Eat Your Medicine
Have you ever wondered why a pre-packaged food has a longer expiration date than the same food made from scratch which spoils in a matter of days? Look at the ingredients listed on the nutritional label. A general rule of thumb is that foods with more than five ingredients usually contain chemical additives or preservatives. These are used to enhance shelf life or to make the food look fresh by turning it a certain color.
For instance, nitrates and nitrites are often found in processed meats such as deli meats, hot dogs, bacon, frozen meat dinners and breakfast meats. In food, nitrate salts can react to form compounds called nitrosamines which are problematic because they can be carcinogenic by reacting at the cellular level and altering gene expression — thus causing DNA damage.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the main ingredient in soft drinks and is also hidden in foods like bread and pasta sauce. Studies have shown that large doses of HFCS can cause damage to your gastrointestinal tract and allow toxic byproducts produced from bacteria flora to pass into your blood stream and trigger an inflammatory response that is at the root of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia and accelerated aging.
Another chemical to avoid which is found in countless foods in the grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeteria and used to add flavor is monosodium glutamate, or MSG for short. It is tricky to really know whether MSG is in your food because it goes by so many other hidden names. MSG is commercially added to many foods, despite evidence that these excitotoxins can penetrate certain areas of the brain and cause damage. This chemical has also been linked to eye damage, headaches, migraines, fatigue, dizziness and depression.
Keep your family healthy during this fall with super foods packed with nutritional power. When you go to your local supermarket, the easiest tip to remember when shopping for these healthy foods is to travel along the outer perimeter of the store. There you will find foods that contain the greatest amount of nutrients, including fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, dairy products and meats. These foods are the healthiest and should be primarily consumed.
Whether you are shopping at a supermarket or a farmer’s market, keep in mind the top 10 signs of selecting a “super healthy food” for you and your family.
- It is organic-based, preferably USDA certified organic.
- It is grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
- It does not contain any added growth hormones or antibiotics.
- It does not contain any artificial flavors, chemical additives or preservatives.
- It is fresh, not expired.
- It does not contain added salt or unhealthy trans fat. Avoid products that contain the words “partially hydrogenated” on the label.
- It does not contain an exhaustive list of ingredients (five or less).
- It is wild caught, not farm raised (for fish).
- It is produced by obeying the laws of nature. Animals are fed their natural diets and have free-range access to the outdoors.
- It is not genetically engineered. My home state of Connecticut has recently become the pioneer state to require the labeling of GMO foods. Food safety advocates hope this sparks a nationwide march toward all foods having these labels.
By educating yourself on how to accurately identify a “super healthy food” next time you are at the store, you will be able to avoid sabotaging your healthy eating plan and provide your body with the proper nourishment that it needs for optimal health.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~Hippocrates (ancient Greek physician)
For more information on helping you and your child obtain overall SUPER HEALTH, please visit: www.douglashaddad.com.
Douglas Haddad is a public school teacher, nutritionist and the author of parenting/child guidance book Save Your Kids… Now! The Revolutionary Guide To Helping Youth Conquer Today’s Challenges and co-author of Top Ten Tips For Tip Top Shape: Super Health Programs For All Professional Fields.
Images courtesy of photoxpress.com
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This post originally appeared on our September/October 2013 Magazine