Fatal and Vital Foods - Popular Nutrition Myths Exposed
Fatal and Vital Foods - Popular Nutrition Myths ExposedMike Donkers, citizen journalist
I often get asked to write down some basic rules of what to eat and what not to eat. There's a lot of information out there but it's often fragmented and, even worse, contradictory. All I can do is give you my vision on fatal and vital foods. I base this on nothing but common sense. Here goes.
Avoid all sugars, including alternative sweeteners, such as raw cane sugar, glucose, dextrose, molasses, caramel, fructose, corn syrup, date syrup, rice syrup, wheat syrup, etc. Sugars will raise your blood sugar causing your pancreas to produce a hormone called insulin to bring it back down. Too much insulin is also sickening and your body will develop insulin resistance as a result. Although in this way, you're creating a panic inside your body on a daily basis, a kind of balance is created and for the longest time you will hardly notice this internal battle taking place.
Only at middle age do you get presented the check for this exhaustion of your system. You will develop all sorts of pre-diabetic conditions, such as candida, hypoglycemia, poor circulation, excessive thirst, excessive hunger, excessive urination, constipation, windiness, allergies, skin problems, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, bad cholesterol, obesity, etc. Most people will still not relate their symptoms to their foods and the doctor's cures will only cause side effects which, in turn, will cause more problems and worsen the original ones.
Too much sugar intake causes your glucose and insulin levels to go up. To make matters worse, insulin resistance creates a vicious circle in which the insulin will increasingly be less effective. A pancreas which has to produce too much insulin for too long will eventually get used up and give out. Insulin will then have to be injected into the blood. This is called sugar diabetes. Sugar sickens much more so than you might think; viruses, yeast fungi and cancer cells love sugar and feed on it.
I often come across the 'sugar-is-good-for-your-muscles' myth popularized by the sugar industry. This is a clever half truth. Any food is basically foreign to the body. Your body has to convert food into glucose to use it as energy. Glucose is essential for muscle development. 'Thus sugar is good for you,' say the sugar manufacturers. They don't distinguish between the indirect sugars made internally by your body, which are slowly released into the bloodstream, and the very harmful external, 'fast sugars' which directly drive up your blood glucose and actually attack your muscles. Our body does indeed need sugar, but only the kind the body makes itself based on whole foods.
In alternative circles, there's the persistent myth that raw cane sugar and molasses are healthy because they contain minerals. Though this is not entirely untrue, the negative effects raw cane sugar and molasses have on your blood sugar far outweigh the benefits. Just look at the amount of people shopping and working at health food stores that are overweight. Do they look that healthy to you? They too fall prey to their sugar addiction, which largely undoes the effects of many of the useful products sold in those stores.
Bread, pasta, potatoes and rice
Sugar is not just the white stuff people put in their coffee or tea. It includes all refined products such as white bread, white pasta, white flour, white rice, in short any grain with the bran removed. The starch which is left is no longer slowed down by the fiber in the bran, making it a fast sugar which also causes a rise in blood sugar and a subsequent insulin response.
A good alternative is whole-grain products such as brown bread, brown pasta, brown flour, brown rice, etc. Eat sourdough bread particularly because the sugars in the starch have been eaten by the milk bacteria in the bread as a result of natural fermentation. All naturally fermented products are good: live yogurt, sauerkraut, natural vinegar, etc.
This doesn't mean you can keep stuffing yourself with bread, however! We humans were not made to consume that many sugars. People on a low-fat diet who eat many carbohydrates in the form of bread, pasta, and other starchy products, even if they're whole-grain and sourdough, will only gain weight. Thus you shouldn't eat more than two slices of bread a day and have pasta, rice, or potatoes only twice a week. The best bread is sprouted grain bread, which can be bought in health food stores.
Caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are also part of the sugar family as they too will raise your glucose level. Don't drink more than two cups of black coffee a day, if you know what's good for you. You may want to put raw, unpasteurized milk in your coffee, but sugar is out. The sugars in raw milk are slow, the ones in pasteurized milk (known as beta glucose) are fast. A so-called milk allergy or lactose intolerance is really an intolerance or allergy to pasteurization.
Green tea also contains caffeine but this is released slowly into the blood, giving you all the advantages of caffeine and not the disadvantages. Caffeine is not the bad guy here. It is known to positively stimulate your immune system and can be good for the heart. Because of the speed with which it is released into the blood, the caffeine in coffee needs to be regarded as a fast sugar, however. This is of course the reason why we love that cup of coffee in the morning to kick-start the brain. It's better to drink green tea, though. You may feel the effect a little later but you can drink it all day without any problems. Try doing that on coffee without shaking!
