Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food. — HippocratesSince 1993 I’ve studied and practiced various disciplines and healing modalities for achieving optimal health. These include integrative medicine, Oriental medicine, herbs, acupuncture, Functional medicine, lab tests and clinical nutrition.For three decades I’ve engaged various health and dietary practices, and studied the deterioration and transformation of our food system. Our life and health depend on our daily intake of three life-giving substances: Air, Water, and Food. Of these three, food is the most complex and compromised.This lecture series, Choosing Optimal Health in an Unhealthy World, begins with a good news/bad news talk. I’ll start with an overview of the bad news. But I won’t send you home feeling doomed. I’ll also tell you how your informed food choices can help you achieve and maintain optimal health even in a world that is working against it.So, the bad news…We live in a world that is absolutely working against our optimal health. Our food system has radically changed in the last 30 years, and those changes have affected virtually everyone on the planet. For over three decades the health of our bodies and the earth has been systematically compromised through the corporatization and corruption of virtually all the systems we depend on for the food that sustains us.These systems include giant Ag-farms that use toxic pesticides and herbicides to grow most of our food; food production manufacturers who add unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients literally poisoning our food with chemical additives, stabilizers and preservatives; biotech industries that genetically modify and create non-food items to sell as food. They also include government agencies sworn to protect us that serve corporate interests at the expense of citizens’ health. The FDA, USDA, EPA, CDC and other agencies are infiltrated and run by corporate lobbyists and executives with profound conflicts of interest. Appointed by politicians whose campaigns they fund, they often literally write laws that increase their profits and jeopardize our safety. These methods are increasingly known mainstream but not regularly reported by the mainstream media owned by these corporations.Science and technology, hijacked by human negligence, greed, recklessness and corruption, have conspired to alter, contaminate and poison our food at every stage of production, manufacturing and processing.Much of the food sold today is an inferior, non-nutritious, often toxic food hybrid, a manufactured product far removed from the natural food mankind ate for thousands of years. It is artificially flavored, chemically enhanced and preserved, loaded with genetically modified refined sugar, corn syrup, and mineral depleted salt.It’s grown with toxic pesticides and herbicides and raised on GMO feed, hormones and antibiotics. All these chemical and biological additives compromise the immune and hormonal systems and undermine health. Filling your tummy with such food can’t meet your nutritional needs, and it harms your body’s living system.As a doctor, I know that food can be medicine or poison. It’s a causative factor in many diseases, and an essential factor in treating and healing those diseases and achieving and maintaining optimal health.Until the 90’s the recommended “healthy” diet was simple: Eat fruits and vegetables, a little meat or fish, whole grains, healthy fats, and some simple carbohydrates and sugars.A healthy diet today is described as an organic diet, two thirds full of vegetables. The last third is comprised of healthy meats, poultry, fish, oils, grains and fruits. Too much research has shown sugar to be causative in all sorts of inflammatory diseases, strokes, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, so limiting sugar in all forms is imperative. Your body can run on oil for fuel, instead of sugar. It is healthier and produces a leaner body.Today a healthy diet requires knowing what’s in your food and eating organic, unprocessed, non-GMO foods. Research studies on PubMed linking chronic diseases to unhealthy diet in a compromised food system tell us that eating healthy organic food is increasingly a matter of survival.In the last 30 years, nine chemically and genetically altered and created types of gluten have entered our food system. These laboratory manufactured glutens use Wheat gluten as a substrate to create sticky chemical substances that hold processed foods filled with chemicals and flavor enhancing additives together.The problem is that these artificial, chemically laden glutens are seen as foreign invaders by the immune systems of many people who eat them. They may develop sensitivities or inflammatory histamine responses to these glutens that worsen through regular consumption. Eventually their compromised immune systems can begin to produce chronic inflammation.Chronic inflammation, whether caused by food sensitivities, stress, environmental toxins or infectious diseases can cause serious problems – immune dysregulation, hormone disruption, neuron death, the reduction of neurotransmitters in the brain, and worse. Chronic inflammation is an early warning sign of approaching autoimmune diseases.A dangerous shift in a compromised immune system occurs when it “loses self-tolerance”. This means the immune system no longer tolerates the body, and sees it as a foreign invader. It begins to mark, attack and destroy healthy cellular proteins at tissue sites, organs, and systems throughout the body.What happens is that the immune system confuses the sticky genetically modified food proteins with healthy cellular proteins to which they attach themselves. And it attacks the healthy proteins within bodily tissues and organs to which they are attached as if these healthy proteins inside the tissue matrix were a bacteria or virus. The immune system is now attacking and destroying the very tissues and organs that keep you alive.When the immune system marks a protein molecule for destruction, it remembers, and its memory doesn’t change. It will seek out, mark and destroy the remembered protein molecules whether they are a virus or bacteria, a food protein component, an environmental toxin, or your own body’s