Rules of Eating, Cooking, and Shopping

Following these rules will go a long way toward improving your health:

Eat Local Foods in Season

Local foods are fresh and have the highest levels of nutrients. They also have the largest energy fields and the greatest enzyme activity. Ask the produce manager at your supermarket to purchase locally grown products whenever possible. Make it part of your routine to shop at local farm stands and farmer’s markets.

Eating local foods in season is the concept behind macrobiotics. Eating foods in season also helps cut down on the amount of pesticides and herbicides we consume. Foods that are flown in from outside the country—grapes from Chile, coffee from South America, bananas from Mexico—are not regulated by the same pesticide standards as foods grown in the United States.

Often we get back on imported produce the very pesticides that we banned. Eating local foods also helps the local economy and the environment by cutting down transportation costs and reducing consumption of fossil fuels. Act locally, think globally.

In winter, focus on cabbage-family foods, winter squash, and root vegetables. You’ll find that cooked vegetables in soups and stews will keep you warmer. Winter fruit includes citrus, apples, and pears. If you are lucky enough to live in a climate that is moderate year round, you’ll find an abundance of fresh produce all year.

The Life in Foods Gives Us Life

Food is fuel. Food gives us energy. Because we really are what we eat, when we eat foods that have little enzyme activity, they don’t “spark” our body to work correctly. Enzymes are to our body what spark plugs are to the engine of our car.

Without those sparks, the car doesn’t run right. So if a food isn’t biologically useful, who needs it? If it won’t spoil or rot, don’t buy it! It’s a “dead” food and won’t provide you the energy you need.

Plan Ahead: Carry Food with You

I’ve found that planning ahead and carrying food with me are two of the greatest tools for healthful eating. If you carry a bag lunch, you know it’ll be healthful because you made it at home where you have only healthful foods. If you don’t bring your lunch, you are at the mercy of what’s available within five minutes of your workplace, which in many cases limits the healthful options.

Eat Small, Frequent Meals to Sustain Even Energy Levels

Snacking is the best trick I know for boosting energy levels. If you find that from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. you have difficulty concentrating, try this simple trick. Have something to eat in the middle of the afternoon and again just before you leave work. Here are a few quick snack ideas.

Eat half a sandwich you saved from lunch plus a piece of fruit, a bagel and cream cheese with tomatoes, a rice cake with peanut butter and apples, a cup of soup and several pretzels, or a handful of nuts and raisins. You’ll find your energy level will stay more constant throughout the day.

Eat When You Are Hungry; Stop When You Are Satisfied

This sounds like a simple statement, but often we eat when we aren’t hungry because we’re lonely, angry, depressed, bored, or because we’re at a social event and everyone else is eating. Before you eat anything, ask yourself the simple question: Am I hungry?

If you are, then eat. If you aren’t, divert your attention to other activities. Eating when you’re not hungry contributes to poor digestion. Let your body use what it has before you put more into it.

Relax While Eating

Many times, we don’t even stop long enough to sit down when we eat. Yet eating is a time of rejuvenation of body and spirit. Take a few extra minutes to enjoy and relish the food that you eat. Take a few moments to reflect on your day and your life. Doing this can help keep your whole day in balance.

One way I’ve found to encourage peace of mind during meals is to say grace. In our home we close our eyes and hold hands in silence for a moment. It puts me in touch with the bounty of the earth we live on, makes me pay attention to the people I am with and be grateful for their presence in my life, helps me thank the people who produced the food, and reminds me that we all depend on each other and on community.

Choose Organically Grown Foods Whenever Possible

Organic foods generally have higher levels of nutrients because organic farmers pay more attention to their animals’ health and to their soils. Animals raised on organic farms are given foods that nature intended. For example, cows that graze on grasses, rather than being fed corn, produce meat and dairy products with cislinoleic acid, a fat that is lacking in our food supply.

We also benefit because we don’t get extra doses of hormones added to our foods. Organic farmers add more nutrients to the soil because they know that healthy plants can better fend off pests and that those nutrients end up in the foods.

Bob Smith, while at Doctor’s Data, produced a study that analyzed organic versus commercially grown apples, pears, potatoes, wheat, and wheat berries. He found that mineral levels in organically grown foods were twice as high on average as commercially grown foods.

Antibiotics are used as growth promoters in healthy animals. It’s estimated that up to 70 percent of antibiotics, twenty-five million pounds, are used in animal production. The small amounts used in their food create the perfect environment for the bacteria to develop resistance to these antibiotics.

It’s the bacteria’s job to survive and adapt. We develop stronger and newer antibiotics, and they develop ways to become resistant to them. These antibioticresistant strains are passed to humans directly in the food we eat and in our contact with farm animals.

For example, quinolones are a class of antibiotics that include ciprofloxacin, commonly known as cipro. A growth promoter called sarafloxacin is from the same group of antibiotic. Even though sarafloxacin is only used in animal farming, it is creating bacteria that are becoming resistant to cipro.

