It’s high time food regains its priority and value in people’s lives. We consume it several times a day, every day of our lives! It contains hundreds and hundreds of nutrients, which our body is processing and is using them as fuel for life. Our food can be a medicine or it can be poison. It has the power to heal, but also to sicken you if it’s not right for your unique metabolism, or it’s processed and toxic.
So before any healing process, there are some basic rules one can implement, to aim for healthier eating habits, which I?ll present below:
Healthy Oils and Fats.
The most important thing to do is to eliminate all toxic fats and oils. This means not buying and not consuming anymore margarine, other butter imitations, canola, corn oil, sunflower oil, soy oils and other such polyunsaturated oils. These are highly processed and refined oils, they oxidize really quick and become rancid even before they hit the shelves. They contain high amounts of omega 6 and are not stable at high temperatures. This means they generate free radicals. A constant consumption of these oils determine inflammation in your body, as well as a whole range of imbalances and even cancer.
Your new shopping list shouldn’t contain anymore processed foods, which will always include a form of toxic and cheap oil like hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils or soybean oil.
What are the healthy oils then?
Raw, organic, grass fed butter, coming from healthy animals, which grow on pasture. It shouldn’t contain any hormones and antibiotics, as you’ll find in industrial and pasteurized butter.
Ghee is clarified butter, containing no lactose and casein and so being suitable for those with dairy reactivities/ allergies. You can also prepare your own, by cooking grass fed butter and straining to save the pure fat.
Animal fats (beef and mutton tallow, lard, duck and goose fat), coming from healthy animals, grown on pastures, are the ones who ensured a robust health in our ancestors, who didn?t know what degenerative diseases were. They are stable at high temperatures, so suitable for cooking, as all saturated fats.
Organic, unrefined coconut oil is absolutely delicious, and so versatile. For those who don’t like the coconut smell, you find healthy refined varieties which are odorless.Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and in mother’s milk. This fatty acid has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil protects tropical populations from bacteria and fungus so prevalent in their food supply; as third-world nations in tropical areas have switched to polyunsaturated vegetable oils, the incidence of intestinal disorders and immune deficiency diseases has increased dramatically.
Extra virgin olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated oil with many beneficial properties. It should only be used for light sauteing and salads, since it?s not as stable for higher temperature cooking.
I would only mention here three oils which could be considered for variety, and if any of the above is available. They should be used in moderation.
Avocado oil is high in monounsaturated fats and has a good omega 3 to 6 ratio. It has a smoke point of 500 degrees F, so it can be used for cooking. It is also suitable for use in salad dressings because it has a light nutty flavor that blends well with vinegars and spices, and it’s a good choice for home made mayonnaise, if you don’t like olive oil.
Flax seed oil is not a stable oil, being susceptible to high rancidity, but new extraction and bottling methods have minimized this problem. It should always be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads. Flax oil is known for sometimes exacerbating hormonal issues, since it’s very high in phytoestrogens, so use it carefully in this regard.
Walnut oil, like any omega 3 oil, is very delicate and can go rancid easily. It must be kept in the refrigerator and can never, ever be heated or used as a cooking oil. Use it sparingly in home made dressings to add a special, nutty flavor.
Germination and Fermentation of Grains.
Do you think the type of wheat people consume today is the same with the type consumed hundreds of years and even thousands of years ago? Absolutely not. The sad reality is that people have become accustomed to the mass-produced, gooey, devitalized, and nutritionally deficient breads and baked goods that are sold today in stores and they have little recollection of how real bread should taste. Chemical preservatives allow bread to be shipped long distances and to remain on the shelf for many days without spoiling and without refrigeration.
It?s not hard to see why and how people could consume grains throughout history without experiencing negative effects, but they became so problematic in our modern times. Soil depletion through the use of pesticides and chemicals, irradiation, milling using high temperatures, refining and extruding are all altering the nutrients and oils in grains.
Soaking neutralizes phytic acid, a component of plant fiber found in the bran and hulls of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds that reduces mineral absorption.
Sprouting, soaking and genuine sourdough leavening pre-digests grains, allowing the nutrients to be more easily assimilated and metabolized. This is an age-old approach practiced in most traditional cultures. Sprouting begins germination, which increases the enzymatic activity in foods and inactivates substances called enzyme inhibitors. In order to reduce the phytic acid content, you can soak grains and flour overnight in warm water with 1-2 Tbsp of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, yogurt, whey or kefir.
Commercial yeast is a quick method to make and bake bread, but also of inferior quality nutritionally speaking. Alcohol will result while fermenting dough using commercial yeast, the nutritive value will decrease and the bread will be hard to digest. Sourdough bread requires a longer and slower fermentation process, which activates the enzyme that neutralizes phytic acid. Sourdough will offer a superior quality of the bread, ensuring a beneficial nutritional panel, a delicious taste and many species of healthy lactobacilli for the digestive system.
For people sensitive to gluten, experimenting and using ancient grains like buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, millet and teff will offer a plus of nutrients and healthy alternatives to the regular gluten bread. You can actually make gluten free sourdough bread as well.
For those who don?t avoid gluten, choosing ancient species of wheat like einkorn, emmer and spelt is much preferred to modern, hybridized wheat. In the hybridization process, the gluten wheat protein goes through a significant structural change. This way the modern species, compared to the ancient ones, present a bigger quantity of genes for the gluten protein which are related to celiac disease. This doubled in the last 20 years and becomes more difficult to diagnose.
