Have you ever stopped to consider the nutritional content of the foods you eat? This article will challenge you to think outside of what conventional notions have taught us about nutrition and eating – and especially regarding what we learn from when we are young and attending school. It argues that what medical doctors and many “nutritionists” convey to their patients and clients might not be as wise as once believed, and that what the FDA tells us to eat from the Food Pyramid actually causes and exacerbates some of our most serious health issues.
According to the traditional Food Pyramid, grains are still at the top of the list. But the important thing to remember about grains is that in order to be a whole, nutritional food, they must actually be “whole”. In other words, they must be processed as minimally as possible in order to count as a whole grain food. This does not include foods like crackers, nearly any cold cereals, buns, granola bars, cereal bars, bagels, croissants, most pastas and breads, and rolls. The reason why is that these foods have been ground up into flour and then changed into something different other than the original state of the grain. It is technically no longer a whole food. If you read the label on these items, you will see the words “whole grains”. But, if you turn the package over and read the ingredients list, you will see at the top of the list some kind of flour – either enriched or “whole grain” flour, which is not really a “whole grain”. Because these products are ground into flour, the process by which preservation and congealment of the food occurs involves the addition of chemicals, and preservatives – along with enriched vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that do not naturally occur in the food. What is left is something that scarcely resembles real food, but a chemical facsimile. Preservatives and chemicals added to these foods improve their shelf life in the store, but they are added to our bodies’ store of toxic substances and overload our elimination and detoxifying organ systems to the point where they are no longer able to function properly. Finally, processed foods have been prepared in such a way that the naturally occurring vital nutrients, minerals, and vitamins essential for good health are destroyed. What remains is a food that is nutritionally void and full of things we simply don’t need and are detrimental to our health.The FDA and common nutritional rhetoric neither acknowledges these facts nor educates the consumer to eat whole, natural grains. Instead they continue to recommend the consumption of crackers, pasta, and bread that are not whole foods.
The FDA recommends that only half of your grain allowance be whole each day. Why not all whole grains? These are the things that children are taught in school about how to maintain their diets and eating habits; regimens that will potentially be set in for life. What is this saying about our current state of health and the future? When so much of the food supply and selection that is available is processed foods, we really must address the question about what affect this has on our overall health.
The best type of whole grains to consume include the following: sprouted grain breads, whole grains (such as oats, barley, millet, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, and amaranth) from the bulk bin of your grocery store, brown rice, wild rice, basmati, and some selected white rices in moderation such as jasmine or rose. These grains should be cooked, as consumption of uncooked grains is toxic to the human body. Preparation of hot cereals and fresh-made breads is easier than you think. Try this web site for a good recipe for whole grain bread. It is also advisable to check into purchasing a home grain grinder. Visit Walton Feed for a comparison of grain grinders.
Milk products are another food type that has been altered considerably from its natural state. Milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, sour cream, cream cheese must go through homogenization and pasteurization in order to be acceptable for public sale. People in first-world, industrial societies consume more dairy products than any other in the world. These nations also have the highest levels of heart disease, cancer, Diabetes, and osteoporosis. What is the connection? Dairy products are processed in such a way that they are heated up to destroy harmful bacteria. What also occurs is that beneficial enzymes, proteins, and other elements are damaged as well. When the body tries to absorb these foods, they are unrecognizable and are stored in the body as fat. This storage causes a build-up of foreign substances or toxins that harm your body, leading to health problems such as high cholesterol, heart disease, and other issues.
If you are going to consume dairy products, do so in moderation. Always purchase organic, whole-fat selections. Raw dairy products are superior if you can find them. Check with your local natural food stores for more information, as some merchants carry items such as raw cheese and milk. Another option is to inquire with local dairy farmers. Contrary to popular belief, dairy products are not a good source of calcium due to the alteration in nutrients and the inability of the body to absorb the food. Good sources of calcium are green leafy vegetables, almonds, fish, beans, and some fruits. Here is a list of calcium-containing foods.
Fruits and Vegetables
Best choices for produce are always organic, pesticide and herbicide-free. Often, your local produce merchants can provide some of the best selection in fruits and vegetables. Eating local is better because you know the produce has not traveled great distances to make it to the store shelf and been exposed to chemicals or bacteria along the way (such as in contaminants from air or truck travel).
Meat, Poultry, and Fish
Meat should be non-factory farmed (watch for publicly traded brands, and even some local brands use these processes), fresh and free of chemicals, nitrates, hormones, and antibiotics. Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and other farm meats should be grass-fed and pasture-raised (not corn, soy, or grain-fed). Factory farms use practices that would turn your stomach and if you knew what animals endure on the premises of these facilities and the type of things processed into their meat, you would never consume it again. To learn more, visit The Meatrix.
