Your Food-Health Connection
We're all drowning in seas of misinformation, unreasonable health claims, and hyped-up media advertising.
Jerre recalls a university student of his announcing proudly she was improving her food choices by changing her brand of yogurt to the one that contains added probiotics. He applauded her decision to eat yogurt, then asked her what she knew about probiotics and why she thought they were good for her. Her happy face slumped into doubt, then into a grimace of embarassment. "I don't know what probiotics are!" she confessed.
No one in the class could help her, either. It's just that the t.v. ads were so convincing that no one questioned what they were buying or putting in their mouths. Like so many of us, these students merely reacted to hype. Not long after, the manufacturer of her yogurt of choice was sued for false claims about their product—but not before millions of their customers had placed their trust in the company and drifted along making nutritional choices on the basis of compelling advertising.
In the thousands of food choices you make every year, be wary of advertising claims—including claims such as "fat free", "lite", "heart healthy", "high fiber," and even "all natural" and "organic." Do you know what these mean and whether these terms have been defined by food regulators? You're better to pay more attention to the Nutrition Facts labels than the advertising hype.
For further discussion, see EAT TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.
We all need to rescue ourselves and one another from consequences of bad information and partial understanding. We need to gain control over the food we grow, buy, and eat. But there are problems. On the one hand, food = profit, so profiteers will do anything to sell us their food products, including providing seductive, compelling, but false information; on the other hand, food and nutrition is not a public school subject, so most of us remain nutritionally illiterate and vulnerable to false and dangerous claims.
On top of that, our planet provides such a diverse treasure of nutritional foods, it's difficult to make the best choices for our particular bodies. So we leave it to governments and corporations to place foods and food guides before us, all packaged and pretty. Much of the time, they help us make choices that are better for them than us. What they are doing is appealing to our desire for convenience and ease: it's all about lifestyle, not usually about nutrition and health. The price of your not making the food-health connection can be high indeed and paid for by the quality and duration of your life.
Re-connect Your Health to Good Food
We suggest you begin re-connecting food and health with this thought: think of eating not merely as filling up or satisfying a short-term appetite, but as working along with nature to fulfill her built-in promise for quality living and youthful longevity: think Eat to Save Your Life!
Here are five steps to take right away:
- Eat consciously. Everything you put in your mouth is a decision you made. Why did you think you made a good decision for yourself about that last meal? Hmmmmm….
- Think "nutrients", not just food. Do you eat mainly processed foods rather than whole plants? Have you found a local farmer who grows certified organic food? Do you purchase your chicken and meat without asking about how it's raised? Are you eating fish from the cold, deep ocean? Do you tend to eat the same things over and over? There's more to think about, but answering these questions is a good start.
- Educate Yourself. Go beyond what the mainstream media tells you about water, carbs, fat, and protein in a soundbyte or two. Learn more: go to EAT TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.
- Develop a food and nutrition budget. Your budget needs to account for a meaningful proportion of whole, fresh, certified organic foods, and totally terrific food supplements. Are you willing to give something up in order to create such a budget? Of course—start by junking the junk food.
- Choose a totally terrific multi-supplement (one that includes vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients).
These steps will help you Eat to Save Your Life.
Meanwhile, click on Inflammatory Response for a discussion (and warning) about one of the most common and misunderstood health problems of them all.
Medical doctors and registered nurses trained in Western mainstream medicine get very little (if any) formal education in nutritional science. Their professions tend to focus on pharmaceutical and surgical remedies, so it may be unreasonable to expect your doctor or nurse to recognize a nutritional deficiency or offer a nutritional remedy.
The Harvard School of Public Health now advises that everyone would benefit from taking a daily multivitamin. We go one step further and recommend choosing daily supplements that contain not only vitamins, but minerals and phytonutrients, as well.
Harvard School of Public Health. “Vitamins.” http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins.html. Accessed March 30, 2006.
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