Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Barbadian Nutrition Guru offers his insights

Scientist, Spiritual Scholar and Nutrition Guru John Phillips.
It is only once or twice in a lifetime that one can truly aver having encountered a Renaissance Man, but that title surely fits John Phillips: Author, inventor (of pre-packaged cuccoo), expert nutritionist and spiritual scholar. For reference, John and I founded The Barbados Philosophical Society in 1974, and have been good friends since, despite my veering to atheism and John retaining an eclectic and open view on all spiritual systems. In a later blog, I will give the overview of a phone conversation I had with him re: spiritual issues, but for now want to focus on his nutritional practices and recommendations. These were given when he and his wife Mary visited my wife and myself at our seaside resort in Barbados.

Our nutritional discussion was wide ranging but I want to focus on some of the key points which I summarize below (John, if you're reading this and I have any of them wrong, feel free to reply).

1) Most of those now on kidney dialysis are there because of excess protein consumption. This causes the kidneys to have to work much harder, and this generates all manner of conditions because of the urea produced. None of us, as John noted, ought to be ingesting more than 1 gram of protein per 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) body weight. That would be 100 g (slightly less than a 1/4 pound burger) for a 220 lb. man per day. Though I interjected the kidney damage from high blood pressure hypothesis (based on U.S. studies), John averred that high BP was not as consistent or critical a factor as the excess protein consumed.

2) The best alternative for protein lovers who can't jump on the Vegan bandwagon is a soy spinoff called "Tempeh". It has the benefits of soy protein, but minus the phyto-estrogens of many "soy burgers" available in the stores. It is these phyto-estrogens that are causing much havoc in developing teens, and impeding natural hormone production. (For example, boys who consume too much of these phyto-estrogens in soy burgers may develop breasts because phyto-estrogens suppress testosterone production.)

3)People need to include omega 3 fatty acids in their diets, eating habits at least in a 1:6 ratio to the omega 6 fatty acids. Much of the lack of omega 3 fatty acids can be made up by eating fish at least two or three times a week, or taking a tablespoon of cod liver oil every other day.

4) Unsaturated fats (including margarines - even though they have no trans fats) are terrible to consume because when ingested they're oxidized generating cancer-causing free radicals. It is far better to eat straight, saturated fats like butter instead of the butter substitutes.

5) Magnesium (Mg) is too low in many Americans' diets, and may lead to increasing cases of bipolar disorder. (Where the person alternates between manic moods and depression). I also made the point to John that we know many evangelists (e.g. Jimmy Swaggart) have evinced bipolar behavior, so it is possible they were lacking in magnesium. Magnesium is also critical for calcium absorption and thus to prevent or slow osteoporosis. Taking calcium without also taking magnesium in appropriate amounts (e.g. at least 500 mg./day) is a recipe for bone loss and possible fractures.

6) Allergies: John's own experience and research has disclosed that taking at least 6,000 mg (6 g) of vitamin C each day can significantly mitigate allergies. However, he suggests starting at 1,000 -2,000 mg a day and working up - since some people may experience side effects (like diarrhea) if they consume too much at one time.

Is Mr. Phillips correct on any or all of these points? Let's put it this way: the man looks 15 years younger than his 63 years. So, I am not about to contest his claims, given he himself puts them to practice and is the best exhibit for their efficacy. To the extent he follows his own nutrititional prescriptions he's essentially his own best proof for the claims.

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