Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Eat Real Food?

I never used to think about why I ate the food I ate, beyond whether I liked it or not, or was hungry. My weight fluctuated a lot in my late teen years, though I was never more than 20lbs or so over what would be considered healthy for me, and I considered most of my problem with weight to be an issue of vanity rather than health. I wanted to look better in my clothes, I wanted to wear a size 6 or 4 again, I wanted to be attractive to men. At the same time I rebelled against the idea that people would judge me for what I looked like, rather than who I am, and that I needed to conform to some kind of standard to be accepted. So while I would from time to time try to exercise more regularly, or eat low fat foods, or eat less for dessert, (I was in great shape the year I biked to work everyday) I was never really all that motivated to make any permanent lifestyles changes that were good for me because of this ambivalence.

Then I was pregnant with my first child, and everything changed. One of the first things you read in those pregnancy books is that everything you eat goes to your baby, that the things going into your mouth are the building blocks from which your child’s body is formed. I remember one book that said if I was hungry at 2am I should get up and eat because maybe the baby needed a little something to grow an ear. They talked about peak periods of brain development and muscle and bone development and the kinds of things I should be eating to give the baby the best start possible. Here was a reason to pay attention to my eating that mattered to me, that changed my perception completely. I was eating nothing but healthful food for the first time in my life, consciously aware that food was the building block for life.

After my son was born I continued eating this way as it had become habitual, and to my surprise I was in a size 4 by the time he was 8 months old. (Yes breastfeeding helped a lot.) Losing weight had not been my motive for healthier eating, but it was a definite perk. My wedding dress was too large.

While pregnant I started taking this really great supplement that I still take called JuicePlus+. They have a lot of literature to read and a lot to listen to, and it was here that I began to realize that that not only was what I ate the building block for my baby, but it was the building block for myself as well.

Did you know that red blood cells have a lifespan of about 120 days? That means that every four months your body has completely replaced all of your blood with new blood cells, and that these new blood cells are comprised entirely of what you ate for the last 4 months. The same goes for your soft tissues, your bones and eventually your brain. This means several things; most significantly if you are giving your body inferior material to work with, it will create an inferior product. All food is not created equal. Secondly, if you make a positive change and stick with it for four months, you should feel a significant difference by the end of that time, because all of the blood coursing through your veins will have been affected by this positive change.

Then I heard of this guy named Pottenger, and his experiments with cats. He fed one group of cats processed and cooked food, and another only fresh foods. The cats eating fresh food stayed healthy and strong for several generations, the cats eating processed food got sicker and sicker with each successive generation, showing signs of degenerative diseases that humans get at younger and younger ages until they all died. This process damaged the DNA itself. His experiment also showed that when he fed the surviving cats natural food again the damage was reversed in about the same time.

Did you know that one raw apple has more than 14 000 phytochemical constituents? (Phytochemicals are the things that are good for us, also known as antioxidants, vitamins, etc.) Scientists don’t even know what more than say 50 or 60 of them do, or how they work in our bodies. Did you also know that if you cook that apple, turn it into apple sauce, make a pie, etc. that up to 80% of those life giving phytochemicals are killed in the process? Now remember that all food when it leaves the field is like that, bursting with nutrients and goodness and all that our bodies need to be strong and healthy. And then remember that with each progressive step in processing it to get to our grocery store shelves, more and more of those nutrients are killed.

My point is that God, nature, whomever you like knew what they were doing when they made food, and the less we mess with it the better. So eat fresh, eat it as close to the field as you can find. Eat produce and nuts and seeds raw, eat grains whole, buy from local producers so that you know it is fresh and hasn’t been sitting in a refrigerated warehouse for months before you get it, get vine ripened as the nutrient content triples those last few days on the vine, eat beans and lentils and things that haven’t been messed with by food manufacturers but still have the goodness of the sun and the earth and the water in them.
I sound like a hippy I know, or maybe just a kid who grew up in a farming family and ate my honey raw, my milk unpasteurized from my grandmother’s cow, my eggs fresh from her chickens, my vegetables fresh from the garden. It wasn’t a hard concept for me to adjust to, though it took me long enough to do it, and understand why my parents fed me as they did. Perhaps hearing how I came full circle will help you out as well.


Alice said...

It's so incredible to think that we are made from the food we eat, and yet so natural, and so obvious! I love to be reminded. I like the books of Patrick Holford, the founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition.

I'm looking forward to your next entry!

one woman's treasures said...

could you expand on JuicePlus or supplements in general? I'm always in search of a great supplement, but with so many companies making huge claims, it gets quite confusing.
Thanks :)

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