Hippocrates (the father of medicine), once famously said “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”. Sound advice. But food has changed in the last century. That may sound like a peculiar statement to some, so let me expand… Food grown/farmed/produced 100 years ago is quite different than many of the same foods today. We are living in a toxic soup of pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, and hormones. In addition, foods are now being shipped across continental borders more than ever resulting in exposure to radiation. Even more alarming are the modern ‘advances’ made by genetically modifying foods, namely GMO’s. Alarmingly, studies on these ‘frankenfoods’ are now showing to have deleterious affects on human DNA!
I’ll save the politics of the food industry for another post, however consumers have never needed to be more buyer aware of what is one food labels than ever before. Health claims regarding food products are everywhere, but are these really that healthy for us?? Do you know the top 5 unhealthiest health foods? You may be surprised…
If I were to ask you to pick between a Snickers candy bar and a slice of brown bread as to which scored highest on the glycemic index chart, what would you guess? You may be able to tell where I’m going with this – it would NOT be the Snickers bar… What is commonly not known is that brown bread is no better than white bread (its evil relative), and often it can be worse. Two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than two TABLESPOONS of table sugar! The sugar spike is even worse than eating white bread (which I don’t recommend either because it is devoid of nutrients). So pre-diabetics and anyone with blood sugar-handling problems will actually store the sugar very quickly as FAT through the efficient action of insulin from the pancreas. If you never have before, give all breads a break for a couple of weeks – and see how you feel. You’ll be blown away at the change!
Fruit juice, which we pack into lunch boxes and sip as we read the morning paper, was always considered healthy and good for us. But in reality it can aggravate a variety of health problems including; weight gain, diabetes, excessive cavities, digestive issues and fatigue. What’s the reason behind this? Fruit juice from concentrate poses many health risks when it is in concentrate form as more sugar and flavoring are often added to the juice to make it taste better, while at the same time making the juice unhealthier. It is not that fruits are bad – in fact they can be a powerhouse of nutrition! That being said, when the fiber is extracted from the fruit (as in juicing) you will be left with a highly concentrated, fructose rich, sweet juice that can spike pro-inflammatory hormones (such as insulin) that can aggravate the aforementioned issues. Making smoothies with the whole fruit is a tasty and far more healthy alternative!
How many times growing up did you hear “Milk does a body good” or “Drink your milk so you have healthy teeth and bones”? Most North Americans feel that we must consume milk – or suffer debilitating health issues. In fact, recent research in the last decade suggests that consuming pasteurized milk (and other dairy products) may potentially far more dangerous. Let’s just be clear – Milk isn’t always bad. Mother’s milk that is, human milk provides a growing infant with all the nutrition they need for the first 6 months of his life. Similarly, cow’s milk is designed by nature to be the perfect food – that is for calves, not for human beings. Leading researchers are now linking regular consumption of dairy milk to many of the chronic illnesses currently burdening North Americans such as; Diabetes, Heart Disease, Arthritis, Crohn’s/Colitis, and even Multiple Sclerosis. If you must have milk, look into farmers who offer non-pasteurized milk.
What was once touted as a ‘miracle’ food in the 80’s and 90’s, has now come under much scrutiny. First and foremost soy is another big industry, and as a result there has been much researcher into altering the genetics of soybeans to becoming weather and pest resistant, thus creating larger crop yields. Sounds like a novel idea except the latest research indicates that higher consumption of GMO’s increases risk of chronic illness such as auto-immune illness, thyroid disorders, diabetes, and even some cancers. In addition, soy contains isoflavones which interfere with an enzyme that we need for T3 and T4 (Thyroid Hormone) production. A Japanese study at the Ishizuki Clinic found that just 35 mg of isoflavones per day caused thyroid suppression in healthy individuals in just three months which can lead to many problems including weight gain, malaise, loss of libido, and hair thinning.
Oats are traditionally considered a very healthy food as they high in lots of vitamins and minerals, rich in a type of fiber (called beta glucan) that keeps you full, stabilizes your blood sugar while helping to lower cholesterol. All great things right? Well, oatmeal is not oatmeal anymore… The catch is within the type of oatmeal (there are 3). Steel cut (least processed), rolled oats (slightly more), and instant – the latter being the most processed form. The delightfully flavored packets like; maple & brown sugar, apple cinnamon, strawberries and cream, etc generally have less protein and fiber, while having much more sugar (up to 8 tsps!), salt, and other preservatives/additives. If you like your oatmeal, get the steel cut oats and add some fresh fruit on it. Tastes great, and a FAR healthier option for you and your family.
Dr. John Dempster, N.D. obtained his Naturopathic Medical license in Ontario and is a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) and the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND).
As the owner of The Dempster Clinic - Center for Functional Medicine in Toronto, ON, he practices family medicine with focuses in cancer treatment and prevention, diabetes treatment, treatment of digestive disorders, prevention and treatment of heart disease and the treatment and performance of endurance athletes.
Dr. Dempster believes that healing comes from within, and that the body has an innate capacity to heal itself. He encourages and empowers each individual with new skills to achieve their health goals.