“A Power to Resist Disease Can Be Built Up With Foods That Have Vital Energy"

  The Japan Physicians Association
Dr. Yasuo Kohzu

The average life expectancy of Japanese people is increasing year by year. But now processed foods count for as much as 60% of those served on Japanese tables. "Such foods or 'foods with little vital power' lead Japanese people in a direction where their constitutions become vulnerable," said Dr. Yasuo Kohzu, ex-head of the Japan Physicians Association, who strikes a note of warning against the above tendency. We held an interview with him and asked him what dietary lifestyle enables us to build up the power to resist illness.
――With a number of cases of Escherichia Coli O-157 infection reported in the year before last, it is said that modern people's immune resistance has become weak. Please tell us what kind of foods we should be eating, and what we have to bear in mind in order to increse our power to resist illness.

Kohzu: I think that it is important to take, as much as one can, foods that grew naturally in the raw, having a lot of energy of life. Taking an example of vegetables, these are artificially cultivated under strict control. Nowadays we can eat what we want irrespective of the season. But we have to review the nutrient values of vegetables that were grown where there was a lot of sunshine and cultivated outdoors. For such vegetables, it would be possible to say that they have high activity levels coming from flavonoids and catechine, both of which eliminate active oxygen that acts to trigger cancer and arteriosclerosis. The same thing can be said about animals. A vital power of animals that were reared in free nature is different from that of other animals that were raised under control. The same applies to the eggs laid by these animals. They show differences in their nutritional elements.

――The Japanese are rice-eating people. It is also said that there are valuable nutritional elements in the unrefined parts of cereals. Can you tell us about this?

Kohzu: The Japanese developed their constitutions at first with minor cereals, then with algae and soybeans. Traditional Japanese food as such was excellent in terms of building up natural healing power. However, it seems that foods are produced now with too much human intervention. Too much attention and care is given to such products even at the stage of their growth. It is as if foods are processed from the growing stage and then receive even more processing afterwards. Speaking of manure, compost is no longer used, but organic fertilizers are employed instead. People try to exclude things that might be harmful to them from the beginning. But if there were something harmful to a man, he would need to be tough in order to resist it. A robust vital force would not flow from a state that did not experience any kind of severe situation. People with a resistant power live longer and are in good health. But such people were raised in harsh conditions.

――The point is that people, as well as vegetables, grow big and strong under severe circumstances.

Kohzu: The average life expectancy of the Japanese is increasing every year and Japan is said to be a country where people have the longest life expectancy. But this is only true of those who were born in the Meiji Era. They also have a strong immune system. Speaking of their dietary habits, they ate foods that grew in nature in the raw with a lot of vital energy. Thus they were provided with physical strength and a resistant power, which enabled them to live to more than 100 years. Based on this notion, it is very unlikely that young people today could expect to live that long. That is, putting too much work into foods, on the contrary, would result in weakening of vitality. Comparing the young with the aged, the qualities of the bones are different, first of all.

――Infectious diseases show an increasing trend worldwide. Drugs play a major role in combating such diseases. As for recuperation from sickness, it is considered necessary to enhance natural healing power with the right foods. Please tell us how you view the separate roles of drugs and food. か

Kohzu:Pharmaceutical products are very specific now, acting on respective regions directly and showing notable efficacy. As for medicines, I think that they are playing their roles. However, it is foods which, at the end of the day, constitute the comprehensive vital energy which a person has. In the past, medicines were given at far lower doses than now and the drugs available were at the most Chinese herbs. People enhanced their immune power and maintained their physical strength through their daily diet.

Of course, it is important to heal a disease by eliminating viruses with drugs. But, enhancement of resistant power through food is equally essential. On the basis of this perception, it is expected that there would emerge a need for foods that are somewhere between pharmaceutical products and conventional foods, with the role of supplementing the natural healing power. I believe that functional foods can play such a role.

――Does that mean that the foods with functions such as health foods and nutritional foods will be introduced and used in real medical situations in the future?

Kohzu:Our current diet would be of no help. Should there be foods that take the place of medicines, having the function of keeping people away from sickness? I believe that such foods have to be taken in the form of supplements so as to cultivate a resistant power. It would be necessary for clinicians to view things in this way and act accordingly in the future.

   The Japan Physicians

       Dr. Yasuo Kohzu
Copyright(C)2004 JAFRA. All rights reserved.