Monthly Archives: August 2009

Healthy Living Real Food

Nutrients You Are Probably Lacking In Your Diet

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Does this picture bring memories to mind of what you ate recently? Maybe you think your diet is just fine. Or, perhaps you are thinking your diet needs some adjustment. If you regularly eat “foods” such as those shown in the picture, it’s time to change your thinking about food and your eating habits.

Here’s something you may find surprising though – even if you don’t eat the foods pictured at left much or at all, you could still be lacking in many critical nutrients that your body desperately needs, and worse – you could be eating foods that you believe are perfectly healthy but are actually a detriment to your health. Even if you make home-cooked meals, you may be mislead in thinking that the foods you are using to create meals from scratch are healthy to eat when in fact they aren’t healthy at all.

We often hear about malnutrition in underdeveloped countries. Those of us living in first-world, developed countries rarely associate this phenomenon with our own population. But the truth is, we are some of the most overfed and undernourished in the world. The nutrients we will discuss in this article are a few important ones that many people in developed countries are lacking in, across the board. Deficiencies in these nutrients can cause degenerative disease to occur – diseases that people often seek to “cure” with drugs and surgery from conventionally-trained doctors. Some of the most prevalent diseases that are caused and/or worsened by nutritional deficiencies are heart disease, cancer, auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lupus.

The reason we are so deficient in these important components of diet is because of the way our food production has evolved in growing, manufacturing, sales, and eating habits. In developed countries, we have food available anytime of day or night – and much of it is toxic, processed “food” with little nutritional value. Cooking is something we do less than ever before in history due to our stressful lives and busy schedules. Even people who cook food at home are using processed, convenience foods to prepare their meals. These foods include the meat and dairy products you eat, grains and grain products, fruits and vegetables, nuts, drinks, and foods containing fats such as oils. Do you know if your food is truly healthy?

No amount of drugs or surgery will cure disease.  Even if you take drugs for a disease, the disease will still be there. It just might be the case that the drug or surgery will cause one or more of the symptoms to disappear for awhile, making the person who is taking the drug believe they are cured. But those drugs also cause side-effects as well – side effects that can be harmful or fatal.

If you treat your health problems naturally with lifestyle and proper diet, the body is able to begin the important process of changing the conditions where disease exists. Given the proper tools and nutrients, the body is incredibly resilient and possesses a great capability to eliminate disease and heal itself. The following are some critical elements in nutrition that you may be deficient in (and remember, many of these nutrients will actually prevent disease from occurring):

Iodine

Much has been written and stated about the lack of iodine causing goiter during the earlier part of the 20th century. Iodine deficiency is actually a major cause of disease in developed countries due to the inadequate consumption of iodine-containing foods. Cysts in the breasts and ovaries can actually be caused by deficiency of this vital nutrient in the body. Many patients suffering from hypo and hyperthyroid conditions who take medications or have surgery can benefit greatly from iodine supplementation to alleviate symptoms and repercussions of thyroid disease. Because iodine deficiency can also cause problems with the adrenal glands and thyroid system, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a health care professional in dealing with this syndrome.

Other conditions caused by lack of iodine include Graves disease, Hashimoto’s disorder, fatigue and other auto-immune disorders. Infertility and miscarriage can also result in women trying to conceive, as well as reduced IQ in children born to mothers who lack sufficient iodine, which can result in mental retardation. Iodine also helps aid the body of ridding itself of heavy metals such as mercury, bromines, chlorines, and fluorides.  All of these harmful substances are present in our conventional food system and municipal water systems, the air we breathe and soil.

Good sources of iodine in the diet include seafood and sea vegetables such as kelp (seaweed), dulce, and nori. You can also obtain iodine from foods like dairy products and bone broths made from cattle and animals on pasture with iodine-rich soils. Kerrygold Butter is a great source of iodine because it comes from cows grazing on Irish soils near the ocean. Since most people do not eat enough of these foods, a supplement often becomes necessary. Iodoral and Lugol’s are both reputable brands and can be obtained from a knowledgeable health care practitioner.

