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Deceptions in the Food Industry: Books & Diet Plans from “Experts”

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One of the most flagrant deceptions in the food industry comes from “experts” shelling out advice to frustrated consumers who are tired of being sick and overweight.
 
I’ve just been reviewing some of the recipes and recommendations from Personal Trainer Bob Harper’s The Skinny Rules. On the Today Show, he talks about how our battle with obesity requires “a set of rules to live by.”
 
Diet and nutrition books are a dime a dozen in the marketplace and most of them are complete bunk.
 
According to a CDC study from 2010, more than one third of U.S. adults are considered obese.  This is not a new problem, and in fact, it’s only been worsening over the last 50+ years. These books continue to pour out of publishing houses, and so-called experts spout out their “wisdom” to teach people how to lose weight and get healthy.
 
And yet disease and obesity rates continue to rise.
 

What have we learned from diet books?

In the 1970s The Atkins Diet emerged (from Robert Atkins), and reappeared again in the 1990s as a way to combat weight and health issues by eschewing carbohydrates and eating more protein.
 
The South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston was all the rage in the early 2000s which told dieters avoid white flour, sugar, and potatoes (sounds good, right?), and eat meat, cheese, vegetables, nuts, fish and other foods. He also recommending watching calories, daily exercise, emphasized “lean proteins” and “healthy fats” such as soy-based and regular mayonnaise, vegetable oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, and corn oil. His recommendation to avoid hydrogenated oils is certainly wise, but putting lard or bacon grease and butter on the avoid list is a big thumbs down.
 
Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. has published a variety of books on health and nutrition such as 8 Weeks to Optimum Health. Like most of his conventional cohorts, he has poo-pooed saturated fats and cholesterol for years. Recently, he changed his advice and now says he no longer recommends low-fat dairy products. This is based on numerous studies. One showed that trans-palmitoleic acid – naturally found in dairy foods, could be linked to a substantial reduce in risk of of type 2 diabetes (which also lowers the risk of heart disease.
 
Two other studies from the Harvard School of Public Health (yes, the same source that announced in March of this year that red meat was associated with a higher mortality rate) found that those consuming low-fat dairy had a higher incidence of failure to ovulate in women, and drinking skim milk was associated with acne in teenage boys.
 
While Dr. Weil does recommend eating food from good, organic sources, but still does not endorse saturated fat fully and says to consume it with caution.  This is yet one more practitioner who won’t admit the fact that saturated fats and cholesterol are vital to health.
 

Vegetarian and vegan diets

Vegetarian and vegan diets have been popular in certain segments of the population since the 1960s, and are advocated by many mainstream health and medical sources.
 
The non-profit group PETA (People for the Ethical Protection of Animals) has for decades pushed the notion that a Vegan Diet is the way to maintain health.  The Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics (formerly known as the American Dietetic Association) states the following: “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
 
There are also many groups and dietary experts recommending that we go meatless to benefit our health, animal welfare, and the environment.  Organizations such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization believe the culprit of emissions from man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for the impending acceleration of climate change. The USDA has tips on becoming a vegetarian with recommendations on how to obtain nutrients and protein from highly processed foods with toxins and additives such as consuming soy milk and supplements for calcium or cereal or veggie burgers for iron and B12.
 
The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart by Dr. Neil D. Barnard is a current popular plant-based diet plan, as is Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman. There’s also The Kind Diet by actress Alicia Silverstone. All of these recommend avoiding meat and animal products.
 
There are a growing number of actors and celebrities who at one time embraced Vegan and Plant-Based Diets for periods of time, and are now coming back to meat-eating because of health issues. Ginnifer Goodwin, an actress who was vegetarian for some years was interviewed on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in 2011 and admitted she ate chicken eggs from an organic farm and that it was the best thing she had tasted in years.  Jude Law, Madonna, Orlando Bloom, and Ginnifer Goodwin, Mariel Hemingway are other celebrities who have at one time maintained a vegetarian or vegan diet have since returned to eating meat.
 
For a good explanation of the benefits of grassfed meats from healthy animals, read my post The Grassfed Meat Challenge: Busting Myths About Meat.
 

