How to Reduce the Risk of Nutritional Diseases

Published October 1, 2005

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of diseases related to poor nutrition. Rates of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and obesity are all rising rapidly. No changes to public policy are likely to control or reduce spending on medical care so long as this epidemic continues.
In this column, public health scientists Alice and Fred Ottoboni describe simple dietary and lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce the risk of modern nutritional diseases and, at the same time, improve one’s health and sense of well-being. These suggestions are taken from the Ottoboni’s 2002 book, The Modern Nutritional Diseases and How to Prevent Them (Vincente Books Inc., [email protected], ISBN 0-915241-03-X) and appear here with the authors’ permission.

Start Reading and Learning

The process of doing any job or reaching any goal in this world involves four unavoidable steps. For optimum health, the steps are:

1. First, decide what you want to do. Your goal is to care for your health based on scientifically valid information, not on popular culture or advertisements.

2. Second, learn how to do it. You should have learned much of what you will need from reading this series. However, additional reading will be necessary. Very important tasks are to learn the details of selecting and balancing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and balancing essential fatty acids.

3. Third, do the job, properly and on time. This means, for example, setting up a schedule for taking your vitamins, implementing your new diet, keeping a diary, and working with your doctor as necessary.

4. Fourth, continually seek better ways to accomplish your goal. This will require regular reading and learning to make sure you are aware of any new or better information.

Build a Small Reference Library

Each of the four steps above will require reading and studying scientifically reliable information; relying on what you read in the newspaper and see on TV will not do. You must have access to good books that you can study and refer to later when questions arise.

Your local library can serve this purpose, but the money spent for the purchase of a few good books for a home library is one of the best investments you can make. College textbooks are relatively expensive; however, if you can obtain second-hand copies of introductory biochemistry and physiology texts, you may find them quite valuable.

Books written for the general public that we have found accurate, informative, easy to read, and priced within the average budget are as follows:

Nutrition for All

Enter the Zone, by Barry Sears, discusses why and how the 40:30:30 diet promotes optimum health and entry into the Zone. It describes the relationship between dietary carbohydrate and blood insulin levels and explains why this relationship is important to health and well being. Enter the Zone contains the basic information needed to implement a 40:30:30 diet. In addition to suggested menus and recipes, it presents tables of foods by protein, carbohydrate, and lipid content that permit easy planning of 40:30:30 menus.

The Anti-Aging Zone, by Barry Sears, is an Enter-the-Zone book for older people–and all others who hope to achieve elder status. It contains much of what is in Enter the Zone, but does not replace it. Rather, it continues with a discussion of the mechanisms of aging and how a 40:30:30 diet affords anti-aging benefits. It contains menus and recipes and all the information needed to plan a 40:30:30 diet.

The Omega Diet, by Artemis Simopoulos, is valuable for an understanding of the tremendously important role the essential fatty acids (and their proper balance) play in all phases of life, beginning in utero. It is an appropriate companion for the Zone books because the dietary recommendations fit the 40:30:30 apportionment. More than half the book is devoted to menus and recipes.

Know Your Fats, by Mary G. Enig, is a valuable source of accurate nutritional information on fats, oils, and cholesterol. The book does not offer menus or recipes, but it does contain charts, figures, tables, and an appendix that gives the very-difficult-to-find saturated fat, trans fat, and unsaturated fat composition of several hundred foods. This information is useful for planning healthful menus.

Earlier installments in this series were published in the April – September issues of Health Care News, available online at