Paavo Airola - Nutrition Forum - Let's Live - October 1975 Index


Q. All other things being equal, what role does exercise play in health? - P. J., Sonoma, CA.

A. A most decisive role! There can be no health without exercise. It may shock many of my readers when I say that I consider exercise to be even more important in the maintenance of health than nutrition. Coming from a nutritionist, this is a shocking statement, indeed.

I see so many people who will go to any lengths to secure organic foods, who never miss a health lecture, read all the books, and spend a fortune on expensive health foods and supplements, and are still not enjoying very good health. Many are, in fact, very sick. And, wondering why!? All the exercise they get is walking to the car to drive to the health food store, car to drive to the health food store, or at the best, doing a few calisthenics or yoga stretches in front of the TV set. Please, don't misunderstand me. Yoga and calisthenics are good and beneficial, but they definitely do not compensate for or replace real exercise. When I say exercise, I mean strenuous physical exertion to the point of perspiration. Walking, jogging, swimming, playing tennis or ball, hard physical work these are the exercises we need every day in order to stay healthy. All the people known for their exceptional health Hunzas, Russians, Scandinavians, etc. engage in lots of physical exertion throughout their lives. Health is absolutely impossible without plentiful exercise. Now, listen to this, and listen carefully, because I don't want to be misunderstood or misquoted: It would be better to eat junk foods and exercise a lot, than to eat health foods and not exercise at all! With a great amount of physical exercise and sweating, even inferior diets will not do great harm, but you can eat the best health foods in the world and take all the vitamins you can afford, but if you do not exercise at all, you will not achieve or maintain good health. We have too many Madison Avenue type "scientific" experts who sit in their air-conditioned offices, resting on their cellulite and trying to figure out what kind of pill will make you healthy (and them rich!) . We need more of the Paul Bragg type of health educators who have a wholistic view of a man and recognize all the vital factors necessary for optimum health including exercise.

Synthetic Vitamins

Q. I've been taking 100 mg. of B1, 100 mg. of B6, and 200 mg. of pantothenic acid for a long time. Now I understand from your lecture that you are against synthetic vitamins. Are the vitamins I have been taking in these potencies synthetic or natural? Could they be harmful? - Mrs. K.L., San Diego, CA.

A. I am again either misunderstood or misquoted. Your "understanding" that I am "against" synthetic vitamins is incorrect. Although in principle I prefer natural vitamins to synthetic, synthetic vitamins do have important therapeutic uses. Every doctor who uses vitamins therapeutically knows that large doses of isolated B-vitamins are often required in the treatment of specific illnesses or severe deficiency conditions. For example, megavitamin therapy for schizophrenia includes niacinamide (B3) in doses of up to 10-25 grams a day. Some doctors use pantothenic acid (B5) in doses of up to 1,000-1,500 mg. a day in the treatment of hypoglycemia, or B6 in doses of several hundreds of milligrams daily in treatment of some conditions. To obtain such amounts of those isolated B-complex vitamins in natural form, the patients would have to consume brewer's yeast powder by the bushel. To get 5,000-10,000 mg. of Vitamin C, which is often used by biologically oriented doctors to treat severe cases of acute poisoning or severe colds and infection, again the patient would have to consume many pounds of rosehips. And, what about intravenous injections of vitamins? You cannot very well use brewer's yeast power or rosehips extract for this purpose!

When we deal with the science of nutrition, we must not be fanatics and try to put everything in terms of black and white! Common sense is the most important quality a responsible nutritionist or nutrition-oriented doctor must possess. 100% natural vitamins are definitely best when used for general or prophylactic purposes. But when large doses of certain vitamins are required, synthetic vitamins must be used. Fortunately, most vitamins, even in large doses, can be obtained from 100% natural sources. Vitamins A, D, and E are such vitamins. B-complex vitamins cannot be concentrated in strong potencies from natural sources, however. Every time you see a bottle of B-complex vitamins with the stated potency of more than 10 mg. of B1, B2, B3, or B6 per tablet, you can be sure that they are synthetic even if the label does not mention that fact.

