Misconceptions About Healthy Living

Misconceptions about Healthy Living – The Verge, Jan 2015

by Dr. Brad Steinle

This week I am going to discuss a couple of topics that seem to be misunderstood by many people.

To begin, I must state that you should not discontinue the use of any prescription pharmaceuticals you may be currently taking without consulting your doctor.

First, I was asked to share my view on antacids (such as Tums and Prilosec OTC). Avoid these tablets like you would avoid a charging bull. Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD/heartburn) is not caused by too much stomach acid. It is caused by stomach acid reaching a location (the esophagus) that it is not supposed to be. Common causes of GERD: eating an unhealthy diet, eating within 2 hours of laying down, eating within 2 hours of exercise, life stress, not chewing adequately, etc. The high acid content of the stomach is incredibly important to the health of an individual. One important feature is that it sanitizes the food that enters our bodies. Many different bacteria are unable to survive the low pH of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid). Also, the acidity of the stomach acid is necessary for stimulation of the “alkaline tide.” Simply, when the stomach dumps its contents into the small intestines, receptors respond to the acidity of those contents and stimulate the pancreas to dump critically important enzymes to allow for the proper digestion of food. If the acidity is inadequate, so will be digestion.

Lactose intolerance is another generally misunderstood topic. This is not considered an allergy (or hypersensitivity). Instead, the reaction felt by many people is due to the lack of the enzyme lactase. The drop-off in the quantity of lactase is normal after the age of about 5. Breast-feeding children require the presence of the enzyme lactase in order to break down the substance lactose, which is present in breast milk. However, at a certain age children cease breast-feeding and begin eating whole foods. Hence the drop in lactase levels.

This leads me into my next topic. Milk is not a great source of calcium. When people ask “how am I supposed to get enough calcium in my diet?” My typical answer is “how do you think the cow gets the calcium?” The important aspect of calcium is the calcium absorption rate of different products in the human body. For example, green leafy vegetables such as; kale, broccoli, spring greens, etc. have an extraordinarily high calcium absorption rate compared to milk.

Finally, the body is self-healing under the right conditions. Never underestimate the power of the human body to heal and maintain itself. One cannot simply view the food he or she eats as “energy.” Every cell in the human body is either rapidly or slowly reproducing. These cells must build from the broken down materials of the food that humans ingest on a daily basis. If a person were to consume a healthy, whole-food diet his or her body would build itself from those materials, leaving less of a chance for harmful genetic expressions and disease.

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