Most common chronic diseases in the Western world were extremely rare before the Industrial revolution, and they are practically non-existent in non-westernized, traditional communities throughout the world today. This is no coincidence, it simply affirms that chronic diseases such as heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, irritable bowel disorders and diabetes are caused by lifestyle factors and not genetics. Of all the modern day lifestyle factors that impact disease risk, a decline in the consumption of organically grown high-fiber plant foods, and an increase in toxic chemical and pesticide exposure, are perhaps the most significant.
Step #1 Increase Fiber Intake
Most of us have no idea how much fiber we should consume daily, and are dramatically increasing our chronic disease risk by failing to consume enough. To compound the problem, conventional doctors recommend a mere 35 grams of fiber daily for men and 23 grams for women. When you look at our evolutionary past, you’ll find that our ancestors consumed a whole plant foods based diet that provided closer to 100 grams of fiber daily. This amount typically results in large, soft stools and according to renowned Dr. Burkitt, in his book “Don’t Forget Fibre in your Diet,” it is the ideal amount for preventing and reversing many of the most common deadly Western diseases.
Why Fiber Is So Important
Fiber promotes optimal health and the prevention of disease in a variety of ways. Firstly, it helps to prevent constipation and keep bowel movements regular, which means toxins and waste matter are expelled from the body in a timely manner and do not get reabsorbed in the blood. Regular bowel movements also help keep the digestive and eliminative organs healthy, which thereby reduces the risk for bowel disorders such Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease.
Secondly, fiber fills you up and keeps you fuller longer, which aids in weight loss. In fact, consuming a high-fiber diet is one of the easiest ways to lose weight and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI). This is important because being overweight vastly increases the risk for several of the deadliest and most debilitating chronic diseases.
Thirdly, fiber helps protect the health of your heart, by reducing unhealthy cholesterol levels and lowering inflammation. In fact, a high fiber diet has been found to vastly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke and Americas #1 killer – heart disease.
Fourthly, fiber helps to nourish the friendly bacteria in your gut, allowing them to flourish. This is important because a deficiency of good bacteria in the gut can trigger inflammation, increase obesity risk, reduce immunity and raise your risk for a variety of diseases including IBS, cancer, autism, allergies, depression and dementia.
Finally, fiber generates the production of H2 hydrogen in the gut. After consuming a fiber rich meal your gut bacteria produce hydrogen which leads to a myriad of beneficial effects in the brain and every other organ in the human body. The reason why H2 is able to benefit all of the body is because it’s the smallest molecule in the Universe, which means it easily diffuses into your blood, cells and mitochondria, and bypasses the blood brain barrier. In fact, there are currently over 600 scientific publications that show H2 enhances health and fights a wide-range of diseases, and that it does so safely, without negative side-effects. Studies have demonstrated that H2 helps to enhance athletic performance, protect brain health and boost immune function. It also has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-aging, anti-fatigue, anti-allergy, anti-arthritis and anti-obesity properties. Finally, it helps to convert toxic free radicals into water, thereby preventing the free radicals from causing damage to your cells and DNA, and potentially enhancing longevity.
Step #2 Reduce Toxic Pesticide Exposure
While it is true that a high fiber, plant-based diet can help vastly reduce your risk for many chronic diseases, the toxic pesticides in your food can negate any such benefits. Pesticides attack your body on several fronts and they are so toxic that those who handle them often experience immediate symptoms such as abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and skin and eye problems. Although these symptoms are uncommon from the consumption of pesticide contaminated foods, it doesn’t make their consumption safe or advisable. In fact, pesticides have been linked to an increased risk for numerous chronic diseases and disorders including: several types of cancer, neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia; endocrine disorders, ADHD, autism, birth defects, low birth rate and fetal death; infertility, obesity, diabetes, dermatitis, depression, memory problems, and respiratory problems such as asthma.
How to Reduce Pesticide Exposure
Most conventionally grown fruits and vegetables contain toxic pesticide reside which is why it is important to buy organic. Purchasing organic is especially important if the produce is on the EWG’s dirty dozen list (https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php), which is a list of the most commonly and highly contaminated fruits and veggies. It’s also important to buy organic if the is skin/peel/outer layer of the fruit or vegetables is consumed (e.g. apples, celery, tomatoes, berries etc.), as opposed to discarded (e.g. bananas, cantaloupe, avocado and squash). In addition, you should make sure to clean all fruits and vegetables with a spray or wash that is designed to remove pesticides, pathogens and other toxic residues. This is important even if you do buy organic produce because our water is contaminated with pesticides and other toxic chemicals that can attach to the fruits and vegetables during the growing process. Finally, you should vastly reduce or eliminate the consumption of all animal products.
Pesticides in Animal Products
Most people don’t realize it but animal products are the most highly concentrated dietary sources of toxic pesticides and their consumption is far more harmful than the consumption of any plant product. The reason for this is that animals eat plants and a process known as bio magnification occurs which results in a concentration of pesticides that is one million times higher in the fat part of the animal product. The consumption of meat is the highest dietary source of pesticides, however butter, dairy and eggs are also highly concentrated sources.
~Written by Nick Delgado, PhD, CHT