A Case For Whole Food Supplements

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is lacking in many vital nutritional components. Being largely composed of prepackaged, convenience foods with few naturally grown food products; this diet has contributed to an epidemic of not only obesity but also extreme nutritional deficiency. While many commercially available vitamin and mineral supplements exist, they are manufactured in an artificial way that reduces bioavailability and promotes chemical contamination. As Americans are not likely to return to eating home grown food directly from their garden, the solution to the nutritional deficiency of America can be found in Whole Food Supplements which are vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient rich products made from actual food concentrates.

The Problem with the Standard American Diet

In the first part of the 1900’s most Americans ate a healthy, whole food diet because they had no choice. All food was grown either by the family or obtained from immediately local sources. America in the 1900’s was a largely agrarian society with most people living in rural areas and able to grow their own food. During the last century, a massive migration to urban areas has occurred. This has meant that even if one has the desire, most people no longer have the ability to produce self grown food. Either because there is no land or because many do not know how, very few people have a garden and even fewer produce protein in the form of dairy products and animal husbandry.

In spite of this developing migration, during World War II, families were encouraged to have a “victory garden”. This was not to ensure that Americans had a great diet but actually to ensure that American families could feed themselves at all, while allowing most of commercial food production to be sent to the troops overseas. That was the last period in history that America got most of their nutrition from locally grown food.

Beginning around the 1950’s, Americans did begin to recognize the value of vitamins and minerals within their diet. This was discovered because more and more pre-prepared, highly processed food products became available and nutritional deficiencies began to emerge.

After the end of World War II, many families became two-income families. In addition, many more single parents are now raising children by themselves. This means that in most homes, all of the adults present in any one household are likely employed outside of the home full-time leaving little time for food preparation alone much less any time for food production. America has become a convenience food nation consuming much of the diet from unnatural food sources.

Prepackaged and easy to prepare food products are just that, food “products”. Though they may contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats and some “essential” nutrients, they are not real food. The entire food supply chain is rife with contamination and chemical processing and many Americans are unaware of how little nutritional value the food that they consume every day contains. So much publicity and education has focused on the so called food pyramid. The governmental and educational agencies that have devised the perfect American diet have never truly addressed the lack of nutrients, other than the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of basic vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Calcium.

While these RDA levels of vitamin and mineral consumption may be an absolute bottom line essential to avoid obvious diseases of deficiency such as scurvy or rickets, they are hardly adequate and do not reflect but a small portion of the nutrients contained in whole food, necessary for promotion of health and prevention of disease.

A Crisis in America: Obesity and Other Diseases in the Face of Malnutrition

The main focus of the American diet in recent years has become reducing fat and increasing carbohydrates in the diet. This stream of thought was intended to reduce the growing epidemic of obesity but over the past 20 years, obesity has risen into numbers that appear to be a crisis for Americans. In fact, over the past 20 years the number of adult Americans who are obese has risen by 60% to an unprecedented level of almost 35% of American adults being considered obese. A much worse situation is that a similar number of approximately 32% of American children qualify as overweight or obese. For the first time in American history, the life expectancy of these children may be lower than that of their parents or grandparents.

This has led to an epidemic of heart disease, diabetes and other weight related problems occurring in record numbers not only in adults but seen in children as young as 18 months of age. Additional diseases that may be related to a lack of appropriate nutrients other than simple vitamins in American diets may include a wide variety of conditions ranging from immune disorders implicated in conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Cancer to psychiatric and neurological conditions such as ADHD, Autism and Depression.

Most people believe that obesity occurs simply because people eat too much. While that is true in part, obesity also results from continuously consuming the wrong types of food. In the 1900s when Americans were consuming a largely natural, whole food diet directly from farm to table, obesity was an extremely rare occurrence.

As our diet has changed from an agrarian society’s nutrient rich food supply to the urbanized highly processed, artificial foods, our total food consumption has risen. This is in part because, though the body gets more calories from more food, it is still starved of nutrition causing one to eat even more. In addition, in our sedentary lifestyle our bodies actually need less food than when we lived and worked each day on the farm, yet we still eat more because of lack of proper nutrients, abundance of easily obtained processed food and other psychological conditions such as stress eating. In the end, America has become a nation of people who are obese but still malnourished and disease ridden.

An Attempt to Fix the Problem

The ideal diet truly would be that of returning to whole food “farm to table” eating where families either grow their own food and prepare it within minutes of harvesting or at a minimum obtain locally grown food from the market and prepare it within a day or so of harvesting. In today’s society this is no longer possible. Even when fresh vegetables and fruits are consumed as a large portion of the diet, our nation’s food supply is contaminated by the use of pesticides, herbicides and hormones and much of the nutrient value is lost by transportation of the food crop from thousands of miles away. Food is harvested before it is truly ripe, irradiated, stored cold and transported across states, nations and even oceans before it arrives in our grocery stores as tasteless, substandard, nutrient poor produce.

Many people are attempting to eat only organic, locally grown produce for this reason. While this may be an improvement over the nutritional value of the standard American diet, it is nearly always much more expensive and therefore unaffordable for many and unavailable for others as most markets do not focus on obtaining such products. So this effort, while valiant is still not enough.

The good news about the American nutritional situation is that it is quite easy to fix. Given appropriate nutrition, the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself. Many diseases and conditions caused by overconsumption and malnourishment can be easily corrected by supplementation with whole food nutritional products.

As Americans cannot rely on the food supply to provide adequate nutrition and also cannot count on the source, quality and purity of most commercially available nutritional supplements, the only answer appears to lie in whole food supplementation.

What is a Whole Food Supplement?

Whole food supplements are defined as nutritional supplements derived entirely from food. This is a much more natural and beneficial method of obtaining nutrition from food and herbal supplements alike.

Unfortunately, most commercially available nutritional supplements including vitamins, minerals and herbal products are made completely of single ingredient extracts or worse, artificially synthesized in a lab using chemical processes. While synthesized supplements may in fact provide basic vitamins and minerals known to be vital, artificially prepared products are missing many of the alkaloids, antioxidants and phytochemicals that are thought to play a major role in complete nutrition and disease prevention.

The same is true for herbal supplements and treatments as most commercially available herbal products do provide an extract or synthesized form of the primarily active chemical within the herb, they are still missing many of the synergistic ingredients thought to provide additional benefits of herbal and nutraceutical treatment.

Simply Taking Vitamins isn’t Enough

Vitamins and Minerals are absolutely necessary for life but the RDA is generally both inadequate in its estimate and unattainable through the average American diet.

While many commercially available nutritional supplements are available at every corner, through necessity, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does little to regulate the manufacturing of food supplements such as vitamins, minerals and herbal products. The FDA cannot apparently manage even its’ main tasks of regulation of the pharmaceutical industry and assurance of the safety of the American food supply.

In the last several years, many counterfeit pharmaceutical products have been discovered such as flu medication being sold online, manufactured outside of the United States was found to be gelatin capsules filled with sheetrock particles. In addition Americans have seen case after case of E. Coli and Salmonella contamination of both American and foreign farm crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, onions and peppers enter our grocery stores. Some of these products were even the so called “organic” products, purported to be safer than traditional crops.

Why a Whole Food Supplement

As there is inadequate supervision of the pharmaceutical and food production industries, there is even less of the nutritional supplement market. The average vitamin or nutritional supplement is manufactured using chemical synthesis and heat processing which destroys the nutritional value of the product within. In addition, many commercially available products are manufactured with fillers, additives, preservatives and other dubious chemicals. Whole food supplements are not.

Within the last several years, significant shortcomings have come to light in terms of foreign made food and health products. Many products have proven to be contaminated with not only the known chemicals that are present in the American food supply but also with much more dangerous unknown chemicals that should never enter the manufacturing process. The only way to ensure that this does not happen is to purchase high quality products from a company with a well established reputation for maintaining high standards of manufacturing and purity. As whole food supplements are natural products, it would be optimal if the manufacturer employed practices of sustainability and green policy.

