Monday, February 15, 2010

An ounce of prevention, what we drink

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure the old saying goes. Too bad that most of us just don't take that wise advice to heart. Fred has been studying herbal and alternative medicine since she was just getting ready to start high school and it's been interesting to see all that she has learned being put into practice as she grows into a woman who will all too soon be a wife and mother herself. She has been talking on her blog about the different vitamins that our body needs and what they do in/for the body.

There are a lot of myths about our diets, the vitamins and minerals that we need, how to get them and how much is enough. Sure enough the easiest way to get a good dose of prevention for all illnesses is through our diets. It's heartbreaking to see so many people squander their health for the sake of convenience! Cold cereals may have X number of "essential vitamins and minerals", but don't believe for a minute that your body is going to be able to absorb all that the food box says it may contain. Vitamin pills may not necessarily be the answer either since they are often hard on the stomach and difficult for the body to absorb and utilize the nutrients they claim to contain.

Troy and I learned the hard way when we were just starting our family that prepackaged, easily prepared foods are lethal. We both grew up with mothers that worked full time and were single women leading busy lives. Spending all of their time planning and preparing meals was just not a high priority. To them food that was quick, easy to prepare, and as inexpensive as possible was the mission. The tv commercials and packaging on the products they bought at the store all told wonderful stories of how "good for you" the cereals and soups and frozen dinners they bought were. But somehow the generation of people that Troy and I grew up in is full of extremely unhealthy people, with unhealthy eating habits, and less knowledge about what the body requires for health than any generation before us.

We both have struggled horribly with our health, even when we were in our early 20s we both had multiple issues with our digestion and had already been treated for stomach ulcers. Troy still has issues with digestion and has to be careful about what he eats all the time. I struggle with a neurological condition that no one seems to be able to explain how I became afflicted with...but I can't help but wonder how the foods I've eaten may have impacted my body.

We really worked hard when our children were young to give them the freshest possible foods, straight from the farm when possible, in their natural and whole form. We have seen the results of that kind of diet in all of our kids, and now have seen what happens when you get away from that kind of diet for a length of time. Our kids were EXTREMELY healthy children, rarely even catching a cold or viral infection, and NEVER needed antibiotics until within the last couple of years. They are all still very healthy but we have noticed that since we moved away from the places where we had easier (and less expensive)access to farm fresh foods their health has declined just a bit. Where they once never got sick, they now catch the occasional cold or virus, they lack the muscle tone and natural luster to their hair and skin that they once had, their energy levels have dropped dramatically, and they have more difficulty paying attention than they used to.

Knowing what I do know about the food additives, sweeteners, processing practices, and manufacturing of the foods available and how they impact our health I can't just turn a blind eye to the decline in my family's health. My husband and children are relying on me to protect their health through our diets as much as I am able....I have fallen down on the job and am now more determined than ever to correct my mistakes. My husband and I have spent the last 5 years gaining an unhealthy amount of weight and watching our energy levels and ability to focus plummet. We have watched our once robust children become less healthy, less active, and less interested in learning during the same 5 years. Minor changes will not do, we must radically fix what is broken in our food to fix what is broken in our bodies.

A lot of changes have already been made in our home concerning our food, but many many more are in the process of being implemented. Right now one of our biggest areas of concentration is on the amount of sugar we are taking in. It's unbelievable how sugar is hidden in our food, but even more so in our drinks! So for today's post in my sorta kind of series on healthful eating I thought I would put up a bit of information for all of us to put to use.

Here's a great article from the CDC on rethinking your drink! It's amazing to me to realize that a lot of people are drinking as many calories in a day as they are recommended to consume in their total diet! Constantly drinking soda, sweetened tea or other soft drinks like Kool-aid and such, or coffees, or sweetened juices has a terrible effect on our health. Not only is it flooding our bodies with calories in excess of what we need, but it adds fluids to our bodies that require intricate process to clean and puts a strain on our digestive systems, kidneys, and causes us to abstain from drinking enough water to help our bodies process the waste as they should.

Some people would think that it's okay to simply substitute artificial sweeteners, but I'm totally against that. I think if anyone would do enough research about the effects of those chemical ingredients they would quickly see that it is not beneficial to your health to consume those kinds of things, especially not on a regular basis. Those chemicals are toxic in large quantity, so to me that says they can't be good even in small quantities. We should create the habit of not taking in things that are bad for us in any amount. If it isn't beneficial to your health why use it? Why replace the healthy option with something that isn't useful to your body?

I've posted here about food additives before, but it's still great information and worth a second (or third) look. I've also posted about the water cure here before, but again, it's great information.

A great way to start a clean up of your body after a period of time on a bad diet is a fast. A total fast while drinking only water is good, but really hard on people with health issues like hypoglycemia, or extra electrolyte requirements. Sometimes a juice fast is a better option. For some people with certain digestive issues a juice fast is more harmful than helpful, for them you can modify the juice fast into a smoothie fast by making green smoothies instead. That way they get enough fiber and "flora" via the yogurt or kefir to keep their gut healthy. Here's another great article about fasting for health just in case you need more reading.

Making healthful food choices for yourself and your family is a challenge. It's going to take dedication, research, and effort to convince them (and yourself)that not only is it worth it but that it is going to taste better, and make them feel better. Training my children to be good stewards of their money and time was something I was convicted about when they were very young. Now more than ever I'm convicted that I must also train them to be good stewards of their bodies as well.