Part One: The Price of Convenience

“The body never lies.” ~Martha Graham

Our health begins with the soil.

The lack of minerals in the soil leads to a lack of micronutrients in our food. This creates the tendency to overeat due to chronic hunger. Weight gain follows with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and so forth.

Poor diet and physical inactivity are the most important factors contributing to an epidemic of global overweight and obesity .The most recent data indicate that 72 percent of men and 64 percent of women in the United States are overweight or obese. Even in the absence of being overweight poor diet and physical inactivity are associated with major causes of morbidity and mortality.

Trail runners and snowshoers are not exempt from chronic and degenerative diseases merely because we are physically active. Nutrition is the cornerstone of the dimensions of wellness and sports performance. There are many endurance athletes who excel despite their diets. Know that there are consequences – whether your nutritional choices are mindful or mindless.

Add to this a heavy consumption of essential nutrient thieves such as coffee and alcohol and the endocrine system becomes chronically stressed. This leads to high cortisol levels, high blood pressure, blood sugar control issues, high cholesterol and triglycerides. The immune system is severely afflicted often leading to recurrent infections and serious conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Candidiasis.

Health costs from poor diet in the United States exceed $250 billion per year. The National Institutes for Health predicted that obesity will lower life expectancy in America by at least five years in the coming decades. We are an overfed yet undernourished nation.

Nutritional stress is created by the unhealthy properties of food. Food devoid of micronutrients is the root cause of nutritional stress. Eating caloric-dense, refined, processed foods requires an extraordinary amount of energy to digest and assimilate. This is a waste of time and energy from health and sports performance perspectives.

Nutritional stress is inherent to prolonged consumption of denatured and fractionalized foods. It is unfortunate and unnecessary that these food types represent the staples in the majority of North American diets. This directly correlates to the millions of people needlessly suffering and dying from poor dietary choices.

The abundant use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and related poisons to kill pests on plants vastly diminishes the nutrient quality of the food we ingest. Ground water seepage presents another issue respective to municipal drinking water quality.

Most food-producing companies do not focus on soil nourishment. Conventional farming is predicated on maximizing crop yields regardless of its nutrient value on the smallest possible tracts of land. This agricultural mindset and animal production are responsible for the major ecological issues facing our planet today.

“One should eat to live, not live to eat.” ~Moliere

Every major epidemiological study concludes that those who consume animal products, including fish (mostly contaminated with mercury and other cancer causing chemicals), milk, dairy products and chicken eggs, have significantly higher incidences of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis. This is due in part to the acidic nature of animal-based foods.

Studies have shown that eating organic meat is also associated with greater morbidity and premature death. Organic meat and poultry still contain trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Meat becomes a carcinogen once it is cooked and then rots in your colon about 72 hours. Consuming fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products and lean meats and poultry will reduce the intake of natural trans fatty acids but saturated fat and cholesterol are still present in these products.

The conventional formula related to calories consumed and calories expended is outdated. The USDA deems these elements critical for achieving and maintaining an appropriate body weight throughout one’s lifespan and its broader implications for the health of Americans. This way of thinking fails to address the true nutritional makeup of foods.

The latest evidence suggests that health truly equals the level of nutrients [micronutrients] per calorie – H = N/C. Many experts recommend one’s diet include at least 90 percent nutrient-dense plant foods rich in phytochemicals.

Diets fail because they focus on weight loss not health. Diets are as ineffective as treating symptoms or attempting to sell sand to a resident of Death Valley, CA. The commitment to change must be internal and long-term.

The Standard American Diet [SAD] is a losing proposition. The 2010 U.S. Department of Agriculture [USDA] Dietary Guidelines represent a small step in the appropriate direction – not the solution. Keep in mind that many scientists and physicians on the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee have affiliations with the meat, dairy, and sugar industries.

Why is this important?

Because many organizations presumed to “have your back” take funding from the food industry. The American Dietetic Association, for example, takes funding from the dairy industry.

This explains why the USDA guidelines advocate the consumption of more milk. Know that cow’s milk was intended for calves to consume – not humans. Milk is often touted as the mother of all elixirs because it contains calcium, vitamin D [a hormone], and the rest of it to build strong bones and teeth. Get your calcium from sea vegetables, kale, collards, figs, tofu, black beans, and Blackstrap molasses among other sources.

Because milk is an animal food it is acidic. Your body leaches calcium from your bones to neutralize the acidity – your skeleton essentially dissolves itself. Enter osteoporosis. This is why plant-based alkaline-forming foods are vital to the pH balance of your body. The more milk one consumes the greater the incidence of fractures – it is an inverse relationship. Drinking raw milk is not a solution because the amino acid  structure of the dairy protein remains unchanged in the absence of pasteurization or homogenization.

Cheese is another acidic yet beloved dairy product. It is useless to your body. Cheese contains opioid characteristics and casomorphins – derived from the dairy protein casein – to induce addiction. Ditch the cheese and use nutritional yeast instead – it is loaded with vitamins and minerals and has a mild cheddar flavor.

“The ultimate cause of human disease is the consequence of our transgression of the universal laws of life.” ~Paracelsus

The Toll of Diet-Related Chronic Diseases

Cardiovascular Disease

• 81.1 million Americans—37 percent of the population—have cardiovascular disease. Major risk factors include high levels of blood cholesterol and other lipids, type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), metabolic syndrome, overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, and tobacco use.

