January 2011 – Natural Foods

Natural Foods

I could probably make this topic for the entire year . . . as consumers we are appreciating more natural products–not only how they feel on/in our bodies but also the impact they have on our environment. Manufacturers are figuring this out, and it effort to keep us consuming they are trying to provide more natural products–but not all manufacturers are really doing it! Many use tricks or a play on words to make us think we are buying a better product when in reality we are not. But we do have a voice and can do something about it, we can educate ourselves and choose to buy from the manufacturers that are truly trying to be more natural. This will send a strong message that we want truth in advertising and products that require less chemicals and processing and are better for our Earth. “Your wallet is a mouth, when you spend money you tell the world how you want it to be.”

We have mastered how to keep ourselves well fed . . . almost too much. We have taken it the other direction too far–we have too much processed foods available to us. Its a shame but the FDA does not have your best interests at heart, but the interests of those who support them like Monsanto, the dairy industry, the wheat council, etc. This is why an “All Natural” label means NOTHING. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Zip. A product with an all natural label on it can contain virtually anything–GMO foods, pesticides, corn syrup, additives, preservatives, MSG, and artificial ingredients. This is why 7-Up can claim its 100% natural . . . even though it is loaded with high fructose corn syrup which is highly processed and bad for your liver and your blood sugar and is the leading cause of obesity, really soda is one of the worst things you can put into your body, in my opinion it is worse for you than alcohol. And that includes the “healthy” sodas and teas that are being made today . . . We have way too many bottled drinks–your tea should come from tea leaves, not a bottle.

Another example off too much processing is ice cream (all things in moderation 😉 . . . yes a little ice cream in the middle of a hot summer day is ok–ice cream late at night while watching tv is not . . . this summer I wanted to buy some ice cream for my daughter, so I went to the ice cream isle at the grocery store. . .what has happened to ice cream these days? Even the good ol’ “natural” stand by Breyers is no longer natural! Every single brand in the ice cream isle was loaded with preservatives and chemicals–including ben & jerry’s (which i don’t want to knock them too much as they are definitely above most other manufacturers but still need to be more diligent –they don’t get their milk from any dairies that use rBGH). I did manage to find some ice cream in the health food store that was just cream and sugar–but even there most of the ice creams are highly processed–tofu and rice are NOT ice cream! And tofu is NOT a health food! Soy is only good for you when fermented– and most tofu sold in the States is not fermented but chemically processed–soy products that are not fermented (like soy milk, tofu, cheese, bacon, etc) have been shown to cause breast cancer, brain damage, thyroid disorders, kidney stones, food allergies, and infant abnormalities to name a few. Safe soy foods are tempeh, miso, natto, and soy sauce.

And this is another area, just because you buy something in a health food store does not mean it is good for you. Most of what is sold in a health food store is just glorified processed junk food . . . they do have produce and other items that are good, and I am sure their products are better than a normal grocery store, but still too many processed foods–and processed foods are the main culprit of the health predicament of our society.

Below is some examples of the games manufacturers play:

Natural Flavors is a catch all and usually natural flavors are MSG (yes MSG can be lumped under the term natural flavors because it is made from seaweed–and if you ate seaweed the MSG in it would not harm you however you would not be able to eat the amount of seaweed that you would need to eat to get the same amount of MSG that is in a single serving of processed food). Natural flavors could also contain Aspertame.

Ascorbic acid is added to a lot of foods to increase their Vitamin C content and to aid in freshness . . .however ascorbic acid kills the good bacteria in your body and the latest research strongly shows that keeping good bacteria in our gut is healthy.

Hershey’s Chocolate wants to make their chocolate bars from oil instead of cocoa–so now you have to read the labels of the chocolate you buy as it may not even really be chocolate …