The ideal food supplement manufacturer recognizes that vitamins do not exist in isolation. The nutritional value of whole food is due to the interweaving of the entire spectrum of nutrients with vitamins and minerals acting in a synergistic fashion with hundreds of other plant alkaloids, phytochemicals and enzymes. The cofactors and bioflavonoids such as terpenes and isoflavones present in whole foods and whole food supplements are integral in the process to restore biochemical balance to the body.

This is quite easy to identify when examining the label of a nutritional supplement, vitamin or herbal product. Though the FDA doesn’t do an adequate job of monitoring the food supply or pharmaceutical industry, they have established standards of labeling which include appropriate identification of all ingredients contained in a supplement. Close examination of most regular supplements when compared to whole food supplements will show that most products contain synthetic vitamins, chemicals and filler products while whole food supplements contain natural vitamins and minerals obtained from concentrated food sources such as fruits and vegetables.

Supplements manufactured from whole food sources will contain not only the natural form of vitamins and minerals but also all of the important phytochemicals and phytonutrients important to restoration of nutritional health and prevention of disease derived from whole food concentrates.

Choosing a Quality Supplement

Whole food supplements are nutritional products which have been manufactured directly from food. Food grown in natural conditions is concentrated using carefully designed and conducted cold processing techniques. These methods allow the concentration of the entire spectrum of nutritional value without removing the phytochemicals, alkaloids and other valuable natural substances that ensure adequate nutritional support and help to prevent disease.

When choosing a whole food supplement one should ensure that the product is from a manufacturing company known to have a long standing reputation for quality and experience in whole food processing. The products should be constituted entirely of whole food products which have been refined using cold processing without the nutrient reducing effects of extreme heat, pasteurization and irradiation. They should also be free of artificial filler products and preservative chemicals. The manufacturer should have a process of testing for purity and guarantee of quality and ideally should offer a money back guarantee if one is not satisfied with the product. For the American consumer, optimally an American product will be purchased an in an effort to aid the environment, a company with “green” policies should be chosen to promote sustainability of the food supply.

Specific Nutrient Needs

Vitamin A

Vitamin A and the carotenoids are highly present in many vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables along with fish and animal livers and are essential for:

o proper functioning of the eye and skin including the gastrointestinal tract
o acts as an antioxidant, protecting against cancer and diseases of aging
o important in support of the immune system for protection against viruses and infections of the organ linings of bladder, kidneys, lungs and mucous membranes
o essential for protein utilization

Vitamin A deficiency causes dry hair, skin, eye disorders, fatigue, reproductive difficulties, frequent colds and infections, and skin disorders.

Traditional vitamin supplements will typically contain synthetic Vitamin A Palmitate and/or beta carotene isolate. Whole Food Supplements will contain Vitamin A1, Vitamin A2, retinal, retinoic acid and a number of more the 500 carotenes all of which are precursors to Vitamin A along with essential fatty acid, natural sugars, minerals and other phytonutrients found only in whole food.

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B is actually a number of similarly related compounds found in yellow and green fruits and vegetables particularly leafy green and cruciferous vegetables along with nuts, grains, eggs, dairy products and meats and are known to be essential for:

o maintenance of skin, eyes, hair, liver and mouth
o healthy gastrointestinal tract and brain functioning
o coenzymes involved in energy production
o proper functioning of nervous system particularly in the elderly

Specific Vitamin B Deficiencies:

B-1 Thiamine deficiency – Beriberi, canker sores, mental disorders such as dementia, depression and dizziness, fatigue, indigestion, diarrhea, numbness and muscle atropy

B-2 Riboflavin deficiency -mouth sores, cataracts, dermatitis, hair loss, neurological symptoms on skin, light sensitivity, seizures

B-3 Niacin deficiency – pellagra, bad breath, skin and mouth disorders, memory impairment, confusion, depression, muscle weakness

B-5 Pantothenic Acid deficiency – abdominal pains, skin disorders, hair loss, muscle spasms and poor coordination, immune impairment, low blood pressure

B-6 Pyridoxine deficiency – eye, skin and mouth inflammation, mucous membrane disorders, lack of wound healing

B-12 Cyanocobalamin deficiency – pernicious anemia, unsteady gate, dizziness, drowsiness, depression, hallucination headaches, memory loss, tinnitus, spinal cord degeneration

Folic Acid deficiency – certain types of anemia, fatigue, mental disorders, insomnia, diarrhea, spina bifida in developing infant

Traditional Vitamin B supplements will generally contain only the synthetic form of one or more of the B vitamin group, while whole food supplements will contain all of the Vitamin B family along with the added benefits of phytonutrients such as inositols, PABA, biotin and choline derived from concentration of whole foods.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is found in citrus fruits, berries and green vegetables and is essential for:

o tissue growth and repair
o adrenal gland function
o healthy gums
o production of anti stress hormones and interferon
o absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal system
o metabolism of amino acids and vitamins
o activity as an antioxidant and support of the immune system

Vitamin C deficiency causes Scurvy, poor wound healing, gum disease, edema, weakness, frequent infections, fatigue, and joint pains.

Traditional Vitamin C supplements will have only Ascorbic Acid or Ascorbate, while Whole Food Supplement vitamin C will contain phytonutrients such as rutin, bioflavonoids, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen, vitamin C factors such as J, K and P along with mineral co-factors necessary for vitamin C activity all derived appropriately from whole food.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is present largely in dairy food products but also in fish and fish oils, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, egg yolks and sweet potatoes and is necessary for:

o bone and teeth growth and development in children
o muscle performance including skeletal and cardiac muscle
o prevention of bone and tooth loss in elderly
o thyroid and immune system functioning
o normal blood clotting

Vitamin D deficiency includes rickets, osteomalacea, loss of appetite, burning of mouth and throat, diarrhea, insomnia, and visual difficulties.

Most commercial Vitamin D products including prescription formulas will contain only Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is less absorbable and more difficult to use but has a longer shelf life than it’s cousin Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) while whole food supplements will contain significant amounts of Vitamin D3 along with many other beneficial phytonutrients in the form of whole food concentrates.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in cold pressed vegetable oils, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and grains and is essential for:

o antioxidant activity important for the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease
o circulation and tissue repair
o blood clotting and healing
o skin and hair health

Vitamin E deficiency may result in damage to red blood cells, nerve destruction, infertility, menstrual problems, and neuromuscular disorders.

Traditional vitamin E supplements will generally include only one of the 8 active components of the vitamin E family, alpha-tocopherol. Whole food supplements will contain not only alpha-tocopherol but also the 7 other alpha, beta, gamma and delta forms of both tocopherol and tocotrienol derived from concentrated food.

Calcium

Calcium is vital for the formation of bones and teeth and the maintenance of gums. It is essential for the functioning of all muscular tissue, particularly the heart and participates in cellular functioning in virtually every area of the body. Calcium is highly present in dairy products, meaty and oily fish and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium deficiency can lead to brittle bones, teeth and nails, skin disorders, cardiac disorders such as high blood pressure and heart palpitations, cognitive impairment, hyperactivity and seizure disorders.

Calcium contained in most traditional supplements will contain only calcium carbonate or calcium citrate with the possible addition of Vitamin D or may contain D1-calcium-phosphate which is completely insoluble and cannot be absorbed. Whole Food Supplement calcium products will contain additional nutrients such as amino acids and vitamin C which are necessary for calcium absorption and utilization.

Iron

Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin which is vital to the supply of oxygen throughout the body. Iron is also important for production of many important enzymes within the body. It can be found in meats, fish, eggs, green leafy vegetables, nuts and grains in large amounts as well as a number of herbs such as alfalfa and milk thistle.

