Food Facts (and Myths)
Myth: Sugar substitutes are healthier than sugar and help with weight loss
The facts: While artificial sweeteners don't contain fructose, they can cause problems same as or even greater than those of natural sugar. Saccharine (marketed under Sweet n Low) causes digestive issues and was banned in food prior to WW1, then reinstated when the demand for sweets grew during wartime. Aspartame (marketed as Nutrasweet) is known to cause brain tumors, brain lesions, and lymphoma. Sucralose (marketed as Splenda), can cause DNA damage and brain damage. High fructose corn syrup is the processed equivalent of sugar (about half fructose, half sucrose). The only substitute that doesn't cause these problems is dextrose as it is pure glucose. Glucose is the body's energy source and almost all food is eventually broken down into glucose.
Myth: Natural, organic, or raw sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup.
The facts: This is slightly true but only in the sense of comparing organic vs gmo. HFCS is composed of approx half fructose, half glucose - similar to regular table sugar. While sugars are naturally found in almost every food, fructose is meant to be eaten in only small quantities and with fiber (such as one whole apple vs a cup of apple juice which is made from about 4 apples). This provides us a doubly protective effect: there is a limit to how many whole apples we can eat before filling very full and fiber also helps absorb circulating fatty acids and glucose in the blood stream. Fructose goes right into becoming a fatty acid then fat once our energy needs have been met. Unlike glucose, it bypasses our appetite regulatory system by not raising insulin levels. Raised insulin levels trigger leptin the "satiety hormone". Constantly high blood sugar will eventually cause type 2 diabetes and constantly high insulin levels will eventually lead to type 1 diabetes. At this point, 15% of sufferers experience kidney failure and also get enlarged testes, enlarged male breasts, decreased libido, impotence, and decreased sperm production.
Due to the prevalence of sugar in processed foods (including baby formula!), up to 24% of people in the US suffer from non alcoholic fatty liver disease, including children. Experiments where participants received 20% of their total calories from fructose had to be terminated when, 11 weeks into it, one third of the subjects developed cardiac problems such as mild heart attacks. For those who drink a lot of sodas and eat processed foods, such a high intake of fructose is not a stretch.
Myth: Eating cholesterol and saturated fats lead to high blood cholesterol and clogged arteries
The facts: many traditional societies prove the opposite to be true. The incidence of heart disease went up at the turn of the century when traditional fats were replaced by industrial fats. Before this, it was a rare occurrence. A 2014 meta-analysis of 14 trials by Cr. Rajiv Chowdhury found no link between saturated fats and heart disease. Instead, studies have shown that people eating fats absorbed more vitamins from their foods than those who didn't eat fats (study done on participants eating salads with full fat vs fat free dressings). Saturated fats (such as butter and coconut oil) aren't stored as fat but instead used directly for energy. They're required for calcium absorption and building immunity by fighting harmful pathogens, among other benefits. In a clinical study of thousands of diabetic patients, eating saturated fats (real cheese, eggs, steak) daily improved cholesterol profiles, decreased blood pressure, caused loss of body fat, and reduced risk of heart disease. Good pairings for optimal nutrient absorption are buttered carrots, spinach salad with bacon, beef and broccoli, fish with butter or cream sauce, etc.
Myth: Choosing "low fat" over full fat versions of foods is healthier for you
The facts: fat is an essential nutrient. Deficiency in omega-3s especially causes depression. Without fats the body cannot absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats are also needed for building cell walls, immunity, and assimilating minerals like calcium. Digestion is also impossible without fats. A condition called rabbit starvation is caused by a diet exclusively of lean protein. The symptoms are lethargy, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, and eventually death.
Myth: Avoid full-fat dairy in favor of low fat, non-fat, skim, or reduced fat to reduce calories and not gain fat weight
The facts: raw milk is best.
Pasteurization: The pathogens that make us sick and are the reason pasteurization came about can be controlled and even avoided by good dairy farming practices such as keeping a clean farm and healthy cattle. The natural bacteria in raw milk kill the bacteria, keeping it safe it consume. When pasteurized milk is contaminated, all those bacteria (and other beneficial immune boosting factors, enzymes required to absorb nutrients, vitamins including folic acid, and omega 3’s) are destroyed by the heat making the milk unsafe and allowing the pathogens to flourish unchecked. Heat destroyed enzymes also include lactase which is responsible for helping people digest lactose. Many who are “lactose intolerant” are actually “lactose deficient” and can drink raw milk without a problem. UHT milk (usually in cartons with longer shelf life) is treated most harshly while the other kinds of pasteurization: batch or low temperature and HTST (high temperature, short time), preserve more nutrients.
