Lifestyle diseases are on the rise in western society and we are developing potentially fatal illnesses at a younger age, yet every day in the news we are told that we are benefiting from advancements in medicine like never before. How can both of these ‘facts’ be true? The truth is that in the Western World, we suffer from chronic lifestyle and food related diseases which our medicine simply cannot cure. In fact the only real way to reverse these damaging, modern day effects is through prevention, not medication. The idealised version of this prevention falls into two categories.
This is driven by demand, i.e an en masse approach to force the food industry to change its offerings. The consumer changing their lifestyle and food habits would be an excellent personal strategy to remain healthier for longer, but it is difficult in the face of retailer led temptations of sugar laden goodies and ‘quick-fix’ ready meals. Some people succeed in healthy eating choices after some practise and others may never stick with the changes, either due to a lack of willpower or a lack of knowledge and time.
This is supply side driven i.e the manufacturers all decide to offer natural food options and as such the consumer only has the choice of healthier versions of foods presently on offer from the retailers. If the only option of food we had was an intrinsically healthy one, we would have no choice but to eat more healthily – the likelihood of the entire food market changing though is nonexistent.
Gaining The Knowledge
Option 1 demands us as the consumer to radically change our eating habits en masse, thus forcing the food manufacturers to change,which is highly unlikely, such lovers of fast-food that we are now. Unrealistic option number 2 expects the manufacturers to start offering us only naturally produced foods which would no doubt result in a mass-hysteria from sugar junkies the western-world over. So just what can these manufactures and producers do to simply and easily assist the retailer and the consumer in making the right food choices?
Simply put, how do we as the consumer, and they as the retailer know what is ‘good food’ in terms of it’s long term disease prevention and inner healing benefits, and what is not? After all, the retailer is not a health expert and it is quite apparent as lifestyle diseases continue to soar that the consumers are not either. So if it is the blind leading the blind, how can the food manufactures help us to trust the quality and integrity of the food which they are supplying to us?
The point system.
A system of points or numbers is an easy to understand concept and one which we are already using in many instances. For example, when it comes to wine you can determine the sweetness of it with a point system where 1 is the driest option and the higher the number the sweeter it gets. Also Weight Watchers’ easy to follow point system refers to the calories and fat in food, so the higher the point scores the higher the calorie/fat ratio.
And now? Perhaps introducing the Health Food Point System; a simple suggestion for manufacturers and retailers to help them to determine how positive a product is with regards to the items’ health promotion and disease prevention. An understanding of a foods’ natural intrinsic benefits could help lower lifestyle diseases and as such, to help us choose food which offers us optimal health qualities, the points would be based on the following ideals:
1. Organic Lineage
Have all the ingredients been organically grown for generations and as such come from on organic lineage? This question is appropriate because when packaging says ‘organic’ it very often only refers to the lifetime of the seed or animal in question and does not go back to the parental seed or animal and so forth. As such, mass farming has produced a deterioration of the quality for both animal and plant. It is therefore important that the chicken raised organically does not come from generations of battery hens and the wheat grown organically doesn’t come from generations of overexploited soil and pesticide usage.
2. Exposure to Gas or Irradiation
Has the product been exposed to radiation/gas treatments? Food is exposed to irradiation to kill certain bacteria such as e-coli but this also means that, from a nutritional aspect, friendly bacteria, enzymes, essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, thiamine, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, C, E, and K are also destroyed. Amino acid and essential polyunsaturated fatty acid content can also be damaged severely. In fact food often loses between 20-80% of it’s goodness through these treatments, rendering it effectively ‘dead’.
This negative effect results in the loss of healing power in the product. For example, pure natural honey can have such a healing power that it can clean festering wounds. However, if the honey is exposed to heat or irradiation, this incredible healing power is lost completely. With our current day, mass produced food processes, we are essentially losing, not just the knowledge of how to self heal and prevent disease with nature, but also the very products from nature itself!
3. Laboratory Ingredients
It has become a trend that agricultural chemical companies, i.e companies which make fertilisers and pesticides, also put their hand to replicating vitamins and other fortification in the laboratory. But, artificially produced food ingredients should have no place in our food. They may look similar under the microscope but we don’t yet even fully understood the energetic quality of natural foods yet, so how can we ever hope to replicate that goodness? Unsurprisingly, the body doesn’t recognise these false vitamins and minerals as food either (limited bio availability) and they are often all but useless and health-less.
