Thursday, April 7, 2011 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

Food as medicine

The American public is facing serious health challenges. The obesity epidemic is well known to everyone, but the multitude of complications this carries with it flies somewhat under the radar. Most people know that overweight increases the risk for heart disease, but I believe the sky high levels of other life style diseases are all interconnected.

This means that the high levels of diabetes, allergies, cancer and autoimmune diseases are all related. The medical profession is falling over itself looking for causes and cures for all these ailments. As usual most of the effort goes into finding effective medication, because that's where the big bucks are.

I have no medical skills and very limited interest in the actual biological processes that causes obesity and disease. In stead I try to go one step before that and look at how humans have changed their ways to make us fat and sick. The obvious reason to me is that our food and lack of movement are making us unhealthy.

What we eat has changed radically over the past few decades, but our bodies are still virtually unchanged the past few thousand years. It stands to reason that we are not built to eat the stuff that is passed along for food these days. At the very least, the most optimal diet for us human apes are closer to what we used to eat for thousands of years of our history than Twinkies. In reality the obesity epidemic is a new and unprecedented trend in our history. To me it makes sense to look at what we are doing different today than what we used to do when we were a lot healthier.

To me the obvious place to start is with what we eat. Americans eat more fast food and processed food than ever before. The consumption of soft drinks has skyrocketed, the amount of sugar and total calories in our food is at an all time high. To go with our increasingly processed food diet, we are moving less and less and spending the wast majority of our days sitting in front of various screens. Interestingly enough, total fat consumption is lower today than in the 1960's while obesity and average weight has increased dramatically over the same time.

Everyone points to our terrible diets for why we are getting heavier, but no one seems to be able or willing to point the finger on the real causes. Fast food companies, soda producers and pre-prepared food manufacturers are all scrambling to question any findings that try to link their products to health issues. For me, I don't need a scientifically valid study to realize that a  cheesed food product with natural and artificial flavors is not as good for my body as freshly harvested tomato.

My extremely simple approach to eating healthy and protecting my health is based around these intuitive facts. Whenever I have the choice I choose to eat as close to natural products as possible. This means I pick fresh vegetables over canned varieties, home made meals over TV dinners, water over soda and the list goes on and on. The principle is very similar to the popular philosophies behind primal or paleo lifestyles, but I try to keep it even simpler. I have no motivation for calculating calories, or proper ratios of fat, carbs and protein. I do it as simple as I possibly can: When I want to eat I eat the best quality food I can get my hands on in that situation.

Quality foods to me are foods that are processed and manipulated by other people as little as possible. My favorite food source is my own back yard where I grow 100% clean vegetables, fruits and berries. If I am not at home or have to buy food, I buy things I imagine could be found in nature. Finally, I try to get my meat from animals that have been raised as naturally as possible. For beef this means getting pasture fed beef if at all possible, I avoid all industrial chicken meat, and make sure the fish I buy is wild caught.

While it is impossible and even unhealthy to expect to always be perfect, I still strive to do the best I can in any given situation. If I eat out, I get salads or other dishes that seem less processed. If I end up eating something I know to be less than ideal I don't get down on myself, but rather resolve to eat better the next time. I do what I can to avoid refined sugars and hyper processed foods. I always prefer making my own food so I know exactly what I eat and make sure I enjoy the food I eat whatever it might be.

That is how I take responsibility for my food and health. I ate as natural as I can, and reject pretend foods. The results? I've lost 60 pounds in under a year, have completely eliminated my allergies, never get migraines anymore and finally have my chronic sinusitis under control. For me, moving forward with my health means looking backward at how we were meant to live.

  1. I eat as natural as possible, too. However, for the planet's health it's sometimes better to eat farm raised fish. Depends on the kind. There's a list somewhere of what is on the watch list and what isn't.

  1. M Pax, I have some experience with fish farming in Norway. The amount of medication pumped into the fish and the impact the fish farms have on the local ecosystem is enough for me to place fish farms just slightly above the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.

    For sure there are serious issues of overfishing and indiscriminate harvesting in wild fishing, but I still think that is a better way to get our fish. The best solution of course is to catch your own fish if that is possible.

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