Deficiency of Iron includes symptoms of anemia, weakness and fatigue, hair loss, mouth inflammation, fingernail malformation and mental impairment.

Most commercially available iron supplements will contain iron sulfate or iron gluconate as a singular product or in combination with other vitamins and minerals. Iron is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin C and when consumed as a constituent of a food source. Whole food supplement iron will result in better absorption and less stomach upset as it is derived from whole food.

Magnesium

Magnesium is vital as an enzyme catalyst especially with regard to energy production. It also aids in cellular calcium and potassium uptake which makes it essential for the transmission of muscle and nerve impulses. It can be readily found in many foods especially animal products such as dairy, meat and seafood but also in many fruits and vegetables such as apples, apricots, bananas, whole grains and soy products.

Deficiency of magnesium will cause muscular irritability, mental disorders, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes, depression and pulmonary disorders along with being a factor in hypertension and sudden cardiac death.

Traditionally prepared magnesium supplements will contain only magnesium usually in the form of magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate while whole food supplements will contain other minerals such as calcium and potassium along with vitamin c and other nutrients from whole food concentrates necessary for the proper absorption and utilization of magnesium.

Zinc

Zinc is important in the growth and function of reproductive organs and may help regulate oil gland activity and prevent acne. It is essential for protein and collagen synthesis and vital to the functioning of a healthy immune system and has been shown to have potent antiviral activity. It plays a major role in wound healing and the sensation of taste and smell. It is also a constituent of many physiological chemicals such as insulin and various enzymes. Zinc is highly present in eggs, fish, beans, meats, mushrooms and many seed such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Deficiency of zinc may result in a loss of taste and smell and may cause the fingernails to become weak and thin. Other signs may include delayed sexual maturation, growth impairment, disorders of sexual organs of both males and females, fatigue, hair loss, slow wound healing and recurrent infections.

Many commercially available supplements will contain either zinc gluconate as a singular product or in combination with other minerals without regard as to the appropriate ratios for optimal absorption and utilization within the body. As whole food supplements are derived from actual food, the appropriate ratios necessary for maximum benefit are already present established by nature.

Unique Benefits of Whole Food Supplements

According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 70% of Americans do not consume enough whole food products to provide even the RDA of vitamins. While vitamins are necessary for life, ordinary vitamin supplements will not entirely fill the gap. Unlike most commercial dietary supplements which are stand alone chemicals, whole food supplements contain any number of several thousand known and unknown phytonutrients such as:

o Carotenoids
o Polyphenols (Flavonoids)
o Phenols
o Indoles
o Lignans (Phytoestrogens)
o Phytates (Inositols)
o Saponins
o Sulfides and Thiols
o Terpenes

Research has proven these nutrients to be protective against many diseases. Some types of phytonutrients are known to provide such benefits as enhanced immunity, cancer prevention, detoxification and DNA repair.

Carotenoids

The phytonutrient category of carotenoids has been shown to protect against certain types of cancer, optical failure from diseases such as macular degeneration and assist in the prevention of cardiac disease. Carotenoids are partially responsible for the vibrant colors of many fruits and vegetables.

Carotenoids can help prevent vitamin A deficiency by acting as precursors to Vitamin A which assists the body in manufacturing Vitamin A. In addition several carotenoids are known to be anti-oxidants and may protect against diseases of aging and exposure to environmental toxins. Carotenoids may also be a factor in the prevention and treatment of other diseases such as:

o Cancer – including cervical, throat, lung, prostate and skin cancers
o Heart disease – including angina pectoris and congestive heart failure
o Infections – including AIDS, Chlamydia, Candidiasis and pneumonia
o Immune system mediated disorders – including rheumatoid arthritis, and photosensitivity
o Other conditions – such as asthma and osteoarthritis

A balanced formula of carotenoids such as found in whole foods and whole food supplements will be better absorbed than individual supplements as too much of any one carotenoids may inhibit the absorption of others. This is one of the many reasons why whole food supplements are more beneficial than simple vitamin supplementation.

Carotenoids known to be present and beneficial can be found in the following fruits or vegetables:

o alpha carotene – carrots
o beta carotene – green cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, yellow/orange vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin and carrots
o beta cryptoxanthin – orange fruits such as mangos, peaches and apricots
o lutein – leafy green vegetables such as turnip greens, collard greens and spinach
o lycopene – red fruits such as watermelon, guava, tomatoes and red grapefruit
o zeaxanthin – green vegetables such as green beans and broccoli, yellow food such as eggs mangos and citrus fruits

Polyphenols

Polyphenols (Flavonoids) are known to be active antioxidants and are thought to be important in preventing diseases caused by oxidative stress such as some cancers and some forms of cardiac disease and some inflammatory processes which cause diseases such as arthritis and other diseases of aging. Some examples of polyphenols found in food products include:

o anthocyanins – red foods such as berries, red cabbage, red grapes
o flavones – celery and parsley
o ellagic acid – berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
o catechins – tea, wine and chocolate along with other tart foods such as berries and apples
o flavanones – found in citrus fruits
o coumarins – found in grains and grasses such as wheat grass

Phenols

Phenols encompass a number of anti oxidant nutrients such as Resveratrol and are known to be powerful antioxidants. Phenols have proven to be effective in the prevention of age related disorders and many diseases caused in part by oxidative stress such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Phenols are present in purple fruits such as grapes and blueberries along with wine and tea.

Indoles

Indoles are known to aid in hormone production and maintenance of balance. Indoles are also thought to provide cellular protection against cancers such as colon cancer and endometrial cancer along with others. They are largely present in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbages.

Lignans

Lignans (Phytoestrogens) have weak estrogen like activity which is important in the prevention and possible treatment of hormone mediated cancers such as breast, testicular and prostate cancer. They also may block inflammatory processes which may aid in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis and platelet aggregation leading to stroke. Lignans highly present in flax seed and soy products but are also found in other grains such as wheat, barley and oats along with beans and vegetables such as garlic and broccoli.

Inositols

Phytates (Inositols) may help lower blood cholesterol and aid in prevention of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Inositols and Phytates are present in large amounts in grains, nuts and melon family members such as cantaloupe, squash and cucumbers.

Saponins

Saponins are known to lower cholesterol and may act as an immune booster protecting the body against infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi. They may also provide some protection against heart disease and have proven to be effective in the treatment of cancer. Several anti cancer drugs are based on the saponin molecular structure. Saponins can be found in foods such as asparagus, red onions, alfalfa sprouts, and soybeans.

Thiols

Sulfides and Thiols are vital to the functioning of the cardiovascular system including the smooth muscles of the arteries and arterioles and the linings of both veins and arteries. Thiols have proven instrumental in the development of plaques contributing to atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, myocardial infarction and stroke. Sulfides and thiols are highly present in members of the odiferous Lilly family such as garlic, onion, chives and leeks

Terpenes

Terpenes are thought to protect against cancer and free radical damage which may contribute to diseases of aging such as stroke and alzheimers disease. Terpenes are highly present in foods such as green foods, grain and soy products and also in many herbs such as Gingko biloba.

These phytonutrients are just a few examples of natural molecules known to aid in promotion of health and make the case for the use of Whole Food Supplements. There are thousands more, yet to be identified that are present and beneficial and cannot be synthesized in a lab. Supplementation with isolated vitamins and minerals alone will not solve a nutritional deficiency.

As Americans are unlikely to return to the farm, consumption of a whole food supplement appears to be the only way to actually bridge the nutritional canyon that the American diet has created due to a lifestyle of convenient packaged food that is easy to prepare but sorely deficient in nutritional quality.

3 Ways to Conquer Your Food Cravings

Cravings feel like itches that desperately need to be scratched. Food cravings can be described as an extreme desire to consume specific foods. These feelings are often stronger than normal hunger.

