Does Eating Real Food Make Us Healthier?
Our son accuses me of relating every problem in the world back to food. He’ll say, “Why are there wars? Because people don’t eat enough healthy fats, of course!” 🙂
And he’s right. I do tend to think that most problems, well health problems anyway, can be prevented or reversed by eating well. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen it with my own eyes, in my own family, and heard from so many readers who have become well again once they cleaned up their diet and began eating more nutrient-dense foods.
Can good nutrition prevent every illness and reverse every disease?
Of course not, but it could prevent and reverse many. Conversely, can poor nutrition be blamed for all health issues? Again, no, but it can be blamed for many!
I know, I know, there are many other issues in the longevity mix that go beyond food — some we can control, and others not as much:
- Environmental — What are we breathing? What’s in our water? What goes on our skin?
- Physical — Do we exercise? What are our sleep habits? Do we live recklessly?
- Emotional — Do we have excessive relationship or occupational stresses? I’m convinced this one has a bigger impact than most understand.
- Genetics — “You can’t outrun genetics,” many will say, but I believe this gets blamed for more than it should, and we actually can sometimes “turn on” or “turn off” a genetic tendency depending on how we treat our bodies. No, not always, but your gene pool is certainly no reason to assume you’re doomed.
- Lastly, there could be random accidents or whatever might be in God’s plan — who knows?! (Our lives are in God’s hands, but remember He also gave us free will, and if we cut our lives short due to our bad habits, that’s our fault, not His.)
However, good nutrition really can reverse many diseases:
In Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food, he tells of a 1982 study in which a group of Aborigines left the bush, began eating a Western diet, and developed Type II diabetes. When they were returned to the bush and their native diet, the diabetic abnormalities all but disappeared. Pollan uses this and other studies to show how we can regain our own lost health with a healthy diet.
And many of us already know this — I hear stories ALL the time of people reversing diabetes, anxiety issues, auto-immune diseases, digestive problems, and so much more.
Docs would say, “These are only anecdotal, show me real scientific studies.”
To that I respond, “What I see with my own eyes or hear about from friends means more to me than any scientific study, since I don’t know the variables involved, or more importantly, who paid for the study.”
Besides, the natural remedies people have found to help them usually can’t hurt, and there are no side effects involved with eating better and cutting out toxic foods, so why wouldn’t we give these options a try anyway?
None of us know what diagnosis could be right around the corner, and what then?
Here’s the first thing I’d do: research like crazy to find out if a diet change or other natural treatments could make a difference. (And if it was our child who was sick, no hospital had better tell us that the decision wasn’t ours to make!)
Many holistic doctors can heal, or at least help, without the serious, long-term side effects of conventional treatments, but few know this. Their docs don’t tell them because most aren’t trained this way — I believe that most doctors are kind, caring people with our best interests at heart, but they’re given woefully little real nutritional or holistic training. Or what they do get is plain wrong; instead they’re mostly trained in pharmaceutical remedies.
If after my research it looks like mainstream treatments would offer the best chance for recovery, then good nutrition and advice from a natural practitioner would at least give the best support our bodies need as we head down that road. (By the way, sometimes the mainstream protocols really might be necessary, and in that case we’ll be glad to have them available!
My hope is to inspire people to begin making positive changes now, before illness hits and it becomes more difficult to turn it around.
At our house we eat real food to protect our health and because it helps us feel good in general. As I said, we’re far from perfect, and maybe our lifestyle won’t stave off serious illness someday, but we’re less likely to be sick, and we absolutely feel better in the meantime!
I feel blessed to be able to go outside for a long walk, or crawl into bed and fall asleep for 8 hours or more. I’m not sick or in pain and I have the energy I need to be a wife and mom, to homeschool, cook good meals, take care of our home, and run my business. I may not pull all of that off as well as I’d like, but at least I have the energy to try!
True, no one knows the future, and tomorrow a devastating diagnosis could hit our home, but for now, we just keep on doing the best we can and try to learn more as we go along.
Yes, we could do everything “right,” and die in an accident tomorrow, but does that mean we shouldn’t do the best we can with the time we’ve got?
I’m not talking about going around all stressed about eating well or feeling guilty if you don’t have everything perfectly figured out — we’re certainly not perfect here, not by a long shot. Just do the best you can, a little more each day. My book is a great way to start or to get back on track: Click here for Real Food for Rookies. Or click here for a FREE Real Food Ingredient Guide.
