Friday, June 28, 2013

What I've been learning recently: food & nutrition

I have recently been learning a lot of information that I never knew with regards to health, food, and nutrition.
Most of the information in this post is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is one of the required readings for the Nutritional Therapy Program that I will be starting in the fall (yay!), and it's chock full of interesting information that just might change the way you think about food for good. Some friends of ours gave me this book for my birthday way back in 2005, but I had yet to pick it up and read it in earnest until now.

It's been blowing my mind, and I needed to share what I've been learning! I apologize if there's too much information, or if it's confusing...for a while (and still currently, to an extent), this was all a big jumbled mess of overwhelmingly new imformation to me, and it honestly stressed me out.

I think that some of the biggest reasons that this new knowledge has affected me so powerfully is twofold. First, I've been operating under the assumption for the better part of two years now that animal products are more dangerous to eat than plants, and that a balanced vegetarian diet might just be the ideal diet. I even had gone through a phase where I thought an all-green-smoothie diet would be the healthiest one, but not anymore!  Secondly, there were many connections made between the benefits of animal products and fertility/reproductive health and mental health that made me question the way I've been eating over the past year and a half.

Ok, to get down to it, here are some of the things that I have learned so far:

The benefits of culturing foods such as dairy & veggies:
  • culturing foods increses the level of enzymes, which help digest and absorb the food and its nutrients
  • culturing dairy starts to break down the lactose (milk sugar) and the casein (milk protein)
  • lacto-fermentation of veggies & fruits enhances digestibility, increses vitamin levels, produces enzymes,  antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances, and promotes healthy bacteria in the intestines (p.89)
  • Adding cultured foods to our meals allows us to still gain benefits from cooked foods whose enzymes have been destroyed.
The necessity of some animal products to our fullest health:
  • usable B12 is found only in animal products
  • even a small amount of animal protein (eggs, fish, broth, raw milk/cheese...) allow for full assimilation of plant proteins (even if a plant contains a "complete" protein on its own)
  • Butter (from grass-fed cows) is the best source of Vitamin A, and a good source of Vitamins D, K, and E as well (all fat-soluble).
  • Calcium from dairy & bone broth is much more "bioavailable" than from veggies
  • Bone broths (which I have yet to really learn about) are super sources of important minerals 
Myths about fats busted:
  • Animal fats are not only not bad for you, they are some of the best sources of vitamins, provide necessary saturated fats and cholesterol, and even have anti-microbial properties
  • Cholesterol is not only not bad for you, but it's necessary to our health and everyday body functions!
  • Cholesterol is needed for: hormones, Vitamin D formation, digestion of fats, healthy cell membranes, mother's milk, and healthy intestinal walls, and it's an antioxidant!
  • damaged cholesterol is bad for you (found in powdered eggs & milk, and meats/fats that have been subjected to high heat)
  • Saturated fats are also necessary!
  • Saturated fats are needed for: cell membranes, bone health, protecting the liver, enhancing the immune system, using essential fatty acids, fueling the heart, and protecting the digestive tract against harmful microorganisms (p. 11)
  • Saturated fats don't cause heart disease
Importance of RAW dairy products from grass-fed cows (I always thought that raw milk and its products sounded very strange, and rather extreme). 
According to Sally Fallon (p. 34), Pasteurization:
  • destroys beneficial pathogen-fighting bacteria naturally occuring in milk
  • alters milk's amino acid tyrosine, making the whole complex of proteins less available
  • promotes rancidity of unsaturated fatty acids
  • destroys about half the natural vitamin C in milk, and up to 80% of other water-soluble vitamins, including B12.
  • reduces the availablility of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, & potassium
  • destroys all the enzymes necessary to use all the nutrients in the milk.
Finally, here are some quotes from Nourishing Traditions that I found interesting:
"The only good source of fat-soluble vitamins in the American diet, one sure to be eaten, is butterfat." (p. 16)

"Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proteind to which they are attached. And ... use as much good-quality butter as you like, with the happy assurance that it is a wholesome--indeed, an essential--food for you and your whole family." (p. 20)

"Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors, and, in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available." (p. 25)

If you're interested in these topics, here are some resources that I've found so far:
Cultured foods:
a blog about all these methods:
Info about raw dairy:
Northeast Organic Farming Association:

My other recent non-food-related interests:
Yoga (I like Sadie Nardini's channel on YouTube, and my free "Daily Yoga" ipad app.) has been very balancing for me recently. I love the combination of stretching, strengthening, body-awareness, and challenge!
Tabata exercises - quick but intense workouts use all your major muscle groups and are great when you don't have a lot of time to dedicate to exercise! It's helpful to use a [free] Tabata timer, if you have a smart phone.

Ok, that's all I'm going to share for now, but there's more to come! This is really just the tip of the iceberg!
I still have tons of questions, and I haven't even read the chapters on beverages or food allergies, but I wanted to get some of this information out there before it created a backlog in my brain. :)
I will be posting more soon about specific topics, and my attempts to integrate what I'm learning into my life.

Upcoming posts will include adventures in:
raw milk
cultured dairy
sprouting (I've done this before, but I think I'm convinced enough to always sprout my grains/nuts/seeds/legumes)
culturing veggies & fruits
making kombucha
sourdough bread
raw meats

1 comment:

  1. I am so happy you are reading that book. There is so much good stuff in there! Let's cook together soon.