the general use of antibiotics and drugs that suppress the immune system. Antibiotics decimate the normal intestinal bacteria but leave the yeast cells unaffected. These can now proliferate and take over the space normally occupied by intestinal bacteria. From the intestinal tract, the yeast cells may invade other mucous membranes, especially those of the vagina, the mouth and the lungs. They may also penetrate the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream.

The most common form of intestinal yeast is Candida albicans. Locally it may cause gastritis, colitis, cystitis, bloating, oral or vaginal infestation (thrush), menstrual problems and asthma. Allergies with a wide variety of symptoms result when the yeast penetrates the intestinal wall. Apart from skin and breathing problems, severe mental and emotional reactions are common, especially depression. Autism, neuroses and mental diseases, including schizophrenia, have reportedly been cured with antifungal therapy. Usually in such cases the patient has a history of Candida problems and using antibiotics.

The toxicity of Candida to the nervous system is largely due to an excessive production of acetaldehyde. This substance is formed when yeast cells metabolize sugars and there is a deficiency of oxygen. Multiple sclerosis is another disease that has in some cases been successfully treated with fungicides.

Another important aspect of systemic fungus infestation is severe damage to the immune system, leading to autoimmune diseases and immune deficiency states, including lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and, most likely, AIDS. After the immune system has been severely damaged by the fungus, it is easy for bacteria and viruses to invade the body and cause serious and even lethal diseases.

Dietary yeasts and molds as well as mushrooms greatly increase the difficulties of susceptible individuals, frequently causing allergic reactions and flare-ups of Candida infections. In addition, some molds may damage the liver, for instance a mold that frequently grows on peanuts and is present in peanut butter. Molds commonly grow on dried fruits and on poorly stored grains and nuts, also on the outer leaves of cabbage and the skins of various fruits.

A study in the UK in 1977 found that molds and their poisonous myco-toxins (fungal toxins) were in all 318 samples of flour tested. This mold contamination is due to insufficient drying in the process of combine-harvesting grain. Wholemeal flour, bran and wheat germ are even more affected by mold than is white flour. Rice is also frequently contaminated.

Even if the fungi are killed during cooking, the products of their decomposition may still cause allergies. Washing whole grains and nuts, susceptible fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating helps to remove molds; drying in the sun destroys fungi and prevents their development. Preferably remove environmental molds, for instance those on walls and bathroom tiles.

Frequently antibiotics are routinely added to animal feed for meat production; this applies especially to poultry and pigs. Antibiotic residues may impair the intestinal flora of the consumer of such products and thereby encourage the spread of Candida. In addition, the meat itself may be infested with Candida or other fungi because of the prolonged use of antibiotics while, on the other hand, resistant strains of harmful bacteria may be present. I do not recommend habitually eating such meat. As a general rule I recommend to avoid meat from feedlots.

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