It should be common sense that in order to have a healthy diet, you need to eliminate artificial sweeteners and preservatives from the foods you eat. This means “going organic” as much as possible.
But a very common complaint I hear from people who are new to shopping organic is that the food goes bad so quickly. This is not just the fruits and vegetables bought at the health food store or at their local farmers’ markets. It includes the other foods they are buying as well. It is the natural crackers, the natural tortilla chips, the natural cereals or which ever naturally made products they are buying from the store now. Once the package is opened up, the food just doesn’t keep as long.
All food at some point goes rancid, molds or in some other way spoils. It should make sense that natural food should not last as long as food that has been made with artificial chemicals and preservatives. It is an urban myth that a Twinkie’s shelf life is decades long. A Twinkie can last weeks unwrapped, sitting out on a counter before it spoils. A freshly baked sweet treat made with natural ingredients will not last that long.
All of the processed foods that are available today in supermarkets are full of hidden salt and preservatives and artificial sweeteners that are literally making us sick. These additives are chemicals, bottom line. They are not food. They are not natural and your body doesn’t know what to do with them. Actually, your body does know what to do with them. It handles those additives as toxins and tries to get rid of them as quickly as possible. But just like with any job it has to do, if you are taking in pounds and pounds of these chemical toxins every week, month and year, then your body just cannot keep up. It gets overloaded trying to rid your body of all of the gunk and soon that gunk starts building up. Your immune system, your liver, your kidneys all suffer and you get sicker and sicker.
You will find all kinds of artificial additives on the supermarket shelves like BHT or Butylated hydroxy-toluene and its cousin BHA or Butylated hydroxy-anisole. Both are common artificial preservatives that keep your food from changing color and from developing a bad odor or taste. Be certain, they don’t prevent the food from going bad, necessarily – they just prevent you from seeing, smelling or tasting that it has gone bad. You find them in cereals, chewing gum and chips. But you can also find them in rubber, jet fuels and embalming fluids. BHT and BHA have already been banned in many countries. Their use in infant food has already been banned in the U.S.
Nitrates and sulfites are in many processed foods and many people are environmentally sensitive to these chemicals but don’t realize it.
Artificial colors like Blue # 1, Red #40 and Yellow #5 that make our food more fun looking or neurotoxins like MSG that are used as a flavor enhancer have been linked to hyperactivity disorders like ADHD, asthma and cancer.
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame (in Equal and NutraSweet), saccharin (in Sweet ‘N Low) and sucralose (in Splenda) have been found to cause cancer in laboratory rats. Products containing some of these chemicals were labeled as being “hazardous to your health” for 20 years but were surprisingly “delisted” by the FDA in 2000. You can still find these toxins on every restaurant table in America.
Each chemical sweetener was artificially created in a laboratory by the food industry to give you all the sweet taste you want, but without the calories. But instead of calories, you are getting toxins. Instead of a bigger waistline, you are getting cancer. Actually, studies have shown that the zero calorie and no-fat fad has not done anything to shrink our waistlines. They even suggest that it is contributing to our obesity problem. We are learning that the body is holding onto more water weight as well as fat stores to protect itself from these toxins that are accumulating inside.
In just a few short decades, our food supply has become more toxic and more unhealthy that it has even been before. Historically, people grew their own food or bought it at a market in their town where the majority of the food came from small farms in the local area. But that has all changed in the last 50 years. As we have become more and more industrialized, advanced technology and thriving industry has developed what is now called “Agribusiness” in the United States.
Agribusiness has become so lucrative that now just a handful of large multinational corporations control most of our food supply. They control how the food is grown. They control which foods can be grown. They control the quality of the food we eat. They control how the food is used. In Agribusiness’s quest to grow food quicker and cheaper, more and more pesticides and more and more hormones are being used on the crops and herds that become our food. It is making our food toxic and dangerous to our health.
The increased estrogens found in factory-farmed meat are being linked to increases in breast cancers, uterine cancers and cervical cancers. It is also being linked to girls starting puberty earlier than usual with some girls starting their periods at 10, 9 and even 8 years old. The toxic petrochemicals used to kill insects on our food are also killing the field workers whose job it is to spray these pesticides on the crops everyday. These known carcinogens destroy their immune systems and they are dying of leukemias and lymphomas.
It was reported in the USA Today that the company that developed a strain of corn that farmers could now use that was highly resistant to the most common pesticide used in that industry. The company purported the benefit was more pesticide could then be used to kill off more pests, so less of the crop would be wasted. But this also means that more pesticide residue is on that food when you buy it in the market. After a little more research into this pesticide, it was found that the same company that had genetically engineered this pesticide-resistant strain of corn was also the company that manufactured the pesticide!
Our own inner ecology is being damaged by these toxins and our planet’s ecology is being damaged as well – our soil, our water supply, our rivers, our oceans and all of the animals that live in them.
Buying organically grown fruits and vegetables is the best place to start to healing our inner and outer ecology. Thankfully, organic produce is becoming more and more available everywhere. It is no longer just a “California thing” any more. Buy organic meats, free- range chicken and beef that is grass fed, so you know it is not going to harm to your body like conventionally raise meat will.
Organic is certainly more expensive, but either you are going to pay now or you are going to pay later. Wouldn’t you rather pay now at grocery stores and farmers markets than later at doctors’ offices and hospitals. Look at the higher prices you pay in the checkout line as an investment in your health.
Do what you can to “buy local” as well. Buying food from local growers has many benefits.
It supports your local businesses and supports your neighbors’ livelihoods. The foods are usually much fresher because they arrive to your farmers markets from nearby. They are not being shipped from across the country or even from across the planet. This cuts down on pollution and energy consumption too because there is less gas and less oil used to get that food from their farm to your table.
Buying organic and buying local is the “green way to go” as well as the healthy way to go.
But if you are not able to buy organic produce because of availability or because of the expense, then be sure to wash your fruits and vegetables very well before you eat them. You can by solutions at most health food stores that help dissolve the chemical residues and waxes that you find on conventionally grown produce so you don’t ingest them. Or you can make your own washing solution by filling a spray bottle with water and adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or lime juice. Obviously, be sure to rinse this solution off thoroughly as well so it doesn’t leave any residual taste to your fruits and veggies. It is not going to get rid of the chemicals that are in the fruits and vegetables themselves however. They have absorbed some of the pesticides through the soil and from the water its grown with, but it will definitely help you reduce the amount of chemicals you expose yourself to through the food you eat.
So make a conscious effort to buy foods that are natural, organic and not highly processed. Read food labels and become familiar with what these substances are. Is every product in the supermarket or even the health food store that says “all natural” perfectly perfect? Of course not. But it is much better for you than the florescent blue dyed drinks or the zero calorie Splenda cookies that are out there.
Go au naturale and Go Organic.
*Exerpted from the Being Well Lifestyles Home Study Course by Dr. Jay Warren.
Drawing on over two decades of experience as a hands-on holistic practitioner, Dr. Jay Warren is a primary healthcare provider and licensed chiropractor in the San Diego area. He has spent tens of thousands of clinical hours helping his patients achieve their optimal health potential through holistic approaches bolstered by years of personal experimentation, education and research. Dr. Jay creates customized plans integrating exercise, nutrition and stress management strategies to overcome a myriad of health challenges. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.DrJayWarren.com.