There are so many diet fads out in the world right now and it is getting so confusing to figure out which diet is the “right” one. The truth is that there is no “one” diet for everyone. Many health advocates will use studies to “prove” their point on why their diet is the best. The only thing is that there are studies proving and disproving EVERY topic out there.
For example, it has been proven that coffee is unhealthy and dangerous in one study, but it’s also been proven to be a superfood in another study! How are we supposed to trust anybody if they can’t even agree on something small like coffee? Studies can be paid for by the people that want a certain result to come about them- that is why it is time to use common sense and start listening to our bodies about what we consume.
First, let’s focus on what we shouldn’t be including in our diets. This includes genetically modified organisms, food coloring, artificial sweeteners, and MSG.
What is a GMO?
Genetically modified organisms are a hot topic these days. The genetic material of the food has been artificially manipulated in a lab to create these “foods”. Their purpose is to withstand massive amounts of herbicides or to produce their own insecticides. They were supposedly going to increase yield, have tolerance to drought, and enhance nutrition but so far none of that has happened. GMOs are linked with many cancers, autoimmune illnesses and digestive disorders in both humans and animals alike. No long term studies have been done and most studies were done by GMO giant Monsanto. There is evidence that one major study that Monsanto did proved that GMOs were cancer causing, but they hid this from the public because they would lose a lot of profit if the truth came out!
GMOs are banned in about 60 countries around the world- so 60 other countries understand the risks of eating food created in a lab. They are not labeled in the US, but they are in several other countries. Recently, Congress just approved a bill that would deny labeling GMOs. They want to keep us in the dark about what we are truly consuming. About 80% of processed foods contain GMOs so they are truly everywhere you look. Most common GMOs include corn, soy, beets, canola, cotton, squashes, and many supplements. Ascorbic acid is actually made from GMO corn, while citric acid is usually made from GMO mold. The Non-GMO project has thousands of products verified to not contain GMOs.
Fake Ingredients are Everywhere
Artificial sweeteners are also becoming very controversial. Many people are noticing that they are the cause of their illnesses, especially neurological diseases. When these people discontinue their artificial sweetener consumption, all of their symptoms magically disappear! Sucralose, aspartame, saccharin are the most common artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar- which is why it tastes so fake. These harmful chemicals are in more than 6000 products on the shelves-food, drinks, cough drops, and vitamins.
Sweeteners like aspartame are linked to many health issues: MS, heart issues, brain cancer, joint disorders and they cause weight gain and diabetes despite being a “zero-calorie sweetener”. Stay far away from SUGAR FREE items, especially from big brands because they will be laced with artificial ingredients.
Food coloring is another ingredient that many people are starting to avoid. Vitamins, juice, cookies, pastries, fruit snacks and more all contain food coloring. These colors are being linked to behavior problems in children as well as chromosomal damage, tumors, allergies and asthma. Some other countries have banned artificial coloring! When other countries start banning what is “normal” to us, it truly is time to reevaluate what we are consuming.
High fructose corn syrup is one of the worst ingredients that you will find in food. It is a cheap sweetener made from GMO corn. It is much different than REAL sugar despite the propaganda you might see claiming that there is no difference. Real sugars like honey, maple syrup, and blackstrap molasses have an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Corn syrup is just pure sugar. Cancer, heart disease, liver failure, and diabetes are just some of the illnesses that high fructose corn syrup is linked with. You will find this particular poison in soda, juice, baked goods, most processed foods and even some medicines.
Everyone has heard of MSG. It is one of the most common ingredients that you will find in processed foods. You can even buy it as a spice! What most people don’t know is that MSG is actually an excitotoxin- it literally excites your brain cells to death. This is why it is linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and many neurological issues. The FDA actually has information about the MSG Symptom Complex because reactions to MSG are so common-numbness, chest pain, and headaches are all common symptoms of this.
Since people are starting to learn about MSG and try to avoid it, the companies are starting to give it many other names. Some of these names include autolyzed yeast extract, torula yeast, glutamic acid, anything “hydrolyzed” and soy protein. There are dozens of other names that correlate with MSG. Glutamate is naturally occurring in small amounts in some food, like bone broth and gelatin. This form of glutamate is good and essential for health. But MSG is a man-made, processed form of this amino acid.
Most of the food on our shelves is made in a lab. It is no wonder why so many of us are suffering with illnesses- we cannot thrive on fake food! It is time to get back to basics and eat like our ancestors ate. Which leads us to the next section- what we should be eating.
The Ideal Diet is a Balanced, Whole Foods Diet
Aiming for a balanced whole foods diet is the ideal diet. Switching to a whole foods diet can take time and patience, but it is truly worth it. It is hard to learn how to cook food when you’ve lived off of boxed foods your whole life, I have been there! It is a challenge but it will benefit your health so amazingly.
A whole foods, traditional diet focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, grass-fed dairy products, pastured eggs, properly prepared grains (some cultures soak their grains and legumes before cooking to help break down phytates and aid in digestion), and real sugars such as maple syrup, raw honey, and coconut sugar. Eating high quality fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, and even lard is important- fat does not make us fat. Fat and cholesterol are essential for hormone production, as well as imparting many other health benefits. Avoid as many fast and processed foods as you can and eat organic or non-GMO certified when possible.
