Monday, May 28, 2012

American Diet: Killing Ourselves Softly with Chemicals


A year ago, my road to becoming health conscious was nonexistent. It was hidden beneath bushes of fast food, fried meals, sweets, and anything else that held no nutritional value but tasted good. It was not until I noticed my parents battling multiple health conditions (that were quite preventable) that I realized I was in dire need of changing my diet. Both of my parents have high blood pressure, diabetes (my father has Type 1) and my mother has been developing a glomus tumor in her brain over her right ear for the past unknown number of years while my father has issues with his digestive system. I was online one day researching diabetes and high blood pressure and happened to come across a link that led me to the alternative health and news site, Natural News. It was love at first click. The Internet Gods had placed a blessing upon me. There were articles on everything from common health ailments to natural remedies to coverage of current events (and the editor was sarcastic and funny). While reading their articles and conducting searches on other sites, it dawned on me that my family’s health problems were the result of the foods they ate. There are several common foods that people consume on a daily basis that is causing a number of health problems: meat, dairy, junk food, and soda.

100% Beef...Growth Hormones...and Carcinogens

By now, most of us have heard that meat is not very healthy; red meat in particular, should be consumed in moderation (very moderate). Few of us will adhere to this advice though. For the most part, we have grown up eating meat and do not plan on cutting back until death. I can say that meat is a staple of the American diet. It is very difficult changing habits that have taken a lifetime developing. Until we begin experiencing health complications caused by our diets, we rarely change our eating habits voluntarily (we take better care of our cars than our bodies).

After all, meat is a source of protein, right? Um...sure, but no one is talking about the processes that the meat underwent before it ended up in supermarket freezers. These meats contain growth hormones (for the rapid growth of animals), carcinogens (cancer causing agents), had to be cured with salts (preservatives), probably washed in ammonia, and had nitrates/nitrites (for color and flavor) added to it. These processes lead to the damage, or mutation, of our DNA and disrupted hormone production which can eventually lead to cancer and diabetes (Gutierrez, 2008; Philip, 2011).

There is also the manner in which these animals are treated. Many cows are kept in their own excrement and traces of it end in the meat when they get slaughtered (Kenner, 2008). Then, the feces-tainted steak ends up on your table (yum!). Chickens are raised in no better condition in their coups with hundreds of other chickens. They are fed feed laced with hormones that cause them to grow into mature chickens in a matter of weeks (a process that takes a year under normal circumstances), while their internal organs can barely keep up (Kenner, 2008; Sears, 2012). Those chicken breasts that are so popular are chock full of steroids (I like to call it chicken a la rubber, i.e. fake chicken).

Got Milk? Then You Got Blood and Pus, too!

Milk is another staple in the American diet. Supposedly, it is a source of calcium and Vitamin D for healthy bones. I find this ironic because, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, there are 40 million people walking around in the U.S. with osteoporosis or are at risk of it even though we are one of the nations with high milk consumption (me no comprende).

The truth is that the milk sold in stores has been pasteurized and homogenized. Pasteurization is a process that is meant to kill pathogens and harmful bacteria in milk through the use of heat. But the process also destroys the nutrients essential in milk. (Should you see “pasteurized” on any other food label, then that food is “dead” and has little or no nutritional value.) Homogenization is the mechanical straining of natural fat globules in milk so that there is no creamy layer that rises to the surface of the milk. Pasteurization makes the absorption of calcium in milk difficult for the body while homogenization renders the milk toxic (Walters, 2008; Huff, 2009). Also, if our body is not absorbing calcium, then it can be concluded that Vitamind D has not been absorbed...because Vitamin D aids in the absorbtion of calcium.

Also, while drinking that cup of ice-cold milk, you are also drinking traces of blood and pus. Cows are injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone, rBGH, which is meant to increase milk production (Sears, 2012). This hormone causes mastitis, inflammation of a cow’s udder, which was already susceptible to inflammation because of the lack of a grass-based diet, hence the blood and pus (Sears, 2012). *gags* Then, antibiotics are added to the milk, which kills the “good” bacteria in our intestines. Furthermore, the milk from cows injected with rBGH is high in insulin growth factor-1, which is linked to prostate and breast cancer (Sears, 2012). Did I mention that rBGH causes reproductive problems in cows? There is no telling what it is doing to the bodies of women and perhaps even men.

