Food That Undermines Health
Why what we consider to be food matters
What if the sign above the aisle in your grocery store said “Sickness Food”? Would it matter to you? Would you walk down that aisle with intent to put those products in your cart? Or just for curiosity’s sake? You may be truly wondering what could be in that aisle, or you may have a clue. I bet you’d be surprised.
Personally, I dislike the term “health food”. No matter why we are eating – because we are hungry, at an event, or even bored, all food should be nutritious. This means it should support health, rather than undermine it.
Think of your body as a vessel for millions of different chemical processes and reactions. We all know from chemistry what happens when we use the wrong ingredients or incorrect proportions in an experiment. The whole thing can blow up, not react altogether, or give us something other than the product we intended. The same things happen in our bodies. Our cells perform billions of chemical reactions all the time. If they don’t have the right ingredients they don’t function properly.
Just like in a chemical lab where precision counts, our cells and organs have very precise nutritional requirements which are not being met today, the way they were even just decades ago. Our brain, in particular, is highly sensitive and vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. Many of the physical and mental infirmities and illnesses that we attribute to genetics, or aging are really the results of improper or insufficient nutrition built up over time. And let’s not ignore the deteriorating health of this most recent generation, with illnesses of a magnitude never seen before afflicting our children and grandchildren.
6 reasons why processed foods are sickness foods
What happens to us when we eat processed food products? Are we just getting empty calories instead of nutrient-dense ones? Or is something more insidious happening?
Processed food products
- are missing key nutrients needed to digest the ingredients in them. When we eat foods that have been robbed of critical nutrients, our body takes the missing vitamins, minerals, and other constituents it needs for digestion from our bones and teeth instead. Dental cavities and brittle bones are some of the consequences.
- do not have the complete range of nutrients in the proper proportions that our bodies need to function properly. When our systems don’t have what they need to perform specific functions critical to life, our bodies will compensate (less optimally) by mobilizing other systems to keep us alive or to act as repair mechanisms. This comes at the expense of less critical, but never-the-less important, functions necessary to maintain health and will ultimately lead to serious illnesses such as heart attacks, diabetes, and the like.
- contain some ingredients similar enough to what our body needs so that they are recognized by and incorporated into our cells, but that don’t function the same way. They lead to “signs of aging” and illness. This is easily understood if you think about what happens when you put the wrong key into a lock. It may go in, but you can’t open the door.
- are fortified with synthetic vitamins that are not always thought to work the same way as natural ones. This is an effort to add back some of what was lost – and make you think it’s now wholesome. (In another lifetime I used to read the side panel of the cold cereal boxes to choose the one with the most vitamins.) In addition, single vitamins are missing cofactors that work with them. Synthetic vitamins are often made from petroleum and coal tars and other non-food substances.
- are overly reliant on corn and soy which are used in place of nutrient-dense ingredients. Eating variations of the same foods limits the types of nutrients we get; reduces the normal and necessary diversity of our beneficial gut bacteria; and promotes the proliferation of harmful bacteria in our intestinal microbiome. In addition, most corn and soy that is not organic is GMO.
- include many additives to improve the taste, stability, and look of these devitalized and “non-food” food products. Some additives are actual foods, but many are chemicals that have no health benefits and varying degrees of safety.
Foods & Food Products to Avoid
So what are some of the food products that we find in the Sickness Food aisle?
- Foods that are missing important nutrients such as:
- White sugar, in contrast to other less processed sweeteners that contain fiber and other minerals.
- Table salt, in contrast to sea salt which contains a whole range of vital minerals, not just sodium and chloride.
