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Your Body is not Sterile

Posted in Food for Thought

Our culture has taught us to be afraid of bacteria. We believe that our bodies are sterile and bacteria invade and attack, making us sick. If you stopped an average soccer mom on the street and told her that there are trillions of bacteria in her guts, she would probably freak out and run for the antibiotics. What she doesn’t understand is there are good kinds of bacteria. We need this bacteria. If our intestines we’re truly sterile, we would most surely die.

Bacteria are on our skin. Some cause body odor, some manufacture vitamin D when we get sunshine. Bacteria line the membranes of our mouth, nose, ears, eyes, and mouth. These bacteria are the first line of defence against foreign invaders.[1] There are actually more cells in your gut flora than in your body.[6] This collection of bacteria, yeasts, viruses, worms, and other single celled organisms is more unique than any fingerprint or any retinal scan could possibly be.

The makeup of this flora is constantly changing. The food you eat, the chemicals you’re exposed to, and any drugs or medication you take will affect it. When I was a teenager, I found out that the more sugar I ate, the more acne I got. If I went easy on sugar for a week, my acne cleared up. No medicine or creams required.

Bacteria is Good for You

Since the advent of germ theory, mankind has feared bacteria. Antibiotics, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, these have become commonplace. Modern families endeavour to live without bacteria. But this is a fallacy. We cannot live without bacteria. Nor can we live without beneficial yeasts, viruses, and other microbes.

Your body uses this gut flora to digest food. They are the ones who break down your food into usable constituents, not your stomach, not your intestines. Your digestive system is merely a place for them to live. Your gut flora assists in the assimilation of nutrients. They create nutrients from your food. They manufacture vitamins for your body to use between meals.

There is a world war going on inside and outside your body every day. Good bugs fighting bad bugs. Bacteria fighting bacteria. Yeast fighting yeast. Viruses fighting viruses. The largest part of your immune system is in your gut. No it’s not a bunch of white blood cells, it’s bacteria, yeast, viruses, and many other single celled organisms. A healthy body has up to six pounds of beneficial flora in the gut.

In addition to protecting us from infections, healthy gut flora protect us from toxins and carcinogens. They do this by either neutralizing them or grabbing onto them. Our stools are up to 90% bacteria. When they are eliminated, they take these toxins out with them.

A study done in 2007 looked at two groups of animals. One group was given antibiotics, while the other was the control. They were given large amounts of organic mercury in their food and water. In the group that we’re not given antibiotics, who had healthy robust gut flora, only 1% of that mercury got into the body from the digestive tract. In the group treated with antibiotics, which wiped out the gut flora, over 90% of the mercury got into their bodies, blood stream, bones, and everywhere else.[1]

Bacteria is Bad for You

Your gut also contains many bad microbes just waiting to take over. These opportunistic microbes are kept in check by your healthy gut flora. When their population is low, these microbes actually serve a good purpose. Only when they get overpopulated do they cause problems.

You can think of these opportunistic microbes as cops and criminals. As long as you have enough cops around, they’ll keep the criminals in check. Like most criminals, opportunistic microbes are waiting to take advantage of the right situation. Most criminals only rob when it’s easy or convenient. That’s why locking your car works. As long as your good gut flora outnumbers the opportunistic ones you’ll be okay.

Modern lifestyles wreak havoc on our beneficial gut flora. Antibiotics are the number one killer of healthy gut bacteria. Whether they come in the form of a prescription or residuals in the meat we consume, they decimate our healthy gut bacteria. Most prescription drugs, contraceptive pills, and chemicals in our food also damage our healthy gut flora.

When our healthy gut bacteria is reduced, the opportunistic microbes begin proliferating, unchecked. This can lead to gut inflammation and leaky gut syndrome, where partially digested food particles enter the bloodstream. These food particles can cause immune system reactions that may get mistaken for food allergies.[5]

When this happens these opportunistic microbes eat our food, convert it into hundreds of toxins that flow into the bloodstream through the damaged gut wall. These chemicals wreak havoc on a person’s body, especially a child’s body.[2]

Is Your Gut Rotting Your Brain?

