Saturday, February 5, 2011

Common Health & Nutrition Myths

Here is a recent free download I added to my site. Check out the other ones I have available, some for free and some (the packets from my cooking classes) for a fee.

Common Health & Nutrition Myths

Learn why the old-fashioned way of doing things is actually the healthiest.

1. Cholesterol and animal fats are bad for your health
As Weston A. Price discovered, diets rich in traditional animal fats were correlated with longevity, vitality, strength, and freedom from chronic disease. It was not until the rise of refined vegetable oils that heart attacks and heart disease even began to be observed among the general population. Foods rich in vitamins A and D (the foods that are most vilified in our Western culture) ensure that our bodies can utilize the valuable minerals we are consuming, and use them to keep our bones, teeth, and organs healthy and well. If you want to protect your heart, strictly avoid processed vegetable oils and refined sugars, and eat a traditional nutrient-dense diet. Look for the book The Cholesterol Myths or visit to learn more.
Cholesterol plays an important protective role in the body, and will rise naturally as a person ages -- this is actually a healthy thing! Most cases of “abnormally high” cholesterol are an indication that the body is in a state of ill health or imbalance; cholesterol may rise in response to stress, illness, and/or a low level infection. It is crucial to address this underlying problem rather than simply trying to lower the cholesterol level.

2. Eating fat will make you fat
The rise in popularity of low-fat foods has occurred at the same time as a national upward trend in obesity rates. Fat is a crucial component of food that triggers the feeling of satiety, or fullness, that we are supposed to feel when we have had enough to eat; it also makes our meals more sustaining. Desserts in particular should contain plenty of fat as it slows the release of glucose into the blood, and helps prevent sugar spikes and crashes. Fat is actually our body’s preferred energy source! We are able to convert fat into ATP (energy) much more efficiently than carbohydrates. And as Weston A. Price discovered, high levels of dietary fat in the context of a traditional diet free of refined sugars is actually correlated with physical fitness and a slimmer waistline.

3. Drink low-fat milk for your bones
Dairy should be consumed only in its full-fat form because we need the fat to properly digest and assimilate the protein; without the fat, our body will quickly become depleted in vitamin A, which is essential for a whole host of body functions (heart health, hormone production, and digestion among them). The butterfat (cream) in milk is the carrier for fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which are essential for health and even mental and emotional well-being. These vitamins are also crucial for the formation and strengthening of our bones, so it is the opposite of beneficial to consume low-fat or skim dairy products for bone health. Full-fat dairy, butter, and cream are even good for your metabolism and healthy weight loss. Still not convinced? It may interest you to know that farmers feed pigs skim milk to fatten them up!
We should also mention here that pasteurized dairy lacks the enzyme phosphatase, which is needed for absorbing calcium. Therefore, the best option for dairy is full-fat, grass-fed, and raw. For individuals who cannot consume dairy or who lack access to raw dairy, traditional bone broths are an essential part of a healthy diet; they are a rich source of easily-absorbed minerals (including calcium and magnesium) and contain many components that superbly nourish our bones and joints.

4. Salt is bad for you
It is true that common table salt is linked to hypertension and many other health problems. However, old-fashioned salt which is from the sea and is truly unrefined is absolutely essential to our health. Unrefined sea salt contains many important trace minerals from the sea, including iodine (for thyroid health), and aids in digestion by stimulating the production of stomach acid. Salt that is good for you is generally not white; look for light grey or even pinkish salt. Good brands include Celtic, Eden, and Redmond; you can find them at your local health food store or by ordering online.

5. Soy foods are good for menopause
In American society, soy foods have been elevated to celebrity status, largely through the persistent work of the soy industry. Soy (which is nearly always a genetically modified crop) is now added to a very high percentage of all processed foods we consume in this country, ranging from baby formula to fast food. Many people point to Asian diets as evidence that soy is beneficial; however, traditional forms of soy consumed in Asian countries were far different than the soy foods we eat today. Industrial soy is highly damaging to the digestive system, destroys the thyroid, and wreaks havoc on our hormones and endocrine system. Furthermore, unfermented soy contains anti-nutrients that can cause serious nutrient deficiencies and digestive issues. Studies on the use of soy for menopausal and post-menopausal women have found it to be ineffectual at regulating hormones or reducing the symptoms of menopause. To read more about the dangers of soy, visit

6. A high fiber diet is the key to digestive health
These days, fiber is added to everything from yogurt to children’s juice, and we are encouraged by physicians, advertisers, and bureaucrats alike to consume more whole grains and foods high in fiber. However, a diet high in insoluble fiber is actually linked with many digestive disorders, including Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is because whole grains and legumes contain phytic acid which can chelate important minerals from the body; in addition, many people have a compromised digestive system that cannot properly break down fiber. The best bet for digestive health is to consume foods rich in natural probiotics, like lactofermented vegetables, and to include plenty of vitamin A (such as that found in fermented cod liver oil) in your diet.

7. Non-caloric sweeteners are healthier than sugar
When it comes to “sugar-free” foods and sugar alternatives, the best thing to do is to just say no. There is no non-caloric sweetener on the market that is not associated with major health risks (with the exception of unprocessed natural green leaf stevia). If you want that sweet flavor, try using raw honey, grade B maple syrup, or Rapunzel brand unrefined sugar (Rapadura). Even regular white sugar is better than sugar-free sweeteners, though if you must eat sugar it would be best to choose organic as sugar is a highly sprayed crop.

8. Feeling (and looking) “old” is inevitable
With a diet rich in traditional nutrient-dense foods, it is entirely possible to live a healthy and energetic life well into old age, without the use of drugs or supplements. Many of the people encountered by Weston A. Price were surprisingly youthful and fit, even at advanced ages. Traditional foods will even help keep you looking younger! Studies carried out by plastic surgeons found that women who ate mostly animal fats (such as lard) had fewer wrinkles and healthier skin tone than women consuming mostly vegetable oils.

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