We are chemical beings and what we eat and drink has enormous consequence for our health. Food and drink can be medicine or a poison. With soaring rates of modern, diet-based diseases, what we consume has never been more important. Here are eight signs you are poisoning your system and your health with the foods you regularly eat.
The Modern Diet
We all know we should be eating healthier but we don’t necessarily link what we are eating with a host of common ailments or sicknesses. The current Western diet is roughly 62% processed foods, over half of which could be purchased at 7/11. This is not anything our body can really use to maintain and repair itself in any form of health. In fact, such foods are highly correlated to vast modern diseases like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and even anxiety and depression – just to name a few.
Our modern diet is also roughly 26% meat, leaving the remaining 12% of our diets to consist of fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and tubers – the exact foods packed with the most vitamins, minerals, fiber, and so much more we need for good health. And we’re not eating nearly enough of them. What is worse, in reality we consume half this life-building category as French fries.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the side effects of our way of eating can take time to develop. If it were a case of simple food poisoning, we would realize the culprits. Instead we have a case of slow food poisoning. Here are 8 of the most common symptoms that your food is making you sick.
#1 – Digestive Issues
This can range from constipation and diarrhea to heart burn, gas, and nausea to more severe diseases like diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome and various cancers. There is a reason why colon cancer is so prevalent in Western countries with our diets of processed foods high in refined carbs, sugars, salt and fat and which contain little if any nutritive value. Everything passes through the digestive tract and the colon. Of course they will show the symptoms of our cultural diet of food poisoning.
#2 – Inflammation & Joint Pain
If you have inflammation and joint pain, particularly those that are hard to diagnose, your diet is likely a contributing if not primary cause. I had horrible inflammation and joint paint that didn’t fit any diagnosis but it was chronic and severe. People were advising surgery and yet when I switched to a whole foods diet, it all went away and only comes back when I eat wheat or processed foods.
The Western diet causes enormous inflammation throughout the body, sometimes from allergies and sensitivities to common ingredients like gluten, lactose and others but also because the diet destroys beneficial bacteria that help maintain our nervous system in good working order. Once we begin to compromise our immune system and gut health, inflammation becomes common.
#3 – Migraines
Insufficient water intake, food allergies, and inflammation in response to food and sugar can all cause headaches and migraines. On top of this we have impairment of our systems simply because our bodies and minds are not receiving the nutrition they need to function well or even properly. We might even – and usually are – feeding our bodies “food” that actively damages it. Change your eating to real food with real nutrition and you will see changes.
#4 – Trouble Sleeping
This ailment is common with people with poor diets. They often can’t sleep because of diet-related illness or diseases which make a solid night’s sleep impossible. Additionally, poor eating habits can short-circuit our body’s regulation of hormones and chemical messengers like serotonin that in turn regulate sleep signaling to our brain. Meanwhile, if we are eating late dinners or snacking in the late evening, that shot of food will keep us awake or wake us up as our bodies digest the food and receive more energy.
#5 – High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has variously been blamed on salt or sugar. It can actually and probably is both. Various causes could be to blame and yet people with healthy diets (60% or more whole foods) have far fewer problems with high blood pressure than those consuming the typical diet of processed foods, refined flour, sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. Want to bring down your blood pressure? Ditch the alcohol and processed foods and switch to a whole foods diet.
#6 – Autoimmune Problems
When our meals revolve around heat and serve meals, pasta, sugary desserts, fast food and all come in cans, boxes and bags that can sit on shelves for ages, you must know that none of this contains much, if any, of the nutrition our bodies need to thrive. All these foods have two main things in common: preservatives and high sugar and salt. But wait, sugar and salt are actually preservatives. Preservatives prevent foods from spoiling by killing bacteria that will ferment or rot the food.
When we consume these foods, we are giving our beneficial bacteria overdoses of preservatives. Our beneficial bacteria are an essential part of a healthy immune system. They produce chemicals our bodies need to regulate our immune responses. When we eat our processed foods and refined flours, we are destroying these good bacteria who do so much for us. As a result we hamper or disable the good functioning of our immune system and autoimmune problems result. And that’s just what the food does to the beneficial bacteria, not to mention other ramifications for other parts of our immune system.
#7 – Anxiety
Food is chemistry. If we are not eating well, we cannot expect to be healthy. We also cannot expect that our minds will be healthy. While anxiety can have many causes and contributing factors, food plays a large role in serotonin and dopamine responses that regulate our moods. Drugs, alcohol and food can all damage the production and operation of mood regulating chemicals.
Additionally, as we saw with autoimmune disorders, our poor diets impact our beneficial bacteria. We host thousands of species of these bacteria. Many are responsible for a well-functioning nervous system and impact mood. Studies show that depressed individuals have different gut biota than non-depressed individuals, with entire species missing from their gut biomes.
Personally, when I gave up processed foods, sugary foods and refined flours, my anxiety went away. I had regularly fallen to depression throughout my life and that all stopped. It is astounding how much are moods follow what we eat.
#8 – Problems Controlling How Much You Eat
Because food is chemistry, what we eat impacts the chemical signaling to our brain that tells it when it is hungry and when it is full. By now it probably won’t surprise you to learn that the typical Western diet high in processed food, sugar, salt and unhealthy fats impairs this chemical messaging.
This is why the “eat less, exercise more mantra” doesn’t work. When it does work, it’s invariably because people have shifted their diets to real food that begins to repair their bodies and the chemical messaging and have begun limiting their intake of processed and other unhealthy foods that hamper the natural signalling. This is why in countries like Japan people don’t exercise and don’t have weight problems for the most part. By eating a predominantly healthy diet, their brains get the signal when they are full and they naturally stop eating. It’s not about will power. It’s about chemistry.
Eat Well, Live Well
So much delicious and yet nutritious food exists in the world that we can never hope to sample it all. Why limit yourself to unhealthy options when so many better ones exist? Eating healthy doesn’t mean salads and carrots, bland food, and starving yourself. Cultures across the world ate fairly healthy diets until the modern invention of processed foods and highly refined flours and sugar. Now most everyone suffers malnutrition because though we may have an endless variety of “food” in our supermarkets, very little of it is actually nutritious and a great deal of it will hurt us when consumed over time.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Take control of your health by eating real food. Do like the healthiest cultures in the world by adopting a whole foods based diet that revolves around fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses, whole grains, tubers, nuts and seeds. Doing that will flip the typical Western diet on its head. Your body will receive the nutrition it needs to function optimally while repairing and maintaining itself. Trash th processed food way of eating and take charge of your food today.
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