Nutrition is an often overlooked component of mind-body medicine – it doesn’t have the glitz of hypnosis or the hipness of biofeedback. But it’s basic: what you decide to put in your body today has a major impact on your health tomorrow.
Just ask Beverly Rubik. A faculty member of Saybrook’s College of Mind-Body Medicine and the Director of the Institute for Frontier Science, Rubik is frequently called upon to perform evaluations of health products or regimens, and has recently completed a study on the impact of processed foods on health.
Two words: not good.
In a recent study of the impact of processed foods, Rubik compared fresh blood samples (taken under optimal fasting conditions) of subjects who eat processed foods (including organic) with subjects who do not (in this case, followers of the Weston A. Price diet) for at least two years. The subjects were all healthy adults from 25 to 81 years old, matched for age.
Using a microscopic technique known as dark-field live blood analysis, she observed that the blood cells of those on the Weston A Price diet aggregated and clotted much less than the blood cells of those on conventional modern diets, even hours after the blood samples were drawn.
This is important, Rubik writes, because early blood clotting “is linked to inflammatory processes in the body … Chronic biochemical inflammation is an underlying cause of virtually all the chronic degenerative diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and arthritis. Therefore, preventing chronic biochemical inflammation in the body is believed to be central to preventing chronic disease.”
It may be no accident, then, that as highly processed modern foods have traveled across the globe, a host of “Western lifestyle” diseases have followed – conditions almost unheard of in traditional societies.
“The Weston A. Price diet, named after the late Weston A. Price, D.D.S, who travelled the world looking at the food and the teeth of indigenous peoples, is the natural diet of traditional cultures before ANY processed foods,” Rubik says. It includes raw and fermented milk products; meats from pastured animals that eat grass; wild fish; vegetables and fruits; sprouted grains; fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickled beets; and fermented beverages brewed from fruit juices and live whey. It is also a diet high in saturated fat. No liquid oils except for unrefined olive oil are consumed.
Based on her study, Rubik concludes, “Organic foods are not enough for optimum health. We’ve been bombarded by marketing campaigns to think that the liquid oils with unsaturated fats—canola, corn, safflower, and soy, protect our health. However, these are highly processed oils that may actually be contributing to the biochemistry of inflammation inside our bodies.”
In fact, Rubik’s pictures comparing blood cells that have and have not been exposed to processed foods may serve the same purpose as pictures comparing the lungs of smokers to non-smokers.
Meantime, it’s another reminder of the value of fresh, unprocessed food.