A concept does not have to be complex to be profound. The practical application of the concept is what makes it profound.
You may have an abundance of information and knowledge about a very complex subject but still not have an understanding of how to apply this knowledge. Too often we make things more complex than they need to be. We do this at the expense of not using common sense.
Michael Pollan, begins his bestseller, In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He goes on to explain, “That, more or less, is the short answer to this supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.”
This post focuses on nutrition and immunity. The immune system is a complex and integrated system of cells, tissues, and organs that function to guard your health. Your immune system will protect you against the development of cancer. Your immune system will attack and kill cancer cells. Nutritional status effects the actions of the immune system; therefore, the sciences of nutrition and immunology are tightly linked. What do you need to do to maintain the nutritional health of your immune system? Before answering that question, first answer this short health quiz:
What is healthier for you, an apple a day or a daily multivitamin supplement?
What is best for the health of your immune system, a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables or a daily multivitamin?
Vitamin D is important as an anti-depressant and it also provides anticancer activity against breast and colon cancer; therefore, should you take a vitamin D supplement?
Should you take a vitamin C supplement to fight against cancer?
Do vitamin and mineral supplements make you healthier?
Answers To Quiz
Answer to Question 1.
Choose the Apple over the multivitamin every time. An apple has two things that multivitamins do not have; apples are loaded with phytochemicals and soluble fiber.
Most of us are unfamiliar with the term phytochemicals, also called Phytonutrients. “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant; thus, the term phytochemicals refers to a wide variety of chemical compounds made by plants. Scientists have identified thousands of phytochemicals, although only a small fraction have been studied closely. More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plants – there are only 13 essential vitamins.
Some phytochemicals have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions. There is evidence that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and other diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Certain phytochemicals (plant nutrient compounds) act on cells to suppress cancer development. Also, evidence continues to mount that vitamin supplements do not help most people. They can cause the diseases you are taking these vitamin supplements to prevent, like cancer.
What makes Apples so great?
- Apples have a high antioxidant concentration per serving. Antioxidants have disease fighting compounds.
- Apples have been found to play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Apples have a number of properties that help reduce the risk of cancer, including anti-inflammatory mechanisms and phytonutrients that help fortify your immune system, especially when you are stressed.
- Apples can help detoxify your liver.
- An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fiber, such as that found in apples, with lower cholesterol levels.
- Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds (phytochemicals) in apple peel that have potent antigrowth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon, and breast.
Answer to Question 2
I admit this question is rhetorical and a repeat of question 1, but expanded. Your health and the health of your immune system depend upon a diet of fruits and vegetables that are the source of fiber and phytochemical compounds. You will not get the necessary plant-nutrient compounds from multivitamin supplements.
It is true that most Americans do not have a healthy diet and therefore do not get the vitamins and minerals they need. You will not get the essential nutrients from processed foods, soda drinks, and Twinkies. However, taking a multivitamin supplement to balance a poor diet does not work.
Answer to Question 3
Vitamin D is important for its ability to stimulate calcium absorption, which is important to prevent osteoporosis. Vitamin D also has anticancer activities, especially against breast and colon cancer.
However, vitamin D toxicity is a potentially serious condition that occurs when you take in too much vitamin D. Excess vitamin D will cause, not prevent, osteoporosis and hardening of the arteries. Vitamin D toxicity is usually caused by megadoses of vitamin D supplements – not by diet or sun exposure. That is because your body regulates the amount of vitamin D produced by sun exposure. It is nearly impossible to get too much vitamin D from sunlight or from foods. Nearly all vitamin D overdoses come from supplements.
Research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is the result of poor health, not the cause. Vitamin D is formed by the action of sunlight on the skin. Your best medicine is direct sunlight. It increases your mood and just 20 minutes of sunlight on your skin gives you about four times your daily recommended vitamin D requirement.
Answer to Question 4
Vitamin C supplements have incorrectly been credited as being valuable in fighting cancer. The following is a direct quote from the American Cancer Society:
“Vitamin C is found in many vegetables and fruits, especially oranges, grapefruits, and peppers. Many studies have shown a link between eating foods rich in vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, and a reduced risk of cancer. On the other hand, the few studies in which vitamin C has been given as a supplement have not shown a reduced cancer risk.
This suggests that the activity of fruits and vegetables in preventing cancer is due to a combination of many things such as vitamins, fiber, and other phytochemicals and not to vitamin C alone. Clinical trials of high doses of vitamin C as a treatment for cancer have not shown any benefit. High doses of vitamin C can cause side effects in some people.”
Answer to Question 5.
See Summary below.
For the immune system to halt cancer, each immune cell needs to be healthy. The health of your immune system depends upon proper nutrition. You can only get the proper nutrition from the proper foods (whole plants – fruits, vegetables, and grains) and not from vitamin supplements. In fact, recent research demonstrates that vitamin supplements actually cause diseases you want to prevent, such as cancer.
There is only one way to be sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs: eat healthy foods. Until you make the commitment to eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and grains you will continue to run a high risk of cancer and cancer recurrence (almost 50%).
Vitamin supplements give you a false sense of doing something healthy that can actually be harmful.