What we eat may be the key to unlocking the mystery of better health.
That's according to Akmal Muwwakkil, Ph.D., a practitioner of functional medicine which he said "balances the mind, body and spirit."
Muwwakkil said that poor nutrition is the cause of many of the diseases African-Americans struggle with every day.
Through making better choices about what we eat, when we eat certain foods and even the combination of foods we consume, we can "overcome deficiencies that are labeled as diseases," he said. "Cancer is a deficiency, but we treat it as a disease."
He adds that most people are malnourished—even those viewed as overweight—because they lack the necessary nutrients for their bodies to function properly. It is critical to naturally allow the body to rebalance itself, he said.
"When you provide the body with what it needs, you begin to see the deficiencies decrease," said Muwwakkil.
For example, he said rampant high blood pressure in the Black community is generally the result of potassium deficiencies. High cholesterol comes from the body not having enough niacin and lecithin.
"Our imbalances also come from the fact that we are eating the wrong food in the wrong season," he said adding that certain foods should be eaten at specific times of the year and not year-round. For example, Muwwakkil said pasta shouldn't be consumed in the fall and winter because it is gelatinous and our digestive systems slow down during those seasons because we are less active. However, he recommends eating beans and green vegetables during fall and winter.
"When you understand changing the food according to the season a lot of ailments you see begin to dissipate," said Muwwakkil.
Muwwakkil does not hold food in America in high regard.
"Now we have the worst food we have ever had in the history of humanity," he said. "Our food is just shy of being poison."
He explained that practically all food contains chemical dyes, preservative and pesticides that affect the body's balance.
Muwwakkil, who also is an acupuncturist and a traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, has been practicing functional medicine for 25 years. He has studied in both China and Canada. In addition to a clinical practice he runs in Bowie, Md., he holds workshops and is the author of five books. He is also a natural health researcher and spiritual counselor.
However Muwwakkil, 63, who comes from "a family of healers" didn't always embrace the family ways. His mother, a Jamaican, inherited the "healing arts" from his grandmother, who was Ethiopian. He recalls watching his mother put her hands on people who came to the family's kitchen door for help. As he approached adolescence, he rejected it and pursued a journalism degree, working for many years as a photojournalist. However, he admits, "She knew something I didn't know. About 20 years ago, God brought me back around."
Although he doesn't use or recommend pharmaceutical drugs, Muwwakkil said he understands that they can be beneficial to some people under certain circumstances. He said he helps individuals understand drugs and their side effects.
"I don't deal with pharmaceuticals, but I don't tell people not to deal with pharmaceuticals. I see some good in pharmaceuticals. I deal with nutrients."
Muwwakkil offers the following tips for better health: 1) Take digestive enzymes. 2) Chew your food, don't gulp it. 3) Exercise 4) Learn about food combining; and 5) Understand the chemistry that's in your food.
Those interested in learning more about food combining can visit Akmal Muwwakkil's website at www.healenarts.net.