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Real Food For Real Health and How ‘Stress’ Affects Both

by Vivienne Bradshaw-Black(more info)

listed in nutrition, originally published in issue 238 - May 2017


What is Real Food?

Definitions of real food vary widely from that which tastes good
to that which has the best quality ingredients.

Factors Affecting Food Choice

Factors Affecting Food Choice[1]

Some people consider real food to be the best quality produce that can be bought from a supermarket, small food outlet / local farm, grown organically, grown in the garden or even chosen from restaurant menus.  Others consider real food to be that which delights the eyes, tastes good, satisfies hunger and is within their budget.  There is a wide range of opinion on food choices and real food could be found within any of the above named categories. 

Food is a substance that can be metabolised[2] to yield energy to maintain, repair and build tissue and facilitate all related processes.  Real food nourishes without a sting in the tail.  Any food containing toxic elements such as chemical poisons,[3] drugs, steroids, antibiotics, heavy metals, foreign proteins etc. administered to animal, fish, bird or crop sources could cause an inflammatory immune response or, conversely, a degenerative response rendering the food inadequate for consumption if unhindered nutritional benefit is the idea behind eating it.  These immune responses alter whole body chemistry including the acid/alkaline balance and this negatively affects normal metabolic function.   

The intake of real food can also be affected by negative mental/emotional states which disrupt metabolism, digestion and health in just the same way.   For example, the emotions of hatred, jealousy, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, disgust, disappointment, discouragement, powerlessness and meanness can have very damaging effects on digestion and metabolism.   There is an old saying that bitterness and hatred is like pouring a glass of poison for someone but drinking it yourself.  That old saying has a good element of truth.  The same food source, without the mental/emotional negative elements, could potentially have a nourishing effect and be classed as real food.[4]

Another saying which has a large element of truth is that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.  This simply means that we are individuals and no one’s nutritional requirements, biochemistry or metabolism is the same as another’s, even with identical twins. 

Quotation from Mahatma Gandhi

Quotation from Mahatma Gandhi[5]

What is Real Health?

The definition of real health would be considered by most people
as lack of symptoms, disability or discomfort.

There is little disagreement with the above definition but this generalization is faulty because lack of symptoms, disability or discomfort is but a ‘snap shot’ of what is at any particular time and does not bear relevance to what is a real state of being.  An analogy could be seeing a calm sea and assuming that all is well and on that basis ‘sailing ahead with confidence’.  This assumption could be accurate. However, an iceberg of catastrophic proportions could be just under the surface. It is not possible to tell which is true simply by looking at a snapshot of the calm surface.

Therefore, different definitions must be applied to
both real food and real health .

Humans beings are composite three-dimensional entities made in the likeness of their Creator and therefore health is on three levels -  spirit, mind/emotions/will and body and on this basis all three aspects have to be looked at to determine what real health is.  However, these three aspects are not single entities separate from each other but rather an integrated whole. 

A good analogy can be drawn from electric light.  The source of electricity (i.e. power via utility supplier), the wiring configuration (circuit board) and the end product (light bulb) are all separate but inter-dependent components which only produce if they work together.  Without the power source the circuit board and light bulb are dead. Without the circuit board there is no connection between the power source and light bulb.  Without the light bulb there is no product (light), i.e. evidence of power source or circuit direction.

In the above analogy the energy source equates to the human spirit, the circuit board equates to the mind/will/emotions and the light equates to what we can see, i.e. our bodies, lives, circumstances.   However, the above analogy is only partial because human beings are far more complex than an electrical example.  Electricity laws are unyielding and consistent.  Keep them and you gain the benefits of using electricity. Break those laws at your peril. The law of gravity operates in the same manner.

Human minds and bodies have complex living dynamic feedback systems, which an electrical system does not, and all mental and bodily systems such as the endocrine, digestive, immune etc. are part of an integrated whole. Anatomical and physiological breakdown into discrete partitions, for ease of learning about the amazingly complex human being, can give a very distorted and fragmented view clouding the essential unity of spirit, mind and body.   That is not to say that ‘expert’ knowledge of a particular area is not valid.  Indeed it is, but it must be placed within the context of the whole, similar to being one jigsaw piece of the whole picture. 

