How to Reduce the Risk of Nutritional Diseases

Published November 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.

Build a Small Reference Library (continued from October issue)

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 the Overweight and Obese

1. Dr. Atkins’ New Diet Revolution, by Robert C. Atkins, contains a wealth of information, all thoroughly referenced to the scientific literature, on the causes and dangers of obesity. It describes a dietary program for timely and safely returning to normal weight and health. The book contains menus and recipes for both weight-loss and maintenance diets.

2. Protein Power, by Mary Dan and Michael R. Eades, is based on the Eades’ long and successful medical practice specializing in weight loss and control. The book contains many graphs and tables that provide practical information for self-evaluation of weight status and menus and recipes for diet planning. Protein Power, like Barry Sears’ Enter the Zone, has been described erroneously by the nutrition community as advocating a high-protein diet, implying that a high-protein diet is dangerous. In actual fact, both Enter the Zone and Protein Power recommend a 40:30:30 diet, which is, at most, only a moderate protein diet.

Nutritional and Herbal Supplements

3. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements, by Michael T. Murray, contains a wealth of information on individual vitamins, minerals, and miscellaneous biochemical supplements. Topics such as deficiency symptoms, recommended dosages, uses, benefits, safety issues, and interactions are presented for each supplement. The last 150 pages, approximately one-fourth of the book, include information about supplements that are useful for more common health conditions. The book contains many references to the scientific literature.

4. Dr. Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution, by Robert C. Atkins, is aptly subtitled “Nature’s Answer to Drugs.” It presents detailed information on the use of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, and hormones in the treatment of many chronic illnesses. The information presented in the book is liberally referenced.

5. The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain, co-authored by Stanley W. Jacobs, presents a compelling case for the inclusion of the organic sulfur compound MSM in any supplement program. Dr. Jacobs’ discovery of the topical medication dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) led to his finding that an active principal in DMSO was MSM, a metabolite of DMSO. DMSO: Nature’s Healer presents a comprehensive review of the history and topical applications of DMSO, including its use for relief of muscle and joint pain.

6. The Green Pharmacy, by James A. Duke, contains an abundance of practical information on benefits, recommended dosages, and potential dangers of the commonly used healing herbs. During his long career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a botanist specializing in medicinal plants, Dr. Duke became a leading authority on herbal healing traditions. Anyone who uses or contemplates using herbal medicines should have this book in his or her library.

Cardiac and General Health

7. The Heart Revolution, by Kilmer McCully and Martha McCully, describes the role of homocysteine in cardiovascular disease and how vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid work to prevent its damaging effects. The book contains advice for planning healthful menus and an appendix of vitamin B-rich recipes.

8. The Cholesterol Myths: Exposing the Fallacy that Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease, by Uffe Ravnskov, explains, in very easy-to-understand language, the scientific facts concerning the true relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. It also documents the disturbing origins of the myths relating to dietary and blood cholesterol. This book is important for anyone taking statin drugs–and for anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease.

9. Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook: 1999-2000, by Ross Pelton, et al., lists all of the approximately 150 drugs known to deplete the body of some nutrient or another. Information can be found by common name, brand name, nutrient that is depleted, or pharmacologic action. It is extensively cross-referenced and easy to use. Anyone taking a prescription medication for any condition should have a copy of this handbook readily available.

10. Fit, Firm, & 50, by Jay Lehr and Ken Swanson, is not only a very useful and informative guide to physical fitness for people over 40 but also a collection of interesting profiles of older athletes who are still in excellent physical condition. The stories of about two dozen older athletes, 10 of whom were born before 1928, are included to serve as role models. Anyone who feels that it is too late to start an exercise program will find inspiration in the biographical sketches, encouragement in the discussion on the benefits of exercise, and advice on how to proceed.