Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)


Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Omnivore's Dilemma

I recently took part in an online discussion about eating habits.  Some folks believe that veganism or vegetarianism is the only ethical and environmentally responsible way to eat.  Others think that being strictly herbivore is too extreme and do not fare well on such a 'restricted' diet.  And others dislike any 'self-righteous' people telling the what's best for them whether it's to eat meat or not.

I respect each person's right to choose what suits them best.  I've never believed in a 'one size fits all' diet and likely never will.  I think we should be choosing our food from ethical and sustainable sources that also serve our personal needs.  This, inevitably, is going to promote a variety of diets.
That is why I choose to be an omnivore.  I was once a vegetarian (in college after learning about the disgusting treatment of factory farmed animals) an adamently swore off any conventionally-raised chicken, pork or beef. The thought disgusted me due to ethical reasons and due to the by-product content of the meat.  Over time my carnivorous tendencies returned (old habits die hard) but I slowly adopted what I call a more responsible way of eating.  Sometimes I call myself a 'part-time vegetarian' but most accurately I'd call myself an 'Ethical Omnivore'.

I can sincerely understand the plight of vegans and vegetarians when they witness the horrible conditions of conventional farming. However, I believe that there is a middle-ground means to produce 'meat' in a sustainable way and appease those who choose to eat it as well as those who have concern for its animals.

I often find myself stating the phrase, " the singlemost effective way to affect positive change in the world today is choosing food that is minimally refined/processed, raised or grown locally and seasonally without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizer's and supports a sustainable food system."  Our choice has such a far reaching effect; politically, environmentally, socially, ethically, economically, etc 
 
I do not believe that our current food system is sustainable...at all.  For those of you who have not yet seen the film Food Inc.  I urge you to watch it.  It is a very revealing film about the prevailing industrialized food system on this continent.  Sustainable, chemical-free farming can feed everyone, despite what we are often told.

We must make better choices when it comes to nourishing ourselves.  We must be conscious of the fact that each and every time we make a decision about what we are going to eat we suppport the system behind it.  So please, everyone, choose wisely and if you omnivore's out there cannot afford to eat locally-raised free-range, non medicated grass-fed meat every day, then don't.  Eat it only a couple of times a week and feel really good about it (in every way)!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Healthy Fats - Part II

OK, so one of the most common responses I get from people when I talk about healthy fats is: "...but I don't want to gain weight by eating (albeit healthy) saturated fats like organic butter and virgin coconut oil.  My response is: they should not make you gain any excess weight.  Saturated fat is used in every one of our 75-100 trillion cells to build their outer fatty bi-layer.  So, it is a protective substance, in may respects (go figure!) as opposed to one that will supposedly kill you.  It is necessary to some degreee in the diet for good health (from plant and/or animal sources).

In more cases than I can count I have guided clients back onto a healthy, clean full-fat diet after many years of a low-fat diet and no success losing weight (in fact they had only gained more).  In time, their systems regulated from being starved of essential nutrients and the excess weight melted off. 
In may cases this even occurred without additional exercise (altough many found they had a dramatic increase in energy so they wanted to exercise too as they did not have the stamina before.  And this only improved their self confidence even more because they felt like they had regained control of their bodies and felt alive again.
Did you know that quality saturated fat increases absorption of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, D,& E, Calcium, Magnesium and essential fatty acids such as Omega 3?

See the following report on losing weight with a high fat diet, including saturated fat:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031111064519.htm

Or you can read Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig PhD
Here is an excerpt: Since the late 1950's, we've been barraged by the message that fat makes you fat, saturated fats (such as those found in butter, eggs, and red meat) are unhealthy, and tropical fats and oils (like coconut and palm) are downright deadly. And yet-despite our dutiful efforts to eliminate saturated fats from our diet for fear of high cholesterol levels and hardened arteries-obesity, heart disease, and cancer rates have continued to climb.

