Eating Real Food
What Is “Real” Food?
Why Is Real Food Superior?
How Does Real Food Heal?
Learn More About Real Food. Look Inside….
TOPIC: REAL FOOD
We like junk food so much that 61% of the food we Americans buy is highly processed. Further, almost 1,000 calories of our daily diet come solely from highly processed foods.
These foods include soda, cookies, chips, white bread, and prepared meals. This info is from a 12-year study, recording grocery purchases of nearly160,000 households.
Sadly, these purchases are nutritionally inferior.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2015
Eating Real Food
We are living in an era of processed foods. They dominate supermarket shopping, not to mention drive-through window purchases.
People in the know recognize that their health and that of their loved ones is dependent on foods that can be pulled like carrots, picked like apples, gathered like oats, pasture-raised like livestock, or fished.
For the sake of our bodies, minds, and spirits, we need to think “back to the earth” as we make our food choices.
In this issue of Nutrition News, we discuss “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” truths about food.
What are most of us eating? What’s best for us to eat? How does real food serve us? Which supplements best support a healthy diet? And finally, we include a reminder about playing The “Is It Healthy?” Game.
This newsletter presents an abundance of evidence showing the superiority of real food as the proper nourishment not just for us humans but for all sentient beings. In essence, this information serves as expert testimony.
Nutrition News and I invite you to eat real food at the banquet of health.
These days, it seems we have lost sight almost completely of what constitutes real food. Think of brilliantly colored, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, rich brown grains, wholesome dairy foods, lean meats from healthy animals, and plump fish from lively rivers and deep blue seas.
As one author puts it, “As a fundamentally holistic experience, eating real food can nourish us body, mind, and spirit.”
Eating Real Food: The Good
If it can be hunted, fished, pulled, picked, or gathered it belongs on your table. If it has been manufactured, it doesn’t. Real food can only be created and grown naturally. The words food manufacturing are completely contradictory.
Not just fish but any animals fed their natural diet produce lean meat loaded with omega-3 fatty acids while eggs provide a perfect protein profile for human consumption.
Grains, beans, nuts, and seeds are powerhouses of nutrition and goodness. Vegetables are the Mother Lode of nutrition, containing the broadest range of nutrients of any food class. They provide vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Lastly, fruits reign as the world’s only truly healthy dessert.
When it comes to preventing, reversing, and treating disease, a whole food diet is the answer. In the Harvard Physicians Health Study, the diets of some 42,000 male physicians were categorized as either “prudent” or “Western”. The prudent diets contained higher amounts of vegetables, fruit, fish, poultry, and whole grains.
Western diets had higher amounts of red meat, luncheon meats, french fries, high fat dairy, refined grains, and sweets.
The Western diet increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 50 percent. In other studies, the same Western diet has been linked to a higher incidence of all degenerative disease, including heart disease and cancer.
The famous Harvard study is one of many in which researchers conclude that a whole foods diet is the only healthy way for humans to eat.
The health of populations which adhere to their native diet or consume a plant-based diet is in stark contrast with our own.
In one example, among the people of Laos, only 5 percent of all deaths are from heart disease or cancer. The average person takes in approximately 90 percent of total calories from plant foods (including rice).
Eating Real Food: The Bad
In the US, most of us have adopted eating habits that keep us from experiencing radiant health. Tragically, the way most of us eat practically guarantees some form of degenerative disease in our future. Don’t believe me? Read on….
According to the USDA, we eat only 7 percent of our daily calories as fruits and vegetables! Further, although this stat includes beans, the star is the potato – and we eat that as fries and/or chips! So what are we eating for the remaining 93 percent?
On the cover of this issue, we introduce a 12-year study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina. These folks monitored the grocery bills of 157,142 households. They discovered that 61 percent of groceries were highly processed, refined carbohydrates and oils. (Think buns, bagels, cookies, muffins, donuts, and bread. Plus, oils from fried foods such as chips.) We’re now at 68 percent of our total calories. The final 32 percent is fiberless animal foods. (Think burger patties, chicken, and cheese.)
In addition, one-half of all meals are eaten away from home. The vast majority of these are purchased at fast food franchises. This indicates more empty calories from refined white flour, sugary sodas, and unhealthy fats
In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan writes,
“… the chronic diseases that now kill most of us can be traced directly to… the rise of highly processed food and refined grains; the use of chemicals to raise plants and animals in huge monocultures; the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat produced by modern agriculture; and the narrowing of the biological diversity of the human diet to a tiny handful of staple crops [wheat, corn, and soy]… Lots of everything, except vegetables.”
Decades ago, “fortifying” milk with vitamin D and bread with B vitamins helped wipe out such deficiency-related diseases as bone-weakening rickets and deadly pellagra. The recent addition of folic acid to cereals and grains is expected to do the same for certain kinds of birth defects. This step is an effort to replace nutrients processed out of real foods. Doesn’t it make more sense to eat whole foods in the first place?
Now we have “functional foods”. These are sweet drinks and snacks to which isolated, trendy nutrients have been added willy-nilly. By waving the magic wand of nutrition over the products, these fantasy foods supposedly become good for us. As always with processed foods, they are only good for the bottom line of the manufacturers and their stock holders.