Perhaps you think this idea is far-fetched. How could our digestive system have anything to do with our brain? They’re so far apart. But is it really that far-fetched? When a doctor prescribes an antidepressant, what does the patient do with it? Do they rub it on their forehead? No. They take it by mouth where it enters the digestive system. Only then does it get absorbed into the bloodstream and affect the brain.

So why should anyone consider it far-fetched that microbes in that same gut might also be excreting chemicals that affect the brain. We already know that bacteria can excrete toxins that rot teeth. Is it possible these chemicals may also be rotting the brain?

“All diseases begin in the gut.” This saying was coined by Hippocrates over 2,000 years ago. Hippocrates is considered the father of modern medicine. Only now are we starting to realize he was right. Probiotics are becoming popular and antibiotics are starting to be seen for what they are. Destroyers of life.

Don’t Feed the Animals

Sugar and carbohydrates are the top foods for opportunistic microbes. Especially yeast. The most common type being the ubiquitous candida species. This is a large family of yeast with about 200 different species known to science so far.[1] Yeast breaks down these carbohydrates into alcohol by means of alcoholic fermentation. The same alcoholic fermentation that beer companies use.

When your digestive system runs out of carbohydrates, your opportunistic microbes start calling for more. Your brain uses hormones and chemicals to regulate thoughts and obsessions about food. Candida, parasites, and other bad microbes have evolved ways to mimic this natural process to trick you into eating more carbohydrates and sugar. However, their influence is only felt when there is an abundance of them.[3]

We’ve all been there. We open the refrigerator and just stare. We don’t know what we want to eat, only that we want to eat something. The reason this is so confusing is simple. We’re not the ones who are hungry, it’s the microbes in our gut that are hungry. They want carbohydrates.

The key to reducing your opportunistic bacteria is to stop feeding it. Reduce your carbohydrate consumption, especially sugar. Processed food contains many carbohydrates, but also chemical flavorings that only pathogenic microbes can benefit from. Our opportunistic microbes do not need the nutrients that healthy food contains. They are perfectly happy to live off junk food.

Repopulate Your Gut Flora

Probiotic supplements are a good place to start. However, you want to be careful what brand you buy. Cheap probiotics contain only contain lactobacilli. Good probiotics contain multiple groups of bacteria. A combination from the three main groups is best: lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, and soil bacteria. Potency is also important. Look for at least 8 billion cells per gram. The more the better.[2]

The probiotic I use is Young Living’s Life 9. It has 17 billion live cultures from 9 beneficial bacteria strains. Another thing to consider is how long do the capsules take to break down. Stomach acid can kill most of the probiotic bacteria. Life 9 uses time release capsules so that the probiotics are not released in the stomach.

Years ago, before refrigeration, people had to be more creative in preserving their food. Lacto-fermentation was one of these methods. Lactic acid is a natural preservative that inhibits putrefying bacteria. You’ve surely heard of sauerkraut, it gets its distinct flavor from the lactic acid produced by the bacteria fermenting the cabbage. When we eat fresh, unpasteurized sauerkraut, the bacteria go into our gut and help us digest food.

Pickles can also be fermented using bacteria. This is generally done with a starter culture. Pickles you buy in the store are pickled with vinegar. There are no beneficial bacteria to be found. Even if there were, they would be killed in the canning process.

Kefir is a cultured milk product. It’s like yogurt on steroids. But kefir is not yogurt. While yogurt may have 7-10 strains of bacteria, kefir frequently has up to fifty. The types of bacteria are different. The bacteria in yogurt pass through the body in 24 hours. The bacteria in kefir stay and take up residence in your gut.[7]

Kombucha is a fermented tea made by the kombucha culture of bacteria and yeast. Kombucha is proof that healthy doesn’t have to taste bad. Properly made kombucha tastes like bubbly apple cider. But don’t let the good taste fool you. In addition to good bacteria, kombucha contains a beneficial yeast that will help fight off bad yeasts, notably candida.[7]

For instructions on how to make all of these, visit Donna Schwenk’s www.culturedfoodlife.com. You can buy kefir grains, kombucha starter, sourdough starter, pickling culture, and books on cultured food.

