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By Allison Kusick, West Branch sophomore
WEST BRANCH - Food pyramids are a reliable way to portion your diet, right? Wrong.
Ever since the 198’s, the false knowledge of eating a plentiful amount of grains has been floating around. The truth is grains alone are one of the leading causes of obesity.
Cereals, breads, pastas and pastries all are high glycemic foods. This means when they enter the body they quickly turn to sugar in the bloodstream, which stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin to transport the sugar from the blood to the cells. This is a natural occurrence, but too many grains can produce an overdose of insulin which leads to pre-radical damage (aging of the cells), clogging of the arteries and high blood pressure.
“You want to limit the grains to maybe no more than two servings a day, but make sure they are whole grains,” said Dr. Craig Victor Carr. “The work that a lot more innovative dietitians have done now find that the grains are not as healthy for us as we thought. Most people back in the ’80s … were taught that the more grain you ate the healthier you were. But as we came into the year 2000, we found that basically the less grains we eat the better we are. They are very high in sugar and they are very high in what’s called Omega 6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory.”
Processed foods – such as canned soups, boxed foods or anything packaged or prepared beforehand – are not healthy. These foods lack enzymes, which are present in fresh and natural foods. Enzymes help the body digest food and trigger essential reactions in the body. Processed foods rob your body of enzymes because it takes more enzymes to break down the processed foods than you are actually receiving from that food.
“Companies put these ingredients into their products because they’re cheap and they don’t spoil,” Carr said. “They’re toxic. They are what we call excitotoxins that irritate the nervous system. They disrupt the digestive system and some of them are proven to be carcinogenic but they are still allowed because they are in low levels. Like food coloring, most food coloring is definitely tied into being substantial role in cancer.”
Aspartame is a toxic artificial sweetener that is addictive and has been shown to contribute to the development of cancer, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Aspartame is made from the following chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Aspartate and glutamate cause excitotoxicity which is the pathological process in which nerve cells are overstimulated to the point of cell death.
“I think (using aspartame is) bad and we shouldn’t use that chemical anymore because it leads to a lot of diseases,” West Branch sophomore Corinda Wolfram said. “I also think that’s not fair because you should let people know what they’re consuming before they consume it.”
Aspartame is found in some or most diet pop, yogurt, chewing gum, sweeteners like splenda, cooking sauce, mints, juice, pudding, flavored water and many other products.
“It is important to read ingredients so that you don’t get a lot of junk, for instance guacamole,” Carr said. “If you get a jar of guacamole from the store, it’s full of chemicals and then it has some FDC (a food, drug and cosmetics additive) which are colored blue and yellow to make green. But what they make it out of it would be kind of a dull grey or maybe a brown before they add the FDC.”
If a person is looking to eat healthier, they might want to shop on the periphery of the grocery store. In most supermarkets, the essential food groups – such as meat, produce and dairy – are all placed on the perimeter of the grocery store. Towards the center of the grocery is where you find the processed foods and less healthy foods. Additionally, the name brand, less healthy foods are on the eye level shelves, and most of the time the healthy alternatives are on the bottom shelf.
“The only people that will express this knowledge are researchers that write books or research papers and doctors that know nutrition and try to teach it to their patients,” Carr said. “You’re not going to see commercials that tell you how to eat properly because that’s not the food they make their money off of. They make their money off of the processed foods.”