What’s wrong with our food system?
Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Today, doctors swear the Hippocratic Oath, yet they ignore the original advice. The foundation for staying healthy in a toxic world is proper nutrition—often easier said than done. Especially today, making sure that the food you eat has the greatest complement of nutrients can go a long way toward your being able to thrive in a toxic world.
Each cell in your body is a living, breathing entity receiving nourishment and getting rid of wastes through the bloodstream. Whether you eat an organic carrot or a box of chemically laden cereal, your bloodstream faithfully carries it to your cells. The question arises: What exactly is being carried to your cells?
Pesticides are a major factor in the demise of our food. However, they represent only a portion of the problem. Before a crop is even planted, the chances that it may have been genetically modified or genetically contaminated by nearby genetic breeding programs are increasing. Next, consider the preservatives and the food additives that are routinely added during the processing of food. Even the packaging materials may contain toxic preservatives that have now been banned in some countries. What about irradiation, the practice of bombarding food with ionizing radiation? This practice has been approved in the United States for nearly every type of food, and it is nearly impossible to tell which foods have been irradiated and which foods have not. Add to all of the above the blatant fact that our soils have been depleted and poisoned by years of intensive agriculture. Unfortunately, what’s in our food, today, is no longer capable of sustaining healthy life. No wonder Americans are some of the sickest, most malnourished individuals in the world.
The food industry in the United States is purely profit motivated. What ends up in the grocery store is the result of corporate America’s greed and total disregard for our health. Nutritional quality is routinely cast aside in favor of yield, cost of production, shelf life, insect resistance, and so on. On a more positive note, there are a few companies and a number of small organic growers who refuse to be controlled by corporate America. They continue to provide toxin-free food capable of nourishing our bodies, minds, and spirits. The following post is designed to alert you to the dangers of the toxins and chemicals in the food supply and to provide information to help you make wise choices.
ORGANIC—WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Organic farming refers to agricultural production (food and clothing) without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Additionally, in order to be classified as organic, foods must be minimally processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. By definition, organic foods are not genetically altered. However, even this has become an issue because of cross pollination.
100 Percent Organic
According to the USDA’s national organic standard, products labeled 100 percent organic can only contain organically produced ingredients. Products containing 100 percent organic ingredients can display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifying agent’s logo.
To be labeled as organic, 95 percent of the ingredients must be organically grown, and the remaining 5 percent must come from approved nonorganic ingredients. These products may also display the USDA organic logo and/or the certifier’s logo.
Made with Organic Ingredients
Food products labeled “made with organic ingredients” must be made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients, three of which must be listed on the back of the package, and the remaining 30 percent of the nonorganic ingredients must be from an approved list. These products may display the certifier’s logo but not the USDA organic logo.
Organic certification includes inspection of fields and processing facilities; it includes periodic testing of soil and water to ensure that standards are met. This does not mean that pesticides are never used, but it does mean that when pesticides are deemed necessary, permission may be granted by the certifying organization to apply botanical or other nonpersistent pest controls under restricted conditions. Botanical pesticides are derived from plants and are broken down much more rapidly than traditional pesticides.
Unfortunately, since government regulations control the certification of organic products, even the term “organic” means less than it did years ago. Many of the largest organic brands are now owned and operated by the same big corporations that sell regular brands and junk foods. The following Web site created by Phil Howard, at Michigan State University, includes a variety of charts that identify which large corporations own which organic brands:http://www.msu.edu/~howardp/organicindustry.html.
Whenever you can find local, organic growers or participate in a co-op where you know the sources of the food you eat, you will have even greater insurance of its quality. If this is not possible, make sure the organic products you purchase have certification logos.
The damage produced by pesticides is pervasive. Researchers have discovered that often pesticides do more damage at low levels than at higher doses.100 Of the hundreds of pesticides still in use today, many are proven to cause cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders, autoimmune syndromes, and hormone disruption. One of the most recent and critical concerns with the continued use of pesticides (as well as with plastics and other chemicals) is their estrogenic effects—the mimicking of feminizing hormones that dramatically alter sexuality and fertility. The average sperm count in men has dropped from 125 million/ml in 1932 to 50 million/ml in 1998.101
Facts about Pesticides in the Foods We Eat:
• It is possible for a two-year-old child to have ingested more than the lifetime tolerated amount of pesticides by eating only half of one non-organic, pesticided apple.
• The average one-year-old can eat certain fruits (such as two grapes or three bites of some apples, pears, or peaches), and that amount will exceed the EPA safe adult exposure level to organophosphate pesticides.
• Some winter squash, green beans, spinach, celery, and lettuce were found to contain more than the daily safe limit of pesticides for children—in one serving.
• High levels of chlordane (banned in 1983) have still been found in potatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, and zucchini. This could be due to contaminated soil or the use of chlordane that was stockpiled years ago.
• Every day, nine of ten children aged six months to five years are exposed to combinations of thirteen different nerve-damaging insecticides in the food they eat—even after washing and processing the food.
—Our Toxic World: A Wake-Up Call by Doris Rapp, MD
Almost nothing is known about the long-term impact of most of the pesticides in use today. A National Research Council study found that complete information on the hazards to human health were available for only 10 percent of pesticides. In a study of Mexican/Indian children, one group was routinely exposed to pesticide sprays as well as to the regular use of pesticides in the home. The other group was exposed to a pesticide only during the annual DDT spraying for malaria. When these children were evaluated at ages four and five, it was discovered that those who were exposed to pesticides could not jump up and down as well; they could not draw a stick figure; they had poor eye/hand coordination; and they were less sociable and creative. These children also had less stamina, poor short-term memory, and more behavioral problems.
Not only are we unaware of the long-term consequences of pesticide use, but pesticides are flagrantly overused and not well regulated. What may end up in our food can be anything from currently accepted levels (which are often inappropriate) to toxic doses in one meal. Many pesticides are routinely used by gardeners and homeowners with no idea of the long-term consequences.
This large category of pesticides includes DDT, 2,4-D, aldrin, dieldrin, lindane (the active ingredient in lice-control shampoos), endrin, and chlordane. Although some of these pesticides have been banned, residues continue to persist in soils everywhere. Organochloride pesticides cause damage to the skin, liver, kidneys, and to the immune system.
Examples of common organophosphate pesticides are diazinon, parathion, and malathion. This category was originally designed as nerve gas; these chemicals can damage the lungs, intestines, bladder, heart, muscles, nerves, and brain. They have been associated with sociopathic disorders including rage and violent behavior. Diazinon is toxic to the nervous system. It can cause headaches, blurred vision, and memory problems. The sale of diazinon for indoor use was banned in 2002, but 70 percent of agricultural use continues. Parathion is known to disrupt fertility; it has caused more deaths than any other organophosphate.
Carbamates are similar to the organophosphate pesticides. Common pesticides in this classification include Sevin, Carbaryl, and Aldicarb. Carbamate chemicals are used in clothing, medicines, and plastics. They have been known to cause blurred vision, twitches, convulsions, weakness, memory loss, behavioral problems, cancer, defective sperm, and birth defects. Like the organophosphates, carbamates have been associated with extreme, unprovoked anger and violence.
One of the biggest difficulties with pesticides is drift. They can be carried for miles on the wind. Scientists have tracked DDT-containing clouds that originated in Africa where the use of DDT is still in full force.102 These DDT-laden clouds eventually rain everywhere, contaminating soils and water worldwide. Even organic crops can be contaminated if farmers spray on windy days. If you live in an agricultural area, you or your own crops may be at risk.
Organic is better
There is no longer any doubt that eating organic food has its advantages. In 2003, researchers at the University of Washington compared a group of eighteen children who ate organic food with twenty-one children who all ate conventionally produced food. The children were all roughly the same age (two to five years old), gender, and of similar family income. The children with organic diets had far lower (six to nine times) levels of pesticide metabolites in their bodies.103 Researchers in this study concluded that eating organic fruits and vegetables could significantly reduce the pesticide burden carried by children. This information provides a level of certainty for parents who choose to feed organic food to their children.
For some, switching to organic food may not be entirely possible. In this case, knowing which crops have the highest levels of pesticides may be important. There are twelve crops that are known as the “Dirty Dozen” because they contain the highest levels of pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization in Washington DC. These crops, above others, should be purchased in organic form whenever possible.
Best and Worst Crops
The Dirtiest Dozen (beginning with the worst)
• sweet bell peppers
The Cleanest Dozen (beginning with the best)
• sweet corn (frozen)
• sweet peas (frozen)
• kiwi fruit
Genetic modification (GM), also known as genetic engineering, gene splicing, or recombinant DNA technology, is the alteration of a living organism’s genetic makeup by transferring one or more genes from another organism. GMO stands for genetically modified organism, referring to a plant or other organism that has been modified.
The most common reason for genetic modification is for resistance to herbicides, pests, diseases, drought, or temperature variations. Other reasons for GM include yield enhancement, nutritional enhancement, extension of shelf-life, improved flavor, and processing characteristics.
There are still many questions about the safety of consuming genetically modified foods. Proponents argue that GM is not fundamentally different from other breeding programs. The difference, however, is that GM creates unnatural genetic combinations. GM recombines the genetic material from plants, insects, or animals for which there is no (or low) probability of natural breeding. New genes or DNA sequences are introduced into chromosomal locations, which can result in unpredictable effects on the environment and on human health. Several examples of this are cited:
• Tobacco plants genetically engineered to produce gamma-linolenic acid also produced actadecatetraenic acid—a toxin.
• Yeast modified to obtain increased fermentation unexpectedly accumulated methylglyoxal in toxic and mutagenic concentrations.
• Soybeans modified with a gene from the Brazil nut also had allergenic characteristics.
• In a Philippine village located near GM corn fields, fevers, respiratory illnesses, and skin reactions became prevalent. The corn, called Bt maize, contains a pesticide in the gene. Blood tests showed that the villagers had developed antibodies to the built-in pesticide. Four families left the village and recovered—and then got sick again when they returned.
