Mindbody medicine depends on restoring the natural wisdom of the body.
The body is made of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins, enzymes, fats, hormones and a vast array of biological co-factors all embraced in a web of electrical energy orchestrated by consciousness. The pharmacy for these life giving nutrients is the food we eat.
The Paleolithic, or original, diet for mankind contained the required vitamins, minerals, high quality fats and proteins, and complex carbohydrates, all free of preservatives, empty calories, and trans fats. Unfortunately, the Paleolithic diet has become the “standard American diet” and the natural landscape of hunting and gathering has become the restaurant and supermarket.
Sedentary and stressful lifestyles add to the burdens of modern life and we have widespread nutritional deficiencies, rampant digestive disorders, obesity, and many chronic diseases. Nutritional supplements provide an important way to target deficiencies and restore biochemical balance to the body. Nutritional supplementation is commonsense for most people.
The scientific evidence is strongly supportive as well. Consider the following:
American Farmland Is Mineral Deficient and So Are We
“99% of the American people are deficient in minerals, and a marked deficiency in any of these important minerals actually results in disease. Out physical well-being is more directly dependent upon the minerals we take into our systems than upon calories or vitamins, or upon precise proportions of starch, protein or carbohydrates we consume.
This discovery is one of the latest and most important contributions of science to the problem of human health. Most us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied unto the depleted soils from which our foods come are brought into proper mineral balance.
The alarming fact is that the foods – fruits, vegetables and grain, now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contains enough of certan needed minerals are starving us – no matter how much of them we eat!” 1
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies Are Widespread In Americans
The HANES I and II Studies (Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) conducted by the Federal government in 1982 identified over 70% of the American population to be at risk for the clinical impact of long term dietary deficiencies.
More than 50% of Americans consume inadequate amounts of calcium, including people in all age, sex, and ethnic categories2. The American average daily intake of folic acid is 242 mcg compared to the US recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 400 mcg,1989 The typical American diet provides only one-half to two-thirds of the RDA of 400 mg for magnesium 3.
4In summary, the available evidence supports the hypothesis that zinc deficiency is an important public health problem both internationally and domestically (zinc is required for every aspect of immune function) 4.
Elderly Americans Are Especially Vulnerable To Nutrient Deficiencies
Fewer than half of older adults meet dietary recommendations for vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, calcium, dairy products, grains, vegetables and fruits.”5. 25% to 85% of nursing home residents are malnourished” 6.
The prevalence of malnutrition in hospitalized older adults has been reported to range from 7% to 85%, depending on diagnostic criteria used.”7,8
Prescription Medications Cause Nutrient Loss
The following commonly prescribed drugs are associated with nutrient depletion:
- Acid blockers
- Anti-inflammatories eg aspirin, NSAIDS
- Blood pressure medications
- Cholesterol lowering medications
- Oral anti-diabetic medications
Nutritional Deficiencies and “Not Feeling Well”
“Marginal vitamin deficiency is a middle ground between adequate nutritional status and the point at which frank deficiency disease symptoms develop” 9.
Because there are no specific symptoms, this intermediate stage of depletion is frequently not apparent. In lay terms, it may be just the difference between feeling “at one’s best” and feeling “under the weather.”
“Marginal deficiency . . . may affect the body’s ability to resist disease and infection, its ability to recover from surgery, stress or disease, the ability of the brain to function at a higher level and, in general, the optimal development and efficient function of the total person.”
“Marginal nutrient deficiencies are widespread and can cause a variety of nonspecific symptoms while they weaken the body’s defense against serious illnesses” 10.
Nutritional Deficiencies and Diseases
Inadequate intakes of vitamins and minerals from food are widespread (e.g. in the U.S.: 56% for magnesium; 12% for zinc; 16% menstruating women for iron; 16% of women for folate) and can lead to DNA damage, mitochondrial decay, and other pathologies. An optimum intake of micronutrients and metabolites, which varies with age and genetics, should tune up metabolism and markedly increase health at little cost, particularly for the poor, obese, and elderly. 11
“You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency,” Dr. Linus Pauling, Stanford University; winner of two Nobel Prizes 12.
Conditions associated with malnutrition in the elderly:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic infection
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Esophageal candidiasis
- Essential tremors
- Gallbladder disease
- Immune deficiency
- Macular degeneration
- Malabsorption syndromes
- Parkinson’s disease
- Pressure sores
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Chronic Stress Causes Nutrient Deficiency
In 1979, three Nobel laureates working with Hans Selye discovered the following:
- Chronic stress causes vitamin deficiencies in the body
- The severity of the deficiency correlated with the severity of the stress.
- When nutrients are restored to the body, people are able to manage stress more effectively13.
Nutritional Supplements Can Provide Effective Treatment For Disease
Nutritional supplements come from a wide range of natural sources, many of which have been used by mankind for thousands of years. In addition to restoring deficiencies and balance to the complex biochemistry of the body, they can be powerful therapies for disease. Supplements come from the following sources:
- Amino acids
- Biochemical factors, e.g. CoEnzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid
- Animal and fish products, e.g. whey protein and enzymes
- Herbs (plants, trees, barks, leaves, and roots), e.g. garlic and curcumin
- Bacterial products, e.g. lactobacillus acidophilus
These substances come from nature, the pharmacy of our earth. Modern science has isolated and purified many of them and extensive medical research has documented their efficacy. They should be used carefully and with medical supervision. This natural pharmacy is also the source of most of our medications.
Pharmaceutical companies explore these natural molecular resources for effective treatments and then spend millions to isolate a synthetic derivative. Since natural compounds cannot be patented, they must create a molecule that is not found in nature. Once patented, they can afford to spend the tens of million of dollars required to push the molecule through the FDA process, thereby giving birth to another drug therapy.
As Dr. Joseph Beasley, former Harvard University Administrator and Dean of the School of Public Health at Tulane University, writes in his book, The Betrayal of our Health, the original natural compound is often more potent that the synthetic counterpart patented by the drug company.
Nutritional Supplements Can Reduce Health Care Costs
When people use the principles of mindbody healing, they improve their health, which in turn means lower health care costs. Dr. Al Dobson and others at The Lewin Group, Inc, published a study in January 2004 for Wyeth Consumer Healthcare that looked at the impact of daily vitamin use in a group of older adults.
They concluded that the daily use of a multivitamin had the potential to save $1.6 billion in health care costs over a five-year period because of improvements in immune functioning and reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. In July 2004, Dr. Wafe and a group of scientists published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, titled A Randomized Trial of Multivitamin Supplements and HIV Progression and Mortality.
They found that a daily multivitamin slowed down the progression of HIV to AIDS and cut the risk of developing AIDS in half. According to the author the vitamins cost about $15 for a years supply while AIDS drugs in Tanzania cost about $300.
Nutritional Supplements Are Safe
Many critics of nutritional supplements claim that they have not been proven to be safe in rigorous double blind placebo controlled studies like those required to prove drug safety.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), outlines the documented safety records of supplements, refuting the contention that dietary supplements should meet the same guidelines as pharmaceutical drugs.
According to data from the 2002 Poison Control Center database on the risk of death from various sources in the USA:
- Dietary supplements: 0.0001%
- Honey bee stings: 0.0008%
- Lightning: 0.0041%
- Firearms accidents: 0.079%
- Motor vehicle accidents: 2.20%
- Alcohol: 4.49%
- Properly prescribed & Used Drugs: 5.18%
- Smoking: 7.19%
- Cancer: 22.11%
- Cardiovascular disease: 47%.