Fasting is one of the oldest-known therapies. Nutritionally, the purpose of fasting is detoxification since purifying the body from toxins and waste substances fortifies the action of the immune system in fighting disease and promotes health and well-being. Water is a most important part of the process. At least 2 litres of mineral or spring water should be drunk a day to help flush out the toxins. The immediate result of fasting is weight loss and well over a kilo (up to 31b) can be lost in the first 24 hours. Fasting, however, can do much more than that. It can rejuvenate the body and help to reduce addictions to alcohol and smoking. It also releases growth hormone which strengthens immunity to disease. In various Swedish and German health clinics, fasting is used to treat virtually all degenerative diseases, from obesity, arthritis and atherosclerosis, to allergies, eczema and digestive disorders. Long fasts or fasts intended to combat chemical poisoning should be done under medical supervision. Generally, short fasts (one to three days) do not require medical supervision.
Caution: Fasting can be dangerous for diabetics or for people with heart or kidney problems. Anyone with a health problem should seek medical clearance before fasting. A safer and easier type of fast is the 'raw juice fasting', in which small amount of freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice, such as apple, carrot and celery, are sipped several times a day.
One of the main food groups, fats are composed of fatty acids, both saturated and unsaturated. Fats are a concentrated source of energy, and are, in fact, the body's energy reserve, supplying 9 calories per gram. Hard fats are usually from animal origin, and are composed mainly of saturated fatty acids such as butter and lard. Margarine is a liquid vegetable oil which solidifies by processing it with hydrogen, in a process known as 'hydrogenation'. Liquid vegetable oils, such as sunflower, and corn, consist mainly of polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids, with the exception of palm and coconut oils, which are mostly saturated. Fish oils are also polyunsaturated, but contain omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial factors which reduce high cholesterol levels and the incidence of heart disease. Olive and avocado oil are monounsaturated oils. They are more stable and less prone to oxidation and rancidity than the polyunsaturated. The type and structure of fatty acids determine the various types of fats - whether they are oil, lard, cholesterol or triglyceride - and different fats have different roles. Fats are vital to the body: they enable the utilization of the fat-soluble vitamins, A, E, D and K; fats are the only substance that stimulate gall bladder activity, without which gallstones can be formed and they are needed to produce hormones and are essential for sexual activity. Certain types of fats insulate the nerves, ensuring a healthy nerve function. Fats are also essential for skin health and beauty. Most fatty acids can be produced in the body; the three exceptions - linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids (vitamin F) - are known as 'essential fatty acids' (EFAs) and are supplied by food. EFAs are required for the function of every cell, tissue, gland and organ. They maintain a healthy and supple skin and produce prostaglandins hormone-like compounds that reduce blood clotting, lower hypertension and prevent heart attacks and strokes. EFAs also form red blood cells and promote immunity against disease and are essential for mental function - half of the brain is composed of EFAs. A diet in which fat is used sparingly, mostly in the form of fresh, unrefined vegetable and marine oils, is considered beneficial in preventing heart attack and cancer.
FENNEL(FOENICULUM VULG ARE) Top
A perennial herb, which was originally native to the Mediterranean countries, it is now widely grown in Europe and North America. Infusions of the seeds and roots relieve flatulence, strengthen digestion, help suppress appetite and, as a result, aid weight loss. Fennel is also effective in treating colics and ulcers. The seeds and leaves are used to flavour fish dishes and the stems are used as a vegetable. Fennel is available from supermarkets and health food stores, either fresh or as a herb tea or syrup.
FENUGREEK (TRIGONELLA FOENUMGRAECUM)Top
An annual-herb, it is one of the oldest-known herbal remedies. The seeds are used as a spice and can be used to expel mucous from nasal passages. A tea made from fenugreek seeds was traditionally known to increase milk secretion in nursing mothers. Fenugreek is also used to lower blood sugar levels: in Yemenite folk medicine, it is recognized as a treatment for diabetes - a glass of water in which a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds has been soaked overnight is drunk each morning. The seeds are widely available in health food stores and supermarkets.