Meat and Dairy: Superfoods when they are Good Quality
When it comes to animal products, quality is key. Grass-fed meats and dairy are extremely important. Cows are natural herbivores. Making them eat grains is not only going to make them unhealthy, but it is going to lower the quality of dairy and meat given from them. Raw dairy is extremely beneficial but it is a controversial subject. Pasteurization and homogenization are processes that change the healing property of the milk. Pasteurization heats the milk to kill pathogens, but it also kills the lactase enzyme which helps the body digest the milk better.
Many lactose-intolerant people find that they can actually enjoy raw or minimally pasteurized dairy because it contains that crucial enzyme for digestion. Raw dairy can be a very big part of healing illness. Many people find that it helps digestion, soothes inflammation, and even helps to get rid of allergies. Many farmers are starting to realize the demand for raw dairy so they are finding natural ways to keep their cows healthier and pathogen free so we can safely enjoy raw milk again- just like people have for thousands of years.
Properly Prepared Grains
Grains and legumes were often soaked before cooking in order to help remove anti-nutrients and to help them to be digested better. These foods have enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid in them that can negatively affect our health. Enzyme inhibitors are molecules that bind to the healthy metabolic and digestive enzymes in our body- this makes the enzymes useless and inhibits our ability to digest the food. Phytic acid is where a plant stores its phosphorus. We can’t digest this form of phosphorus plus it renders other minerals useless like zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium.
Soaking, spouting or souring beans, nuts, seeds, and grains mitigate the negative effects of these anti-nutrients. Many people that have issues with modern wheat find that traditional sourdough is perfectly fine for them to eat. That is because sourdough is technically fermented.
There are many ways to soak grains but the most important ingredient to remember for some of them is the “activator”- this will be an acidic medium like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or whey.
For example, to soak oatmeal follow the follow directions:
Pour one cup of uncooked oats in a mason jar or a pot (you will need to cover it overnight). Add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a pinch of unrefined salt. Add enough filtered water to just cover the oats, cover, and let sit overnight. The next morning, you can drain and rinse the oats, add them to a pot with a fresh cup of water (or milk if that is your preference) and cook for about 5 minutes. Viola- soaked oatmeal! Very easy and delicious.
You can find many different recipes on how to soak beans, rice, wheat, nuts, oats, and seeds. Some of these require just soaking, some required sprouting which is a little bit of a longer process. It is definitely a different method of cooking than many of us are used to but it is what our ancestors did and it worked for them! We live in a world where we expect instant gratification so sprouting, soaking and fermenting are not very common since they take a little more work. But once you get used to doing them, then it will not seem like it takes much effort and it will become a regular habit for you.
Organic vs. Conventional
Organic produce will have less pesticide residue than conventional produce. Some organic foods can be more expensive than conventional- compare prices in your local grocery stores. Some organic foods are not even more money than conventional foods! You just have to take notice of prices at your local stores and farmer’s markets. Farmer’s Markets are AMAZING places for affordable produce, plus buying local is good for the small businesses and local farmers.
Prioritize your foods for budgeting- meats and dairy are most important to be higher quality. The important part to remember is that it is healthier to eat fresh produce as opposed to boxed cookies. If you cannot afford all organic, do not fret. Just do your best!
The biggest threat of not eating organic is Round-Up. This is the pesticide used on most produce out there. It is a mineral chelator, antibiotic, and it is linked to MANY health issues. The most recent link was to adrenal issues because it is an endocrine disruptor. You can read about this study here.
There are two lists for produce that will help you figure out what you should buy organic and what can be bought conventional. These lists are called the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen”. The Dirty Dozen should be your priority for organic because these items have the most pesticide use when grown conventionally. The Clean Fifteen can be bought as conventional because pesticide use is a little less of an issue. For example- apples are on the Dirty Dozen because they tend to have residue of about 47 different pesticides! Talk about poison apples!
- Cherry tomatoes
- Sweet bell peppers
- Snap Peas (imported)
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet potatoes
- Frozen sweet peas
Learning to Cook and Bake
When it comes to switching to a whole foods diet, the hardest part is knowing what to cook. Pinterest is a great starting point for whole food recipes, fermented foods, and post on buying organic on a budget. YouTube has tons of videos on learning how to cook and bake. Once you get used to it, you will LOVE what you make. It is very hard to find real, wholesome foods in restaurants so cooking your own food ensures that you know what is in your food. There is nothing better than homemade baked goods! Eating clean doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself.
The trick to baking with real ingredients is to make sure you use real sweeteners and cut down on them. So many recipes call for 1-2 cups of granulated sugar but there is no need for that! Each time you bake something, reduce the amount of sugar and find a good amount that you and your family like. I usually never use more than ¼ cup of organic cane sugar in anything that I make. In many recipes, you can even substitute the sugar for maple syrup, blackstrap molasses or honey. I don’t recommend using honey often in baking because heating it kills the enzymes and makes it a little less nutritious.
Back to Basics
I will definitely never tell anyone that there is *one* diet for anyone. It is important to listen to your body, especially when switching to a whole foods diet. Consuming more fat and unrefined salt may take some getting used to, but these two things will make such a positive impact on your health that you will wish you had known about this all sooner. The basic point in this whole chapter is that we need to eliminate fake “foods” and get back to the way that our ancestors ate because that way of eating worked for thousands of years. Since the invention of processed foods, our health has deteriorated so quickly.
Cancer is now the leading cause of death in children. This is a huge issue because when our bodies are depleted of nutrients, we are not creating healthy children. They are being born deficient and since the medical community completely ignores vitamins, minerals, and diet, they are suffering more than they need to.