To Your Health
November, 2008 (Vol. 02, Issue 11)
Reading is Fundamental
By Nancy Irven, DC
We eat for a variety of reasons - because a particular food tastes good, as part of socializing, boredom, or just because the clock says, "Time to eat!" Occasionally, we even eat because we are actually hungry.
When we do eat, for whatever reason, our health depends on whether or not we choose superior nutrition. Essentially, we can define superior nutrition as whole foods that humans have consumed for hundreds of years. Examples include vegetables, fruits, meat, eggs, cheese, whole grains, nuts, seeds and fats.
My review of more than 1,000 diet diaries reveals that these whole foods do not constitute the majority of calories in most people's diets. What I find are numerous packaged products, heavily advertised as "heart healthy," "low fat," "100 percent RDA" and "lowers cholesterol." Most of these packaged products contain one or more of the following ingredients: enriched wheat, trans fats (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil) and high-fructose corn syrup. These three ingredients are prevalent in our food supply - yet they are basically "empty calories," lacking any nutritional value. In addition to the health benefits of avoiding these three ingredients, you can also avoid many chemicals and additives by association.
The word enriched actually sounds pretty healthy. The whole wheat contains the bran, germ and endosperm. The refined wheat kernel has had the bran and germ removed. The majority of the nutrients are in the bran and the germ. These include many B vitamins, healthy fats, minerals, fiber and more than 99 phytonutrients known to prevent disease. What is left is the endosperm. The endosperm is ground into flour and bleached to produce the popular white flour. This white flour can be mixed with water to make a very effective paste. As a child, I watched my mother mix flour and water to make paste to put on wallpaper. This flour is clearly not superior nutrition. If you mix whole-wheat flour and water together, however, you cannot make glue and hang wallpaper. Most flour is enriched with five ingredients: niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid. The enrichment of five synthetically produced nutrients from questionable sources, (thiamin mononitrate is derived from coal tar from China) does not make this enriched grain a source of superior nutrition.