All of the European Union nations as well as Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries require the mandatory labeling of foods that contain GM ingredients. As a result, most food manufacturers in these countries choose to use non-GM ingredients. In the United States, unless food is labeled “organic” it may contain GMOs—you will never know. There are currently no labeling requirements for GM products. Because of the widespread use of GM corn and soy, it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the foods in grocery stores in the United States and Canada currently contain GM ingredients. If the product label says corn, corn flour, dextrin, starch, soy, soy sauce, margarine, or tofu there is a good chance that it has GM ingredients.
Because of something called gene flow, even organic growers are having difficulty maintaining non-GM status. Gene flow causes genetic contamination of non-genetically engineered crops. More organic farmers are reporting traces of GM organisms in their crops all the time. This is because all genetically engineered organisms include genes that are designed to overcome natural reproductive barriers between organisms. In a study published in Nature it was revealed that GM mustard plants were twenty times more likely to crossbreed than regular mustard plants growing right next to them.104
Another recent view theorizes that GM foods are behind the new disease called Morgellons disease, which is characterized by tiny fibers that grow from skin lesions. These fibers appear to be synthetic. They cause extreme itching and the feeling that something is crawling underneath the skin. Laboratory testing discovered agrobacterium in the mysterious fibers—the same agrobacterium inserted in the DNA during genetic manipulation of plants.105, 106
The only way U.S. citizens are likely to be protected from GM is if they let legislators know of their concern and if they request support for legislation that requires appropriate labeling. The following Web site tells you how you can fight back against GM foods: http://www.naturalnews.com/026908_food_GMO_Monsanto.html
To read a well-researched article by Nathan Batalion titled 50 Harmful Effects of Genetically Modified Foods, visit this Web site: http://www.raw-wisdom.com/50harmful.
Irradiation destroys harmful bacteria and fungus on fruits and vegetables, meats, and other products. This allows meat and produce to sit on the shelf for much longer than nonirradiated food. But the practice is not without tremendous health hazards.
Irradiation uses ionizing radiation to split molecular bonds with high-energy beams. This kills pathogens, but it forms an abundance of free radicals and “radiolytic” compounds in food. The damaging effects of irradiated foods have been studied and documented since the 1960s. Doses of radiation necessary for irradiating meat (fifteen to twenty million times greater than a chest x-ray) produce elevated levels of benzene, formaldehyde, and other cancer-causing compounds in food. This is the reason that irradiation must be called a food additive. Irradiation also reduces vitamin content107and kills enzymes.
The government of India carried out studies to determine if irradiated wheat was safe for consumption. During the course of their studies, several alarming things were discovered and eventually disclosed to the U.S. congressional hearing on irradiation in 1987: 108
1. Rats and mice fed freshly irradiated wheat showed increased levels of cells with chromosome abnormalities in their bone marrow. This was repeatedly observed in several separate experiments.
2. Normal monkeys and undernourished children fed diets containing freshly irradiated wheat showed elevated levels of white blood cells with chromosome abnormalities. Several months after the irradiated wheat was withdrawn, levels of chromosome abnormality returned to normal.
3. Mice fed freshly irradiated wheat-based diets had increased numbers of prenatal deaths.
Unfortunately, the FDA, citing five out of thousands of studies, has continued to extend its approval for the use of irradiation on more and more food products. In 1963, irradiation was approved for wheat and flour to control insects. In 1964 it was approved as a sprout inhibitor on white potatoes. In 1983, approval was given for use on spices and herbs. In 1986 it was approved for use on fresh foods to delay maturation (in other words, to delay spoiling). It was approved for poultry in 1990, red meat in 1999, and eggs in 2001. Most recently (2008), it was approved for lettuce, spinach, and many other vegetables. Irradiation has been used for years on a variety of crops including apples, strawberries, bananas, mangoes, onions, potatoes, spices, seasonings, meat, poultry, fish, and grains.
Whether it’s a fruit, a vegetable, or a meat product, all foods that are irradiated are supposed to be labeled with the symbol shown below. Often they are not. Now the FDA is proposing sweeping changes that would relax labeling requirements even further.
Changes proposed and encouraged by the irradiation industry would allow for many irradiated foods to go unlabeled. Another change would allow companies to substitute other terms in place of the word “irradiated,” such as “electronic pasteurization” or “cold pasteurization.” These terms are misleading and are intended to downplay the fact that food is altered by irradiation.
Like other practices (e.g., water fluoridation) irradiation is popular because it solves waste problems from other industries. The Department of Energy’s By-product Utilization Program benefits by reducing disposal costs on spent military and civilian nuclear fuel wastes.109 Irradiation also allows products that might not be appealing to be sold to unsuspecting consumers. Irradiation is another reason to shop for organic produce, to participate in co-ops, or to grow as much of your own food as possible.
The term barcode food refers to food that is packaged so that it can remain on the shelf in a grocery store for predetermined periods of time. The creation of barcode foods requires processing (e.g., cooking, drying, refining, extracting, extruding, pasteurizing, irradiation) Processing notoriously destroys nutrients or renders nutrients unavailable at the cellular level. Processing kills enzymes; it alters amino acids, promotes rancidity, and often changes the composition of minerals so that they are no longer easily assimilated. Processing also changes living food into energetically lifeless “food forms” that are unable to fulfill the nutritional needs of our bodies.
The grocery store concept is built around barcode foods and extended shelf life. Whatever nutritive content these foods had to begin with is largely lost in the processing, and the only way they can stay on the shelf is if they are dead. Unfortunately, 70 percent of today’s diet is composed of barcode foods.
Whenever possible, avoid processed foods. Not only are they devoid of nutrients and enzymes, they are also the most likely to contain genetically modified ingredients.
There is a vast difference between living and dead (cooked and processed) food. Living food has a positive energy signature that strengthens the human body (often just by being near to it). Processed foods give off little energy. In fact, they often require energy from our bodies in order to be assimilated. The net gain is sometimes not a gain at all but a taxing of the organs and tissues in our bodies. Barcode foods (packaged and processed) should be avoided whenever possible.
As far back as the 1930s, the U.S. government was warned by nutritional experts that American soils were so deficient in mineral content that the foods grown on them could not sustain healthy life.110 The intention of these experts was to inspire corrective action. More than seventy years later, no action has been taken. As a result, the fruits and vegetables grown in American soil and in most other parts of the world have shown dramatically reduced nutritional content.
Depleted soils and empty food may be partly responsible for the major degenerative diseases of our time. In a recent document, the FDA admitted that by setting minimum levels of nutrients in certain foods, it was possible to reduce the incidence of deficiency diseases.111 These factors may also be one reason Americans eat too much. Barcodefoods and foods grown on depleted soil provide empty calories devoid of nutrition; they promote weight gain and obesity. At the same time, those who consume deficient foods are starving. Their consumption has given rise to a new kind of malnutrition referred to as over-consumptive/under-nutrition syndrome.
How can plants grow without minerals? Most plants require only three elements to grow: nitrogen, phosphorus, and water. In the presence of these nutrients, virtually all plants will appear to be healthy. However, if the complete group of more than seventy minerals is either missing or deficient, food is nutritionally empty. A secondary consequence is that these plants are less able to defend themselves against natural predators. They are susceptible to damage from insects, viruses, fungi, and bacteria. In order to control this, pesticides must be used to limit the damage. It is a vicious cycle unless the root cause is addressed. And in this case the cause is really at the roots—depleted soil.
One of the simplest (and cheapest) ways to address the problem of malnutrition is to do what was recommended in the 1930s—replenish the soil by remineralizing and incorporating organic matter. Until this is done on a massive scale, U.S. farmers will continue to need to rely on chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified versions of plants to overcome increasing growth and yield problems.
Most produce these days is individually marked by the grower with small stickers to distinguish varieties at the checkout stand. These stickers are also your clue to whether or not the produce is organic. Organic produce has a five-digit number that always begins with the number 9. Conventionally grown produce carries a four-digit number that always begins with a 4. Genetically modified produce carries a sticker that begins with the number 8.
Organic produce has a five-digit number that begins with a “9.”
Conventionally grown produce has a four-digit number that begins with a “4.”
Genetically modified produce has a sticker that begins with the number “8.”
Since organic is your best choice for food that is free of chemical toxins, genetic modification, and irradiation, finding a source of organic produce is important. Let your grocer know you are interested in a variety of organic products. However, keep the following in mind.
When buying at a large supermarket, only eighteen cents of every dollar goes to the grower. Eighty-two cents goes to the agribusiness conglomerate that puts money back in the pockets of pesticide manufacturers, genetic engineering research, and various unnecessary middlemen. These same conglomerates are responsible for the predicament we find ourselves in. They promote chemical fertilization, the use of pesticides, genetically modified foods, irradiation, and nutritionless food.
The best way to find your way back to real food may be to support local farmers. Buying from local growers will ultimately help preserve the environment; it will also strengthen local communities by investing food dollars close to home. The following Web site contains a huge database and lets you search your local area for growers, co-ops, farmer’s markets, and restaurants that participate in community sustainable agriculture. You can also order organic products online: http://www.localharvest.org/.
MEAT AND POULTRY
Before you eat another roast beef sandwich, before you purchase another Thanksgiving turkey or bite into another pork chop, think about what that meat has been fed. Consider what antibiotics or growth hormones it may have received, the circumstances in which it lived, and the manner in which it was slaughtered and packaged.
Some of the most important foods to purchase organically are animal foods. This is because animals tend to concentrate pesticides.
Most people are so confident that “somebody” in the government is watching out for their welfare that they would never consider investigating the practices of the meat and poultry industry. However, in 2007 two incidents alone attempted to recall twenty-seven million pounds of E. coli contaminated beef. The U.S. meat and poultry industry is plagued with problems from beginning to end. If you understood the smallest portion of what these products were subjected to, you would be inclined to express sentiments similar to those that Oprah Winfrey expressed when she said, “It has just stopped me, cold, from eating another burger!”112
Most beef calves go from eighty pounds at birth to twelve hundred pounds or more in fourteen months. The only way that amount of growth can take place is if they are fed on grain (rather than their normal diet of grass) and if they are given a variety of growth hormones. Measurable amounts of these hormones end up in human tissue. Many scientists agree that the estrogenic hormones from hormone-fed beef are partially responsible for premature puberty in young girls and for falling sperm counts in men. The poultry industry does not use hormones. The poultry industry has its own skeletons in its closet.