• 16 percent of the U.S. adult population has high total blood cholesterol.


• 74.5 million Americans—34 percent of U.S. 15 adults—have hypertension.

• Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.

• Dietary factors that increase blood pressure include excessive sodium and insufficient potassium intake, overweight and obesity, and excess alcohol consumption.

• 36 percent of American adults have pre-hypertension—blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not yet in the hypertension range.


• Nearly 24 million people—almost 11 percent of the population—ages 20 years and older have diabetes. The vast majority of cases are type 2 diabetes, which is heavily influenced by diet and physical activity.

• About 78 million Americans—35 percent of the U.S. adult population ages 20 years or older—have pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes (also called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose) means that blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes.


• Almost one in two men and women—approximately 41 percent of the population—will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.

• Dietary factors are associated with risk of some types of cancer, including breast (post-menopausal), endometrial, colon, kidney, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus.


• One out of every two women and one in four men ages 50 years and older will have an  osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime.

• About 85 to 90 percent of adult bone mass is acquired by the age of 18 in girls and the age of 20 in boys. Adequate nutrition and regular participation in physical activity are important factors in achieving and maintaining optimal bone mass.

The foregoing chronic and degenerative diseases affect trail runners and snowshoers. A nutrient-rich, plant-based, whole foods diet will ensure that your body remains in an alkaline state.

The good news is that the effects of nutritional stress can be reversed through an alkaline-forming, nutrient-dense, plant based, whole foods diet combined with effective whole food nutritional supplements and exercise.

It is a biochemical fact that all disease – especially cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis – exists in an acid medium. All animal products, refined and processed foods plus most high gluten grains create an acid condition in the body. Plant-based diets create an alkaline body pH.

There is no rationale for promoting foods strongly associated with chronic diseases or foods which have marginal nutritional value such as refined energy bars, sports drinks, and isolated supplements.

The amount of hype these foods receive is no less destructive to overall health and sports performance than the thousands of chemicals, flavor enhancers, coloring agents, preservatives, and growth hormones polluting our food supply. These detrimental effects mandate heightened food choice awareness by the athlete.

“You can trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” ~Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel prize-winning chemist

Optimal health is achieved by consuming primary-source foods. A diet consisting of primary-source nutrition is better for your body and the environment. Primary-source nutrition means eating only plant-based foods thereby eliminating the wasteful step of feeding plants to animals prior to consuming the animal – saving 30 percent of energy in the process.

The human body is biologically adapted to consume plant-based whole foods. Reams of scientific evidence support the far-reaching benefits of primary-source nutrition. Plants draw nutrients from the soil and pass them to us in the form of one-step nutrition.

Regular consumption of nutrient-dense whole foods supports the cellular regeneration necessary for health and vitality. Consistently eating foods close to nature is in your best interest.

A diet composed of fresh, whole, raw, ripe, organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds will provide the requisite nutrient-rich vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals for optimum wellness. These represent the most powerful disease-fighting foods on the planet.

“Wisdom is seeing something in a non-habitual manner.” ~William James

Heart attacks, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, and so on do not develop overnight. These chronic and degenerative diseases are primarily the result of prolonged poor dietary choices. Mindful food choices will reap rewards down the path as will  the cumulative effects of mindless food choices.

You can take a proactive stance with your sports performance and wellness or a reactionary one just like the current medical system. You can mask the symptoms or take action at the root level. Take a serious look at what foods and beverages you consume – and why.

Lifestyles are determined by habit. Habit insidiously dulls your awareness and discipline. Do not allow these mindful eating tenets to get lost in your daily routine. Take time to honor the sanctity of food. When you take care of your remarkable body it will take care of you. It is about how much value you place on your wellness and how committed you are to being accountable.

Slowly integrate more fruits and vegetables in your diet versus taking away foods.  Purchase organic foods as often as possible. Make your own sports drinks and gels. Consume bananas and dates instead of jelly beans to infuse energy. Commit to exploring the plethora of healthful options at your disposal.

When your body is nourished with nutrient-dense, plant-based, whole foods it will turn off its hunger signal upon satiation. Portion control is no longer an issue because your body will regulate itself.

Change your diet and dramatically reduce your risk for chronic and degenerative diseases – and improve your sports performance.

About the author

Jeff Kildahl, Wellness Editor

Jeff Kildahl is a writer, author, wellness consultant and philanthropist advancing preventive health care by synthesizing primary source nutrition and fitness as the principal components of the practice of medicine.

Kildahl is a sponsored vegan ultra-endurance athlete credentialed in bioenergetics, biomechanics, metabolic efficiency™ testing, sport nutrition, and natural medicine. He is a dynamic member of CUBE™ ~ a professional speakers group ~ empowering others to harmonize the "Keys to Living in the Song of Life."

He is the wellness editor at Snowshoe Magazine, United States Snowshoe Association columnist, and contributor to health, fitness and wellness sites, blogs and publications. He is a US-based ultra-endurance athlete and philanthropist for the 100 FOR 100 Movement ~

Kildahl is the creator and president of The Wholistic Edge® ~ a visionary firm providing synergistic solutions to transcend health, performance, and potential in life and sport from the inside out via the principles of Performance Medicine™ ~

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