My neighbor Janice swanned by the big muffins on display at Marie Callender’s in Sherman Oaks. We had just finished eating a salad buffet lunch and paused to admire the muffins and pies. Janice has been a dedicated dieter for most of the 15 or so years that I’ve known her. She is perpetually on a diet. She has a refrigerator magnet that says, “Semper dietus” – Cicero probably would have chuckled. “I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. I only eat one of these apple streusel muffins for breakfast every morning with my cup of coffee and soy but I keep on gaining weight.” I couldn’t believe that she didn’t know how many calories that big muffin packed. Knowing the answer myself but wanting Janice to hear the truth for herself, I asked the clerk if she knew the nutritional facts about the muffins. The clerk blushed, “Oh yeah, sorry to say that one is 720 calories but it’s real yummy.” Poor Janice nearly fainted, “What? 720 calories? That’s practically half a day’s intake of calories right there. I’m in shock. No wonder I’m becoming obese.”
As we continued our walk to the parking lot she asked, “Have you read anything about kale being linked to hypothyroidism? My cousin sent me an email about it but I haven’t read it yet.” I admitted that I had read about a possible connection and found it absurd how people are juicing it, cooking it, making kale salads and simply overdoing it. Maybe their rationale is the more kale, the better. If one vitamin supplement is good imagine how much healthier you might be after consuming the whole bottle? There is so much source material to hunt through for answers to some very serious questions about nutrition. Despite efforts on the part of the First Lady and others who feel they are giving expert advice, they are being naïve.. The New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Oregon State University (Linus Pauling Institute), the Mayo Clinic, Duke University to name just a few, have done outstanding work in the field. Most of the results are scary.
Due to the constraints of space I'll focus on three areas: GMO (genetically modified organisms), HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) and estrogen. Our food supply is overloaded with all these terrible ingredients. To begin with, HFCS or high fructose corn syrup is harmful and abundant in our foods. It is the cause of skyrocketing Diabetes. It is responsible for obesity, dementia, heart disease, liver failure and tooth decay. it is being used primarily in sweetened fruit juices, soft drinks, canned soups, cereals and processed foods, most of which our kids and grandchildren consume. It is absorbed more rapidly than sugar and doesn’t stimulate insulin nor leptin. Sugar beets are being used in place of cane sugar in numerous foods which are not labeled.
High levels of estrogen are found in our foods, cosmetics, furniture, detergents and carpeting as well as agricultural products. Our soil has already been compromised by the past use of pesticides. Genetically modified organisms are linked to obesity, many cancers, joint degeneration, urinary incontinence, mood disorders and depression. Cattle eat genetically modified organisms in corn feed. Therefore the milk they produce also contains large amounts of GMOs as well. Beef from some cattle may be linked to the increase in reported cases of eye cancer. As a consumer trying to eat a healthy diet and provide sound and healthful meals for your family you might want to rethink buying the following foods due to the high amounts of estrogen, GMOs and high fructose corn syrup: milk, beef, diet drinks, sweetened juices, baby formula, canned soups, cereals, frozen foods, processed foods, soy products and tofu. It’s a formidable list to be sure. Growing your own vegetables and doing more home cooking will put you in control of your nutrition.
It’s more expensive but buying organic food is safer. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s feature lots of good choices. Your seafood should be fresh caught salmon (avoid farmed seafood and never buy frozen Tilapia from China). Always check the country of origin. Nuts must be raw. Don’t buy canned, bottled, salted or honey roasted. It’s better to chew a dozen fresh almonds than anything else. Organically grown berries are an excellent choice. Quinoa is packed with protein, calcium, iron, amino acids and magnesium. Olive oil is a perfect substitute for butter – the basic ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. Flaxseed and flaxseed oil are being used by many as a healthy supplement. The Mayo Clinic is warning that people with hypothyroidism, Diabetes, Hypoglycemia and those taking medications should be monitored by a healthcare professional. There are many side effects to watch for including the lowering of blood-glucose levels, bloating and intestinal problems.
The FDA is considering whether GMO fish is safe for consumers. Margaret Hamburg, the food chief of FDA is reviewing 35,000 comments about AquaBounty’s GMO salmon which is awaiting approval. There is huge concern about whether the genetically modified salmon would cross-breed with non-GMO salmon. How would consumers know what they’re buying if no labeling is required? Teresa Fung, an adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health as well as a professor at Simmons College in Boston has confirmed the kale-thyroid link. She claims that eating a “reasonable” amount of kale and other cruciferous vegetables should not be a problem. It’s the dose which can make it poison. People who have hypothyroidism and are taking medication might want to exercise caution. Remember that kale is a goitrogenic food and can contribute to an enlarged thyroid.
Why is it that when the public decides to start eating in a more healthy way, the foods which seem to provide the best wallop are immediately shot down? It’s disturbing. We keep hearing about “super foods” but each list is different. We receive conflicting information from various reputable sources. As Americans we are being manipulated by the politics of money in our food supply and pharmaceuticals. It’s up to us to become informed and do our homework. Please don’t listen to the supposed food and nutrition gurus. We can all make wiser choices – smaller portions and safer food for optimal health. I'd heard years ago that dairy products were excluded from the original food pyramid. I haven't confirmed it but I would use more caution in the use of dairy products now. Aside from growing our own vegetables and switching to organic-only I highly recommend visiting our Studio City Farmers Market on Sundays. My children are vegetarians and vegans. My next step will be to make an effort to join them in eating a more healthy diet -- lighter on fruit because of the high natural sugar content. I think the animals will approve as well as my neighbor Janice.