Two Healthy Habits You Need More Than Ever
It’s January and of course, the time of year with a focus on health more than any other. It’s a time for new beginnings and resolutions that aim to make this year better than the last. It’s a time when we connect to our desire to feel better, look better, enjoy life, live longer and avoid the perils of aging along the way. It’s no coincidence then that the goals for a better year translate into goals for better health. For many that means starting off the year making declarations to take better care of their bodies by doing things like eating right and getting in shape. And rightfully so. No one can argue that diet and exercise are cornerstones of good health.
But, our country’s food supply has been hijacked by the manufacturing models of our day. This creates the very real possibility that even if you do eat well and exercise regularly, your health may not be what you’d expect it to be despite the fact that you’re doing everything "right."
That’s because there is a war going on, and it’s not The War on Terror. It’s Americans against Americans, David against Goliath, big business against family farmers. It boils down to a battle between what I call the “chemicalists” and the “naturalists.” The former believes in the chemicalization of food (and all things consumed) because it makes economic sense. It’s simple. It’s cheaper. They rely on their science, testing in labs and computer models that predict outcomes. It’s not a very “human” approach, but it is controllable, and like I said, it’s cheaper.
On the other hand, naturalists don’t want to eat, or use other products, that have been adulterated with chemicals in a factory. They want to support their body’s natural functions and systemic interdependencies with earth-based, not lab-based foods. They believe that nature supported us long before science made its way into the fray and began packaging what food researcher and author, Michael Pollan refers to as “food-like substances.”
In food science, it’s not just the food itself being engineered. It’s the idea of food that has been constructed to make the average joe feel like food and nutrition are too complicated to understand. This has created an unhealthy dependence on people who position themselves as authorities, when in truth, authorities they are not. They are companies looking for ways to sell product. What they are, are experts in sales and marketing. Some would argue it's brainwashing.
So as this tug-of-war plays out, to be healthy, resolutions need to reflect the challenges of our time. It’s no longer just about making the right food choices. It’s about trusting the information you get about the food (and other purchase) choices you make. There are so many ingredients hidden in our food supply, a more apt resolution may be to start evaluating what’s going into your body before you ingest or absorb it.
Something as simple as reading back labels creates the kind of small, sustainable habit that can have a huge and positive impact on your health. And then, when you read something that is unfamiliar, Google it. But Google with the same discernment you need when reading – and assessing - labels. Look for independent research results that are NOT funded by the company selling the product. You can find Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for many of the ingredients that are used to supply manufacturers. You can also consult with various databases such as those on The Environmental Working Group’s website at EWG.org. They have product reports, company scorecards, a cosmetic ingredient database, plus much more.
Sad that food is no longer about nourishment, but about fighting for the truth to uncover what’s really in it.