Food as Medicine — The Answer to Mounting Health Crises

Dr. Mercola Interviews the Experts

This article is a part of a weekly sequence wherein Dr. Mercola interviews varied specialists on quite a lot of well being points. To see extra knowledgeable interviews, click on here.

Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist and Professor Emeritus on the University of California, San Francisco, has written quite a few glorious books about well being. His newest, “Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine” goes deep into the main points of how adjustments in our meals provide have broken our metabolic well being. (The created time period “metabolical” is definitely a portmanteau of the phrases “metabolic” and “diabolical.”)

“I wrote it because nothing else has worked,” Lustig says. “Part of the drawback is that is such a sophisticated subject. There are too many stakeholders and you’ve got to discover a technique for making everybody blissful. Until you do, you cannot resolve it.

There is a method to really resolve this, [but] each stakeholder, whether or not or not it’s the affected person, the physician, the meals firm, the insurance coverage trade, the medical career, Wall Street and Congress … has to perceive the identical factor. They all have to be working off the identical set of information. You see what occurs when you do not work off the identical set of information.

So, my job was to put all of this in a single quantity so that everybody had entry to the identical information, after which we will go from there. I lay out in the guide what the argument for fixing your entire meals system is, and the way everybody can profit from it, even the meals trade.”

The Two Primary Keys

In abstract, it boils down to two major key points or issues. The first is that the medical institution would not need you to know that medication have been by no means meant or designed to deal with the foundational explanation for persistent illness. They merely deal with the signs.

“In the book, I make it very clear that modern medicine has two factions, two paradigms,” Lustig says. “One is therapy of acute illness, and for essentially the most half, they’ve gotten it moderately proper. I used to be a part of that system for 40 years and was comfy inside it.

But for persistent illness, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lipid issues, heart problems, most cancers, dementia, nonalcoholic fatty liver illness, polycystic ovarian illness — all of that are persistent metabolic illnesses, all of that are mitochondrial illnesses — we do not have something. We have symptomatic reduction solely.

So, we now have LDL reducing brokers — and if LDL have been the issue, that might be effective — besides LDL is NOT the issue. LDL is a symptom of the drawback. It is a manifestation of the metabolic dysfunction. Same factor with hyperglycemia.

Same factor with hypertension. Same factor with osteoporosis. Same factor with autoimmune illness. All of those, we now have symptomatic therapies. We don’t remedy or reverse the illness; we simply deal with the signs. And so the illness will get worse.

The method I describe it within the guide is, it is like giving an aspirin to a affected person with a mind tumor as a result of they’ve a headache. It may work as we speak, but it surely’s not going to resolve the issue. And that is what fashionable drugs is throwing at individuals with persistent illness, and it’s, in fact, breaking the financial institution.”

The different drawback is that the meals trade would not need you to know that just about all meals are intrinsically good for you till they’re processed, and processed meals make up a majority of the meals individuals eat.

As famous by Lustig:

“The point I make in the book is that just because they call it processed food, doesn’t make it food. Calling it a processed food suggests that it is a subset of food. Michael Pollan [calls it] palatable food-like substances. The fact of the matter is, processed food is poison. Food is medicine, but processed food is poison, and there’s no medicine that can undo the damage of processed food.”

Indeed, when you perceive the molecular pathways, whenever you perceive the transcription elements and the precise mechanisms of motion of varied illnesses, and the assorted medication used to deal with them, you may simply see that they don’t deal with the underlying drawback. And that’s why individuals don’t get nicely.

“What I’m trying to do in this book is to separate food from processed food and explaining that processed food is the problem, and we will not solve the health care crisis or the environmental crisis until we solve processed food,” Lustig says.

The History of Medicine

In his guide, Lustig does a wonderful job of presenting the historical past of our meals and medical programs, and the assorted pressures that led us down the trail to the place we’re as we speak. For instance, a big a part of why medical medical doctors are so clueless about well being as we speak is as a result of Big Pharma was positioned in command of their schooling. The drug trade, in flip, was a definite profit-making scheme from its inception.

In 1910, Abraham Flexner, an educator, wrote the Flexner Report, which turned out to be a turning level when it comes to creating evidence-based fashionable drugs, whereas concurrently eliminating many health-related elements, together with vitamin and preventive drugs. His brother, Simon Flexner, a pathologist and pharmacist, was the primary president of Rockefeller University.

One of the explanations the Flexner Report eradicated sure facets of drugs was as a result of John D. Rockefeller, president of Standard Oil, was additionally within the pharmaceutical enterprise. He was attempting to promote coal tar, a byproduct of oil refining, as a therapy for a variety of illnesses.

So, Rockefeller was searching for new revenue avenues. “He basically said we have to get drugs and especially coal tar into the hands of physicians who can prescribe it,” Lustig says. The solely method to do this was by overhauling the medical system and shifting the main focus to prescribed drugs.

