Home' Nova National : February 2011 Contents HEALTH NATUROPATHY
© NOVA FEBRUARY 2011
JEREMY HILL: NDAdv, HMAdv, NutAdv
AS A NEW Year 's resolution, you and I
need to take as much responsibility as
possible for our health, starting from the
immediate present and continuing on
right throughout the whole of our lives.
This doesn't mean you can't ask for help
anymore and that you must quickly learn
everything from how to read a blood
report to understanding how nutritional
and lifestyle influences affect genetic
expression and molecular biochemistry.
In fact, just the opposite!
It means you should be taking a
strong interest in your own health,
while developing a team of caring and
knowledgeable professionals who can
manage and guide you to make the
appropriate choices as your level of
A good starting point in developing
a knowledge base of your specific health
information is to become familiar with
the concept of your basic nutritional
requirements for health, otherwise known
as the Recommended Dietary Intakes
(RDIs), and discovering just how this
much needed nutritional information
relates to what you eat. The National
Health and Medical Research Council
provides these figures on their website
(www.nhmrc.gov.au). Once you have
this idea under control becoming a label
reader is an important next step. The
nutritional panel on the side of a bottle
of milk or the packaging around a loaf
of bread or on a can of beans can quickly
have you calculating your way to better
health as you count and meet your daily
The human body has basic nutritional
requirements that must be met to maintain
a basic state of health. If these are not met
then diseases specific to the particular
deficiency will develop soon after. These
include such well known diseases from
our not too distant past as scurvy from
vitamin C deficiency, beriberi from vitamin
B1 deficiency, rickets from a lack of
vitamin D and pellagra from a shortage of
If avoiding basic nutritional deficiency-
induced diseases such as scurvy truly
defines health then yes, the Recommended
Dietary Intakes (RDIs) meet these require-
ments, with a safe buffer zone built in to
protect most people.
Unfortunately, the RDIs may not be
adequate for everyone, such as those who
are unwell, or have dietary allergies or
those who drink or stress too much, or
others who don't digest and absorb their
food well or who have certain genetic
polymorphisms. The NHMRC suggests
that the RDIs are adequate for 97-98% of
the population, but the advent of genetic
research may cause this to be reviewed.
In fact, the uniqueness of our genetic
profiles and, even more interesting,
the epigenetic expression of our genes
induced by our lifestyle and environment,
may actually be the largest factor behind
the significant variations seen in individual
The extreme biochemical diversity of
the roles played by basic essential vitamins
and minerals goes far beyond simply
preventing diseases that result from a
A good example of how meeting the
RDIs may not be enough for some lies in
the condition known as Homocysteinemia,
where an excessive amount of the normal
metabolite homocysteine builds up in the
blood and is associated with a wide range
of health problems, including vascular and
neurological problems such as increased
stroke risk, dementia and accelerated brain
shrinkage. Elevated levels of homocysteine
will often respond favourably to nutritional
supplementation with vitamins B6, B12
and folic acid. However, the supplemental
doses typically used often amount to tens
to hundreds of times greater than the RDIs.
Unfortunately, the system of using a
disease induced by nutritional deficiency
as a reference point for creating a wellness
buffer for nutrient intake requirements
overlooks the fact that much more subtle
changes in nutrient levels over a longer
period can cause some common chronic
When we take optimal health as our
goal and not just avoiding deficiency, the
concept that extreme deficiency states are
adequate starting points for developing
reference values for optimal wellness
seems inappropriate. Even more so
when we consider how rapidly research
into individual genetic and epigenetic
uniqueness is unfolding. Perhaps the RDI
will no longer be applicable in years to
come, instead looked upon as an archaic
shotgun approach, as we come to tailor
each individual's nutrient requirements to
their own DNA specifics.
Sadly, although even the basic RDIs
are simple to meet, deficiencies in several
essential vitamins and minerals are still
occurring far too often.
For many people, though, achieving a
higher state of vitality and wellness is their
goal, and they place a high priority on
avoiding longer-term chronic states of ill
health. They do this through a consistent
focus on sourcing nutrient-rich foods and
supplementing their diet to ensure they
achieve a higher nutritional intake than
provided by simply meeting the RDI.
The way I see it for now, the RDIs
represent a basic minimal guideline we
should all meet each day if our aim is to
stay functioning. But if functioning
optimally is of more interest to you then,
since it is actually not the RDIs but each
person's unique genomic patterns and
physiological needs that dictate their
nutritional requirements, you might like
to take a more optimal health focused
approach to nutrition while we await
further developments in the field of
Good Health, Jeremy Hill.
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