Vitamin D

Another nutrient we are severely deficient in, Vitamin D is something many people believe we can only obtain from the sun. While the sun is an important source of this vital nutrients, there are foods which are rich sources of Vitamin D too. Foods with saturated fats like grass-fed meats/poultry/pork, eggs from pastured hens, raw dairy products, and Fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures are your best sources for obtaining enough Vitamin D through diet – as well as Vitamin A and Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Sun exposure has come under tremendous criticism in the last 40 years, and we have been repeatedly advised against prolonged sun exposure and told to use copious amounts of sunscreen. Sunscreen can be harmful because it blocks important rays needed by our bodies to synthesize critical nutrients, and most sunscreens on the market contain dangerous chemicals that can actually cause health issues. Our skin is the largest organ and absorbs substances 10 times greater than our digestive tract. So, sun exposure is very important.

If you are concerned about being sunburned when you are outside, limit your direct exposure in any given day to about and hour and use long sleeves, pants, skirts, dresses, hats, and scarves to cover up after that time period. Repeated, short span exposure to the sun will allow your skin to become acclimated to exposure to reduce burning and increase your Vitamin D intake that is so critical in lowering your risk of many different diseases.

Omega 3 essential fatty acids

In developed countries, most people have a deficiency in Omega 3 EFAs, while they receive too many Omega 6s due to consumption of processed foods. Omega 3s are responsible for proper brain, eye, and cardiovascular function. If this important EFA is missing in the diet, serious health consequences can occur. The over-abundance of Omega 6s in the diets of people in developed countries creates and inflammatory response in the body which leads to many health problems – obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, depression, premature aging, and many auto-immune disorders including Diabetes.

Omega 3 EFAs can be found in grass-fed meats and dairy products (raw is best), cold-pressed flax-seed oil, fermented cod liver oil, lacto-fermented foods like sauerkraut and other vegetables, eggs from pasture-raised hens and other fowl,

Vitamin B complex

In the United States, we live very stressful, demanding lives. Our bodies become depleted of nutrients easily when under strain. Among other things, B vitamins are essential for our adrenal glands, handling sugar, and dealing with stress. Take the average American who has no time for enough sleep, rest, a healthy diet, and add in the pressures and stress of modern life and what you’ve got is an invariable deficiency in all the B vitamins. Health problems that can develop range anywhere from mental disorders to heart palpitations to sleeplessness to chronic fatigue and panic attacks.

Good sources of B Vitamins include bananas, tempeh (fermented soy), potatoes, real, whole grains, lentil beans, eggs, green vegetables, dairy products from grass-fed animals, pasture-raised poultry, and healthy grass-fed meats (especially organ meats). Vitamin B is water soluble (is not stored) and must be replaced in the body daily, so obtaining an adequate, natural source of Vitamin B complex regularly is really important.

Iron

When you become low on iron, the amount of oxygen which reaches your cell is limited. The result is fatigue, poor mental and physical performance, and lowered immune function. An iron deficiency can cause you to feel tired and appear pale in the complexion.  Iron is essential in the natural fat burning process in the body as well. Good sources of iron include grass-fed meats (especially dark and organ meats), eggs from pasture-raised hens, wild-caught fish like tuna and salmon, oysters, . Vitamin C is necessary for absorption of iron, so be sure to eat plenty of natural sources of Vitamin C such as organic citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables (which also contain trace amounts of iron from the soil minerals).

Vitamin E

Many people have a deficiency of vitamin E which causes weakening of the immune system (like Vitamin B deficiency) and the breakdown of vital red blood cells. Vitamin E is one of the most important fat-soluable antioxidant nutrients. It is essential in elimination of free-radicals in the body. It can also reduce the risk of cancer, immune system disorders, dementia, cataracts, and Diabetes. This critical nutrient also aids in keeping the cardiovascular system healthy by reducing artherosclerosis.  Good sources include grass-fed meats and poultry, eggs from hens on pasture, olive oil, carrots, avocadoes, hazelnuts, peanuts, and almonds, real whole grains, spinach, and wheat germ.