We now have bacteria that are resistant to five or more antibiotics, including vancomycin. Many of these infections were originally confined to hospitals and nursing homes, but now there are many more resistant infections out in the public.

When we eat meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products that are not organically farmed, we ingest small amounts of these antibiotics. Those most at risk are the elderly, infants and small children, and people with chronic illnesses. Each time we eat food that contains antibiotic growth enhancers, we risk decreasing the overall effectiveness of these drugs we so rely on.

While nearly all countries in Europe have banned the use of these antibiotic growth enhancers, we still use them freely. In July 2002, McDonald’s joined with the Environmental Defense Fund and its suppliers, Tyson Foods and Cargill, to announce that it will no longer accept growth enhancers in its products.

They will be phased out by the end of 2004. Several poultry producers have voluntarily stopped using antibiotics except to treat sick birds. They include Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, and Foster Farms. These three companies produce one-third of our chicken.

Smith Food, Inc., one of the world’s largest hog producers, has also stopped using antibiotic growth promoters. There is still concern, however, because there are no clear lines between use of antibiotics for growth promotion and treatment of sick animals.

It’s left up to the individual farmer to decide when to use antibiotics. For information on organic and antibiotic-free products in your area, log on to By refusing to purchase foods that have antibiotics, we are doing our small part to help save lives.

If enough of us are aware of this issue and make enough noise about it, our regulatory administrators may be courageous enough to stand up to the farming industry. If we don’t, our precious antibiotic drugs will soon become useless as we create superstrains of microbes.

If you want to read more about this, I recommend The Killers Within: The Deadly Rise of Drug-Resistant Bacteria, by Michael Shnayerson and Mark Plotkin. Buying organic foods also ensures that you are not getting genetically modified foods. These are rampant in our food supply but have not been adequately tested.

Eat as Many Fruits and Vegetables as Possible

They are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that protect us from heart disease, cancer, and probably everything else. Research on phytonutrients is in its infancy, yet very promising.

Citrus fruits, berries of all types, garlic, onions, chives, tomatoes, grapes, soybeans and other legumes, green tea, and cabbage family foods, which include broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, collards, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnips, brussel sprouts, and bok choy, all contain phytochemicals that protect us from developing degenerative diseases.

The high fiber in fruits and vegetables protects our colons and reduces the incidence of polyps and bowel diseases and the risk of developing colon cancer. Eat at least five half-cup servings a day, but more is better—up to nine or eleven.

Eat Lean Protein Including High EPA and DHA Fish One to Two Times a Week

On average, Americans eat too much protein, and this excess can tax the kidneys. The saturated fats found in beef, pork, and poultry skin are artery clogging and ought to be limited or avoided altogether. Focus instead on lean protein sources such as legumes, skinless poultry, and fish.

1Other protein sources may be higher in good fats and are also recommended; these include cold-water fish, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Cold-water fish are an excellent source of EPA and DHA fatty acids. These essential fats are critical to the eyes (more than 60 percent of the retina is composed of DHA), brain, thought processes, nervous system, and heart.

Studies show that people who eat cold-water fish at least twice a week have a reduced incidence of heart disease. Although many of us can make DHA from other fats, others lack the enzymes and nutrients essential for this conversion to occur.

The most beneficial sources of DHA are salmon, mackerel, sardines, halibut, tuna, and herring. It’s best to eat these fish at least twice each week. Finally, algae and sea vegetables also contain some DHA and EPA.

Drink Clean Water

Our bodies are 70 percent water. If we don’t adequately hydrate the cells with this essential substance, they cannot function properly. Moreover, the water we drink and consume in food is a carrier, bringing nutrients to cells and taking away wastes.

Making sure that you get plenty of high-quality water every day is one of the most promising routes to digestive wellness. The issue for many, then, becomes the quality of water. When a chemical is used in our culture, it will show up in the water supply.

These chemicals are now detectable in parts per trillion. Unfortunately, many cities fail to provide excellent water. The sources are often groundwater that is easily contaminated by runoff. The EPA estimates that 1.5 trillion gallons of pollutants leak into the ground each year, with the highest incidence of contaminants from lead, radon, and nitrates (from fertilizers).

More than seven hundred chemicals have been found in tap water. There isn’t one correct answer about where to get the best drinking water. If you have a well, have the water tested for bacterial content and pollutants.

Find out about your local drinking water: where it originally comes from, how it’s processed, and if it has fluoride added to it. Ask your water department for an analysis, and if the results please you, drink tap water. The use of chlorine in tap water has created much controversy today.

The levels of chlorine needed to kill bacteria are rising because of increasing bacterial resistance, but chlorine has been strongly associated with elevated cancer risks. A simple water filter can efficiently remove chlorine from tap water. Activated charcoal filters are inexpensive and can remove many pollutants.

