Wednesday, 14 December 2011 16:12
Think you're healthy because you exercise regularly? That might not be all it takes. Too many years of eating "unnatural" produce, processed foods, and harmful beverages can prematurely age your body and increase your chances of major health problems like cancer, heart disease and auto-immune diseases–even if you don't look "unhealthy."
Why thinking about your "insides" can benefit your "outside."
Most of us choose the food we eat for its convenience–or even cut out certain foods because we want to look a certain way. But sometimes the food we think is good for us is nutrient-deficient, sprayed with chemicals, packed with perservatives or genentically engineered.
So how can you distingish the healthy from the potentially harmful? Let's break it down.
By Jason Anthony
Processed vs. Non-processed
Just because you can chew it up and swallow it doesn't mean it's a worthwhile food. The term "processed" signifies that it has been modified in some way. Food is often processed to increase the amount of time it can stay on the shelf without spoiling. It can be modified with additives, perservatives and sometimes hormones and chemicals that change the genetic make-up of the food. Processing can kill vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and digestive enzymes that our bodies need.
Organic In-season vs. Genetically Engineered
We all know that we need to eat fruits and vegetables. But what does "organic" mean, and why is it important? Organic foods are produced without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or fungicides, and are usually more nutrient-dense. They are not genetically modified and contain no chemical food additives (dyes) or solvents.
Nutrients in fruits and veggies start to degrade when the produce is harvested, so how nutritious is that banana flown in from South America? If the produce had to be flown halfway around the world to land in your kitchen, it has lost nutrients–even if it is labeled "organic." That's why organic in-season local produce is ideal.
Free-range vs. Farm-raised
Eating meat has many health benefits, but how the animal was raised is extremely important. Some animals are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to make them grow as big as possible in a short amount of time. There is growing concern that the antibiotics fed to livestock are increasing the antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and that eating the treated meat will transfer the anti-resistant bacteria to people.
Hormones pose another concern: increased risk of many types of cancers. The hormones injected into livestock remain in the meat and when consumed, are absorbed by the body. Choose red meat that it free-range, hormone and antibiotic free, and grass-fed. Poultry needs to be free-ranged, hormone and antibiotic-free and vegetarian-def for these reasons and more.
Raw vs. Pasteurized
Most of us think our choice in dairy is limited to whole, two percent or fat-free milk. But most of this is pasteurized. The process of pasteurization kills the beneficial bacteria along with the enzymes that are necessary for nutrient absorption.
To put this in perspective: We are drinking milk to obtain nutrients (like calcium), but are unable to absorb them because the pasteurization process destroyed the enzymes necessary for absorption.
Raw milk, on the other hand, is loaded with vitamins, minerals, protective enzymes, protein and (healthy) fat. When you buy dairy, buy it raw from a trusted local source. Be aware that it is not legal to sell raw milk for human consumption in Florida, so raw dairy will have the label "not for human consumption." This doesn't mean that it is necessarily unsafe.
Soda vs. Water
Drinking soda has been shown to increase the chances of becoming obese, and to leach calcium from bones and dissolve tooth enamel, plus it's loaded with chemicals. Even diet soda. Stick with the most important component in your body: water. Drink lots of it.