Feed Your Good Flora

Once you get some good flora, you want it to flourish. One of the best ways is by drinking bone broth. Broth made from bones provides building blocks for the rapidly growing cells of the gut lining. They also have a soothing effect on areas of inflammation.[8] This is why chicken soup is good when you’re sick. You can buy broth from the store, but be careful that it doesn’t have chemical flavors. These will harm your beneficial gut flora more than help it. Watch out for MSG, natural flavorings, or yeast extract.

The best broth is the broth you make yourself. You can buy pasture raised beef or chicken bones from local farms for $2 – $5 a pound. This broth will have many times the nutrients as store bought. You can also add vegetables like onions, garlic, and carrots to add even more nutrients and flavor. A good broth will taste like beef stew or chicken soup.

Vegetables are another important food for us and our gut flora. However, not all vegetables are equal. Most of the sweet, bland, and pale vegetables you find in the produce section have only fractions of the nutrients their predecessors had. One easy thing to look for is color. Darker is usually better. Darker green lettuce. Darker yellow corn. Purple is always better. Purple lettuce, purple carrots, purple corn. The darker colors indicate more nutrients.

The best way to get these vegetables is from local farms. Vegetables do not require very much space to grow. This means that urban farms can sell produce that’s just as healthy as large rural farms. It’s all about how the vegetables are raised. Do they use compost or miracle grow? We’re the vegetables picked within a couple days of being sold? Do they use pesticides or natural ways to deal with pests? Just because a vegetable has some insect damage doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, in japan people seek out produce with holes because that means it’s more natural. If the insects think it’s good, then maybe it is.

Meat is also an important part of your diet. Meat is the best source of protein. Some plants may contain high levels of protein, but our bodies don’t assimilate it well. What’s the point of eating lots of protein if most of it gets wasted?

Pasture raised meat from local farms is ideal. If you cannot afford pasture raised, you can buy meat from the supermarket. Buy raw unprocessed meat from the meat section. Processing eliminates many nutrients and adds chemical flavorings that will harm your beneficial gut flora. Making soups and stews is the best way to eat meat. They are easy to make, just throw the ingredients in a crock pot and let it cook.

 

Let’s not kid ourselves. If you want to take control of your health, you’re going to have to start cooking. Restaurants use cheap ingredients grown on the same mega farms that supply your local supermarket. They rely on chemical flavorings to make their food taste like the real food it’s impersonating. Restaurants are not concerned with how healthy their food is. They’re concerned with sales. If that means promising healthier food, then they’ll make a few adjustments. But in the end, they’re still using the same cheap food. It’s up to you whether you will continue to support that system.

 

 

References

  1. www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/gut-and-psychology-syndrome-gaps/
  2. Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, 2010 – p. 51-53
  3. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/why-we-crave/
  4. www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/modernizing-your-diet-with-traditional-foods/
  5. www.westonaprice.org/modern-diseases/digestive-disorders/food-allergies/
  6. news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160111-microbiome-estimate-count-ratio-human-health-science/
  7. Cultured Food for Life, Donna Schwenk, 2013
  8. Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, 2010 – p. 145

 

Processed Food

Posted in Food for Thought

Processed foods are everywhere. Supermarkets are full of them. It’s true that humans have always processed food through cooking, fermenting, drying, etc. However, that processing is minimal when compared to industrial processing.

In the grand scheme of things, industrially processed foods are new. They’ve only been around for little over 100 hundred years. Most of the chemical additives, preservatives, and flavors are less than 50 years old. Mankind is participating in a mass experiment. An experiment to see whether eating chemical food is really safe. Not whether it is safe short term, but whether it’s safe long term.

