As I continue learning how to eat healthy, I find it is difficult trying to assimilate the quantities of information available. Not only is there an overabundance of information, but some of it is true and some of it is not. Learning how to eat healthy can become extremely complicated. Sometimes it almost seems like you have to become a scholar, physician, chemist, chef, fitness instructor, farmer, and nutritionist in order to do the right thing for your health. I may not be all those things, but I have been able to pick up some tips here and there to share:
1) Buy organic if possible.
Organic food is produced using no pesticides and no chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also processed without using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. Studies have shown that added chemicals can cause kidney problems and damage the immune system, as well as a host of other problems. But the good news is studies also show that organic foods have a higher vitamin content than non-organic and help build the immune system.
2) Wash your fruit and vegetables.
I have personally chosen to soak fruit and vegetables in a mixture of one part vinegar and three parts water for 15 minutes. This method is great for removing bacteria and breaking down the wax that sometimes covers fruit. Some people omit this step, but I don’t. Even if the food is organic, it still could have some remnants of dirt and germs, especially considering all the hands that have touched the food before you put it in your cart.
Other methods of washing food could include using dish detergent, using a commercial fruit cleaner, or making your own cleaner. Don’t be fooled though into thinking that if you wash your fruit and vegetables, you don’t have to buy organic. Only washing the outside of the food does nothing for the inside of the plant where the pesticides and fertilizers were absorbed into it through the roots, leaves, or the food itself.
However, if you are unable to buy organic, you can substantially reduce the pesticide load by peeling the fruit or vegetable. This is especially true in the case of apples, which are generally the most contaminated of all. Wash the food well before peeling or you can transfer pesticides and bacteria to the peeled fruit or vegetable. You can also discard the outer layers of vegetables, like lettuce, assuming the outer layers will have absorbed the majority of the pesticides through spraying.
3) Try to eat food raw.
The general rule of thumb is to try to consume food in its original state or as close to it as possible. When heat is applied, it changes the chemical structure of the food. The food we get from nature is perfect, exactly like it is, with the nutrients and enzymes that your body needs to digest the food. Cooked food can be missing the enzymes the body needs to digest, so the body has to make up for that by creating them itself. These things put stress on the body’s digestive system and take resources away from other important body functions.
There are a few exceptions to only eating raw and one of them is carrots. Carrots have all kinds of health benefits raw, but cooked, they become more easily digestible to the human body and the body can utilize more of the carrot’s nutrients.
4) Avoid using the microwave.
Micro-waves change the molecular structure of food and they are not safe. Modern microwaves need to have at least three safety measures in place just to ensure that if the microwave opens, it shuts off immediately. But I only need the strange rubbery textures in the finished foods to prove it’s not healthy.
In my opinion, if you have to cook the food, steaming seems to be the best choice because this will leave the food in as close to its original state as possible, crisp or tender.
5) If you're cooking, do not cook with toxic cookware.
If you cook something in a cast iron pan, the food will contain trace elements of the iron. It is then logical to assume that whatever you choose to cook something in, chemicals from the cooking vessel itself will leach into the food. Aluminum cookware is not desirable due to the Alzheimer’s and aluminum toxicity connection. Notice that your aluminum foil has a dull side and a shiny side. The dull side is a protective coating that separates the aluminum foil from contact with your food. The shiny side is unprotected; thus the dull side should always surround food items. Non-stick pots and pans have also been identified as toxic as during heating the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. This has been linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.
My choice is glassware. Older glass cookware came with a lead toxicity problem; however, improvements in manufacturing the past 10 years have eliminated this issue.
6) Avoid plastic wrap and plastic containers with BPA.
From the plastic containers you buy packaged microwave food in to the plastic containers you store it in to your water bottles, plastic is everywhere. The FDA says plastic wrap is safe. But even plastic wrap manufacturers recommend a one inch gap between the wrap and the food. If the plastic wrap is melting hot and dripping condensation onto the food, it seems to me it would also be breaking down into the food as well.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been present in many plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s. This is another chemical the FDA says is safe in low levels, but some studies have suggested it causes hormone imbalances, as well as impaired brain function.
My suggestions are to use BPA-free products, reduce your use of canned foods (since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin), avoid microwaving plastics or putting them in the dishwasher (because the plastic breaks down and allows BPA to leach into foods), and use glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.
The information we get is great and voluminous, but at least it makes us aware. My suggestion is to read and learn as much as you can. We can learn a lot in a relatively short amount of time, but sometimes what we learned yesterday is obsolete today. Take everything with a grain of salt and do your own research. Consider the source of the information and use your best judgment. Good luck and happy, healthy eating!
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Claims on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA. Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research.. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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