GMO foods, currently we are all the guinea pigs for genetically modified foods. And much of the research is not made public–do you know thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died a5er grazing on GMO cotton . . . mice fed GMO foods developed cancer cells in their stomach and had smaller mice, and more than half of the rats fed GMO had dead babies . . . studies are coming up that prove GMO foods alter liver and pancreas cells . . . and another study found the kidneys and liver, which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems a5er eating GMO foods . . . (http://www.ResponsibleTechnology.org/) So clearly you want to avoid GMO foods, organic foods are not allowed to be genetically modified, manufacturers don’t have to label their products if they contain GMO foods, although many that don’t will say so on the label. The bar code may help, on most genetically processed foods the bar code will start with a 9. Also avoid the at risk ingredients–the most heavily GMOd foods are soy, corn, canola, cottonseed, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Grocery store bakeries do not use fresh or whole foods in their baking–basically the batters are sent to them and they do little more than put them on a cookie sheet or muffin tin . . . which I wonder why blueberry muffins can be labeled blueberry muffins even if they don’t contain any blueberries but rather artificial blueberry flavoring . . . Really make your own blueberry muffins and put double the amount of blueberries in them–but make them in the summer when blueberries are in season, not in the winter with from blueberries from China . . . in the winter is a nice time for a hearty bran nut muffin . . .. .

CEREAL IS NOT A HEALTH FOOD, it is highly processed, sugar laden junk food . . . Sorry . . . I have an awesome granola recipe if you want to make your own (https://www.befityoga.com/ yoga_nutrition.html) . . . Although there are some “tweeners” like cheerios and shredded wheat are cereals so they are processed but they are fairly clean.

PROCESSED foods are the culprit! Processed foods are dead foods that are void of nutrients and loaded with chemicals. Processed foods are killing our society. Try to pay attention to how many foods you buy in cardboard or plastic . . . Instead make a new habit of buying produce and whole foods and make your own food–it is really just a habit and once you get used to it you will realize it really does not take that much longer to cook.

So what to do? Here are some tips to choosing High Quality foods:

First and foremost KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM

  • Its grown without pesticide s and chemicals (many local foods are grown this way but not marked organic as it costs money just to say something is organic)
  • it is fresh–if you have to choose between wilted organic produce or local fresh produce that is not organic–the latter is best
  • it is grown in a sustainable way–no monocultures! Protect the soil from burnout, and turning animal waste into natural fertilizer instead of using environmental pollutants and oil products.
  • animals are treated humanely and fed a diet of their natural foods
  • it contains no added growth hormones, anti-biotics or other drugs
  • it did not come from a factory farm

IIf you do need to buy something in a box (Yes occasionally I do need to buy pasta or something in a box . . .) always read the ingredients list and avoid buying foods that

  • are genetically modified! GMO foods bar codes will start with a 9 . . . avoid them.
  • contain artificial anything or preservatives
  • has no HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
  • has nothing hydrogenated in it
  • look for real foods–meaning it does not have a long list of ingredients you can not pronounce, for example almond butters ingredients should be almonds and salt–nothing else! Ice creams main ingredients should be cream and sugar, etc.

So just because a product has a natural label on it does not mean it is good for you!

Corporate Organics . . .
Organic food has been the refuge for many of us who choose to eat real food and prefer to avoid chemicals and the processing practices of the commercial food industry. However as consumers got more interested in buying organic foods manufacturers suddenly got interested in supplying more organic foods . . . this is good and bad. With the greater demand of organics, the small farmers who brought the value of organic farming practices to public have been unable to survive the corporate onslaught–furthermore the US government has established federal standards for organic certification which favor corporations, and are too expensive for the average small farmer to meet.

It takes more time and effort to bring organically grown food to market. It is prey to the natural forces of variation in season and weather, and it does not easily garner a large profit margin. That is, not until agribusiness figured out how to industrialize “organic” growing . . . now organics are seen for their profit making potential resulting in corporate farms continuing with practices such as:

  • Planting organic fields next to conventional fields–including GMO crops where cross pollination is likely.
  • monocultures (which destroy soil), monocultures are where only one crop is grown in a large area
  • shipping produce long distances –The environmental impact of long distance trucking, energy for refrigeration, etc., is extremely damaging. Food which travels far arrives as old food, trading in nutritional value for organic status. For example, the New York Times Sunday Magazine (5/13/01) reports that a strawberry traveling across the continent potentially provides 5 calories of food energy and takes 435 calories of fossil fuel energy to deliver.
  • Not treating animals humanely–Horizon has thousands of cows that never encounter a blade of grass spend their days confined to a fenced dry lot, eating (certified organic) grain and tethered to milking machines three times a day.
  • And Horizon milk is now “ultrapasteurized” using a high heat process that “kills the milk,” destroying its enzymes and many of its vitamins so it can be sold over long distances. Arguably, ultrapasteurized organic milk is actually less nutritious than conventionally pasteurized nonorganic milk . . .
  • Omega 3 eggs are actually worse for you than regular eggs–chickens do not normally eat salmon . . . meaning that chickens that are fed omega3 rich diets are not eating foods that are intended for them.