There are plentiful references to those who have attempted to equate certain emotional factors to physical symptoms and vice versa.[6]  Physical problems can have non-physical causal factors, mental/emotional problems can have physical manifestations and spiritual problems can be the cause of or result from both other areas.  All three aspects of human existence are inseparable.

With the above in mind, there is a well known adage that “you are what you eat”.  Most people would apply this only to what goes into the mouth. but considering we comprise spirit, mind/emotions/will and body, “what you eat” can be considered as energy source, mental/emotional intake and physical nutritional intake. Intake for all three aspects can be negative or positive and the intake of each area, whether negative or positive, affects the other two so it is unproductive to focus on one aspect without reference to the others.  Symptoms or problems prod us to focus on priority areas, or ‘end organ medicine’, i.e. where symptoms can no longer be ignored or suppressed.  The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the attention.

However, take a step backwards from the wheel that squeaks the loudest to a place in the past where, had measures been taken, the priority focus could have been avoided.  A significant concept relevant to all three areas of ‘intake’ for the human complex is the subject of stress.  The word “stress” is usually interpreted as a negative situation.  However, stress is simply a name for “expansion or emphasis”.  The term “stress” is commonly taken to mean the mental or emotional inability to cope with, or adapt to, some sort of life situation.  However, it is equally valid when applied to a situation of physical dehydration or malnutrition.

Stress, simply a name for expansion or emphasis,
can be described as either good or bad.

Good stress, or eustress, as described by endocrinologist Hans Selye, has a Greek prefix “eu” (meaning good) before the word stress.  Examples could be the stress felt before walking down the aisle, going to a party, receiving people long awaited for, having a baby, moving house, getting promotion to another position, entering a significant competition or examination or anything good but stressful. 

Bad stress or distress is a state in which someone is not able to adapt to the negative environment or circumstances and this manifests in detrimental health in any one or more of the three dimensions of spirit, mind/emotions and body. This does not mean that with time, knowledge and support that a situation cannot be directed out of distress.  Distress, like eustress, are only snap shots of ‘what is’ at a particular point in time.

Staying with the common interpretation of stress as meaning distress, then when this dominates thoughts, choices or attitudes, essential minerals become depleted and nutrition is thrown out of balance.  Stress will cause an increase in adrenal catecholamines and a corresponding increase in mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids.  When stressful situations are not resolved and become long term, severe consequences can result for mental/emotional, physical and nutritional well being. 

Distress is one of life’s ‘dashboard warning lights’
to be taken seriously and preferably without too much delay.

More important than the circumstances which present in life, albeit some being exceedingly painful, is the ability to handle them to our overall advantage.  Resolution dissipates, physiological distress ‘tracks’ and prompts character growth. Of course, a time element often has to be factored into this.  However, the philosophy sold to us by commercial interests that there is ‘a pill for every ill’ (to suppress symptoms of pain, fear, guilt, false-guilt, confusion, shame and grief etc.) is an enemy of real health on all three levels.  That is not to say the occasional ‘prop’ is invalid but as a way of life it can be a slippery slope to avoidable problems. In situations where coping or resolution seems beyond capacity or even impossible it is important to access ‘the right tools for the job’ and get appropriate help.

When the stress response is ongoing, not only are some minerals depleted but others can accumulate creating an imbalance of excesses and depletions.  The fight or flight reaction resulting from over-stimulation of the adrenal glands affects digestion owing to vascular and nervous involvement. This can also have negative effects on the heart, kidneys and liver.  Episodes of high blood pressure can result from the same stressful situations involving nutritional imbalances.  Stressful situations can give rise to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and long-term PTSD is now recognized, albeit applied mostly to the mental / emotional domain.  I believe that PTSD is just as valid where applied to physical manifestations and even ‘breaking of the spirit’.  Severe exhaustion, despondency and feelings of powerlessness are indicators to call for help.  When someone is in this state all aspects of the whole person will be negatively affected.

