Guest Post by: Bishara Wilson, L.Ac., MSTOM
You cannot be healthy thinking like a sick person. In modern times that are ruled by the almighty dollar, we are inundated with companies looking to sell us their various products. Unfortunately, most companies are looking to maximize their profits by giving the lowest possible quality that they can and still make a sale. As a consumer, both physically and financially, we have to navigate through the mountains of empty calorie, poor quality, nutritionally deficient junk posing as food. Having the mind to do this is vital for health, strength and vitality.
Here are the Top Five Ways to Have A Healthy Mindset by picking the healthiest food possible.
1. Read Labels:
When you look at the ingredients of a food product, those ingredients should look like something that you would actually eat! The list of ingredients should close to what it would look like if you made it yourself.
For example, fresh homemade bread at home has flour, salt, yeast, and water. Fresh homemade bread also lasts about a day before it gets dry and stale. Store bought bread has lines of ingredients, most of which you cannot even pronounce. These chemicals in bread are used as dough conditioners and preservatives that prevent the dough from hardening and increases the shelf life. They are not digestible by your body and are stored in the body’s fat. Accumulation of chemicals in the fat is slowly released into your bloodstream and is a cause of premature aging, diseases like cancer and heart disease, fatigue, weakening of the immune system and allergies.
2. Make Your Food from Scratch:
Instead of eating out at restaurants all of the time, or cooking commercially prepared foods from the box, try cooking from scratch. Yes, this means actually putting on the apron and doing it all yourself.
If you are a novice, there are tons of great cookbooks and free recipes online that suit every palate. Recipes are easy to follow and you will find your way around the kitchen in a snap.
Cooking from scratch is great because you know exactly what goes into each meal. You can control how much salt and oil is used. This is a added benefit if you are on a special low sodium or low fat lifestyle change. I say lifestyle change because “dieting” is usually a temporary change in the way you eat, while lifestyle change is a more permanent goal.
If you have known food allergies, you will obviously not have any worries with food that you prepared yourself.
Best of all, you save money. For the price of dinner at a restaurant, you can get three or four full meals when you buy and make food from scratch.
3. Avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup:
When you read labels, high fructose corn syrup seems to be in everything. It is in sodas and juice drinks, bread and crackers, soup and breakfast cereal, cookies, candy and chips.
About three decades ago, food manufacturers began using high fructose corn syrup to sweeten foods because it is a cheap alternative to sugar. White sugar was already bad for your health and has been linked to diabetes, obesity, rotten teeth and other health issues, but high fructose corn syrup is even worse.
On a societal level, the increased rate of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and fatty liver has been linked to the over consumption of high fructose syrup. New York City has even banned the sale of beverages of soft drinks larger than 16 fl.oz at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters to combat obesity and diseases linked to soft drink consumption.
My suggestion is to avoid high fructose syrup like the plague. You have to be diligent because it is in a lot of mass produced products on the shelves that you may be used to eating. Expect a complete overhaul on the brands you buy.
Your best bet is to just go to the health food store. For snacks, I will usually try what is on sale for the week to save money at the health food store.
4. Avoid GMO Foods:
GMO’s are genetically-modified-organisms. Also known as Frankenfoods! They are foods that would normally grow in nature, but have been manipulated in a laboratory to have certain effects.
Some have been manipulated to resist plant diseases and insects, to grow faster or even to produce nutrients. Sounds good at face value, but we do not know the long term effects of how genetically modified foods may genetically modify people who consume these foods.
Foods that are predominantly produced in GMO form on the market are corn, soybeans, canola, and cottonseed. These GMO vegetables are usually sold to food corporations and appear in food stores as vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil. If you look at most chips on the market, the ingredients will say that it contains one or more of those specific oils. Other GMO vegetable products on the shelves includes high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and the flour used to make corn syrup, breakfast cereal and other products.
Research is still being done on the effects of gmo foods on the body, but it is best to avoid these foods if possible.
5. Eat Organic:
As stated earlier in this article, food corporations are looking to produce as much crop or livestock that they can to maximize profit. This can often be at the cost of the health of the consumer. In fact, many money saving processes for the corporations has a negative effect on your body. These processes include herbicides and pesticides on crops, and antibiotics and growth hormones in animals.
Residue from chemical fertilizers and herbicide in food have been linked to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and lower IQ in children. Other dangers include increased risk of cancer. Herbicides also contaminates the soil and eventually ends up in the ground water that we drink. Organic foods are grown without chemical fertilizer, whose harmful nitrates can end up in conventionally grown foods.
Organic foods tend to have a higher Vitamin C and mineral content than conventionally grown foods. But, recent studies have shown that this is not a hard rule that all organic foods are always more nutritionally dense than conventionally grown foods.
I eat organic or locally grown as much as possible to avoid chemical residue from pesticides and herbicides in my food, and also to support and promote a chemical free environment. In my opinion, many organic foods look richer and tastes better than their conventional counterpart too.
These are just a few tips to get you on the health track. I hope it sparked some thoughts and you do some further research to cultivate a health conscious mindset.
Bishara Wilson, L.Ac., MSTOM