Many of us have heard the popular quote, “You are what you eat.” Actually, the original quote was written by an 18th century French politician called Anthelme Brillat-Savarin and it read, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
Just over a hundred years ago, when naturopathic medicine came into existence in the United States, naturopathic practitioners used diet along with other methods to treat their patients. Developed by a man called Benedict Lust in New York, Naturopathic medicine became popular and widely available throughout the United States well into the early part of the 20th century. In 1920, there were many naturopathic medical schools, thousands of naturopathic physicians, and thousands of patients using naturopathic therapies around the country. By the 1950’s, conventional medicine and the discovery of ‘miracle’ drugs such as antibiotics had caused a huge decline in the popularity of natural medicine but it wasn’t to last very long.In the 1970’s people became disillusioned with conventional medicine and again there was a new surgeon favor of alternative medicine.
In essence, Naturopathic practitioners are guided by six principles:
(1) Do No Harm
(2) The Healing Power of Nature
(3) Find the Cause
(4) Treat the Whole Person
(5) Preventive Medicine
(6) Doctor as Teacher.
Of these 6 principles, diet comes under The Healing Power of Nature and Preventative Medicine, and plays a fundamental role in living a healthy and balanced life. Eating foods which are processed, full of chemicals and pesticides, laden with fat, sugar and salt, do very little to promote health and balance. On the contrary, these foods are devoid of nutrients and are high in empty calories. Why are they empty? There are very few or no nutrients in these foods, so actually when we eat them we never feel satisfied. In addition to not feeling satisfied, we also don’t gain any nutrient value from this food, so instead of feeling energized and strong, we feel weak and ready to fall asleep. In today’s society, where eating fast food has become a daily routine, we see more and more people suffering from obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other illnesses. If we take a deeper look at their diets, many of these people eat foods of very poor quality which does little to improve health or provide energy and vitality.
Although there are a few exceptions, fast food usually equates to food made from inferior quality ingredients, high in (empty) calories and with very few or no nutrients. The table here shows countries with more fast food transactions per year, with the US, Australia, New Zealand and UK amongst the highest and Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and France among the lowest. Given this data, it is not surprising to see the large number of fast foodchains in America such as KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, In & Out Burger, Jack in the Box, Denny’s, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Carl’s Junior, Arby’s, Subway, Quizno’s, Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express, and Starbucks.
Nutritional Difference between a homemade versus Taco Bell Burrito
While both burritos have 420 calories, the home-made burrito contains more nutrients for the same amount of calories.
Dietary Fiber: 6g versus 10g
Protein: 11g versus 17g
Calcium: 15% vs 25%
Total Fat: 17g versus 13g
Sugar: 4g versus 2g
Although this example is not perfect, I feel that it demonstrates how choices are really important. Eating a diet of whole or minimally processed foods such as grains, legumes (including beans and lentils), vegetables, fruits and nuts can ensure we getthe most nutrients, vitamins and minerals our bodies need to function properly.
In addition to diet, when making the decision to live a healthy and balanced life, other factors should be considered including regular physical exercise, adequate sleep, reduction in stress and balance in our lives and our relationships with others.
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