You may have heard the aphorism “You Are What You Eat.” That’s true, to a certain extent, but perhaps it would be even more accurate to quip “You Are What You Assimilate.” In other words, you need to extract the nutrition from your chow, and successfully eliminate the rest, for the food to have been truly useful. Some basic tips on maximizing your chances of healthy assimilation and proper elimination are:

The standard definition of high cholesterol is having an excess of cholesterol in the blood, usually more than 200 mg/dl, although many doctors are now citing 180 mg/dl as the maximum of the reference range. The reason you have “high cholesterol” is probably because you have eaten too much saturated fat (from animals) over the years. Some people, however, have an inherited type of high cholesterol. For more information on familial hypercholesterolemia please see the conventional diagnosis section.

ALLERGIES is a word we hear a lot these days; everybody seems to have them, especially kids. Atopic children — those prone to allergies — have chronic runny noses, red itchy eyes and a little crease just above the tips of their noses from constantly swiping off a drip. This gesture is ruefully called the “allergic salute” in naturopathic pediatrics. Often when people say they have “allergies” they actually mean they have “sensitivities” to certain foods. An allergic reaction has many different manifestations, most of them quite profound. These reactions range from anaphylactic shock and death (for example an extreme reaction to a bee sting where the bronchial airways swell shut) to chronic fatigue, malaise and foggy thinking from constant exposure to the allergen. Besides foods, people can be both allergic to, or have sensitivities to, pollens, danders, molds, preservatives, pesticides, various building materials, and even to their own hormones and tissues (as in auto-immune diseases).

Q: I can’t understand living in Alaska and being purely vegetarian. Is there something wrong with eating meat or fish?

Fats, or lipids, are essential to good health. Fats serve as a concentrated source of energy. Each gram of fat supplies 9 calories, whereas protein and carbohydrate supplies 4 calories each per gram. Fatty tissue in the body helps to hold the organs and nerves in place and protects them against traumatic injury. The layer of fat just below the skin insulates the body and maintains a steady temperature. Fats allow for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). In the stomach, fats depress enzymatic activity thus slowing the emptying of the stomach after a meal and providing the felling of fullness (satiety) after eating. Fats are also terrific carriers of flavor, so add to the good taste of foods. Having said all that, Americans tend to consume way more fat calories than is necessary for optimal health. Most of the increase in fat consumption in America over the past 25 years represents an increase in the consumption of salad dressing and fried foods. The average American diet consists of 40% fat, 30% protein and 30%...

From Living & Raw Foods Enzymes: The tiny and enormous difference between raw and cooked foods Virtually all chronic degenerative diseases are caused or aggravated by digestive problems. After the most extensive study on nutrition ever undertaken by the government, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs concluded in its 1978 report entitled “Diet and Killer Diseases,” that the average American diet is responsible for the development of chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, stroke, etc. Many of the most common health complaints revolve around a 20-foot, mucus-lined tube that directly interfaces us with our environment. This is no mystery: This is the gastro-intestinal tract, affectionately abbreviated “GI.” The job of the GI is to alchemically transmute the food we eat into our flesh, blood, actions, thoughts and feelings… with a little help from our friends the salivary glands, the pancreas, the liver, and most importantly RAW FOOD — all of which provide (now we’re getting to the point) ENZYMES.

Q: Answer the following for how they may apply to you: Do you laugh a lot? Do you have road rage? Do you consider yourself to have a dynamic personality? Have you ever been told that you seem too competitive? or too anxious? Are frustration and resentment common feelings for you? Do you struggle with aggressive impulses or hostile tendencies? Do little things frequently bug you? Do you get chronic headaches towards the end of the day? Can you ever feel your heart pounding in your chest just thinking about being confronted or challenged? Do you get hot and bothered when other people try to manage your schedule or activities? Are you a woman on hormone replacement therapy or using the pill? Do you regularly eat dairy products or red meat? A: If you answered “no” to the first question or “yes” to more than one of the other questions, you MAY have or be at risk for elevated blood pressure. If you haven’t had a basic physical exam in over a year, do it soon. Or, check your local...

Whole Grains What is a whole grain? Basically a grain is a seed and is made up of three parts: the GERM, which contains vitamins (especially E), oils and proteins and can sprout under the right conditions; the ENDOSPERM or starchy bulk of the grain which nourishes the seedling; and the BRAN or tough outer covering that protects the grain, containing protein, minerals, fiber and small amounts of vitamins. As long as the grain or seed remains intact it will live for some time in a dormant condition. When exposed to warmth and moisture, it will begin to wake up and sprout. A processed grain will not grow if planted, and similarly provides less food energy when consumed. If the integrity of the grain is disrupted by grinding, cracking or rolling, it cannot remain alive. It dies, and decay will eventually begin. For this reason, any whole grain which is not in its natural state, such as whole grain flour, cracked wheat, corn meal, etc., will eventually spoil unless it is refrigerated. Even under cold storage, it will remain fresh...

The single most important ingredient in healthy longevity is love. Glorious love, who lifts us skyward. Full-spectrum love, who knows all colors. Without love, we perish. Trickling down from this rainbow are the elements: clean air, clean water and sunlight. A good stiff dose of these three basics, every day, can cure just about anything. But since many of us live in the city, our health care happens at one level lower. The next level is that wonderfully wholesome, sensuous, nourishing, living stuff called FOOD. That processed, additive-laden, addictive, socially complex, political weapon. It has become easy in the land of plenty to take food for granted, never thinking about how or where it was produced. The food level is a focal point for shifting into health consciousness because it can take us higher or hasten our crash. Below the food level is chronic use of medicine and other drugs to deaden our pain. At the bottom of the pit greed and violence fester.

Old age is a consequence of civilization; it is seen seldom in primitive societies and very rarely seen in wild animals. Although in this century the average lifespan of women and men has increased by 30% since the onset of industrialization and by over 300% since Neolithic times, we don’t exactly know how or why aging occurs. We do know that aging is a function of cells ceasing to divide. Some scientists speculate that any given differentiated cell can only divide a fixed number of times (as opposed to a cancer cell, which is undifferentiated, and theoretically immortal in that it continues, unchecked, to divide). The human body has more than 10 million, million (that’s 13 zeroes) cells, all of which are differentiated into nerve, muscle, adipose, etc., and are thus mortal. Given that we all die at some point, the objective now is to maximize the QUALITY of our lives and avoid controllable causes for pre-mature death.