We have become more naïve. Not in the general sense (I am not qualified to make that assessment) but in terms of our health. More specifically, as it pertains to our nutrition. Some of us think we eat healthy, others think we need to do a better job, and of course there are those who really just don’t seem to care. But what does it really mean to eat “healthy”? If you were ask 3 different people, you would likely get 3 different answers. The underlying themes might be the same, but everyone has a preconceived notion as to what they think is healthy based on little more than what they’ve always been taught or most likely and worse, what marketing and misinformation has taught them.
It’s Not As Simple As Black and White
We are a knowledge hungry civilization. More than at any point in history, we have access to more information that seems to expand almost every second and we want more, and we want it faster. In that quest, we don’t appreciate that there are some things that are not as clear cut as black and white. No other subject takes the cake here more than the subject of nutrition. With all of the knowledge and understanding that science has worked to figure out, the subject of nutrition still remains a very gray area. Or is it? The limitation with science is that it is always evolving. The more we know, the more we have yet to uncover. Theories are made but until they can be proven conclusively, they are just that – a theory. Enter again the subject of nutrition. Most preconceived notions of what is considered a “healthy” diet is mostly based on theories. Like mama always said, “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? The irony of that statement is that is exactly what happens everyday when it comes to nutrition. People eat blindly daily and for no other reason because that’s what everyone else is doing or what they think we should be doing. In case you haven’t heard or noticed, there’s an obesity epidemic in this country. Are we just eating too much, not moving enough, or is it we are simply following the wrong recommendations?
Some Haunting Nutritional Tidbits
- Fat has gotten a bad rap for decades from studies done back in the 1950s. The net result? We’re more unhealthy and overweight than ever before.
- There is scientific evidence that shows that low-fat diets recommended by the ADA and AHA are shown in numerous studies to cause diabetes and heart disease.
- There is no scientific evidence that low fat diets are healthy.
- New research is showing that a diet high in saturated fat actually decreases disease.
- Carbohydrates are not the enemy. Not all carbohydrates are bad. Man made, manufactured, processed carbohydrates are.
- Sugar in any form is still sugar. You can put as much spin on it as you want on where it comes from. Agave, honey, maple, sugar alcohols, etc. all sugar, sugar, sugar.
- Cholesterol is not bad. In fact, it’s very vital and important component of your cells. 80% of the cholesterol floating in your blood stream is produced by the body. Your cholesterol numbers aren’t up because you eat too much cholesterol. They’re up because you consume too much crap which stresses the body that cholesterol is commandeered to repair.
- Organic does not equal healthy. Is it better for you? Arguably, but eating natures carbohydrates – fruits and vegetables – anyway you can get them is better than eating none at all. Organic cookies are still junk.
- Most of the food we eat is not grown in the American portrait of the Midwest farmer. It’s mass produced with the help of artificial means; it’s genetically altered to create more sustainable shelf life; it’s highly processed and is less a food item than tree bark; everything is “naturally” flavored which is as ambiguous a statement if there ever was one; imported from foreign countries with less strict regulations that here in our country.
- In the United States, 99% of the corn and soy grown is genetically modified. Over 90% of the market share in the seed industry is owned by six companies: Monsanto, BASF, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, and Syngenta.
- Low calorie foods are the worst. Low calorie means low energy and low taste. That is, without the help of artificial chemicals and processing. Research on these chemicals have been shown to damage a region of the brain called the hypothalamus that’s responsible for regulating a host of functions including mood, emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, weight, and appetite.
So if you weren’t already confused about nutrition before, I hope at least I didn’t confuse (or scare) you more, but rather given you some food for thought. The take home point is this:
- Eat wholesome, real food as much as possible. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where all of the perishable, but real food is located.
- Stay away or avoid packaged/processed foods as much as possible and if still so inclined, ignore the package labeling and learn how to read the nutritional label. If it has more than 5 ingredients in its ingredients list, it’s no longer a food, but a vessel of chemicals and crap.
- The rules of nutrition are universal, meaning that we as humans have the same biological make up and nutritional needs. Low carb, low fat – phooey! There are cultures who survive on the completely opposite. Sickness and disease are only seen where our influence on eating has been spread.
- Stop relying on the media and supermarket tabloids for your nutritional information. What they have been telling you for years only clouds your instinctual judgment.
- And also like mama used to say, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” There is no trick, no gimmick, and no shortcut; just intelligent choices made from sound knowledge.
Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.