Friday, May 30, 2014

C-U-NO Guiding Principle 2

What’s Really in the Food We Eat Day-to-Day?

Let’s look at our SECOND PRINCIPLE “

Unaltered foods are called ‘whole foods’. A whole food could be something that hasn’t been processed before you process it in your kitchen; like the fresh veges that you’ll use in preparing a meal. Or a whole food could be something that has been minimally processed before it arrives in your kitchen, like honey as opposed to sugar, or butter as opposed to margarine.1

"Most of us buy processed food to save time" - I know this is true of me sometimes.  What we don’t know however is that these foods can be a cause of health problems in the long term.  If you want to nourish yourself and your family properly get back to a focus on foods that haven’t been highly processed (unlike the food in the photos below).


There are 365 days in a year, if we can eat nourishing food for at least 300 of those days that’s got to be good for us. I know most of us agree that we want to eat good, fresh, wholesome & tasty food that gives us plenty of energy for the hours ahead, doesn’t cost the earth and doesn’t take hours to prepare. Right?

Our future health is affected by what goes into our food trolley. If you’re experiencing allergies to foods, check the labels.

When faced with buying our food supplies what gives us a clue about what’s good? Here’s how to recognise those highly processed foods, or foods that may be contributing to allergies, aches and pains and general tiredness. I’ve had to be ruthless here and we’ve decided to leave on the shelf whatever contains the following:

  • Hydrolysed anything – hydrolysed soy protein, hydrolysed wheat protein. 2
  • Hydrogenated anything – hydrogen is attached into an oil to make it a solid.  If the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” appear in the list of ingredients, look for another brand.
  • Flavouring (including “natural” flavourings) –  often contain MSG
  • MSG or glutamic acid –  The ingredient that causes MSG reactions in MSG-sensitive people is manufactured/processed free glutamic acid.  This chemical is found in processed foods -- but it is not found in unprocessed or unadulterated meat, fish, or vegetables.3
  • Reconstituted anything – Fruit juices are often re-constituted, this means they’ve been cooked, concentrated and then had water re-added to bring them back to normal concentration.  Reconstituted fruit juices do not offer the high nutritional qualities of their freshly squeezed counterparts.
  • Enriched anything – mostly associated with wheat or soy flour ingredients.   11 vitamins and minerals removed from the original whole-wheat then 4 synthesised vitamins plus 1 mineral put back in to “enrich”.  If you want the best nutrition from a wheat-based ingredient, shop only for whole-grain wheat, not enriched wheat flour or simply “wheat flour.”
  • Gelatin – In NZ gelatine is made from the animal protein mainly derived from pig or beef skin.  A good alternative is agar-agar, derived from seaweed.
  • Soy derivatives – Nearly 60% of the world’s soy crop is now grown from genetically modified (GM) plants. In Argentina, 98% of the soy crop is genetically modified – in the USA 94%. Last year New Zealand imported 7 million kg of soy flour and meal from Argentina. In NZ, food must be labelled as genetically modified if it contains GM DNA or protein, or altered characteristics from the genetic modification. Soy protein isolate is a highly processed form of soy added to many things called ‘healthy’.
  • Low or no fat items – the body requires the right oils, not the highly processed oils we find in clear plastic bottles.  Manufacturers use omega-6 oils for long shelf life.  Omega-6 may be good, but it’s the balance between the Omega-3 and Omega-6 that’s critical.  It’s now proven that minimally processed butter, and good coconut oils, or a good, FRESH olive oil is the best.
  • Talking about heart problems and artery inflammation Dr Dwight Blundell says, “There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.” 4
  • Maltodextrin – is a fine, white powder often used as a thickener or filler. As well as in pharmaceuticals as a binding agent you'll find it in tinned fruits, snacks, cereal, desserts, instant pudding, sauces, and salad dressings.  Made from highly processed corn, rice or potato starch.
  • Numbers – This is where it pays to buy The Chemical Maze app (if you have a Smart Phone), and/or the book at
I try to avoid “numbers” as much as possible, which means I pretty much know what products to avoid (this has taken a while and a little education on my part).  Some of the numbers that are currently in my kitchen are:  the emulsifier 471, which is a type of fatty acid, not known to be harmful, but may be GE if processed from animal products, but better than another emulsifier or stabilising agent derived from propylene glycol (477).   Sodium bicarbonate, 500, a raising agent, pretty much okay.   Glycerol or glycerin, 422, a thickener, okay, but can cause headaches, but better than carrageenan (407) which often contains free glutamic acid (MSG) known to be associated with allergies (1422), a modified food starch and thickener, which apparently can cause low growth rates in test rats – well that is in my sour cream - I didn’t know that. Oh, and another baddie in my salami, sodium nitrite, 250, - gulp - which is a colour fixer and preservative.  That’s about all I have (might have to kick out the salami though).

Along with the salami go shellfish, crab, crayfish, shrimp and prawns.  Shellfish & crustaceans are the ocean cleaners which clean up contamination from algae, chemicals and dead matter – a bit like pigs on land.  For better health go for fresh fish with scales and fins, or tinned ‘wild-caught’ salmon as opposed to farmed salmon.

You may now be thinking, “Well, what can I buy then?”
  • Go for unprocessed as much as possible. For example, fresh, raw nuts as opposed to roasted & salted.  Tasty dips with vege sticks as apposed to a bag of chips.
  • Home baking or buy minimally processed goods like Ryvita crackers which contain only Wholegrain rye flour, Sesame seeds and Salt. That’s a whole lot better than a cracker that’s made with wheat flour (white flour), hydrogenated oil and a variety of numbers.
  • Fresh meats as opposed to processed luncheon meat, salami, etc. Well farmed grass fed beef, lamb, and free range or organically grown chickens…No to barn raised beef!
  • Fresh, good oils as opposed to canola or the highly processed oils.
  • Fresh fruit and veges. Buy organic if you want to eat the skin, otherwise peel. Pesticide residues are found in the skins of fruit and vegetables, but then so are lots of good nutrients. It’s a balance.
  • I’m sorry, but the truth is that if you’re keen to find nutritious food you just have to search for it. You’ll find some good things, to your taste, if you look and make yourself aware of ingredients. If you’ve got allergies in the family you have to be super-strict.
  • Rachel Tomkinson of has given me permission to include the following small chart. I think it’s a help to keep this with us when we’re shopping online, or in the supermarket (why not print it, cut it out and put in your wallet).

Most foods containing the above are highly processed and are not nutrient rich.  When our bodies are missing certain nutrients we can still feel hungry or unsatisfied after a meal – you know what that’s like – you just feel like you want something more, something sweet maybe?  When we eat a meal that contains all the nutrients we need we feel satisfied.

Gaining extra kilos can result from our bodies needing better nutrition.  We look for it, but can’t gain it from the food we eat, so we eat more - searching to meet the body’s needs, and gaining weight. You can lose weight  by switching to eating whole foods and increasing your intake of green leafy vegetables. Dr Libby has a lot of good information about this in her delicious online recipes and on her blog.

More about this though in the next newsletter - Saying No to Cravings and Addictions. Until then, like you, I’m really not being fanatical and OC (obsessive compulsive) just trying to be wise. Life is precious and health irreplaceable so I'm choosing to be aware and to serve my family, as much as possible, with foods that’s are UNALTERED.


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