Alcohol works in a similar way as caffeine. There is, however, no product with alcohol which releases the alcohol slowly into the blood. Because of its direct influence on blood sugar, alcohol should therefore be seen as a fast sugar. Limit yourself to two glasses if you're going to drink alcohol. In small quantities, alcohol can have an equally positive effect on the immune system as caffeine. Go over that limit, however, and it turns into poison. The sudden rise in blood sugar will bring about an irresistible feeling of hunger. Your body is in survival mode and needs food to replenish its energy. The food choices you make under the influence of alcohol are generally not very good.
Fruit juices are often seen as healthy and certainly not a type of sugar. Yet fructose (fruit sugar) is also a sugar. As with grains, the problem is not the sugars themselves, but the refinement of the fruit. Commercial fruit juice does not come from the whole fruit, but from the fruit stripped of its skin and pulp. The skin and pulp once again slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream because they're fibers. Your best bet is to buy a decent blender and make your own fruit juice fresh from the whole fruit, including the seeds, pulp and the skin in whole or in part.
It also goes without saying that sweet fruits contain more sugars than bitter and sour fruits. Go for lemon, lime, grapefruit, pomegranate, berries and sour apples. Healthy sweeter fruits are, among others, all other citrus fruits, cherries, papaya, coconut and pineapple.
Honey, agave nectar and maple syrup
Though honey, agave nectar and maple syrup are fast sugars, they nevertheless contain very healthy substances such as large amounts of vitamin C. Taken in moderation; they are not necessarily bad for you. Nature has provided her own limit by making the stuff really sweet so you don't overdo it.
Chemical sweeteners are to be avoided at all cost! They cause cancer, damage your liver and nervous system, and are not easily removed from your body. They prefer to live in the back of your brain which they will literally eat away. Just like sugar, the damage is slow and cumulative. But if I had to make a choice between sugar and artificial sweeteners, I'd choose sugar in a heartbeat! Make sure the products you buy do not contain aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, cyclamate, acesulfame-k and other sweeteners. You'll most likely find them in so-called 'light' or 'diet' products. That sugar-free gum you've been chewing on probably contains aspartame or some other sweetener.
For many thousands of years, mankind has been using saturated fats. Since the early 1950's we were told that these fats are bad for us. The scientific backup for this came from only one single study carried out by Ancel Keys. Keys selectively used the data he collected in six countries to prove the foregone conclusion that saturated fats are unhealthy.
The saturated-fat myth was then picked up by the western food industry and governments and is adhered to this day, despite many studies which demonstrate the opposite effect. Generations of doctors and dietitians have been taught this myth and unwittingly convey it to their clients. An entire industry has been based on the avoidance of saturated fats. Oddly enough, nobody seems to see the connection between the low-fat we have been eating and the many health problems which have arisen since the 1950's.
Which products contain saturated fats? All animal products, like meat and dairy. There are also some saturated vegetable fats, like coconut and palm oil. Once again, man has eaten saturated fats for ages. In fact, fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12 are best absorbed by the body in the form of saturated fats. Saturated fats are essential and your body screams for them if it doesn't get them. Why are so many of us overweight? Because we're literally fat from the sugars in carbohydrates through excessive grain consumption. Did you know your body actually has the intelligence to make its own saturated fats from all that dry food and store them as fat reserves? There's no fooling your body and your bread belly is proof positive of this!
Feel free to consume saturated fats in the form of whole, unpasteurized dairy and you will lose weight. These saturated fats are converted by the body into energy almost straight away and are not stored as fat. You can consume these fats hot or cold, since an added benefit of saturated fats is that they're able to withstand high temperatures and can be used for frying. They are also an excellent source of protein, so that nutrient area is covered too.
It seems like a contradiction, doesn't it? An egg fried in butter or a sandwich with a thick layer of raw-milk cheese or a large helping of full-fat yogurt actually causes you to lose weight. Try telling generations of heavily propagandized women and men that butter isn't fattening and partially hydrogenated, unsaturated margarine is. But ask yourself why these diets don't work. A low-fat diet makes you fat, so don't fall for any of those low-fat gurus who will often promote the use of cancer-causing, aspartame-laden 'diet' products. Weighing calories and checking the labels for caloric information is a waste of time. Rather, check the label for such ingredients as sugar, salt, flavor enhancers, artificial colorants and sweeteners, GMO's and other chemical junk.
