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Clear up your picture of nutrition: Elizabeth Pavka, Ph.D., LD/N, primes the "question pump" for our new nutrition column.


Someone recently said to me, "The body of knowledge in the field of nutrition is doubling every 18 months." While I can t document those exact numbers, I certainly know that there's such an avalanche of new information about foods, supplements and herbs that I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the new information. Do you? And, there are so many differing perspectives on many nutrition topics--everything from how much and what types of fat a person should eat to how much water a person should drink. What's a person to believe?

This column is your opportunity to clear up confusion you might be feeling and ask for answers about this exploding field.

Here are a few possible question and topics:

* How can I reduce my sugar cravings?

* What about these controversies: Are genetically modified foods safe? Go high-carbohydrate/low-fat or high-protein/low-carbohydrate? Does high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contribute to obesity? (Have you seen the commercials about how "healthy" HFCS is?) And, are organic foods really more nutritious?

* What type of probiotic should I take?

* Does a one-size-fits-all approach to foods and supplements really optimize every person's health? What about the concept of "biochemical individuality"?

* What's the newest information about vitamin D?

* The building blocks for every cell and substance in our body come from what we eat and drink and breathe. Stop and think about that for a moment. The statement is deceptively simple and exceedingly profound.

* Do foods play a role in irritable bowel syndrome (ms)?

* Optimal ingestion, digestion, absorption, and elimination are essential to the health of each cell and the body as a whole.

* How do I choose a good quality vitamin/mineral supplement?

* What about colonics?

* Does food play any role in depression, attention and focus, dementia, Alzheimer's?

Of course, this list is just a "taste" of possible questions and topics for questions. The good news is that by looking at nutrition from a wholistic perspective, these questions, and more, can be answered!

My definition of "wholistic nutrition" is based, in part, on work done in the early 1960s by Roger J. Williams, Ph.D., who wrote about what he called "biochemical individuality." That concept means that we're all genetically similar in the large picture, but genetically unique in the many biochemical pathways of our cells. And those biochemical pathways shift and change with each year of life. That means we're not all supposed to eat the same way or take the same supplement. So, in my practice, I approach nutrition by helping clients put together individualized eating plans. To the plan, I often add vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, probiotics, amino acids and other nutritional products. I no longer use the "d" word (you know ... diet) because it has so much emotional and mental baggage attached to it. I prefer meal plan, eating plan or menu.

I have repeatedly seen people's health improve when they begin eating better quality foods, taking supplements and looking at themselves as unique individuals with unique nutrition needs. I have also experienced it firsthand in myself. And, I'm excited to help you all on your journey towards better health.

Want Dr. Pavka to answer your nutrition question?

E-mail your question(s) to Put "Nutrition Question" in the subject line and include your name (first name and last initial will do) and city of residence.

Meet Your Columnist: Wholistic Nutritionist Elizabeth Pavka

Let me share briefly how I developed the wholistic perspectives that I have grown into over the past 27 years. I was conventionally trained in nutrition at Cornell University in the early 1980s. When I moved to Asheville in 1983, I worked in the office of a naturopathic physician who opened my eyes to the "rest of the field of nutrition." In my first 15 years, I worked in many different settings, including hospitals (one with an eating disorder program), a county health department, a nursing home, a rehab center, as well as teaching culinary students, teaching a health and fitness course at UNCA, wilderness camps for troubled teens, and in the office of what we would today describe as an "integrative physician." Then, I started nutritional counseling for individuals and families, and that continues to be my passion.

I'm pleased to be sharing my experience with you and answering your questions about this exciting field. And, if for any reason, I don't know the answer, I'll be sure to find someone who does!
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Title Annotation:holistic nutrition q&a
Author:Pavka, Elizabeth
Publication:New Life Journal
Article Type:Column
Date:Dec 1, 2008
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