Arsenic in poultry
Organic arsenic is routinely fed to poultry to prevent bacterial infections and to improve weight gain. It has been approved for decades and is given to about 70 percent of chickens grown for meat—even though arsenic is a known carcinogen. Recent research revealed that arsenic in chicken was three to four times higher than in other poultry and meat.113 An even bigger problem may be the long-term effects on the environment. Most of the arsenic fed to chickens ends up in the litter (excrement). And more than 70 percent of the arsenic in uncovered piles of poultry litter is dissolved by rainfall and leached into lakes or streams. What we don’t eat in the chicken ends up in our water.
In the United States the use of antibiotics is permitted to prevent or to treat diseases in all animals. In fact, the largest use of antibiotics in this country is for animals. But antibiotics are rarely required where animals are naturally raised. It is our inhumane treatment of animals that forces the use of antibiotics. Over nine million pounds of antibiotic feed are used in the cattle industry every year. These antibiotics are given in normal feed—whether animals need them or not—as part of the dietary regimen. The routine use of antibiotics in the meat and poultry industry is a major factor in the growing problem of antibiotic resistance in humans.
The words “no antibiotics added” on meat or poultry can be misleading. That statement simply means that a product has satisfied the USDA’s guidelines for animals raised without antibiotics. It does not necessarily mean that the meat follows stricter organic standards. Also misleading is the use of the word “natural” on meat and poultry labels. At the meat counter, the word “natural” is often just an assurance that no artificial colors (often added to make red meat look fresh) have been added. For meat and poultry, the standard definition of the word “natural” means that the food cannot contain artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients.
Irradiation of meat/poultry
Irradiated meat has a lower bacteria level than regular meat. It may reduce—but not eliminate—the risk of food-borne illness if your meat is undercooked. But that’s the end of any benefits to irradiating meat. Irradiation does not kill resistant strains of salmonella and E. coli, nor does it eliminate mad cow disease. In most cases, irradiation is an excuse for selling under-quality meat to the consumer. Irradiation in the meat and poultry industry creates a false sense of security and allows tainted or spoiled meat to be sold. Irradiation stops the normal decay process,114 and there is no warning when irradiated food is eventually spoiled because the beneficial organisms that warn of spoilage are also destroyed by irradiation. According to Carol Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America:
It’s better to take steps to avoid contaminating food to begin with than it is to try to clean it up afterwards. But I’m afraid it’s human nature not to spend money to change the way animals are raised, or have a trained workforce in meatpacking plants, or upgrade facilities if they can just irradiate food at the end of the line.
Irradiation causes the release of toxic mold by-products called aflatoxins. These cause liver damage and cancer; they produce benzene and formaldehyde in food; and they destroy many vitamins and enzymes. The long-term effects of consuming irradiated food are not known and have never been fully investigated.
What Irradiation Does to Meat
1. Produces toxic mold by-products
2. Produces benzene and formaldehyde in the meat
3. Destroys vitamins and enzymes
Although labeling is required for irradiated products, it is not required in restaurants, including school lunch programs. In 2001, the proposal to allow irradiated poultry and ground beef in federal school lunch programs rather than testing for salmonella triggered such resistance that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) abandoned the plan. But a provision in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 gave the USDA the opportunity to drop restrictions. Today, every school district has the choice to buy irradiated meat and poultry.
There is nowhere on the face of the earth where there is any population that has consumed large amounts of any irradiated food over an extended period of time. I think it comes close to using the nation’s schoolchildren as guinea pigs.
—Carol Foreman, director of the Food Policy
Institute of the Consumer Federation of America
Do you know if your child’s school serves irradiated meat? The following Web site provides information on how to work with your school district to stop the purchase of irradiated foods: www.safelunch.org.
Carbon monoxide (CO), recently approved by the EPA for use in meat packaging, keeps meat red longer. The process of treating meat by removing oxygen from the package and pumping CO in, referred to as “modified atmosphere packaging,” saves meat processors millions of dollars every year.
Carbon monoxide binds more effectively to hemoglobin in blood than oxygen does. That’s why, in the presence of CO, a person can become oxygen starved and die. CO also competes for oxygen in muscle tissue. Myoglobin is the protein found in muscle tissue that is responsible for the same role hemoglobin fills in the bloodstream. In the presence of oxygen, myoglobin becomes oxymyoglobin and produces a red color. CO is attracted to myoglobin far more readily than oxygen, forming carboxymyoglobin, with an even more vivid and long-lasting red pigment.
Eating CO-treated meat alone may not make you sick. However, its supercharged color lasts for months—far beyond the date when it is safe to eat. The cost to shoppers is their right to know—and possibly their health. There is no requirement to let consumers know the meat was packaged using this technology.
To defend the practice, which has been banned in countries across the world, the FDA claims that consumers do not care about meat’s color and that they do not consider color when making purchasing decisions. But the FDA’s own Food Code warns about the dangers of a modified atmosphere packaging system.115
ROP [reduced oxygen packaging] which provides an environment that contains little or no oxygen … raises many microbiological concerns…. the inhibition of the spoilage bacteria is significant because without these competing organisms, tell-tale signs signaling that the product is no longer fit for consumption will not occur.
FDA Food Code
During a 2007 hearing on the technology, Representative Bart Stupak (D-Mi) said: “The sole purpose of carbon monoxide packaging is to fool consumers into believing that the meat and fish they buy is fresh, no matter how old it is and no matter how decayed it might be.”116 To avoid purchasing CO-treated meat, stay away from prepackaged meat products. Make sure your meat is freshly packaged in the meat department of the store. To circumvent other problems with meat, buy only organic, grass-fed meat (see sources).
Mad cow disease
Over thirty years ago, ranchers started “factory-farming”—raising animals in penned areas, in close quarters, and feeding them hormones and other chemicals to fatten them faster for market. Huge amounts of antibiotics were necessary under these conditions because the animals became sick so easily. Ranchers also cut costs by feeding their animals alternate sources of protein (ground-up dead animals). But cows are herbivores—vegetarians. They are supposed to eat grass, not other animals. They are not intended to be confined in close quarters, nor are they meant to receive antibiotics or hormones in their feed. All of these factors have contributed to the rise of mad cow disease.
Mad cow disease is the common term for bovine spongiform encepholopathy, a progressive neurological disorder that causes a sponge-like destruction of the brain and central nervous system. The cause of mad cow disease is not virus, fungus, or bacteria. It is an abnormal protein, called a prion, that contains no DNA or RNA. Prions are transmitted from one animal to another by eating infected animal parts from the central nervous system. The disease can be transmitted to humans by eating infected meat. It is virtually 100 percent fatal.
The USDA and the beef industry continue to assure Americans that U.S. beef is safe, even though mad cow disease was documented in the United States in 2003. In fact, it has now been documented in just about every country in the world. But other countries have taken a proactive approach to the situation. Japan and European Union countries test neary every animal before approving meat for the market. U.S. officials still refuse to believe there is a problem, and as long as we fail to look, we will fail to know the trueextent of the disease. The USDA has been unwilling to instigate any program of slaughterhouse testing. At this time, almost no testing is performed.
The Centers for Disease Control is equally unwilling to support any effort to document the problem. It does not require the disease to be reported. But mad cow disease is already far worse than we are being told. It has spread to many humans in this country. The human equivalent of mad cow disease is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; it causes memory loss, emotional instability, an unsteady gait, rapidly progressive dementia and death, often within a year. These symptoms are surprisingly similar to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, a 1989 Yale University study reported the results of a postmortem examination of forty-six patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Six (13 percent) actually had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.117 A similar postmortem study at the Pittsburgh Veteran’s Hospital on demented patients reported similar findings: more than 5 percent of them had Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
In the United States it would appear that lobbyists for the beef industry have successfully kept regulatory agencies from taking action. In 1996, Oprah Winfrey produced a television show that uncovered the truth about mad cow disease. After the show, she found herself embroiled in a civil lawsuit brought on by the beef industry. Six years and one million dollars later, the lawsuit was finally dismissed.
How do you protect yourself and your family from mad cow (Creutzfeldt-Jakob) disease? One man, Howard F. Lyman, a fourth-generation cattle rancher, decided to become a vegetarian. Considering his knowledge of the cattle industry, vegetarianism might not be a bad idea. His book reveals the ugly facts.118 But if you are not ready to become a vegetarian, the only way to ensure against being the next victim is to purchase organic meat from grass-fed animals. Incidentally, animals that are grass fed generally have higher levels of essential fatty acids and lean protein. Two Web sites are:http://www.grassfedtraditions.com/grass_fed_beef.htm and www.texasgrassfedbeef.com. If you live in a rural area, seek out ranchers who may provide pasture-fed beef and other local organic products.
When it is not possible to purchase organic grass-fed beef (especially in restaurants or when you travel), consider a vegetarian meal—definitely not a burger. The kind of beef that is most likely to have mad cow disease is ground beef (because it contains meat from every part of the cow). The next most likely cuts to contain mad cow disease are those that contain bone. And don’t think that just because you don’t eat beef that you are protected. Pork, lamb, even wild deer and elk now have their own forms of mad cow disease.
To sign a petition for mandatory testing of all cattle brought to slaughter; to ban the feeding of blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste to animals; and to stop the harassment of farmers and food processors who are interested in independently testing their own beef, visit this Web site: http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow.cfm.
Organic meat and poultry
In order to qualify as organic, animals must be raised organically from the last third of gestation (for livestock) or no later than the second day of life (for poultry). Farmers must provide livestock and poultry food that is 100 percent organically grown. No antibiotics or hormones may be administered. All animals must have access to pasture if they graze. They must have shade, shelter, fresh air, direct sunlight, and room to exercise according to each species. Organic animal products must also be kept separate from nonorganic products during all phases of slaughter and packaging.
Meat, the Environment, and Food for Thought
It takes far more land and resources to produce red meat than it does to focus on fruits and vegetables which should be the mainstay of the human diet. A recent report from the Livestock, Environment, and Development Initiative identifies the environmental cost of our addiction to red meat. Some key findings:
• Grazing lands now take up 26% (over one quarter) of the ice-free land on the earth.
