Pillars of Health: Food, pH Balance, Water, Supplements
This week we’ll review the remaining four of my Pillars of Health, the eight lifestyle measures that lead you to true healing and wellness.
Eating nutritious, whole foods
To live well, you need the nutrients in real, live food. By “live food,” I mean unprocessed, unrefined food as close to its natural state as possible. Processing and refining remove important substances, like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Remember, you’ll get more benefit from eating a raw apple than an apple pie.
Your digestive system breaks down food and delivers nutrients to cells throughout your body. Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins—macronutrients—are key nutrients we obtain from food, along with fiber, water, vitamins, and minerals.
Breakdown of the Big Three
- Carbohydrates are starches found in foods like vegetables, sugar, pasta, rice, and beans. Carbs are the body’s primary fuel source. Complex carbs (vegetables and fruits), digest slowly, so you feel full longer. Simple carbs (candy, bread, refined foods like white rice) are digested quickly in the body, causing insulin levels to spike. Not all carbs are bad; complex carbs are necessary for your good health.
- Fats are essential to health. Fats provide energy, and some fats are better for us than others. Our bodies cannot produce essential fatty acids (EFAs), so you must obtain them from food and supplements. Since the processed foods in the Standard American Diet (SAD) are overloaded with omega-6s, many people are dangerously low in omega-3 EFAs.
- Protein is part of the structure of every cell in your body. And, it produces hormones and other chemicals your body needs. Besides meat, protein sources include beans, whole grains, and nuts.
Each macronutrient is vitally important for your health. Avoid any gimmicky diet which cuts out a macronutrient for weight loss.
Balance Nutrients for Better Health
My recommendations for a balanced, 2000 calorie daily diet:
- Carbohydrates (50–60% daily calories) You should consume about 300 grams of carbs each day. Focus on complex carbs.
- Fat (20–35% daily calories) You should consume 45–80 grams of fat each day. For cooking, focus on good fats, such as olive or coconut oil. I also recommend omega-3 supplements to ensure you’re getting sufficient quantities of healthy essential fatty acids.
- Protein (10–15% daily calories) Adult men should consume about 63 grams. Women should aim for 50 grams. Most Americans consume about 100 grams of protein daily, far more than they need.
Bottom Line: Eating real food enhances your overall wellbeing.
Drinking pure, filtered water
Your body is about 60% water. Water plays a role in breathing, body temperature management, brain functions, and a long list of other processes. Water is essential for life.
How much do you need every day? Drink one ounce of water for every two pounds you weigh. If you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water every day.
Another benefit: water can significantly reduce the risk of a healthy individual having a fatal heart attack, according to a study of more than 20,000 men and women. Researchers found that drinking five glasses of plain water daily helps as much as diet and exercise to prevent heart attacks.
Bottom Line: There is no substitute for fresh, pure water when it comes to maintaining good, overall health.
Balancing your pH
Acidosis (high levels of acid in the body) is a topic that’s rarely addressed in conventional medicine. Acidosis is caused by an acid-alkaline imbalance in the body. Recent studies show that chronic, low-grade acidosis impacts everything from children’s growth rates to decreased bone and muscle mass in adults. Clearly, acidosis is a serious problem.
Acidosis, caused by poor diet and too little oxygen, creates an imbalance in the body’s pH levels. Ideally, the body’s pH should be slightly alkaline, in the range of 7.2 to 7.4. If measurements show a lower pH, that means you are in a state of acidosis
A simple test can determine if your pH levels are dangerously low. Purchase litmus paper (sold at most pharmacies), and check your second urine of the day.
If the test shows excess acid (pH lower than 7.2), you want to cut back on acid-promoting foods and eat more fruits and vegetables. Almost all fruits and vegetables are alkalizing; avoid tomatoes, cranberries, and blueberries. You can also use a greens supplement, if it’s difficult to find fresh, organic produce in your locale.
Bottom Line: Correcting acidosis is an effective health strategy ignored by mainstream medicine.
Taking targeted supplements
As a practicing physician, my patients frequently ask two questions about dietary supplements:
Do I need to take vitamins?
Which vitamins should I take?
Do You Need to Take Vitamins?
Short answer: Yes! Everyone needs to take vitamins, even those who eat well.
Over-farming depletes minerals and lowers important nutrient levels in many foods. Also, nutrients are lost to pesticides, transportation, storage, and cooking. It’s nearly impossible to obtain all of your nutrients from food alone.
Which Vitamins Should You Take?
Age, gender, activity level, and genetics mean different people should take different supplement. But here is my list of the top 9 supplements that I believe most people should be taking. I recommend purchasing products from an established company, rather than a generic, cut-rate brand.
|Daily multi-vitamin and -mineral||As directed by an established company|
|Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs)||2,000-3000 mg|
|Vitamin D3||1,500 IU|
|Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)||100-200 mg|
|Probiotics||Minimum 10 billion live organisms|
|Natural Vitamin E||400 IU|
|Vitamin C||1,000 mg|
If you’ve been vitamin shopping lately, you know that prices vary widely for vitamins. Buying an ineffective product because it’s cheap will not benefit your health. Look for firms that stand behind their supplements and offer money-back guarantees.
Please don’t be disappointed if you don’t see improvement overnight. Nutritional supplements can take four to six weeks to reach therapeutic levels in the body.
Bottom line: Our food supply no longer offers all the nutrients you need. Take supplements.