Dr Charles Forsyth

Ecological Physician

 
 

We are what we eat - quite literally!  If you wish to enjoy optimal health, you must make your diet healthy.  The following is a simple summary of some of what I consider the most important things we can do to make our diet as healthy & nutritious as possible.  Good nutritious food should be delicious & satisfying!  We don’t usually need to achieve dietary perfection - just a well balanced diet.  The trouble is that what each of us calls a “normal” diet is not necessarily healthy and is usually determined by what we grew up with.  Below are a few introductory pointers.


Man evolved over a million years meeting these requirements as a hunter gatherer.  It is only in the last 5,000 - 10,000 years (almost yesterday in evolutionary terms) that he started farming - and of course until recently there have still been a few cultures that are still effectively hunter gatherers.  The consumption of cereals and milk products in any serious quantity only began with farming.  Prior to the Industrial Revolution (early 1700’s) sugar extraction was absolutely minimal, while margarines only became popular in the early 1900’s.  Before these times there was very limited food storage, only enough to survive winter and almost no food processing/refining, minimal grains & milk products, very little vegetable oil extraction, no margarines, no refined sugars, no synthetic food additives - and now this lot comprise 71% or more of our energy intake!  This has resulted in a radical reduction in our micronutrient intake, especially when viewed relative to our calorie intake - the consequence of which can only be serious ill-health!


The DO’s:

  1. Vegetables - eat almost as much as possible!  The recommendation that we eat five 80 gram portions of vegetables and fruit daily (“five a day”) is excellent.  Most of us will be even healthier if we aim at six to eight portions of vegetables daily.  Eat a proportion of your vegetables raw.  Eat as large a variety of coloured vegetables (and fruits) as possible.

  2. Wholefoods - eat most food as delivered by nature, whole - and eat refined or processed foods as little as possible.  Refining or processing invariably reduces the nutritional value of food and have artificial chemical additives added.  Refining of flour and rice reduces the vitamin and mineral content dramatically.

  3. Organic foods - eat organic foods as much as possible.  When eating non-organic food, peel or throw away the outer leaves of vegetables and fruits and wash to reduce pesticide levels.

  4. Prepare / cook most of your own foods - using as much fresh organic wholefood ingredients as possible.

  5. Variety - have as broad and varied a diet as possible.  Try not to eat the same things every day and try to eat foods that are in season and less of those that are out of season.  One of the reasons that wheat and milk intolerance are so common is that they are so often consumed not only every day but several times a day over long periods of time.

  6. Fruit - eat in relatively small quantities on a regular basis.  The problem with fruit is that the majority is very high in sugars - so if you have sugar issues, this will contribute to the problem, whether obesity, diabetes, hypoglycaemia, fungal dysbiosis (intestinal yeast overgrowth), etc.  Eat mainly low sugar fruits: berries, currants, apricots, grapefruit, lemon, lime, guava.

  7. Nuts and Seeds - eat lots!  They are so nutritious, being particularly rich in minerals (especially zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper), essential fatty acids (EFAs) and vitamin E.  Linseed (flax) is richest source of omega 3 EFAs in plant foods, and is followed by hemp seed, walnuts, pecans & pumpkin seed.  Brazil nuts contain so much selenium (around 50 mcg per nut) that is unwise to eat more than 2 every day for long periods of time - unless you are selenium deficient.  Pumpkin, sunflower & sesame seed are about the richest plant food source of zinc.  Consume peanuts only as an occasional treat.

  8. Fats - thank heavens, at last it is accepted that natural fats (even saturated fats!) are not bad for us!  Try and have a wide variety of fats and oils.  Avoid margarines and similar processed oils.  Keep polyunsaturated oils in the fridge and use by their ‘best by’ date.

  9. Sprouted Beans, Seeds and Grains - are especially nutritious.

  10. Fermented Foods - include a variety of naturally fermented foods in your diet - ideally organic - natural cheeses, live unsweetened yogurt (goat and sheep varieties available), kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, olives, vinegars, naturally made pickles, fermented beans (eg. naturally made: tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauces, nattō), fermented fish, etc.  Fermented foods have been an integral part of the diet of most indigenous cultures for thousands of years.

  11. Protein - ensure optimal intake - for most of us this means having some at two meals a day. Mammal meats, poultry, fish, egg and cheese supply ‘first class’ protein, providing all the essential amino acids together.  Only go for naturally reared organic unprocessed animal products.   If you are vegan - you need to be more thoughtful and careful if you are to obtain all the essential amino acids - generally you need to combine together at a meal, either: 1) grains & nuts/seeds, or 2) grains & pulses, or 3) nuts/seeds & pulses.  And please if you are vegan, go for natural vegan foods - unprocessed as much as possible!

