Paavo Airola - Health Forum - Vegetarian Times - October 1981 Index

Iron - Vitamin E Antagonism

Q. I understand that synthetic iron kills vitamin E in the body and therefore the two should be taken 10-12 hours apart - correct? Is this also true of natural iron as in yeast and molasses? -V.S., Pasadena. California

A. The answer to your first question is: YES. The answer to your second question is: NO! The iron in natural foods - any natural food, including yeast and molasses - does not interfere with the biological action of vitamin E in the body.

Environmental Poisons

Q. You've been quoted as saying that we are exposed to chemicals in clothing, bedding materials, etc. Could you give me more information about this? Also, do you think aluminum cooking utensils and plastic containers can be toxic to us? And doesn't the lining used in tin cans prevent lead from entering into such foods as tinned tomatoes? - Mrs. M.D., Seattle, Washington.

A. Today, practically everything we come in contact with in our environment exposes us to toxic chemicals. New clothing, as well as dry cleaned clothes, pillows, mattresses - even wallpapers - all are treated with toxic chemicals. Cosmetics, aerosol sprays, household cleaners, detergents, deodorants, air fresheners - all contain dangerous chemical substances, many of them proven carcinogens. Aluminum cooking utensils and plastic containers and wrappers add to this total toxic insult, and so do foods canned in tinned containers. No, lining in tin cans does not prevent lead from leaking to the food. Recent studies showed that canned tuna had 200 times more lead than fresh tuna.

It seems that the only way to escape the damaging effects of all these toxins is to avoid using any chemicals in our homes and never eat anything canned or manmade, but prepare all our foods from fresh produce. There are several vitamins and food supplements that can protect you from the damaging effects of these environmental chemicals, and even help to excrete them from the system. The specifics are: vitamins C, E, A, B1, B15, kelp, algin, yogurt, lecithin, and brewer's yeast. For complete details as to what specific nutritive substances can be used as protection against exposure to specific poisons, such as lead, cadmium, carbon monoxide, etc., or x-rays and toxic drugs, see a special section in my book, How to Get Well, called "How to Protect Yourself Against Common Poisons in Food, Water and Environment."

Dangers of Excess Protein Intake

Q. I've just read in the paper that consumption of protein supplements can cause serious medical problems and even death. Is this information true? If it is, then how does one tell when he is taking protein in excess? - G.S., Dallas, Texas

A. The news item to which the reader refers was a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission, following a year long investigation. The report said that "permanent liver or kidney damage, convulsions, brain damage and even death can result from consuming too much protein." A study by the Public Health Service showed that the average consumption of protein in the U.S. was nearly 200% of the average need. Americans simply eat too much protein, mostly because of high-protein propaganda financed by protein industries. An excess of protein is especially harmful to infants and the elderly but also to athletes - primarily those interested in building muscular bodies. "Both old and young alike endanger their health if they consume too much protein - particularly those with kidney and liver ailments." says FTC Assistant Regional Director, Harrison Sheppard.

Dr. Harold Harper, professor of biochemistry at the University of California School of Medicine, and one of the nation's leading nutrition experts, explained how excess protein, especially high protein supplements, can cause a number of medical problems. Said Dr. Harper:

Ammonia which is produced in the intestines when excess protein is eaten, also may cause cancer in the bowels and colon. according to a report by Dr. Willard Visek of Cornell University. Amyloid, another by-product of protein metabolism, is linked to premature aging by interfering with the proper cell re-building, as found by two European researchers, Dr. Ph. Schwartz and Dr. Ralph Bircher.

To answer your direct question: "how much is too much?," the current official recommended daily allowance is 46 grams of protein per day for adults; 20-30 grams more for rapidly growing adolescents and pregnant and lactating women. The regular American diet provides more than twice that much. Also, remember that the recommended daily allowance is based on cooked protein. If you eat raw protein, such as raw milk, seeds, nuts, vegetables, grains, etc., as many readers of Vegetarian Times do, your protein need can be cut almost in half since uncooked proteins are utilized by the body twice as effectively as cooked proteins, according to research at the Max Planck institute. As I have pointed out many times in the past, it's time we stopped worrying about proteins - it is virtually impossible to get too little protein, no matter what we eat, provided we have enough to eat and our food is natural, whole, unrefined and unprocessed. If you eat the Optimum Diet I recommend, you will get adequate amounts of high quality proteins as well as all other required nutrients. The lacto-vegetarian Optimum Diet, as outlined in my books, supplies 40-70 grams of protein a day, depending, of course, on the quantity of foods consumed.