Humans have been eating minimally processed foods for thousands of years. You may believe that we were designed this way or evolved to this, but either way, the message is the same. Humans are not meant to eat highly processed foods. Our ancestors never ate MSG, refined vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, or large amounts of refined carbohydrates. Nowadays, up to 5,000 additives find their way into our food.[3]

What do Common Diets Have in Common?

There are many popular diets floating around. Most of them are fad diets that don’t live up to their claims. However, there are three popular diets that have stuck around. Because they do get results. The strange thing is, they couldn’t be more different.

The Paleo Diet, also called the caveman diet. It recommends only foods that would have been available during the paleolithic era: all animal foods, including fat and dairy, eggs, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and low-glycemic fruits.

The Mediterranean Diet calls for less meat and emphasizes everything plant based: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lots of olive oil. Dairy, fish and poultry are limited to moderate amounts while red meat is only allowed sparingly.  

Whole Food, Plant Based, also known as vegan. On this diet you’re allowed lots of unprocessed starches from potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and some vegetables and fruit. Very little fat is allowed, even from plants.

So how could all three of these diets possibly claim similar success? One is high in animal fat, one is high in plant based fat, while the last is low in all fat. These diets are as different as apples, oranges, and hot dogs. But they do have one thing in common. They all shun heavily processed food. Refined flour, refined sugar, industrially processed vegetable oils, lab-produced additives and preservatives. Pretty much anything you buy at a fast food restaurant or prepackaged supermarket junk food.

So it seems to me that the removal of animal products isn’t the answer. It’s removing highly processed ingredients from your diets. You won’t find that in a box on the supermarket shelf. These foods are full of additives and components that maximize shelf life. The longer the expiration date, the more profitable. Real food goes bad. Milk sours, meat spoils, vegetables wilt. Processed food is designed to not perish. Consider this, if a food has a shelf life longer than you, maybe you shouldn’t eat it.

What do Highly Processed Foods do to Us?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is comprised of around 78% processed glutamic acid and 22% sodium with moisture. While natural glutamic acid is used in the biosynthesis of proteins, the processed free glutamic acid causes people to suffer adverse reactions. MSG is associated with cancer, obesity, and irritable bowel syndrome.[4]

MSG is a money maker for the food industry. Eating it forces the release of insulin even with no carbohydrates present. This flood of insulin causes the person’s blood sugar to drop, making them feel hungry as quickly as an hour later.[9] Chinese food anyone? This insulin flood is also responsible for weight gain. Insulin is a fat producing hormone. The primary way it removes sugar from the blood is by storing it as fat.

Avoiding MSG can be tricky. Even foods marketed as having “no added MSG” can contain high amounts of free glutamate. MSG is camouflaged under many different names. Ingredients such as: flavors, natural flavors, maltodextrin, citric acid, gelatin, enzymes, and more, may contain MSG.[9]

In his book, A Life Unburdened: Getting Over Weight and Getting on with My Life, Richard Morris describes how eliminating all processed foods containing MSG allowed him to finally lose the weight he had been fighting to lose.

Vegetable oil as a product is a bit misleading. Vegetable oil is not made from vegetables. It’s made from seeds. Mostly soybeans or corn, but also rapeseed(canola), cottonseed, peanut, sunflower, grapeseed, etc. Crude vegetable oil is dark, sticky and smelly. It has to go through a heavy refining process to produce a clean-looking and smelling oil. Degumming, bleaching, deodorizing, filtering, and removing saturates. Many processors add hexane to squeeze every last drop of oil from the seeds. In the process, antioxidants and nutrients disappear, but much of the pesticides remain.[1]

The rise in vegetable oil consumption occurred as americans decreased our consumption of saturated fats. In 1909, 82% of the fat we ate came from animals. 100 years later, only 44% of our total fat intake came from animals, while 66% came from processed vegetable oils.[3] Much of this oil has been partially hydrogenated, creating trans fat.