Low, reduced, or non fat milk: Milk without the fat is missing vitamins A & D which are needed to absorb calcium. The hormones that survived the heat treatment and were left behind are tipped more toward the androgen side causing ovulatory infertility and acne, among other symptoms. Drinking milk with the fat gives you a more balanced dose of hormones; avoiding the imbalance.
Myth: Thinking “organic” is better or even good for you in all cases
The facts: Mostly this is true unless you are comparing organic vs local or talking about meat and dairy.
Meat and dairy: For example, an organic egg from “vegetarian raised” chickens is not as good as a non organic pastured egg or chicken. Chickens are omnivores and, like humans, require meat to get complete proteins. This meat comes in the form of worms and other bugs picked up from the ground. A grass fed cow is also better than one raised on organic feed (grain). Commercial cow feed is typically grain which causes a cows stomach to be unnaturally acidic – a perfect environment for the strand of E.Coli which sickens humans, to thrive.
Local vs organic: for items on the dirty dozen list, either go organic or know your farmers. Farmers not certified organic but using ecological farming methods produce safe food containing little or no pesticide. Large commercial organic companies pick their produce well before it is ripe to ensure it won’t spoil by the time it gets to its destination. So you may not get the pesticides you find on conventional produce but you won’t get much flavor or as much nutritional benefit either. Eating fruits and vegetables at the peak of their season and maturity gives you the most vitamins, minerals, and flavor.
The “dirty dozen” for 2018:
12. Sweet Bell Peppers
Myth: GMOs have been tested and proven harmless. GMOs are the worlds' solution to increased food production.
The facts: There have been no objective third party studies done on the safety of GMOS. However, evidence points to increased allergies, antibiotic resistance, infertility, and a host of chronic diseases caused by the increased exposure to chemicals, in particular glycophosphate, which is widely used in the weed killer round up. Glycophosphate kills off beneficial gut bacteria and the link between it and autism is currently being studied at both MIT and Harvard.
Most plants are genetically engineered to withstand harsher herbicides and pesticides meaning they are sprayed more than other produce. These chemicals create sterile soil, toxic runoff, and less diverse farms. Cross pollination is also a concern as GM seeds typically cannot reproduce, further lessening the diversity of an area well beyond the farm itself. GMOs have also been shown to cause the decline in bees (colony collapse disorder). Another concern to note is some plants don't even need to be sprayed with herbicides - the active ingredient is spliced right into them. A study done on consumers eating both organic and non organic produce found highly elevated levels of pesticides following the reintroduction of non organic produce into their diets. An alternative would be rotating crops and growing a variety of produce to create a more synergistic environment with healthier plants and soil.
Myth: Fluoride is necessary to avoid tooth decay
The facts: Many countries have already banned fluoride from their drinking water and have not experienced increased tooth decay. The claim that it helps prevent tooth decay is also dubious at best. Fluoride is not only not a necessary nutrient for our bodies but it is a known neurotoxin. Excessive fluoride exposure is known to cause skeletal fluorosis (a painful bone disease – white spotting/mottling on teeth is the first sign of this, known as dental fluorosis). It also causes many chronic ailments such as arthritis, bone fragility, glucose intolerance, gastrointestinal disease, thyroid disease, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. It is difficult to know the dose you are ingesting since fluoride levels vary by municipal water supply and is found in many foods and beverages. To minimize exposure, drink bottled spring water (contains mainly naturally occurring fluoride and in much lower overall levels than those found in tap water), get a water filter that removes fluoride- crystal quest is a good one, do not swallow toothpaste (or opt for fluoride free), eat less processed food (water is used in mechanical deboning of meats, used to rinse prepackaged products, etc), and avoid Teflon pans (increase fluoride content in food).
Bottled water fluoride levels : http://fluoridealert.org/content/bottled-water/
Municipal water supply fluoride levels: http://fluoridealert.org/researchers/states/
Sweet Poison by David Gillespie
Real Food by Nina Planck
Toxin Toxout by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith