Two critical works influenced my interest in safe ”alternatives” to drugs and surgery for most chronic diseases. THE ROLE OF MEDICINE by Dr. Thomas McKeown (The Nuffield Trust, 1976) emphasized the fact that 92% of advances in longevity were the result of sanitation, chlorination of water, pasteurization of milk and adequate protein. Dr. John Knowles, late President of the Rockefeller Foundation, stated that 80% of illnesses are the result of unhealthy behavior (”The Responsibility of the Individual”, Daedalus, Winter, 1977).

The current epidemic of obesity is clearly the result of poor nutritional choices, and nutrition is a major contributor to stroke, coronary artery disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, cancer of the colon, breast and prostate cancer, to name a few. I have room in this brief article for only a few references but there are more scientific articles supporting nutrition than there are for all drugs in the PDR. I have reviewed over 10,000 journal articles and created an annotated bibliography to give me rapid access to important published data. The most important findings seem to be those affecting cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, mental health, cancer, and degenerative diseases, especially cataracts and macular degeneration.

CHOLESTEROL – Perhaps there is no more medically attacked nutrient than cholesterol. People who eat the most cholesterol and saturated fat, including the French, Okinawanese, Yemen Jews, Northern Indians, African Masai, have half the death rate from heart disease as do Americans. More importantly, cholesterol can be remarkably lowered to safer levels with lecithin, arginine, taurine, saw palmetto extract, and even Red Rice yeast. (Rosch, Paul J. ”Ignore the experts and eat more meat and fat?,” HEALTH AND STRESS, American Institute of Stress, N.Y., # 11, 2003). And, of course, homocysteine is far more important than cholesterol!

HOMOCYSTEINE levels even in the ”normal” mid-range and above are associated with marked increases in hypertension, stroke, coronary artery disease and Alzheimer’s, not to mention spinal bifida with meningoceles. This is perhaps the most treatable of all nutritional problems, although the levels of B 12 and especially folate may need to be much higher than the measly 400 micrograms recommended.

IODINE – Subclinical hypothyroidism has been a major controversy for over three-quarters of a century. My own studies have shown that at least 80% of individuals have a body temperature below normal, low levels of iodine, many of the symptoms of low thyroid function, etc. Average iodine intake has fallen in the past two decades to only 150 micrograms per day, the supposed minimal daily requirement. Meanwhile, a variety of factors have increased our need for iodine – marked increased intake of cruciferous vegetables, chlorination of water, higher intake of protein, and nuclear contamination over the past 50 years. Additionally, only half the salt in the U.S. is iodized and physicians have recommended low salt intake for decades. At least 60% of individuals have body temperature return to normal within one month of adding iodine to their diet.

MAGNESIUM – Magnesium deficiency is rampant throughout the world. At least 80% of women and 70% of men do not eat the recommended minimum daily requirement of magnesium. There are over 350 enzymes that require magnesium. Magnesium is the major determinant of cellular membrane potential. Magnesium deficiency has been reported in virtually every major disease – hypertension, eclampsia, diabetes, asthma, cancer, allergies, migraine, coronary artery disease, etc. Magnesium is notoriously difficult to absorb orally, as its salts are laxatives. If magnesium goes through the intestines in less than 12 hours, absorption is seriously impaired. In my experience, even the best of the oral preparations, Magnesium Taurate, requires oral supplementation for 6 to 12 months to restore intracellular levels. Incidentally, only two tests for magnesium are accurate—the magnesium load test and the intracellular spectrometric exam. Blood levels are notoriously inaccurate, with true serum deficiencies found primarily in starvation and acute alcoholism. Transdermal applied, Magnesium Lotion, with 25% magnesium chloride restores intracellular levels within 4 to 6 weeks.

TAURINE – Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in the body, is found only in animal protein, and is synergistic with magnesium in maintaining cell membrane potential. Taurine is deficient in 86% of depressed individuals; 100% of depressed patients have deficiencies of one to seven essential amino acids, the building blocks of neurochemicals such as serotonin, norepinephrine, etc. Taurine is one of several essentials for preventing macular degeneration and is almost equally important in heart muscle.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS – Omega-3’s are the most essential fats and are remarkably low in the American diet. Depression, atherosclerosis, arthritis, and many degenerative diseases are helped by increased intake of the critical fish-oil Omega-3’s found in salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod liver, etc.

VITAMIN D – There is increasing evidence that a minimum of 1,000 units of Vitamin D is required. Skin and colon cancer and many immune disorders, including autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, are strongly influenced by D deficiency.

BORON – To name just a few important correlations, bone strength, testosterone and estrogen are dependent upon adequate levels of boron.

LITHIUM – Tryptophan cannot be converted into serotonin without lithium, B 3 and B 6.

B COMPLEX – 80% of smokers and 35% of non-smokers are deficient in B 6, even when they are taking the RDA.

ANTIOXIDANTS – Free radicals are major determinants of degenerative diseases, cancer and death. Inflammatory reactions are major contributors to virtually every disease. There are several herbal preparations that are superior o NSAIDS, without the ”side effects”. These include Bromelain, ginger, Curcumin, licorice, and Frankincense (Boswellia). Of course adequate levels of Vitamins C, E and beta-carotene are also essential.

C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D. is the father of holistic medicine from the Shealy-Sorin Wellness Institute.

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