Most of the organic foods in supermarkets now comes from big corporations instead of small farmers who care about what they are producing.

The problem with large corporations supplying our food is that their bottom line is money . . . they care more about making a profit than providing a healthy food that has positive impact on the environment. And personally that is the downfall of much of our society right now, we care more about money than each other . . . more about making a profit than providing a good product or service . . . and we as consumers can help to change this by being willing to pay more for quality food. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN CHEAP FOOD. I would rather spend my money on food than on plastic stuff I don’t need. I would rather buy small amounts of high quality food than large amounts of junk food!

Also, the profit from these large organic corps is not going to the farmer who supports them but to the stockholders who own the large corps . . . here is who you are supporting:
Hain is a common organic food supplier, Hains owns bearitos, garden of eaten, celestial seasonings, imagine foods, westbrae and more! Hain’s principal stockholders are Phillip Morris (tobacco), Wal- Mart, Exxon/Mobil, Monsanto, Energy Nuclear and Lockheed Martin (weapons manufacturers). Another example . . . Cascadian farms and Muir Glen are owned by the “market niche” Small Planet Foods which is owned by General Mills, their prime investors are again Phillip morris, Exxon/Mobil, General Electric, Chevron, Nike, McDonalds, Monsanto, Dupont (weapons and chemicals)

You do have a say in this! Your wallet is your mouth, let your wallet speak in the way of:

  • choose locally grown food which is not certified organic over organic food which is corporately marketed and travels long distances.
  • Buy food from smaller locally owned grocery stores instead of the big ones.
  • Select regionally grown produce and non-corporate owned brands–and tell your supermarket which brands you like.
  • Join a CSA
  • Shop at the farmers market
  • Grow what you can in your garden
  • take advantage of reasonable prices and bountiful quantities available with in season produce then dry, freeze, and can . . .

Light in food
I have mentioned several times about “dead food” and light in food, which sounds a bit etherical . . . I would like to explain further and put a bit of science behind it for you;
All living organisms contain biophotons. Biophotons are the smallest physical units of light. Biophotons play an important part in our health and vitality–it is through these units of light that our body transmits information that regulates many of the complex vital processes in our body. Some of the latest research is also showing that our body uses these light waves to transmit nutrients into our cells. Light energy helps nutrients to transmit nutrition to the body.

We get bioprotons primarily from the food we eat. The higher the level of light energy a cell has, the greater the vitality and light energy is transmitted in our body. The fresher the food, the more light energy it has-the more nutritious it is (as it can transmit its nutrients better). The longer a food sits once it is plucked from between the sun and earth the more the light within the food fades. And the more processed a food is, the more the light energy within is killed. Thus food that comes in boxes is dead food as the light energy in it is gone, dead.

Fresh organic vegetables and sun ripened fruit are naturally rich in biophoton light energy–foods that spend more time in the sun absorb the most light energy. The greater your store of light energy from fresh foods the more energy that is available to you for healing and maintenance of optimal health–vitality. Remember your body is not only made of blood vessels, tissues, and organs, but also of light.

What’s the connection in all this to your yoga practice?
Yoga serves our body in many ways, it not only detoxes us from bad food, thoughts and habits, but Yoga also helps us assimilate biophotons from food and prana from the air (energy from the air we breathe) creating vitality. This vital energy is what allows all our organs and systems in the body to function synergistically and efficiently.

So, when you eat dead food or un-natural foods you are using your yoga practice to detox your body, instead of processing prana and light you are clearing junk out of your system!

Excerpt from Thich Naht Hanh’s book, Going Home, Jesus and Buddha as brothers. pg. 5 A piece of bread contains the sunshine. That is not something difficult to see. Without the sunshine a piece of bread can not be. A piece of bread contains a cloud. Without a cloud the wheat can not grow. So when you eat the piece of bread, you eat the cloud, you eat the sunshine, you eat the minerals, time, space, everything. One thing contains everything.