• Seventy percent of previously forested land in the Amazon is now taken up by pasture.
• Livestock are responsible for 37% of all human activity-related methane emissions, and methane has 23 times more global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide.
• In the U.S., livestock are responsible for over half of the country’s erosion issues.
• Livestock account for 20% of the earth’s animal biomass.
• 30% of the earth’s land surface, which was once wildlife habitat, is now occupied by livestock.
The Web site www.meatrix.com contains volumes of information on this subject.
According to Dr. Weston A. Price, fish is one of the best foods you can eat. When he traveled throughout the world, studying traditional people and their native diets, he discovered that those who ate seafood had the best health.119 Seafood is a source of omega-3 and other essential fatty acids found deficient in many diets. It is also a natural source of the fat-soluble Vitamins, A and D.
Our soils may be depleted of certain trace minerals, but every mineral we need exists in the ocean. Seafood and sea vegetables are a sure way to get them all.
Eating fish is healthy, but avoiding mercury and other toxins requires knowing which fish to eat. Unfortunately, we have also polluted the oceans and we have begun the practice of “farming” fish—both practices are detrimental. Many fish today contain high levels of mercury and PCBs (a family of over two hundred chemicals that end up in our air and water).
Recently, the New York Times had tuna tested from a number of sushi restaurants in New York City. They found so much mercury in bluefin tuna that even two or three pieces a week could be a health hazard for the average adult, based on guidelines set by the EPA.120 These findings reinforce results in other studies showing that more expensive tuna usually contains more mercury because it comes from larger species that accumulate mercury from the smaller fish they eat. The tuna sushi in the New York Times tests contained far more mercury than is typically found in canned tuna. Since it is hard for anyone but experts to tell whether a piece of tuna sushi is bluefin by looking at it, it may be best to avoid tuna in sushi. When purchasing fresh tuna, buy species like yellowfin and bigeye. These smaller species generally have much less mercury.
The current FDA guidelines (released in 2004) recommend that pregnant women and young children avoid eating the kinds of fish that are likely to be high in mercury. These high-level mercury fish include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, some tuna, and tilefish. Fish known to be lower in mercury include light canned tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. (Light canned tuna are preferred over albacore tuna because of their size.) Most fish sandwiches and fish sticks contain pollock. The Environmental Working Group has an online calculator to calculate the amount of canned tuna that is safe to eat—based on weight and gender. Visit http://www.ewg.org/tunacalculator
Stay away from farmed fish; they are usually fed soy pellets (often genetically modified) containing pesticides. The fatty acid profile of farmed fish is greatly diminished. Coloring agents are often added (especially to salmon) to enhance color. Also avoid freshwater fish unless you know their origin—especially catfish, carp, and shoreline feeders such as sole and flounder. Shellfish and other scavengers should be eaten minimally.
It pays to buy the best quality eggs you can find—preferably from a local grower. Eggs from free-range chickens that can eat bugs and vegetation are much better quality. Chickens fed flax meal also produce high-quality eggs. But chickens that are caged and provided with artificial lighting to encourage year-round egg production are unhealthy; they require medicated feed and they produce inferior eggs.
However, the term free range can be misleading. Although it conjures the image of open pasture, a chicken can be called free range if it has even limited access to the outdoors each day for an unspecified period of time—possibly only minutes. The term,free range does not mean that the birds actually went outdoors to roam freely, and no other criteria such as size of the area, or space per bird, are required by the term.
Paying higher prices for brown eggs or for so-called hormone-free eggs is unjustified since the color of the egg is related to the kind of chicken that laid it, not to the quality of the egg, and hormones are not used in the poultry industry. On the other hand, few chickens are antibiotic free—another reason to purchase from a local grower, where you can ask about the feeding and cultural practices.
WHAT ABOUT MILK?
Much controversy and much confusion surround the subject of milk. Today, milk is blamed for everything from chronic ear infections to cancer and diabetes—and perhaps rightfully so. However, more often than not, the milk itself is not the culprit, but rather the manner in which it has been treated.
The biggest factor contributing to the degradation of today’s milk is pasteurization. We have been led to believe that pasteurization protects us against bacteria in milk. The truth is that all bacterial outbreaks in recent years have occurred in pasteurized milk. Raw milk contains lactic acid—producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurization destroys these beneficial organisms, leaving the milk without any protective mechanisms. Raw milk sours (ferments) when left at room temperature; pasteurized milk putrefies (rots).
Pasteurization (heat) also alters the amino acids in milk, making them less bioavailable; it destroys more than 50 percent of the vitamin C and over 80 percent of other water-soluble vitamins; it reduces the availability of minerals—especially calcium, magnesium phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur; and it destroys enzymes making it difficult to digest and placing unnecessary stress on the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. This may explain why milk consumption has been linked with diabetes in industrialized nations.
Drinking pasteurized milk puts a tremendous strain on the entire digestive system. In the elderly and in those with milk intolerances or inherited weaknesses, pasteurized milk passes through the digestive system undigested. It can build up around the walls of the small intestine, preventing the absorption of nutrients. The result is allergies, chronic fatigue and a host of degenerative illnesses.121
Bovine growth hormone (rBGH)
The use of bovine growth hormone (rBGH) is another onslaught to milk. The r in rBGH refers to the term recombinant, because the bovine growth hormone given to cows to force the production of more milk is not a natural hormone. It is genetically engineered.
Since 1994, every industrialized country in the world except the United States—including Canada, Japan, and all fifteen nations of the European Union—has banned rBGH milk.
The United Nations Food Standards Body refuses to certify that rBGH is safe. Yet, the USDA continues to endorse rBGH milk for general consumption. In the United States it is illegal to label dairy products with the phrase rBGH-free—even if it is true—because it might damage the reputation of the dairies that use the hormone. Nearly all U.S. dairies use rBGH because it increases milk production by 20 to 30 percent.
The subject of milk is voluminous and politically fraught with deception. You have two choices: avoid it or find a source of certified raw milk. In many states the sale of raw milk is illegal. For a list of raw dairies by state, visit this Web site:http://www.realmilk.com/wherel.html.
Also visit: www.notmilk.com for a wealth of information on the subject.
In the fall of 2008, a chemical known as melamine (used in the production of melamine/melmac dishes and other products) was found in milk powder from China. Melamine is a protein that was illegally added to show higher protein concentrations in Chinese powdered milk products. The consequences were disastrous. More than fifty thousand Chinese infants were diagnosed with kidney problems from the tiny amounts of melamine found in infant formula. Smaller amounts of melamine were found in two top U.S. infant formulas—though the FDA says these amounts are not harmful.
The U.S. FDA blocked milk-containing products from China but it has issued a growing list of products sold in the United States that may contain Chinese milk by-products. For obvious reasons, it is best to avoid all processed milk products.
SOY: PROCESSED VERSUS FERMENTED
A good portion of American consumers believe that soy milk, soy flour, and other soy products (such as soy burgers, soy ice cream, soy cheese), are heart-healthy foods. This assumption resulted from the FDA’s 1999 approval of the following health claim for soy foods: “Diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include twenty-five grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease.”
But, according to Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story, There was never a sound basis for a soy health claim and the heavy marketing of soy as a miracle food has put American men, women and children at risk. Dr. Daniel also authored a sixty-five-page petition to the FDA documenting long-standing concerns in the scientific community regarding soy’s possible role in:
• Reproductive disorders
• Thyroid dysfunction
• Cognitive decline
• Immune dysfunction
Soy is one of the top eight foods causing allergies today, which many people experience as bloating or gas. One prominent researcher puts soy in the top six and another in the top four foods causing hypersensitivity reactions in children.122
One of the reasons soy is responsible for so many allergies and hypersensitivity reactions is because it contains high levels of inhibitors, which interfere with the digestion of protein and block the assimilation of minerals. These inhibitors are not neutralized by ordinary food preparation methods such as soaking, sprouting, and long, slow cooking. Also, during the high-temperature processing used to make soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein, soy proteins are denatured, resulting in the formation of toxic lysinoalanine and highly carcinogenic nitrosamines. Another big problem with commercially available soy foods is genetic modification. Today, more than half of the soy products available in the United States are genetically modified, unless they are organic. Genetic modification causes even more allergic reactions, and the cross-contamination of organic crops is beginning to be a big problem.
Approximately 25 percent of bottle-fed U.S. children receive soy-based formula. The plant-based estrogens in soy can interfere with sexual development and can influence thyroid and brain development. An infant fed exclusively on soy formula receives the estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of almost five birth control pills per day.123By contrast, almost no phytoestrogens have been detected in human milk, even when the mother consumes soy products. Anecdotal reports of other problems associated with children of both sexes who were fed soy-based formula include extreme emotional behavior, asthma, immune system problems, pituitary insufficiency, thyroid disorders, and irritable bowel syndrome.124 Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function; they have the potential to cause infertility and to promote breast cancer in adult women.
However, Asian cultures have eaten soy for centuries without difficulty. The difference between the traditional foods eaten by Asian cultures and the processed soy products on the market today is that they are fermented. Fermentation changes this otherwise poor food choice into a healthful source of complete protein. The fermentation process neutralizes inhibitors and adds enzymes that aid in the assimilation of proteins and carbohydrates. Traditional fermented soy foods like these, listed below, are highly beneficial:
• Natto—fermented soybeans with a cheeselike flavor.
• Tempeh—a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
• Miso—a fermented soybean paste with a salty, buttery texture, commonly used in miso soup.
• Soy sauce—traditionally, soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans, salt, and enzymes. Many varieties on the market today are made artificially using a chemical process.
