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Health and Wellness Seminar Targets Nutrition

By Eddy Ball
September 2008

Winget, above, pondered a question from the audience about the nutritional value of various kinds of meat. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Jakub Kwintkiewicz, Ph.D.
NIEHS Research Fellow Jakub Kwintkiewicz, Ph.D., asked several questions during the talk. Kwintkiewicz is a member of the Reproductive Medicine Group. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Jack Bishop, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist Jack Bishop, Ph.D., took advantage of his laptop to research probiotics during the talk. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

On August 19, NIEHS staffers gathered in Rodbell Auditorium to learn more about the integrative health/natural medicine approach to wellness in a talk on "The Science of Nutrition: How a Healthy Diet Creates a Healthy Future." Presented by James Winget, D.C., of Raleigh Specific Chiropractic, the presentation focused on the role of nutrition and supplementation as key components of efforts to promote optimal health.

The event was hosted by Health and Fitness Program Manager Stephanie Bullock-Allen of the NIEHS Recreation and Wellness Program. The program consisted of Winget's talk and complimentary spinal evaluations by members of his staff. Throughout the talk, Winget returned to the question he wanted his audience to ponder as they shopped for groceries and made decisions about meals, "Is it [food choice] about our taste buds or expressing the greatest level of health possible?"

Winget said that green, leafy vegetables should make up the largest percentage of a healthy meal and be consumed raw or lightly steamed to preserve as many of the nutrients as possible. As companion and snack foods, he recommended fruits, preferably organic to reduce pesticide contamination and locally grown and ripened to ensure the highest nutrient content. He also recommended lowering consumption of meats and eating only lean meat from free-ranging animals that have not been fed hormone or antibiotic supplements.

According to Winget, the average American's diet is characterized by foods, such as sugars, white bread, dairy and fried foods, that upset the pH-base balance of the body and the healthy 1:1 balance of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids. Both, he said, can lead to less than optimal health or disease. Eating foods that are associated with alkalinity and omega 3, such as vegetables and fish, and supplementing omega 3 fats, antioxidants and whole food multivitamins are ways to restore those balances for better health.

As he turned to the subject of probiotics, Winget echoed the naturopathic medicine mantra that health begins in the gut. He explained that the gut's "good bacteria," such lactobacillus and bifidobacter, function to counterbalance potentially pathogenic bacteria in the intestine. He recommended supplementing with probiotics and limiting foods, such as sugars, that help "bad" bacteria proliferate as strategies for balancing gut flora and promoting health.

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