Because of food manufacturing practices, many of us are now eating substances which don’t even resemble real food. Meanwhile, after hundreds, even thousands of years of eating basically the same diet, what most Americans now eat is changing more than once in a generation.
“The force behind this unprecedented velocity is the 32 billion dollar food-marketing machine that thrives on change for its own sake.”
Food science drives the food industry with its theories. Each new theory yields a new line of foods. (Remember the crazes? The low fat craze, followed by the low carb craze, and now the high protein craze.) It’s no secret that this machine is raking in the profits as it grinds up our health.
In The Crazy Makers, Carol Simontacchi writes,
“We have surrendered our health to the convenience of eating manufactured foods…, starving our bodies and our minds.”
She goes on to note that all the colors of nature are reproduced on the seductive packaging of this junk – and that packaging photo is where any trace of nature stops. However, you can give yourself what’s good. It’s out there waiting for you.
Eating Real Food: The Ugly
The name of one of the chapters in Simontacchi’s The Crazy Makers is “Food and Suffering”. She is writing of the suffering Americans are undergoing physically and mentally because of our radically substandard diets.
Certainly the suffering of the animals involved in providing us with meat, dairy, and eggs rivals any we may be experiencing. Their diets also rival ours in their perversity.
You may remember, the biggest health scandal of the new century, when 143 million pounds of tainted beef were recalled from 20,000 school districts across the US. The cows were so sick a fork lift was being used to handle them. The recall followed the release of a secret Humane Society video. It is known that at least 30 million pounds of the meat found its way into the food supply. Eating meat from diseased cows puts humans at much higher risk for food-borne illnesses. This includes mad cow, a disease which can take years for symptoms to appear.
Since 1961, the demand for beef has grown exponentially around the world. At that time, the total meat supply was 71 million tons. Statistics from WorldWatch show that by 2007 the meat supply had topped 284 million tons. Experts predict that by 2050 nearly twice that much meat will be produced for a projected total of more than 465 million tons.
There is also an environmental price to pay for this blood lust. Cattle raising alone accounts for 18 percent of greenhouse gasses and ruins the land while demands for more beef result in ever more virgin land being lost.
Americans eat ½ lb meat daily, twice as much meat as the rest of the world. (Ironically, stats show that we also eat about twice the recommended amount of protein.)
The simple solution is to cut back. Unfortunately, most of us show no inclination to do so. If we ate beef as a specialty, all cattle could be pastured. The cattle would be healthy; their meat would be healthy; we would be healthy; and the planet would be more healthy. In fact, reducing our beef consumption by only 20 percent would be comparable to every car owner in the country switching from a standard sedan to a Prius.
However, beef isn’t our only ugly problem. Public Citizen, the watchdog group, reports that the vast majority of imported food (including fruits, and vegetables) coming into the US from countries like China, Mexico, Peru, Panama, and South Korea is never examined or tested by anyone. Many of these countries have weak food inspection standards, insufficient funds for inspections, and lax enforcement of the few rules that do exist.
Because of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, the amount of imported food we eat has more than doubled in the last 20 years. These food imports have swamped the capacity of the USDA and FDA to adequately carry out their responsibilities to guarantee the safety of the food. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this concerns seafood, the leading cause of food poisoning.
By 2014, fully 90 percent of all seafood sold in the US came from abroad, yet way back in 2006 the FDA was unable to inspect over 98% of it. Of the rejected shipments, more than half were declared “filthy” and a frightening number were infected with the potentially lethal Salmonella bacteria.
Seldom mentioned in the public media, there are two innovative approaches to the creation of animal products: cloning and cultured meat. Surprisingly, cloning has been commercialized since 1998. Its use is explained as a means of reproducing superior animals (e.g., a farmer’s favorite milk cow: The Immortal Bessie). These animals are used for breeding. However, meat and milk from their offspring are on the market. Because these foods cannot be differentiated genetically, their packaging is unmarked. The way to avoid consuming these foods is to buy only organic animal products.1
A second even more novel approach increases meat production by culturing cells. Cultured meat, also called synthetic meat, cell-cultured meat, clean meat, and in vitro meat, is meat grown in cell culture instead of inside animals.
No living animal is involved. It is a form of cellular agriculture. It is produced using many of the same tissue engineering techniques traditionally used in regenerative medicine. Due to technical challenges associated with production, cultured meat has not yet been commercialized.
The first cultured beef burger patty, created by Dr. Mark Post at Maastricht University, was eaten at a demonstration for the press in London in August 2013.
Eating Real Food: The Ugly
1 Because of GMO (genetically modified) food being fed to food animals, we have long recommended that you buy organic animal products.
We believe that GMO foods are antithetical to the body and thus undermine our health. The FDA promotes cloned livestock and their offspring as “the-same-as” the real thing. There is plenty of online info for the curious. My precursory research wasn’t encouraging regarding the health of animals produced by cloning.
Eating Real Food: GET REAL!
And, get off the Western diet! An example of the miracle of real food comes from a story told by Michael Pollan.
