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The Role of Minerals in our Diet
As raw foodists, some of us being “newbies” and others having been around for a long time, we all seem to be able to agree on several basic premises:
- We treasure our health and are willing to think outside of the box in order to enhance and preserve it.
- We understand the basics of how our body was intended to operate at its maximum efficiency.
- We actively seek out the highest quality nutrition that we are conscious of to fortify our bodies.
We treasure our health and are willing to think outside of the box in order to enhance and preserve it.
We understand the basics of how our body was intended to operate at its maximum efficiency.
That being said, what exactly is this “health” that we are seeking? Is it merely the absence of disease or symptoms? Or is it the experiencing of true vitality and wellness—of living a full and productive life wherein one is capable of physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally enjoying all the days that one is blessed with on earth? I am sure that we will all agree on the latter definition.
We were designed, on the most basic level, to obtain our raw materials to operate and function on a healthy level from the food that we eat. So, here we are again—at the dinner table to evaluate our food.
Most people will say, and truly believe, that they eat healthfully and yet there are raging debates as to what exactly constitutes “healthy eating.” Some people feel that they have the answer based on the fact that they have seen a change in their symptoms. Both Drs. Carey Reams, MD and Charles Northern, MD stated as far back as 1936 that the answer to our health problems lie in the fact that our soils are not healthy and fully enriched, thus they are not able to produce the high quality food needed to sustain truly healthy living. Dr. Reams went so far as to make the then outrageous statement—and prove—that if the soils were properly nourished, there would be no need for herbicides, pesticides or fungicides and further showed that food not picked at the ideal point of ripeness would never reach full maturity off of the vine, hence never realize its full complement of nutrient/mineral substances that are the key building block that the body is meant to have.
This premise was demonstrated in the early 1970’s by Dr. Reams by using a refractometer and a Brix (Bricks) chart, by which he was able to categorize the general quality levels for most fruits and vegetables as being poor, average, good, excellent and disease-free. This rating system has since made its way around the world, and while not a true ripeness test, is it used as such by many Departments of Agriculture.
Today, as a result of this pioneering work, for about a $120 investment even laypeople such as you or I can accurately test food quality before we purchase it. Armed with this information, we know that the higher the Brix reading of the food, the higher the nutritional base and the more strongly the food resists rotting in storage. Also, gardeners and farmers raising high Brix food can be freed from the need to spray toxic and poisonous substances on their crops.
To better understand the Brix reading, you should know that a mature plant should have a reading of 12 in its leaves. This translates to mean that the plant nutrition in its roots is high and that the soil has sufficient mineralization critical for the plant to properly complete its life cycle. It has been proven that Brix readings can reach as high as into the 20’s. The higher readings would be found in plants that have been left to ripen to their best quality before harvesting.
Produce vendors who assert that plants ripen equally well once off of the vine should be ignored, as once a plant is off of the vine, naturally the possibility of increasing its mineral content ceases. In some cases riper can mean sweeter, such as in the case of bananas, however, you can be assured that the nutritional quality of the fruit is poor, at best. Do a Brix test for yourself and you will see, keeping in mind that many techniques, such as gassing are used for the convenience and profits of the distributors and stores and have nothing to do with nutritional quality.
Is dirt just dirt? We are all familiar with different types of soil, from clay to sandy to loamy soil. When discussing the potential that soil has to grow crops, we again think that we only need to add a little fertilizer in order to have a proper food-growing medium. Any farmer will tell you that soil content varies widely, as an example: one sampling of vegetation might have 1,100 parts of iodine per billion while another part will have only 20 parts per billion. You can see the difference that this might make in the health of the local population who eat the majority of the crop from the poorly mineralized soil. Today, just a lack of this one nutrient is causing one-quarter of the world’s population to suffer from iodine deficiency, that is 1.6 billion people who exhibit an enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter, which, when left untreated will cause cretinism, or brain damage and decreased mental capacity. Each day 50,000 infants are born worldwide with a decreased mental capacity due to this lacking mineral—and this is just one example.
What a waste of human potential!
Dr. Northern demonstrated that minerals are vital to human metabolism, health and vitality. But no plant nor animal can sustain itself with adequate minerals if the soil from which it feeds does not have the minerals, itself. At the time of his statement, Dr. Northern was ridiculed, because up until that time people paid little attention to food deficiencies and even less to soil deficiencies. Medical men at that time denied the idea that fruits and vegetable might not contain sufficient minerals to satisfy human needs. Even the leading agricultural authorities insisted that all soil contained the necessary minerals for life. They believed that the plants would take what they needed from the soil and the function of the human body was to take from the food what it required. In essence, they were denying the very cause of disease and disorders.
Over time we have learned that vitamins are complex chemical substances, which are indispensable to nutrition, and that each of them is of importance for the normal function of some structure in the body. It is critical to understand that dis-order and dis-ease result from a vitamin or mineral deficiency, initially. We must also be aware that vitamins control the body’s appropriation of minerals, and in the absence of minerals, vitamins have no function to perform. Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of the minerals, but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless.
In upcoming weeks keep your eye out for continuing articles that will guide you through this labyrinth of nutrition that is our food today and ways to supplement your intake to insure that you have improved metabolism, digestion and hormone regulation to help you enjoy a vibrant and long life. To learn more about the products that will meet the nutritional needs mentioned in this and future articles, please click this button
Elle Reinhardt is a Traditional Naturopath with practices in Upland, Lake Arrowhead and Lafayette, CA. She is happy to answer your questions in the Q & A section of this column and is available for phone consultations by appointment.