Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How healthy is your healthy diet?

As a 'real food' advocate I write/talk/promote/teach about eating real food.  The term 'real food' is a real trendy talking point at the moment and is actually defined differently for different people/groups. So I thought I would take a second to explain what that means to me.

food  [food] n 1. something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies.
real [ree-uhl, reel] adj 1. true and actual; not artificial


How we eat/what we eat 
  • Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Full fat dairy products (look for minimal and recognizable ingredients)
  • Brown rice
  • A variety of beans
  • Naturally raised meats (but that look like their origin, so that weeds out things like deli sandwich meat)
  • Sustainable Seafood
  • Pastured Eggs
  • Water, milk, tea, 100% fruit juices and a very small amount of organic coffee– mostly water
  • Dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  • Honey is the main sweetener, but I also use maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and coconut sugar
What we don't eat:
  • White processed foods like white sugar, white rice and white bread
  • Refined sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, cane juice, or artificial sweeteners
  • Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  • Nothing with ingredients that I couldn’t purchase individually at a store — if I can’t pronounce it or recognize it as food, I try to avoid it
  • Processed oils
  • Fast foods
  • Low fat and non fat foods
  • Food with gluten
I know that it seems like a big task to take on - To buy no processed foods but like anything it is just creating new habits for yourself.

Many people defend their diets by saying "all things in moderation"....and as much I agree with this, I really believe that most people don't realize that the way they are eating couldn't be further from 'moderate'.

I read once that McDonalds is so bad for you that you should eat there twice a year at most.  That it takes the next 6 months for your body to recover from eating it.  So even eating it twice a year, your body is in a constant state of recovering and healing from that one meal.  Does that sound like moderation?

As an example, one 'healthy' buy. That healthy bread that you are deliberately choosing because it is a 'healthy' choice - is it healthy? It would not meet the standard of eating 'real food' for many reasons, one being the number of ingredients and the quality of those ingredients

Various whole grains** (most of which are GMO'd)

Highly refined grains**

Sugar/Glucose-Fructose (Canada's labeling for High Fructose Corn Syrup) - linked to one of the causes of diabetes, obesity and cause of a condition known as metabolic syndrome, which includes abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly.

Extra added gluten -some believe the raise in gluten intolerance is due to adding gluten to foods.  Gluten is the protein found in most grains and is more digestible when eaten in the whole foods form.  By refining the grain and separating out the gluten it is no longer a whole food and leaves out the important other ingredients that help with the digestibility of the gluten

Soluble Raisin Syrup - essentially more sugar (made from soaking raisins in water and reducing to a syrup)

Soybean oil - a refined soy product, known to be a pseudo-estrogen

Mono-glycerides (a chemical emulsifier sometimes labeled as E471)  A hydrogenated oil sourced from vegetable oils or animal fats. When the public caught on that partially hydrogenated oils were unhealthy because of their affect on your cholesterol and their increase in the risk of strokes, diabetes and heart troubles,  the FDA started to require labeling for trans fat content, BUT only if it contains more than .49 g per serving, AND only if it comes from triglycerides.  Unfortunately, this is not too difficult rule to get around…simply decrease the serving size, or disguise the trans fats somehow…by using monoglycerides and diglycerides so they aren’t required to label the food as containing trans fats. Another interesting result is that although the bread can and often is labeled as suitable for vegetarians it may actually contain animal products.

Calcium Propionate (a mold inhibitor) - a toxin to mold and a toxin for humans.  In the small doses found in bread it can cause
  • migraine and headaches
  • stomach upsets
  • skin rashes and nasal congestion
  • depression, tiredness and irritability
  • restlessness and inattention
Sodium Stearoyl -2-Lactylate (sometimes labelled as E920) - derived from hydrogenated vegetable oils and animal fats. see mono-glycerides

Acetylated Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono and Digycerides (sometimes labeled as DATEM) - emulsifier often derived from GM soya bean oil

**There is also growing evidence that grains, even in their whole form, are not good for you. In the North America, we're told that grains (especially whole grains) are an important part of a balanced diet, necessary for obtaining our daily requirement of healthy nutrients and fiber, and found as the largest portion of the food pyramid
  
According to a growing number of experts, including Dr. Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University and an expert on Paleolithic lifestyles, humans are NOT designed to eat grains, and doing so may actually be damaging to your gut. causing a condition called Leaky Gut.

Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall.

These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes, that should be confined to your digestive tract, to escape into your bloodstream.

Once the intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances "leaking out" into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation.  Your immune system may also become confused and begin to attack your own body (autoimmunity).

Most often, leaky gut syndrome is associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, but even healthy people can have varying degrees of intestinal permeability leading to a wide variety of health symptoms -- and this can be influenced heavily by the foods you choose to eat.

Dr. Cordain explains
"There's no human requirement for grains. That's the problem with the USDA recommendations. They think we're hardwired as a species to eat grains. You can get by just fine and meet every single nutrient requirement that humans have without eating grains. And grains are absolutely poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables and meat and fish."
But the problem isn't only that there are superior sources of nutrients; grains actually contain anti-nutrients that may damage your health. Ironically, we're often told that whole grains are the best for our health, the high-fiber bran portion of grain – part of the whole grain -- actually contains many of the anti-nutrients.

