Traditional foods, you know, like our great grandparents ate, are likely the healthiest options.
Besides just choosing more produce, produce grown without chemicals (organic) and with a concern with the health of the soil (often called sustainable practices) are even better choices. If the soil is healthy, it will produce healthier food. If the food is healthier, so will you be.
Choosing meat and dairy raised on non-GMO pasture will be healthier. Choosing dairy that is raw or pasteurized at a low temperature leaves not only more of the protein intact, but the beneficial organisms as well. In high-temp pasteurization, lactase is destroyed. Lactase helps the body to process lactose. Wait, aren’t there a lot of people these days with dairy allergies and lactose sensitivity..? Ding, ding! Again, God has a beautiful, complex and perfect design, which we arrogantly continue to try to improve upon. In addition, raw milk does not rot because it isn’t dead; it will sour and, believe it or not, still be useful. Ask your ancestors.
Wheat and other grains, especially those not properly prepared, as well as dairy not properly processed, can be inflammatory, contributing to modern health issues. They feed the bad bacteria (more on that below) in the gut. Sugar also feeds the bad guys, including some studies indicating it can contribute to cancer.
Properly prepared grains, seeds, nuts and beans should be done the old-fashioned way – sprouted, soaked or soured. If done properly, this will break down the phytic acid and make the food more digestible and nutrients more bioavailable. It will also lower gluten, where it is present. And modern wheat and yeast varieties have been bred for bread, turning a formerly 24hr+ process into a 20 minute mass production process, to the detriment of our health.
Very few people consume fermented vegetables anymore, like the old-fashioned sauerkraut, not the vinegary stuff we buy at stores nowadays. These also contain the good gut flora, lactobacilli, the good guys for gut health. In some ways, our great-grandparents had great ideas.
Research indicates one condition contributing to many of our modern health issues is called “leaky gut,” in which the bad bacteria in the gut bores holes in the lining of the gut, allowing food that hasn’t been fully processed to pass into the blood stream, causing the immune system to go into overdrive, fighting these food particles as well as other good guys resembling them, the result being food allergies/sensitivities and autoimmune disease. The bad bacteria in the gut can be kept in check with good bacteria – lactobacilli, found in fermented veg, yogurt and kombucha, among a few other sources. To emphasize the importance of the digestive system: digestive issues can cause stress, resulting in raised cortisol levels and possibly adrenal exhaustion. So much of our nervous system is present in the gut that it is called the “second brain.” Also, there is a little known subset of bacterial microflora in the small intestine called the estrobolome which metabolizes estrogen. Women with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine issues, endometriosis, etc. often have digestive health and gut flora issues.
The toxins in the modern diet, artificial, genetically modified and overly-processed ingredients, put a strain on the liver.
Digestion, sugar levels, and liver health are key systems for overall health vs specific foods, e.g. eating/avoiding a lot of _______. But traditional foods, as mentioned above, give these systems the support they need.
In Part 4 will be what we have been eating and what changes we will be making.
Not that the 3 people who read this will think otherwise, but I feel compelled to say — I’m not a doctor, just a regular old person sharing my experience and opinions based on what I’ve read. If you have health issues, I can’t be your doctor but I can be a friend and share more research (there is A LOT out there) and opinions and encourage you toward healthy choices.