Food engineers and food scientists have studied what makes us crave certain foods more than others. Fat, salt and sweet is the winning trifecta of taste that fuels most of our food cravings. Taste is king, and the foods that taste the best are the ones that deliver on the preferred ratios for salt, sugar, fat, and other features that make food exciting. Food manufacturers, scientists, and engineers use a wide variety of these factors to make food more attractive. They know that for some of us, our craving-focus may be on the texture of food. It might be creamy, crunchy or a mouth-watering balance of both. For others, their craving-focus might be centered on taste. The taste might be salty, sweet, or a lip-smacking blend of each. The goal is to make us want to eat more.

Calories are a measure of how much energy we get from a serving size of food.

Caloric density, different from nutrient density, is an important means that is used to keep us coming back for more. The caloric density or energy density of a particular food is a measurement of the average calories per unit (gram or ounce or bite) of that food. All foods contain nutrients. Unlike calorie dense foods, nutrient dense foods are high in nutrients for the number of calories per unit (gram or ounce or bite) they contain. Foods that are energy or calorie dense have a high concentration of calories per bite. Some common everyday processed foods that are energy dense are the packaged snack foods, frosted cakes with filling, cookies, and candies. Traditional fast foods such as cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and French fries and bakery items like doughnuts are legendary for their energy density. Junk foods are considered empty calorie foods because they are low in nutritional density and high on calories per ounce or bite. These high energy dense or high calorie dense foods offer a high concentration of calories per bite, and are associated with high pleasure by the brain These foods are designed to be tasty (i.e. potato chips) and not filling. Because junk foods are low in satisfaction value, people tend not to feel full when they eat them. This low satisfaction experience almost always leads to over eating. Junk food is characteristically high in palatability, high in fat, and high in calories, but low in fiber and volume.

Low energy dense foods, in contrast to high energy dense foods, tend to be highly nutrient dense. In general they are moist and juicy. Low energy dense foods have a high percentage of fiber that retains their natural water. Most vegetables, fruits, and legumes are examples of low energy dense foods.

Follow these 3 tips to conquer your food cravings, and get an added bonus of weight loss, and inches off your waist.

Tip #1 Seek out and eat low caloric density or low energy density foods

These foods are usually high in water and low in fat. Intentionally limit your consumption of high caloric density foods which are usually processed snacks desserts and junk foods.

To do this let you plate be your guide. Dilute out high caloric density foods/meals by filling ½ your plate with unprocessed whole grains, starchy veggies, and/or legumes or fruit. Adding vegetables to any dish lowers the caloric density of most meals. Go for low caloric density foods for craving and weight control.

Tip #2 Eat until you are full.

Along the road from hunger to satiety eat until you are comfortably full. It is easier to conquer your cravings when you are full. Be intentional. Since energy dense food offers a lot more calories and will leave you asking for more, choose low energy dense foods which are low in calories and high in nutrient density, water, and fiber that will leave you satisfied. Feeling feel full and satisfied is the strongest way to conquer food cravings.

Tip #3 Sequence eating your meals.

Start each of your meals with fruit, salad, or soup. This will get you started with low energy dense foods which are more filling and nutritious than their high calorie dense counterparts. Vegetables without oil offer the lowest caloric density.

A Guide to Food “Allergy” Etiquette

Likely you’ve noticed, but there are a growing number of people with food “issues.” It might be a food intolerance, a food sensitivity, or even a very serious, life threatening food allergy. I’m one of them. Maybe you are too.

But maybe you are not. And maybe you are now daily exposed to people talking about their food avoidances in the work place to stores promoting the latest in allergy-free products, and are even told not to bring your favorite foods to schools or potlucks for the sake of a small minority that might have an adverse reaction to such foods. SO annoying, right? But seriously, does this make you angry?

Just let me tell you, no one chooses to have food issues. Parents do not choose for their sons or daughters to go into anaphylactic shock when exposed to peanuts, dairy or any other random foods that might normally seem completely benign. In fact, it’s something all of us parents fear. While you are grumbling about peanut butter, can you imagine the fear of that parent praying their child does not accidentally ingest or even come in contact with the food that could land them in the hospital, or worse, while they are at school or out in the world? In a far less serious example, I did not choose to break out in painful acne all over my back every time I eat dairy. And others did not choose to experience terrible gas and bloating when eating foods with gluten, sugar, soy, etc. I know sometimes it may seem that people are using food avoidance as a diet or other regimen apart from a true food allergy, but give them the benefit of the doubt. All of us in a second flat would choose to be able to eat anything we desired if given the ability. Oh how I would LOVE to eat a piece of cheesecake without paying a price. Or really, just to have a simple latte. Or buy a thick chocolate chip cookie full of high quality butter. Great, now my mouth is watering, and I digress.

You may be wondering what the differences between food allergies, food intolerances and food sensitivities are, anyway. Let me break it down real quick so you can a better sense of where people are coming from.

Food Allergy: This is by far the most serious. This is an immune-modulated reaction related to the IgE antibody. These reactions usually occur within minutes of eating a food and can range from something as simple as a mouth rash to more serious symptoms such as hives, vomiting, or anaphylactic shock.

Food Sensitivity: These reactions are modulated by non-IgE antibodies or T-cell reactions and are typically delayed in nature. The reactions may occur hours after eating a food up to 3 days later. It can be extremely frustrating to figure out which foods are the actual culprits so have some patience with your poor friends or family members who are still trying to sort it out. Better yet, tell them about Mediator Release Testing. In these cases the symptoms are rarely life threatening but can include things such as digestive issues/IBS, headaches/migraines, body aches, fatigue, eczema, and a host of other ambiguous symptoms that might equate to “feeling lousy.”

Food Intolerance: This is the result of the body’s inability to correctly break down a food due to some deficiency in an enzyme or other body process that would normally allow you to digest and assimilate that food in a normal manner. The easiest example is lactose intolerance. When the enzyme Lactase, produced in the small intestine, is lacking, people cannot break down the lactose in dairy products efficiently. The undigested lactose goes into the intestines and then produces unpleasant gas and bloating. Avoiding dairy or taking oral Lactase usually solves the problem.

Celiac Disease: I feel the need to mention this one here because it is none of the above but commonly encountered. You may know that those with Celiac Disease must be on a gluten free diet, but that is not because gluten is an allergy. It’s because gluten causes an autoimmune disorder. The presence of gluten signals certain antibodies to damage the villi of the small intestine, making it an attack against “self.” The destruction of these villi, which are the absorptive surfaces of the small intestine, eventually produce malabsorption of nutrients and a host of co-morbidities. Even the smallest trace of gluten can trigger these events.

Irregardless of the type of food issue a person has, I think the common frustration among folks is what to do about it or how to help. Well first of all, there is nothing you can do about it. People’s food issues are people’s food issues. What you can do to help is be accommodating.

Do you know how many times I’ve heard people say to me in my office, “Danielle, I just don’t want to be a burden to anyone.” So then they’ll go, eating the food of family and friends, that they know will make them sick. What I’m saying is that many people would rather make themselves sick than have you think ill of them for bringing up a food issue. I know it may seem easy to just not eat, but have you ever seen someone give you the eye for not eating anything at a party? It’s even worse if you are thin. And doubly worse if it’s around family. People hate the non-eater. It’s a no-win situation.

Being accommodating to food sensitivity/food allergy/food intolerance sufferers first requires you to ask. When was the last time you asked on an invite or in a group if there were any food allergies to be aware of? And even if you did, have you ever though that a large majority of them don’t even mention their avoidances simply out of politeness?

Secondly, do a little research on these food groups. How many people do you know that are gluten free? Check out your grocery store for gluten free options and products. Do a little reading online about common foods to avoid. Discuss the issue with these particular friends to learn a little more. Trust me, they will appreciate you asking and might even share why they are avoiding certain foods in the first place.