Please, also keep in mind that every time you take large doses of one or more of the available B-vitamins (as you are doing), it may result in severe imbalances and deficiencies in your body of other B-complex vitamins. Therefore, when isolated B vitamins are used for some specific condition, they should always be accompanied by the whole B-vitamin complex, with two or three tablespoonfuls of brewer's yeast - a concentrated source of natural B vitamins.

Raw Foods and Common Sense

Q. I have been eating everything raw and natural for over a year. I am convinced that cooked foods are dead foods, and will produce nothing but disease and death. In your book, you said that "cooked food is dead food - only living foods can build healthy bodies." I was shocked, therefore, to hear you say at a recent lecture that 80% of food should be eaten raw. Why not 100%? Have you changed your mind? Why eat cooked food at all? - Mr. M.S., Los Angeles, CA.

A. No, I haven't changed my mind. I still advocate eating most foods in their natural, raw state. Raw foods are generally more healthful than cooked foods. Cooking destroys many vitamins, leeches out some minerals, and changes the biochemical nature of proteins and fats, making them less assimilable or less biologically active. All fruits, nuts, seeds, and most vegetables can be and should be eaten raw for the best nutritional value. Many grains, some seeds, and some beans can be sprouted: alfalfa seeds, mung beans, soybeans, wheat, buckwheat, and sunflower seeds can be sprouted and eaten raw. Most grains and beans, however, should never be eaten raw. They are, in fact, better cooked.

There are two reasons: 1) Minerals and trace elements in them are chemically bound with phytic acid and the human digestive system cannot break it down and make these minerals available for assimilation unless these grains are cooked or sprouted. This is the reason I recommend cooking such grains as rye, millet, buckwheat, rice, and corn; 2) Some foods contain toxins and enzyme inhibitors which must be destroyed by cooking before they can be eaten. Raw legumes fall into this category. Most legumes contain a substance called "toxalbumins", which is toxic in the raw state. Other toxic and harmful substances in many legumes are the trypsin inhibitors, so-called because of their ability to inhibit the action of the enzyme trypsin, found in the digestive tract of men and animals (according to Dr. Irvin Liener of the University of Minnesota). It was established in actual studies almost 50 years ago by Osborne and Mendell (JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY, 32, 369, 1917) that the proteins in soybeans, for example, unless the beans are cooked for several hours, would not be absorbed by the body. The mechanics of this are simple. Trypsin, normally present in the digestive tract, helps in the absorption of protein. The trypsin inhibitor interferes with the action of trypsin. The result: proteins are not digested or assimilated properly. Trypsin inhibitors are not the only dangerous elements in legumes. They also contain a goiterogenic factor, which blocks the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland and may lead to the development of goiter. Legumes also contain chemical substances called hemagglutinins, which interfere with intestinal absorption of nutrients by combining with the cells lining the intestinal wall. Raw sweet peas, for example, contain both hemagglutinin and a trypsin inhibitor. Raw lima beans contain a complex glucoside that releases hydrocyanic acid, a deadly poison. Raw fava beans are toxic too, and if eaten in large quantity may lead to the development of hemolytic anemia, a characteristic of favism, which is quite common in some of the Mediterranean countries.

Even some vegetables contain toxic and undesirable factors. Spinach and rhubarb contain an excess of oxalic acid, which is very toxic. Oxalic acid blocks the absorption of calcium and can cause severe kidney damage. Such common foods as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale contain factors that can contribute to the development of goiter.

Most of these toxic and undesirable factors in grains, legumes, and vegetables are removed or destroyed by appropriate methods of cooking. In leafy green vegetables, it is often sufficient to discard the cooking water after short cooking. Most beans must be cooked for several hours before the toxic factors are destroyed.