Unless you grow all your own food and prepare all your meals from scratch, it’s almost impossible to eat food without preservatives. Manufacturers add preservatives to keep them fresh until they are eaten. Preservatives serve as antioxidants or antimicrobials—or both. Antioxidants suppress the reaction that occurs when foods combine with oxygen; they keep foods from becoming rancid or from discoloring. Antimicrobials are really a form of pesticide to prevent the growth of molds, yeasts, and bacteria. As with many other chemicals routinely used in food and agriculture, many of the preservatives in our food have not been thoroughly tested. Some are hormone disrupters; many have gastrointestinal side effects; and some are suspected of aggravating the symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).125
BHA, BHT, and TBHQ
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and the related compounds BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and TBHQ (tertiary butyl hydroquinone) are synthetic antioxidants used to keep fats from becoming rancid. But just because they are antioxidants does not mean that they are safe to use. These compounds are among the worst of the food preservatives. Avoid them whenever possible.
BHA and BHT are found in butter, meats, cereals, chewing gum, baked goods, snack foods, and dehydrated potatoes. They are also found in animal feed and the packaging materials for many cereals and snack foods. In addition to preserving foods, BHA and BHT are used to preserve the oils in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
BHA has been identified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer; both BHA and BHT have been banned in Europe and Japan. Beyond being carcinogens, these compounds are suspected hormone disrupters—thought to be partly responsible for the decrease in male fertility and the rise in testicular cancer observed since the 1950s. BHA, BHT, and TBHQ can trigger an immune system response that includes itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin. Safer alternatives for these preservatives include the antioxidant vitamins C and E, as well as other natural antioxidants like grape seed extract.
Sulfites are a group of sulfur-containing preservatives that are used to protect against discoloration. They are used primarily to preserve dried fruit (to keep it from turning brown), processed potato products, and juices—including wine. Be aware that restaurant food, especially potato products, salads, and some canned foods, often contain sulfites. Lemon juice (unless it is fresh squeezed) could be a source of sulfites. The FDA prohibits the use of sulfites in foods that are important sources of thiamin (vitamin B1) because sulfites destroy this vitamin. The symptom most reported by sulfite-sensitive people is difficulty breathing. Other problems range from stomachache to hives and anaphylactic shock. Sulfites present greater problems for those who are sensitive, but sulfites should be avoided whenever possible. Currently, there are six sulfiting agents allowed in packaged foods. Watch for these forms of sulfite preservatives:
• sulfur dioxide
• sodium sulfite
• sodium bisulfite
• potassium bisulfite
• sodium metabisulfite
• potassium metabisulfite
The use of nitrates and nitrites (typically potassium nitrate and sodium nitrite) are confined to the meat industry, where they are responsible for controlling botulism bacteria in cured meats. They add a pink color and the “cured meat flavor” to products such as lunch meats, ham, and bacon. Although there is no direct evidence of carcinogenicity, nitrites are toxic. Their use is severely restricted in many countries and may provoke hyperactivity and other adverse reactions in children. The intake of cured meat should be limited.
A group of preservatives known as propionates (propionic acid, calcium propionate, sodium propionate, and potassium propionate) are used to slow the growth of mold in the baking industry. Very few people will be affected by two slices of preserved bread, but the effects are cumulative. Like most food additives, this preservative was not tested before it was approved for use. It is a suspected gastrointestinal and liver toxicant also thought to heighten the symptoms of learning disabilities and ADD.
The use of calcium propionate is for the convenience of the manufacturer, not the consumer. Bakers who keep their work benches and slicer blades clean by wiping with vinegar every day do not need this preservative. However, bakers in large factories prefer the less time-consuming method of “fogging” their equipment with a calcium propionate spray. Perhaps more often than not, calcium propionate allows for sloppy hygiene. Preservative-free bread that is refrigerated will keep for a long time without going moldy—up to two weeks.
The benzoates (benzoic acid, sodium benzoate, calcium benzoate, potassium benzoate) are yeast and mold inhibitors. They are found in most soft drinks, juices, and juice drinks as well as in some salad dressings. Recently the beverage 7-Up was reformulated in favor of more natural ingredients. Obviously, the synthetic preservatives were never really necessary. They were replaced with vitamin C and other natural antioxidants.
The sorbates (sorbic acid, calcium sorbate, potassium sorbate, sodium sorbate) are used in fruit drinks and vegetable products, some cheeses, and salad dressings. Also mold inhibitors, these preservatives can be replaced with vitamin C or other ascorbates.
The food-processing industry understands the addictive nature of sugars. Sugars are included in nearly everything on the grocery store shelf in order to “bring you back for more.” And if you don’t return for the sugar, there are other addictive ways—sugar substitutes. Some sugar substitutes are worse than the sugar itself.
In 1915, the national annual average for sugar consumption was fifteen to twenty pounds per person. Today the average person consumes their weight in sugar.126 Sugar is notoriously linked with hypoglycemia, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic tiredness. It creates a cycle of craving and bingeing and is highly addictive.
Sugar is a processed “food form.” It contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes—just empty calories. The body must draw on the vitamin, mineral, and enzyme reserves in the body to get rid of it.
Sugar consumption itself has become a disease. In order to metabolize the huge amounts of sugar that are consumed today, the body must mobilize large amounts of adrenalin and insulin to clear the sugar from the bloodstream. Day after day, this leads to some of the problems listed below:
• Suppression of the immune system, contributing to viral and bacterial infection.
• Mineral imbalances and interference with the absorption of calcium and magnesium.
• Hyperactivity, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating.
• Overacidic condition in the body, contributing to osteoporosis, yeast infections, tooth decay, cancer, and premature aging.
• Reduction of high-density lipoproteins (HDL, good cholesterol) and elevation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL, bad cholesterol), thus increasing atherosclerosis and heart disease.
• Constipation and increased chances of irritable bowel syndrome and colon cancer.
Fructose and high fructose corn syrup
Until the 1970s, refined sugar came from beets and sugar cane. But in 1976, the sugar industry realized that it was cheaper to produce sugar from corn. Thus began the production of fructose and high fructose corn syrup. Today fructose and high fructose corn syrup have replaced sugar in many foods, especially beverages. This is a bigger problem than most people realize.
Processed white sugar (sucrose) is composed of one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose. When these two sugars are split apart in the intestines, the glucose is released and can be utilized by nearly every cell in the body. Fructose, however, must be sent to the liver to be broken down further. This is why fructose is often recommended for diabetics—because it does not hit the bloodstream as rapidly. However, the consumption of fructose puts a strain on the liver and on other organs of the body—beyond what regular sugar does.
As it turns out, it is the fructose in white sugar that causes the greatest number of problems. This information came as the result of a study conducted with rats. One group was fed high amounts of glucose; another group was fed high amounts of fructose. The group fed glucose was largely unaffected, but the group fed fructose showed disastrous results: Male rats were anemic; they had high cholesterol and enlarged hearts; they had delayed testicular development, and they did not reach maturity. Female rats did not give birth to live young.127 Rats, like people, metabolize fructose via a different pathway than the pathway used in metabolizing glucose. Since the effects of fructose alone are more severe than those of normal white sugar, high fructose corn syrup and fructose should be avoided.
Known as Equal, NutraSweet, Spoonful, and most recently as AminoSweet, aspartame, or 1-aspartyl 1-phenylalanine methyl ester, is an engineered compound with three components: phenylalanine, aspartic acid, and methanol (wood alcohol). Phenylalanine and aspartic acid are amino acids found in many foods. However, amino acids are always consumed in combination with other amino acids. Isolated, some are able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, causing abnormal nerve firing and cell death. A few of the side effects of aspartame are headaches, mental confusion, problems with balance, and numbness. In most instances, the effects are subtle, yet cumulative. More serious side effects of aspartame have been misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and thyroid dysfunction.128 Often, the elimination of aspartame eliminates a variety of symptoms.
The term excitotoxin has been applied to aspartame (and MSG). These chemicals cause nerve cells in the brain to fire more rapidly than normal until they become exhausted. Cell death often results. Excitotoxins have also been shown to stimulate the generation of free radicals which accelerate many degenerative illnesses.
Ten percent of aspartame is methanol—a substance with a safe limit outlined by the EPA as 7.8 milligrams per day. A one-half liter beverage sweetened with aspartame contains twenty-seven milligrams of methanol—four times the EPA limit. Of greater concern is the fact that methanol breaks down into formaldehyde. Independent studies have shown that formaldehyde from aspartame ingestion is extremely common. Each diet soda with aspartame produces six milligrams of formaldehyde—three times the daily limit established by the EPA. This amount is thirty times the established limit in New Jersey, one hundred times the limit in California, and three hundred times the limit in Maryland.129
Despite objections from two of the original scientists who studied aspartame, it was approved by the FDA in 1980. As of 1995 more than 75 percent of the complaints received by the FDA are due to the ingestion of aspartame.130
Dr. Betty Martini has committed the last twenty years to uncovering the truth about aspartame and to making the world aware of its dangers. She established the worldwide volunteer force, Mission Possible World Health International (www.mpwhi.com), which is committed to removing aspartame from our food supply. If you email her, she will send you a resource guide to aspartame: firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2002, the FDA approved a new version of aspartame called Neotame. Neotame is chemically related to aspartame without the phenylalanine dangers. It is much sweeter than aspartame (seven thousand to thirteen thousand times sweeter than sugar). Neotame entered the market much more discreetly than the other nonnutritive sweeteners. While the Web site for Neotame claims that there are more than one hundred scientific studies to support its safety, none of these studies address the long-term health implications of using this sweetener.
Sucralose (otherwise known as Splenda) is produced by chlorinating sugar. This involves chemically changing the structure of the sugar molecule by substituting three chlorine atoms for three hydroxyl groups. Just like aspartame, animal studies on sucralose clearly demonstrate its toxicity. Sucralose failed in clinical trials with animals. It was found to shrink the thymus gland, to produce liver and kidney inflammation, to reduce growth, and to decrease birth weight in rats and mice.131 Animal studies also indicate that sucralose reduces the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50 percent.132
Acesulfame-K is an artificial sweetener that is about two hundred times sweeter than sugar. It is listed on the ingredients label as acesulfame-K, acesulfame potassium, Ace-K, or Sunett. It is used in baked goods, chewing gum, gelatin desserts, and soft drinks. The problems surrounding acesulfame-K are based on the lack of long-term studies. Acesulfame-K contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver and kidney effects, and cancer in humans.
