It can feel very challenging, possibly overwhelming, trying to implement a healthier diet and lifestyle in this day and age. Chemicals and additives are everywhere – food and drink; plastics; water. However, it is possible to drastically reduce these by making some simple changes and cooking most things ourselves.
I know cooking most things from scratch may seem daunting, it was for me. I grew up with mostly packet and tinned foods and never learned how to cook. When I got married all I could serve up was salad! It may also appear difficult to those who have many demands on their time (such as juggling work hours and children) but keep in mind that being well organised and using some time-saving equipment can really help (see Kitchen Essentials). When I make meals from scratch I try to make double the amount so that I have some in the freezer, thus cutting the need to cook every day.
I know cooking most things from scratch my seem daunting, it was for me. I grew up with mostly packet and tinned foods and never learned how to cook. When I got married all I could serve up was salad!
I have also found that the real foundation to healthy eating is making your own stock. This provides the building blocks for a healthy gut, which is at the root of good mental and physical health. Once you have mastered the art of making your own stock, you can make quite a lot and freeze it for future use. It then only takes a short time to make very nutritious soups, stews and other meals with this (see my Delicious and Healthy Gut Healing Beef Stock and Rich and Delicious Gut Healing Oxtail Soup).
Below I have covered some areas in my diet where I have made changes and why. Hopefully you will find these helpful.
Stock Cubes and Granules
Commercial stock cubes and granules (which I used to use), however healthy they claim to be, often contain harmful additives and soya. Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) explains that the form in which soya is used in the West is called soy protein isolate, which is made in aluminium tanks using an acid wash, and that this makes the soybeans absorb aluminium, which remains in the end product. She goes on to say that after the aluminium-acid wash the beans are then treated with many other chemicals including nitrates.
The table salt in supermarkets and most processed foods is usually highly refined using an industrial process which removes all magnesium and trace minerals which occur in it naturally. It then has several harmful additives, including aluminium compounds and a bleaching agent, added to make the end product. For salt in its purest form with minerals still intact, choose Pink Himalayan Salt or sea salt. I always buy mine from The Himalayan Salt Store, as they are very clear about where and how they get it (see below). I feel confident I am getting the real thing from them and in its purest form.1KG | Pink Himalayan Rock Salt | Food Grade – FINE | Organic | Pure Natural Unrefined Rose Food Salt for Table or Bath
I only use whole-grain flours in my recipes and not white. White flour loses vitamins, minerals and fibre through the refining process. Most of it then has bleaching agents added, which Sally Fallon comments on in her book Nourishing Traditions, “The safety of bromating and bleaching agents, almost universally applied to white flour, has never been established.” She also states that white flour is commonly fortified but is of little value as it is just a handful of synthetic vitamins. This is why, with all my health issues, I ditched white flour many years ago – see My History.
I also try to buy organic flour if possible because of the liberal use by farmers on wheat of the weed killer glyphosate, Government figures show the use of the weed killer glyphosate in UK farming has increased by a shocking 400% in the last 20 years. The Soil Association states that glyphosate can follow the grain into our food. It says that tests by the Defra Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) found that almost two thirds of wholemeal bread sampled contained glyphosate. Glyphosate’s manufacturers insist the levels in our food are safe. However a report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that glyphosate is a ‘probable carcinogen’. Also research published since the IARC report suggests there is no safe level of glyphosate in food. For more information go to soilassociation.org.
Tap water contains chlorine, chemicals and other contaminants. It can also be quite hard in some areas due to chalk and lime scale, which can affect the taste, This is especially the case in London and surrounding areas, with many people there complaining about the taste of the water. For these reasons we have used a water filter for many years and have found Brita to be effective, efficient and good value for money (see Brita Water Filter Review).
The cocoa and confectionery chocolate found in the supermarkets and high street has been processed using very high temperatures, which results in the loss of most of its nutrients. Confectionery chocolate then has a high amount of sugar and unhealthy fats added.
Cacao is chocolate in its purest, unrefined and raw state retaining all of its health benefits, including Vitamin C; magnesium; iron; chromium and antioxidants. I have bought raw cacao from a few different sellers and the taste can vary due to the type of bean used and how it is processed. By far the best I have ever tasted is by Superfoodies and is the only one I now buy. Believe me, you haven’t tasted chocolate until you have tried theirs. For more information go to detoxyourworld.com.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Phthalates
These are used in plastic products and in tin cans. National Geographic stated in 2018 that BPA is known as an endocrine disrupting compound and that in the body, these chemicals can act like hormones or disrupt normal hormone functions. So try to use glass food containers as much as possible. If you do use plastic, make sure food and liquids are cold before putting them into the container. Also try to limit tinned foods (my cupboard has hardly any tinned items in it now) and look out for plastic containers and tin cans which are BPA-free (Biona state this on their tins for example). See Kitchen Essentials.
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