Today’s post will continue from my previous post, Philosphy on Fitness, and go more in depth on Quality of food. Most people are not aware that all food is not created equal and this misunderstanding is one of the primary reasons many people do not reach their health and fitness goals. The USDA, FDA, and most dieticians, nutritionists, doctors, and fitness professionals simply preach that we should eat “whole grains”, “lean meats” and “fresh fruits and vegetables”. The problem is that there is a spectrum of quality to foods and the experts do not qualify what they mean by whole grains, lean meats, etc. This ambiguous definition of how to eat leaves the consumer thinking that all food is created equal and as long as they eat the above foods they will be healthy. Well as Dr. Phil says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Just looking around it’s quite obvious that most of us have tried many diets and eating plans, are still overweight, and have no clue what to eat.
By learning how to tell what quality a food is you will be able to avoid lower quality foods, focus on higher quality foods and reap better health and fitness.
So What is Quality?
- Was the food once alive? Could you grow or raise it?
- If it was once alive how was it grown or raised?
- Does the product contain any ingredients that were created in a lab or facility or is it something that could not be grown or raised by someone?
The Break Down
1. Was the food once alive? Could you grow or raise it? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the right path. This means the food was a plant or an animal. If you could not grow it or raise it then by definition it is not a naturally occurring food and is a processed food product. We’ll talk about this more below.
2. So we’re off to a good start. We have something in our hands that was once alive. Let’s say we have some strawberries and a pound of ground beef. Great, so let’s now ask ourselves how was this strawberry grown and how was the cow that gave us the beef raised? When it comes to produce (fruits and vegetables) the spectrum ranges from genetically modified, chemically saturated strawberries on one end and fresh, local, organically grown strawberries on the other end. Starting to get the picture? One of them is not actually naturally occurring and contains ingredients that make it a processed food product that we’ll talk about below. The other one is in its purest form and has the highest amount of nutrition and health benefits. Based on your budget try to buy the best quality produce you can with local, organic being the best and genetically modified being the worst. Commercially grown produce is in the middle. They aren’t genetically modified, but they aren’t organic and were grown with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, rodenticides, insecticides, etc. that will do a number on you (see below).
As far as the cow goes, how was it raised? Was it born in a factory with hundreds or thousands of other cows with no room to move, no access to sunlight or green grass, fed grains, sawdust, and petroleum waste, and then given antibiotics to combat all the sickness and cancers it develops from its poor living conditions and also injected with growth hormones to speed up its maturation so it can be slaughtered in a shorter amount of time or was it born on a farm just outside of town to a modest herd that roamed freely outside and ate green grass under the sun and enjoyed a happy drug-free life before it was humanely slaughtered?
I will tell you right now that your quality of meat is vitally important. If you eat commercial meat you are ingesting antibiotics, growth hormones, and completely different fats compared to the meats from organic, grass-fed suppliers. Those antibiotics could lead to a person being antibiotic resistant and the growth hormones could lead to cancers, hormone imbalances, endocrine disruptions, and early puberty in our youth. The omega-6, omega-3, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and other fats in the commercial meat will be in completely different ratios than the organic, grass-fed meats and these imbalances spell the difference between good health and fitness and bad health and fitness. Whatever you can afford, buy the best quality meat you can!
3. Number 3 stems off of 1 and 2. If the product contains any ingredients that could not be grown or raised and was created in a lab then stay away from it because it is a tell-tale sign of low-quality food in the form of a processed food product. A processed food product means it is a collection of ingredients and or chemicals that had to go through a man-made “process” to become the product in question. The more processing involved to make a product the further it is from its original state. The closer a food is to its original state (i.e. plant or animal) the higher the nutrition it has in it and the more beneficial it will be to your body. The more processed it is the more “dead” it is and the less nutrition it contains and less beneficial it will be for your body. In fact, processed foods are not only less beneficial they are actually harmful to your body. They usually are so devoid of nutrition that they actually take minerals, vitamins, and enzymes away for your body just so that they can be digested. Not to mention the chemicals and synthetic ingredients that are in many processed products distort people’s appetites, disrupt hormones and disrupt cellular function. What does this mean? They can make you sick, fat, depressed, tired, and eventually diseased.
So there you go folks. Once you realize that not all food is created equal and has different effects on your body then you will be able to identify what a quality food is and what isn’t. Don’t forget, you are what you eat? What do you want to be made of?