Food: Medicine or Poison?


One of my favorite hobbies is finding quotes on Pinterest. I've heard quotes in the past that were similar to the one shown on the left and I believe it is absolutely true. We tend to think once we've passed adolescence or body is "full grown". While you may not grow any taller your organs continuously rebuild themselves. Every 10 years your body makes a new skeleton. The surface of your skin is replaced every 3-4 weeks.

An article in The New York Times, based on the research of Dr. Jonas Frisen, estimates we're really only 7-10 years old. If we're only 10 years old why do people age? Why doesn't your 90 year old grandmother look like she did when she was 10?

In order to understand the aging process we must first look at cell division. When the body's cells undergo cell division, a process called mitosis, the DNA of the cell must first be copied.

Image: Mitosis

Human DNA contains 46 chromosomes. If the DNA isn't duplicated before the cell divides the daughter cells will only have 23 chromosomes. DNA is a critical component to cells because it contains information the cell needs to operate.

While the body is amazing, it isn't 100% perfect. Each time the DNA is copied there is a little which is lost in translation. For example, the bone structure of your grandmother's 90 year old face is slightly different than it was when she was 20 or 30. If you've ever made a photocopy of a picture and then a copy of the photocopy the image begins to lose its clarity. Now, imagine only copying the copy 100 times in a row. By the 100th copy you most likely won't be able to detect the original image. Welcome to the aging process! The foods and beverages we consume play a larger role than filling us up when we're hungry. They determine the health of our future cells and organs. 


Most people have heard of the antioxidant properties of vitamin's A, C, and E. Oxidation is the name for what happens when atoms lose electrons. One electron is all that separates Hydrogen and Helium. Which would you rather hold a match to?

Electrons matter to the chemistry of our body. When an atom or molecule is missing electrons, negatively charged particles, it will try to balance the positively charged protons, found in the nucleus, by "stealing or borrowing" electrons from other atoms. Oxidation is an ongoing process in the body because the body uses oxygen to function. In order to take care of the organism we have to take care of our atoms. There is a hierarchy within the body where each level builds the next: Atoms, Molecules, Cells, Tissues, Organs, Organ Systems, Organism. 
Image: Oxidation and Reduction

A study conducted by the Department of Physiology (Animal Physiology II), Faculty of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain is one of many that shows oxidation creates inflammation within the 
body. Eating a diet that combats inflammation is important because heart disease, diabetes, alzheimers, 
arthritis, and cancer are now believed to be primarily caused by inflammation. 

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

If you've ever watched Willard Scott announce the Smuckers 100+ birthdays he'll often point out that the people who love to garden seem to live the longest. A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and fish cause the pH of the human body to increase. Loren Cordain's Book, The Paleo Diet, in my opinion offers the best guidance in navigating the food world. Imagine the things you would eat if modern technology didn't exist. Your diet would be full of plants, nuts, and lean meats. Cordain makes an excellent point by showing what cavemen and hunter-gatherers ate. Eating like a caveman is how we are genetically designed to eat. 

When the pH decreases the body is full of inflammation. Here is a list of inflammatory ingredients and some of the reasons I avoid them:
  • Sugar
    • Is found in some unexpected grocery items. I've found high fructose corn syrup in marinara sauces, wheat bread and crackers, and yogurt. For a person who is trying to eat healthy these items certainly sound healthy but upon closer inspection there are healthier options available. Instead of buying marinara sauce I buy canned tomatoes and create my own. I've found that Greek yogurt contains less sugar than traditional yogurt. 
    • I never buy or use ANY artificial sweeteners. The way I see it, my body knows how to metabolize sugar without any difficulty. In my morning coffee or tea I use raw sugar or honey. Although I haven't tried it yet I'm looking forward to getting my hands on some coconut palm sugar I learned about while watching Dr. Oz. It doesn't cause spikes in blood sugar like traditional sugar does. (click here to view palm sugar video at doctoroz.com)
  • Refined Grains
    • When grains are refined they lose their nutritional value. I believe if a food doesn't offer the body some sort of value, why eat it? Many food manufacturers stamp their packages with the phrase "whole grain". It is ironic to me that highly sugared cereals also contain this message. Do people really believe whole grain coated in sugar is healthy? When purchasing wheat bread look for "stone ground" wheat flour as the first ingredient or simply make your own. Here is a link to my Lazy Wheat Bread recipe. 
  • Vegetable Oil Instead of vegetable oil usually made of (corn, soy, or canola) I buy safflower or unrefined coconut oil. The first reason is because corn, soy, and canola are crops that are most likely to be genetically modified. The second reason is that they contain high levels of Omega-6. Omega-3's reduce inflammation and have many health benefits but Omega-6 oils negate the positive benefits of Omega-3's.
  • Trans-fats
    • The term "trans" in chemistry refers to atoms orienting themselves on opposite sides of a molecule. In the figure below you will see hydrogen atoms surrounding a molecule of saturated fat.