There has been a great deal of opposition to the use of acesulfame-K without further testing, but at this time the FDA has not required that these tests be completed. Two rat studies have found that it may cause cancer. Acesulfame-K also breaks down into acetoacetamide, which has been found to adversely affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs.
Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener to be discovered—in 1879. Used initially as a food preservative, saccharin wasn’t sold as a sweetener until 1901, at a time when sugar was rationed during the war. In 1977, Canadian scientists found that saccharin caused cancer in laboratory animals. Canada banned it immediately. However, U.S. corporate interests won out, and for the next twenty-six years a cautionary warning label was all that was implemented on products that contained saccharin. To this day, it is classified as an anticipated carcinogen and is still available for use as a sweetener.
Saccharin is not metabolized in the digestive system. It is rapidly released in the urine. In fact, many individuals notice more frequent urination after the consumption of even small amounts of saccharin.133 Perhaps this is the reason saccharin has been shown to cause bladder cancer in rats.
Although the sugar alcohols are considered noncaloric and are much less harmful than aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and Acesulfame-K, they are not without difficulties. The reason that sugar alcohols provide fewer calories than sugar is because they are not completely absorbed in the body. For this reason, the consumption of foods containing large amounts of sugar alcohols can lead to abdominal gas and diarrhea. Foods that contain sugar alcohols must include a warning on their label that says, “excess consumption may have a laxative effect.” The class of sugar alcohols includes the following:
Of the sugar alcohols, xylitol is the most widely known—for its antibacterial effects. Its use has been determined to reduce both tooth decay and ear infections because it keeps bacteria from adhering to the walls of the mucus membranes in the digestive tract. As long as they are used in small quantities, xylitol and the other sugar alcohols are good alternative sweeteners.
Interestingly, the “good” sweeteners that are available are all-natural, whole foods. These include raw honey, maple syrup, date sugar, brown rice syrup, agave, and an herb known as stevia. Of these, stevia is the only sweetener that does not have a glycemic impact—it is perfectly suited for almost everyone.
Raw honey (not heated over 115 degrees) is highly nutritious. It contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and numerous antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory compounds. When used in moderation, it is a good sweetener.
CAUTION: Do not give raw honey to infants. They do not have the stomach acids to inactivate naturally occurring bacteria in raw honey.
Pure maple syrup, like honey, is a nutritious sweetener containing a variety of minerals and vitamins. Contrary to popular opinion, grade B does not have a greater amount of minerals, nor has it been processed differently than grade A. Grading in maple syrup is simply a matter of color and flavor—grade B has a darker color and a richer flavor. As with other foods, organic is better.
Date sugar is made from dehydrated dates. Although it is made from a whole food, it is highly concentrated and its use should be limited.
Brown rice syrup
Brown rice syrup is made by culturing brown rice with enzymes. It digests slowly, making it a good alternative for diabetics.
Agave nectar is a newcomer to the sweetener industry. It is a liquid, similar to honey (a bit thinner), and it contains a variety of minerals and vitamins. The one drawback to agave nectar is that it has a high fructose content—above 90 percent. Its use should be limited.
Stevia is an herb harvested in Paraguay. Not only is this herb sweet (extracts are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar), but it has no calories, no glycemic impact, and it actually helps to balance blood sugar levels. This remarkable herb has been used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer for more than four hundred years with no adverse effects.134 In Japan it comprises more than 40 percent of the total sweetener market. Yet this little herb has had a rough time being introduced in the United States. The sugar and artificial sweetener industries have repeatedly thwarted attempts to have stevia approved by the FDA. In 1995, the FDA lifted the import alert on stevia. This paved the way for the use of stevia as a dietary supplement, although it is still not approved in the United States for use as a food additive.
Some people have been slow to accept stevia because it has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Many companies have attempted to extract the sweet component (rebaudiocide, also called rebiana) from stevia to eliminate the bitter aftertaste. Some of these methods use solvents that may leave residues in the product. If you use stevia extracts, make sure the extraction process does not use harsh chemicals or bleaches. One of the authors recommends a stevia product made from the whole stevia leaf—yet it carries no bitter aftertaste. For information visit: www.wyntersway.com.
In 2008, Coca-Cola and Cargill petitioned the FDA for approval of a new sweetener called Truvia—made from the stevia extract, rebaudiocide, and the sugar alcohol erythritol. Cargill and Coca-Cola (joint owners of the Truvia product) plan for its wide use in many foods and in diet beverages.
In studies submitted to the FDA, Truvia did not affect blood pressure in healthy individuals or blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes. Further tests in rats showed no effects on reproduction or fertility. Because the process is proprietary, it is unknown what solvents are being used to extract the rebaudiocide from the stevia. It should also be noted that Truvia contains erythritol. Individuals consuming large amounts should be aware of the possible side effects of sugar alcohols. Pepsi is also working on its own stevia product, so stevia may finally move into the mainstream in the United States.
Just Like Sugar
Another alternative sweetener being marketed in health food stores is called Just Like Sugar. It is made of chicory root fiber (otherwise known as inulin or FOS). FOS is the acronym for fructo-oligosaccharide, which is a complex sugar derived from plants. Other ingredients in Just Like Sugar are calcium, vitamin C, and flavinoids from orange peels.
FOS is considered unique among the sugars because it has no caloric impact on the body. About 90 percent of the undigested FOS passes unchanged into the colon, where it is fermented by microflora into gases and short-chain carboxylic acids. FOS has been marketed as a “prebiotic” because it tends to encourage the growth of beneficial flora in the intestinal tract.
According to the Physicians Desk Reference, FOS is a source of dietary fiber that is used to improve bowel and liver function. It is also used to reduce blood cholesterol and blood pressure, but it can have side effects: increased gas (flatulence), stomach discomfort, bloating (swelling), and diarrhea.135,136
A more recent study confirmed these effects when twenty grams of FOS were used to sweeten lemonade on a daily basis for two weeks. Consumption of FOS increased flatulence, intestinal bloating, and mucosal irritation in healthy men.137 Although Just Like Sugar may be an appropriate sugar substitute for some, excessive use is not recommended.
Hundreds of chemicals are used to mimic natural flavors; many may be used in a single flavoring, such as in cherry-flavored soft drinks. The majority of flavorings are used injunk foods. Their use indicates that the real thing (often fruit) has been left out.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
Monosodium glutamate (MSG), also known as Accent, was introduced into the United States after World War II as a flavoring agent. MSG boosts the sensation of savory flavors in food. It has been around for a long time, even though it is a powerful neurotoxin, causing a number of toxic and allergic reactions. Symptoms can impact every part of the body including the skin, muscles, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, and the brain. The recent book The Slow Poisoning of America by John Erb exposes the link between MSG and diabetes, migraines, autism, ADHD, and even Alzheimer’s disease.138
MSG is considered an excitotoxin. It causes nerve cells in the brain to fire rapidly and erratically until they become completely exhausted. Hours later, many of these nerve cells suddenly die—as if the cells were excited to death.
Experiments involving the feeding of MSG to infant rats and mice were done by Dr. John Olney of Washington University. The rats developed brain lesions, stunted skeletal development, marked obesity, and sterility.139 Today, MSG is routinely used in the lab to induce obesity in experimental rats.140
MSG is now so widespread that it is almost impossible to avoid. More than ten thousand processed foods contain MSG, and many, such as mayonnaise and salad dressing, do not have to list it. Prepared and instant foods like soups and mixes all contain MSG. Restaurant food and fast food outlets (KFC chicken skin is loaded with it) are awash in MSG. Red meats, poultry, and other off-site prepared meat products are either sprayed with MSG-containing solutions or injected with MSG-containing compounds. Prepackaged hamburger patties have MSG. Fruits and vegetables are sprayed with MSG-containing washes. Baby foods often contain MSG, although the words monosodium glutamate will never appear on the label. Even a careful reading of the label may not always uncover the MSG; it can be disguised under any of the following names:
• Autolyzed yeast
• Flavor enhancer
• Glutamic acid
• High-flavored yeast
• Hydrolyzed protein
• Hydrolyzed plant protein
• Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
• Malt extract
• Monopotassium glutamate
• Natural flavoring
• Soybean extract
• Textured protein
• Textured soy protein
• Yeast extract
• Yeast food
• Yeast Nutrient
Diacetyl (also called butanedione or 2,3-butanedione) gives foods a distinctive buttery flavor and aroma. Diacetyl is used in microwave popcorn, snack foods, candies, baked goods, and other products. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health continues to investigate the occurrence of severe lung disease in employees at microwave popcorn packaging plants and flavorings manufacturing facilities. Medical tests of employees have shown airway obstruction and asthma—likely due to the exposure to diacetyl.141 In light of these findings, butter flavorings should be avoided. Popcorn is better if you make your own and flavor it with real butter.
Food colorings are classified as natural (derived from plants, minerals, and insects) and artificial. Natural food colorings are exempt from FDA certification. Artificial colorings (generally made from coal tar and petroleum sources) must be certified. Certified colors are listed on labels as FD&C or D&C. The letters F, D, and C stand for food, drugs, andcosmetics, indicating their approved uses. None of the artificial food colors have a clean slate.
In the 1970s, when Russian studies raised questions about the safety of FD&C Red No. 2, the FDA evaluated biological data and concluded that high dosages resulted in malignant tumors in female rats. The FDA banned the coloring agent. This had a profound effect on U.S. consumer attitudes. Retailers removed red products from their shelves for fear of backlash. Then in 1990, research showed that FD&C Red No. 3 caused thyroid tumors in male rats. But this time, rather than ban the coloring, the FDA succumbed to industry pressure and outlawed only certain uses of the coloring while continuing to allow it in food. As it turns out, FD&C Blue No.1 and FD&C Yellow No.5 are as questionable as Red No.3, but because they have been available since 1969, they are hard to remove from the FDA’s “safe” list. The FDA continues to allow their use in foods.
Although the FDA dismisses his work, Dr. Ben Feingold substantiated a link between food colorings and hyperactivity in children in the 1970s.142 More recently, the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics published information regarding fifteen trials with 219 participants; all were double-blind crossover trials. Just by eliminating artificial food colorings from their diet, children’s behavior improved significantly. Furthermore, the elimination of food colorings from the diet produced one-third to one-half of the improvement typically seen with ADHD medication.143 Amazingly, food colorings are used in many hyperactivity drugs.144 Beyond causing behavioral problems, all artificial food colorings contain heavy metals such as lead and mercury145—known to aggravate attention deficit and hyperactivity in children.