Dr. Cordain
"Grains are the seeds of a plant. They're its reproductive material, and plants don't make their reproductive material to give away for free to other animals. If they did they'd become extinct, and so the evolutionary strategy that many plants, particularly cereal grains have taken to prevent predation is to evolve toxic compounds so that the predator of the seeds can't eat them, so that they can put their seeds in the soil where they're meant to be to grow a new plant and not in the gut of an animal to feed it.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing that grains, as well as legumes, contain these anti-nutrients and other problem substances that may increase intestinal permeability. This anti-nutrients are: 

Gliadin
Gliadin is the primary immunotoxic protein found in wheat gluten and is among the most damaging to your health. Gliadin gives wheat bread its doughy texture and is capable of increasing the production of the intestinal protein zonulin, which in turn opens up gaps in the normally tight junctures between intestinal cells (enterocytes).
In celiac disease the body will make antibodies to gliadin after it is digested by the intestinal enzyme tissue transglutaminase, resulting in severe autoimmune damage to the delicate, absorptive surfaces of the intestines. It does not, however, require full blown celiac disease to suffer from the adverse effects of this protein. In fact, it is likely that our intolerance to gliadin and related wheat proteins is a species-specific intolerance, applicable to all humans, with the difference being a matter of the degree to which it causes harm.
This helps to explain why new research clearly shows gliadin increases intestinal permeability in both those with, and those without, celiac disease.
 Lectins
Lectins are a key mechanism through which plants protect themselves against being eaten, and are found in highest concentrations in their seed form -- which makes sense, considering that seeds are the plants' "babies" and whose survival ensures the continuation of their species.
When animals consume foods containing lectins, they may experience digestive irritation, along with a wide range of other health complaints. The degree to which the adverse effects are expressed depends largely on how long that species has had to co-evolve with that particular form of plant food it is eating. Since humans have only been consuming unsprouted grains and beans in large amounts for approximately 500 generations, we still suffer far more than certain rodents and birds, who have had thousands of generations longer to adapt to this way of eating.
We are mostly exposed to lectins from grains, beans, dairy products and nightshade plants, such as potato, tomato, and chili peppers. However, bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) has a prominent role to play in lectin-induced adverse effects, due to the fact that it is a relatively new form of wheat, and contains wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) – a particularly resilient and problematic lectin, considering it is not eliminated through sprouting and is actually found in higher concentrations in whole wheat.
Studies indicate that it has the potential to contribute to a wide range of adverse health effects, including gut inflammation and damage to your gastrointestinal tract:
Pro-inflammatory--WGA stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers (cytokines) in intestinal and immune cells, and has been shown to play a causative role in chronic thin gut inflammation
Immunotoxicity--WGA induces thymus atrophy in rats, and anti-WGA antibodies in human blood have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, indicating that they may contribute to autoimmunity . In fact, WGA appears to play a role in celiac disease (CD) that is entirely distinct from that of gluten, due to significantly higher levels of IgG and IgA antibodies against WGA found in patients with CD, when compared with patients with other intestinal disorders.
Neurotoxicity--WGA can cross your blood-brain barrier through a process called "adsorptive endocytosis," pulling other substances with it. WGA may attach to your myelin sheath and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor, which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons.
Excitotoxicity--Wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially excitotoxic. Excitotoxicity is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, and other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and migraines.
Cytotoxicity—WGA has been demonstrated to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines, capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis).
Disrupts Endocrine Function—WGA may contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance by blocking the leptin receptor in your hypothalamus. It also binds to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules, and interferes with the production of secretin from your pancreas, which can lead to digestive problems and pancreatic hypertrophy. 
Cardiotoxicity—WGA has a potent, disruptive effect on platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and safely removing neutrophils from your blood vessels.
Adversely Affects Gastrointestinal Function by causing increased shedding of the intestinal brush border membrane, reducing the surface area, and accelerating cell loss and shortening of villi. It also causes cytoskeleton degradation in intestinal cells, contributing to cell death and increased turnover, and decreases levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells, leaving them more vulnerable to damage. 
As noted earlier, the highest amounts of WGA is found in whole wheat, including its sprouted form, which is touted as being the most healthful form of all ... The traditional ways of addressing many of these anti-nutrients is, in fact, by sprouting, fermenting and cooking. However, lectins are designed to withstand degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures. WGA lectin is particularly tough because it's actually formed by the same disulfide bonds that give strength and resilience to vulcanized rubber and human hair.

So if this is the impact of just your healthy bread choice, how moderate do you think your diet so now?

References:

Pesticide Action Network Pesticide Database
Food Intolerance Network Factsheets
Wageningen University Food-info.net
Dr. Mercola
Green Med Info
The National Library of Medicine via Pub Med
The FASEB Journal

1 comment:

Catherine said...

I wish I could be like you. I wanted to diet but I really don't know the right combination of healthy foods to eat. I just remove fructose in my diet. All foods with high fructose corn syrup is not on my list today just to avoid obesity.