The Industrial Revolution came along and everything changed. Now food could be transported over long distances and
stored on our grocery shelves for longer periods of time. Processed and refined foods hit the shelves. This was and is
great for the deep pockets of those in charge but how about the rest of us? Processing foods robs them of many of their nutrients. This makes the foods less likely to be eaten up by mice, rats and other undesirable critters but what about those nutrients that our bodies require and are no longer receiving? No one is going to receive them eating fast, processed and refined foods.
As just about everyone knows our soils have been depleted while our two main crops are corn and soybeans. I might
add that both those crops are grown by Monsanto and are genetically modified unless stated otherwise. But, look on the bright side…the corn gives us all that sugar, as in high fructose corn syrup, and the soybeans give us all that fat. And, please note the picture…this is what is happening because of the Western Diet.
Humans are capable of thriving on all kinds of diets and have done so throughout history. However, the American diet
certainly is not a diet that anyone is thriving on. Type II Diabetes, a totally diet related disease, is increasing by leaps and bounds not to mention obesity, heart disease and many forms of cancer.
In his book, In Defense of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, he states, “Foods that lie to our senses are one of the most challenging features of the Western diet.” He goes on to say that what the Western diet is, is “A radical and, at least in evolutionary terms, abrupt set of changes over the course of the last 150 years, not just to our foodstuffs but also to our food relationships, all the way from the soil to the meal.”
Our shelves are absolutely packed with refined and processed foods. Note that along the shelves close to the floor where all the little children can get excited about the cute little tigers on the packages and ask mommy for more of “that” kind…are foods that cannot possible help the healthy growth of these little guys.
Let’s look at two important staples…rice and flour. I live down here in Mexico and cannot buy decent brown rice. It’s awful. So…I bring it down from the States as I won’t eat the pretty white refined rice. Refining loses nutrients but extends the shelf life. This beautiful white rice is easier to digest because the fiber has been removed but this fiber is very important to our bodies. The fiber slows the release of the sugars in the rice into our systems. Simple logic will tell us that this is a very good thing.
Flour used to be ground by stone. This type of grinding crushes the germ releasing the oil which contained many valuable nutrients. (It is still possible to buy stone ground flour but not that easy) Rollers for grinding flour were introduced around 1870. By 1880 rollers were used extensively in Europe and America. The rollers have given us this beautiful snow white finely ground flour. The problem here is that the more surface that is exposed to digestive enzymes the more quickly the starches turn to glucose.
When this type of flour was introduced many more problems surfaced as epidemics showed up such as pellagra and beriberi. The germ of the wheat contains, along with other valuable nutrients, our B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. The rolling eliminated these nutrients so modern science jumped right in and the refined grains were fortified with the B vitamins and later with folic acid. To me it’s the same as trying to put all the 10,000 nutrients we find in a tomato into a vitamin pill. It cannot be done. The question is…what else has the rolling destroyed that our bodies need? We don’t even know as so many micro nutrients exist that haven’t been discovered yet.
The term “whole foods” means just that. Whole…something your grandmother or great grandmother would recognize.
These are foods that are not processed and/or refined and filled with words we can’t even attempt to pronounce let alone know what they mean.
According to Pollan, “One of the most momentous changes in the American diet since 1909 has been the increase in the percentage of calories coming from sugars, from 13 percent to 20 percent. Calories coming from carbohydrates are roughly 40 percent or ten servings, nine of which are refined. Americans are consuming a diet that is at least half sugars in one form or another…calories providing virtually nothing but energy.” With the fiber removed from our grains and rices we eat more, the glucose causes insulin levels to spike and then drop dramatically and then we think we are hungry again. No wonder obesity is rising so rapidly.
Our soils have been grossly depleted and laden with harsh chemicals and fertilizers. According to figures gathered by the US Dept. of Agriculture the nutritional quality of produce in the United States has declined steadily since the 1950′s. So, what to do? If you are in an area where you can grow some of your food organically that would be wonderful. If not try and buy as much organic whole foods as possible. Go to your local Farmer’s Markets. They are terrific.
There are people out there really trying to help such as John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods and Dr. John McDougall who holds Advanced Weekends twice a year along with trips to Costa Rica where people are introduced to healthy ways to live a healthy long life. Dr. McDougall invites various medical doctors, dieticians, vegan chefs and others to participate. There is a lot to learn. The meetings are filled with important interesting information. There is a movement toward health. The climb is steep but is being made little by little.