Many defend the use of food colorings and other questionable food additives by saying that their use is in small quantities. This logic does not stand up to scrutiny. Biological reactions are influenced by minerals, enzymes, and hormones in the range of parts per billion or parts per trillion. Food additives, even in very small amounts, represent far greater concentrations. The average child between the ages of five and twelve takes in a daily dose of 150 milligrams of food colorings every day in foods like those listed below.
Common Foods with Food Colorings
|Gatorade Fruit Punch||Red 40|
|Plain M&Ms||Red 40 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1 Lake, Red 40, Blue 1|
|Bakery Mini Chocolate Muffin||FD&C Red 40|
|Kraft Macaroni & Cheese||Yellow 5, Yellow 6|
|Eggo Waffles||Yellow 5, Yellow 6|
|Fruit Loops||Red No. 40, Blue No. 2, Yellow No. 6, Blue No. 1|
|Sprinkl’ins Yogurt||Yellow 6, Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6 Lake, Red 3, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake, Blue 2|
|Nutri-grain Blueberry Bars||Red 40, Blue 1|
|Strawberry Pop Tarts||Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1|
The certified food colorings listed below should be avoided when possible:
• FD&C Blue 1 Brilliant Blue
• FD&C Blue 2 Indigotine
• FD&C Green 3 Fast Green
• FD&C Red 40 Allura Red AC
• FD&C Red 3 Erythrosine
• FD&C Yellow 5 Tartrazine
• FD&C Yellow 6 Sunset Yellow
Technically, the term, “food additive” refers to anything added to natural food. It includes some of the categories discussed in the previous pages. Flavorings, preservatives, food colorings, and even salt can contain many harmful substances.
Many common food additives contain aluminum. The average person’s intake of aluminum from food additives is about 20 milligrams per day. This is a growing concern because aluminum is being linked with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological problems that are more and more common. Anticaking agents in salt, baking powders, baking mixes, self-rising flour, nondairy creamers, processed cheeses, and cheese spreads all include aluminum-containing additives. Buffered aspirin and antacids can add 500 to 5,000 milligrams of aluminum per day, depending on how many you take.
Avoid products with additives such as aluminum silicate, sodium aluminum sulfate, and sodium aluminum phosphate. Also avoid many pickled products that contain the ingredient alum. (There are pickles made using traditional recipes that utilize natural lactic acid fermentation rather than alum and other pickling agents.) Avoid the use of regular baking powder; use the Rumford brand instead—it is aluminum-free. Bake your own cakes from scratch rather than purchasing mixes, and never use self-rising flour. Purchase natural, unprocessed salt without anticaking agents. Above all, avoid the use of antacids and buffered aspirin.
Our bodies require salt in order to function. In fact, the basic makeup of our bodies is very similar to the concentration of the salts and minerals in the ocean. The fluids in our bodies—blood, lymph, bile, sweat, tears—all include salt.
The medical profession often recommends the restriction of salt because early research uncovered a correlation between salt intake and high blood pressure. However, subsequent studies indicated that salt restriction did more harm than good. A large study conducted in 1983 found that dietary salt did not have any significant effect on blood pressure.146 Another study found that salt deficiency led to the loss of taste, cramps, weakness, lassitude, and severe cardiorespiratory distress on exertion.147 Avoiding salt is a mistake. Avoiding refined salt is the key.
Few people realize that the majority of the salt available today—like sugar and flour—is highly refined. Unprocessed natural salt contains between seventy and eighty trace minerals. Refined salt is the product of high-temperature processing that removes all the valuable, naturally occurring minerals. Natural salt also contains traces of marine life that provide organic forms of iodine. This is the reason iodine needs to be added back to salt after the refining process. It is similar to fortifying flour after it has been processed.
Salt refiners also add other chemicals during the refining process. In order to keep salt from caking, aluminum compounds are added. To replace natural iodine, potassium iodide is added; to stabilize the volatile iodide compound, dextrose is added. This requires the addition of a bleaching agent to restore whiteness. The finished product is a far cry from natural salt. Refined salt can have a detrimental influence on the human body. Research conducted by Henry Bieler found evidence of sodium starvation in the tissues of those who consumed refined salt. 148
Natural salt has a crystalline structure; it contains the energy of the sun, which is stored in the bonds that make up the crystalline grid.149 This structure is broken by high-temperature processing, and the energy is lost. On the other hand, when natural sea salt is consumed, it penetrates the cells, releasing life-giving energy. Even most sea salts on the market today are highly refined. Choose a natural, unrefined sea salt (see sources).
OILS AND FATS
Oils and fats provide a valuable source of energy in the diet. They also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones, and they carry the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Unfortunately, most commercial vegetable oils are extracted at high temperatures, causing the destruction of vitamins and the release of free radicals. Processing renders good fats indigestible or harmful to the body. Many oils are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, causing the formation of trans fats.
Hydrogenation and trans fats
To help foods stay fresh on the shelf or to make a solid fat from a liquid, food manufacturers “hydrogenate” unsaturated oils. Hydrogenation means to add hydrogen. During hydrogenation, oils are exposed to hydrogen at a high temperature and in the presence of a catalyst. Two things result: some double bonds are converted into single bonds and other double bonds are converted from cis to trans configuration. Both of these effects straighten out the molecules so they can lie closer together and become solid rather than liquid. Partially hydrogenated oils spoil and break down less easily under conditions of high temperature.
In nature, most unsaturated fatty acids are called cis fatty acids. This means that the hydrogen atoms are on the same side of the double carbon bond. In trans fatty acids hydrogen atoms are on the opposite side of the double bond—like having a left-handed version of the original. The problem with trans fatty acids is that they are toxic to the body. They are incorporated into cell membranes as if they were cis fats—and your cells actually become partially hydrogenated (stiff and more solid). These foreign membrane components wreak havoc with metabolic processes. Trans fats have been correlated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, low birth weight, obesity, and impaired immune system function. This is why new labeling requirements that went into effect in 2006 require trans fat to be listed on nutrition labels.
Most of the trans fat in the American diet comes from commercially baked and fried foods that require high temperatures. French fries, donuts, pastries, muffins, croissants, cookies, crackers, chips, and other snack foods are high in trans fatty acids. There are trans, fat-free cooking oils that can easily be substituted. Tropical oils (coconut and palm oil) are naturally saturated oils—they are solid or semisolid at room temperature and are capable of being stored for long periods of time without becoming rancid. Coconut and palm oils can withstand the high temperatures of cooking without degradation. They are excellent alternatives to hydrogenated oils.
Butter versus margarine
Partially hydrogenated margarines and shortenings are even worse than the highly refined vegetable oils from which they are made. To produce them, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils—corn, soy, cottonseed, or canola—many times already rancid from the extraction process. The oil is mixed with metal particles—usually nickel oxide—then placed with hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. Emulsifiers and starch are forced into the mixture to give it a better consistency. Then it is steam-cleaned for the removal of its unpleasant odor. Margarine’s natural color, gray, is then eliminated by bleaching. Dyes and flavors must be added to make it palatable. Does this sound like the health food it is often claimed to be?
Butter is an important food to purchase organic. Non-organic
butter can have up to 20 times as much pesticide
as non-organic vegetables.
Butter is the best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A. It contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents. Butter is a rich source of selenium and the antioxidant vitamin E. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men who ate butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine.150
Choose fats and oils carefully, avoiding hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated varieties. Use coconut, palm, and extra virgin olive oil rather than hydrogenated soybean, corn, canola, and cottonseed oils for cooking. Use real, organic butter rather than margarine or other artificial spreads.
Olestra (trade named Olean) is a zero-calorie fat replacement intended to be used in the preparation of savory foods and snacks. It was approved by the FDA in 1996 for use as a fat substitute in snack foods such as potato chips. Olestra’s effectiveness is due to the fact that it is not digested or absorbed into the body. Its harmful side effects are many—as indicated by the warning that was originally required to accompany products containing it:
Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.
The FDA lifted the requirement for the warning label in 2003 but still requires manufacturers to add vitamins A, D, E, and K to compensate for the fact that olestra inhibits the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
The manufacturer of olestra has flooded the scientific community with studies claiming it to be safe. The majority of these studies were conducted by the manufacturer. Independent evaluation of olestra has shown a significant number of short-term side effects, but the long-term effects could be even more serious. Since there have been absolutely no long-term research studies on olestra, especially independent research, the commonsense approach is to avoid it completely.
Industry-funded and industry-conducted research almost never finds difficulty with its own products.
The original human diet consisted primarily of raw vegetables, fruits, seeds, sprouts, and nuts. Raw, plant-based foods have been the staple throughout the vast majority of human history. One of the best virtues of raw food, sometimes referred to as “live” food, is that it contains enzymes, which are destroyed by cooking. Enzymes are considered the life force of food because they assist in digestion and absorption. When you eat food without enzymes, your body has to produce the enzymes necessary to breakdown and absorb food. This depletes the available enzymes in your body and reduces the nutritional value you receive from the food you eat. Incompletely digested food causes numerous problems and food allergies. Cooking also destroys the active forms of many vitamins. It renders many minerals unavailable. Cooking breaks down pesticides and produces toxic residues. It also coagulates about 50 percent of the protein in foods.151
Those who eat a raw food diet generally feel an increase in energy and in emotional balance. In time, they are more in-tune with their bodies. Though it takes discipline to change your habits, a diet that is at least 75 percent raw food is highly beneficial and highly recommended. For ideas on how to incorporate more raw food in your diet, and for recipes specific to your body type, visit www.ahrawveda.com.
