During the economic depression caused by the Bolshevik Revolution, Udo Erasmus' parents trekked through Poland on their way to greener pastures, where Udo was born, and ended up in Germany for most of WW II. Weary of war and looking for a better life, the Erasmus clan immigrated to Canada. They settled on 112 acres of bush land in Northern Canada, living off the land, giving Udo ample learning about the flora and fauna of Nature.
During his first three years at the University of British Columbia, Udo worked as a soil sample tester for a mining company, eventually earning his B.S. degree in Zoology. While he studied Genetics at UBC, one of his research papers was published in the peer reviewed journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in 1967, and two more of his papers were published in the peer reviewed journal, Mutation Research, in 1971.
Udo's life took a precarious turn when he was nearly poisoned to death by a pesticide accident in 1980. He could find no medical help for his condition, and embarked on his own deep research project. The information he gained from his research helped save his life, and culminated in his landmark Canadian best-seller Fats and Oils. This book also became his thesis, and earned him a Ph.D. in nutrition in 1986. The book is now available in expanded, revised, updated form as Fats That Heal Fats That Kill.
"If you take the larger view of health, then health is wholeness," says Udo. "If you use that definition, you can't just talk about nutrition. To me, most people know a lot more about being physically healthy than they put into practice. I think the main reason for that is that if you are not inspired, and you are not in love with being alive, why would you do all the things that take effort to remain healthy? So, for me, the first instruction is get inspired. Otherwise, everything is just more work, more information, more stuff to do in a life that is already too harried and not worth living all that much."
When it comes to our health, most of us tend to take it for granted, and only seem to spring into action when something goes wrong, or scares us, such as a heart attack, stroke, or a chronic allergy, or persistent pain. But Udo recommends finding a way to get interested and committed to your own health, and seeking to get excited about taking responsibility for it. "It's always better to chase the carrot than to run away from mistakes," says Udo. "If you're inspired, it's not that difficult to be healthy. It takes effort, but a lot of what we have to do we already know."
This is especially true with access to the Internet--any number of systems, modalities and regimens are available 24/7. "Fundamentally, physical health comes from living in line with Nature," says Udo. "So, we're talking about fresh, raw, whole, organic. That was Nature's standard for as long as the planet's been spinning for every creature except for us. And, in that program, you need to get your green foods--the most important food on the planet--your essential nutrients which include essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins. You need to make sure your digestive system works, so we use digestive enzymes, probiotics and fiber to do that. You want to get your anti-oxidants. All Whole foods contain them; greens are the richest source."
Udo lists four main conditions that disturb health:
- Not being inspired.
- Poisoning your genetic program for health with synthetics, pesticides, plastics, pharmaceutical drugs, industrial chemicals, heavy metals, and lack of sleep.
- Not getting enough of the essential building blocks.
- Not making sure digestion works efficiently and completely.
Udo is most famous for his advocacy of the Essential Fatty Acids Omega-3 and Omega-6, even earning the title, "Father of Unrefined, Organic Flax Oil"--the best source of Omega-3 and 6. It wasn't until 1981 that these fatty acids were considered essential. Udo says, "Essential means that your body can't make this stuff. It means you have to have them. Even though your body can't make it, you have to have it. And because you can't make it and you have to have it, it has to come in from outside. If you don't get enough long enough, then you die; and if you bring them back before you die, and bring them back in adequate quantities, then all the problems that come from not getting enough are reversed, and you get your health back."
"Also, we are not allowed to call a nutrient 'essential' by the research scientists convention, until researchers have identified at least one biochemical reaction in the body in which that essential nutrient is needed, and without which that biochemical reaction in the body cannot take place."
Nearly all humans do not get enough Omega 3's in their diet for optimum health. "Every cell, every tissue, every gland, and every organ has to have Omega 3 and Omega 6," says Udo. "Both are essential, and they need to be in the right ratio. They are part of the structure of the cell membrane of every cell. They're required in vision, brain function, seratonin production, they improve nerve transmission, speed learning, increase IQ, elevate mood and lift depression; they improve muscular development, and are required for wound healing; they increase stamina and performance. That's why I say there needs to be a bottle of Omega 3's in every fridge."
Udo stresses that most diets contain fats that are either outright harmful to the cells, or are contaminated in some way due to food processing. Even in EFA supplements, especially those derived from fish oils, not to mention cooking oils, these Omega 3 and 6 fatty acid molecular chains are easily disrupted and tainted. "They'll get you a million or more toxic molecules for every one of the body's 60 trillion cells in just one tablespoon," says Udo, "because of the damage done by the harsh processing and the cells' sensitivity to that damage."
There are over 40 essential nutrients, including 20 minerals, 14 vitamins, 8 amino acids, and the 2 fatty acids. "If I had to pick one to focus on, I would pick the Omega 3 fatty acid simply because it is the most sensitive, the most damaged by processing. And, it is the most commonly too low in the greatest number of people. Omega 6's are similar to Omega 3's, except most people, unless they are on a low-fat diet, get enough Omega 6's along with some toxicity from the usual diet that people eat. That's why I emphasize the Omega 3, but both are essential, and they need to be in the right ratio. They need to both be made with health rather than shelf life in mind, because they way they are usually made by the industry does a lot of damage to these absolutely essential nutrients in our diet."
Udo has developed an oil blend for the proper ratio of Omega 3's and 6's--about 2:1 in favor of 3's. These oils are most commonly damaged by light, oxygen, heat, and chemical washing and extraction processes. Damaged Omega 6 fatty acids have been strongly linked to increased inflammation, cancer growth, and cardiovascular diseases. Udo's Omegas are come primarily from organically grown flaxseed oils. He does not use fish oils in his formulas due to the toxic processing necessary to extract them.
The Omegas in your diet...
Udo recommends a diet mostly of vegetables, seeds and nuts, with supplementation of Omegas and digestive enzymes. "Greens are first," says Udo, "then good fats and proteins are on the second level because they have essential nutrients. Never eat more fuel than you burn, because if you don't burn it, you're going to wear it. Everything you eat that you don't burn gets turned into fat. If you're sedentary, you need to limit your carb intake. And what you will use as fuel instead is the good fat. Good fats, especially the missing Omega 3, turns on fat burning, turns up heat production, and turns off fat production in the body. Carbs turn on fat production and turn off fat burning, so overweight people have a hard time losing body fat, because they can't get it burning as long as they keep eating carbohydrates. That's why we say, Make a fuel shift. Lower your carb intake, increase your good oil intake. Use good fats for energy instead of carbs, and you'll be amazed at how quickly you lose fat."
Udo has worked with hundreds of athletes and bodybuilders, and stresses the importance of being active to keep your fat metabolism effective. "You've got to be active," says Udo. "If you're not active, you're going to die young. If you're not active and you're overweight, my view is, well, really enjoy your life now because it's going to be a short one. Get inspired and stay inspired! Life is great, and better than any other alternative..."
Udo's nutritional products are available online (see below), or through retail stores carrying the Flora brand.