You won’t find beneficial fermented vegetables on the supermarket?s shelves, or in the vinegar conserved vegetables. They should be fermented in an anaerobic medium, with salt, whey or by adding special selected cultures like Body Ecology or Caldwell. Properly prepared fermented foods are natural and healthy sources of beneficial probiotics and enzymes for your body, as well as other intact vitamins and minerals. The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels.
Fermentation of vegetables is an ancient traditional practice which can be found throughout the world. Tiberius always carried a barrel of sauerkraut with him during his long voyages to the Middle East because the Romans knew that the lactic acid in contained protected them from intestinal infections. So did Captain Cook, protecting his entire crew from scurvy, due to the sauerkraut’s high vitamin C content.
Fermented vegetables are not always beneficial for everybody, with all conditions and in large quantities, especially when they are fermented in an aerobic medium. There are situation where sensitivity to aldehydes in fermented foods (including wine, beer and kimbucha) may exacerbate fungal infections. Also, people with histamine intolerance need to avoid fermented vegetables, since these produce large amounts of histamines during fermentation.
Bone broth made with a variety of bones and cartilages that come from healthy, grass fed animals should be a staple in every family’s menu! It is cooked a longer time at low temperatures and can be used in a variety of recipes: in gravies, instead of water in cooking, salty jellies, it can be sipped as is and more. It contains essential amino acids and the broken down material from cartilage and tendons stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as supplements for arthritis and joint pain.
The precious gelatine which forms in bone broth is beneficial in many chronic ailments, and especially with most gastrointestinal imbalances. Bone broth can be made in larger quantities and freezed until the next use, or used up within 5 days when kept in the fridge.
Eat the Whole Animal.
In the past, people ate the organs, fat, feet, skin, and bone marrow from an animal, not only lean meat, which you mostly find these days in the stores. But all these ?unattractive? parts, which are most of the times thrown away by the stores and modern chefs alike, are actually chock full of nutrients. Most indigenous peoples used to cherish fat and bones the most and usually discarded lean meat. Liver is a nutritional powerhouse; it’s rich in vitamin A, folate, B vitamis, iron, selenium and magnesium. If you don’t have an acquired taste yet to consume liver you can try with desiccated liver supplements and still gain the benefits.
Dairy got a bad rap lately because of the increase in inflammatory conditions. But pasteurized, industrial dairy, which is actually a junk food is the culprit here. Pasteurization, homogenization, animals grown in unsanitary conditions, fed toxic waste, hormones and antibiotics are the real causes of why people are reacting to this processed and highly allergenic food!
Some people will never tolerate dairy, and that’s ok. People need to consider their unique, nutritional, genetic and biochemical requirements, which dictate what foods are beneficial or not for their metabolism. On the other hand, many people found out they could tolerate raw dairy (especially from goat or sheep), but not the processed, toxic dairy anymore.
Raw organic milk from grass fed animals has very high conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) levels, biodiverse beneficial bacteria, intact active enzymes, that are required for absorption of minerals and effective digestion. It provides a source of lactase producing beneficial bacteria, reducing or eliminating lactose intolerance and it increases immunity to infection.
Cooking Methods: Slow Cooking.
Back in the days, much cooking was done outdoors or semi-outdoors. People used to cook healthy soups and stews at very low temperatures and for longer time, usually using fire pits, smokers, masonry ovens or hot rocks. Often a chore that is unpleasant to accomplish indoors becomes quite enjoyable when pursued outdoors.
While most modern homes don’t have the space for an extra, outdoor kitchen, everyone can take advantage of various ways to cook beyond the four walls of the standard kitchen. Some are incredibly simple, such as using a slow cooker, which you could relocate outside or on a back porch, or simply use in the kitchen. Plus, this can save a lot of your cooking time, cook the food at low temperatures, without destroying its nutrients, while offering a delicious, rich taste. Nothing like toxic microwave cooking!
Prioritization and Planning.
Many people find themselves in a continuous time crisis in our times. It?s a common trait of our modern society and we all face it in some way.? But procuring and preparing healthy food must stay high on our priorities list. Even if you still doubt its value, this is as important as your job, sleep, free time, etc. Actually, it can turn out to be even more important, because without healthy food you can not be healthy and if you?re not healthy, how can you perform at your job, have a good sleep, a good mood and great energy and enjoy your free time?
Planning means thinking in advance (at least a day or two) about the menus you are going to prepare the next days and ensuring that you have all ingredients on hand. Among the smart strategies that busy families are successfully using are:
- soaking and cooking bigger batches of legumes and grains and freezing them for later use
- soaking a larger quantity of nuts and seeds and then draining them and storing them in the fridge or dehydrate them
- peeling and cutting more raw vegetables to be used in the next 2-3 days for salads
- cooking more food and freezing it to be heated up later on, on days when you’re in a rush.
- cooking a variety of muffins, pancakes and crackers and freeze until later use, like in the morning when you just need to heat one up and rush out the door!
These are just a few of the many ways to save time and still enjoy a healthy menu in most days, assuming there is determination, motivation and courage!
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Allbritton, Jen. Wheaty Indiscretions: What Happens to Wheat, from Seed to Storage Weston A Price Foundation