Gluten-free diets

Then there are the slew of books which recommend a Gluten-Free Diet (sounds good, right?) and adapting some  ”alternative” dietary habits. These gurus advise people who suffer from IBS, colitis, Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis, celiac disease and related issues to abandon gluten and adapt a number of equally bad dietary habits. Eating for IBS by Heather Van Vorous and Gluten-Free Girl: How I Found the Food That Loves Me Back…And How You Can Too by Shauna James Ahern are two which come to mind.
 
These books advocate eating processed breads, grains, flours, and other toxic products such as rancid vegetable oils like canola, egg whites and low-fat foods, soy or rice milk..and, I even saw a recipe on Gluten-Free Girl’s site which recommends using vegetable shortening or Crisco. Eh gads!
 
Little do the unsuspecting, long-time suffering people of these disorders realize their suffering is far from over if they consume these foods which they are told are “safe” by these “experts”.
 
And yet despite all these diet books handed to us by the diet experts, gurus, doctors, personal trainers, dietitians, and weight-loss aficionados – the majority of them telling us to eat low-fat diets, count carbs and calories, eat more fiber, and exercise our brains out, our population is unhealthier and fatter than ever.  With so many conflicting messages from the media, the health industry, and medical doctors…
 

What’s a dieter to do?

Here’s the hard and fast truth: most of these plans and recommendations won’t work. The reason why is because the foods many of the foods we are told to eat are artificial, full of chemicals, and our bodies cannot gain nourishment from them. Those foods we are told to avoid, like saturated fat and cholesterol, are critical to health!
 

Here’s why this latest diet book won’t improve your health or help you lose weight:

1. He counts calories.

You should NEVER count calories. No one until the modern era ever did this. Your body needs food until it is full and it needs real calories to be healthy and function properly. If you  eat real food, your body will know when to stop and it will get exactly the amount of calories it needs.

 

2. He says nothing about the source of the food, whether it’s conventional or sustainable and organic.

The source is EVERYTHING. If you eat conventional food, you will continue to have health and weight problems because conventional food is altered, processed, and full of toxins and chemicals. It also has reduced nutritional content because of the way it is produced and grown. Organic, sustainable foods from natural, traditional sources of food contain more vitamins and minerals, saturated fats, carbohydrates, proteins, enzymes, co-factors, and all your body needs. Numerous studies reveal organic foods are more nutritious than conventional (here’s one, and here’s another).

The reason why conventional meat is so bad for us is because of the way it is produced. Read this post about meat recalls, pink slime, drug-resistance, and why this problem happens because of farming and production practices. Did you know that last year, 1 in 4 packages of meat was found to be tainted in samples taken by researchers? Yes, it’s more of the same – meat from filthy, factory-farm sources. You won’t have that problem with clean, sustainable meat from healthy animals and birds on pasture.
 
Of particular importance in this situation is the quailty of the soil – the foundation of where all life begins. This is why conventional foods are inferior because the soil and bacteria quality of the foods is greatly diminished due to the toxic methods used in farming.
 

3. He recommends low-fat foods.

Low-fat foods have had all the natural enzymes, vitamins, minerals, co-factors, etc. removed and should be considered processed foods in every sense.
 
If you eat low-fat foods, you won’t get full. You will constantly be hungry and continue to have weight issues and health problems. I talked to a man last week in Las Vegas who said his doctor told him to go on a low-fat, plant-based diet. I asked him how that was working out. He said, “so-so”. Then I asked him, “are you getting full on that diet?” He replied, “no, I am always hungry. I have to eat like 7-8 times per day.”
 
We’ve been told for many years that saturated fat is harmful for our health.  But even in the infamous Framingham Heart Study involving 5,200 men and women who have undergone extensive studies in well over 1,000 published reports since 1948, high cholesterol levels were not associated with increased heart disease risk after age 47.  In fact, after age 47, those whose cholesterol had decreased were at the highest risk of having a heart attack. “For each 1 mg/dl drop of cholesterol there was an 11 percent increase in coronary and total mortality,” was the report from the authors of the  study.
 
For more information on the fallacies of low-fat diet recommendations, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation site and read about The Skinny on Fats.
 