We’ve been eating saturated fats from animals and tropical oils for thousands of years. Our bodies know what to do with them. When presented with trans fat, our bodies can’t tell the difference. These trans fats get used to build cell membranes.[2]  The more trans fats we eat, the more synthetic our bodies become. Because of the chemical substitution, reactions that should happen can’t happen. Enzymes and receptors no longer work properly..

The dangers don’t stop there. Even non-hydrogenated oils can be dangerous, especially in fast food. Restaurants typically cook at high temperatures, these temperatures cause polyunsaturated oils to oxidize. Turning linoleic acid into a toxic aldehyde called 4-hydroxynonenal that seeps into the food being fried.[3, 10] This toxic aldehyde interferes with DNA. Another aldehyde byproduct is formaldehyde. You know, the stuff morticians use to embalm dead people.[2, 3]

You’ll find vegetable oils in many products in the supermarket: Salad dressings, crackers, bread, cereals, peanut butter, etc. Luckily, vegetable oil is much easier to spot than MSG. It may be listed under its plant name: soybean, canola/rapeseed, cottonseed, corn, etc.

White Sugar is pure sucrose, derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. It’s a combination of glucose and fructose. High fructose corn syrup is similar to sugar except that instead of being half glucose and half fructose, it’s mostly fructose. The processing of sugar eliminates the vitamins or minerals.[7] Sugar is a heavily refined product, much like cocaine. In fact, brain scans show that our brains light up the same way for sugar as they do for cocaine.[3] This makes sugar addictive. It isn’t your sweet tooth making you want sugar, it’s your brain.

Our sugar consumption has skyrocketed in the last three hundred years. In 1700, average sugar consumption was 4 pounds a year per person. In 1800 it went up to 18 pounds a year. Then the industrial revolution made sugar cheaper and consumption quintupled to 90 pounds per year. Now with the advent of modern farming and subsidies, sugar consumption is up to 180 pounds per year. That’s one cup of sugar a day. Of course, this is just an average. Some people consume more than one cup of sugar a day.[7]

While sugar consumption was on the rise in the last two hundred years, so has obesity rates. In 1890, the US obesity rate for white males was 3.4%. In 1975, the rate for the entire population was 15%. By 2010, it was 32% and climbing.[7] Now this does not mean that sugar alone is making us fat, but it is an interesting correlation. Sugar may not be the only factor in our obesity epidemic, but i would argue such high consumption is not doing anyone any good.

Everyone knows that sugar is a risk factor for diabetes and hypoglycemia. But it’s also been associated with many other diseases: ADHD, cancer, depression, candida overgrowth, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, malnutrition, obesity, poor sleep, and more.[7]

Avoiding sugar isn’t easy. It’s easily one of the most popular food additives. Whether it’s in the form of regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup, it’s everywhere. A half cup serving of Prego Traditional contains more than two teaspoons of sugar.[3] Even healthy sounding items can be sugar laden. A typical bottle of chocolate milk contains more sugar than a similar bottle of soda.[2] A medium fruit-and-yogurt smoothie at dunkin donuts contains four times as much sugar as a chocolate-frosted cake doughnut.[6] It’ll be okay, right? After all, yogurt is good for you, isn’t it?

Artificial Sweeteners are not a suitable substitute for sugar. Aspartame, the one in the blue packages, is the most popular sugar substitute. When digested, it will break down into methanol and formaldehyde. Aspartame can also lead to headaches, brain cancer, seizures, and damaged vision.[7] Sucralose(splenda) has not had very good results in test animals. Reduced immunity, decreased red blood cells, problems with liver and kidneys were found.[7]

Agave Nectar is not a health food. It is made the same way as high fructose corn syrup. A process where starch(glucose) is converted into fructose. The body cannot use fructose very well. While glucose can be metabolized by any cell in the body, fructose must be metabolized in the liver. Heavy consumption of agave or high fructose corn syrup can lead to liver damage. In fact, rats fed high fructose diets end up with livers like those of alcoholics.[7]