Inevitably when I bring up the fact that we would all do well to go back to eating more whole foods the way our ancestors did, I always hear, “But we live longer now.”
First of all, there was actually a study from a few years ago that said our children live in the first generation who may not outlive their parents. Pretty scary.
We have come a long way with public health, emergency medical care, and certain medical conditions, but when it comes to prevention or treatment of most chronic diseases, we are really failing. Besides, even if we live longer than our ancestors, how well are we living? We’re sicker than ever and at young ages. Many are overweight, stuck in their chairs, infertile, in pain, or depressed. How sad!
Believe me, I know there are no guarantees.
A friend once told me, “I have a sister who swears by the low-fat high aspartame regime, eats out two meals a day, and still wears her high school jeans.”
Yes, someone could eat a perfect diet and still get sick, that’s life. Others eat a junk food diet or generally don’t take care of themselves and may suffer no ill effects – but not many, and not for long. Just look around and that’s easy to see.
The thing is, it’s not like eating well is a hardship.
Many think that a healthy diet means bland foods, kale and quinoa every meal, and never letting a dessert pass through your lips, but that’s not the way we live, and neither should you!
Yes, sweets should be occasional and made with good-for-you ingredients, but bland foods? No way! I had a kale and quinoa salad the other day that was bursting with flavor.
Or consider a Thanksgiving feast; some may think this traditional meal is not overly healthy, but they’re wrong. When you serve a moist pastured turkey, pesticide-free mashed potatoes, gravy made with mineral-rich stock, delicious salads loaded with antioxidants, vegetables grown in nutrient-rich soil and served with real butter, and stuffing made with organic sourdough or maybe some einkorn bread, you’ve got a nutrient-dense, super satisfying, taste explosion in your mouth, and it’s all good for you!
Have you seen the documentary Food Inc.? It’s about our food supply and shows some of the realities of the so-called “food” being offered to us these days. True confession of a nutrition geek: I was actually giddy when I saw the trailer for the first time. 🙂
I certainly don’t feel deprived when I’m eating my nutritious popcorn, made with plenty of pastured butter and sea salt, or when I’m enjoying our homemade ice cream, better than any I’ve ever had, or when I’m eating a fresh salad made with veggies from our backyard and my yummy homemade ranch dressing that took me 3 minutes to make, using herbs from our deck.
You get the idea.
What do you think … is eating well (as in real food) a hardship? Is it worth it to do the best we can now, even though there are no guarantees? Are we stressing too much about eating well?
Yes eating real food is a hardship for some of us. First there is availability. Of sure we have a Wal-Mart Supercenter with a so-so produce department and a small town grocery which is a little better but also costs more. Which brings me to the true hardship, cost. Organic foods barely exist here and those that do are faddishly priced. Even leaving out the organic option getting enough fruits and vegetables into the house is a real and genuine hardship for our family and many others we know. What we have to spend on groceries is less than the lowest budget on those governmental charts that come out every so often. It is not because we are super budgeters or have some kind of special spending key. It is just that there are only so many dollars that can be spent on food without going homeless. We do the best we can with what we have but yes “real” food can be a genuine hardship for many Americans.
Any chance you could grow and preserve some of your own?
I am forwarding this post on to my daughter in college. Why? Because I say the same things over and over. She always is telling me that not everything goes back to eating healthy. Like Kelly, I know that, but a lot of things could be prevented! Initially the cost of organic was a hardship for my family. We have learned to adjust to the prices and budgeting. We learned how to grow a garden and to use the harvest year round. That saved a lot of money and was good exercise and experience. The cost has been worth it though as we have no doctor/pharmacy bills! I feel the best I ever have (I’m 42) with a lot of energy. God is good!
I forgot to add that I have been able to reverse many illnesses in my family including pre-diabetes with my third daughter. Not only that, but I have watched my oldest daughter’s heart defect heal enough that she did not have to have surgery in her teens like originally was planned. I have also observed my second daughter’s teeth straighten out where the orthodontist has been shocked and braces were no longer needed. These are just a touch of the iceberg on how my family of six’s health was changed. I wish had a stage to share these amazing experiences on how eating healthy has saved my family’s health. I can only say that it is by the grace of God that I found the information and food sources. It was a hardship in the beginning to source out suppliers, but so worth it! I advise Colleen G. to pray for wisdom and sources if she is serious about going down this path of life. I believe she will not regret any hardships that it brings.