Saturated fat and cholesterol

 Yes, I said saturated fat and cholesterol. You may be thinking, “but the medical community frowns upon saturated fat!”. It’s true, they do. If saturated fat and cholesterol are such a problem, why do we have so many rampant health problems in our country? Problems like heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes…I could go on. Sure, we eat a lot of meat and fat, but the issue is that we are consuming the wrong kinds of meats and fats. The average citizen eats factory-farmed meats and dairy products, and processed, rancid fats from genetically-modified oils to obtain their so-called nutrients and nutritional value. These products are the actual reason we are seeing so many health issues today at such staggering rates.

Fats and cholesterol from industrial meat and dairy products and  processed, rancid oils are one of the main culprits behind our health woes. Traditionally, people who consume healthy fats from grass-fed meats and pasture-raised animals, their eggs and milk and milk products, are some of the healthiest people on the planet. They have very low incidence of heart disease and obesity. So yes, eat plenty of real organic butter and other healthy dairy from antibiotic-free, pastured-cows (raw is a bonus!), eggs from pasture-raised hens, cold-pressed olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, cold-pressed flax seed oil, meat, tallow & lard from healthy animals who are on open pasture and not administered chemicals in their feed or antibiotics, and fermented cod liver oil.

The solution for health problems and nutrient deficiencies is to change your lifestyle and improve your diet. What should you be eating? Let’s start with some of the things you might be eating which can likely cause deficiencies in the first place:

  • Processed foods such as cereals, breads, pastas, crackers, food bars, nuts, desserts, soda pop, soy and soy products, soda pop, juices, coffee, teas, and many others.  These foods are the lowest of the low. They are not real food nor do they contain any value to the nutritional needs of your body.  These should be eliminated completely and replaced with real, organic, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Conventionally grown produce - vegetables and fruits. These seem like they should be healthy, but the reality is that these foods are grown in the most contaminated soils that are depleted of minerals and other vital nutrients. Damaging farming methods as well as chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides strip the soil and ultimately crops of nutrients. These dangerous chemical substances also deplete nutrients from our bodies and cause health issues.
  • Commercial and industrial meats and dairy products – these are some of the worst offenders because in addition to lacking the proper balances of Omega 3 EFAs, they are too high in Omega 6 content, contain many chemicals/hormones/antibiotics/steroids/other harmful chemicals as used by agribusiness to cause animals to grow bigger in a shorter amount of time (to maximize profits). Our bodies store fat in our cells, which means these foods are some of the biggest problems we have that affect our health. The chemicals come from all angles in the form of medications administered to the feed given to the animal to the environmental conditions where the animals are raised. All of these substances are toxic to the body (the animal’s and yours), and contribute to an overall inflammatory condition where nutrients are lost or not properly absorbed, and stress is placed on vital organ systems and  cell structures.

So if you think your diet is healthy enough, compare what you are eating to the items listed above. Here’s what you should be eating for optimal health:

  • Grass-fed meats, poultry, and raw dairy foods  Meat and dairy products from animals raised on pasture and who are not administered chemical substances in the form of medications or feeds that contain pesticides, fertilizers, or are genetically-modified. Cattle are meant to eat grass. Their digestive systems are not designed to handle corn, soy, and grains. Animals eating grass have higher levels of protein in their meat and are lower in fat and calories.
  • Eggs from pasture-raised hens    Eggs that come from hens who are allowed to roam around, forage, and eat plants and insects are healthier. This is not the same as cage-free or free-range, as these terms are virtually meaningless and often only mean they are still crammed together in small spaces and let out to wander very seldom.
  • Fermented and cultured foods – vegetables, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, kombucha, and others provide easy-to-digest, proliferate amounts of friendly bacteria essential to good digestive and overall health.
  • Wild game animals and birds that are raised naturally   Either domesticated and living out on pasture or wild caught (with no chemicals, pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics, of course).
  • Safe-source, wild caught fish from a deep sea source   Deep sea fish and animals contain less mercury and other harmful substances. Salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, some tuna, and anchovies are good choices.
  • Real, organic fats that are free from chemicals and toxins   Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, coconut oil, sesame oil, cold-pressed grapeseed oil, flax oil, pumpkin seed oil; real butter, lard (from pork), fermented cod liver oil, tallow (from chicken or beef) or other real fats from a healthy, grass-fed source.
  • Raw, organic sprouted nuts and seeds   Choose selections that are not processed, roasted, altered, or cooked in any way. Nuts are best for health and easiest to digest if soaked and/or sprouted as well.
  • Organic fruits and vegetables in their whole forms. Stay away from organic fruit juice, as this product is just another way to deliver a shot of sugar without fiber, vitamins, or minerals.
  • Moderate amounts of soaked, fermented, and sprouted organic grains. Some people need to avoid gluten at all costs, but if you are not gluten intolerant or celiac, you can include some grains in your diet if your digestion is healthy and if you eat them properly prepared. Soaking and sprouting any good quality grain renders the grain more available to the human digestive tract and increases nutrient absorption. One reason so many people are grain intolerant, gluten sensitive, or celiac-ridden is due to the fact that most of the grains and grain products we consume are processed, ground into flour (which goes rancid), and full of dangerous chemicals such as pesticides. Most are also genetically-modified. And these grains comprise a hefty percentage of what people in in their diets. When those factors are all present, what occurs is digestive disease and intolerance or allergies to foods. But in general, grains do cause a lot of problems for many people. Read this post about grain-free meals and the benefits of avoiding grains in your diet.