The reason I decided to give an in-depth answer on this issue is because there are so many sincere health seekers today who are easily swayed from the truth by some raw food advocates whose arguments are more emotional than scientific. Use your common sense! Of course, most foods are better eaten raw. But down through the ages, man has learned (by instinct and experimentation) to extend his diet, including many plants previously inedible, by detoxifying them. Cooking is one of the detoxifying methods man has developed. Since, in forming my conclusions, I depend heavily on empirical evidence (the eating habits of people known for their superior health, rather than laboratory or animal studies); it is significant to me that the diets of all people known for their exceptional health and long-life, such exceptional health and long-life, such as the Hunzas, Russians, Abkhasians, Bulgarians, and Yucatan Indians, contain large amounts of cooked foods. The staple food in the Hunza diet is chapati, a cooked wheat pancake, which they eat several times a day. The staples of Yucatan Indians and the Vilcabamba inhabitants of Ecuador are tortillas and beans. Bread, vegetable soups, and buckwheat and millet cereals are staple foods of Russians and Bulgarians. You must admit that all these "dead" foods haven't damaged the health of these people, who are known for their super stamina, long life, and absence of disease.

There are obvious advantages in eating most foods raw. But there seem to be exceptions to every rule and the raw food rule is no exception. We must avoid fanaticism in every phase of our lives, including nutrition. Common sense and moderation are the key words which will help you to stay on the right track.

Fasting and Enema

Q. The more I read about fasting the more convinced I become that one day I will muster up enough courage to try it. I have read several books on fasting, but I am still confused on the need for enemas. Some writers say that enemas are not needed during fasting, referring to the fact that most animals instinctively fast when sick, but do not take enemas. In your fasting book, you insist on an enema every day. Since the very thought of enemas turns me off, do I really need them? Would it be harmful to fast them? Would it be harmful to fast without enemas? Somehow, taking enemas doesn't seem very natural to me. - Ms. P.F., Santa Monica, Calif.

A. When you "muster up enough courage" and finally undertake your first fast, I sincerely hope that you will do it with enemas. Fasting without enemas is definitely undesirable and will do you more harm than good. During fasting a huge amount of morbid matter, dead cells, and diseased tissues are burned; and the toxic wastes which have been accumulated in the tissues for years, causing disease and premature aging, are loosened and expelled from the system.These wastes are eliminated from the system by way of kidneys, bowels, skin and lungs. But the alimentary canal, the bowels, is the main road by which these toxins are thrown out of the body. Since, during fasting, the natural bowel movements cease to take place, the toxic wastes would have no way of leaving the system, except with the help of enemas. If you fast without enemas, these toxins remain in your colon and are re-absorbed into the system, poisoning your whole body. Your body will try to get them out through other eliminative organs, particularly through the kidneys, which, as a result, will often be overloaded and even damaged.

This is why enemas during fasting are an absolute must. Enemas during fasting will assist the body in its cleansing and detoxifying effort by washing out all the toxic wastes from the alimentary canal.

Enemas should be taken at least once, but preferably twice a day: the first thing in the morning and the last thing before going to bed. One pint to one quart of lukewarm water is sufficient. Enema bags are available in any drugstore.

Enemas are easy to take, just follow the explicit directions in my fasting book.

Regarding animals which do not take enemas, I don't think this is a sufficiently valid scientific reason for us to follow their example. Animals also do not go to concerts, nor read books (nor write them!), nor do they violate knowingly so many health laws as the more enlightened, civilized human beings do. Fasting is an extremely effective healing modality, and has been used as such by doctors for centuries. At present, Germany and Russia are two countries where therapeutic fasting is used scientifically by many doctors and hospitals. Throughout the years, these fasting experts have developed the most effective ways of fasting: fasting with the quickest and most effective therapeutic results, with the least amount of stress on the patient. All these experts agree that enemas during prolonged therapeutic fasting minimize the stress of fasting, and enhance its healing effect. Consequently, enemas during fasting are an improvement over the original, primitive form of fasting without enemas, which is practiced by animals.


