NOHA Speaker Robert Crayhon, MS, has written* and speaks about "optimal nutrition," as part of a positive program that we can follow to attain optimal health—our basic goal in NOHA.
The Principles of Optimal Health
In America, pursuing optimal health is considered strange. "If you are like most Americans, you are developing a preventable disease. Almost everyone has clogged arteries. . . . We have an accepted level of illness in America. As long as you are progressing at the same rate as everyone else, you are considered healthy. . . .
"In America wellness is an abnormality. Health nut—a derogatory term for someone who wants optimal health— shows how out of step with a disease-ridden society someone is who wants high-level wellness. Do we call millionaires wealth nuts?"
Crayhon points out the great benefits of uncontaminated, whole foods and water. In industrialized countries we have an epidemic of degenerative diseases that were practically unknown among our ancient ancestors. When questioned at his NOHA lecture about a short life span, Crayhon replied that infections and dangers were certainly rampant in Paleolithic times and could kill the young. However, Weston Price, DDS, and others have observed people in their seventies and older in native cultures throughout the world with superb health and no degenerative disease.
For 1.6 million years our Paleolithic ancestors lived on wild game and sea food, with fruits and vegetables, gathered in the wild—no grains and dairy products. A mere ten thousand years ago when scarcity forced us to cultivate grains for adequate food, our farming ancestors showed marked signs of malnutrition and lost six inches in height. Crayhon contends that genetically the Paleolithic diet is the one to which our bodies are adapted and that it is best for us. Many geneticists claim that agriculture is so recent that very little change in our genome has taken place since Paleolithic times. Crayhon points out that heart disease and high blood pressure are unknown in so-called "primitive" societies that have not adopted the diets of the industrialized countries. In Australia when diabetic Aborigines were returned to the back country and ate their original foods their diabetes disappeared. Previously, they had been eating our usual refined diet.
Recently, we have had even more drastic changes in our food supply than occurred with the dawn of agriculture. Many delicate foods have been destroyed—especially the essential fatty acids, which we need for the membranes in and surrounding all our cells.
Our bodies manufacture cholesterol. A great deal of research has shown that the only form of cholesterol that is dangerous is oxidized cholesterol. Crayhon states: "Avoid cholesterol only if it is oxidized. Oxidized cholesterol is found in processed foods or results in the body when there is a lack of antioxidant nutrients. Oxidized cholesterol is found in powdered milk, scrambled or powdered eggs, mass-produced cakes and cake mixes, aged cheese, and aged meats such as sausages and aged steaks. Cholesterol in boiled eggs, fresh meat, and seafood is harmless when accompanied by vitamins C, E, beta carotene, and a healthy diet."
Manufacturers extract sugar from fruits and other plants that themselves are rich in protective nutrients. This refined sugar, often along with salt, is added to tasteless, processed foods to give flavor and make the products sell. "Any concentrated sweet depresses the immune system for five hours. . . . British nutritionist John Yudkin, PhD, has demonstrated the connection between sugar and increased levels of heart disease in his lifelong research and his book Sweet and Dangerous."
Crayhon suggests a "Junk Food Tax" since "it is not fair that those of us who do not eat destructive foods bear the health-care costs of those who do" and since "many people care more about their pocketbooks than their health, . . . perhaps such a tax would give them more incentive to eat health-promoting foods."
He suggests warnings on junk foods such as:
In regard to pure food and water, Crayhon has a number of familiar recommendations Chlorinated and fluoridated water is poisonous. He recommends filtering any tap water and also shower and bath water since we can absorb toxins through our skin. "Pesticides have been implicated in causing a wide range of diseases including cancer and impaired brain function in the elderly." Crayhon quotes the research of NOHA Speaker Bob Smith on the much higher essential mineral content of organic verses supermarket food. Conventional agriculture uses fertilizers that concentrate three minerals that enhance plant growth and leave out the many others that are needed for actual health of ourselves as well as, of course, the plants growing in the soil and the animals that feed on the plants.
Basically because fewer nutrients are available and also our bodies are burdened with more detoxification, Crayhon states that in pursuing optimal nutrition we need supplements as well as the best whole foods that we can find. The reasons include: (1) toxic pollution from petrochemical industries, food additives, and many other sources, (2) soil depletion, and (3) the fact that some fragile nutrients are destroyed (for example, folic acid) when we cannot eat produce that is just picked and perfectly fresh.
Forty-five essential nutrients are known. Crayhon points out that we want to pursue optimal and balanced amounts of all of them, plus many more than are known to be beneficial. On account of our biochemical individuality, the balance will be different for each of us. He gives excellent, detailed nutritional advice for many human goals including superb athletic and brain performance, as well as advice for ameliorating unfortunate conditions, such as obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer. In his book The Carnitine Miracle he deals with appropriate nutrients for many conditions, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Parkinson’s Disease, and male infertility.
For individual fine-tuning, he highly recommends getting the advice of a nutrition expert. Many nutrients are excellent at certain levels and deleterious at others. One example: Iron deficiency can make us tired and anemic but too much iron (not bound to protein) can also make us tired and cause many other unfortunate effects. (We are reminded of NOHA Member Walter Heiby’s The Reverse Effect, reviewed in NOHA NEWS Winter 1989.) Iron is essential for transporting oxygen in our blood cells to give us energy throughout our bodies. However, if we take too much, Crayhon lists ten bad effects, including "accelerates aging," "creates free radicals," increases "the risk of heart disease," and "may be one of the causes of Parkinson’s disease." These unfortunate effects can be modified by increasing our intake of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, and getting enough protein in our diet to safely bind the iron. Crayhon warns that many Americans have iron overload and advises that, especially men and post-menopausal women, should have a "serum ferritin test" before they take any multivitamin supplement containing iron.
Crayhon points out that the government-sponsored "Food Pyramid" is a disaster in many ways; for example, the general prescription for a low-fat diet with no distinction between deleterious trans fats from hydrogenated oils and the essential fats that we must have. The pyramid shows the highest intake of all for grain products. Crayhon demonstrates that this prescription of a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet is amazingly counterproductive for anyone who is overweight He points out that when farmers want to fatten their cattle for market they feed them a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet—specifically, grain.
In addition to everything else, Crayhon deals in considerable detail with herbs. Our fine NOHA lecture in May by Hyla Cass, MD, was on St. John’s wort and kava. Crayhon writes enthusiastically about the value of kava in coping with stress. He states that St. John’s wort does affect the brain and can relieve the symptoms of depression. However, it is a stimulant and, in general, Crayhon prefers nourishing the brain and body rather than stimulating it when it is actually tired and needs rest. Similarly, he writes of the adverse, long-term effects of coffee.
In his books Crayhon has compiled a great deal of scientific information about nutrients and their effects and in his nutrition practice he has helped many clients improve their health. He has an enthusiastic attitude toward food—enjoy variety.
Optimal health is not the result of deprivation. It celebrates the benefits of many foods and nutrients, allowing us more of life and health. It is the marriage of science and pleasure. Balance the information to your own best advantage.
*Robert Crayhon’s Nutrition Made Simple: A Comprehensive Guide to the Latest Findings in Optimal Nutrition, M Evans and Company, Inc., New York, 1994, Trade Paper Edition 1996, 314 pages, soft cover $14.95 and
The Carnitine Miracle: The Supernutrient Program that Promotes High Energy, Fat Burning, Heart Health, Brain Wellness, and Longevity, M. Evans and Company, Inc., New York, 1998, 240 pages, hard cover, $19.95.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XXIV, No. 3, Summer 1999, pages 2-3.