Eat Your Way To Health (With REAL Food!)
There are about a zillion and one diets on the market right now claiming to be the best for weight loss, health and wellness. And some of them are most definitely better than others.
Just recently I’ve had the pleasure of reading a book by Michael Pollen called, In Defence of Food. This book was such an eye opener on so many levels. It reveals the history of nutrition science and illuminates its basic flaws. The study of nutrients has broken food down into segments; parts. Nutrition studies revealed to us things like, carrots are great because they’re full of beta carotene. (When in fact, they’re full of over 100 different nutrients including multiple carotenes). Green, leafy vegetables are great because they’re full of chlorophyl. The science of nutrition has sought to isolate the nutrients they feel we need the most and have packaged them apart from their original source – the food itself – and put them into capsules. Voila…vitamins!
And yet, people who consume a typical Western diet and take their vitamins that are full of everything that nutritional science says that we require in order to be healthy, have never been sicker.
Pollen goes on to suggest that by separating the nutrients from the actual food and putting them in capsule form, we are missing the entire point.
What if, as Pollen suggests, say carrots have other nutrients in them that we simply haven’t identified? What if, in the isolation of beta carotene (taken apart from the carrot, in capsule form) we are not assimilating that nutrient properly (or at all) because without the other nutrient partners within the carrot we don’t properly receive the nutrients. And what about the actual act of eating? When we eat a carrot, we chew it up in our mouths, which creates an enzyme-rich saliva in which the first stages of digestion take place. Then the chewed up carrot begins to travel down through to our stomach, where bile and acids work to break it down. It then travels to our digestive tract where even more breakdown occurs and the nutrients get carried by the digestive tract to the liver where the liver then disseminates the nutrients to the cells that require them most at that time. It is a perfectly orchestrated show. The body, from the moment we put the carrot into our mouths, knows exactly what to do.
Now, lets say we do that all again, but with a capsule. Well, to start, there is no chewing. So there is no enzymic action in the mouth to start the digestion/assimilation process. The capsule travels down through to the stomach where, because there was no cue in the mouth to initiate digestion, the stomach acids stay relatively quiet. The capsule may break apart a bit and will continue to travel to the digestive tract. Now, because this capsule contains just the nutrients but no actual food source for further digestion, the body (again) gets a little bit confused.
Do you note the difference?
So here’s a novel idea. One that early humans (and our great grandparents) seemed to know innately.
Just eat real food.
Eat good food and enjoy it. When you remove the ‘food-like products’ that promise ‘fibre, omega 3′s, calcium, etc…’ and just eat a good, balanced diet of fresh, organic, whole food, your body gets what it needs (and wants). Why is this so difficult? It is so difficult because the industrialization of food has perverted our entire concept of food, health and eating.
We have become creatures of convenience. We have never before in the history of consumerism, been such blatant consumers. And mostly, we are consumers of convenience. We buy and consume more packaged products than fresh products. And we’ve never been sicker. Healthcare in North America costs almost as much as what we put into warfare. That’s a pretty scary fact. We are being ravaged by completely preventable and, in a lot of cases, reversible diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, autoimmune disease, obesity are preventable with proper nutrition.
Having had Crohn’s Disease for over 20 years, I know all too well, what a poor diet can do for a chronic illness. I also know what a healthy, organic, whole foods diet can do for a chronic illness. At the end of the day, it can make it or break it. And because we’re not actually talking about and isolating disease…we’re, of course, talking about people, than it is a fair statement that food can make or break US.
Make it really easy on yourself.
Stick to the perimeter of your grocery store. Don’t be seduced by the middle isles where food-like products promise you fibre, a healthy heart and a calorie-wise solution. These are no solutions. They aren’t even real food. If you take nothing else from this post, know that every time you consume a packaged ‘food’ you aren’t actually eating food. Your body knows it. And it suffers for it.
Just eat real food. Make most of it organic. Buy locally when you can and hit up your local farmers markets when they’re in season. Sit down to eat and celebrate the fact that you’re nourishing your body in the way it was always intended. Our bodies are very forgiving. It will show exactly how grateful it is to be receiving good, high quality food (actual food!).
Leave the packaged food alone. Packaged food is nothing more than a mishmash of chemicals, preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup (don’t even get me started on this beauty!) and other illegible ingredients that have no place as part of our diets. Just eat real food.
You won’t believe how you feel once you give up food-like products. It’s a game-changer. On so many levels.
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