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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Healthy Food Really Matters: Don't wait for the next miracle drug or supplement for a cure. Dr. Jake Psenka recommends a healthy diet to prevent and fight disease.

Jun 30, 2014 10:35AM ● By Dr. Jonathan Psenka

Lots of people believe it is worth the effort to try and eat a healthy diet and do just that; however, the cards are certainly stacked against the conscious eater. Trying to keep track of what is good for us and what is not is compounded by the fact that there are ever-changing ingredient lists. It’s not just the lists that change, but the names of the ingredients, as well. It’s almost as if the food industry is trying to make it difficult to know what’s healthy.

As an example of the food industry’s attempts to lead us into a state of dis-ease there was an attempt to petition the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to change the labeling on school cafeteria chocolate milk. The reason for this label change? Current law mandates that milk tainted with artificial sweeteners must be labeled as “low-fat” or “reduced calorie”. Apparently, this isn’t a great idea because kids are averse to the idea of these items. If the label isn’t changed, then kids might not choose the chocolate milk that is fractionally better for them. So how about just getting rid of the chocolate milk option; wouldn’t that solve the problem? Why do we need to present a sweet option for every food out there? Oh, right, because it’s addictive. If they get a hook in early, then they’ve got a customer for life.

If we’re clever enough to figure out that we need to read the labels printed on the foods we eat, we’re still not going to be out of the woods. Have you heard of AminoSweet? You might think, “It’s ‘amino’, maybe that’s related to that paleo thing and it’s good for me.” Nope, sorry, it’s not. It’s just aspartame, the same old artificial sweetener that has been linked to neurological disorders and cancer. It got a facelift (read: new pubic deception campaign).

Maybe we do need artificial sweeteners these days. There was a recent projection that roughly 50 percent of Americans have either diabetes or pre-diabetes. That means half of us. Clearly, we’re eating too much sugar. Obviously, we can’t control ourselves, and making our foods taste sweet with something that won’t raise our blood sugar may prove to be a panacea (provided we don’t melt our brain or get cancer). There are several options out there for those looking to lower their blood sugars without angering their sweet tooth. The sugar alcohols might be a good idea. Stevia or Truvia seem promising. Doctors often hear, “But I don’t like the stevia aftertaste!” Well, maybe the oral anti-diabetic drug Metformin will taste a little better.

However, the health crisis that we are finding ourselves in is not due solely to our overconsumption of sugar. In all likelihood, our overconsumption is only just as problematic as our habit of under-consumption. The standard American diet is utterly void of many health-sustaining nutrients, and can even cause further depletion of the nutrient stores within our bodies. So, if we have a diet that is too rich in the bad stuff and too depleted of the good stuff, what do we get—a population with a 50 percent rate of blood sugar problems, a 35 percent rate of obesity and 49 percent of us have significant cardiovascular disease risk factors. On top of that, the rates of other serious diseases such as asthma, autoimmune disease and psychiatric disease are also skyrocketing.

Considering the speed at which our society is developing serious dis-ease, we cannot afford to wait around for the next miracle drug or supplement. It isn’t coming. We also shouldn’t wait for the food industry to become worried about our collective health, either. What we should do to regain our health is to get serious about eating a nutritionally sound diet. Choose fresh, un-manipulated foods and eat them frequently. Making major dietary changes can be challenging, so consider enlisting the help of a qualified naturopathic physician to help eat our way to health.

Dr. Jonathan (Jake) Psenka has been practicing naturopathic medicine at Longevity Medical Health Center, in Phoenix, since 2002. For more information, call 602-428-6151 or visit

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