I don’t recommend the regular use of distilled water. The distillation process removes all minerals from water, and because minerals are generally transported through the body through diffusion, the regular consumption of distilled water leads to leaching of minerals from the body.

If you want to use a more sophisticated system than activated charcoal, look for a home water purifying system that alkalizes water. It is believed that drinking this alkalized water helps change the biological terrain of the individual, which ultimately makes it less possible to become or stay ill.

People with digestive disorders and other health conditions often see changes in how they feel in days. This may actually be the simplest and most direct route to true digestive wellness because it can help normalize pH, dysbiosis, and candida, as well as keep your body easily alkalized.

Bottled water isn’t necessarily any better than tap water. Often it’s local, city tap water that has just been carefully filtered. And if you are buying spring water, you’ll want to know about the water source and its purity. If you are buying water in plastic bottles, you may also be ingesting small amounts of plastic, which have known hormone-disrupting effects.

If you do regularly buy bottled water, ask the manufacturer for information on water source, type of plastics used, mineral content per glass, and a report on levels of toxic substances in the water. In European countries, bottled water is preferred because of its high mineral content.

Unique Biochemical

Remember the foods that are best for you are foods that agree with your body and your unique biochemistry. In practice, about half the people I work with do best on a high-complexcarbohydrate, high-fiber, natural-foods diet. The other half seem to do best on a low-carbohydrate, relatively high-protein diet abundant in fruits and vegetables.

Many people with digestive problems do best avoiding all grains and dairy. It’s important to experiment with your own diet to find out what works best for you specifically. Many eating plans are publicized by books and other media.

Whether you try the Zone diet, the blood-type diet, macrobiotics, a vegan diet, Ayurvedic eating plans, natural hygiene/food combining, or some other program, how it makes you feel and whether you can live with it over the long term is important. The eating programs listed in this book are all based on real, natural food.

None contain sugars, processed foods, alcohol, high levels of saturated fats, or other harmful food components. The body was designed to run on real foods; a natural-foods diet is the ultimate direction in eating for all of us, no matter exactly how we shape it. A proper diet ought to make you feel energetic and keep your immune system strong.

It’s always fun to experiment with eating plans, but please make sure that whatever you try is well balanced. The rest of your family may have little or no problem eating wheat products, dairy, or any other food, but if you do, it’s best to avoid them.

If you really want to get well and stay well, you and your needs must come first. Your family will understand when you eat something different. If you are invited to someone’s home, call several days ahead of time and let the host know you are on a restricted eating program.

With advance notice, you may be able to eat nearly everything. If not, have a snack before you go and eat what you can. Perhaps you can bring a dish that suits your needs. Remember that restaurants are there to cater to you. Tell the food server if you need a menu item prepared a special way.

Increase High-Fiber Foods

The connection of diet to constipation is well substantiated. Dr. Dennis Burkitt was the first researcher to connect a high-fiber diet with better health. He noticed that people eating a traditional African diet in rural areas had almost no diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diverticular disease, colon cancer, or heart disease.

In comparison, Africans consuming a Western diet had the expected incidence of these problems. In India, he found a hospital where the incidence of appendicitis was only 2 percent of that in a similar American hospital. At the same hospital, virtually no hiatal hernia, which affects nearly 30 percent of Americans over the age of fifty, was found.

After looking at many factors, Dr. Burkitt concluded that the high amount of fiber in traditional diets was necessary for maintaining good health. Known as the father of the fiber hypothesis, Dr. Burkitt made his discoveries in the 1970s. Since then, we have learned much more about fiber and how it contributes to health.

For instance, we now know low-fiber diets lead to digestive disorders found in one out of four Americans. Improvement in bowel function can help prevent diverticulosis, appendicitis, colon polyps, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins.

Diets high in soluble fiber are helpful to people with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, hiatal hernia, and peptic ulcer. Dietary fiber also helps prevent obesity by slowing down digestion and the release of glucose and insulin. Fiber has been shown to normalize serum cholesterol levels.

High-fiber diets reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Americans eat twelve grams of fiber on average a day. The National Cancer Institute recommends that we consume twenty to thirty grams of fiber daily, the same amount that Americans ate in 1850.

So we are really trying to replace the fiber that was eliminated from our diet over the past 150 years. The foods that are the richest sources of fiber are whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat, bulgur, millet, buckwheat, rye, barley, spelt, oats), legumes (all beans except green beans), vegetables, and fruits.

These foods comprise the bulk of a healthy food plan, with nuts, seeds, protein foods, and oils used as condiments. Although soluble and insoluble fibers work differently inside the body, it’s important to remember that these fibers are mixed in foods. If you eat a wide variety of high-fiber foods, you will get both types of fiber without counting and measuring grams of soluble and insoluble fiber.