Want to know the real kicker? We should not really be drinking milk in adulthood. You see, after about the age of five, most of us lose our ability to digest milk (Weise, 2009). We become lactose intolerant. Think about it. What other mammal on the planet keeps on drinking milk after the infant-toddler stage, especially the milk of another species? Our bodies stop producing lactase, the enzyme that aids in milk digestion, between the ages of two and five (Weise, 2009). This is our body’s natural signal of telling us to “chill out” with the (breast) milk.

Remember how pasteurization of cow’s milk makes calcium absorption difficult? Well, the process also destroys the lactase naturally found in the milk making it relatively easy to digest (Walters, 2008). The results are gas, “stomach” cramps, and diarrhea. Yet, we keep on drinking it thinking these symptoms are natural. They are not.

Junk Food: Can I Get the #2, Please? Obesity, Diabetes, and Just a Little Depression

Do I even need to talk about junk food and why it is unhealthy? The name alone should tell you exactly what you are putting into your body (junk). Junk foods are anything high in calories, but low in nutritional value. Chips, pizza, and hamburgers are only a few of the junk foods that are made available to us despite them not contributing anything substantial to our diets.

You see mothers serving their children chicken nuggets (“protein”), fries (“vegetable”), and pizza (“carbohydrate” + “vegetable” + “protein” = jackpot!). What they do not realize is that they are making their children stupid...literally. Studies show that young children who were fed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have higher IQs than children who were fed mostly junk foods (Hope, 2011). Teens and college students are also known to substitute healthy eating with fast food meals (I know all about that). They are the major targets of fast food ads. What the ads do not mention is that junk food increases depression in both children and adults by 50 percent (Philip, 2012). That might explain why we have all these emo kids walking around.

Of course, junk food also leads to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Our eating habits has resulted in 60 percent of Americans being overweight or obese (Cummins, 2012). No one stops to look at the calorie charts that are now available in some popular fast food places. One single meal contains enough calories for the entire day (National Institutes of Health, 2004). And some people eat a fast food meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

20 oz. Bottle of Sugar--I Mean Soda

Technically, soda is a junk food, but the havoc it wreaks on the body is worth discussing in a section all its own.

We drink about 13.15 billion gallons of soft drinks each year or three quarts per week (Adams, 2005). This may be another reason why so many Americans have developed or will develop osteoporosis. We already know that pasteurization of milk makes the calcium non-absorbable by the body. Now, add a large intake of soft drinks to a person’s diet. Soft drinks are high in phosphorous content. When phosphate levels are high in the blood and calcium is already low, the body extracts calcium from the bones (Adams, 2005). When calcium is extracted from the bones they become soft and susceptible to breakage (aha!).

Inconspicuous ingredients, like flavorings, can also be potentially hazardous. Natural and artificial flavors are created in labs. The only difference is that natural flavors are derived from plants, while artificial flavors are synthetic (Jones-Shoeman, 2010). Essentially, natural and artificial flavors are manmade and soft drink companies are not legally bound to discuss their effects on the human body. Preservatives used to prolong shelf life and protect taste are also harmful. Some of these preservatives, like sodium benzoate and potassium benzoate, can lead to cirrhosis, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease (Jones-Shoeman, 2010). Additionally, the acidity of soft drinks damages tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay.

Oh, yeah...soft drinks may also contribute to obesity. In addition to calcium-depleting phosphates, camouflaged flavorings, and cancer-causing preservatives, soft drinks are high in sugar. Research found that “adults who drank one sugary beverage per day were 27 percent more likely to be classified as overweight than those who drank sugary beverages less frequently” (Gutierrez, 2009, para. 3). Even diet sodas are not safe. In fact, diet sodas contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener, which is linked to strokes and seizures (Heimer, 2011).