Being afraid of high cholesterol is totally unnecessary. In Japan, high cholesterol is seen as a sign of health! Have you seen the health of these people? Why is cholesterol okay in their book but not ours? Once again we need to turn to that single one-sided study done by Ancel Keys in the early 1950's. We learned to measure cholesterol and divided it up into 'good' cholesterol (HDL) and 'bad' cholesterol (LDL). Again an entire industry has been based on this, not just the food industry but also the pharmaceutical industry which tells us that their highly dangerous statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) lower the 'bad' LDL cholesterol and up the 'good'
Hogwash! Another myth based on outdated and selective research. There is no 'good' or 'bad' cholesterol. There's only one type of cholesterol and that's cholesterol. What makes cholesterol good or bad in the eyes of scientists? Due to bad food habits (sugars) our blood gets sticky and syrupy. Cholesterol is a part of blood and when blood starts sticking to the vascular walls so does the cholesterol in the blood (how come there's no 'LDL blood' and 'HDL blood'?). The cholesterol which sticks to the vascular walls is called LDL and is therefore 'bad'. The cholesterol which keeps flowing through the veins is the 'good' HDL. As the cholesterol and the blood get stickier, the medical diagnosis will be an increase of LDL. Until you're completely clogged up and need a bypass operation.
This faulty LDL/HDL diagnosis has doctors looking at blood cholesterol exclusively and offering a 'solution' in the form of statins. Since there's really only one type of cholesterol these drugs do not lower the LDL but the overall cholesterol. This is very dangerous. Side effects of these drugs are rheumatoid complaints such as muscle cramps and impaired blood flow. This result is obvious as cholesterol acts like a vacuum cleaner. That's right, it's a blood cleanser. Did you know that your body needs cholesterol to synthesize sunlight into vitamin D? No wonder the Japanese see high cholesterol as a good thing.
Lower your cholesterol with these drugs and your blood will get polluted more and more along with decreased blood circulation. The painful side effects this has on your muscles and extremities (arms, legs, hands, feet, head) are nothing compared to the heart hazards. Herbal medicines which promote blood flow and have zero side effects, such as ginkgo biloba, hawthorn, green tea, pine extract, cayenne, ginger, and garlic are often dismissed as nonsense and are often contraindicated, i.e. they can't be used in combination with drugs. I know what I'd choose.
Since the 1950's, plant-based unsaturated fats have become the answer of the food industry and government to our health problems.
Why then have these problems only increased since that time? Let's first look at the financial benefits to using unsaturated vegetable fats versus saturated fats like butter. Take a cookie, for example. Butter comes from cows and cows cost money. More money than having a field of sun flowers or corn from which you can press oil. Butter also has a shorter sell-by date. That's why cookies are no longer made from butter. You will often find the very vague description 'vegetable fats' on the label, meaning they chose the cheapest unsaturated fat available at the time.
So there's a clear commercial reason for using unsaturated vegetable fats. If this had a positive effect on our health this of course would be no problem. Trouble is, it doesn't. Did you know that margarine is inferior butter which was originally used to fatten up animals for slaughter? Margarine has a grayish color and needs to be dyed to give it the color of butter. In fact, margarine is only one molecule removed from plastic! The powerful food industry is selling us this just to save a buck. They don't give a hoot about your health and your government won't protect you either.
There is some confusion about monounsaturated and polyunsaturated vegetable fats. Examples of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, sesame oil and peanut oil. Polyunsaturated fats include sunflower oil, corn oil and soy oil. You may recognize the polyunsaturated fats as ingredients in many commercial food products. That's because they're dead cheap and have many applications, not just for the food industry but also the cosmetics and pesticide industries, to name but a few. Polyunsaturated fats contain inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
There's a growing awareness about the health-giving effects of omega fatty acids. The food industry cleverly plays on this awareness by putting slogans like 'contains omega fats' on their labels. They'd rather not distinguish between omega-3 and omega-6, just like they talk about 'vegetable oil'. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio we are supposed to consume should not exceed 1:4. Due to extensive use of the cheaper polyunsaturated fats our modern foods have a ratio of 1:20, sometimes even 1:50.
Something else is also going on. Most plant oils do not lend themselves to be heated. The burning point of virtually all vegetable oils is much lower than saturated fats, which makes these plant fats good for cold use only. But bear in mind that the balance should be in favor of omega-3. Omega-6 fats are not necessarily bad, though, it's about balance. Healthy omega-3 rich oils are olive oil, walnut oil and flaxseed oil. Healthy omega-6 oils are sesame oil and wheat germ oil.
Besides sugars, grains also contain lots of omega-6 fats. For this reason, a salad (complex carbs) with green leafy vegetables and sprouts (omega-3) is infinitely healthier for you than all this bread (sugars, omega-6). Frying in vegetable oil results in carcinogenic substances due to burned oil. Only olive oil, sesame oil and peanut oil allow themselves to be heated, olive oil being the healthiest of the three because the other two contain omega-6. Saturated fats can all be heated very well.
Whatever you do, don't go over 350 degrees Fahrenheit, preferably below that. Use a low to medium flame when you're cooking. Low and slow is best. Even the most heat-resistant fats will burn if you go over 350 Fahrenheit. For that reason a microwave oven, which heats food ultra fast on a molecular level, is a definite no-no. Viewed under a microscope, microwaved food shows ruptured, broken and even exploded cells. This has been known since World War Two. Pity you have to hear it from me.
The missing link between saturated and unsaturated fats is trans fats. A trans fat is an unsaturated fat which is heated, causing the fluids to evaporate and the fat to solidify. A hydrogen molecule is then added to the fat. This hydrogenation process alters the chemical structure of the fat. What was originally an unsaturated fat has now become a saturated fat. These fats are man-made and do not exist in nature. What's their advantage? Take that cookie. Vegetable fats are cheaper and are used in place of butter.
They are liquid, however, and don't have the same semi-solid structure as butter has naturally. By hydrogenating vegetable fats they can be used as a direct replacement for butter. They also keep well. So what if butter is a natural saturated fat and trans fats are unnatural saturated fats? The consumer won't even know the difference, right?
Right? As it so happens, consumers are waking up to the dangers of trans fats. New York City was the first to completely ban trans fats and other cities will soon follow. Denmark is the most progressive European country by imposing a trans fat limit of 2%.
Together with sugars, trans fats are the main cause of the dramatic increase of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, cardiovascular disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, candidiasis, allergies, ADHD, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc. we have seen after the second World War. Trans fats are alien to the body and are dangerous free radicals capable of causing cellular (DNA) damage. As with sugar and artificial sweeteners the damage is cumulative: the longer you consume these fats, the greater the damage.
How do you recognize trans fatty acids when shopping for food items? Read the labels. Look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or fats. You'll be amazed to see how many products contain trans fats nowadays.
The soy myth
Finally the soy myth needs to be exposed. This is another persistent one among alternative circles. An often-used argument is that soy has been used in Asia for thousands of years. Another half truth. While it is true that soy products were consumed as far back as the Ming Dynasty, only fermented soy was used. Raw soy products such as tofu, soy milk, soy lecithin and soy oil are only 200 to 300 years old. Once again they have been popularized by a powerful industry which has been pulling the wool over our eyes by emphasizing a healthy tradition in fermented soy use and confusing it with unfermented soy. Health food stores sell this as a health food!
What's so bad about soy? Well, it contains lots of phytic acid, an acid which can also be found in yeast bread but not in sourdough bread. Sourdough bread is a fermented bread which contains lactic acid bacteria and so does fermented soy. Besides eating the sugars in the starch these bacteria also eat the phytic acid. If left intact, phytic acid acts as a mineral blocker. It blocks the absorption of important minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Feeding babies with a so-called lactose allergy soy milk is an absolute disaster. Kids and adults would also do wise to avoid taking unfermented soy.
Fermented soy products are soy sauce (watch out for other harmful ingredients such as sugar, MSG, preservatives and colorants), miso and tempeh. Particularly, Japanese cuisine is very good with fermented soy. Bad news for vegetarians and vegans who often turn to tofu and associated soy products. They too fall victim to the propaganda of a very profitable industry.
About the author
Mike Donkers is an English teacher from the Netherlands who started taking care of his own health in October 2006 because doctors couldn't help him. His interest in the connection between food and health has led to more in-depth research, particularly in the role sea minerals can have in the regeneration of cells. He is also a self-taught guitarist and singer. He is the songwriter and frontman of his own band, The Mellotones (www.nubluz.com).
For additional discussions on this topic, see the Wholeapproach Online Support Forum, the WholeApproach Candida Diet pages and the following WholeApproach Newsletter articles:
How Important is the Candida Diet to my Recovery?
Why Eat Organic Part I of II
Why Eat Organic Part II of II