Some years ago in Australia, ten middle-aged, overweight, diabetic, sedentary Aborigines agreed to participate in an experiment. They had been living the typical Western lifestyle and eating the typical Western diet. This included flour, sugar, white rice, carbonated sodas, beer and wine, powdered milk, cheap fatty meat, potatoes, onions, and some fresh fruits and vegetables.
In the experiment, they returned to their native bush country for seven weeks. There, they resumed their traditional diet and lifestyle. The object was to learn if they could stop and/or reverse their poor health conditions. They had no access to “store food” but hunted, fished, and gathered their food. (Raised in the bush, they retained their knowledge of acquiring food in the wild.) They ate mainly game, plugs figs, yams, and honey.
After seven weeks, there were striking improvements in their health. All lost weight (average, 18 pounds) and saw a drop in blood pressure. Their triglycerides fell into the normal range, and their omega-3 levels rose dramatically.
Amazingly, their metabolic abnormalities were greatly improved or completely reversed in less than two months!
The nutrition theory embraced by Nutrition News is that the closer the foods we eat mimic what our ancestors ate, the more healthy we will be.
No matter how technologically advanced our minds may be, our bodies prefer real foods. To that extent we are all aborigines!
Eating Real Food
Supplement Your Health
Making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle by making good health choices most of the time is far more challenging than taking a magic pill. And, there is no magic pill.
At Nutrition News we believe that nutritional supplements are a part of a healthy diet. One reason for this is that there are some nutrients that are difficult – or even impossible – to obtain in sufficient amounts from food. Some of them are listed below.
• A multivitamin-mineral formula – No matter how well you eat, hedge your bets with this.
• Chromium – Helps with blood sugar. Up to 600 mcg per day. (Check against the amount in your multi-.)
• Vitamin C – Non-formation by humans theorized to be a gene mutation. Makes the protein collagen that holds your body together. 1000-3000 mg. You don’t want to eat this many oranges.
• Vitamin E – Good for your heart. Purchase a product that contains complete vitamin E. Take at least 200 IUs of that form.
• Vitamin D3 – “The Sunshine Vitamin”. If you’re not living mostly naked out of doors, you’re probably not getting enough. The body has a multitude of receptors for this hormone. Take 1000-5000 IU.
• A bone building formula. Be sure it has sufficient magnesium (200-400mg). Add stronium (375-500 mg) and Vitamin K2 (45-90mcg).
• Omega-3 with EPA and DHA. Use the label recommendations. To avoid pollutants, buy pharmaceutical grade. Or eat salmon or other deep ocean fish at least twice a week.
• Coenzyme Q10 – If you are over 40, this supplement is mandatory. It powers up our cells and we quit making it as we age.Under 40? Include lots of green foods in your diet for raw material.
• Adaptogen – These substances, such as ginseng and ashwaghanda, help your body to deal with stress.
Eating Real Food-Siri Says:
May we all take Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Add exercise, sufficient sleep, clean water, and laughter to that and you have an excellent recipe for a healthy life.
And, play The “Is It Healthy?” Game along with all of us here at Nutrition News. Make “Is It Healthy?” the question you ask throughout the day.
Ask it around what you eat and drink, what you do, and what you think. Do your best to make the healthy choice at least 80 percent of the time.
Let Food Be Thy Medicine
“Take two carrots and call me in the morning,” writes Max Edelson in a recent article for Hopkins Medicine. Here is a list of the top 10 foods as reported by Huffington Post.
Honey: Anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. Being explored for its role in digestive health as well as wound healing.
Blueberries: One of the highest levels of antioxidants, linked to anti-inflammatory properties, memory, lower cholesterol, reduced diabetes risk, slowing the aging process, improving motor skills, and supporting urinary and vision health.
Salmon: Low in calories and saturated fat; rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Anti-inflammatory and cancer preventive. Role in diabetes and Alzheimer’s prevention.
Green Tea: Cancer risk reducing properties and a potential for decreasing incidence of stroke and heart disease. Reduces inflammation, particularly with several types of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). May help prevent type two diabetes and osteoporosis.
Broccoli: Nutritional superstar. Loaded with vitamins and minerals. Has cancer-fighting properties. Benefits shared with cruciferous veggie family.
Walnuts: Rich in heart-healthy omega-3. First food allowed by FDA to make a qualified health claim (reduction of heart disease risk). Eat 1.5 oz of walnuts per day.
Spices: The top spices are turmeric (anti-inflammatory, pain relief, slowed progression of Alzheimer’s); cinnamon (blood sugar stabilization, lower cholesterol); and ginger (supports digestion, anti-inflammatory, indications for cancer prevention).
Pomegranate: Rich in antioxidants; shows promise in reducing heart disease risk by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. Reduces risk of certain types of cancer. Delicious too!
Dark Chocolate: Surprise! Surprise! Benefits the cardiovascular system and lifts mood. Has cancer-protective properties as well.
Yogurt: Especially Greek, even low fat is luscious. Probiotics and protein, plus vitamins and Brings digestive and immune support. Improves vaginal health. Best to eat plain. (No? Add some flavored stevia.)