Q. I know that you believe eggs are not necessary in the Optimum Diet. But I do like eggs, and since I now do not eat meat at all, I like to have eggs occasionally. Are they harmful? And if not, what is the best way to eat eggs? - R.P., St. Paul, Minnesota

A. The diet with the greatest potential for optimum health, long life, and prevention of disease is based on three basic food groups (in this order of importance):

  1. Grains, seeds, and nuts. Grains and beans cooked or sprouted, nuts and seeds eaten raw.
  2. Vegetables, mostly eaten raw, but also cooked, such as potatoes, squash, etc.
  3. Fruits, raw, fresh, in season, but also dry fruits.

Complete high quality nutrition with adequate amounts of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, can be obtained from these three basic food groups, provided you eat all your food whole, unprocessed, and organically grown. This diet can be supplemented with milk or milk products, preferably in soured form, such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or clabbered milk, and cheeses, preferably homemade cottage cheese. Since our soils are depleted, and we now live in a very toxic environment, with polluted air and water, I recommend supplementing this diet with vitamins and minerals and special food supplements such as brewer's yeast, kelp, rose hips, bone meal tablets, fish liver oil, lecithin, etc. If you wish, you may add some other animal proteins to this basic diet, such as meat, fish, or eggs, as long as you do not overdo, keeping in mind that excess of protein in the diet is definitely harmful. Two eggs, two or three times a week, would be acceptable. Here is the best way, from the nutritional standpoint, to eat eggs: separate egg yolk from white, and poach only the egg white. Slightly cool the poached egg white, then mix with the raw egg yolk. It will taste like regular soft boiled egg. The egg white must always be cooked, as it contains avidin, a chemical substance that interferes with biotin (a B-vitamin) synthesis in the intestines. Use only fertile eggs from organically-fed, free-range chickens, as they are safer and more nutritious (sold in health food stores).

Do we need supplements?

Q. I am 22 years old and have been eating health foods for several years. I've been through many diet regimes, such as macrobiotic, Ehret's system, Natural Hygiene, and others, and mixtures of them. I've begun reading your books and they make a lot of sense. But there is one thing that I can't quite accept: vitamin pills. Does one really need supplements if one is eating a raw and sprouted organic diet? I can see it if someone is old or sick, but a healthy, young person should, it would seem to me, do fine on a diet like mine. Pills seem unnatural. - B.G., Anaheim, Calif.

A. Although you would need less vitamins, minerals, and other supplements than someone who is older and in worse condition than you, still you must supplement your diet if you wish to remain healthy. Why? Because our modern lifestyle is not very natural and we are subject to environmental toxins which undermine even apparent health. Although you may be in good condition now, sooner or later this stress will take its toll. Keep these facts in mind:

  1. No matter how hard you try, it is not very likely that all foods you eat are organically grown.
  2. Even most organically grown foods are grown on depleted soils, are watered by polluted waters, and are subject to air pollution and fallout.
  3. You are breathing polluted air and are subjected, perhaps unknowingly, to such environmental pollution as toxic chemicals in clothes, cosmetics, bedding materials, cleaning compounds, etc.
  4. In our modern society, you are subjected to severe mental stresses and, perhaps, lack of sufficient physical exercise or work.
To counteract all the above mentioned negative influences of your environment, you must take vitamins and supplements. They will help to protect your health and prevent disease. As mentioned in a special chapter on environmental pollution in my book, How To Get Well, many vitamins and minerals possess specific protective and detoxifying properties against our many environmental poisons in food, air, and water. Although your idea of getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from the foods you eat seems logical, indeed - and would have been correct and sensible 100 or even 50 years ago - today, vitamins and supplements in a "pill" form can be life-saving, even at your age.