See a letter from Ellen about the donation campaign. Your help matters!

Back to where
you came from

About Nutritional Supplements and Medically Modified Diets

A hundred years ago, the average American man weighed about 170 pounds and ate about 3800 calories a day. The average woman weighed around 140 and ate about 3400 calories a day. Today American men average 2400, women, 1800-2200. At the same time, the "nutrient density" of food has not increased- an orange still has about the same amount of vitamin C- so people either have to carefully select the most nutrient-rich food or get only about 60% as much nutrition as they did in 1900.

In addition, as nutrition knowledge has increased, we've learned that many situations, cigarette smoking, smog, fever, acute or chronic illness, physical stress, dieting, aging, mecications alter metabolism and change nutritional needs. Nutritional supplements don't replace nourishing food, they just improve the body's access to nutrients.

Under acceptable laboratory conditions, it takes as much as a year-and-a-half for physical symptoms of prolonged and intentional nutritional deprivation to show up. Mental or "personality" symptoms, which can include the entire range of neurotic symptoms or reactions, can show up within days or weeks. Today, we know much more about micronutrients of all kinds, including the wide variations in needs between individuals.

With rare exception, effects of malnutrition or undernutrition are reversible. Many can be cleared up within a few weeks or months at the most when the missing substances are restored to the diet. It is helpful to consider nutritional supplements as foods, rather than "pills"; eat them when you are eating other foods, to improve their absorption. Be consistent in your use of them, and you will remove the obstacle of body states you have created through ignorance or negligence from your path.

Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine increase nutritional needs
Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine all cause an immediate rise in blood sugar when consumed, alcohol by metabolizing direct from the stomach into the blood stream and nicotine and caffeine by causing a dump of the limited amount of blood sugar stored in the liver as glycogen. The brain relishes blood sugar and quickly forms this association. It takes at least 20 minutes for blood sugar to rise after a meal, so people get the habit of using these products after meals (after the food is eaten and before it reaches the brain as sugar), or when skipping meals. By eating balanced meals and snacks that include some protein every 3 to 4 hours, you reduce your need for this artificial boost.
Each of these also use up vitamins when they are metabolized, so supplements are necessary if you use them.

Eggs, cheese and heart disease--a little extra information about cholesterol- restricted diets.
 There is no doubt that reducing the total number of eggs in the individual diet can reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by as much as 25 mg. %. So can conscientious exercise, for some people. The type of diet which we suggest here, the widest possible range of whole foods, is basically vegetarian. It stresses many foods recommended on low or no-cholesterol diets, especially unsaturated vegetable oils, and using it may allow use of moderate amounts of eggs, cheese and other dairy fats. I have found that consistent substitution of high protein and lowfat cooking techniques (such as nonfat milk, steam sauteering, blenderized cottage cheese in creamy salad dressings, lowfat yogurt for sour cream in many recipes, apple butter for butter on toast, etc.) has allowed me to use some butter, eggs, and cheese regularly while maintaining a blood cholesterol level that is the envy of my doctor. 

Some families have an inherited tendency toward heart disease or diabetes, which can be partially offset by conscientious diet and weight control. If this tendency shows u in the parents or relatives of anyone you cook for, that person needs to be particularly careful all the time of what he or she eats and of any tendency to gain weight. 

If you are confronted with one of those awful printed lists of foods a person with a heart problem (or any other medical problem) may or may not eat, feel free to call the doctor or nutritionist and question in some detail about various foods which are or are not allowed. You have a right to know why certain foods are included and restricted and you may prompt the doctor to find out himself.

Many of these lists are published and distributed free by the companies whose products are recommended--and even a typed or mimeographed diet may be copied from a diet published by a food company-- so you can expect that some of the selections and omissions represent good merchandising. Nutritional intervention for most diseases in this country is such a new idea that the idea sheets rarely represent the latest research, and by asking questions or encouraging your health service provider to become familiar with current developments you may gain the taste and health benefits of a more varied diet. 

Although lifestyles or dietary patterns with overall reduced fats and higher levels of unsaturated fats are associated with desirable blood fat levels and ratios, there is not specific substantiated proof from scientific studies that restriction of dietary cholesterol intake is necessary or even desirable for people of normal cholesterol levels who get moderate exercise and with no personal or familial history of heart or artery disease. To eliminate foods without "the doctor's orders" because of cholesterol or other medical concerns is at least short-sighted.