It is certainly easy to get confused by the many different diets that are available to us. Questions about what to eat are often answered by perplexing contradictions. How can we make sense of this?
When we look at studies examining the long-lived people of the world, we find that some of them eat meat, while others eat no meat. We find differences in how they fix their food and the types of food that they prepare. However, there is one thing they all have in common—their foods are fresh, organic, and usually homegrown. Mealtimes for these long-lived people are also times of social interaction, strengthening family ties and longstanding friendships. Mealtimes are also time for relaxation. It’s important not to rush through your meals, so that you may thoroughly chew your food, making it easier to digest. Another important factor at mealtime is that before beginning the meal, you express sincere, heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the food provided. This provides a greater health benefit than most people can imagine.
Thankfully, we’re seeing more organic healthy foods on the grocery shelves today. However, fresh food that is organically grown has an overwhelmingly higher nutrient content than anything you will find in a box or a can. You have probably had the experience of noticing the dramatic difference between the big fat juicy tomatoes found in the produce section of the supermarket and the smaller homegrown tomatoes that taste out of this world.
One of the reasons homegrown tomatoes taste so good and leave such a lasting impression is that they are eaten fresh right out of the garden. The more time food spends in transit, the more nutrients it loses. This is why commercially grown food that is not organic is engineered to stay fresher on the grocery shelf. One thing we never think about when we look at all that good food is how old some of it is. Some of the food that we eat is shipped from around the world; you can eat blueberries in the middle of winter that were shipped from Chile.
Unless your food is labeled organic, you will be ingesting harmful chemicals that may take years to leave your system, if they ever do. In 1987, an EPA report targeted pesticides in food as one of the most serious threats to our personal health and environment. According to the National Academy of Sciences, 30% of the insecticides, 50% of the herbicides, and 90% of the fungicides used in commercial farming are known to cause cancer in animals. It’s certainly important to consider where food comes from. If we eat fresh fruits and vegetables imported from countries that use highly toxic pesticides that are banned here in the United States, we’re playing Russian roulette with our health. So when you go to the supermarket and choose out-of-season fruits and veggies, know that they may come from countries that do not share our high standards. And even with such standards, why would you be willing to take the risk of eating substances that the EPA has found to cause cancer in animals?
Do you realize that bananas, pineapples, and other tropical fruits we get from Hawaii are fumigated with toxic substances before they’re allowed onto the mainland? Those juicy Florida oranges piled high on the tables in the grocery store just before Christmas have most likely been dyed with coal-tar dye number 32 and treated with ethylene gas to destroy the chlorophyll in the rind. This process is called “degreening.” Of course, then they’re passed through a hot vat for tinting. Have you seen those wooden crates with paper in them filled with neatly arranged oranges? The paper is treated with a potent fungicide. Not only oranges are handled in this manner, but many other fruits and vegetables that are not labeled organic. One last example might suffice: most mushrooms that you see in the store have been fumigated with formaldehyde as a preservative.
I think, by this point, you’ve come to the obvious conclusion that the only healthy food available is labeled organic. Now for the good news, once you have decided to eat fresh, raw, organic food, you will not only notice the taste difference, but also experience the health difference.
Fruits and vegetables with high levels of carotene have been discovered to be the best anti-aging and antioxidant foods that you can consume. What scientific researchers have just discovered is that animal species and humans who have the highest carotene levels in their tissues are also the longest-lived; tissue carotene content was the best correlating factor to maximum life span potential in animals and in humans. So how do you tell which foods have the highest levels of carotene? Carotene is associated with intensity of color. Betacarotene, which produces a very intense green color in leafy vegetables, has proven to be one of the most powerful health substances you can consume. Greens such as parsley, spinach, kale, and beet tops are not only chlorophyll powerhouses, but also the richest sources of carotene, with raw kale being the king of the list.
Another very powerful nutrient to take notice of is flavonoids. Flavonoids are pigments that protect plants against free radical damage. They are also what make the color in fruits and vegetables. When wrinkles appear on the skin as people age, it’s due to the crosslinking of collagen, which is the connective tissue that gives the skin a smooth and youthful appearance. Flavonoids are amazingly effective at preventing free radical damage and protecting collagen structures. A very easy rule of thumb is that whatever food stains our fingers, it is because of the rich flavonoid content, and it is probably one of the healthiest foods that we could be consuming. Foods that immediately come to mind are blueberries, cherries, grapes, etc. Can you remember the last time you ate strawberries? The stains on your fingers came from flavonoids.
There are many ways to get abundant and concentrated nutrition from fresh organic fruits and veggies. One way is making smoothies, which requires a food processor like a Vitamix or other brand. The other way to take advantage of the rich flavonoid and carotene content of these amazing foods is by juicing, which, of course, requires that you have a juicer. There are many inexpensive juicers available on the market today, now that more people understand the health benefits of juicing raw fruits and vegetables. Bear in mind, consuming fresh organic fruits and vegetables is what all long-lived people have in common.
SUCCESS EXERCISE: Take yourself out to dinner at the best organic and fresh food restaurant in your area. You will notice how amazingly tasty fresh organic food is, especially when an excellent chef prepares it. Next, go to your local bookstore or online and purchase a recipe book on raw food preparation and vegetarian meals. Also, purchase a good guidebook for juicing raw fruits and veggies. This success exercise is designed to open up a whole new world of culinary delights. To have extraordinary health, whatever diet you prefer, please make certain that your food is free of toxic chemicals and that it is the freshest and most organic you can find. When creatively prepared, such food will set your taste buds reeling.