The New Normal
Six out of 10 clients will ask, “When can I go back to eating normally?” My standard reply – “Just as soon as you would like to go back to being sick and overweight,” in response to which I get a mortified expression. Going back to eating badly and not exercising will invariably get you back to the state of ill-health and obesity that you have worked so hard to remedy – an absurdly simple fact that eludes the most intelligent of individuals.
If we go back 50 to 100 years, you would never have found processed meals that you heat in the microwave. Takeaways were few and far between, and certainly not a daily staple. We had not yet learnt how to use chemicals to preserve bread or extract oils from genetically modified seeds to make cooking oil. Artificial colourings and flavourings which trick the mind as much as the tongue were experimental and the mother of all evil – high-fructose corn syrup.
We would have eaten real butter, home-baked bread, fresh vegetables, whole milk, eggs and meat that would not have been subjected to steroids, antibiotics and stress hormones. When the food manufacturing and processing industry became the proverbial cash cow, earning billions in revenue, it was important for these manufacturers to find ways to make sure that we became addicted to their wares in the most literal of terms. The psychology of food science is one hundred per cent responsible for the state of ill-health and obesity that the majority of the modern world finds itself in today.
The core of the issue lies with the mind-set that we do not have the time to do it ourselves and would rather rely on the time-saving convenience of pre-packaged and prepared foods, thus putting our trust naively in the hands of brands that we somehow believe have our interests at heart. The fact of the matter is that, if it is important enough, you will find the time or will find a way.
What Exactly Are Processed Foods?
If your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise it as food, don’t eat it.
If there are more than two ingredients on the label.
Any product that does not resemble the original product, for example a potato chip has no resemblance to, or any of the nutritional benefit of, a potato.
Any label that states ‘nature-identical’, which simply means ‘made in a laboratory’.
Some of the many additives and preservatives in processed foods have the ability to compromise the body’s structure and disrupt DNA-expression. Even simple processed meats and bacon contain preservatives that can alter the DNA of an unborn baby – this is a fact, not scaremongering. Many are related to the development of skin, pulmonary and psychobehavioural conditions as well as cancer. Sulphites have been found to cause and aggravate asthma. Artificial colourings and flavourings have been widely reported to cause hypersensitivity reactions, promoting conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and asthma and skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis.
Many baby formulas are possibly the worst, as they contain a highly inflammatory combination of sugar and calcium caseinate. You only have to look at the immune system of an infant who has been breast-fed as opposed to formula-fed. Formula-fed babies are five times more likely to suffer from ear and throat infections as well as dermatitis and sleeping issues – all in the name of convenience, if you can call weekly trips to the doctor convenient. Artificial sweeteners it has been shown, and specifically aspartame, can lead to accumulation of formaldehyde and methanol, both of which are highly toxic substances. Low levels of aspartame have not shown direct symptoms in humans, so they are presumed to be safe in food products – but who is making this judgement call?
Many of the artificial colourings in everyday foods are derived from the manufacturing of coal tars, which have been found to promote hypersensitivity reactions in children: fibromyalgia, headaches, mood swings and adrenal issues. A major concern with processed foods is the use of preservatives. The most commonly used are butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and sulphites. BHT has been shown to induce tumours in the stomach and liver after accumulation over time. If you do not know that it is there, you will accumulate it over time! Sulphites are also a common preservative which destroy certain B-group vitamins. Pesticides and genetically modified foods have been proven to be carcinogenic and therefore able to cause genetic damage leading to the development of cancer and birth defects, as well as stunted growth and low IQs in children.
Trans-fatty acids occur when a food is processed. These fatty acids are found in margarine, vegetable oils, crackers, confectionary, biscuits, snack foods and even foods that are labelled nutritious or calorie-reduced, giving the false impression that they have health benefits. The food industry uses this process because it increases the shelf life of fats. Trans fats, along with sugar, have been shown to increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the ‘bad cholesterol’, and decrease high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the ‘good’ cholesterol. Trans fats have also been linked to certain cancers and dementia.
All this and I haven’t even started on the addictive nature of sugar and its direct line to the dopiate receptors in the brain which trigger addiction. As consumers, until we change our thinking and start becoming aware that few manufacturers have our health interests at heart, we are on a path to self-destruction and directly into the grips of the pharmaceutical industry – a frying-pan-into-the-fire scenario.
HEALTH | Nicci Robertson
by Nicci Robertson