Much has changed over the years. We’ve gone from horses to cars and from typewriters to computers. Many people don’t realize that food has changed, as well. Unlike typewriters and computers, which look different, our foods look very much the same as they did decades and centuries ago. Even though food looks the same, its composition can be very different.
For example, grass-fed beef has a different nutrient profile than corn-fed beef. How food is raised makes a difference in its nutritional value and changes the benefit to your body upon consumption.
We’ve Changed How Food is Raised and Grown
The way we process food begins at the start of livestock’s lifecycle. Today, livestock are commonly injected with hormones and antibiotics to promote growth. We’ve also altered the food that livestock eat. When animals eat foods that are not natural to them, it changes the nutritional makeup of their tissues.
For example, grass-fed beef has far more omega fatty acids than corn-fed beef. In addition, when animals are given growth hormones, there are residues present in the end product you are eating, whether it’s meat or milk. Then, to make it worse, the animals get sick very easily when not eating a natural diet. Therefore, they are injected with antibiotics to survive until they are ready for slaughter.
Does this sound like a healthy animal you’d like to eat? Animals that are fed properly don’t need antibiotics and will have great nutritional value as they were designed to have.
We Alter Livestock and Crops with Food Processing
We also change food after it’s grown through various methods of food processing. When it comes to food processing and your health, there is a potential for dangerous effects.
In some cases, food processing can remove nutrients in order to increase shelf life. Typically, fatty acids are removed because they become spoiled quickly when exposed to air. This type of processing is often performed on grains, which naturally contain omega fatty acids in the germ. Not only is nutrition removed, but the food is also bleached and deodorized. Does this sound like a healthy food you’d like to eat?
We’ve Changed the Genetic Makeup of Food
Not only have we removed nutrition and changed food after it’s been grown and harvested, scientists have long been genetically modifying food (GMO) before it’s planted and grown.
In the case of genetic modification, the changes are often for convenience in growing. For example, crops are grown to be immune to certain herbicides or pesticides, so they won’t die when the chemical is applied. Some seeds are actually registered and classified as a pesticide with the FDA because they contain insect repellent chemicals within the seed itself. Do you really want to eat a food that’s been registered as a pesticide?
How Does Processed Food Affect Your Body?
We’ve seen how food has been changed, now let’s look at how that affects our bodies. When nutrition isn’t present because of how an animal or plant is raised, or if nutrients have been processed out of the food, this limits the nutrition you are getting. Nutritional deficiency is the prime reason our bodies aren’t preventing and healing disease as they were meant to do.
The Importance of Omega Fatty Acids
For example, one of the main nutrients we are not getting in the quantity we need is Omega fatty acids. This nutrient is lacking in meat because of how it’s raised, and it’s being processed out of grain-based foods. When we don’t get the Omega-6 and 3 fatty acids we need, our health can suffer in many ways. Omega fats are responsible for healthy cellular structure, brain health and vascular health.
Just this one important nutrient missing from foods has changed the health of our country immensely. Consider the minerals and other nutrients we are missing, and it’s no wonder we are in such poor health. The important thing to remember is that our food quality is not what it used to be, and we need to take a couple of steps to ensure we are properly nourishing our bodies.
Health Effects of Processed Food
Have you noticed how many people have developed food allergies in the last two decades alone? In the 1970s and 1980s, food allergies were few and far between. How could this change so quickly? Allergies are simply inflammation from your body rejecting a substance within.
It makes sense that your body would reject foreign proteins introduced from GMO foods or hormone and pesticide residues. Often, people with allergies can switch to organic foods not containing these substances, and they find that they’re not allergic to the organic counterpart.
Gluten allergies are a good example of what happens when we mess with food’s design. Today, wheat is modified to the point that it produces far more gluten than ever before. Many people can’t tolerate the gluten levels and have to avoid it all together. GMOs also introduce foreign proteins that many people are allergic to, such as peanuts, corn and soy.