Eating healthy can be a challenge, and it certainly takes some effort to obtain real foods from a healthy source. But, if you believe eating healthy is too much trouble and too expensive, then consider how much it costs to treat diseases and health conditions that are already in progress! Prevention is the best course of action to keep your health on track.

More information:

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden cost of industrial food

Processed food and eating disorders – a product of modern society

 

Activism Healthy Living Real Food

American Dietetic Association Refuses To Acknowledge Benefits Of Organic Food

www.mypicshares.com
It should come as no surprise to those who are faithful to sustainable, traditional ways of eating that many far and wide oppose our beliefs about returning to nutrient-dense and older ways of growing, preparing, and selling food.  It is our duty to take a stand against agencies that seek to bring down the potential of great health we have in our communities by speaking out against literature and “research” which makes false claims.

Because of this transfer of false information, there are many people led astray in trying to decide what’s truthful information and what isn’t. The American Dietetic Association is one of the primary organizations relied on by the public for sources of health and nutrition. For decades, the ADA has provided a wealth of information about these topics. Unfortunately, they have been guilty of releasing  much incorrect information, much to the detriment of the masses. As with many topics on nutrition, they have taken a stand about organic food, and it is this:

If you visit their web site, you will find a definitive statement claiming that “no scientific evidence shows that these foods are healthier or safer than conventionally grown foods.” They maintain this stance despite the following research conducted by their Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group which reveal that plants grown in organic systems contain higher levels of nutrients and an organic diet avoids the serious health risks associated with pesticide exposure.

Unfortunately when agencies like the ADA who are followed so closely by individuals, health centers and organizations, physicians, and other entities recommend information to the public of this nature, many don’t realize the harmful effects their guidelines have on general health. By failing to support this important information, the ADA is undermining one of the best ways we as a civilization have of combating degenerative illness and disease, as well as degradation to our environment and economy. According to the Journal of Applied Nutrition, across the board, organic foods are superior in nutritional content and contain less toxic materials than conventionally grown foods.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The ADA also refuses to acknowledge the dangers of chemical ingredients and the genetic engineering of foods grown and sold on the market. It is interesting to note that this organization is a non-profit with a healthy donor list comprised of many influential and powerful corporations and individuals including, but not limited to, the following (with donation amounts listed for 2008):

  • Pepsi Co ($25,000 to $49,000)
  • Cargill ($10,000 to $24,000)
  • General Mills ($100,000 in 2008)
  • McCormick & Company ($5,000 to $9,999)
  • ConAgra ($5,000 to $9,999)
  • The National Cattleman’s Beef Association ($10,000 to $24,000)
  • National Dairy Council ($10,000 to $24,000)
  • Unilever Best Foods ($1,000 to $1,999)

Each of these corporations are well-known and documented to produce industrial food in the form of meat or dairy products, grains, and many packaged, processed foods containing toxins and chemicals found to cause health problems when consumed by human beings. One great source of information for this is the movie Food, Inc. Also, visit the Organic Consumer’s Association for reliable information about the effects of Monsanto’s product, Roundup. Sustainable Table has reliable data and sources detailing the dangers of pesticides and other harmful chemicals that are used in every aspect of our food system from meat to dairy to grains to soy to produce.