Thirdly, take it seriously. Remember that even a little bite of allergenic foods for some people can provoke serious symptoms. As I mentioned before, sufferers of Celiac Disease, for example, can have NO gluten. Even the contamination from foods processed in the same facility as wheat can cause malabsorption and inflammation in their small intestine. Over time this sort of damage can lead to vitamin/mineral deficiencies and even cancer. It’s serious. Other people with gluten sensitivity may be able to get away with a touch of gluten here or there. You just never know the severity, so ask.

Lastly, try not to be offended. Even if the dish you so carefully created for your allergy-suffering friend seems perfect in every way, try not to take offence if they still can’t eat it. I’ve been there, in both respects. I’ve had people create dairy-free meals for me only to have seemingly forgotten that butter constitutes dairy (admittedly I still eat it and suffer the consequences). On the flip side I’ve created meals or baked goods for others where I may have remembered to accommodate a few of their allergies but unfortunately forgot about one. It happens. Get over it and enjoy the company.

Now I know this is no perfect science and there will still be frustration, anger and annoyance when dealing with people’s food issues, but hopefully we can all get along a little bit better just by being more aware and sensitive to those around us. Next time you bring a dish to your work potluck or church event, consider making something gluten free. Maybe prepare something Vegan. The options are endless. Take stock of those around you and think about how you can be more accommodating. You will be amazed how much your efforts are appreciated.

Catering Food With Care

Last week it was my Son’s birthday and we planned to take the kids for a picnic to the lakeside park. We decided to make a salad and pack some sandwiches & drinks for the picnic. We prepared the sandwiches at night and took along with us for the morning trip. By mid-day we were at the lake. As we spread the sheets on the grass the kids felt hungry and demanding food. As I opened the basket I smelt something weird.

The sandwiches with chicken filling was giving out unpleasant smell. The food had gone bad. To our good fortune we figured out that it had gone bad and decided not to eat it. Such instances happen with each one of us in our day to day life. We often prepare food at home and then take it somewhere else to be eaten. A lot of people cater from home and supply food to people. As the person preparing or handling the food, it is your responsibility to make sure your food does not make the guests ill. Food poisoning is a miserable and potentially dangerous experience.

You will need to take extra care if any young children, pregnant women, older people or anyone who is ill will be coming to the function. This is because if anyone in these vulnerable groups gets food poisoning, they are more likely to become seriously ill. In spite of using fresh ingredients to prepare food, it goes bad so soon. Let’s figure out what really went wrong?

The most common errors which lead to food poisoning are:

Poor storage of Food
Cold foods not kept cold enough or hot foods hot enough
Inadequate cooking
Not separating raw and ready-to-eat food

Food contamination can happen at any stage be it cooking, transportation and even storage. Inappropriate storage is often reported as the cause of food poisoning outbreak. Food is left unrefrigerated for prolonged period which makes it prone to bacteria infestation. If you are planning to prepare food for a large group ensure that you have an appropriate sized refrigerator and freezer to store food and you use proper wrapping paper and bags to store food.

Raw food and Ready to eat food should never be stored together. This increases the risk of bacterial activity.

Cooked foods that need to be chilled should be cooled as quickly as possible, preferably within an hour. Avoid putting them in the fridge until they are cool, because this will push up the temperature of the fridge. To cool hot food quickly, place it in the coolest place you can find – often not in the kitchen. Another way is to put the food in a clean, sealable container, and put it under a running cold water tap or in a basin of cold water, or use ice packs in cool bags. Where practical, reduce cooling times by dividing foods into smaller amounts.

Once the food is prepared, getting it to where the function is being held can be a problem. This can be particularly difficult when there are large quantities of perishable food involved. Use cool boxes. You will also need to check that the facilities at the place where the function is being held are adequate for keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Adequate fridge and cooker capacity there is just as important as in the home.

Cooking food thoroughly is the key to killing most of the harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning. Large meat joints or whole poultry are more difficult to prepare safely, so take special care with them.After having learnt all this I realized why the picnic food got spoilt. I let the chicken sandwiches out unrefrigerated for way too long and I did not care to separate salads and ready to eat food. I could have used cool box for transporting the food. But I guess we all learn from our bad experiences.

Food To Body, Nutrition To Health

Health depends to a large extent on nutrition, and nutrition on food. Food, in fact, is the most important single factor in connection with the attainment and maintenance of health. Every drop of blood in the body is conditioned by the food we eat and it is on blood that every tissue, every organ, every gland, and indeed every function of the body fundamentally depends.

By food is meant any material taken into the system that serves to sustain normal bodily processes. It is fallacy of our times to regard that anything and everything called food is good for health.

For any substance to be properly regarded as human food it must be capable of supplying the body with the material needed for the repair of body tissues and maintenance of various functions, while at the same time doing no harm to the body and in no way interfering with its activities. Food in order to replenish the body, therefore, must be food, so in selecting food make sure first that it is really food. We must live on truly nutritious food and not on anything generally considered as food.

To be healthy and in good condition, it is imperative to eat natural, wholesome food making sure that the food supply is in proper proportion and of a character or quality suitable for protecting the body. The chemical elements of the body combine to make brain, muscles, nerve, blood, skeletal tissue and body secretions. The elements of food are spoken of as nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, mineral salts and water. These are often called foodstuffs, indicating that they are stuff from which food is made.

One of the really difficult problems for the present generation is that much of our food no longer reaches us from the field, garden or orchard in the normal state as nature prepared it, to meet man’s nutritional needs. Such foods are now very largely collected and taken on the large commercial centres, where they are altered, preserved, pickled, denatured, cooked, sterilized, pasteurized – thus deprived of their most vital elements. Whatever is left which will stand over long distances transportation and keep indefinitely is sold to us in place of the original things which nature provided as food. Such denatured substances have no nutritive value and are far from being satisfactory substitute for natural foods.

By natural food we mean food as provided by Nature containing all the elements, and not flavoured or doctored or devitalized by man. No form of life can be supported wholly upon laboratory products and man is no exception to the fundamental law.

Few people understand the true meaning of natural foods. For they have been fed from childhood on unnatural, artificially prepared and manufactured foodstuffs which are detrimental to the normal functioning of the digestive organs and gradually impair our health. Our food is generally spoilt even before it is gathered.

Plants and trees often suffer from deficiency or excess of certain elements in the soil. Apart from growing mineral starved food we find that much of it is totally altered in composition. Millers have learnt to take from our grain the surrounding skin, the bran, which is extremely rich in health-giving elements, in mineral substances and vitamins.

Many people live largely on denatured, artificial foods. In ever increasing numbers people live on preserved foods. In order to make these artificial foods more attractive to consumers they are dyed with chemical dyes and flavours added. Thus men are made to subsist on scientific abominations totally unfit for the consumption of man or beast. We eat these foods because they are attractive to the eyes and to the palate and are very convenient because they can easily be prepared for the table.

These devitalized and demineralized foods lower the vitality and sap the health of the people who thereby fall a prey to various diseases and epidemics.

On top of it refrigerated, devitalized, denatured and manufactured foodless foods are relished and consumed day in and day out. Yet another menace is pesticides and spraying of vegetables, fruits, and in farms has been taking a heavy toll in the form of organic and blood diseases and even cancer.

We are living in a polluted world. There is poison in the air we breathe, poison in the food we eat and poison in the water we drink. Where does it all lead to? “Back to nature” is obviously not the solution to this tragic problem. A revision to the diet of primitive man is not a viable proposition but we could try and give preference to foodstuffs which retain their full natural properties and elements without which one cannot expect radiant health and resistance to external influences and diseases.

Natural food properly selected, scientifically combined, and judiciously administered has true remedial value and can cure disease by supplying the proper saline elements in organic form. These organic mineral elements in food preserve the tissues from disorganization and form putrefaction. These vitalizing minerals, salts and vitamins are vital to health, ward off disease and premature old age.

