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Duncan Chiropractic Group Newsletter

Your Diet as a Source of Pain

Dr. David L. Phillips - April Issue

The old expression, “You are what you eat” just keeps getting truer and more applicable to today’s foods. Recently there has been much written about the importance of fats and oils in our diets. Finally the pendulum of public opinion has swung around to realizing that high grain and high carbohydrate diets are literally killing us. Of course, it’s not acceptable that we achieve any kind of balance. No, the media would not stand for that. It has to be one way or the other, so now we have a battle raging between the high carb camp and the high protein/high fat camp. This is simply ludicrous.

Let’s start from the beginning. When it was first realized that arteriosclerosis was a major factor in heart disease, cholesterol was suggested as a culprit. Analysis of arterial wall plaque deposits revealed dense areas of cholesterol compounds. The margarine manufacturers jumped on this one hard. In the 60’s and 70’s we were inundated with TV and print commercials touting the health benefits of various butter substitutes. Butter became evil.

Soon this butter paranoia spread to other fats and oils and, by the late 80’s we had a virtual fat-free frenzy. All fats, we were told, were evil, and, given the obsession with slimmer-than-slim bodies, we quickly latched onto this hysteria. As usual the food manufacturers, instead of doing the responsible thing and attempting to educate us, simply fed us low and ultra-low fat foods.

The facts are that fats and oils are absolutely essential to good health. The brain, spinal cord and nerves are composed of about 70% fat, mostly cholesterol. Hormones are cholesterol based. Just as there are 7 essential amino acids from which your body can produce hundreds of protein, and just as there are essential vitamins and minerals, so too are there essential fats, 3 to be precise.

Now please don’t get me wrong. There are harmful and dangerous fats, mostly those that have been over-heated. Fats also spoil and go rancid, just as proteins do. It is important that we eat only fresh oils and fats. Your nose is your best guide here. If your olive oil smells ‘off’, then it probably is. One of the problems with shelf life is that if a substance can sit on a shelf for months and not spoil how alive was it to begin with? Some oils simply never spoil, they are that over-processed. Don’t buy those things. Same goes with this ultra pasteurized milk. If milk can sit unrefrigerated on a shelf for a month, how can it be beneficial?

To my way of thinking, if simple life forms such as molds can’t live on this milk, or on processed cheese, or on corn and sunflower oils, how can complex beings like us? A rule-of-thumb: Eating sterile and devitalized food can only make you sterile and devitalized.

Anyway, back to fats. The fat component of our typical diet is the most messed up of all the other parts. Fats are classed into groups. One common group is the Omega fats. These are classed as Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9. I won’t go into a biochemical lesson here, it’s not necessary. But I would like to talk about ratios that exist between these fats. The most important ratio is between Omega 6 and 3. It has been observed that our ancestors right back to prehistoric times ate a diet in which the ratio between these fats was around 1:1. If your diet is under 4:1, that is, 4 times more Omega 6 than 3, you can get along OK. As the ratio rises, so does inflammation. Inflammation causes pain and congestion. Congestion causes blood vessel blockages (arteriosclerosis), heart disease (heart attacks, angina), poor brain circulation (depression, Alzheimer’s disease), and many other common conditions. Inflammation also causes joint pain and arthritis. High ratio foods are pro-inflammatory, while low ratio foods are anti-inflammatory.

Examples of high ratio foods that enhance inflammation are: White bread (21:1), Whole wheat bread (27:1), Potato chips (60:1), and corn chips (12:1). These are foods that have been baked at high temperatures and many of the fats have been altered as well. Altered fats are called “trans fats” and these are dangerous in other ways, but that’s a subject for another day. If you have joint pains, try a short course of 3 weeks or so of not eating these foods. Switch over your salad dressings to flaxseed or walnut oil and for cooking, use olive oil. You’ll probably be surprised at the reduction in your pain levels.

Foods with good Omega fat ratios are: Broccoli (1:3), Kale (1:1.3), Lettuces (1:2), Fresh fish (1:7), Packaged fish (1:1). Fruits are generally 2:1 (bananas) or 1:1 (cherries).

So, by decreasing the high ratio foods and increasing the low ratio ones, you’ll not only have way less inflammation, but you’ll probably lose weight as well. What a happy thing!