  12. Experiment! - we are each totally unique - in our psychology, physiology, biochemistry and genetics.  No diet suits everyone - we have to find what is optimal for our own health and well being.  Become more observant - experiment and discover which foods make you feel better and which make you worse.  One can be sensitive to/ intolerant of any foods, even the most natural and healthy ones.  Food intolerance testing is still unreliable. See: Food Allergy

  13. Detoxification Diet - every so often do a detox diet - eliminate sugars, grains (especially the gluten ones), milk products, yeast, meats (non-organic, non-free range), additives, coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.) and observe the effects.  See my information sheet: Stone Age Elimination Diet.

  14. Intermittent Fasting - is one of the oldest therapies of all time - it is so simple, natural and effective!  Experiment - start with very short fasts (eg. just missing a meal) and then gradually try lengthening them - and observe the effects.  Do not do serious fasts if you are underweight, without professional supervision.

  15. Ketogenic Diet - this is a high fat, very low carbohydrate (sugar and starch) diet with plenty of natural fibre and normal amounts of protein. To be truly ‘ketogenic’ one needs to be producing ketones - which, for most people, only happens when one’s daily carbohydrate intake is below 50 grams.  Ideally one should self-test with urine or blood ketone testing sticks to ensure ketones are being produced consistently. Many people feel remarkably better on this diet, with an increase in well-being, energy, mental clarity and often an improvement in chronic health problems - especially those relating to bacterial or fungal dysbiosis


The DON’Ts  or  DO MUCH LESS:

  1. SUGARS - we all eat far far far too much!  This is the number one dietary bête noire of all nations with Westernised eating habits.  We all now know the vast and frighteningly increasing epidemic of obesity and Type II diabetes, but it contributes to many other health issues, including metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovary disease, dental caries (tooth decay), hyperlipidaemia, hypertension, atherosclerosis, cancers, and many many more.

  2. Artificial Food Additives - almost all of them have no nutritional value at all.  Most are completely unnatural, many are toxic and many may cause hypersensitivity reactions (especially in those with allergic tendencies).

  3. Wheat - the wheat grown over the last 60 years or so is radically different from that which our ancestors ate and is a serious health risk, especially when eaten in the quantities most of us eat.  Switch to older wheat varieties, such as spelt, or rye - and ideally organic.

  4. Milk products - generally eat less - and switch to natural organic unprocessed varieties.  Milk intolerance is so very common and goes unrecognised most of the time.  Many, but not all, who are cows milk intolerant, can tolerate goat and especially sheep products.

  5. Cooking Oils at High Temperatures - polyunsaturated oils are seriously damaged by high temperatures, eg. frying, deep frying, high oven temperatures, etc.  Reusing oils cooked at high temperatures is even worse, eg. chip pans.  Olive oil and rice bran oil are less affected by high temperatures - but the safest to use are saturated fats, eg. meat fats, coconut and palm oils.




There are over 50 different nutrients that are essential to our health and without all of these in roughly the right amounts, our health suffers.


WATER

OXYGEN

LIGHT


AMINO ACIDS - the building blocks of  PROTEINS, Peptides and Polypeptides

The essential amino acids:

  1. Isoleucine

  2. Leucine

  3. Lysine

  4. Methionine

  5. Phenylalanine

  6. Threonine

  7. Tryptophan

  8. Valine


Conditionally essential amino acids:

  1. Arginine

  2. Cysteine

  3. Glutamine

  4. Glycine

  5. Histidine

  6. Proline

  7. Serine

  8. Tyrosine


FATS - ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

  1. Omega 6 - Linoleic acid

  2. Omega 3 - Linolenic acid


CARBOHYDRATES

  1. Starches

  2. Oligosaccharides

  3. Sugars


VITAMINS

  1. A - Retinoids

  2. C - Ascorbic acid

  3. E - Tocopherols and Tocotrienols

  4. B Group:

  5. B1 - Thiamin

  6. B2 - Riboflavin

  7. B3 - Niacin

  8. B5 - Pantothenic acid

  9. B6 - Pyridoxine

  10. B9 - Folate

  11. B12 - Cobalamin

  12. Biotin

  13. Choline

  14. Inositol

  15. PABA - Para aminobenzoic acid

  16. D - Cholecalciferol -  see: Vitamin D

  17. K - K1 - Phylloquinone and K2 - Menaquinones

  18. P - Flavonoids (& isoflavones)

  19. Carotenoids


MINERALS

  1. Calcium

  2. Magnesium

  3. Phosphorus

  4. Sodium

  5. Potassium

  6. Sulphur

  7. Iron

  8. Zinc

  9. Copper

  10. Manganese

  11. Chromium

  12. Selenium

  13. Cobalt

  14. Silicon

  15. Iodine

  16. Molybdenum

  17. Vanadium

  18. Boron

  19. ? Strontium

  20. ? Germanium

Nutrition & Diet

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