Based on more than two decades of research by world-renowned biochemist and fats expert Dr. Mary Enig, Eat Fat, Lose Fat flouts conventional wisdom by asserting that so-called "healthy" vegetable oils (such as soybean and corn) are in large part responsible for our national obesity and health crises, while the saturated fats traditionally considered "harmful" (such as those found in coconut oil and butter) are, in fact, essential to weight loss and health.
World populations on four continents that subsist on tthe coconut with less evidence of heart disease, weight gain, or other chronic illnesses provide the "best proof" of this food's safety and efficacy; dozens of studies conducted by prestigious, mainstream universities support the use of coconut and other healthy fats and reveal the faulty reasoning underlying the saturated fat/cholesterol/heart disease hypothesis; and case stories from a wide range of people illustrate how using coconut oil in concert with other healthy fats can spark weight loss and heal serious illnesses, including anxiety, hypothyroidism, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

OR read this article from The New York Times about studies showing the lowering of bad cholesterol with a high-fat diet:
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/21/good-news-on-saturated-fat/

Or you can always check out the studies of Weston A Price (a prominent 20th century nutritional researcher) and his organization who advocate healthy eating in every way: http://www.westonaprice.org/

Now, I digress, I cannot speak for the saturated fats from conventionally raised animals or the highly refined versions of coconut and palm oils.  I'm afraid they are on their own.  I wouldn't be very surprised if they do contribute to some of the things saturated fat, in general, is always blamed for (ie: cholesterol, heart disease, excess weight gain, etc.) that may explain the ongoing miseducation of consumers by government and the food mareters.  But the source of the issue would not be the fat itself but more likely the byproducts of industry such as synthetic hormones, processing chemical residues, antibiotics (directly contributing to imbalance of the friendly bacteria in our bodies and therefore hindering our overall health; namely absorption of nutrients, immunity, significantly lowered disease-resistance etc.) and more.

Not to mention what factory farms feed their poor animals; corn , corn and more corn - often genetically modified, also a variety of grains (not their native food and so often causes unhealthy weight gain and much higher potential for disease and bacteria such as E.Coli. to proliferate) and (go forbid) animal by-products.  Yuck.
All this and certainly more that we'll undoubtedly find out about in the not-too-distant future when yet more log-term data comes out about the effects that our industrialized food system has had on our health.  I don't know about you but I'm not willing to take such chances.

Let's consider the animals for a moment...
Although factory farming delivers cheap food, it comes at a terrible cost for the animals.

Common features of factory farming include:
• Large numbers of animals housed together indoors
• Intensive confinement for extended periods
• Extremes of overcrowding or isolation
• Insufficient room to turn around, lie down, groom, or express normal behaviours
• Mechanized feeding, watering, and handling
• Minimal individual contact between the animal and human caretaker
• Premature separation of parent and offspring
• Use of antibiotics and hormones as growth promotants
• Surgical practices performed without anaesthetic, pain management or proper
veterinary care, such as debeaking, tail docking, tooth cutting, de-horning, and
castration

Intensive confinement of animals on factory farms contributes to virulent production-related
diseases, physical ailments, cannibalism, debilitating stress, and stereotypic
behaviours.

Examples of factory farming conditions include:
• Confinement of dairy cows and their offspring
• Confinement of multiple laying hens in wire battery cages
• Confinement of sows in crates
• Confine of veal calves in pens
• Discarding of all male chicks in the course of producing laying hens
• Premature separation of piglets and calves from their mothers
• Premature separation of dairy cows and their offspring (males are used in veal
production)
(The above lists were retrieved from http://www.humanefood.ca/faqs.html)

Here lists some more of the organizations in Canada and the US working toward a more sustainable food system including protecting animals from cruelty.
http://www.themeatrix.com/intl/canada/
http://beyondfactoryfarming.org/
http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/reports/farm.htm
http://www.chooseveg.ca/animal-cruelty-canada.asp (*Warning there are disturbing photos on this site of animal cruelty.  I decided to include them because I think some people need ot see the reality ot believe it.
http://www.gan.ca/campaigns/factory+farms/factsheets/index.en.html (This sight also has some disturbing images)
http://www.readersdigest.ca/mag/2001/06/factory_farm.html
http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/campaigns/factory_farming/

And a notable documentary that everyone on this continent (and beyond) should see is: Food, Inc. (http://www.foodincmovie.com/)

Now, you will certainly find study and after study that still try and convince you that you'll lose weight and lower cholesterol with a low-fat diet. First and foremost you need to ask where the information was gatherd and who funded it? Then you need to discern how many liberties the author is taking it their claims. And finally, you just need to look at history and the time-tested results of our eating habits since we as a culture have reduced out saturated fat intake (see above info from Eat Fat, Lose Fat). We now have far greater instance of heart disease, bad cholesterol, weight issues (obesity was very rare only 50 - 100 years ago) and other diseases and we, in general, eat far less saturated fat in our diets now that ever before.

Well, hunger is calling...I'm off to have a grilled (buttered) cheese (organic) sandwich w/ a half an avocado :)

Be well, Lisa Marie

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