FEVERFEW (CHRYSANIHEMUM PARTHENlUM)Top
A cultivated perennial herb native to Europe, its leaves have a strong scent when crushed and it produces clusters of small, white, daisy-like flowers in late summer. Infusions of the dried flowers are a traditional European remedy for delayed menstruation, while studies have confirmed that the crushed leaves produce a good remedy for migraine headaches. However, migraine sufferers should first verify that their problem is not caused by a food allergy. The active ingredient in feverfew leaves is parthenolide, which is claimed to relieve inflammation better than aspirin. Feverfew leaves have also been reported to alleviate depression and nervous disorders. The herb is available in health food stores in capsule form
FIBRE, DIETARY Top
A class of complex carbohydrates, dietary fibre is found in many plant foods such as bran flakes, whole grains, beans, brown rice, psyllium seeds, fruits and vegetables. It comes in several forms, including cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin - which are insoluble in water and pectin, gums and mucilages - which are water-soluble, gel-forming fibres. Fibre adds bulk to the diet, thereby increasing stool weight and promoting bulky and speedy bowel movements. High fibre diets are known to prevent and cure many conditions, such as constipation, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, duodenal iverticulosis,diabetes, colon cancer, haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome and obesity. Dietary fibre can also reduce the feeling of hunger and contribute to weight loss. psyllium and oat bran are a few examples of the dietary fibre available in health food shops. Each type of dietary fibre has its unique characteristics. Cellulose and hemicellulose, which abound in foods such as apples, pears, whole grains and beans, are indigestible and help constipation, haemorrhoids and colitis. Lignin, which is found in foods such as whole grains, carrots, tomatoes and potato, is an indigestible fibre that is useful for lowering cholesterol, preventing gallstones and colon cancer. Pectin abounds in apples and is good for diabetes, lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease and gallstones. Gums and mucilages, found in foods such as oatmeal, oatbran and beans, help to remove toxins and regulate blood sugar level and also lower cholesterol.
High in calcium, the fig is considered by herbalists as a healing food. It has a detoxifying action and is one of the most alkalizing fruits. That is, it balances acidic conditions in the body, which adversely affect health Figs are rich in mucin, which makes them a gentle laxative for treating constipation. They also soothe the digestive tract, cleanse the intestines and are helpful in the treatment of haemorrhoids. Widely available in health food stores and supermarkets.
Fish contains B vitamins and minerals like iodine, fluorine, cobalt, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and copper. Some fish such as cod and haddock are virtually pure protein, having no carbohydrates and only 0.1 per cent fat. Ocean fish can also serve as protection from diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Indeed, a world-wide study on fish intake and mortality rates showed that fish consumption is inversely associated with death from heart disease and stroke. Lean fish, under five per cent fat, include halibut, cod, haddock, sole, flounder, perch and bass. Fatty fish - 5-20 per cent fat, include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore and tuna. These fish are also a rich source of vitamins A and D. Cold water fish, especially the fatty group, are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce blood stickiness, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Fish can benefit arthritics, since its omega-3 fatty acids are also strong anti-inflammatory agents. Fish is a rich source of iodine, known to contribute to weight loss, treating goitre and offering protection from cancer. Being high in choline, fish is known as 'brain food'. The hazards in fish come from water pollution. Mercury can accumulate in fish in the form of methyl mercury, which is more toxic than pure mercury. Some fresh water fish may be contaminated with industrial discharge of chemical effiuents such as chlorinated hydrocarbons
Fish oils have long been used by mothers as a food supplement for growing children. In recent years studies have shown that fish oils can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and lower high cholesterol levels. The properties of fish oils first became apparent in the investigation of Greenland Eskimos who consumed a very high-fat diet from seal, whale and fish, and yet had a low rate of heart disease. Fish oils were found to contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (BPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are long chain and highly unsaturated fatty acids which can prevent sudden heart attacks with a variety of actions: they have an antithrombotic action which prevents thrombosis by inhibiting the formation of thromboxane A2 from arachidonic acid in platelets; they decrease blood stickiness, preventing formation of blood clots; they lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and prevent atherosclerosis; and they prevent irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), reducing the risk of extremely rapid heart contractions (ventricular fibrillation)
FLAXSEED (LINUM USITATISSIMUM) Top
Also known as linseed, this annual herb is one of mankind's oldest cultivated crops. First grown in the Middle East, and then Egypt, its cultivation spread to Western Europe in about 1000 BC and then later to North America. It is now grown worldwide for both fibre and oil production. It is the seeds of the plant that are used for medicinal purposes. A traditional treatment for constipation is to eat one to two tablespoons of ripe whole seeds, which have previously been soaked or ground, with plenty of water. The seeds swell up in the intestines and encourage bowel movements. A decoction of the seeds can be soothing to the digestive tract, and can also be used for respiratory and urinary disorders. Linseed oil is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vitally important for strengthening immunity and preventing many degenerative conditions such as heart disease. Taking a tablespoonful of linseed oil and then lying down for half an hour is reputed to help with the elimination of gallstones. Available from health food stores and herbalists.
