Is Our Food Making Us Ill?

Our relationship with food has changed immensely. Although the availability of foods and produce from around the globe has increased substantially, this expanded food delivery system may not be helping us to eat healthier. We are most often separated from food production. Many families no longer enjoy home-cooked meals, opting instead for processed “frankenfoods” resulting in poor digestion. Overall, our food is less nutritious than nature intended.

Since the birth of the interstate system, suburbia, and the nation’s fascination with automobiles, more and more people have traded a rural or small town life for the joys of large urban/suburban cities. Where people used to grow their own food in fields and gardens, they now grow lawns. Food production has become more and more of a mega-industry driven by the desire for ever-greater profits. We are no longer connected to the land, the seasons, or the process of growth and renewal.

“Out of site, out of mind.” We have a whole generation that has no understanding of how food is grown or prepared. Our children may not even realize that there is a time period when specific crops ripen. All food is available all of the time.

Pesticide use in agricultural processes accounts for 75% of the total usage in the United States. Foods are now genetically engineered to resist pesticides so that more potent pesticides may be used without damaging the crop. Yet the residues remain on our food. Our waterways and umbilical cord blood contain measureable amounts of pesticides.

Genetically modified food has lead to single strains of fruits and vegetables resilient to predictable stresses but totally vulnerable to unpredictable environmental challenges. This places our food supply in potential jeopardy. And may even affect how our bodies function.

Fertilizers are used to nurture depleted soils. So much fertilizer and pesticide are used that the runoff from fields and lawns poisons our waterways and kills or contaminates our fish. Ponds in Greenwich have been so polluted by fertilizer and pesticides from surrounding lawns that the dredged material has to be disposed of as hazardous waste.

Our lifestyles are now intensely time challenged. We have little time for ourselves and now rarely take the time to cook. Processed foods have replaced fresh foods. Fast foods high in fat, made from cheap food sources with abundant steroids, hormones, and pesticides have replaced live foods. Reading food labels can be a shocking awakening to the new chemical nature of our food supply. From brominated wheat flour which can disrupt thyroid function, to monosodium glutamate which is a nerve stimulant, to aspartame, a nerve toxicant, and “Bisphenol A” coating our cans, we regularly ingest endocrine disruptors and nerve agents. In a real way our foods contribute to our diseases and poor health.

The stress that we experience on a regular basis affects not only our mood, our sleep, and our hormone balance but also our gut function. A stressed gastrointestinal tract absorbs food less well, can become “leaky”, thus encouraging food sensitivities, and tends to produce more acid. In conventional medical settings, these issues are treated with acid blocking drugs, which are now commonly sold over the counter. Taking these medications blocks calcium absorption causing osteoporosis and prevents the complete digestion of food. These acid blocking medications impair the gut’s ability to kill detrimental bacteria whether they occur naturally in the food or are introduced by the food processing or handling system.

Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” We have forgotten this adage. Our new saying may well be, “Let food be thy poison.”

Currently our diets and dietary habits are creating a population that is obese, digests poorly and is becoming ever more malnourished and toxic. Even in the eyes of the Federal Government, our population is generally deficient in essential fatty acids, Vitamin D, and magnesium. Others have demonstrated deficiencies in iodine, selenium, and zinc.

It is time to be more mindful of our food choices. Below are some suggestions. Keep in mind that even though the suggestions are simple, they require effort. Implementing these suggestions will take time and a shift in focus.

  • Eat locally grown, seasonal, organic food. Or better, grow some of your own food.
  • Cook your own meals with fresh ingredients.
  • Wash vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating.
  • Choose organic, free range, grass-fed meat products.
  • Use canned foods only in times of emergencies or natural disasters.
  • Participate in community supported agriculture initiatives and create relationships with your food providers.
  • Take time for breakfast and dinner as family time.
  • Practice mindful eating along with stress reduction.
  • Chew your food 30 times before swallowing.
  • Be evaluated for gut function and work to heal your digestive system.