Dare to challenge common eating myths and misconceptions to focus on all-natural foods
Somehow, despite America being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, where almost all citizens have access to a cornucopia of information on health at the click of a mouse (or swipe of the touchscreen resting in their pocket), the majority of the population willfully ignores the knowledge that most are blessed with in this current information age regarding what they should put into their bodies, choosing to slowly deteriorate themselves instead.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 35.7 percent of Americans are obese. That’s not overweight, that’s obese—OBESE! Overweight individuals make up about 70 percent of the total population. Just think about that for a second—70 PERCENT!
We all know that Americans aren’t healthy. We’ve all been shown statistics like these in health class and on the evening news (accompanied by below the neck shots of people who have no business rocking sweatpants), but what’s really mind-boggling is that those statistics are true even though almost everybody wants to be healthy.
Really, they do! Companies know that, and it’s why you’ll find “low-sodium,” “heart-healthy,” and “sugar-free” all over their products.
Everybody eats, and every time they do it’s a choice. The sad thing is the meals people choose are very rarely made up of natural plant based foods; like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains (ACTUAL FOOD).
However, the individuals making those self-destructive choices meal after meal, aren’t completely to blame. Common misunderstandings of what a healthy diet looks like is a huge part of the problem.
Americans are spoon-fed nutrition falsities (pun intended) their entire lives. The government’s food pyramid, which was recently converted to a plate diagram, gives dairy its own food group, which is completely ludicrous! Consuming dairy increases your chance of heart disease, hypertension, prostate and breast cancer, diabetes, and more according to the PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine).
The justification given for consuming dairy products is that it supplies the body with calcium, which is the only way to have strong healthy bones. Too bad that’s not true! A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that children consuming the largest amounts of dairy had no stronger bones than those who drank very little; and those who consumed the most dairy actually had twice the risk of stress fractures.
But we still need calcium right? Yes, calcium is important, but eating fruits and vegetables supplies the body with a perfectly adequate supply.
Humans are only meant to consume milk from their mothers as infants. It’s estimated that about 65 percent of human adults are lactose intolerant, which means that they don’t produce a sufficient amount of the enzyme lactase after weaning, which is needed to break down lactose, the main carbohydrate in milk.
About 30 percent of Indians are lactose intolerant, 50 percent of Hispanics, and between 70 to 90 percent of Africans, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
So why is it that we’re told by our government to consume dairy daily?
Well it might have something to do with the fact that the dairy industry spends millions of dollars lobbying annually and contributed $4.8 million to federal candidates in the 2008 election cycle alone, according to Open Secrets: Center for Responsive Politics.
However, dairy isn’t the most detrimental animal product that’s consumed daily by most Americans; the animal itself is. I apologize to all you carnivores out there that believe you need to chow down on meat at every meal to get your proper supply of protein.
The truth is “most people are in more danger of eating too much protein than too little,” according to Dr. Patrick Holford’s book, Optimal Health.
If your diet consists of fruit, vegetables, beans, soy products, and whole grains you’ll get plenty of protein. A number of studies have shown that eating meat leads to an increased risk of heart disease (the leading cause of death in the United States), and according to an expert panel from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, “Red or processed meats are convincing or probable sources of some cancers.”
An analysis based on two studies, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, that followed participants for 26 years and controlled for physical activity, smoking, body mass index and other variables, found that for every three ounce daily increase in red meat consumption, there was a 12 percent increased change in the individual dying (and three ounces ain’t much!).
However eating healthy doesn’t just prolong your life, it increases the quality of the life that you live for however long it may last.
Eating blueberries has been shown to improve memory and brain function, freshly brewed tea enhances focus and mood, leafy greens improve eyesight, and natural protein sources and complex-carbohydrates like nuts and beans can supply your body with a steady stream of energy throughout the day (to beat that “2:30 p.m. feeling”).
Americans aren’t only constantly lied to about what’s healthy, but are also brainwashed into thinking that heavily processed products are more enjoyable to consume than nutritious plant-based foods.
I’m not going to tell you that fast food doesn’t tastes good. I’ve certainly enjoyed my fair share of french fries in my youth, but I am going to argue that an apple-walnut salad or bean and vegetable stir fry are delicious too! There’s no shortage of great tasting healthy recipes and nutrient rich plant based foods for anyone to eat for any meal of the day.
For some reason there’s this widely accepted notion that healthy food is too expensive. However last time I check my local Market Basket, a bag of mixed frozen veggies was a $1.39, and a piece of fresh fruit between classes from the Hoot n’ Scoot runs me 50 cents. wSo when the choice is between great tasting processed foods that literally destroy the human body and great tasting natural foods that fuel and maintain it, the choice, at least to me, couldn’t be clearer.
Eric Walker can be contacted at