There’s been a lot of documentaries lately that explore the controversy over food, diet, and obesity. For instance, “Supersize Me”, “Food Inc.”, and others have introduced us to the notion that we are slowly killing ourselves with the things that we eat. “Hungry for Change” is no different. I wouldn’t say that it’s a brilliant documentary, but it’s definitely ‘food for thought’ (excuse the pun). It runs about a half hour too long, but it does delve into the nutritional reasons for why our food industry is poisoning us.
The main takeaway for me from this documentary is that anything that is processed is toxic – even if it was healthy, or nutritional to begin with. The analogy given is the cocoa leaf. In its natural form, it’s healthy. Processed into cocaine, it’s killer. The same, therefore, is posited for refined sugar (as opposed to naturally occurring, unadulterated sugar), processed grains, etc. The reason being that the body is overwhelmed by these high concentrations, causing toxicity. Its natural reaction is to try to flush it out of the system, or store it as fat, before it damages other organs within the body, or the brain.
The culpability of the food industry is simply that it’s trying to create products that are cheap, addictive, and have a long shelf life – non of which are conducive to nutrition. In other words, they are creating food-like substances that have high caloric content but no nutritional value. The result of which is that we eat more, because we are starving on a cellular level – craving nutrition – but never getting it.
Part of the acceleration in obesity is by design. Our bodies crave fats and sugars, because it traditionally meant survival. We used to live in a world of high nutrition and low calories. Since then, however, we’ve created foods that are exceedingly high energy. Then, we spend more time indoors, sitting at computers. It’s a double-whammy. People than seek out prescriptions to deal with problems that result from their poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles, only making things worse.
It’s easy to attack the food industry, because they produce products that are designed to cause craving but not satiate. Also, they purposefully obfuscate what they’re doing. MSG and Free Glutamates go by 50 different names on the packaging. They are particularly nasty, because they excite the part of your brain that controls fat intake. It makes things taste like the best thing ever, but leaves you hungry for more (engineered addiction). It’s already in 80% of modern day, American foods. Also, try finding something in a US supermarket that doesn’t contain corn syrup. This is another highly refined, toxic substance, yet it’s in everything from chips, to soups, to salad dressings, to sodas.
The Fat-free trend is also dangerous. First of all, the body needs fat to function properly. There are plenty of good sources of fats to eat, such as olive oil or from nuts. But substituting fat can wreak havoc on body chemistry. And Sugar-free is just as bad. Artificial sweeteners can be harmful in many ways. Also, they cause carbohydrate cravings, which can cause imbalances. For instance, Aspartame can cause neurological disorders and cause weight gain. Drinking soda can reduce bone mineral density from the phosphoric acid. Fructose is highly addictive. Replacing fat with sugar is silly, because sugar becomes fat from insulin. In fact, by making fat the enemy, Americans have eaten more carbohydrates, making them fatter. At the end of the day, the right kind of fat is good for you and you’re better off eating it than substituting. Avoid low-grade fats from soya oil, canola oil, and, especially, partially hydrogenated fats (the worst kind of all). Plant based fats and fish fats are the healthiest.
Do you like blueberry muffins? Make sure that they’re not using Propylene Glycol – a fake blueberry flavour. You’ll find it in your car, as well as in your ready-made cereals.
So, what should we do? One thought experiment would be to imagine that we are living in a zoo. The zoo keeper comes and feeds us. Does he feed us donuts and Cap’n Crucnch? Because that’s what many of us appear to be eating.
The solution is to be sensitive to the human body’s metabolic chemistry. Americans need to stop eating 150 lbs of sugar a year (as they do currently) and cut down on high glycemic substances. We need to consider refined sugar as a drug that has very detrimental effects on us. Because the body will produce mucous or fat to purge irritants, we can help it to detoxify naturally by burning fat and eating foods that facilitate this process: green vegetables (high chlorophyl), gelatinous plant foods (seaweed, chia seeds, aloe vera), parsley (blood cleansing), cilantro (binds with heavy metals like mercury), etc.
The documentary leaves you with the notion that weight gain is caused by chronic stress, excess cortisol, shock, abuse, sadness, etc. The body knows how to counteract this, so long as you give it the correct nutrition and exercise. Eat your greens. Exercise. Avoid processed foods.
There really is no silver bullet.