MIS-UNDERSTOOD FOODS
Consumer reports found that many americans are trying to eat better . . . however they are very misinformed about what are healthy foods (thanks to large corporations and consumerism).

SOY IS NOT A HEALTH FOOD and eating products like boca burgers, using TVP (which is highly processed and toxic), soy sausage patties, soy milk is not good for you. Soy is actually antinutritious:

–Soy contains phytoestrogens which make our bodies stop producing estrogen (latest research shows is it even detrimental during menopause as it further makes your body stop producing estrogen).

–Phytates which block the bodies absorption of minerals

–enzyme inhibitors which block protein digestion

–Hemaggluttin which causes our red blood cells to clump together where they can not perform their funtions

–reduces fertility

The Asians use fermented soy (tofu in America is not naturally fermented–it is made with a chemical process), fermentation of soy reduce the anti-nutrious properties and also makes it easier to digest. Fermented soy products that are available to us in America include miso, natto, tempeh, and soy sauce.

DAIRY is best in small amounts. We are not meant to drink large glasses of cold milk–cows milk makes a baby calf grow up to be a big fat cow in a short period of time–and it will do the same to you! Ayurveda uses dairy heated, spiced and in small amounts. Dairy is best for you when you use it in soups, coffees and teas, etc. Cold dairy is mucus producing.

WHEAT GLUTEN
Grains should be eaten in moderation–not totally avoided. I look at grains as a vehicle for getting vegetables into your body. If you have a problem digesting wheat gluten, you should not stop eating it but rather ramp up your digestion with the use of herbs; specifically ginger and pepper.

CHOLESTEROL AND SATURATED FATS are not bad for you. Some of the latest research on cholesterol shows that cholesterol is not the problem–it is cholesterol that is trying to reduce the inflammation of the arteries, so it is inflamed arteries that are causing the problem, and by lowering cholesterol we are only making the problem worse. Instead we need to figure out why the arteries are inflamed and get to the root of that problem. How many people do you know on cholesterol lowering drugs that actually got healthier? And many people are trying to lower their fat intake– however the only “bad” fats are processed and hydrogenated fats. Saturated fats are the building blocks of cell membranes and a variety of hormones, they also provide a concentrated source of energy in our diet which sustains our appetite and provides satiety from our foods helping us to eat less. Fats also help our body absorb and store the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K.

Coconut oil has also been largely misrepresented, the studies that showed coconut and palm oils detrimental were done with hydrogenated coconut and palm oils! It was the hydrogenation that was bad–not the oils themselves. Coconut oil is loaded with MCT (medium chain triglycerides) which actually speed up your metabolism as they preferred to be burned as fuel instead of stored as fat. Coconut oil is also loaded with lauric acid with is recognized for its unique functions as an antibacterial and anti-viral properties which help to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, Herpes, and the flu.

Butter is nutritious! Butter is not the villain we have made it out to be. In Ayurveda butter and ghee (clarified butter–or butter in which all the milk solids are removed) serve important roles in the body, Butter:

  • helps nutrients enter the cell–so it is nourishing
  • it is sweet in taste which helps to open the cell to receive nutrients
  • it is a natural coolant and calms pitta and vata
  • it is an anti-inflammatory
  • butter improves digestion
  • butter heals eye disorders
  • ghee and butter lubricate the connective tissues and promote flexibility
  • butter improves memory and intelligence
  • butter boosts the immune system as it has phenolic anti-oxidants

Again as I have said repeatedly throughout this month/article, it is processed foods that are the least healthy–processed foods combined with sedentary lifestyle make for a sick unhealthy body!

Yogis do best on a vegetarian diet rich in fresh, natural and whole foods that are not chemically altered. A yogic diet elevates your state of mind–and makes your body feel better. Most people do not even know what it feels like to feel good! When you eat bad food you create work for your body and therefore mind, by keeping that work as simple as possible your body has more energy for your yoga practice, then your yoga could soar higher than you have ever imagined–which in turn will fill you with vitality, health, and happiness 🙂

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