How To Take Charge of Your Health
By Richard Helfrich
This is no longer the Garden of Eden or even the garden of our grandparents two generations ago in terms of the food we eat. Statistics are often cited that we are living much longer since the turn of the century. Could it possibly be the cures for tuberculosis, pneumonia, influenza and the sanitary improvements in health care and food handling? These are arguments for a different forum, but the point I would like to make is if we are living longer, are we living healthier in terms of the quality of life?
Statistically, seventy million Americans have dysfunctional immune systems, compromised with auto-immune conditions like arthritis, diabetes, lupus and chronic respiratory problems. There is a large increase in cancers, including lung, colon, breast and prostate, just to mention a few. Are we living better or just living longer? We happen to be the most medicated population on the planet. If we’re living better, then why are we spending 600 billion a year on health care?
What I have found, after analyzing thousands of blood tests, is that most people are malnourished or just plain starving nutritiously. In both my prior books I explained how to read and interpret your own blood tests. In Take Control Of Your Health, I included blood chemistry and a complete blood count, including white blood cell and an immune system analysis. In Immune Response, I gave an expanded interpretation of blood chemistry and a much more extensive complete blood count, including the most up-to-date immunological tests, in order to establish a detailed immune competency.
It is only by using this valuable tool, our blood analysis, which is a photograph of what is going on in our body at this moment, that we can determine our strengths, weaknesses and deficiencies.
By explaining blood analysis, I have endeavored to supply the tools necessary to establish an understanding of your well-being. By doing so, I want to demystify the medical premise that you are not capable of understanding or interpreting your own blood work. This will allow you to be proactive concerning you health and not someone who goes in for a consultation with a practitioner who has probably spent a few minutes out of the 20-60 patients he might see in a day to tell you, “you are fine.” Or worse, he has prescribed medications which have no relationship to your condition. One hundred and forty thousand people a year in the United States die from reactions after being prescribed the wrong medication.
It is incumbent upon you to become more informed and proactive about your health when seeing a medical practitioner. How can you do this? By asking questions and expecting answers that are based on a thorough review of your blood work. With the evolution of HMO’s, less and less testing is taking place. I have seen people with life threatening cancers, whose treatment was based on blood tests that included only 30 percent of the information necessary to accurately diagnose and treat this type of illness.
I wanted to mention blood analysis in this chapter, because yes, the goal is to eat and have our bodies benefit by getting the nutrients, but there also has to be an understanding of our own unique biochemistry. As I mentioned earlier, our blood analysis helps us to determine our strengths, weaknesses and deficiencies. Since our deficiencies are directly related to what our bodies are not getting, hopefully, by studying your blood analysis, you will learn what your body is lacking, and from this chapter you will learn how to get it into your body.
I started this book talking about digestion because this is a body function that we exert direct control over daily, and it is probably the least understood. With digestion we are always playing by the body’s rules and not our own. Unless the body can access nutrients from eating the most wholesome, nutritious, organically grown food or taking the highest quality supplements. The body realizes nothing without the principals of digestion and assimilation.
When we eat something, our body has two main decisions, to digest or not to digest. The decision is fairly simple because most simple carbohydrates (simple sugars, fruits) and complex carbohydrates and starches require no digestion. Their molecular size is very small and they can enter the blood stream with little or no digestion. The sugars and fruits pass quickly through the stomach into the small intestine where they are absorbed. Complex carbohydrates, grains, cereals and certain vegetables like potatoes, are broken down into starches by the ptyalin or amylase enzymes in saliva and amylases found in the stomach. The starches are then converted to simple sugars, which quickly enter the blood stream as glucose.
Proteins, minerals and fats are a different story because they are large molecules and these nutrient groups require digestion. Because the nutrients in these groups are usually locked in larger molecules and trapped in tissue, it takes a tremendous effort on the body’s part to gain access to these nutrients. Hopefully, the food was chewed into a paste to speed up the process in the stomach. Once in the stomach, the brain sends signals through certain hormones to the gallbladder and pancreas initiating the digestive process. By triggering this process, hydrochloric acid, the only acid produced by the body, is released. An amount of one to two quarts of gastric juices a day is produced, which also includes the enzymes, cathepsin and pepsin. Hydrochloric acid, being the largest constituent of the gastric juices, begins degrading and breaking down the food. As it does, it begins splitting the proteins in the food to release the individual amino acids. This is when the enzymes cathepsin and pepsin also provide protein splitting activity to assist in this process.
This process can take two to four hours, depending on how much work the stomach has to do to prepare the degraded food for the next stage of digestion. This is also the stage where digestion and the process of degrading the food can be sabotaged or aborted. As mentioned in the first chapters eating simple sugars will interfere, which will send new signals to tell the brain that no digestion is required. The sugars (usually desserts) will not only interfere with digestion, but they will also have a negative interaction with the hydrochloric acid that has already been introduced into the stomach. This is why many people experience the bloating and gas after a meal. Now because this important initial stage of digestion has been aborted, the food that would normally pass through the digestive tract in 18 to 36 hours will remain in the system for up to 72 hours or more, putrefying and becoming toxic in the bowel. It is not surprising that the incidence of colon related illness has never been higher, with colon cancer being one of the most prevalent cancers.