According to the American Dietetics Association web site, the ADA’s purpose is the following:

“The American Dietetic Association Foundation (ADAF) is the world’s largest charitable organization devoted exclusively to nutrition and dietetics. ADAF is the philanthropic arm of the American Dietetic Association and a 501(c)3 charity”.

How could a charitable organization be so closely tied with big powerful corporations? Seems that there is a conflict of interest here. So if you were wondering whether the American Dietetic Association provides factual, scientific information about health, food, and nutrition, it bears mentioning that their philosophies and recommendations about what to eat are right in line with what industrial food companies sell to consumers.  All you have to do is follow the money – some of the most profitable and powerful food corporations in the world, as it turns out, are some of the ADA’s biggest sponsors.

“Smells like money to me!” – Food, Inc.

School lunch woes

One prominent place you can see the influence of the ADA at work is in managing school lunch menus for children. I’ve personally had conversations with the registered dietitians who run the school lunch program in my city, Boise, Idaho and gotten pretty much nowhere. I started an effort and was joined by a small group of parents and other concerned citizens last summer. We brought the film ‘Two Angry Moms‘ to our city in October of 2008. The dieticians watched it, and were almost completely unaffected by its important message.

Our goal was to make much needed changes to our menus by doing research, providing reliable evidence of the negative effect the food served by the school system has on children’s health, and have a discussion after the film about what we could do together to change things for the better. The head dietician got up to speak after the film and said, “it’s nice to know we’re one of the good guys!” To which the majority of the audience was utterly appalled and in disbelief.

It’s been over a year and nothing has happened (yet). The persistent idea held by these dietitians that children need low-fat foods and that processed foods are just fine and healthy to consume is not only annoying, but it is permanently damaging to our children’s health. This is one reason among many that I am thankful we are homeschooling this year.

ADA guidelines and recommendations for health

From my own experience, I have observed that the general teachings of registered dietitians (like many conventional doctors and nurses) include following a low-fat diet with “lean meats” that are “skinless and boneless”, little “red meat”, and “whole grains” (which include many processed foods such as store-bought breads, crackers, pasta, cereals, bagels, and  tortillas). We are also told to avoid healthy fats like butter and lard, cut sodium from our diets, and are encouraged to consume polyunsaturated fats such as vegetable oils (which seems contradictory given the fact that most of the processed foods they tell us to eat are high in salt!).

Registered dietitians remind us frequently to count calories, watch fat, and maintain portion control. So, eat less and cut out the things that give us staying power and keep us from getting hungry sooner – fat and protein. No wonder people are always hungry and can’t maintain their normal weight!

They do recommend eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but do not stand behind the idea that organic is superior for health.

Because their  beliefs include eating a lot of processed, industrial foods, it seems unbelievable that anyone would actually follow these  teachings. But the reality is, it’s these very ideas which have brought our nation and many other developed nations into the heart disease, Diabetes, obesity, and other degenerative diseases epidemic we now find ourselves in.

Anyone reading this who understands the importance of real food and traditional foods in the role of health knows that dietary fat is critical in maintaining health – but not just any fat…we need real butter, lard, and tallow from healthy animals raised naturally. We need grass-fed meats and poultry, and pasture-raised eggs. We need sustainable, organically grown fruits and vegetables. We also need naturally-fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and lacto-fermented vegetables.

In short, we need REAL FOOD. Can we achieve this? Of course we can!  It just takes some education and determination. We need the real foods from nature as intended by our Creator to make us healthy. People have been eating this way for millennia. It’s only been in the last 100 plus years that we’ve seen a sharp decline in our good eating habits, and consequently, chronic degenerative disease.

So I ask this simple question:

How could modern-day science possibly succeed at altering and improving on something from nature (i.e., real, whole foods) that have worked to nourish our bodies for so many thousands of years?

This post is part of Cheeseslave’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival.

This post was featured on the Organic Consumer Association’s News Headlines page on August 21, 2009. Visit their site and read about organic and sustainable news there.