4.  He says to only eat grains at breakfast and lunch, and avoid them at the nighttime meal.

Guess what, if you’ve got digestive issues like most people, those grains are just going to add to your yeast, weight and health issues. You might lose weight initially on this diet, but it will come back to haunt you eventually.
 
The best thing to do if you want to lose weight and improve your health is a protocol like GAPS from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. It provides ample nutrition that is badly needed by most malnourished bodies, and provides it in the most digestible forms possible. Read more on the truth about wheat and grains, and why grains may not be as healthy as we’ve been told they are.
 

5. He recommends eating protein with every meal, but not fat.

Protein binds to fat, so if you remove the fat but eat a lot of protein, you’ll be in trouble because you won’t be able to absorb the protein in what you are eating. Fat and cholesterol are essential to every single function in the body.
 

6. He says to drink a big glass of water before every meal…no excuses.

This is one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. If you are having weight and health issues, it’s likely that your stomach acid levels aren’t normal and drinking a bunch of water with meals is going to make that problem worse. He says it’s good for digestion, but drinking a large amount of liquid before or during a meal will only cause your digestion to become sluggish and will make absorbing the food you are eating more difficult.
 

More in the Deceptions in the Food Industry Series:

Low-fat

Lean meats

Omega 3s

Low-sodium and no salt added

All-natural

Baked versus fried

Whole grains

 

 

Activism Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

Happy Non-GMO Holidays + My Interview with Leslie Stoddard, Co-founder of GMO-Free Idaho

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I received this message in my e-mail box today from The Center for Food Safety, and I wanted to share it with my readers. Holiday time means people are buying more food and other products than any other time of year.

This year, I want to challenge my readers to commit to going GMO-free for the holidays (next step, make it a part of your regular habits after the holidays too). Please read this valuable information from CFS and my commentary in italics.  

Then, please take a few minutes and watch me being interviewed by my friend Leslie Stoddard who co-founded GMO-free Idaho with Jenny Easley. I am so excited about the important work these two women are doing, and I’ll do everything I can to support their efforts and work alongside them. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and may it be filled with blessings, health, real food, and lots of time with friends and family.
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Thanksgiving is the time of year when we gather with friends and family and reflect upon all the things we are thankful for in our lives. Of course, no good celebration is complete without sharing it over a good meal. But many popular Thanksgiving dishes may use ingredients that have been genetically engineered. Here are 5 simple tips to try to avoid these unlabeled, unwanted guests:

  1. If you’re eating turkey, try to buy it organic so it hasn’t been given genetically engineered feed. For you Tofurky fans, Tofurky sources non-GMO ingredients.
     
    Go one step further and buy your turkey locally from a sustainable farmer that pasture-raises their turkeys and if they supplement, make sure the feed is non-GMO and soy and corn-free. Soy and corn in feed can diminish the nutritional value of poultry meat, and cause food allergies, organic or not, and interfere with hormones in those who eat the meat. See the section below on soy. Tofurky is not real food, its an engineered product that the body doesn’t know how to absorb – organic or not. AVOID at all costs. Real meat and fat is important for health.
  2. Look out for the Big 5. These are the ingredients most likely to be genetically-engineered. You’ll find them primarily in prepared, packaged and canned foods like stuffing mix, oils, prepared desserts, and canned cranberry sauces.

    Corn

    • Corn flour, meal, oil, starch, gluten, and syrup
    • Sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose, and glucose
    • Modified food starch

    Soy

    • Soy flour, lecithin, protein, isolate, and isoflavone
    • Vegetable oil and vegetable protein
    From a real food standpoint, soy is unhealthy to consume unless traditionally prepared through fermentation. So I avoid soy as much as possible unless it’s naturally fermented soy sauce or miso soup. I don’t care for tofu, so I don’t ever buy it. I might eat it if I know it’s been properly fermented, but I avoid all products with soy in them like the plague, and especially since it is hormone altering (thyroid, thymus, hypothalamus), contains phytic acid which inhibits the uptake of various nutrients including minerals, and contains phytoestrogens which also alter our hormonal state. 

