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Dr. Richard Isaacson

Food as Medicine: A Holistic Physician’s Guide to Nutrition - Part III

In Parts I and II I gave general suggestions on food choices, preparation, and storage, and details on portion size and food combining.  Part III addresses specific food types, beverages, and provides guidelines for making choices and gentle changes.

About sugars and sweeteners:

* Avoid all artificial sweeteners.  These can confuse your body into thinking it is getting sugar.  It will respond with an increase in insulin, increasing fat storage and deposition, and increasing sugar cravings.

*Avoid refined sugars:  cane sugar, brown sugar, fructose, glucose, corn syrup.  When shopping, check labels for these hidden sources of sugar.
If you use honey as a sweetener, make sure it is raw honey.  This contains all the necessary enzymes for digestion and will minimize the insulin effect. 

*More body friendly types of sweeteners include rice syrup, barley malt syrup, and stevia liquid or powder.

About fats:

* Use high quality fats and oils:  unrefined, cold-pressed, and organic.

*Avoid all hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils.

*Avoid margarine and any other fake butters and oils.

* Avoid non-fat and low-fat products.  These are not necessarily better for you than full fat products, and, in fact, can contribute to nutritional deficiencies, overweight, and difficulty losing weight.

* Raw butter is best.  See for sources.

*Fat does not make you fat.  In fact, too little fat can keep you fat, or make you fat.  It is an essential nutrient, and if you don’t have enough in your diet, your body will experience malnutrition.  When we don’t get all the nutrients we need, the body tries to compensate by overeating.  Also, the body will hold onto any extra body fat when in a stressor state.

About beverages:

*Try to avoid all iced drinks.  Iced drinks inhibit the digestive fire.  If you crave these, this is a sign of excess heat.  It will lessen as energies become balanced.

*Avoid carbonated beverages (sodas).  These inhibit digestion, absorption, and elimination.

* Avoid concentrated fruit juices.  These have unnaturally high concentrations of sugars.

*Room temperature water is the most optimal drink.

*Do not drink with meals because this dilutes digestive juices.  At most, 2-3 sips of room temperature water are okay.  Cold beverages inhibit the digestive process.

* Discontinue all caffeinated beverages, including green tea, decaf coffee, decaf tea and decaf sodas.

* To ease caffeine withdrawal, try grain coffees, and kukicha and bancha teas, but note these teas do contain caffeine.

* Drink herbal teas according to your constitution.

* About alcohol: it is really a poison and toxic to the body.  If you find yourself overly enjoying regular drinking, it is a sign that your body/mind/spirit needs something you are not getting.  In my whole person approach to healing, I use tools to help patients address root issues on all three levels, so the desire for alcohol will lessen.

About desserts:

*  While desserts are very much a part of our dietary culture, our bodies don’t do well having dessert immediately after a meal.  The food we have just eaten will not be properly digested. 

*  If you are craving dessert after a meal, it is best to wait at least an hour.  Then ask yourself if you are still hungry for that food.  Often you will not be.  If you are, ask yourself if it is true hunger, or habit hunger. 

* If it is true hunger, by all means, have it.  Depriving our bodies of what we are craving can be more harmful than having a particular food.

* Over time, as your body/mind/spirit gets into balance, such cravings will lessen.

2006 Patricia A. Muehsam, M.D.

Dr. Muehsam is a holistic medical doctor practicing in New York City. She can be reached by phone at (212) 946 - 5700.

Click HERE to see Dr. Muehsams listing on The Healing Directory.

* A version of this article was published in The Epoch Times on April 16, 2006



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