The degeneration of the human race has been brought about by the departure from its natural foods. The only basis of possible regeneration is a return to it.

It is undoubtedly true that our eating habits depend upon our economic status as well as the availability of foods. But it is equally true that beliefs, customs, traditions and prejudices influence our food habits much more than we realize. The general food beliefs of any community are a social product deeply entrenched in the minds of the community and practiced almost like a faith. These beliefs, therefore, significantly influence the nutritional status of these population groups, and become a force to reckon with in any nutrition programme.

Sir Robert Mc Carrison said, “The single factor in the acquisition and maintenance of good health is perfectly constituted food which consists particularly milk, milk products, whole grain cereals, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables.” These are called protective foods as they protect you against disease and epidemics. He adds that most people do not get enough of protective foods and their diet is therefore incomplete and results ultimately in disease.

Science today is finding in its researches a conglomeration of the truths uttered by Nature Cure pioneers many decades ago.

When studying and discussing food in its relation to the basic or fundamental principles:

 

  1. We must know what primary elements enter into the composition of the body.
  2. We must have knowledge of the chemical contents of our food.
  3. We must know how to combine food correctly in a meal from the standpoint of the chemistry of digestion.
  4. We must have a correct understanding of the relation food actually has to the body.
  5. We must understand the principles of alkaline and acid forming foods in their chemical reaction on the body.
  6. We must have a correct conception and understanding of the function of metabolism or the “science of nutrition.”

 

Dry or Wet Dog Food: Which Is Better?

Have you been feeding dry dog food to your dog only because you were told that it prevented tarter and dental disease? Do you feel guilty when you add canned food because of the harm that it may cause? Dry food does not prevent dental disease and wet or canned food does not cause dental problems. Each type of dog food has its own benefits and drawbacks. A combination of wet and dry combines the best of both foods.

The Dog’s Unique Feeding Style

The belief that dry food prevents dental disease is derived from the belief that chewing causes abrasion on the tooth surfaces to prevent or shave off tarter. And that is true, but dogs do not chew their food! Anyone who has witnessed or stepped in dog vomit knows that the vomit looks just like the food, just wetter.

As pack animals, dogs killed and feasted in very competitive groups. Individuals tore flesh from the carcass swallowed and then repeatedly dove back into the frenzy for more. Taking the time to chew would have meant less food and possibly starvation.

This feeding habit has not changed in our modern dogs. Examination of a modern dog’s mouth reveals that they share the same sharp, pointed teeth of their flesh eating ancestors. They grab, maybe crunch once, swallow and grab again. No abrasive cleaning action of the teeth takes place during a meal.

Dental Tarter and Food Type

Wild dogs and cats don’t eat any dry food. Studies show that they have less dental tarter than pets fed commercial food, wet or dry. The fact is that dental disease is more complicated than what type of food is eaten. Dental hygiene is less dependent on diet and more dependent on routine care. Regular teeth brushing and availability of hard chew toys has a greater impact on dental health than the type of food. Owners can be comforted that they can feed how they want without guilt.

Dry Dog Food

The major benefits of dry food are convenience and price. Open the bag and scoop, no mess. This makes traveling with a dog much easier. It is also very inexpensive compared to wet food. A 50lb dog can be fed for as low as 13 cents a day.

The major drawbacks of dry food are its quality and the reluctance of dogs to eat it when they are ill.

All ingredients of dry food are put in huge pressure cookers and turned into a liquid at high temperatures. This means any form of protein, carbohydrate or fat can be used. That is why this method is perfect for using meat, grain and processed food scraps as well dead, decayed animals rather than real cuts of meats and whole grains and vegetables.

After the hot slurry reaches the proper time and temperature it is injected through super-heated extruders. As the liquid leaves the extruders the cold air causes it to “pop” into various shapes depending on the mold of the extruder exit. The dry kibble is then sprayed with oil and vitamins before bagging to replenish some of the nutrients lost in this double heat process.

Dry kibble will not “pop” without sufficient carbohydrates. That is why dry dog food tends to be lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates than wet or canned food.

Although dogs eat their dry food when they are healthy, they often refuse to eat it when they feel ill. The refusal to eat can lower their nutritional status and ability to heal. This downward spiral often leaves these dogs very fragile when they are finally taken to the vet. Would you eat shredded wheat without milk if you were sick?

Canned Dog Food

The major benefits of canned food are taste and quality. Only rarely will sick dogs refuse to eat canned food. When wet food is mixed with dry food, dogs eat more heartily. The larger variety of flavors of canned foods allows for more diversity in the diet. Canned food is generally higher in protein than dry food. With canning, ingredients are cooked in the sealed can so nutrients are not lost during the heating process.

A major drawback of wet food is that it is more expensive than dry food. Also many owners object to the smell of canned food and dislike storing partial cans in the refrigerator. And certainly opening a can is more complicated than scooping from a bag.

Why Not Feed Both?

Since food is not a culprit in dental disease, why not spice up your dog’s diet with a combination of canned and dry food? Using the wet enhances the quality, flavor and enthusiasm for mealtime. Adding the dry reduces food costs. Everybody wins. Having wet food available can help maintain your dog’s appetite during illness.

Freeze Dried and Dehydrated Foods: Which Is The Better Method for Long Term Survival Food Storage

The Process of Freeze-Drying
Freeze-drying is a complex process of preserving fresh or already-cooked food by removing up to 98% of the food’s moisture, leaving intact the food’s texture, flavor, aroma and nutritional value.

The process requires that the fresh or cooked food be quickly frozen at temperatures as low as -50°C. The frozen food is then placed into a vacuum chamber. This vacuum chamber lowers the pressure, and raises the temperature to just about 0°C.

At this specific temperature and pressure, the ice crystals in the food evaporate into water vapor, bypassing water’s liquid form, through a process called sublimation.

This process preserves the cell structure and nutritional content of the food, resulting in a product that, when rehydrated, very closely resembles the original food.
The process also prevents the water from being reabsorbed by the food and thus decreases its weight significantly.

Most food items such as fruits, vegetables and meats are well-suited to freeze-drying, and can be used for long-term food storage and preservation.

The Process of Dehydration
Dehydrating food is a food preservation method which has been used for centuries. Native Americans dehydrated their buffalo kills in their hunting camps to make it simpler to transport. Pemmican (a dehydrated concoction of buffalo meat mixed with fat and berries) was a staple of many of the nomadic North American tribes. This low-heat dehydration process involved either air drying (with nearby campfires), or sun drying strips of meat on drying racks.

Dehydrators are a modern method for slowly removing the moisture from food without actually cooking it. A drawback of dehydration is the limited amount of food which can be dried at one time. The positive aspect of dehydration is that this method of processing for food storage can be easily done at home.

How Do These Two Methods Affect the Food?
Freeze-dried foods preserve much of the original color, shape, aroma and freshness of fruits, vegetables and meats. Freeze-dried food does not usually contain additives or preservatives, so it remains true to its original form. And the look, texture and flavor of the food remains after re-hydration.

Unlike low-heat dehydration, freeze-drying allows for the preservation of pre-cooked meals, including recipes such as soups, stews, stroganoff, and the like. An obvious benefit is that since the meal was prepared in its entirety prior to freeze-drying, all you need to do is simply add water, then heat for a few minutes in order to create sumptuous meals.

Rehydrating freeze-dried food takes just a few minutes, simply by adding boiling water. Some foods, like many fruits and vegetables, need no re-hydration before eating.

Dehydrated foods shrink during processing as the moisture is removed. So the food item itself is considerably smaller than its original size.