Preaching Vegetarianism or Veganism? Nah

Do not think that I am pushing vegetarianism or veganism down anyone’s throat. It is not realistic to promote one type of lifestyle as the only lifestyle for everyone; that is an elitist way of thinking. It is not unethical to eat meat (plants are living organisms as well). Our predecessors were eating meat long before capitalism entered food production. Rather, it is that we consume meat way, way too much. I believe it is the way animals are treated that makes eating meat unethical as opposed to actually eating meat. Our money continually supports an unethical system.

I would suggest you educate yourself about what you put into your body. Eat less meat, especially red meat and pork, because it does contribute to heart disease. If you eat meat try to get it from local, sustainable farms where the animals are fed their natural diets and have not been given any type of injections (although this is very difficult to achieve for many). I suggest eating more grains, fruits, and vegetables than you do meat. Remember that you get the most nutrients from them if they are live (raw). Like pasteurization, cooking vegetables to a certain degree destroys their nutritional value. You will be surprised at how much more energy you have when you cut back on meat. 

If you want to continue drinking milk, then try raw milk from grass-fed cows from sustainable farms. It is full of nutrients, unlike pasteurized milk, and I hear that it tastes better, too (this may also be difficult to get). But keep in mind that cow’s milk is meant to turn a calf into a 1200 pound adult cow (depending on breed, of course). You can also turn to organic almond milk or rice milk. As for the junk food and soda, you should definitely stay away from them as much you possibly can. Treat them like sweets on that old and tired food pyramid from high school: eat them sparingly.

Understand that the goal of the capitalistic agricultural business, “Big Agra,” is money. The only thing corporations are after is your cash to line their own pockets; hence, the mass production of food by unethical standards. They will go to any lengths to cut costs and make more money. If that means putting your health at risk, then so be it.

By the way, you noticed how all these conditions that are an onset of foods from “Big Agra” also aid in the supply of medications from “Big Pharma” (the pharmaceutical industry)? Conspiracy? I think not.


SOURCES

Adams, M. (2005, January 8). The health effects of drinking soda – quotes from the experts. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/004416.html

Cummins, R. (2012, March 7). America’s obesity and diabetes epidemic: Junk food kills. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/035164_obesity_diabetes_junk_food.html

Gutierrez, D. (2008). Red meat consumption linked yet again to increased cancer risk. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/023556.html

Gutierrez, D. (2009, December 23). UCLA study says drinking soda causes obesity. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/027793_soda_obesity.html

Heimer, M. (2011, March 14). Diet soda linked to strokes and vascular disorders. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/031691_diet_soda_strokes.html

Hope, J. (2011, February 8). Danger of a food diet for children: Study reveals toddlers who eat more chips, crisps, biscuits and pizza have lower IQ. Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1354683/Junk-food-diet-hits-childs-IQ-reveals-major-UK-study.html

Huff, E. (2009, September 28). Raw milk continually targeted despite true dangers of pasteurized product (Opinion). Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/027111_milk_raw_pasteurized.html

Jones-Shoeman, C. (2010, September 21). Even negligible ingredients in soda are bad for your health. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/029795_soda_ingredients.html

Kenner, R. (Producer & Director). (2008). Food, Inc. [Motion picture]. Country of Origin: United States.

National Institutes of Health. (2004, December 30). Eating at fast-food restaurants more than twice a week is associated with more weight gain and insulin resistance in otherwise healthy young adults. NIH News. Retrieved from http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2004/nhlbi-30.htm

Philip, J. (2012, May 5). Fast food diet increases risk of depression by more than fifty percent. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/035772_fast_food_depression_nutrition.html

Sears, A. (2012). How the feds set Frankenstein free on the farm: Terrorizing farmers, making us sick. Retrieved from http://www.alsearsmd.com/pdf/Frankenstein-On-The-Farm.pdf

Walters, S. (2008, September 19). The dangers versus benefits of raw milk: The truth exposed. Natural News. Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/024259_milk_raw_benefits.html

Weise, E. (2009, September 15). Sixty percent of adults can’t digest milk. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2009-08-30-lactose-intolerance_N.htm

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