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It’s Complicated (and Amazing)

It’s been a longish hiatus since I last wrote, and teaching and gardening are boiling away on the front burners.

So much of what we’ve been learning in our class on anatomy and physiology is the stupendously intricate complexity of the human body. And that science is still figuring us out. New hormones, proteins, enzymes, etc. are still being discovered. Ways everything interacts is still being parsed. Really intelligent people can read the same data and draw very different conclusions. Our own journey affects how we understand the concept of being a human…

In studying the digestive system and now adding nutrition, we are learning not just the basics, but the basics from a variety of viewpoints. The concept of a “calorie” turns out to be incredibly “loaded” with politics, belief systems and which scientists/studies you trust. Who knew!? And hardly anyone except “radical granola types” pay any attention to the primary basis of all health: the health of a country’s soil. And yet studies are showing up even in the mainstream that state that our food today is less nutritious that it was even 50 years ago. When we “mine” our soil, and don’t “put back” the minerals and organic matter and healthy microbes, then the plants don’t have the same nutritional content  in their cells, because the soil is deficient. Add the GMO, herbicide and pesticide issues, not to mention processing whole foods to death, plus artificial chemicals….well, it becomes tremendously difficult to find quality food in an average supermarket.

And that, dear reader is the crux: quality of food is the basis of health.

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Dietary Basics, Part 1.

Reading opposing views about diet is like watching debates about political and economic issues: everyone is focused, passionate, and sure they are right. Facts are marshalled and tossed at one another like hand grenades. So what I’m presenting below is a biased (cause I’m doing it, and I am unable to be totally objective) collation of the info that seems most agreed upon by a variety of alternative researchers.


1. Many believe that each person has a metabolic type: protein, carb or mixed. Many folks fall into mixed. The folks that do well as vegetarians and vegans tend to be carb types. (Protein types tend to function better on heavier intake of protein, especially meat; mixed is the combo plate; carb types really thrive on dairy and grains).

2. Organic really does matter. Eat as little conventionally raised food as possible, though local that is mostly organic (even if not certified) is excellent, especially since every day past the date that a vegetable was harvested means fewer nutrients. Fresh really is better.

3. Variety, in both kinds and colors is good. Rotating the eating of various kinds of meats, grains, pseudo-grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds helps reduce food sensitivities.

4. The amount of cooked and raw in any one person’s diet is dependent upon the following: season, climate, altitude, and a person’s constitution (most easily understood from a Chinese standpoint–at least for me–). So if someone has a cool, moist constitution, foods that are warmer and drier are “better” for that person.

5. All grains have a variety of problematic issues (gluten, lectins, etc.) and are best soaked over night, fermented, sprouted, reduced in quantity, or not eaten (celiac disease may be just the tip of the iceberg say these clinicians).

6. Fermented foods are very good for a variety of reasons and for a variety of bodily systems.

7. Balance of omega 3’s to omega 6’s is important: eating salmon (and sardines and herring), grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, walnuts and flax all help provide omega 3’s to balance omega 6’s from other nuts and seeds, grains (like corn), etc. There are some folks who cannot convert the type of omega 3’s in vegetable foods to a usable form in their bodies. They would need to ingest cod liver oil and/or the animal sources previously listed.

8. Pseudo grains (quinoa, amaranth, wild rice and buckwheat) are healthy, but must be soaked overnight (with that water discarded) for better digestibility.

9. Soak all nuts and seeds for better digestibility. I describe how in a previous blog).

10. NO fried, canned, artificial, genetically modified, or processed anything.

11. Grilled and roasted is fine, but that wonderful tasting browned part is actually not so healthy…sigh.

12. No soy unless fermented (some folks can eat tofu till the cows come home and not have issues; however, many of us court thyroid and other problems). Tempeh and miso are healthy vegetarian sources of protein.

13. No peanuts unless organic, and not too many of them.

14. Reduce or eliminate coffee, alcohol, and recreational drugs. There is some research that has shown that most women do best on only one glass of wine a day. Make it Pinot Noir for highest resveratrol content. Coffee is a paradox: some do great, and studies show less dementia, better focus, less constipation, etc. Others get fibroids, acid reflux, and adrenal fatigue.

15. Bone broths are very important for healing from any major disease: see my blog for details on how to make.

Most importantly: prepare the best food you can afford with love and care; chew thoroughly; eat slowly; share a meal with a friend as often as you can.