Digestive diseases are another example of the danger of modifying food. More and more foods are being pasteurized to kill bacteria. Foods were created with bacteria for a reason – our stomachs need it. We eat lots of dead food today because processing kills the live cultures we need to consume to maintain a healthy digestive system. Milk is a great example. The healthy bacteria in raw milk is killed through pasteurization, and we are left with a beverage that is much less nutritious.
The Importance of High-Quality Food
Food quality is extremely important. Virtually all major diseases can be prevented, eliminated altogether or treatment success rates improved, , if we put minimally-processed, whole foods into our bodies. Eating food as it was designed works with your body, not against it.
Unfortunately, our food system is so broken it’s very difficult, inconvenient and expensive to eat a completely clean diet. Many people simply can’t afford it and, sadly, the ones who can often don’t want the inconvenience of finding and preparing good food. This is why Healthy for Life U exists. We offer simple and convenient strategies for you to get the nutrition you need!
How to Determine High-Quality Food
Now that we’ve established shortcomings in commonly available processed food let’s look at the steps you can take to find good quality food.
- In general, find foods that have not been changed by people, often called “whole foods.”These would be fruits, vegetables, meats, most dairy, eggs, nuts and unprocessed freshly-ground grains. The majority of fruits and vegetables are grown with pesticide sprays, and many are also grown using herbicides as well. The easiest way to avoid this is to buy organic produce or buy from a local farmer who can tell you how the food is grown.When you are determining what foods to eat, simply ask what has been added, removed or modified. If the answer is nothing, the food should be good; the more that’s been changed, the worse the food.
- When it comes to animal protein, you want to find meats that came from an environment that allowed them to eat what is natural to their diet and where they didn’t receive hormones or antibiotics.You’ve probably heard of terms like free-range, grass-fed or organic. These are the terms used to describe such an environment. Grass-fed usually refers to beef. Free-range or cage-free refers to poultry. These terms are sometimes used loosely, so use caution and read labels or ask the producer for more information.If meat is certified organic, that means it wasn’t raised with antibiotics or hormones, but it doesn’t mean it was grass-fed. This means it doesn’t have the bad stuff in it, but it isn’t going to be as nutritious as grass-fed meats.
The Cost of Processed Food and Your Health
The effects of processed food don’t stop at health; they stretch to your wallet. The average American household used to spend an average of 15-17% of their household income on food and only 3-5% on healthcare. Currently, the average American spends only 5-8% of their household income on food and 15-20% on healthcare. Creating processed “cheap” food has actually proved to be more costly when you consider the healthcare cost, not to mention the lower quality of life.
Health Benefits of Whole Food
Eating whole foods will make a huge difference in your health and how you feel. When your body begins to get the full spectrum of nutrients it needs, you will experience more energy, a stronger immune system (less sickness), stronger nails, softer hair and you will just plain feel better!
Is Clean Eating Possible in the Real World?
The short answer is yes. It is entirely possible to eat clean foods and provide your body with the nutrients it needs. In reality, most people won’t keep up with it long term. People are all about convenience and the additional effort and expense needed to obtain good quality foods and prepare them is often more than most people will keep up with long-term.
What we recommend is a hybrid solution that is easy to do long-term. The hybrid solution is to buy organic for products that contain higher amounts of fat and conventional for products that contain low or no fat. The reason for this is that typically hormone residues or other toxins are stored in the fat cells of animals. Using organic products for foods that are higher in fat will assure you that the fat is clean and doesn’t contain the toxins you want to avoid.
Examples of foods to buy organically are:
- Non-lean meat such as rib-eye, bacon or 60-80% lean ground beef
Some of the conventional products you buy will be lacking in nutritional value, but much less expensive and easier to find. To make up for the missing nutrients, we also recommend supplementing the missing minerals and omega oils lost from processed foods.
Take Control of Your Health Today
The best thing you can do for your health is to feed your body with foods that still contain the essential nutrients you need. If you’re ready to take the next step toward a healthy lifestyle, learn more about our Healthy for Life U program.