A few thoughts for you about that ecosystem that lives inside every human being, the bacterial world that works with us to digest our food and to keep a healthy reign on the bugs and bacteria that can make us sick.
I heard someone ask the question recently,
“What do we know about how the food preservatives that are in so many processed foods effect our guts? Food preservatives are after all, put into food to prohibit the growth of bacteria, right? So what happens to your healthy gut bacteria when you consume them?
The answer (from a scientist) was, we don’t know.
That got me to thinking about the one thing that is most widely used to preserve things; sugar. You know when you store sugar, you don’t really have to make any efforts to keep bugs out of it because they won’t eat it. And we know that if we put enough sugar with something, like with fruit, to make jam, it keeps bacteria from growing and it can sit on a shelf for a long time. So what does heavy consumption of sugar do to our internal ecosystem?
Then I heard a question posed (on a TED talk), how many feet of sugar cane would you have to eat to equal the sugar in 34 ounces of Mountain Dew?
The answer, 8.5 feet. And of course if you ate that much sugar cane it would take a long time and you’d get a lot of fiber and minerals with it! I thought that was a great illustration for how we are dumping crazy amounts of a substance into our bodies that we were not designed to handle in a short time-frame and in those quantities.
On another tangent, I was doing some research on liver health, and learned that consuming a lot of sugar can cause liver damage, just like alcohol can. Think soft drinks.
A few days after reading these studies, I came across others that claim that no study shows that our current standard American diet (SAD) is good for mental health. And in fact, the rates of mental illness are dramatically on the rise.
But there are studies that do bear out the common sense conclusion one might draw about the fact that a whole food diet lowers depression and anxiety. In fact, while medications don’t seem to be making the mental health problems we have as a society better on the whole, changing lifestyle and diet to a healthier, more active and whole version, does.
As Michael Pollan says, “Cheap food is an illusion.”
We pay for it one way or another. We can realize that nutrition matters and put some time and energy and resources into what we eat, or we can pay the cost of ill-health in hospital bills and drug costs and in the misery of living with preventable disease.
I hope you’ll love your guts and take good care of them by:
cutting out processed foods, especially refined sugars,
becoming more active,
spending more time outdoors and in nature, (spring is coming!)
and lowering the amount of stress in your daily life.
Gotta love feeling good!