Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Prevention Hit List

The more I read about what to eat and what not to eat, one thing becomes clearer to me. Humans are supposed to eat food- that is whole foods that come from the earth. If you are confused as to what a whole food is here is a sampling:
  • raw broccoli (not frozen covered in cheese sauce)
  • cheese (made from animal's milk not in powder or squeeze form)
  • tofu (made by fermenting soybeans, not soy protein isolate made in a factory)
  • corn on the cob (not high fructose corn syrup)
  • strawberries
  • carrots
  • beans
  • oatmeal (the kind where the only ingredient is oats, not like Quaker's Instant Apple Oatmeal with 
Avoid the following food like substances and ingredients at all costs:

High Fructose Corn Syrup

There are more studies than I could count or include in this post (it would bore you) that study the effects of high fructose corn syrup on how the body functions. Some deal with testing on animals, some form their conclusions based on the sheer numbers of overweight (65%) and obese (30%) people in this country vs. a few decades ago before the use of HFCS. Dr. George Bray is a professor of medicine at Louisiana State University, and has looked at whether HFCS in beverages has played a role in the increase in obesity in the U.S. He says that two-thirds of the high-fructose corn syrup Americans consume is in soft drinks. If you add a single soft drink to an otherwise balanced energy level [meaning you are burning as many calories and you are taking in] everyday for one year you will accumulate an additional 15 pounds, says Bray. (source) If that isn't motivation to cut this food like substance out of your diet I don't know what is (other than the possibility of giving yourself Type 2 Diabetes or cancer).

Just about everything processed has HFCS in it. My rule of thumb is to ask myself...Can I make it myself in my kitchen from other whole ingredients? Would I find this in nature? NO? Then don't eat it.

Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Another heavy hitter to our poor health. Hydrogenated oils do not occur naturally. They need to be pumped with hydrogen in order to exist. This process increases the shelf life and stability of the fats which would otherwise go rancid faster than it takes to manufacture, transport, sell, and eat. The modern marvel of our 1st rate food manufacturing/distribution system had to overcome the time delay from farm to plate, or from bakery to plate. Enter hydrogenation. A quick list of what hydrogenated oils (trans fats) contribute to:
  • Alzheimer's 
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer- increases inflammation
  • Heart Disease
    • Increases LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol
    • Clogs arteries
You may be young right now (as I am) but one day you will be old (and statistically speaking chronically sick). Make the changes now while you still have the time. Processed foods pumped with these food like substances are making everyone sick and fat. 

Tip: You can also add up the amount of fat in a product (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), provided the amounts are listed, and compare the total with the total fat on the label. If they don't match up, the difference is likely trans fat, especially if partially hydrogenated oil is listed as one of the first ingredients.

If you are trying to cut down on the sugar that you eat in your diet there are much better ways to do it than substitute with artificial sweeteners. Here is a list of reasons why not to use artificial sweeteners:
  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • obesity
  • headaches
  • seizures
  • Alzheimer's 
  • Parkinson's
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • ADHD
There are actual negative neurological effects to our brains when aspartame is introduced into the body. If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar in your diet, cut out all of the processed foods. Do not substitute sugar for an artificial sweetener.

A.K.A aspartame (hmm, go figure), casein, caseinate, glutamate, anything hydrolyzed, autolyzed yeast.

Soy Protein Isolate
"Soy protein isolate is mixed with nearly every food product sold in today's stores- energy bars, muscle-man powders, breakfast shakes, burgers, and hot dogs. SPI is also the major ingredient in most of today's soy infant formulas. Consisting of 90-92% protein, SPI is a highly refined product processed to remove "off flavors," "beany" tastes and flatulence producers, and to improve digestibility. Vitamin, mineral, and protein quality, however, are sacrificed."

"The manufacture of SPI has always been a complicated, high-tech procedure. There's nothing natural about it- it takes place in chemical factories, not kitchens."

There you have it from Kaayla T. Daniel, Phd and author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's favorite health food (a link to her book is on the right side of this blog). Now this is only a tidbit of the vast amount of science she writes about in her book. I read it cover to cover, and you know what I did after that? I cut everything out of my diet that contains soy products. It was challenging at first because soy is in EVERYTHING! But now when I read labels I skim for "soy" (as well as HFCS and hydrogenated oils).

Soy is only healthy for humans after it has been fermented for a long period of time using traditional Asian methods to produce foods like tofu, miso, tempeh, natto. But watch out for even these foods may contain soy protein isolate her in America. Also watch out for soy flour, soy protein concentrate, textured soy protein.

Anything You Cannot Pronounce 
Do I really have to explain this one?

I challenge you to go to the grocery store and read labels of the foods that you buy. Go up and down each aisle and only put in your cart items with the following criteria:
  • less than five or six ingredients (all of which you know what they are)
  • no soy ingredients, no HFCS, no partially/hydrogenated fats
  • ingredients that you can pronounce
I did this one day not too long ago, and I was shocked. I already know that what would end up mostly filling your carts are fruits and vegetables, meat, some dairy, nuts, and MAYBE some breads if you are at a really good high quality grocery store. Although even Whole Foods junks up their breads with soy and about 10 other ingredients that do not need to be in bread.  

All in all, I feel better at the end of the day knowing that I did not put anything into my body that was made in a chemical laboratory. And if cancer prevention is at the top of your list as it is mine, I would suggest doing some more research on these food like substances if you are not yet fully convinced.  

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