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Our nutrition in this country has drastically changed over the past 100 years. The processing of our food has become more advanced and more “convenient” to keep us up to speed with our busy lifestyles. However, over the past thirty years we have seen the rates of obesity increasing and the health in our communities declining. We are becoming more and more aware that the foods that we eat are critical for function of our bodies. Our gut and the good bacteria that live within the digestive system make up a large portion of our immune systems– in fact at least 10 percent of the cells in the gut are part of the immune system. People are interested in learning about health and eating whole foods once again. So called “clean eating” is increasing in popularity and making its way back into our world (which is awesome). We are hungry for change.

In the early 1900’s the first processed foods became available such as, Nathan’s hot dogs and Oreo cookies. By the 1940’s fast food restaurants were originating. By the 1950’s and 60’s fast food was present everywhere and more and more processed foods were created. In addition, women were starting to be more prevalent in the work force. It was nice to have quick and easy foods. Over the past 50 years artificial sweeteners, and genetically modified organisms have been introduced into our diets. Diseases and illness have been soaring. Our society is full of individuals with autoimmune diseases, allergies, and cancer. The poor quality of our food has contributed to a depletion of the good bacteria in our gut that helps to protect and fight off illness and help us absorb vital nutrients needed for growth. More recently consumers have been questioning what is in the food we are buying and we are going back to eating fresh and organic home cooked meals.

Did you know? A hundred years ago you had to be wealthy to have access to sugar. Now, studies have indicated lower income families consume the most sugar. In addition, the average sugar intake in a year was 6 pounds. The average person now eats approximately 120 pounds of sugar per year. Sugar feeds yeast and growth of harmful bacteria in our gut that can cause further damage to our digestive tract and  an inability to take in essential nutrients. The imbalance of good and bad bacteria and the destruction to our gut (and therefore our immune system) has been connected to many different illnesses as well as mood and behavioral disorders. 

Whole foods (think meats and produce) are just what we need to heal our digestive tracts and get our immune system functioning better. In particular some of the best foods for the gut include:

  • Bone broth – has collagen and protein to help rebuild damaged cells
  • Coconut products – are easier to digest compared to other fats
  • Avocado and eggs – are quality fats that aid healing
  • Chia seeds and flaxseed – contain fiber that feeds the growth of the good bacteria in our gut
  • Kimchi and sauerkraut – are examples of fermented vegetables which help to balance the gut pH levels and are packed with probiotics
  • Grass-fed meats and wild-caught salmon- are anti-inflammatory foods and stimulate healing

The following foods should be avoided because they contribute to damage in the digestive tract:

  • Unsprouted or unfermented grains
  • Conventional dairy products (raw dairy is good)
  • Added sugars
  • Processed foods
  • Trans fats
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

In addition, it is important to take a probiotic to help balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut. It is common for our good microbes to be depleted due to stress, toxins, poor diet, or antibiotic use (which kills the good and bad bacteria in our bodies).

Consumers are curious and it has become trendy to shop local, shop organic, and use fresh food, spices, and herbs to create Pintrest or Instagram worthy creations.  While processed foods are by no means out, meal prepping and simple meals are in.  Restaurants are adding  healthier options and swaps to their menus. It seems we have come full circle in the past hundred years which could mean a positive move in the right direction for our futures.

 

 

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