Saturday, February 7, 2009

Whole Foods Nutrition

Updated March 2014
There is so much debate as to what "REAL FOOD" means.  For years, this would frustrate me because I never knew what to believe or follow.  I have done much research over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that real/whole food means that the food hasn't been processed or refined. It is a food that is in its original form. The best way to eat is to cook from scratch using whole foods.

Whole grains
Grains are one of the most widely controversial foods right now.  There is much debate about whether or not your body needs grains, whether you should cut them out completely, eat whole grains only, or eat some... I have come to the conclusion that it's just up to you.  How do you feel your best?  Most people can and should eat whole grains, some can't.  
Whole grains contain fiber, iron, protein, calcium, essential carbohydrates and sugars, and minerals. This includes whole grain breads and cereals, whole grain pasta, whole grain rice, barley, oats, quinoa, etc. Freshly ground and soaked grains are the best for maximum nutrient absorption and digestion. When combined with another protein food such as legumes, they form amino acid and B vitamin complements.
See Sue Gregg's website and the Weston A Price Foundation for more information on grinding and soaking your grains. See benefits of grinding and soaking, in an easy to follow manner- Soaked Whole Wheat Bread.
We grind our own flour using our Kitchenaid Stand Mixer and grain mill attachment. I buy hard white wheat berries because it contains the same nutrients as hard red winter wheat (what most people know as wheat), but it is lighter and fluffier and tastes better in my opinion!
Fruits and Vegetables- you need at least 4-6 servings per day, heavy on the vegetables because they do not contain sugar.
Fruits and veggies give your body countless vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, fiber, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Organic is best because they are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.
Proteins- Protein is necessary for developing the right amount of blood cells, and it gives you more energy! It is important to get protein from a variety of sources including:
  • Pastured/grass-fed meats, poultry, and eggs (high in iron, complete protein and fat, and rich in minerals)
  • Nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews, etc)
  • Seeds (flax, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, etc)
  • Whole grains (wheat, spelt, quinoa, oats, etc)
  • Sprouts
  • Nutritional yeast (this can be found in health food stores; we sprinkle it on fresh, oven popped popcorn)
  • Beans and lentils
  • Wild caught fish
You NEED healthy fats. Fats provide energy, and aid in the absorption of calcium and Vitamin A.  Good sources are avocadoes, nuts, olive oil, coconut oil (research shows that even though this has saturated fat in it, there are many nutrients in it that counter act the saturated fat; we use it in some things such as baked oatmeal, muffins, etc), butter (same as coconut oil), wheat germ, eggs, meat, and milk. We use butter, coconut oil, olive oil, and occasionally we use sunflower oil.  Through research, I have learned that canola oil isn't good for you as some think.  It is highly processed and genetically engineered!  Here are some reasons why we use the fats that we use:
  • Coconut oil
    • According to Dr. Mercola, coconut oil is the "smartest oil you can use." Benefits are: "promoting heart health, promoting weight loss when and if you need it, supporting your immune system health, supporting healthy metabolism, providing you with an immediate energy source, helping to keep your skin healthy and youthful looking, supporting the proper functioning of your thyroid gland."
    • Food Matters considers this one of their Superfoods. This is straight from their website: "Coconut oil's saturated fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety, which are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body than other saturated fats… the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. Coconut oil will actually speed up metabolism so your body will burn more calories in a day which will contribute to weight loss. Coconut oil supports healthy metabolic function and is a revered anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal agent. Pacific islanders deem coconut oil to be the cure-all gift from nature for all illness."
    • The Weston A. Price has a study on coconut oilOrganic facts says that coconut oil has many benefits including: hair care, stress relief, skin care, premature aging, heart disease, weight loss, pancreas (treats pancreatitis), digestion, immunity, healing, infections, liver, kidney, diabetes, bones, dental care, HIV, cancer. Go to their website to see the explanations of all these benefits.
    • The list could go on and on for all the research that shows coconut oil to be one of the best.
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil- Made from the skin of olives.