Stress affects the equilibrium between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems involved in the fight or flight mechanism.  Adequate digestive processes during the fight or flight phase are diminished; eating during stressful times should accommodate this understanding. The fight or flight state prompts retention of minerals needed for stimulus and loss of minerals needed for sedation.  Where stress is continuous there is a risk of sedative mineral depletion affecting physical and mental/emotional coping capacity.  Emotional stress, white sugar and excess alcohol consumption lead to magnesium loss which is particularly sensitive to stress. Synergy is where all nutrients whether minerals, vitamins, co-factors, water and everything else related, work together and so focus on isolated minerals is but a glimpse into knowledge of nutritional interconnectedness between the three facets of humanity. 

There are three broad energy states, digestive, action and recuperative; when one is dominant the other two take a back seat. This can be appreciated in every day examples. It is unwise to eat a meal before swimming because blood volume needs to be focused in muscles not digestion, avoiding things like cramp or fainting.  It is unwise to rush meals on the go because blood needs to be focused on digestion not muscles or mind avoiding things like lethargy, headache, heartburn or hiatus hernia.  Digestion is hindered when the sympathetic nervous system is dominant; eating during stress requires some proper management especially when a situation is long term. It is unwise to attempt exercise or eat a hearty meal when laid flat with influenza because recuperative energy is priority. Energy depletion and lack of appetite are inbuilt safety measures to what can actually be an acute episode of detoxification.  This state should be assisted and not suppressed with drugs correctly labelled as “against-life” (anti-biotics). 

The handling of stress is only one aspect of what affects nutrition and health.  There is no consistently agreed consensus based on empirical and scientific data to determine what real food is or what real health is. There are many factions promoting information about various aspects of real food and real health but they all have to bow to individual biochemical reactions which are as plentiful as people. Perhaps we are trying to grasp something outside of that which is ‘capped’ by the pressures of society, culture and religious traditions (i.e. money and power). What is in the realm of awareness cannot be really grasped until the controlling ‘cap’ is removed. Until then, the importance of thinking and examining things rather than taking for granted what is commonly believed is the best way to avoid problems in all three aspects of human life and health, rather than trying to find a way out after drifting into adverse circumstances by default.

Real food is food without any interference[7] which would
render it harmful in any way to any individual who eats it.

Real health is understanding who you really are
and working with yourself and not against yourself.


1.            Image

2.            Metabolism is the term given to the complex chemical processes involved in the ability to maintain life.  Metabolism is broadly categorized as breaking down, recycling, eliminating, repairing/restoring and building up.  It is a cycle which is dependent upon the provision of raw materials, available energy and efficient bodily systems for dealing with the necessary processes.

3.            Chemical poisons found in foods are too numerous to list here but information can be found by web searches.  Examples of well known poisons are fluorides, chlorine (destroys natural gut bacteria which have multiple essential functions including vital links in production of essential nutrients including vitamin B12) and pesticides but for starters three random samples of web sites containing information about the damage caused by chemicals in foods are:

4.            Some things commonly classed as food are unfit for human consumption.  These ‘non-foods’ can be found within fish, bird, animal and crop sources.

5.         Image from

6.         Robin Blake, Mind Over Medicine: Can the Mind Kill or Cure? Pan Books, London, ISBN-10: 0330295365, ISBN-13: 978-0330295369, 1987

German New Medicine:

Louise L Hay, Heal Your Body, Eden Grove Editions, ISBN-10: 1870845048, ISBN-13: 978-1870845045, Dec 1989.

7.         Interference refers to any obstruction that impedes full nutritional uptake.  This can be in the form of either a burden caused by chemicals, heavy metals etc. or nutritional inadequacy caused by depleted soils where the crops grown are nutritionally inadequate for animal or human intake.  Nutritional inadequacy can refer to either ‘not enough’ or ‘too much’; either way there is an imbalance which impedes full nutritional uptake for the end user.


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About Vivienne Bradshaw-Black

Vivienne Bradshaw-Black Cert Ed produced a health information course. She believes that the understanding of what causes health and what causes sickness can cut through the maze of confusion which dominates the sickness industry. Her desire is to teach this to those who choose health and offer contacts and support to individuals and groups taking responsibility for their own health choices. She can be contacted initially by email at

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