“So that was the start of Big Pharma. That’s not the story they want to tell, but that is in fact the case,” Lustig says. “Same factor with dentistry. Weston Price, maybe essentially the most well-known of all dentists, knew this again within the Twenties and ’30s and really mentioned that sugar was the first driver of persistent oral illness, whether or not or not it’s periodontitis or dental caries.

Everything was getting into that course till 1945 with the appearance of fluoride, after which promptly all the things Weston Price had developed up to that level acquired deep-sixed. In reality, the dentists even mentioned that if we removed dental caries, how are we going to earn cash? So, his work was mainly forgotten.

The similar factor in dietetics. It seems that Lenna Cooper, co-founder of the American Dietetic Association, again in 1917, was the apprentice of John Harvey Kellogg. She did not also have a dietary diploma … Kellogg was very a lot in opposition to meat. He was a Seventh-Day Adventist, and it turned out that the American Dietetic Association adopted your entire Seventh-Day Adventist spiritual paradigm.

To this present day, we nonetheless see it when it comes to vegan diets. So, individuals discuss vegan diets being acceptable for well being, and they are often, however they aren’t by any means unique. They additionally discuss it being necessary for environmental well being to attempt to scale back the methane from the cows.

It seems the cows did not spew methane till we began giving them antibiotics, as a result of we killed off the nice micro organism of their guts and now they’ve quadruple the quantity of methane in contrast to what they did in 1968 earlier than the animal antibiotic craze acquired began. So, it is not the cows, it is what we do to the cows. All meals is inherently good. It’s what we do to the meals that is not, and that is what I present within the guide.”

The adulteration of our meals can really be traced again to round 1850. In Great Britain, the economic revolution was a turning level the place two issues occurred on the similar time.

One, individuals in sweatshops labored lengthy days and did not have time to cook dinner correct meals, so that they ended up consuming processed biscuits laden with sugar, which had develop into obtainable from different British colonies like Barbados. This undernourished them when it comes to antioxidants, fatty acids and different necessary vitamins. The second huge dietary change was canning, which uncovered individuals to lead poisoning as the cans have been made from lead.

Why You Shouldn’t Focus on Food Labels

By now, you’ve in all probability skilled your self diligently to learn meals labels. The drawback is that the label won’t inform you what’s been accomplished to the meals. “This is one of the reasons why nobody’s getting better because there’s nothing to learn from the label that will actually help you,” Lustig says. According to Lustig, a meals is wholesome if it satisfies two standards:

  1. It protects your liver
  2. It feeds your intestine

A meals that does neither is poison, and any meals that does just one or the opposite, however not each, is someplace within the center. Real meals, as a result of it has fiber, protects your liver and nourishes your intestine. Processed meals is fiberless, and the rationale for it’s because fiber decreases shelf life. By eradicating the fiber from the meals, it prevents it from going rancid, but it surely additionally makes it inherently unhealthy.

Essentially, “in an attempt to try to increase availability, decrease wastage, we turned our entire food supply on its head in order to create commodities rather than make food available,” Lustig says.

Then, within the Nineteen Seventies, Richard Nixon instructed the U.S. agriculture secretary, Earl Butts, to provide you with a plan to lower meals costs, as fluctuating meals costs have been inflicting political unrest. The end result was the beginning of monoculture and chemical-driven farming.

“Now, we now have nitrogen runoff destroying the environment and antibiotics within the feed so as to hold the animals alive, however mainly killing off their very own micro organism and ours, and in addition creating persistent illness and destroying the surroundings as nicely.

It’s mainly constructed into our Western meals system. And we’re not going to resolve well being care, we’re not going to resolve persistent illness, we’re not going to resolve the economics [or] the environmental issues till we acknowledge what the issue is,” Lustig says.

Refinement Makes Everything Worse

While Lustig argues that the refinement of carbohydrates is the first offender that makes processed meals so unhealthy in your well being, I consider processed fat could also be a fair larger contributor.

Omega-6 linoleic acid (LA), particularly, is a pernicious metabolic poison. In 1850, the LA within the common eating regimen was about 2% of complete energy. Today, it’s between 20% and 30%. While we do want some omega-6, since your physique doesn’t make it, the purpose is we’d like nowhere close to the quantity we’re now getting.

“I agree that omega-6s are a problem,” Lustig says. “No. 1, they’re proinflammatory by themselves and No. 2, they have enough unsaturated double bonds so that if you heat them high enough, you flip them and end up making trans fats. That’s the problem of all of these polyunsaturated fats. They’re not meant to be heated beyond their smoking point, and we do.”

In addition to these points, polyunsaturated fat such as LA are extremely inclined to oxidation, and as the fats oxidizes, it breaks down into dangerous sub-components such as superior lipid oxidation finish merchandise (ALES) and oxidized LA metabolites (OXLAMS). These ALES and OXLAMS additionally trigger harm.

One kind of superior lipid oxidation finish product (ALE) is 4HNE, a mutagen identified to trigger DNA harm. Studies have proven there’s a particular correlation between elevated ranges of 4HNE and coronary heart failure. LA breaks down into 4HNE even quicker when the oil is heated, which is why cardiologists advocate avoiding fried meals. LA consumption and the following ALES and OXLAMS produced additionally play a vital position in most cancers. 

