Jack LaLanne said: “If man made it, don’t eat it!” Looking at the average state of health in the nation, Jack just might have been right.
Your body is designed to absorb nutrients in the form they commonly appear in food: as a network of intertwined molecules, often providing much of what we need to absorb and use the nutrients as part of the whole package. Modern “food science” treats forgets this critical interdependency and treats these nutrients as individual, interchangeable parts, isolating, concentrating, and otherwise altering substances out of our food until they barely deserve the title of nutrients.
This modern industrialization of food has created a situation where we often take in these nutrients out of context. They are eaten without the cofactor nutrients necessary for their absorption, and in huge amounts that never would have occurred in nature. This creates imbalances in the body that contribute to the rise of many modern diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and more.
So, how do we bring our own food consumption back into a more healthful, natural context? Here’s a few guidelines to help you choose your food.
1.”If it has a label it stays off my table”. If it has a box, bag or a label and contains multiple ingredients, minimize/avoid it in your diet. Your body will thank you
2. Put down that processed oil! Man-made and highly processed modern oils are often extracted under high heat and pressure with toxic industrial solvents like hexane, and must be bleached and deodorized in order to become sellable (think of them as ‘rancid’). With high levels of Omega 6 fats, these oils tend to be very inflammatory and have been shown to have strong links with the development of diabetes and heart disease.
Example: Margarine, corn and many canola and vegetable oils are NOT healthy, despite claims to the contrary. Excess omega 6 fats and Trans-fats, particularly oxidized (damaged) ones have been strongly linked with increased risks of chronic pain, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
3. Ditch the processed starches. careful with foods that convert quickly to sugar: breads, pastas and foods with “starch” on the label (corn starch, tapioca starch, etc) and foods made with flour. Since theses foods have all been highly processed and ground into small particles (normally the work of your stomach), they don’t take very much work for your body to break down and convert very quickly to sugar. Look at the G.I. (Glycemic index– a rate of how fast foods convert to sugar) of even whole wheat bread- it converts to pure sugar in less time than a snickers bar!
4. Table Salt is not Salt! Despite what the label in the grocery store says, Sodium and salt are not the same thing. What we commonly call ‘table salt’ has become a mix of chemically extracted pure sodium and aluminum anti-caking agents. True high quality sea salts naturally contain a blend of minerals that provide the sodium the body needs while maintaining proper mineral balance. Many new studies on hypertension are pointing towards not excess sodium as the culprit in hypertension (high blood pressure) but too little of other critical minerals: magnesium, calcium and potassium.
5. Remove the ‘added sugars’. Many foods contain HFCS (High fructose corn syrup) or other sweeteners. While small amounts may be just fine, we Americans rarely eat sugar in truly moderate amounts.
Consider: the human body on average keeps only about 8 grams (1tsp) of sugar at any time in your blood stream. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 10% of daily calories from added sugar- and for a 2000 kcal diet, one can of coke already exceeds that.
A typical Coke has 41 grams (10 tsp sugar), and even a “healthy” Yoplait yogurt has a whopping 27 grams (6 3/4 tsp). If you’d like to see how much sugar this is, get out a teaspoon and measure it into a glass for a big surprise!
In normal physiological amounts fructose, sodium and omega 6 fats all have a vital role to play in our health. But the industrial level concentration of these (and other) nutrients is overwhelming to our systems and can greatly interfere with the dynamic homeostasis of our bodies and lead to looming health problems down the road.