White Flour is what’s left after processing strips virtually all the nutrients and fiber out of whole grain wheat. Whole wheat is rich in nutrients. During processing, the bran and wheat germ are removed. At the same time, the B and E vitamins as well as many minerals are removed.[11] Wheat germ oil contains 136 mg of vitamin E per 100 grams.[8] White flour contains practically nil. To make up for this deficiency, synthetic vitamins are added to ‘fortify’. Some synthetic B vitamins are derived from coal tar.[11] Yummy.

Synthetic vitamins can lead to imbalances. As the body works to fix the imbalance deficiency in certain B vitamins can develop. Symptoms can include: depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, poor memory, trouble sleeping, and more.[11]

You already know that eating too much sugar will lead to blood sugar spikes. What you may not know is that white flour breaks down into sugar when digested. This leads to the same blood sugar spike as sugar. When blood sugar spikes in a healthy person, the pancreas pumps out insulin to bring the level back down to normal. This can lead to a crash in blood sugar levels as the glucose is stored as fat, burned, or eliminated. You may have experienced a crash like this after eating heavy carbohydrate snacks like doughnuts.

 

As you can see, the answer isn’t in eliminating any one type of food. Low-carb, low-fat, low-protein, none of these are the answer. The only consistently effective way to live healthy or lose weight seems to be eliminating highly processed foods, while eating moderate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables.

While most of the food at your local supermarket falls into the highly processed category, not everything does. One good strategy is to shop the edges. This is where the minimally processed whole foods are kept. Meat, dairy, produce, eggs, cheese. Look at the labels, can you pronounce all the ingredients? That’s a good start.  

Edge foods from the supermarket are definitely healthier than their processed cohorts, but they’re still raised using industrial methods. Pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, herbicides; even the most basic products of a supermarket can contain these. Not to mention the inhumane ways industrial farms treat their animals.

By far, the best source of food for your family is local farms. Farms where you can visit and see how the animals are raised. You can verify that no hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, or herbicides are used. If you need help finding local farms visit, www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.com.

 

References

  1. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-foods/dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry/
  2. The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholz, 2014
  3. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-foods/our-broken-food-system/
  4. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/msg-update-summer-2007/
  5. Cholesterol Is Not the Culprit, Fred A. Kummerow, PhD with Jean M. Kummerow, PhD
  6. articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/01/08/16-secrets-the-restaurant-industry-doesn-t-want-you-to-know.aspx
  7. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-foods/sugar-alert-references/
  8. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatty_acid#Fatty_acids_in_dietary_fats
  9. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/msg-three-little-letters-spell-big-fat-trouble/
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-Hydroxynonenal
  11. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/making-it-practical/replacing-white-flour-with-whole-grains-in-four-simple-steps/

Everything I Know About Food I Learned from PR Companies

Posted in Food for Thought

Coffee is good, now it’s bad, but it’s good again. No wait, it’s bad, we’re sure this time.

I’m confused. Can we make up our minds?

No, we cannot. Because Public Relations(PR) companies are responsible for most of the promotion these studies get. A Public Relations company working for the coffee industry is going to look for studies that lean toward coffee being good for us. A PR company working for someone else, say a tea or water company want the studies that say the opposite.

There are many food myths that have been propagated by means of PR.

  • Saturated Fat consumption is linked to heart disease
  • Red meat causes cancer
  • Raw milk is dangerous

These are just a few myths based on biased scientific studies and propagated by PR companies working for industries that will benefit. Once they find a study they like, it’s time for another useful tool, repetition. If you repeat something over and over again through enough different channels, people will begin to believe it. The tobacco companies used this tactic for years to stall regulations and judgements against them.  

Most of the studies we hear about are short term. A PR company finds one thing that proves a point they like, then they publish it. So why would the news media report such questionable studies? It comes down to money. Budgets are tight. Newspapers and networks do not have the staff to fact check everything.