It is also alarming to look at statistics that the average person can carry ten to fifteen pounds or more of waste (trapped in the colon) at any given time. Why? Because the food was not degraded in this initial stage of digestion, resulting in the body getting little or none of the nutrient value from the food. It basically waved it through without the ability to access the nutrient base. Something else that inhibits hydrochloric acid’s effectiveness is over hydration, drinking too much fluid with a meal. The gastric juices containing the hydrochloric acid and other protein degrading enzymes become so diluted they are unable to be effective. Limiting your fluid intake to ten to twelve ounces during a meal will prevent this from occurring. Some people will drink up to 64 ounces with a meal. The optimum time for drinking large amounts of water is between meals.
I often tell people that if you want something sweet, have it one hour before a meal or three hours after a meal. Sugars require no digestion, and they pass through the stomach quickly. If you crave something sweet with a meal, I suggest fresh pineapple. Pineapple consists primarily of the protein-splitting enzyme bromelain. Bromelain acts in the same way as hydrochloric acid in that it doesn’t interfere with digestion but assists it. A lot of people do not produce enough hydrochloric acid because of pancreatic insufficiency or the lack of nutrients the body needs to produce hydrochloric acid, for example B-1, B-2, etc. Bromelain can substitute for the protein splitting activity of hydrochloric acid and the enzymes pepsin and cathepsin. Hydrochloric acid also stimulates hormones that initiate the next three stages of digestion in the small intestine, beginning with the duodenum. It begins breaking down or degrading minerals and trace elements, allowing them to act as the coenzymes necessary for the uptake of other minerals and vitamins as I mentioned earlier. It also destroys some types of bacteria that may have been ingested with the food.
It should be pretty obvious by now that although a few nutrients are absorbed through the stomach, it is this critical first stage in digestion that determines whether nutrients will be absorbed in the next stage.
Once the stomach empties into the duodenum, the hormones that were stimulated in the stomach signal or alert the pancreas that digestion is in process. The pancreas produces about a quart and a half of its own digestive juices into the duodenum daily. These include some of the same proteolytic enzymes or proteases from the stomach, such as trysin, chymotrypsin (along with peptidases), elastases and cathepsins that degrade approximately 300 grams of protein per hour. Once the fat has been made soluble by the bile acids, the lipolytic enzymes or lipases emulsify or breakdown approximately 175 grams of fat per hour. Amylolytic enzymes or amylases, like those in saliva, can breakdown approximately 300 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
These enzymes produced by the liver as bile and stored in the gallbladder and the pancreatic enzymes along with thousands of other coenzymes formed by minerals and trace elements, complete the job of reducing the food particles to a molecular size that can be absorbed.
As the nutrients pass through the duodenum, water, ions (sodium, calcium, iron, chloride, sulphate, and water and fat-soluble vitamins) are absorbed. In the jejunum, the next segment of the small intestine, glycerol and fatty acids along with simple sugars (glucose and galactose) and amino acids continue to be absorbed. In the last section called the ileum, sodium, hydrogen ions, gamma globulins, bile, salts and vitamin B12 are absorbed.
As amazing as the digestion process is, proper digestion, which the body needs to perform everyday in order to function, takes very little to upset it.
This is why the vast majority of people are eating like there is no tomorrow, but they are basically still starving. The only thing gained are empty calories, bad fats and chemical additives. More and more the average diet consists of dead (no living enzymes) processed food. If we were to take just one example, the average school lunch program, I doubt that you could sustain a lab rat on that type of diet for very long. Today, prepackaged lunch servings have become popular for children. When you look at these lunches you quickly realize that they consist of processed lunch meats (full of nitrates), cheese that has been pasteurized (turns to mucus in the body), crackers full of preservatives (no nutritional value) and a dessert or candy (full of artificial sweeteners and preservatives). From this we expect healthy, energetic young bodies with bright inquisitive minds. Of course, we can’t leave out the fast food restaurant industry who urge people not to cook dinner, but to feed you and your family a well balanced meal of hamburger, french fries, sodas and sugary deserts. In my lectures I often tell older people that they are the lucky ones, the generations of our parents and grandparents who were raised on home cooked meals. I tell them that the ones they should feel sorry for are their grandchildren who are raised on fast food diets.
Feeding the body properly is critical to health and well being. It is as simple as following some of the principles I have discussed in this chapter: not eating sweets or sugars with a meal that requires digestion, limiting your fluid intake during lunch or dinner so as to not dilute hydrochloric acid or enzymatic activity and using salt sparingly because salt acts as an enzyme inhibitor, limiting their activity. Also try to eat something that has living enzymes in it with lunch and dinner, the two meals where you want digestion to take place. This can include fresh or raw salads, vegetables, especially leaf or stem, i.e.: fennel, celery, beet tops, broccoli, etc., or lightly steamed root vegetables. Try eating enzyme rich foods that aid digestion of proteins, like onions, garlic, raw sauerkraut or herbs like ginger or try taking a digestive enzyme that contains proteases, lipases, amylases or pronases (aspergillus oryzae). Other foods rich in digestive enzymes or in supplement form that provide highly active enzymes are papain from papayas and bromelain from pineapple. By doing so, we are not only supporting digestion and the intake of nutrients from what we eat, but we are also reducing the load on the body’s enzyme production from the liver and pancreas.
As we age, the liver and pancreas are constantly overtaxed by devitalized diets of processed dead foods. This contributes to the decrease of enzyme production which is due to a lack of the nutrients that sustain their function. As the liver and pancreas are constantly called upon to give more from less, they become enlarged and their functioning capacity compromised. If I can leave you with one thought on this subject it would be this: enzymes, enzymes, enzymes are what makes the body work. What is even more amazing is that the enzymes you take in supplement form allow the body to recycle them back to the pancreas to be used again.