- White flour
- Fortified foods
- Reduced fat/cholesterol foods
- Food products that our body substitutes for required nutrients, such as:
- Many polyunsaturated vegetable oils
- All hydrogenated oils
- Margarine and butter substitutes
- Brominated flours and oils
- Ingredients of dubious safety including:
- Chemical additives/E-numbers (Most)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Other Products:
Illnesses associated with poor nutrition
In case you are thinking that can’t be, consider these problems that occur when our bodies don’t work properly:
Reduced immune functioning, cancer, chronic fatigue, emotional and psychiatric illnesses, learning disabilities, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune conditions, neuropathies, dental cavities, vision and hearing impairment, infertility, allergies, inflammation, and many other diseases, disorders, and infirmities
Before you scoff and disagree with this list of “food” caused illnesses, or kind of agree but don’t think it’s so bad, consider the following (please note that nutrition refers to whole foods, not processed food products):
Crime and violent behavior in both school and prison systems has been linked (at least in part) to nutritional deficiencies. Studies (referenced here and here) have shown a decrease in violent incidences following changes in diet.
Consider this from an article entitled Omega-3, junk food and the link between violence and what we eat:
That Dwight Demar is able to sit in front of us, sober, calm, and employed, is “a miracle”, he declares in the cadences of a prayer-meeting sinner. He has been rocking his 6ft 2in bulk to and fro while delivering a confessional account of his past into the middle distance. He wants us to know what has saved him after 20 years on the streets: “My dome is working. They gave me some kind of pill and I changed. Me, myself and I, I changed.”
Demar has been in and out of prison so many times he has lost count of his convictions. “Being drunk, being disorderly, trespass, assault and battery; you name it, I did it. How many times I been in jail? I don’t know, I was locked up so much it was my second home.”
Demar has been taking part in a clinical trial at the US government’s National Institutes for Health, near Washington. The study is investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplements on the brain, and the pills that have effected Demar’s “miracle” are doses of fish oil.
Heart disease and osteoporosis have been associated with chronic Vitamin C deficiency. Alzheimer’s disease is being recognized as Type 3 diabetes. Functional medicine practitioners (both medical doctors and holistic practitioners) are now reversing Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, gut related conditions, and other diseases with nutrition, including restoration of the beneficial bacteria in the intestinal microbiome, and basic lifestyle changes such as adequate sleep, exercise, and meditation.
For instance, Dr. Dale Bredesen is reversing Alzheimer’s in patients.
His treatment focuses on figuring out exactly why a person is experiencing cognitive decline and correcting those deficiencies.
“If there are specific exposures, you want to get rid of those,” he says. “If there are nutritional changes, you want to address those, if there are hormonal changes you want to address those, if there are inflammatory changes…address those.”
Note that the hormonal and inflammatory changes he is addressing can also be nutrition related.
Dr. Terry Wahls reversed her own multiple sclerosis with nutrition, exercise, and other lifestyle changes. In fact, she went from being confined to a wheelchair to hiking and biking within a year.
Refreshingly, even psychiatry is beginning to look at how nutrition is responsible for our mental health. From the Lancet’s article: Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry
Although the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology. Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality (and potential nutritional deficiencies) and mental health, and for the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies, or as monotherapies or augmentation therapies.
What food was when it was food
People didn’t used to eat as poorly as we do today. Food was made from whole, fresh ingredients (grown on richer soil), not manufactured and stuffed into boxes that might sit on supermarket shelves for months or made with dubious chemicals that need their safety proved.
According to the findings of Weston Price:
… Primitive diets contain at least four times the calcium and other minerals and TEN times the fat soluble vitamins from animal fats (vitamin A, vitamin D and the Price Factor [Vitamin K2]) as the average American diet.
… Total fat content of traditional diets varies from 30% to 80% but only about 4% of calories come from polyunsaturated oils naturally occurring in grains, pulses, nuts, fish, animal fats and vegetables. The balance of fat calories is in the form of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids.
… Traditional diets contain nearly equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
… Traditional cultures make provisions for the health of future generations by providing special nutrient-rich foods for parents-to-be, pregnant women and growing children; by proper spacing of children; and by teaching the principles of right diet to the young.
The price we don’t have to pay
Today we are confused about what food, have lost an understanding of how nutrition promotes health, and what constitutes proper nutrition. Yet, diet and health are inextricably linked. The more we pay attention to what we eat, the less attention the doctor will have to pay to how sick we feel. The price we pay for cheap, devitalized, and even toxic food is simply not worth it.
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Our Broken Food System
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