healthy tissue.Once the immune system marks healthy body tissue proteins, escalating inflammation, through the process of free radical damage, it continues to destroy these tissues and their cellular structures until they are completely destroyed and dysfunctional.In time, it produces debilitating conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, Psoriasis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, Wilson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Infertility, and even cancer and heart disease.This is how a healthy protective immune response becomes a chronic, degenerative condition called autoimmunity.Chronic inflammation can be a warning sign of approaching autoimmunity. But autoimmunity is only diagnosable when an organ, structure or system of the body is seriously damaged or destroyed.Western Medicine treats autoimmunity with powerful pharmaceuticals like prednisone or chemotherapy drugs like methotrexate; whose progressively destructive side effects may include physical addiction, impaired vital organs and a compromised immune system.The dramatic rise of corporate factory farming over the last thirty years coincides with a similar rise in autoimmune diseases, compulsive eating disorders, bulimia, anorexia, obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related maladies. This is no coincidence.Habitual over-eating or under-eating, a constant diet of toxic, unhealthy, non-nutritious foods, disrupts the satiety center in your brain and inhibits your ability to tell when you are hungry or full. This can create a negative cascade of affects that contribute to all the above-mentioned diet-related illnesses. I’ve treated many people suffering from anorexia, bulimia, obesity and other food disorders, who can’t tell when they’re hungry or full.There are often emotional and psychological reasons behind poor eating habits, cravings for unhealthy foods, and food-disorders. But from our earliest years we’re bombarded and brainwashed by ubiquitous advertising for fast, convenient, unhealthy food products designed by scientists in laboratories to be “tasty” and addictive, with almost no regard for our health.There is an undeniable cause-and-effect connection between these proliferating ailments and our increasingly chemically corrupted, genetically modified food system. Many people are unaware of, or in denial about the dangers of our corrupted food system. So, they eat poorly, even while trying to eat well, and often become ill without knowing why. Many people are still unaware of how pernicious factory farming practices are.Factory farming relies on pesticides, herbicides, and genetically modified seeds containing glyphosate, a weed killer sold by the name Round Up. Corporate wheat farms heavily spray their crops with Round Up prior to harvest. This loosens the gluten in the wheat kernels, making it easier to extract.Corporate factory farming practices are harmful to human health, and cause economic and environmental destruction. By design, GMO plants do not produce fertile seeds as nature intended. Every year farmers must purchase new seeds that are genetically infused with round-up, as well as toxic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides to spray their crops. This diminishes the farmers’ profits and increases corporate profits. Most of the small to medium sized family farms that once provided the bulk of America’s food have gone bankrupt and disappeared. Today they are an endangered species.The chemicals, pesticides and herbicides used in factory farming destroy the soil in a few years. Millions of acres of once fertile farmlands in India alone have become barren wasteland, putting tens of thousands of Indian family farms out of business.
***Well, enough of the bad news.The good news is that organic farming is on the rise, nationally and internationally. It is possible for most people to buy healthy, nutritious, organic foods. Corporate food agribusinesses like Monsanto are still waging a war to monopolize and control our food at every level. But they’re fighting a losing battle on the wrong side of history.Every day new studies come out debunking the corporate- funded pseudo-science used to promote these toxic foods. GMO crops are now banned in thirty-eight countries including Germany, France, Russia, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Poland and Greece, to name a few. California recently designated glyphosate a known carcinogen.Not surprisingly, scientific studies show that the most nutrient-rich, earth-friendly food is non-GMO organic. Scientific studies also show that sustainable farming practices regenerate soils depleted by corporate farming practices.And there’s more good news. Every one of you embodies nature’s resilience and healing and regenerative powers. In fact, you are nature. You are living systems, like plants, like the oceans, or the earth itself. And your health is most affected by what you put into your body, and what you don’t put into your body, on a regular basis.This means that to a significant degree your health is a matter of choice. When you understand our compromised food system and what it does to your body, you can choose not to put those foods into your body. You can choose nutritious, organic foods instead. Your healthy food choices can heal and revitalize your body, and also help to heal and regenerate the earth.Achieving and maintaining optimal health takes knowledge, willingness, commitment, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, self-love. Because caring for your health is an act of self-love.Choosing a healthy diet also makes you an environmental and economic activist. By choosing to buy and eat healthy food you support healthy, sustainable food farming practices. You support the emerging organic farm movement. You support the regeneration of the soil and the environment. And you no longer support a corrupt corporate system that manufactures and sells toxic foods, and then profits from your poor health.So remember, good food is medicine and bad food is poison. Choose wisely what you put into your body so your body and health can thrive. A healthy lifestyle – good food and hydration, regular exercise and sufficient rest – is something no doctor can do for you.