Fish should be wild-caught (not farmed), and fresh. Although wild-caught fish are constantly exposed to mercury that is being found in higher amounts in the oceans, they also contain higher amounts of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Like corn and grain-fed cattle, farmed varieties of fish contain unnaturally high amounts of omega 6 acids – an essential fatty acid that is being added to many processed products sold in food stores and can contribute to disease when consumed in larger than moderate amounts. Farmed fish are also bound to contain heavy amounts of antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals than their wild counterparts. For more information about the benefits of the wild-caught variety, visit The World’s Healthiest Foods.
Nuts and Seeds
Many people are returning to eating raw nuts and seeds as snacks and as supplements to their diets for good sources of protein, fat, and essential fatty acids. Unfortunately in modern society, the tendency to include an over amount of these foods in so many products has contributed to a state of poor health in the form of allergenic reactions and other health problems. Peanuts are actually one of the most non-nutritional and health problem-inducing varieties to be found. The best nuts and seeds to consume in moderation include almonds, filberts, pine nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, flax and sesame seeds. Try sprinkling these over hot cereals and salads, or even casseroles. Always choose the raw variety over any other as many processes such as oiling, salting, or roasting can be harmful to the nut and your health. Sprouting nuts is a great way to get the nut in its most nutritious and flavorful state. For more information about this process, visit the Chet Day web site.
Healthy Fats and Oils
Our repertoire of fats and oils over the years has changed dramatically as nutrition guides have altered in their advice about what oils and fats are most beneficial for consumption. We’ve been told to eat margarine over butter, low-fat over whole fat foods, and the rhetoric has shifted back and forth. It is positively confusing to the consumer. Anything in its whole form is always the best choice. Organic whole butter and cream (not low or nonfat) are healthy fats to consume, if done so in moderation. Raw forms of these foods are even better if you can find them. These are always preferable to margarines and other artificially produced butter alternatives or hydrogenated/trans fats.
Cold-pressed oils are superior to those processed with chemical solvents such as hexane (always thoroughly read labels). Do not cook oils such as olive on high as this can potentially destroy healthful properties of these selections. Butter and coconut oil are excellent for high heat cooking as they are much more stable and contain important essential fatty acids. Never cook polyunsaturated fats such as flaxseed or fish oils. They have low smoking points and become nutritionally compromised when heated. Store all oils and fats in your refrigerator to keep them from becoming rancid. Rancidity of oils from being left out, chemical processes, and overheating render oil to a condition where its healthful properties are destroyed as well as contributing to the development of free radicals in the body which make disease and illness occur.
The type of juices sold at most grocery stores is highly processed and void of nearly any nutritional value. Most juices should be avoided. Even labels that read “100% juice” are not as healthy as they purport to be. Think about how many fruits it takes to make a bottle of juice and ask yourself if you would actually eat that much fruit in one sitting (say, an average of 10). The human body is not meant to consume or process the amount of carbohydrates present in the average bottle of grocery store juice all at once. And consider this: both containers and servings are becoming larger and larger in the marketplace, restaurants, and homes.
The best idea about juice is to consume it in moderation, and choose only organic fruit and vegetable juices that include a good variety in them. Juicing at home with a masticated juicer is the best choice because it leaves fruit and vegetable juice as close to its natural state and includes pulp from the produce. Visit the Best Juicer web site for information about purchasing a juicer.
The peripheral edges of your grocery store are the best places to shop. Avoid purchasing anything packaged or boxed, and also try to buy fruits and vegetables that are fresh instead of in cans or jars. Remember that when you eat in restaurants, they are trying to turn a profit and the bottom line is money. Most restaurants do not supply their kitchens with superior quality, organic, natural foods. If a restaurant does serve organic food, you will likely pay a premium price for it. Eating the best you can when you are at home will make up for those times when you occasionally go out for a meal.
Compare the ingredients in these two lunches – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, potato chips, milk, and a cookie – or – brown rice and vegetables, some protein food such as chicken or fish, a fresh salad, and purified water. Which of these two meals will provide your body with the nutrition necessary to allow your body to perform at optimal levels and maintain your sense of well-being? The body is unable to recognize and absorb processed substances we eat such as bagels, packaged cereals, most breads, crackers, and pasta because these foods are not whole and they have been changed into something that is not what was actually meant by nature to be eaten.
What Will You Choose?
The healthier your diet, the healthier your body. Consumption of a variety of fresh, whole, and raw foods aids digestion (the primary factor in health) and absorption of vital nutrients that your body needs to function at optimal levels. By committing to a regimen of healthy foods, you reduce the risks and development of health problems for the future. For more information on whole foods and why they are important to your health, visit Inner Light Health and whfoods.org.