Five Element Theory and raw food
The Chinese Five Element Theory is more than five thousand years old. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Five Element Theory is the key to staying healthy by keeping the five elements in balance. The five elements are Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. These are the basic forms of energy, which are continually being transformed into one another in the natural world. The Five Element Theory classifies everything (foods, emotions, organs, seasons, planets, numbers, animals, smells) into one of the five categories. For example: Earth involves the aspects of growth, nourishment, and change. Water is associated with cold, moisture, and flowing movement. Metal is associated with clean-up, with strength, and with firmness. The theory of the five elements is the basis for a unique bond between man and nature.
Few people realize that balancing the foods they eat according to the five elements is one of the easiest ways to stay in balance. By balancing your diet in this way, you also help to balance your biological systems, your energy, and your emotions. Cravings are often eliminated because the five tastes are provided with each meal—or at least on a regular basis. In the creation of a balanced meal or dish, the five elements should be represented in color as well as in taste. A sampling of foods that fit each category is listed below:
Fire—(Bitter taste and/or red color)
hops, radish, romaine lettuce, alfalfa, dandelion, unsweetened chocolate, and many herbs
The large, leafy plants of summer (often bitter) belong to the Fire element.
Earth—(Sweet taste and/or yellow color)
honey, apple, cherry, banana, corn, carrot, sesame oil, yam, and millet The late summer fruits belong to the Earth element.
Metal—(Pungent taste and/or white color)
onion, chive, coriander, parsley, radish garlic, ginger, cayenne, peppermint, clove, and white rice
The small contracted plants belong to the Metal element.
Water—(Salty taste and/or blue-black color)
salt, kelp, seaweed, Nama Shoyu, salty pickles, olives, celery, and beans The roots of plants belong to the Water element.
Wood—(Sour taste and/or green color)
lemon, pear, plum, mango, sauerkraut, barley, and sprouts
The young plants of spring belong to the Wood element.
Living/raw foods have a higher nutrient value than foods that have been cooked or processed. They are referred to as nutrient-dense foods, and they carry a higher vibratory signature than cooked or processed food. One of the key components of the regenerative program developed by one of the authors is nutrient-dense food eaten according to the Five Element Theory. With a little practice, it is easy to create appetizing raw food, five-element meals. Several ideas are included below.
Smoothie—Banana (sweet-yellow), avocado (sweet-green), small amount of lemon (sour- yellow), raw chocolate (bitter-black), celery (salty-green), and a pinch of cayenne (pungent- red).
Salad—Romaine lettuce (bitter-green), olives (salty-black), grated carrot (sweet-yellow), red onion (pungent-red), sesame oil (sweet-yellow), lemon (sour-yellow).
Juice—Apple (sweet-red), lemon (sour-yellow), celery (salty-green), romaine lettuce (bitter-green), and ginger (pungent-white)
Flaxseed cracker—Flaxseed (sweet-yellow), tomato (sweet & sour-red), Nama Shoyu (salty-black), chive (pungent-green), and white pepper (bitter & pungent-white).
Proper diet is a cornerstone of physical health. Unfortunately, food has become increasingly devoid of essential nutrients. Poor food quality begins with the agricultural practices that have depleted soils of their minerals. Add to this the reliance on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones, and the quality of our food has dropped even further. Next, food processing takes its toll with additives, preservatives, and treatments that reduce any remaining nutritive value. The result is food that can no longer sustain healthy life.
The elimination of processed, commercially grown food from your diet is important. In its place, emphasize organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and organically raised meat, poultry, and fish. But in today’s world, even this is no longer enough. The burden placed on our bodies by chemicals, pollutants, and electromagnetic radiation is so great that without a supplementation program, few will thrive.
High-density, whole-food concentrates provide real nutrition—not isolated vitamins and minerals. In fact, many vitamin supplements may themselves be toxic to the body when they are provided out of context. Isolated vitamins eventually lead to imbalances and nutritional deficiencies because the body is forced to surrender its nutrient reserves to make isolated vitamins work. Many nutritionists have noted that without the whole-food complex, the body can never achieve complete nutrition because vitamin supplements lack “the rest of the story.” Supplement your diet with organic, whole-food supplements—those that provide the whole complex of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and protein.
An emerging food supplement with the capacity to bridge the gap between even the best food and what is necessary to thrive is known as moso bamboo. Leaves from this bamboo have been used in Aryuvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. It is not coincidental that the oldest living peoples in the world, including the Miao of China and the Hunzas of Tibet and Pakistan as well as the Vilcabamba of Ecuador, live into their hundreds consuming bamboo leaves from the moso bamboo family. Neither is it a coincidence that the strongest animal on earth for its size (the silverback gorilla) eats only fruit and bamboo leaves.
Moso bamboo leaves contain a balance of complementary and synergistic vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, flavonoids, lactones, phenolic acids, phystosterols, antioxidants, prebiotics, carotenoids, and more. The plant’s leaves are a complete, nutrient-dense food that can fill in many nutritional gaps in today’s modern diet. Bamboo is also rich in organic silica. Its silica content is often more than ten times the level found in other plants used to supplement silica. Silica is essential for maintaining healthy bone and connective tissue. It is a common deficiency found with osteoporosis, arteriosclersis, and connective tissue problems.
Western medical institutions have built upon the extensive research from prestigious Chinese, Korean, and Japanese universities revealing the nutritional and health supportive qualities of moso bamboo.152,153 The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine even filed a provisional patent asserting that moso bamboo leaf extract inhibits breast cancer. The same researchers assert that it relieves lipotoxicity—a precursor to diabetes.154
Moso bamboo leaf concentrate is heralded for its ability to support all the systems of the body that are involved in any form of internal transportation. As the fastest growing plant in the world (it grows three feet per day), it is a master at moving fluids and nutrients. It has the same capacity when used as a food supplement, optimizing the transport of blood, lymph, oxygen, and bioelectric signals. Not only is moso bamboo an excellent source of complete nutrition, but it is the model of ecology and sustainability. It can be harvested again and again without damage to the plant or to the ecosystem. It yields the highest levels of oxygen (35 percent more than any other plant form) into the environment. It is self-fertilizing, and it purifies and filters the water before returning it to the soil.
Moso bamboo is available from a company known as Golden Basin International (a joint U.S./Chinese enterprise that commits profits to impoverished Chinese children and their families). The nonprofit company gathers wild bamboo from a virgin highland forest and produces the concentrate in a quality-controlled facility. Moso bamboo is available as a liquid leaf concentrate and as a powder. It is easily mixed in drinking water. It can also be infused into rice, noodles, sea salt, and other foods. For more information visit:www.wyntersway.com.
FOOD LABELS—WHAT DO THEY MEAN? Label claims
While consumers rely on labels to make wise nutritional choices, food processors use labels to sell their product. Knowing what the words on the label really mean is important in making nutritious choices. Be wary of ambiguous terms.
The word natural is probably the least meaningful of all label terms. Consumers believe that natural means that the food is just as Mother Nature made it, but that really says little about the nutritional quality of the food— or even about its safety. With the exception of the meat and poultry industry, there is no standardized meaning for the word natural. Anyone can place it on a label. Another common label phrase is made from natural. This simply means that the manufacturer started with a natural source. The terms: all natural and no artificial ingredients are also virtually meaningless.
Only in the meat and poultry industry does the term natural have a meaning. For meat and poultry, natural means that it cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients.
Made with … is a good example of a misleading label. The law does not require a label to say how much of something is in the product. This type of labeling is particularly prevalent in snacks. Made with whole grains or made with real fruitsays nothing about how much real anything is in the product—often it is very little.
Enriched is a tip-off that something was taken out of the food during processing that now requires another process to put it back in. Putting back isolated vitamins does not return health to the end product.
Fruit “drink” The word drink on a product tells you that it is not juice. It may, in fact, be mostly sugar and water, with added vitamin C. This enables the manufacturer to say the product is high in vitamin C, even if it is a long way from being real fruit juice.
Organic The terms organically grown, organic, and pesticide–free , unless they are accompanied with a certifying logo, may indicate that they are not totally organic. Trust in labels that say certified organically grown or that contain the certifying logo. This is the only way to be certain of organic status.
The ingredient list tells you what ingredients the food contains. These are listed in order, starting with the ingredient found in the largest amount (by weight). The ingredient list may be the most important information on the box to someone with food allergies. Learn to recognize all the alternate terms used to disguise MSG. Remember that fructose does not necessarily come from fruit—more likely it’s from corn. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are found in margarine, vegetable shortening, salad dressing, most chips, popcorn, French fries, cookies, crackers, candy, and pastries. It is best to avoid all packaged foods, no matter how good a label-reader you are.
Americans have grown to trust organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) as benevolent benefactors of our health—not true. The ACS has gradually lost its credibility for devoting precious little of its resources to cancer prevention and for selling their endorsement to product manufacturers for a pricey sum. The AHA is also not so pure. Products displaying the AHA logo saying “This product meets AHA guidelines” are sometimes the worst of foods. Label endorsements are not necessarily an indication of nutritive value.
Celtic Sea Salt: http://www.celticseasalt.com/
Himalayan Salt: www.americanbluegreen.com
Real Salt: www.realsalt.com
Grass fed beef:
Panorama Meats’ Black Angus and Red Angus: www.panoramameats.com Country Natural Beef: Hereford and Angus: www.countrynaturalbeef.com Tallgrass Beef:www.tallgrassbeef.com
Niman Ranch: A network of more than six hundred independent farmers and ranchers:www.nimanranch.com
Resources for finding local co-ops and local growers:
Local Harvest: www.localharvest.org This Web site will help you find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other items.
FoodRoutes: www.foodroutes.org The FoodRoutes Find Good Food map can help you connect with local farmers. On their interactive map, you can find a listing for local farmers and markets near you.
Eat Well Guide: Wholesome Food from Healthy Animals: www.eatwellguide.org The Eat Well Guide is a free, online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs, and online outlets in the United States and Canada.
Regenerative Eating: A Live, Uncooked Cookbook for Addressing the Deeper Issues of Health and Wellness by Joel Gibson, Chrissy Gala, and Sharyn Wynters, ND Available online at: www.wyntersway.com
Genetic Engineering Dream or Nightmare by Mae Wan Ho
Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat by Howard F. Lyman and Glen Merzer
Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry by Gail A. Eisnitz
Spiritual Nutrition by Gabriel Cousens, MD