If I asked 10 people to define healthy food, I would get 10 different answers. Some of the comments would surely include the following:
“Fruit and veggies”, “Whole wheat bread”, “Plenty of milk for calcium”, “Canada’s food guide”, “Supplements”, “Organic”, “Non-GMO”, “Homemade”, “Pasture-raised animal meats”, “Unprocessed”, “Smoothies”, Raw”, “Vegan”, “Vegetarian”, “Low-Fat”, “Gluten-Free”,..
Healthy food is food that gives our bodies all the vital nutrients it needs to metabolize it properly.
In other words, we need to eat food that is whole and alive! Through processing food loses value. There are different types of processing that destroy the value of food to different degrees.
What are the different processing types and stages of value?
I will give you an example to illustrate this:
Let’s take some fruit.
Stage 1: You take that fruit as a whole and eat it, that is the most natural state it comes in.
Stage 2: We start with cutting the fruit into slices or cubes. The cut surfaces are exposed to air and oxidation will start. With some fruits this can be seen very easily, e.g. an apple turns brown. We could also juice the fruit and as long as we keep the fibre including the peel in the juice, not much is lost. (That doesn’t mean we should drink a lot of juice!) (mechanically changed)
Stage 3 : The juice we can ferment, which some people then call cider. (fermentatively changed)
Stage 4: Let’s take some of the fruit slices and cook them which will result in fruit sauce. (At this stage most people would have gotten rid off the peel of fruits like apples, pears, grapes.) (heated)
Stage 5: The fruit sauce we may can or make jam. (preserved)
Stage 6: When a company takes apple sauce, or any other puréed fruit, adds some flavour and thickening agent, and dries it, voilà, it becomes a strip of fruit leather, that is called fruit to go! (Processed!)
The fruit bar in the picture is from strawberries. The bar weighs 14 g, of which 11 g are “naturally occurring fruit sugars”. 100 grams of fresh strawberries have 4.9 grams of natural sugar. Well? I am sure you can see what is wrong with this picture! Not only is the ratio of total weight to sugar out of balance, but because of the processing, the vital nutrients that were originally present in the fruit, like vitamins (lots of vitamin C in Strawberries!), minerals, enzymes, etc., are gone. This means that this piece of food-like substance cannot be metabolized properly. You might as well just give your child a spoonful of any sugar! I know, this sounds harsh, but the truth is not always convenient.
Often it is not quite as clear cut as my examples, and the reason is that we don’t know what has been done to the food before it hits the supermarket shelves. Big corporations won’t and don’t have to disclose everything they do. Food labels tell only half the story, if at all.
The consequences of eating processed food
Prof. Dr. Werner Kollath, a food scientist, created a chart that shows the value of food according to its vitality. His advice:
“Eat food which is as close to nature as possible.”
What happens when we don’t do that? When we buy oily fruits (e.g. olives) and seeds (e.g. sunflower) that were turned into artificial fats like margarine? When we buy once whole grains that have become white refined flour? When raw milk is made into milk powder (e.g. baby formula)? When we buy dead food? I am sure you can guess: dead food cannot keep our bodies healthy and alive. Sooner or later, depending on the overall amount of processed foods we eat, we will become ill. Scientists Cleave and Campbell found out that it takes roughly 20 years for most of the diseases that are prevalent in the Western World to develop. That is why so many people don’t see the connection between today’s ailments and illnesses and their eating habits from decades ago.
BTW, it says on the juice container that you get 2 servings of fruit per 250 ml. Really? I bet you won’t buy into this kind of deceit anymore…
Questions? Would you like to get Prof. Kollath’s chart and start evaluating your food? Email me at email@example.com.