So – What about Inflammation

Inflammation is a hot health topic but I often wonder if folks understand what that means to them personally. Really important for those with diabetes, heart and various autoimmune diseases. These are people with extreme inflammation. From a dietary perspective, grain and legumes (beans) are particular contributors. Here is why.

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Every bite you eat is either fighting disease or feeding it.

A hundred or so years ago people ate whole food from their garden or farm and pasture raised or wild caught meat and fish. All the nutrients our bodies needed to fight infections and bugs were in the food. All the nutrients needed to create the food were in the soil. A hundred or so years ago most of the chronic diseases so common today were rare or had never been heard of. There is a message here. These days we are feeding disease.

Now how the heck did that happen?  

A more complete explanation is provided in my book, It’s All about the Food. But here is a high level summary.

People left the farm and moved to the city, leaving gardens and pastures behind. Commercial farms continuously growing massive quantities of the cheapest crops possible became common. Those cheap crops are grains like wheat and corn along with soy beans. Chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides were developed to increase yield and provide cheap maintenance. Eventually those chemicals and the prevalence of single crops damaged (and continues to damage) the soil and the food.

The meat in our diet evolved from the animal in the pasture to commercial feed lots supplying our grocery stores. As you might expect the animals are fed that very same grain (remember, it’s cheap) even though that is frequently not their natural food. Consequently they tend to get sick and antibiotics become a staple. And the plus for the meat seller is that that animals put on lots of (saleable) weight. We humans have the same problem with weight for the same reasons.

Commercial processed food manufacturers saw the light and figured out how to use all those cheap crops in every way possible. The main ingredients in cereal, pasta, bread, cakes (cookies and pies), chips, etc are grain of some sort. Another way to use cheap crops is to make vegetable oils from them. Consequently there hardly exists a processed food today that does not include grain or soybeans in some form – content that is calorie dense (as in lots of them) and nutritionally deficient.

Just because you may not see those particular words on the box or bottle ingredient list does not mean they aren’t in there.

The processes and chemicals developed to make those processed foods palatable are mighty handy. Why use real blueberries when you can achieve the taste, smell, and texture of blueberries chemically! Americans crave the right taste and processors know how to appeal to that craving. Americans love convenience and cheap food. Processors and fast food restaurants have made cheap (or at least they seem cheap) and easy into a fine art.

We are now paying a different price for cheap and easy. We have ceased to fight disease and are now feeding it.

Is food all that matters?

Not really. Persistent stress in our lives and lack of sleep are serious contributors to ill health. And toxic chemicals abound, well beyond those found in food. Chemicals are in your water, dirt, clothes, cleaners, skin products, building and home good, on and on forever. Chemicals contribute mightily to disease but it will be impossible in this world to avoid those toxic chemicals completely.

So my subject here is food. You are totally in charge of what goes in your mouth. Commercially processed food and vegetable oils are the number one contributors to chronic disease and extra weight.

I could talk for many more pages on the negatives of commercially processed food including vegetable oils. I could make massive lists of additives found in processed foods and explain why each is bad for us. But that isn’t my interest here. My interest here is the vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids, etc. that occur naturally in whole food and are ESSENTIAL to our health but are missing in commercially processed foods.

Essential is a real word. It means something is required. Commercial food processing significantly reduces or destroys the natural nutrition in food. Odds are the nutrients listed on a food label were added chemically. What we have is taste without substance.

Our poor bodies know what is required nutritionally and are designed to use those nutrients to keep us running and well. And when we don’t get those nutrients our bodies become chronically inflamed and we will be sick. We will be sick!

And we are sick which explains the escalating levels of chronic diseases, stuff like diabetes, arthritis, blindness, atherosclerosis, obesity, kidney disease, celiac disease, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), a long laundry list of autoimmune diseases.

Some want to believe that they can take supplements instead of eating properly. However, there are literally hundreds of nutrients required for our bodies’ operation. Only nature knows how to combine nutrients together in food and deliver them in the most absorbable way. God did not create your body to expect that your vitamin C, calcium, or any one other nutrient would arrive in a pill.

Supplements are commercially manufactured, frequently contain additives contributing to toxic load, and are not in a form that our bodies can easily absorb. For your entertainment do an internet search on the different forms of magnesium supplements along with the pros and cons. You get to choose. And if you make that decision based on price, you might make a poor choice.  A really good supplement will be pricey. And don’t depend on supplements (cheap or expensive) to do the job of food.

My advice, therefore, has not changed from the day my book was published. To the very largest degree possible, eliminate commercially processed foods and oils from your diet. You spent a lot of money for your kitchen. Learn to use it in a healthy way.

Probiotics? What the heck!

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I see tons of advertising on TV and Facebook for probiotics. Just recently I read an excellent post from Silver Sneakers on Facebook, The Best Foods for a Healthy Gut Unfortunately the reader needs to know just a bit more than the article provides.

The question is – why and when are probiotics necessary and what is the best way to take them? Continue reading