The re-hydration time of dehydrated foods takes a bit longer than freeze-dried, but it stills tastes like the original form of the food. Some dehydrated foods contain added ingredients to enhance flavors or assist in preservation. As with freeze-dried fruits and vegetables, dehydrated fruits and vegetables can be eaten without any re-hydration.

Both methods of food preservation increase the long-term storage life of food. Most commercially produced freeze-dried and dehydrated foods have a shelf life of 15 to 20 years, if properly packaged and stored in a cool, dry environment.

In addition to their being a reliable source of food in an emergency or long-term survival scenario, because of their light weight and ease of portability, these foods are also great for taking on camping, hiking and hunting trips. They are also a wise choice to keep in an emergency road-side kit for the car, or in your bug out bag.

If you choose to keep these foods in your car as part of an emergency kit, please remember to rotate them periodically. Temperatures in a car can reach extremes, both hot and cold. High heat as well as continuous temperature fluctuations contribute to quicker degradation of both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods.

Which Type is Better for Consumption?
Everyone is different, and each person has their own personal tastes and preferences. With that in mind, there are a few things to consider before making a decision between freeze-dried or dehydrated food.

Home-grown fruits and vegetables are better preserved via dehydration, since the average person cannot afford the costly machinery used in freeze-drying.

Foods used in everyday cooking and meal preparation should probably be freeze-dried. This permits the food to be quickly re-hydrated as it is cooked prior to serving. If accessibility and portability are important, than either type of preserved food should meet those particular needs. Once again, it’s a matter of personal preferences.

In a nutshell, both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods are excellent choices for long-term food storage, as well as for daily use or for hiking, camping, etc. They both provide light-weight, portable, convenient foods. The primary difference is that freeze-dried foods tend to better preserve the shape, texture and flavors of the original food.

Most people will find that a combination will work best for their needs. Single-item foods such as vegetables, potatoes, and other staples and grains are well-suited to low-heat dehydration. Freeze-drying is more appropriate for meats and fruits (whose texture can be preserved), and for pre-cooked meals with a variety of ingredients such as soups, stews and sauces.

As you incorporate freeze-dried and dehydrated foods into your lifestyle, whether for camping and recreation, convenience, or as a survival strategy, you will learn which items you prefer to be dehydrated, and which you prefer to be freeze-dried. In either case, be assured that your choices will offer the peace of mind of knowing that you have a reliable source of food in virtually any situation.

Organic Food Is Going Mainstream!

I’m always looking for healthy foods.

I started our journey to healthy when CJ was a toddler and at that time (15 years ago) there were not that many options and what little foods there were, they were hard to find. I would drive anywhere or buy foods via mail if they were organic, gluten-free and dairy free. So you can imagine, my first trip shopping at Whole Foods; I felt like a child on Christmas morning! There were so many healthy choices. I loved it. As I told my story to people and encouraged them to eat whole organic foods, many people said it was just too expensive and hard to find.

How sad that processed foods are cheaper than whole organic foods.

You would think it would be the opposite as processed foods take more time to make and factories and workers are needed. Unfortunately, the low quality ingredients in most processed foods allow for a cheaper price. It doesn’t seem fair or make much sense, but it’s reality.

We are just beginning to understand and accept the need for whole foods.

Let’s face it, people today are used to fast convenient foods so that’s what is readily available. It’s Economics 101-the problem is supply and demand. There are fewer healthy markets and organic farms so the demand may be getting higher, but the supply is still low, causing higher prices. For example, my cousin had many food allergies and was also not able to eat foods with preservatives when she was growing up in the 1970’s. My aunt had to drive 20+ miles to a health food store for things as simple as almond butter or whole grain bread. Thankfully today you can find many stores that sell healthier food choices, but it still may be expensive.

Shopping for organic foods will get even get easier and more reasonable!

Walmart is teaming up with Wild Oats organic foods. This essentially means organic foods will be available in almost every neighborhood. It also means that organic products will be sold for a better price. Consumers will not only have more options on where to buy organic foods, but the competition should bring organic prices down over all. That is a win win for the consumer.

The possibility for more organic foods available to everyone excites me.

The fact that Walmart is branching into organics means that the demand for organic food is not just for the stereotypical health food junkie, but also for the average consumer. This means that more people are aware of the dangers of eating chemically processed and genetically modified foods and want to change their eating habits. I think the competition between Walmart and traditional health food markets will raise awareness even more. My hope is that someone will see organic and non-organic foods side by side, see that the cost is similar and opt for organic. My dream would be that people would then buy fresh organic foods as well. This would also allow organic farmers without GMO produce to become more profitable. People wrongly believe that just because organic produce is more expensive, the farmers make more money. The truth is that it cost more to farm organically. Whole Foods has long held to the belief that they are “the buying agents for our customers and not the selling agents for the manufacturers.” Unfortunately for this once food revolutionary “food to fork” market has had their profits slip, as more grocery stores want to provide customers a healthier way to eat. I hope stores like Walmart retain the dignity and hard work of these small organic farmers and help them make more money as well.

What motivated Walmart to add organics?

I’m not sure why and maybe it did have to do with wanting a share of the growing “organic” market. I don’t care though because anything that gets people talking about, buying and eating healthy food choices is good. I do find it funny that Walmart has a disclaimer stating “This isn’t about telling our customers what to eat, nor is it an endorsement of certain foods. It’s about leveraging our scale to provide access to the choices that currently elude too many families in our country. It’s just one more way we’re helping our customers save money so they can live better.” I guess they don’t want to alienate the people who shop all the rest of the food aisles packed with processed food! Oh well, I will take any amount of health awareness I can get!

There are other ways to buy healthy at a reasonable or cheaper price.

One of the best and most fun (to me) ways to buy organic produce is to shop at the local farmer’s market. (There’s even a website called Local Harvest to help you locate the farmer’s market closest to you!) I love getting to know the vendors and learning what’s the best produce to buy for the season or even that day. Our early ancestors didn’t have food shipped from miles away. Rather, they ate the fresh food available to them and then fermented/cultured and canned their food to eat later. This not only preserved the food, but provided valuable good gut bacteria that helped their immune systems and over all health.

This is one less excuse for not buying organic!

As always, you need to be your own warrior and check the ingredients on everything you buy. Best rule of thumb: if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is, it’s probably NOT good for your gut! Raw, whole, organic, fermented probiotic foods help replenish good gut bugs, amino acids and live enzymes, which you need when you don’t eat as well as you should AND even when you do eat well. Fermented foods are as essential to your body as drinking water. Your body needs it to be balanced so your body efficiently absorbs and distributes essential nutrients for all the other foods you eat too. A healthy gut equals a healthy body, mind and life!

The Science and Law of Food Testing

The scientific credentials of anyone working within food testing need to be underpinned with knowledge of the current and emerging regulations. This means keeping a breast of any changes to food quality standards. The all too recent horse meat scandal is a reminder of why food testing is needed with a global food supply chain.

Food testing labs fall into two key disciplines:

 

  • Food microbiology testing
  • Food chemistry testing

 

Both areas of food testing are about providing reliable, accurate results to make foods safer. Ensuring they meet the necessary statutory requirements and protect the consumer.

Food microbiology testing

Microbiology food testing is specifically for the identification of microorganisms which causing food spoilage and foodborne illness or where food producers’ use microorganisms to in food production, for example cheese making.

The most common applications of microbiology in food testing are:

• Shelf Life Determination – confirmation of the stability of a food product based upon storage conditions, time and temperature. The shelf life determination allows food producers to confidently set a Sell By Date or Use By Date.

• Water Testing – testing water is safe for human consumption within a food factory or manufacturing site. Because water a raw material and should be tested and analysed accordingly.

• Legionella Testing – testing water for the specific presence of Legionella bacteria, especially the most pathogenic (disease-causing) strain of Legionella bacteria is Legionella pneumophila group.

