Monthly Archives: December 2009

Activism Healthy Living

First Case of Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis In The United States

This startling story hit the wires on Sunday, December 27th of this week. Oswaldo Juarez, 19, of Peru came to the United States to study English. He became ill with a cough that wouldn’t go away, and then began to experience “rattling” lungs. The strain, XXDR, has never before been seen in the United States. It is so rare that less than a dozen people were thought to have contracted it.

The cause is none other than overuse of antibiotics in our medical communities and in the food system. If this is not proof of our industrial food system killing us, I don’t know what is.

This information is not new to the media or health communities. Doctors and health officials have been releasing information for years about drug-resistant diseases all over the globe from Malaria to MRSA, and from step to staph. We are literally inundated with bacteria that are predicted to become stronger and more resistant as time goes on. This particular case of TB was discovered back in June of this year, but until now was apparently kept “quiet” due to its insidious nature.

Approximately 75 percent of antibiotics used are found in the meat or dairy products of animals we consume. The majority of the meat and dairy eaten in the United States originates from CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations where many animals are crammed together in the most unnatural and unhealthy conditions.

Just yesterday, MSNBC also released this story about drug-resistant bacteria found in meat from factory farms yesterday.Animals and birds are administered antibiotics (among other toxic substances) to combat pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. E. coli and salmonella are common in the digestive tracts and on the hides and feathers of animals due to unsanitary conditions and the types of feed the animals consume. When livestock and poultry consume soy, corn, grains, silage, and other industrial feeds, virulent strains of bacteria are much more likely to develop as the digestive tracts of these animals is not intended to process these substances.

Arguments from pharmaceutical companies and farm groups say that antibiotic use keeps food costs down and animals healthy. But at what cost to the health industry, the environment, and the consumer?  Lobbyists from these groups and companies are well-known for repeatedly defeating proposed limits on antibiotic use in Congress. Drug-resistant infections have been responsible for killing approximately 65,000 people in 2009.

This problem is now coming to a head, but there is something we can do about it. Don’t buy meat and dairy products from conventional and industrial sources – buy your meat and dairy, and all your food local and from growers and producers who use sustainable methods! Talk to your farmers and food growers, and get to know their practices. Support your local economy and your environment and health will truly flourish!

Want more information about industrial meat and sustainable meat? Read the following articles:

Whole and healthy meat – does it really exist?

What do farms and antibiotic drugs have in common?

How well do you know your food? Find out!

Probiotics – the friendly bacteria that we need in our gut to keep bad bacteria away

My adventures in making yogurt - yogurt from sustainable milk contains friendly bacteria essential to health!

Healthy Living

How To Interpret The Glycemic Index (GI)

Have you ever been to the store and noticed the phrase “glycemic index” on packages or signs? Glycemic Index (GI) refers to the ability of the food to raise glycemic levels in your blood. When you digest food, your liver and pancreas have a big job.  And that job is to properly break down the food you are eating so your body can use it to function and grow.

How does the glycemic index relate to nutrition? The higher the glycemic index, the harder those organs have to work to process the food. If your pancreas has to produce larger amounts of insulin to process the food you are eating, it can cause a spike in your blood sugar that is unhealthy. When it comes back down, you will start to feel the effects. Effects can include fatigue, inability to focus, hunger, irritability, headaches, heart palpitations, and many others. Over time, eating these types of foods contribute to weight gain, health problems, and degenerative disease.

Those who rely on the glycemic index to decide about healthy food choices might say that although white bread would cause a spike in blood sugar, eating a protein with it would balance it out. The biggest problem with this thought is that using the glycemic index may cause people to believe that as long as they eat some protein with their processed white bread, it is okay to eat it. The truth is, the white bread is still unhealthy to consume on many levels.

One example of a processed, high glycemic food might be a loaf of bread. If you have ever looked at the nutritional information on the wrapper of an average loaf of bread, you can easily see that grams of carbohydrates can range anywhere from 25 to 40 grams per serving.

The nutrition label to the left shows information for a loaf of Filone bread – a type of white Italian bread. This bread contains a whopping 33 grams per serving. It is also made with processed, white flour that has not been sprouted, soaked, or fermented.

By contrast, (see label shown on the  lower right) a loaf of sprouted grain bread such as Ezekiel (or another type of sprouted grain bread such as the kind you would make at home), contains less carbohydrates – approximately 15 to 20 grams per serving.

Carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars by the body, transported in the blood, and then moved into the cells with the help of insulin. Carbohydrates give us energy to do the things we do every day. But if we have an unnaturally balanced amount of excess carbohydrates (such as those contained in processed breads), they can cause problems such as being stored in the body as fat which causes weight gain.

Natural, whole foods contain the right balance of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Processed, refined foods do not. If you are eating real, whole foods, there is no need to count calories, fat grams, or worry about the glycemic load in your food.

The glycemic index was created to provide people with yet one more way to justify eating unhealthy foods. If you rely on this scale for eating foods,  it is likely you will end up eating more processed foods – although you may be under the mistaken impression that you are making healthy choices. The only way to make healthy choices and keep blood sugars level is to eat foods that are the least processed and refined. Remember that even though a food may show a low glycemic index ranking, it may still be processed and unnatural.

Foods ranking low on the glycemic index take a longer period of time to digest. This gives the body a slow, steady stream of energy and provides a feeling of fullness and satisfaction for an extended period of time.  It prevents overeating, and promotes healthy cholesterol levels which lowers your risk of degenerative disease.

Many foods higher in glycemic load contain enough carbohydrates to spike your blood sugar unnaturally high. It takes much less time for your body to digest these foods, so it causes a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar and insulin levels.  This leads to frequent hunger, a a feeling of dissatisfaction, and the release of more stress hormones in the body. It’s those frequent irregularities in blood sugar that contribute to weight gain, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and so much more.

So when you see labels on food or signs in the store referring to “glycemic index”, remember that many foods with a higher glycemic index are more often than not produced unnaturally – in other words, they are processed or refined – and can create the unnatural high spike in your blood sugar that can cause health problems later on down the road.