The news media these days are busy, strapped for cash, and looking for stories. With the advent of 24 hour news channels networks suddenly have a lot of time to fill. It’s expensive to produce all these packages. So when a PR company calls offering a free news package, the channels scoop them up.

Newspapers are especially susceptible to this. With the rise of the internet, newspapers everywhere are in decline. They can’t afford to have a full staff anymore. They’re looking for way to cut costs and generate revenue. PR companies are more than happy to provide pre-written articles for free, or even paid for.

Native Advertising companies like Sharethrough or Outbrain proudly boast how they can get your ads posted on sites like: CNN, Fox News, fortune, New York Times, etc. Native Advertising has been shown to be much more effective than traditional advertising. They are piggybacking off the hard earned trust built by the publisher.

The next time you’re watching the local news, keep an eye out for a random feel good story. Probably something that happened in another city. Listen closely. Are they frequently naming one specific company throughout the piece? This is native advertising.

You can do the same thing with a newspaper or online news site. If you see an article touting the benefits of a certain product or company, you can be reasonably sure that it was paid for or written by a PR company.

Native advertising isn’t inherently evil. I’ve found many useful products through articles in magazines or on a website. It all comes down to trust. I knew these articles were probably native ads, but I trusted the publisher to vet the product before they promoted it. Companies have to advertise. Otherwise they will go out of business.

The next time you’re reading an article claiming scientific studies show that such and such food is bad for you, stop and ask yourself. Who benefits? When raw milk is called a health risk, the industrial dairy industry benefits. When claims are made that all milk is bad, who benefits? Soy milk, almond milk, or other alternative milk companies.

Big corporations have been using PR for years to sway public opinion. Let’s go over a few examples.

Myth #1: Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Cause Heart Disease

For years we’ve been told by our doctors and the government to eat less red meat, not eat butter or eggs. Eat fat-free foods (which tend to be high in sugar). We now know that these recommendations are wrong, but where did they come from?

In the late fifties, Ancel Keys gathered data on over 12,000 middle-aged men in 7 countries in Europe, Japan, and the United States. The study showed a correlation between intake of saturated fats and deaths from heart disease. Thus beginning the decades long vilification of fat.

Who benefits from this myth?  The sugar industry.

A recent article1 in the New York Times reveals that the sugar industry paid scientists up a year’s wage to publish handpicked studies that downplayed the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the cause. These studies became gospel and shaped the way we viewed fat for decades.

According to Nicole Hahn-Niman in her book Defending Beef, the Ancel Keys study is flawed. It shows a correlation between fat and heart disease. But what it fails to point out, is that there is an even bigger correlation between the consumption of sugar and heart disease.2

This study left out many countries in Europe, such as France and Germany, that did not show high signs of heart disease, despite high consumption of saturated fats. This study was clearly designed to shift the blame for heart disease away from sugar and blame it on saturated fat.

This myth has permeated every facet of traditional health advice. Suddenly anything with saturated fat or cholesterol was off limits. People were instructed to eat margarine instead of butter. Margarine is made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Let’s talk about vegetable oils.

Myth #2: Use Vegetable Oils Instead of Lard, Butter, or Beef Tallow

Eat margarine, not butter. Use vegetable oil for frying, not lard, not beef tallow. Vegetable oils do not contain saturated fats and therefore are heart healthy.

This advice has been promoted by the grain industry since the 1970s. These companies wanted americans to stop eating so much animal products and eat their products instead. It’s all about increasing market share.

Vegetable oils are produced by mechanical and solvent extraction. This leaves traces of solvents such as hexane in the oil. These oils go through a process of caustic refining, bleaching and degumming–all of which involve high temperatures or chemicals of questionable safety.3

Hydrogenated vegetable oil products such as shortenings and margarine contain trans fat. Even canola oil, touted for being heart healthy due to its high levels of omega-3, is not good for you. This is due to the heavy processing that canola oil must go through to become edible. During the deodorization process most of the omega-3s in canola oil are transformed into trans fats.4 They managed to turn something healthy into something unhealthy.