      Notice in the figure below some of the blue hydrogen atoms have been removed. Atoms are like people in that they don't like to do a lot of work and they like to be stable. So when a few of the hydrogen atoms are removed notice that the hydrogen atoms in the middle are on opposite sides of the molecule. 
    Trans fats are commonly associated with partially hydrogenated oils. Hence, if you remove some of the hydrogen atoms they will orient themselves on opposite sides of the fat molecule which creates a trans fat.
  • Dairy
    • I've always wondered who was the first person that thought drinking a white excretion from the nether region of another species looked good. We are the only species that drinks milk past infancy and we're encouraged to do so. Asians who eat their traditional diet full of fruits, vegetables, and fish have fewer incidences of osteoporosis than those who consume dairy. When was the last time you had dairy in your favorite Chinese restaurant? In eastern medicine dairy is not the great substance western medicine claims it is. Your stomach contains acids to help digest food. What happens when you mix lemon juice or vinegar in a glass of milk? It curdles. The eastern point of view is that dairy clogs the system. If you want to have strong bones eat green leafy vegetables and exercise. Remember your bones are continuously rebuilding themselves and they make new bone where bones are stressed. Weight bearing exercise is great for building bone strength.
  • Processed and Feedlot Meats
    • There are many reasons I try to avoid processed and feedlot meats. Thankfully my husband is a hunter so I am able to enjoy lean deer or elk throughout the year. Some people theorize that animals kept on these feedlots aren't happy. They never get to roam through a green pasture and stand in fecal matter all day. It matters if you believe in the transfer of energy. An animal that isn't happy and is probably stressed passes those stress chemicals and energy right to your dinner plate. Looking at the number of Americans who are continuously stressed and/or taking anti-depressants, I think there may be something to this theory. If you've never seen the documentary Food Inc I believe everyone should see it. Cows raised on feedlots are fed corn to make them gain weight. In the documentary you will see that corn is found in 90% of the items sold in supermarkets. The cows gain weight eating corn and components of corn are found in nearly everything. I'm really not surprised America has an obesity epidemic. They're feeding us the same stuff they're fattening the cows with. A sad moment in the documentary involves a little boy named Kevin. His family stopped for hamburgers on their way home from vacation. Kevin's burger contained E. Coli and within 2 weeks he passed away. The FDA didn't issue a  recall on the meat that he ate until well after he had passed.
    •  Grass fed beef is a much better choice it is leaner and contains beneficial fats. Also, if a grain fed cow is exclusively fed grass for 1 week 80% of the E. Coli in its system disappears. (Food Inc)
  • Artificial Ingredients
    • I'm old enough to remember America before there was an obesity epidemic. Over the years people have become more sedentary and supermarkets are full of overly processed food. The next time you are in the market read the ingredients of the items you're purchasing. I worked as an analytical chemist for 5 years and I've encountered my fair share of chemicals. There are many that I avoid one I definitely watch out for is BHT. It's found as a preservative in most cereals and crackers. BHT stands for Butylated Hydroxy Tolulene. It is a fine white powder that smells very similar to moth balls. That odor has stuck in my mind for years; it's definitely not natural.
    • The nutrition label may say there are "0g" of trans-fats per serving, but if the ingredient list contains any oils that are "partially hydrogenated" there are trans-fats in that product. If you're not sure what a food ingredient is look it up on Google. This may seem like a daunting task at first but over time we can change our food system. Every purchase you make is a vote and money often has a louder voice than the people do. 

To your health : )


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