    Canola

    • Canola oil (also called rapeseed oil)

    Cotton
    Cottonseed oil

    There is never any reason to consume vegetable oil, organic or not. These are modern oils our body cannot process. They are created by the food industry, are fragile and become denatured during the cooking process, and even before they are stocked on the grocery store shelf, they have been deodorized and subjected to high-heat temperatures. Read this post about how cottonseed oil was originally created, and just how pervasive it is in our food supply. These oils also contain Omega 6s, one of the elements our Standard American Diet is too plentiful in, and which contribute to inflammation and disease in the body (i.e., heart disease, cancer, and obesity). 

    Sugar

    • Unless 100% cane sugar or evaporated cane sugar, sugar may be produced from sugar beets which may be genetically engineered.
    Instead of sugar, opt for healthy, unrefined sweeteners such as Rapadura, sucanat, coconut date sugar, maple sugar, real maple syrup – B grade, real Stevia (the green variety, not white powdered), and raw honey.  These sweeteners, especially if organic, are non-GMO and contain important trace nutrients and minerals, left intact due to their low-processed state. 
  3. Look for products labeled “USDA Organic,” or labeled as “Non-GMO.” Certified organic products are not allowed to be produced using GMOs.

    Go one step further and buy as much as you can from local, sustainable farmers. Here’s a post about what types of questions to ask your farmer when buying food. USDA organic labels are not always reliable, and because of labeling laws becoming less stringent more “fuzzy”, you may end up buying something containing something you don’t want that’s not even showing on the label. 

  4. Look for dairy products (milk, cream, butter) labeled “rbGH-free,” “rbST-free” or “USDA Organic,” as they are not produced with genetically-engineered, artificial growth hormones.
     
    Go several steps further and buy local, sustainable milk – raw is best because it retains all the important beneficial bacteria (probiotics), enzymes, and nutritional value since the milk is not heated – from healthy cows on pasture. Many commercial milks, even organic, still come from cows in confinement and from animals fed a large majority of their diets in soy, corn, and grain. Cattle are ruminants and are meant to consume grass as they have long digestive tracts designed to process grass. When they are fed other substances like corn, soy, and grain, the result is an acidic digestive tract and overall health. They become sick and then farmers administer antibiotics and other harmful drugs which alter their health and the quality of the milk. 
  5. Look for products in our True Food Shoppers Guide. You can download a .pdf for free, or as a free app for your iPhone or Android mobile phone.

Other action steps to take: 

  1. Tell FDA to label GE foods! The Center for Food Safety recently filed a formal legal petition with FDA demanding that the agency require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Now, we are spearheading a drive with over 350 other organizations and businesses in the Just Label It! Campaign, to direct one million comments to the FDA in support of our petition.
     
    An ABC News poll found that 93 percent of the American public wants the federal government to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. As ABC News stated, “Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare.” Yet the United States is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t require labeling of GE food!

    In my opinion, mandatory labeling doesn’t solve the inherent problem of GMOs polluting our earth, but it gets consumer awareness up. We need this because currently, most people I have talked to about GMOs either have no idea or don’t think it’s an issue. This is scary. Once mandatory labeling becomes a law, we can work toward the next goal which is banning GMOs from our food supply all together – what many European countries have already done and what we should have done years ago. 

    In the U.S., we pride ourselves on having choices and making informed decisions. Under current FDA regulations, we don’t have that choice when it comes to GE ingredients in the foods we purchase and feed our families. Send your comment to FDA demanding mandatory labeling of GE foods today!

  2. If you are fortunate enough to be able to share the holiday abundance, please consider donating to a local Food bank, or volunteering some time on Thanksgiving to help those less fortunate. If you don’t know where your local food bank or soup kitchen program is check Volunteer Match by typing in your zip code and “Thanksgiving” for a list of Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities near you.

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Here’s the video interview with Leslie Stoddard of GMO-free Idaho. The purpose of this interview was to spread the news about GMOs to our community and beyond, and to help people understand that avoiding GMOs is not only possible but critical to our health and the environment, and the success of the sustainable food community – an effort that may well be one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Here’s Part I and Part II:

GMO-Free Idaho Interview Part 1

GMO-Free Idaho Interview Part 2

Busting myths about GMOs
Stop the use of GMOs in our food supply
The Institute for Responsible Technology – providing research and education to consumers who want to make educated decisions about what they eat