by Geoff Roberts
There are few topics that the general public is more confused about than nutrition. Between all the new “studies” coming out weekly, seeming to always contradicting each other, food industry lobbyists setting our food recommendations, the vegan cult, and horrendously misinformed doctors, it is not hard to figure out why. Nutrition is really not that complicated. The problem is, the vast majority people, through the factors mentioned above, have been convinced that it is in fact extremely complicated. Sometimes to the point of simply giving up on the topic all together. Due to this perceived complexity and unwillingness to learn, it may be beneficial to focus specifically on a few select food choices that have been greatly misunderstood by the masses for some time. There are many foods that, if you were to survey a large group of Americans, the overwhelming majority of them would say they are “bad” foods, when in fact that are not, and vice versa. I have examined the endless misinformation regarding red meat ad infinitum as of late, so for this discussion I will leave that particular topic alone. Here are some of the major culprits of this misunderstood food paradigm.
When discussing milk, it must be noted that I am referring to the pasteurized milk you buy at the local grocery store, not the more natural unpasteurized, raw milk you would get from a local farmer or some other related source. Raw, unpasteurized milk, depending on who you ask, can actually be a very healthy choice. Unfortunately, the milk that 99% of American milk drinkers drink is not raw and unpasteurized. That is actually a good segway into the milk discussion, because the fact that milk used to be a healthy choice before mass commercial farming, is part of the reason that people still feel that it is a healthy choice today. However, over the years, milk as most of us know it has lost much of its important qualities and nutrients, while simultaneously increasing in sugar content. Of course, the main reason the general public’s knee jerk reaction to milk is “healthy!” is because of good old dairy lobbyists being involved in our government’s food recommendations. Do you think all of those multi million dollar “Got milk?” ads with professional athletes and high profile celebrities are just because the media really wants us to be healthy?
Many of milks important components are now only present in the milk because it has been “fortified” with these nutrients. Getting these nutrients this way is really no different than just going to the local health food store and taking these nutrients in supplement form. The two biggest players here are calcium and vitamin D. Now, increasing vitamin D levels via drinking more milk, to me, is like trying to hydrate yourself by swimming more often. First of all, vitamin D should be acquired via the sun, not through oral consumption. Second of all, the little bit of vitamin D that is found in the crappy milk we buy at the store today, assuming you even absorb it, will only have a minuscule effect on your vitamin D levels at best. If you do happen to have low vitamin D levels, just go buy some vitamin D and take it, instead of trying to drink half a gallon of milk a day, while becoming a fat bloated mess in the meantime. That said, milk does tend to be a fairly good source of calcium. However, for my money, that calcium is not worth all the sugar and lactose that will accompany it as you consume milk. Be leery when any person attempts to rationalize eating or drinking something because of one single nutrient found in that food. Remember, a double Whopper with cheese does contain some very high quality protein, that does not mean it is a good food choice. If you need extra calcium and you are against taking it in supplement form, try increasing your intake of greens. Not only are greens a great source of calcium, but they will increase just about every other marker of health known to man as well.
Fruit, with the possible exception of red meat, is by far the most misunderstood food. For whatever reason, everyone thinks that fruit is the end all be all of healthy foods. So much so that they are often lumped into the same category as vegetables. It is surprising how little this “fruits and vegetables” term is brought up, in regards to the extent to which it does not make sense. The main nutrient in fruit, by a landslide, is sugar, and they contain no protein at all. While most vegetables have close to no sugar at all, and are comprised mostly of fiber and protein. Can someone please explain why these two foods are lumped together like they are the same?
Much like milk being a good source of calcium, fruit is a good source of several healthy nutrients like vitamin C, and depending on the fruit, fiber. However, once again, you are getting these healthy nutrients alongside large amounts of sugar, arguably the worse thing you can possibly consume in your diet. If you feel you need more vitamins, minerals, or fiber in your diet, and you do not want all the sugar found in fruit, green vegetables come to the rescue yet again. Greens will provide you will all of these nutrients without supplying any of the harmful simple sugars found in fruit. Not only is fruit filled with sugar, the type of sugar it contains is fructose, one of the worst forms of sugar you can consume. Simply put, fructose is a poor sugar choice due to the fact that the body has a hard time storing fructose as glycogen, which makes it more likely to be stored as fat. Another similarity fruit shares with milk is the fact that while it is a very “natural” food, it is not what it used to be. Genetic modifications and breeding with the goal of making fruits larger and sweeter, have reduced the health qualities of fruit, while increasing the sugar content.
Honey should be mentioned here as a sub category to fruit. Honey is obviously not fruit, but the argument for honey really not being that healthy is almost exactly the same as the fruit argument. Honey is pure sugar, and that sugar is in large part fructose. Raw natural honey does have some good medicinal properties via micro nutrients and enzymes, but it should be used more like a supplement than a food. For the majority of people, adding a couple tablespoons of honey to several meals per day is really only going to help you become diabetic, nothing more.
Whole grains are the epitome of food industry lobbyists, in this case the wheat and corn industries, brainwashing us into thinking an unhealthy food is actually very healthy. Make no mistake, there is an unbelievable amount of money in corn and wheat. Think about how many common American foods contain large amounts of corn and or wheat. This is no coincidence. Even soda and many fruit juices are sweetened almost exclusively with corn. Right off the bat, corn and wheat are dense carbohydrate sources, and carbohydrates are the number one reason our society of so fat and sick. As if that weren’t enough, these foods have almost no positive qualities to speak of. Although they may be poor food choices in general, at least milk has calcium and high quality protein, while fruit has vitamins and fiber. It is hard to come up with even one component of corn and or wheat that has a substantial health benefit. Whole wheat can potentially be a source of fiber, but again, don’t forget about that double Whopper with cheese. While keeping the fact that corn and wheat have virtually no health benefits, and contribute to pretty much every health problem facing America today in mind, take a look at the mainstream food pyramid. That big old picture of bread at the bottom, to the corn and wheat industries, is pure cash, while to the American people, it represents pure corruption.