THE TRUTH ABOUT FOOD
In 1900, one out
of thirty people had cancer and one out of seven suffered from cardiovascular
disease. Today, one third of the population develops cancer, with approximately
500,000 deaths per year. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer, responsible
for almost one million deaths annually. Asthma is claiming lives at an
unprecedented rate. Thirty years ago, chronic fatigue syndrome didn’t even
exist. Currently, one out of every three adults are
classified as obese along with 25% of our children. In 1996 an estimated 7-8
million people in the
How does a country
boasting the world’s finest medical technology, have one of the poorest track
records of health among the industrialized western nations? With all the
scientific research and information available, what keeps perpetuating this
upward spiral of chronic degenerative disease? In 1998, the Surgeon General’s
Report in Nutrition and Health concluded that 15 out of 21 deaths in the
How Did This Happen?
With the advent of industrialization and technology, we moved into the era of “easy access”, most noticeably the manufacturing boom, mass transportation, 24 hour-a-day media and unlimited information on the internet. But one venue remains in the background: supermarkets. Whether in the form of large food emporiums or local delis, the availability of food is never more than a few blocks away. These conveniences influence our modern day health dilemma. How?
National and global distribution of food products required changes. First, foods started to be grown for mass consumption. This dramatically decreased its nutritional value. Second, the foods had to be produced for extended shelf-life. Manufacturers and producers, without sacrificing convenience and profit, introduced three food products that match the above criteria. They are refined carbohydrates, sugar and hydrogenated oils.
How Do These Three Products Effect Our Health?
The production of refined carbohydrates requires the removal of fiber. Research shows that fiber provides innumerable benefits. It decreases carcinogens and is necessary in the prevention of colon cancer. It binds up cholesterol for excretion and helps reduce cardiovascular disease. It is critical in promoting a proper insulin response and the role of insulin in diabetes is well known. With the removal of fiber, not only are these functions compromised, most of the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals are lost. When manufacturers were made aware of this, they added back a small percentage of what was removed. This is called enriched or vitamin fortified and is quite misleading. Most people assume they are receiving extra vitamins and minerals in addition to what the food normally contained. The reality is processed foods have minimal value, create biochemical imbalances and lead to health problems.
In Weston Price’s landmark study, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, he noted the introduction of westernized foods into the primitive cultures was responsible for marked changes in facial bone development, tooth defects, disturbances in brain organization and increases in miscarriage, stillbirths, premature births and birth defects. Other authors have noted Africans have a much lower occurrence of degenerative diseases than Europeans and Americans, except for those living in urban centers where they are exposed to western diets. Adding to the list of aforementioned health problems, refined carbohydrates are strongly implicated in diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, diabetes, hypoglycemia, hemorrhoids, dermatitis, asthma, allergies, dental problems and chronic joint and bone dysfunctions. Refined carbohydrates include breads, pastas, cookies, candies, pastries, most snack products i.e. pretzels, corn chips etc., packaged cereals, commercial flour and white rice.
What is true about refined carbohydrates is also true of sugar. In addition, sugar has absolutely no nutritional value. In order for the body to digest it, it must utilize its own resources of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, leading to an actual negative balance of these nutrients.
Sugar decreases the body’s use of vitamin C, decreases calcium absorption and increases the excretion of calcium, zinc, magnesium, chromium and sodium. It diminishes the immune system’s ability to fight infections and is converted to fat. To avoid sugar and its harmful affects, one needs to be aware of its commercial forms. The more familiar ones are dextrose, sucrose, glucose, honey, corn syrup sweetener, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, high fructose corn syrup, lactose, modified corn starch, malodextrin, maltose, malt, fruit juiced concentrates, fructose, molasses, mannitol, maple syrup, sorghum and sorbitol. Artificial sweeteners include aspartame, Nutrisweet and saccharin.
Refined and Hydrogenated Oils
Staring in the 1920’s the edible oil industry put technology to its’ advantage. Through the refinement process, inexpensive, low quality oils with an extended shelf-life were produced. These oils were stripped of their own natural antioxidants and were left with chemical, metal and pesticide residues involved in their production.
Later on hydrogenation became available. This process changes the biochemical structure of the fat from its natural state (cis) to an unnatural state (trans). These oils contain no essential fatty acids (omega 3 & 6), may contain trace elements of metals from the processing and may have altered forms of toxic, fat molecules.
What is the benefit of all this? The producers found cheap, cost efficient competitors to butter and healthy edible oils, most notably margarine, shortening, all forms of hydrogenated oils and the recently hyped olestra. Their profits skyrocketed while the consumer gained nothing but a higher risk for health problems.
When these oils are consumed the trans-fats are absorbed into the cell membrane and impair its numerous functions. Research has linked these hydrogenated oils to various neurological and autoimmune illnesses including ADD and ADHD, Parkinsons disease, cancer, seizures, chronic fatigue, arthritis, allergies, eye problems and depression.
Apply all this to a broader perspective:
Looking at how we eat and knowing the imbalances these foods create, the ongoing increase of degenerative diseases starts to make sense. The irony is most people continue to believe their diet is fairly well balanced. Unfortunately, not until a serious illness befalls us are we willing to make changes. Sadly, not even then will the diet usually be the first thing to be changed.
For those who wish to be in charge, eliminating the foods previously mentioned is an excellent start. To assist this endeavor we recommend you keep a 5 day journal of everything you eat and drink. After 5 days circle or underline all the sugar items in blue, all the refined carbohydrates in red and all products with vegetable and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (read labels). An item may be circled with one or all three colors. Take note how much of your diet is circled and write down an estimated percentage. Think how long you’ve been eating this way. Give yourself time to list all your health problems and symptoms, no matter how minor they may seem. There may be a correlation between your diet and symptoms
These foods should be replaced with vegetables, whole grains and legumes, fruits and lean proteins. The proper combination and ratios is dependent upon your own biochemical needs. Please contact your practitioner to discuss changes that are beneficial to you.