Fluorine is a non-metallic essential trace element, which is concentrated in trace amounts in the bones and teeth. In its natural form, it occurs as calcium fluoride and sodium fluoride (used for fluoridating drinking water). Fluorine builds strong, hard bones and teeth. Its deficiency can cause tooth decay in children and fractured hips in the elderly. Tea is a good dietary source of fluorine. Although small amounts of fluorine are important, excesses can be harmful. Excess fluorine neutralizes important enzymes and interferes with calcium absorption, creating calcium deficiencies, which can cause mottle teeth, brittle bones and nervousness. A fluorinated drinking water supply should contain no more than one part per million (ppm), since a concentration of over two ppm converts fluorine from friend to foe. Brushing teeth with fluorinated toothpaste should be done carefully to avoid swallowing the paste. Estimated adequate daily intakes are: adults 1.5-4 mg; children 1.5-2 mg.
Caution: An intake of 20 mg fluorine or over is toxic.
Folic acid, or folacin, is one of the water-soluble B vitamins which are partly synthesized by the intestinal flora. Although its requirements are low and measured in micrograms, folic acid is a very important vitamin. Together with vitamin B12, it is crucial to the production of red blood cells, preventing anaemia, and for the synthesis of nucleic acids (DNA), ensuring proper cell division. It is especially critical to the development of nerves in the foetus, and a deficiency in pregnant women is linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. However, folic acid has many other beneficial effects, in that it stimulates stomach secretions and improves digestion, increases oestrogen levels and improves lactation, promotes mental and emotional health, helps the body to produce brain neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells), and raises histamine levels, thereby benefiting nervous disorders. The typical Western diet is normally deficient in folic acid as it is easily destroyed in the body by such antagonists as antibiotics, alcohol, contraceptive pills and anticonvulsant drugs. Pregnant and lactating women, as well as women on the pill, are particularly vulnerable to a deficiency of the vitamin and should take folic acid supplements. The symptoms of folic acid deficiency include megaloblastic anaemia, depression, psychosis and epileptic fits, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, acne, lack of appetite and sore tongue. Folic acid received its name from the Latin 'folium', meaning foliage, and, in fact, some of its best natural sources include leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and beet greens. Other sources include brewer's yeast, soya flour, wheat germ, beans, asparagus, liver, egg yolk, whole grains and avocados. The Recommended Daily Allowance of folic acid is 200 mcg for adults, 100 mcg for children and 400 mcg for pregnant women.
Caution: Excess folic acid supplementation can mask the anaemia caused by B12 deficiency since both vitamins are closely related. These two vitamins are therefore best taken simultaneously
Correct food combinations are regarded by nutritionists as the simplest and most effective way to prevent many common ailments. For instance, they are particularly beneficial to people with sensitive digestion as correct food combining has been found to prevent stomach acidity, heartburn, bloating, indigestion, constipation and headaches. It can also alleviate allergies, calm nervousness and contribute to weight loss without dieting. The principle behind food combination is that different groups of foods require different enzymes and chemical environments for proper digestion and absorption. If, at the same meal,. the body is presented with a range of ingredients each with differing requirements, it becomes confused and is not fully able to supply all the enzymes and secretions at the right time. The result can be fermentation, with all its associated discomforts. For correct digestion, protein foods require an acid medium and proteolytic enzymes, as supplied by the stomach, while starches require an alkaline medium with starchsplitting enzymes, as supplied by the intestines. Fats and oils are digested slowly, mostly in the intestines, and do not interfere much with either protein or starch digestion. Sugars are the quickest to digest; some are even absorbed in the stomach, while most are absorbed through the intestines.
All this means that proteins and starches make a poor combination and should not be eaten together at the same meal as they require different chemical environments and digestive processes. On the other hand, proteins and fats, or starches and fats, may be eaten together, since their digestion does not interfere with one another, but proteins should be eaten only with acid fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits. Sweet fruits are best eaten with starches and, although sugars can be eaten with starches, they are best eaten on their own, as they are absorbed very quickly. Green vegetables and non-starchy vegetables, such as avocado, aubergine and squashes, are neutral and can be eaten with both protein and starch meals.
People with sensitive digestions may find that eating simple meals, with as few foods as possible, will alleviate their discomforts and contribute most to their well-being.
FOOD IRRADIATION Top
Food irradiation is used to preserve foods. Irradiation started in 1963 in the USA, when permission was given to irradiate wheat and wheat flour. Its main purpose was to destroy germs and insects that spoil wheat, and inhibit ripening or sprouting. In later years, many foods were irradiated, including potato, spices, teas, pork, poultry, fruits and vegetables. During irradiation, foods are exposed to extremely strong radioactive gamma rays provided by cobalt-60 or caesium-137.Although irradiation does not make the food itself radioactive, it does cause chemical changes in it, and increasing concern has been expressed on the potential hazards of irradiation. The process disrupts molecule bonds, which can recombine with other molecules, and this can produce new substances called radiolysis products, which poses a question of safety since they are impossible to test. For example, some amino acids (protein) and carbohydrate groups break down and enzyme action is modified. There is also increasing evidence that irradiation destroys certain nutrients in the food such as vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Food irradiation has been banned or severely restricted in many countries, including Britain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand.