In the 1940’s, researchers found a strong correlation between cancer and the consumption of fat—the fats used were hydrogenated fats although the results were presented as though the culprit were saturated fats. For years saturated fats were lumped in with trans fats in various US databases used by researchers to correlate dietary trends with disease conditions. Despite being frequently studied together, saturated fat always got the publicity, trans fat was rarely mentioned.5

Myth #3: All chickens live in sunny fields surrounded by happy cows and pigs.

Just drive by any commercial chicken farm. You’ll see the truth. You’ll smell it too.

Myth #4: Raw Milk is Dangerous

Government agencies, encouraged by the dairy industry, have been warning that raw milk will make us sick. They claim that raw milk may contain pathogens and contribute to foodborne illness. This despite the fact that pasteurized milk is by the same logic also unsafe because it also may contain pathogens.

This myth is being propagated by the dairy industry. They do not want competition from small dairies taking market share away from them. Milk consumption is already on the decline. Again, market share is the motivating factor. Not science.

The FDA and other government agencies like being in control. Raw milk is produced outside of their control. They don’t trust small farmers or businesses. They believe that they are the only ones qualified to say what’s safe to eat and what’s not. Consumers are dumb, we have to tell them what to eat. After all, if consumers we’re truly free to choose the food they eat, the these government agencies would be irrelevant.

Reports on the dangers of raw milk are greatly exaggerated.6 In an analysis of reports on 70 outbreaks attributed to raw milk, the Weston A Price Foundation found many examples of reporting bias, errors and poor analysis resulting in most outbreaks having either no valid positive milk sample or no valid statistical association.

A government document published in 2003 indicates that on a per-serving basis, deli meats are ten times more likely to cause foodborne illness than raw milk.6 Surely you’ve heard about this. No? Well, you can thank the dairy industry.

Myth #5: The Food Pyramid Promotes Healthy Eating

In 1992 the USDA created the food pyramid. The base of the pyramid was the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta group. It recommended 7-11 servings of this group. More than twice that of any other group. All of these food items contain mostly carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar during digestion.

The food pyramid lumps fats in with sweets. This is just another example of fat being considered as unhealthy as sugar. Meanwhile carbohydrates and sugar have been shown to be more likely to cause weight gain than animal fats.7

The food pyramid was developed using input and questionable science from industry funded experts. One such study fed mice soybean oil, hydrogenated coconut oil, sugar, and maltodextrin to make them obese. Only then did they study the effects of that obesity. Of course, no one talks about what caused the obesity, only what happened once the mice were obese.8

The takeaway you need to remember is that the government and news media do not perform their own studies. They merely review studies done at the behest of industry or independent groups. The government is highly influenced by industry by means of campaign donations, lobbying, and hiring of officials that have ties to the industry they are regulating.

The news media is likewise influenced by industry by means of large advertising campaigns and scientific studies that may or may not be biased. If a large corporation is spending many millions of dollars advertising with a single news company, that is going to have an effect on the news coverage. The writers, editors, and producers do not want to risk upsetting a major advertiser. They cannot afford to lose them as an advertiser.

Large companies have a lot to lose and a lot to gain, depending on what the public thinks about them. They have a lot of money to use to sway public opinion, and they do so every day.

On the other hand, small local farms do not have a lot of money. They don’t hide behind lawyers, no trespassing signs, and pretty packaging. They cant afford expensive PR companies, but that’s okay. They don’t need them. The truth is on their side, as is their army of happy customers.

 

References

  1. www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html
  2. Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman, 2014
  3. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/dirty-secrets-of-the-food-processing-industry/
  4. www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/the-skinny-on-fats/
  5. Defending Beef, Nicolette Hahn Niman, 2014
  6. www.realmilk.com
  7. www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/our-broken-food-system/
  8. Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger