It’s easy to be deceived into thinking that we are getting all the nutrients we need. Never mind all the labels that say “Fortified” with this and that, or the synthetic vitamins that make you think that 1000% of an isolate is healthy. There are also many people, possibly including yourself, who are trying to make good food choices, and yet we are all struggling with malnutrition. Yes, I said “all.”
Even if you’re including vegetables and/or fruits as a large portion of your meals, how do you know you’re actually getting vitamins and minerals from them? Just because it looks like spinach doesn’t mean you’re getting it’s full nutritional value — it’s estimated that it takes 80 cups of spinach grown today to equal 1 cup grown 50 years ago. A Rutgers University study showed that it takes 19 ears of corn to have the same nutritional value of 1 ear of corn grown in 1940. This recent article in Scientific American points to multiple studies that have shown the same results.
“But I’m eating organically!“
Organically grown fruits and vegetables are definitely more nutrient dense, but they also don’t approach their full nutritional value, especially if they’re not locally grown. The vitamin C in broccoli breaks down a week after it’s picked, and it’s a pretty good assumption that the organic broccoli in your local health food store, unless it was picked locally, is older than one week. And all those antioxidants those fruits and vegetables supposedly have? Those form in the final days when ripening occurs. But to have it be ripe in the stores, it has to be picked early, so you lose out on getting most of those nutrients. And so we start out with a mineral and trace mineral deficiency, and an antioxidant deficiency and that’s assuming people are eating plenty of veggies. Which, of course, they’re not.
We tend to look at the overload of carbohydrates that people are eating and think that all it’s doing is causing obesity and diabetes, but high carb intake causes nutritional deficiencies as well. B vitamins are depleted, as well as zinc, magnesium, and chromium. And the average person eats approximately 5-10 times the amount of carbohydrates their body can handle, and that includes the people eating “healthy” carbs, like whole grains. Vitamin B deficiency symptoms run the gamut, from blood sugar issues, to an inability to handle stress, to anxiety and depression. Sounds like everyone’s got vitamin B deficiency, and yes, they probably do. And stress depletes vitamin B. Do you know what the most nutrient-dense food form of B is? Liver. But who’s eating that nowadays?
Let’s talk about processed food for a moment. It’s relatively easy to look at a Twinkie and know that it’s not real food, but have you considered low-fat or skim milk in the same way? Did it come out of the cow that way? No, it didn’t, and when they take the fat out, it makes the milk an odd color, so they have to add powdered milk back in to make it white. That powdered milk contains oxidized cholesterol, which, as I just said above, contributes to plaques. Never mind high fructose corn syrup (don’t ever fall for the marketing that says it’s just like sugar — it’s not) that’s in so many processed foods — have you considered that agave nectar is also processed? The root itself is not very sweet on it’s own, so it’s boiled down or concentrated with enzymes until it, too, is a very high fructose product. Just because it’s sold in a health food store doesn’t mean it’s healthy — they sell cookies there too. Processed food is hidden everywhere and it takes looking around with open and critical eyes to start to see it.
I’m not saying you should be churning your own butter. But you might want to take a good look at exactly how far away your food is from its original source, and how many ingredients are in it. We tend to think that how we’ve been eating the last 40 or 50 years is how we’ve always been eating, and that this new, modern way of eating is the healthier way to eat. But consider this: we have more heart disease than we ever have before. Cancer rates consistently increase. It’s the exception, not the rule, when someone dies at home, and the nursing homes are filled with the long, slow decline of degenerative diseases. For the first time, the average life span has stopped rising, and has, in fact, fallen. The University of Virginia did a longevity study that showed that if you made it to the age of 50 in the 1700’s, your odds of living to 100 years old was three times greater than it was in the year 2000.
So what do you do? Get to know where your food is from, and how processed it is. Find or make alternatives if you have to. Buy from farmers markets if you can, or buy organic if that’s not available. Avoid processed vegetables oils like the plague. Buy natural meat, not the regular meat from conventional feedlots, with it’s hormones and antibiotics. Eat full fat everything. Consider taking supplements that are food-based and not synthetic, so you don’t deplete your system more (read more about the difference in the article Holistic Nutrition). Read and educate yourself as much as you can — email us if you want some places to start. And start to question the conventional thinking about food — the more practiced you get with thinking critically (about anything!), the more informed you will become.