HNE and different ALES are terribly dangerous even in exceedingly small portions. While extra sugar is actually unhealthy in your well being and will usually be restricted to 25 grams per day or much less, I consider LA is way extra damaging total. As defined by Lustig:

“We have a metabolic burden of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are doing harm if you cannot quench them. That’s why we now have antioxidants in our physique — glutathione, vitamin E — [they’re] mainly the sink for these reactive oxygen species. The reality of the matter is our mitochondria are making ROS each single minute of each single day.

It is a standard byproduct of metabolism. The level is we’re supposed to have the ability to quench them. You can solely quench them for those who get the antioxidants into you.

The drawback is as quickly as you’ve got taken the germ out of the grain kernel, you’ve got mainly lowered your antioxidant consumption by tenfold. So, we’re antioxidant poor due to meals processing, which then leaves us susceptible to the ravages of ROS from a number of sources together with our personal mitochondria.”

Real Food Is the Answer

The key, then, is to eat complete meals, which is naturally rich in fiber and low in sugar. On a facet word, free radicals aren’t all unhealthy. They’re additionally organic signaling molecules, and for those who indiscriminately suppress them, which is the hazard you run into when utilizing very excessive quantities of antioxidant dietary supplements, it might probably backfire.

The greatest method is to get your antioxidants out of your meals, and actual meals not solely supplies antioxidants, however additionally doesn’t create extreme ROS, so that you get assist from each ends, as it have been. As for the kind of eating regimen you select, any eating regimen can work, supplied it’s proper for your metabolism. The solely eating regimen that doesn’t work for anybody is a processed meals eating regimen.

Solutions, Solutions

Now that you simply know the foundation issues, what options does Lustig counsel? For starters, schooling alone is just not sufficient, he says. We want schooling plus implementation. And that requires a unique societal response.

“The way I describe it is that there’s personal intervention, which for the lack of a better word we can call rehab, and societal intervention, which for lack of a better word we can call laws. Rehab and laws for everything that is a hedonic substance — you need both.”

The first step of non-public intervention is determining for those who’re sick. “And don’t ask your doctor because they don’t know how to figure it out,” Lustig says. In Chapter 9 of his guide, he lists clues that may make it easier to self-diagnose.

In phrases of addressing your well being issues, your major “treatment” can be to make, presumably vital, adjustments to the way you store and eat. As a common, easy-to-follow rule, if it has a label, don’t purchase it. Real meals doesn’t have ingredient labels. Lustig’s guide additionally consists of steering on how to learn meals labels in circumstances the place you won’t have an choice.

“We additionally want societal intervention. The drawback is the meals trade would not need any societal intervention as a result of that is their gravy practice. So, the query is, how do you do that?

Normally we’d do it by means of laws, however the meals trade has utterly co-opted your entire legislative department; 338 out of 535 congressmen take cash from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and agriculture is their fourth [largest] contributor after petroleum, tobacco and pharma.”

Barring legislative success, we’re left with litigation. Already, there are a selection of lawsuits within the works, a number of of which Lustig is part of. Ultimately, we should restructure the total meals system so that each one stakeholders profit. “And we have to demonstrate to them how they can benefit,” Lustig says.

Subsidies Are the Biggest Hindrance to Change

Can the meals trade earn cash promoting actual meals? Lustig believes the reply is sure, and in his guide, he particulars how actual meals makes each monetary and ecological sense. The secret’s to take away subsidies, which at the moment grease the wheels of the processed meals trade.

“The subsidies are the single biggest blockade,” Lustig says. “They’re the single largest impediment to having the ability to repair the meals provide as a result of that is what’s making processed meals low-cost. The Giannini Foundation at UC Berkeley did a again of envelope calculation a number of years in the past.

What would the value of meals appear like if we removed all meals subsidies? It seems that the value of meals wouldn’t change. People say it would go up. No, it would not. It wouldn’t change besides for 2 objects. Two objects would go up: Sugar and corn [used for high-fructose corn syrup]. So, mainly, that would scale back consumption of the first toxin in our eating regimen that is inflicting essentially the most bother …

The meals trade … can earn more money doing the appropriate factor supplied we eliminate the subsidies or make the subsidies for actual meals so that they will earn cash promoting the appropriate factor. This requires authorities. There’s no method round it. That’s why this guide is full. It’s laid out for all the stakeholders, together with authorities, as to what has to occur and why.

I wrote this guide for everybody to perceive the identical rules unexpectedly, in order that we will even have an argument and a debate and hopefully come to the desk concerning the information, as a result of till we do this, there can be no fixing this drawback. If everybody comes to the desk, actually, and admits to what the problem is, what the issue is, we will, in reality, resolve it.”

To be taught extra, be certain to decide up a replica of Lustig’s guide, “Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine.” You may discover a wealth of information on his web site,, together with media appearances, audio recordings, video lectures, books, articles and upcoming occasions the place you may hear him converse. 


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