Instead of taking the nutrients out of the soil with over farming, adding poor quality (often GM filled) fertilisers which further reduce the quality of soil and therefore the resulting food, before adding artificially made ‘healthy fortification’, surely food production needs to simply attempt to go back to it’s natural roots? Because unless it is a grown, dried and powdered version of the natural item, it has no place in the food we eat. Fortification, flavour enhancers and preservatives are not able to support the natural body in preventing disease and promoting health.
4. Genetic Modification
Does the growth and production process involve genetic modification? In other words, has the item been grown with genetically modified ingredients such as GM feed for animals and GM fed animal waste for the soils’ fertiliser? Many researchers believe that there is enough evidence to show a link between genetically modified foods giving rise to cancer through tests on laboratory animals and even pets at home which are fed a standard pet food diet, usually containing highly GM ingredients.
5. Bleaching, Stripping And Refining
Does the product go through a damaging bleaching, refining and/or stripping process? These heavy duty processes reduce the nutritional value of food and though chemical nutrients or mineral counterparts are added ‘back in’ via the laboratory created versions, a grain which is stripped of its mineral and vitamin containing shell to look white is not achieving the optimal and original health qualities which nature intended. We already know that refined sugar and oils are very bad for our health, yet they are sold in large quantities the world over, quite possibly due to their addictive nature. Add these unhealthy, unnatural products to an ever increasing reduction in soil quality, and a nutritionally deficient product with a high glycemic load is created – and how could such products possibly hope to support our bodies with natural healing and health?
6. Local Ingredients
Are the ingredients locally sourced within a 50 mile radius and as such completely nutritionally developed before being harvested? To ensure an international product arrives to us perfectly ripe, fruits are picked in an unripened state and are therefore unable to mature in the most beneficial condition for optimal nutritional development, i.e on the tree. As such, global ingredients often need added travel time to give the product opportunity to ripen. Yet this simply means that fresh ingredients such as fruit and vegetables are not able to offer us the complete natural health benefits they could give us had the items been sourced locally. Equally, globally transported animals produce high levels of stress hormones in their system which requires the use of medication such as antibiotics to counteract it. This in turn risks the consumers of these animals products having a resistance to those same antibiotics should they ever need them in the future.
7. Herbal Ingredients
Does the product contain herbs & spices? Gourmet tasting food contains natural herbs and spices and not flavour enhancers or flavourings, but there is another benefit to using herbs and spices. They improve taste and colour of course, but they are also good for you. Kitchen herbs promote proper digestion and absorption of food, as well as inducing a healthier metabolism. In other words they are fantastically beneficial and tonifying to our health yet they are often left out entirely from present day food production. They are often replaced by artificially and laboratory made flavours, colours and fragrances.
8. The Real Number of Ingredients
Does the food contain 6 or less ingredients? Aside from herbs and spices, the meal should not have much more than 6 ingredients as overly complex food combinations can hinder digestion and are not necessary for our health, and yet too many manufacturers use one ingredient term to hide a multitude of other ingredients and E numbers on their packaging.
9. Food Contamination
Has the product been batch tested for heavy metal and food packaging contamination? There are more than one hundred chemicals and heavy metals regularly found in food, resulting from either a leaking of the packaging into food or from hazardous food production. A contamination label or a batch check for heavy metal and chemical contamination for the food products could easily solve this issue.
10. Manufacturer Transparency
Finally, is the manufacturer transparent about their source of ingredients? Some manufacturers do not like to say what type of ingredient they are using and where they source it from. Surely that should be illegal? Can they honestly want us to ingest potentially harmful ingredients? One such manufacturer, the worlds largest breakfast brand starting with the letter K, refused to tell me what type of maize grain they use and where they source it from. Upon asking them why they are so secretive about the source of their ingredients, the email trail fell tellingly silent – they obviously couldn’t be bothered to even be transparent about their lack of transparency. You are left to draw your own conclusions.
Much of the food available to us in the supermarket is no longer healing but has instead turned into a hazard to the human body. Food manufacturers are not experts at either health promotion or health maintenance, yet we as the consumers, unquestioningly allow them to create our foods using dangerous, poor quality production methods which are based on cost savings and ease of handling and not on the benefits to our health as a society.
This Health Food Points Scale is designed to provide a framework to the consumer, the manufacturer, the retailer and the government so that all participants in the food chain, from ingredient growth and development to the consumer of the final meal, can understand and compare food products to ensure they get the best possible healing health out of their choices which in the long run should hopefully lower lifestyle and food related diseases in the western world.
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