The Food Guide Pyramid is a guide to daily food choices that was compiled by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992. It reflects the need for an increased consumption of vegetables, fruit grain and fibre and replaces the former dietary guidelines of the Basic Four Food Groups which promoted animal protein and fat. USDA has acknowledged that, due to over-reliance on convenience foods, Western populations tend to be overfed but undernourished, consuming far more fat and far less fresh fruit and vegetables than is desirable. As a result, the West is plagued by the many degenerative diseases of ageing, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, which are scarcely found in the Asian countries with their higher consumption of fruit and vegetables. The food pyramid contains at its base - the widest part - the starchy group, with a recommended 6-11 daily servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta. The next narrowest part of the pyramid is divided into two groups: the fruit group with 2-4 servings, and the vegetable group with 3-5 servings. Next, as the pyramid narrows, it is again divided into even smaller groups: the meat, fish, eggs, beans and nut group with 2-3 servings, and then the milk, yogurt and cheese group with 2-3 servings. The small apex at the top of the pyramid represents the group comprising fats, oils and sweets, which, it is recommended, should be used only sparingly.
Therefore, in order to meet the new USDA guidelines, one would need to eat daily, for example, one apple, one banana, one orange, four ounces of broccoli, four ounces of Brussels sprouts, four ounces of cauliflower and four ounces of spinach. Unfortunately, few of us actually eat accordingly, but we should become more conscious of the fact that it is vitally important to increase our resistance to disease by the use of the health-promoting dietary nutrients found in fresh food. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements to bridge the gap is a practical solution, but these will not replace the many auxiliary, non-vitamin nutrients contained in fresh foods.
Food supplements of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and other nutrients are becoming increasingly popular. Supplementation serves to replace the nutrients lost in food processing, intensive farming and spraying, all of which remove nutrients from food, making it nutritionally inferior. Supplementation also corrects wrong eating habits and poor food choices, such as occasions when the diet is short of fresh fruit and vegetables, resulting in reduced intakes of nutrients. Our affluent society may be overfed, but, for the most part, it is definitely undernourished. Another reason for food supplementation is that some people require more vitamins than others. Some vitamins burn quicker, while others may have absorption defects that create nutrient deficiencies. Stress, smoking and alcohol also deplete nutrients. However, this is only part of the answer. More people are becoming increasingly aware of their nutritional needs. The symptoms of mild nutrient deficiencies, such as headaches, nervousness, fatigue, constipation, premenstrual tension and high cholesterol, are no longer acceptable as part of our lot in life. More and more people want an optimal feeling of well-being, not just absence of disease - which is the medical definition of health.
FRENCH PARADOX Top
This term describes the unexpectedly low incidence of heart disease found in the French population, whose average diet is rich in saturated fat and alcohol. The French eat 30 per cent more fat than Americans and drink nine times more wine, but suffer 40 per cent fewer heart attacks. The French paradox is explained by the fact that production of red wine includes the grape seeds, which contain important antioxidant flavonoids, such as quercetin, tannins and proanthocyanidins (OPC). These ingredients of red wine have been found to provide protection from heart attacks
FRUCTO-OLIGO SACCHARIDES (FOS)Top
These are a new class of carbohydrates, that are becoming increasingly popular in health food shops. FOS are natural sugars present in small amounts in everyday fruits, vegetables and grains, such as bananas, tomatoes, artichokes, onions, garlic, wheat and oats. They are indigestible and are not absorbed in the body as are normal sugars. Instead, they have a great beneficial effect on the intestinal flora. FOS actually feed selectively only the friendly intestinal bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, but not the unfriendly bacteria such as Clostridium perffingens, salmonella or E. coli. In one study, a daily addition of 8 g FOS to the diet, resulted in a ten-fold increase of the friendly bi6dobacteria. The use of FOS has far-reaching implications. By improving the intestinal flora and keeping it slightly acidic, FOS can relieve constipation, neutralize body odours and improve nutrient absorption from food. The use of FOS is particularly important when taking antibiotics, which kill all intestinal bacteria, both friendly and unfriendly, causing conditions such as diarrhoea, yeast infections and fatigue. FOS can also bene6t diabetics, reducing their levels of sugar and cholesterol.
Fructose, also called fruit sugar, is a natural sugar present in fruits and honey. As part of the glucose over a longer period of time and is therefore used by some mild diabetics as a sweetener.molecule, it is produced from sucrose sources, such as corn. Fructose releases less insulin than