• Environmental Hygiene Monitoring – advice on how to set up food factory environmental control and monitoring plans to help meet the specifications required for good food factory environmental hygiene Helping reduce levels of contamination in finished products, leading to improved quality, fewer batch rejections and lower risk of product recall.

• Microbial Quality Determination – used to assess the microbiological quality of the end product, or an ingredient, or even the cleanliness of a food contact surface.

• Pathogen Determination/Identification – analysing and testing for food pathogens which cause illness in humans either by infections such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and pathogenic Ecoli or in toxications such as Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus or Clostridium botulinum.

Food chemistry testing

Food chemistry testing is focused around nutritional values and determining the composition of food products. Identifying the presence of additives or contaminants and is generally used to ensure food and drink products meet consistent standards and quality. It can also be used to provide accurate data to meet regulatory and consumer requirements, for example food labeling.

The most common applications of food chemicals testing are:

• Group 1 Nutritional Testing – The minimum declaration permitted on food packaging and labeling is a “Group 1” declaration, this covers:

– Energy (kJ and kcal)

– Protein (g)

– Carbohydrate (g)

– Fat (g)

• Group 2 Nutritional Testing, including AOAC Dietary Fibre – the Government recommends that Group 2 information be given on all foods, on a voluntary basis, as this gives consumers information on the key health-related nutrients. Information declared should be expressed as g/100g or g/100ml.

– Energy (kJ and kcal)

– Protein (g)

– Carbohydrate (g)

of which:

– Sugars (g)

– Fat (g)

of which:

– Saturates (g)

– Fibre (g)

– Sodium (g)

• Meat and Fish Contents – There are limits on the presence of connective tissue and the amount of fat associated with lean meat. Analysis of meat content and collagen can provide you with figures for Nitrogen, Protein, Ash, Moisture, Fat, Carbohydrate, Apparent Meat with and without Fat and Energy Values in Kcals and Kjoules.

• Meat and Fish Speciation – Once flesh is removed from the carcass it is not always easy to visually identify the different species. The more processed the meat or fish, the less recognisable it becomes from its original species. It is at this stage that adulteration and contamination can occur. The identification of animal species is performed for a variety of reasons, both economic and ethnic, to prevent the substitution of meat with unsuitable or inferior species, or in religious communities where a particular meat is prescribed.

• Elemental Analysis – testing on the sixteen minerals present in food stuffs required to support human biochemical processes. These sixteen elements are divided into 2 categories; Quantity Elements Analysis and Essential Trace Elements Analysis.

Quantity Elements Analysis

– Sodium (Na)*

– Potassium (K)

– Magnesium (Mg)

– Calcium (Ca)

– Phosphorous (P)

– Sulphur (S)

– Chlorine (Cl)

* Salt Testing is an important part of nutritional declarations.

Essential Trace Elements Analysis

– Manganese (Mn)

– Iron (Fe)

– Cobolt (Co)

– Nickel (Ni)

– Copper (Cu)

– Zinc (Zn)

– Molybdenum (Mo)

– Selenium (Sel)

• Heavy Metals – Heavy metals are widely present in the environment, both from natural sources and human activities. These metals are dangerous as they tend to accumulate in the food chain. As the top consumer of the food chain, humans are subject to highest risk of heavy metal poisoning. The most common heavy metal food tests are:

– Arsenic (As)

– Cadmium (Cd)

– Lead (Pb)

– Mercury (Hg)

– Aluminium (Al)

– Silver (Ag)

– Tin (Sn)

• Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Screening – the analysis and legislative aspects of genetically modified (GM) foods and food products. GM Foods are monitored for safety by the European Food Safety Authority and other bodies and foods are checked for toxicology, allergic reaction and nutritional properties on both raw materials and finished products.

• Vitamins – claims of vitamins in foods are now commonplace. The legislation of consumer foods, food products and drinks ensures the consumer has accurate information.

Whether with natural vitamins or fortified with vitamins, products are closely monitored and accurate vitamin testing is essential to ensure that declared levels are correct, especially if a company is making a claim about a product.

• Water Activity (ERH), pH – water as an ingredient in foods and food products was the earliest form of food preservation. The availability of water for microbial growth and biochemical reactions may be controlled by dehydration, freezing and the addition of solutes such as salt and sugar, thus having the potential to prolong shelf-life of a product.

Food testing water activity is used for compliance of government regulations, CFR, HACCP and other food safety programs and helps food producers control and predict microbe activity.

• Allergens – since November 2005, food labelling regulations in the UK and Europe have insisted that allergens deliberately added to pre-packed food and food products must be labelled with allergen information. For example ‘gluten’ and ‘nuts.’

Four Ways to Keep Your Food Safe

There is an old English saying “Food cooked with passion and served with love tastes divine.” Trust me, it is true even today! Every food enthusiast (like you and me) is well aware that the soul of any good recipe resides in the right blend of spices and fresh natural ingredients. But we might sometimes miss upon an even more important ingredient while cooking food, and which more often than not tampers with the soul of our recipe. Yes, I am talking about food safety & hygiene. One has to be very careful while handling food and maintain the highest level of hygiene and food safety in our kitchen and home.

Food contamination can occur at any stage, be it harvesting, processing, preparation, storage or transportation. Foodborne diseases are often common where low standards of hygiene are used. According to data released by World Health Organization, every year foodborne disease causes almost one in ten people to fall ill. These diseases can be deadly especially in children.

There are a few basic rules to be followed while handling food:

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.
Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.
Cook: Cook to the right temperature.
Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

Clean: Wash hands and surfaces often.

One must wash one’s hands thoroughly with soap before coming in contact with food. This eliminates transfer of germs from your hands to the food. One must wash all vegetables and fruits with cold water before using them. Kitchen counters and surfaces are the key places which if dirty can contaminate food. These places must be sanitized thoroughly along with equipment used for preparing food.

In case you are sick or down with cold and flu you must avoid cooking and handling food. When someone has the symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting or jaundice, they should stay away from the workplace. And if they have a sore throat and fever, they should be restricted from preparing and serving food.This is alarming because these people potentially could have spread disease to the people who consume the foods their establishments were serving. Martin Bucknavage, extension food-safety specialist says,”Foodborne pathogens such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Shigella often are spread by sick workers to restaurant patrons through the food.” These recommendations are not just for foodservice or retail food establishments but also for people who cook for their families and those who work in child care or elder-care facilities. The use of hand sanitizers and tissue paper should be encouraged in all age groups.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.

To avoid cross contamination keep raw and cooked foods separate when storing and preparing. Food should be stored in covered containers in the fridge and put raw meats and poultry in the bottom of the fridge so the juices don’t contaminate food on lower shelves. Don’t put cooked meat back on the plate the raw meat was on.

Cook: Cook to the right temperature.

If you eat poultry, seafood and meat you must be careful while cooking them. They should be cooked thoroughly at right temperatures before eating. In order to confirm, insert a skewer in the center of the meat and check that there is no pink meat. The juices must run clear. Those are the signs of well cooked meat. In case raw meat is consumed it can lead to food poisoning.

In the past few years microwaves are being used in our kitchens to cook and reheat food. You can cover your food with food wrapping paper of a good quality, which prevents the food from drying out on reheating. Make sure the reheated food is piping hot and the steam is coming out of it. This means you have eliminated the risk of bacteria and other pathogens.

Chill: Refrigerate promptly.

If you are to store your raw food in fridge, wrap it with a food wrapping paper which can absorb the moisture and prevents the dripping of juices and keep it at a temperature lower than 5 degree Celsius. You can help keep your family safe from food poisoning at home. Cold temperatures slow the growth of illness causing bacteria. So it’s important to chill food promptly and properly. Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours.
Healthy and hygienic food habits can avert a lot of foodborne diseases. These habits should be inculcated in your daily lifestyle and should be taught to kids as well. It’s the small steps which go a long way and make a big difference in your holistic well being.