Natural Diuretics

Q. Can you tell me what causes "Ascites" and how it can be treated by natural methods? Doctors don't seem to know what to do except to give diuretic pills, which I am afraid to take since I read that they can be dangerous. I will deeply appreciate whatever information you can give regarding this condition. - M.S.. Bronx. New York

A. Ascites is a water retention condition, an edema, usually caused by weakened liver function, sometimes accompanied by kidney disorder. It can also be related to cirrhosis of the liver, cancer, aneurism, thrombosis, or heart failure. The best biological approach is a juice fast, which gives rest to both the liver and kidneys, and helps to normalize their functions. If your condition is serious, your juice fast must be supervised by a sympathetic doctor. Otherwise you can fast on your own for 7 to 10 days, following the detailed fasting instructions in my juice fasting book. Coffee enemas can be taken once or twice a week during fasting to stimulate the liver. Specific juices and herb teas must be taken during fasting; watermelon juice, lemon juice and pear juice are best. Specific herb teas are: dandelion, sheppards purse and parsley - all natural diuretics. Asparagus, fresh or canned, is also an excellent diuretic. After the fast, a low-sodium, low calorie, low-protein diet (a diet mostly advocated in this column) is a must.

Vitamins and Supplements: Are They Really Needed?

Q. I eat what I think is a very good diet, mostly in line with your writings. I 'm only 29, and I feel great. Must I also take vitamins and supplements? Somehow, I have an aversion to pills, and, frankly, I don't think I need them. Can't I get everything I need from the foods I eat? - C.K.. Boston. Massachusetts

A. Although your idea of getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from the foods you eat seems logical - and would have been correct and sensible 100 or even 50 years ago - today, in our polluted, chemicalized and very unnatural environment, vitamins and supplements, in "pill" form, are imperative and can be lifesaving, even at your age.

Keep in mind the following facts:

  1. You are most likely breathing polluted air.
  2. You are subjected, perhaps unknowingly, to a great toxic insult of chemicals in clothing, cosmetics, bedding materials and a whole array of household chemicals.
  3. You may drink city water, which is polluted and treated with chemicals.
  4. No matter how hard you try, it is not very likely that all foods you eat are organically grown. Regular supermarket foods contain toxic chemical residues and additives.
  5. Even most organically grown foods are now grown in depleted soils, are watered by polluted waters, and are subjected to air pollution and fallout.
  6. You may be subjected to severe mental stress and anxieties - so common in our competitive society - and also lacking sufficient physical exercise due to a sedentary life.
To counteract all the above mentioned negative influences in your environment, you must complement your diet with vitamins and supplements. They have a dual purpose: 1) to return to your diet the missing nutrients; 2) to protect your health from the health-destroying factors in our modern, toxic environment. Many vitamins and minerals possess specific protective and detoxifying properties against most environmental poisons in our food, water, air and environment.

What Kind of Vitamin E?

Q. I have such a hard time choosing my vitamins! My current concern is vitamin E. There are so many different brands, and some are actually half as expensive as others. Can I trust cheaper brands? Is there any indication, other than price, that can tell me which brand is better than others? Please help! - K.J., Tempe, Arizona

A. When you shop for vitamins, you must learn to read labels. Some manufacturers design labels deliberately intended to deceive the consumer, most often by omission of information rather than by false statements.

If you want to be sure you are getting a natural vitamin E, (most of which is now made by distillation from soybean oil), see that the label states: "d-alpha tocopherol" or "d-alpha tocopheryl acetate." If the label states "dl-alpha tocopherol," it is a synthetically-manufactured vitamin E, usually through a combination of two chemicals, trimethylhydroquinone and isophytol. Sometimes the label on the bottle simply reads "alpha tocopherol," or "alpha tocopheryl acetate." These could be from either natural or synthetic sources, or perhaps a combination of both. If the label states just "vitamin E. 400 I.U.," without specifying "dl" or "d" and especially if the price is low, you can be sure that it is synthetic.

Natural vitamin E is more expensive and the manufacturers of such usually wish to advertise the fact that theirs is a natural vitamin E (d-alpha). If the label states that vitamin E is in the form of mixed tocopherols, the vitamin is natural.

Now, which brand is best? For vitamin E, most natural brands are identical. There are only a few actual manufacturers of natural vitamin E. Most capsule makers buy vitamin E in bulk from the same sources. Therefore, the brand is not necessarily an indication of quality when it comes to vitamin E. Many manufacturers have both synthetic and natural vitamin E on their product list; therefore, please read the labels.