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January 5th, 2009

 

Alejandro Junger

Alejandro Junger, An Alchemical Man

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“Alejandro doesn’t just live his life as a doctor, he honors life with his commitment to human health.” Alchemical Woman

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What should I eat? What is the perfect diet for a human being?

This is the most frequent question people ask me.

 

My name is Alejandro Junger. I am 44 years old and live in New York, where I work as a doctor. When patients see me at my office or in social gatherings, as soon as people know I am a physician, the question of what to eat pops up automatically. People tend to think that I have the authority to answer this question correctly. I giggle inside. If they only new that in all my years of medical school and later during internship, residency and fellowship in Internal Medicine and Cardiology, I never even heard of there being a class about nutrition!

My answer today is the result of many years of reading, researching and experimenting with different dietary plans and philosophies. I didn’t do all this work so I could learn how to treat my patients. I did it because I was desperately looking for solutions to my own health problems.

We are the only animals on this planet that don’t seem to know what to eat, and just in case, we end up eating everything that can possibly be digested, and many things that can’t. But never in recorded history has the need to answer this question been as critically important as today. The state of health of humans is alarming, globally. Even though we seem to be the ruling species on earth, thanks to our superior intelligence and advanced technology, we are the only creatures that get sick regularly. There are no diabetic elephants in the wild. I never heard of a monkey with anorexia, tigers with cancer, gazelles with depression or kangaroos with restless leg syndrome. Animals in the wild are born, roam around, eat, reproduce and die of old age, an accident or are eaten by another animal (mostly us).

What went wrong with us? How come so many humans are sick with the strangest diseases, the list of which keeps getting longer?

There is something so obvious, yet greatly ignored, that might hold the key to this crisis. A truth which is self evident and accepted now by all cultures:

WE ARE WHAT WE EAT.

This statement is so simple that we overlook its implications. But it is literally the case. Every tissue, every cell, every molecule in your body came from food. The bricks with which you built the building that you call your body, in which you live from birth until death, are 100 % obtained from what you eat.

Do you want to live in a quality building?

Food also determines the quality of your blood, your arteries, your brain, your liver and every single one of the trillions of chemical reactions that happen every single instant, the sum total of which makes your life experience possible.

Still, despite our advances in knowledge and technology, going to the moon, breaking the genetic code, splitting the atom and being able to chat online with a friend on the other side of the planet, when it comes to choosing what to eat, as important as it is, we are way less smart than a worm.

Considering that food is so intimately related to health and disease, it would seem important that doctors master the subject. But as it is, traditional physicians are the less interested people I ever met when it comes to nutrition. You need proof? Go and see what they eat at the hospital cafeteria, or even worse, check out what they feed patients in their temples of healing, the hospitals. This is one of the strangest contradictions of human behavior. Doctors study how to heal other people with passion for years, then take the Hippocratic oath to “First, never harm”, and then, when patients are at the sickest moments, needing to leave their home and check themselves in, surrendering and trusting, doctors poison them with hospital food.

There are many other people trying to figure out what human beings should eat.  And this is where things get really confusing. There are thousands of theories and opinions about it. The bookstores are packed with whole sections on food. There is so much information that it ends up being confusing. You almost wish you never started asking yourself questions when you are first exploring this world.

Part of the confusion is due to the fact that theories are based on completely different angles and for different intentions. A great percentage of the books out there talk about how best to eat to look good, which in America means to loose weight and be skinny. Others are based on philosophical beliefs. Humanitarian, religious, spiritual, environmental, political, historical and economical concerns are the basis for many conclusions of what human diet should look like. Yet others just tell you how to build huge muscles, how to protect other animal species by your choices in food, what to eat according to your blood type or the season of the year you are living in.

And then there is the government with its responsibility to care for the people. Much of what happens in the country at a large scale is a result of what the government decides to regulate and what information they provide to the people. As the government gets wiser it goes changing what it teaches the American people. If you want to get an idea of the evolution of the government’s beliefs as it relates to nutrition look at the food pyramid and how its been changing over the years. This is exactly what the government recommends we eat.

The media also has a huge impact on the dietary trends that are adopted in this country. And who knows where they get their information from.

When you mix all these sources of information and trends and throw them in a country, you can get an idea of what is being done by looking at the population in general. In America it’s easy to get an idea of the evolution of popular dominating beliefs and practices. When there is a new theory that seems to work it spreads like wildfire. The person that comes up with it becomes famous, his or her book a bestseller, his products make him a millionaire and everybody is buying. The classic Fad. America goes from one to another.

The first big fad in America was the LOW FAT movement. Everything became Low Fat or NO FAT. Americans became obsessed with removing fat from their diets and substituted it with carbohydrates. Doctors, nutritionists, governments, celebrities and the media supported it. Everyone agreed that if you want to be healthy, fit and pretty you must avoid fat at all cost. Fat became the mortal enemy.

The result of this massive experiment was catastrophic. America became the Fattest Country in the world and one of the unhealthiest ones. We are still suffering its consequences.

America soon found the solution for the problem. Change the enemy. And we picked carbs. As if the NO FAT madness never happened and without learning to be a little more cautious, Carbs became the mortal enemy, supported by most respected sources of information and exploited by the food industry.

And then a genius came along and invented the HIGH PROTEIN-LOW CARB diet, which allowed you to eat as much fat as you wanted. The Atkins diet was so effective in delivering its promise of weight loss that it became a worldwide sensation. Despite the fact that it is now known to be a very unhealthy diet, increases heart disease and cancer rates among other things, people still follow it worldwide. The obsession with being skinny supersedes any concerns for well being for millions of people.

Next came the Zone, the South Beach Diet, Body for Life, Fit for Life, The Rainbow Diet, Macrobiotic, Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Food, Life Food…you get the picture.

I tried most diets for some time when I was looking to overcome symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and depression. I found a lot of very interesting information and experienced my body changing shape and my symptoms disappearing. I became a living example of the profound effects of foods in treating diseases that medicine only prescribes medications for.

After all of this I came to a profound realization. The only book that can be trusted for this kind of advice is The Book of Nature.

At a glance you can see the general rules of the way nature intended things to be. All other animals on earth eat plants, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and each other. Animals that eat other animals only eat a few kinds. They eat them raw and never have 3 meals a day. No animal cooks any food whatsoever. No mammal other than humans drinks milk after they stop breastfeeding. We are the only ones. And we don’t drink our mother’s milk when we grow up; we steal it from a different kind of mammal. And we turn it into a thousand different things.

Humans are complex animals, so I am not sure that we should just copy one species as to what they eat. If we did, and we chose the animal that is most similar to us we would end up eating mostly bananas and other leaves.

What I did learn is that when we get sick, following the basic rules I mentioned above is helpful. I have seen my own and many other people’s dis-eases just melt as if by magic.

Today I still don’t know with certainty what humans SHOULD eat, but I know for sure what a few ways of eating can do to our body and mind.

Which brings us to the subject of LIVE FOODS.

to be continued tomorrow…

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13 Responses to “ What Should I Eat? ”

  1. […] the program, resist the first days, once they’re over you just sail through it. Read more:What should I eat 1,  What should I eat? ,  An Alchemical Man: Dr. Alejandro Junger , Dr. Alejandro Junger: […]

  2. […] posts: CLEAN& FILL , What should I eat? 1, , What should I eat?2, An Alchemical Man: Dr. Alejandro Junger, Dr. Alejandro Junger: […]

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