    • Because it's made from the skin and not seeds, it requires less pressure and lower heat during the pressing process; this means that the nutrients are contained in the oil.
    • This is high in oleic acid and in linoleic acid.
    • It is slow to spoil.
    • Contains 90% unsaturated fats.
    • This oil contains omega 3 and omega 6, but not a high source of it (information from
  • Butter-
    • According to the Weston A Price Foundation, butter contains Vitamins A, D, and E.
    • It contains lecithin, iodine, and selenium.
    • It contains short and medium chain fatty acids which have strong anti-tumor affects.
    • It contains the minerals manganese, chromium, zinc, copper, and selenium. Butter provides the perfect balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (this is the best in grass fed butter).
    • It protects against heart disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, thyroid health, digestion, weight, etc.
A lot of water (at LEAST 8 cups a day) is necessary for anyone. Naturally decaffeinated and herbal teas are included in this category. My suggestion is to stick to water and (naturally decaf.) teas only. If you want coffee, drink water processed decaffeinated, or a very low amount of regular. Do not drink sodas because not only do they contain a LOT of high fructose corn syrup (or artificial sweeteners in diet soda), they have caffeine, and they are carbonated which breaks down muscle mass. They are totally empty calories and bad for you.
Raw Milk
I drink raw milk, fresh from a farm.  While it seems a bit odd (and scary to some), it is incredibly nutritious!  According to the brochure given out by the real milk campaign through the Weston A. Price Foundation:
Raw milk has been used to cure TB, edema, heart failure, high blood pressure, prostate disease, urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, chronic fatigue and obesity.  It also prevents allergies, asthma tooth decay, joint stiff-ness, arthritis, flu, and pneumonia.  It aids in the absorption of calcium and promotes growth.
The safety and benefits of raw milk have been a question many times.  That is really because of a lack of information (just like with homebirth!).  Most people have just gone on what they have been told for years (and I had too, until recently).  Yes, when pasteurization first began, it was because people were getting sick from raw milk.  But, it was because of the horrible farming practices that were happening, not because of the actual milk.  So, instead of fixing the issue by correcting the bad farming practices, they just started pasteurizing it (which depletes the milk of most of the nutrition).  I have given information on raw milk in the past, but the blog titled "Miraculous Milk" goes into all the details of WHY to drink raw milk.  Not only does he give a great breakdown, he gives many other resources to check out.  He did a much better job than I can, so I'll just leave you to read up on it on your own :).  One really cool thing is that you can actually live on raw milk alone and thrive!
Below are the standards that must be met in order to be a Grade "A" Raw Milk Facility (this is directly from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance Raw Milk Fact Sheet):
If a condition is found that poses an imminent health hazard, the department is required to suspend the dairy’s permit immediately (217.26d)
•Samples of the milk are collected at least every six weeks and tested for: bacterial counts, coliform counts, somatic cell counts, water adulteration, and cooling temperatures. (217.27)
•At least twice every six months, the samples are also tested for pathogenic bacteria
•At least four times every six months, the samples are also tested for antibiotics
Grade A raw milk must meet the following standards (217.28)
•Cooled to 45 degrees or less within 2 hours (also regulated in 217.29s).
•Somatic cell counts not to exceed 750,000 per milliliter (ml) for cow’s milk or 1,000,000/ml for goat’s milk.
•Bacteria limits of 20,000 per ml (not applicable to cultured products).
•Coliform not to exceed 10 per ml.
•Pathogen limit of zero.
Section 217.29, Sanitization Requirements for Grade A Raw Milk, has 20 subparts, which have in turn multiple sub-subparts, of rules (217.29). Some highlights include:
•Abnormal milk shall be discarded, and animals which show evidence of abnormal secretion must be isolated from the non-abnormal milk and equipment cleaned (a)
•Milk barn must meet detailed construction and cleanliness requirements (b,c, e-g)
•Animal yard shall be properly graded to prevent standing pools of water or waste, housing areas maintained to prevent soiling of animals udders and flanks (d)
•Clean water in sufficient quantity for the dairy operations (h)
•Containers, utensils and equipment must meet standards for construction (type of materials), cleaning, sanitization, storage and handling (i-m)
•The animal and the milking equipment must be free from contamination (n-p)
•People doing the milking must have clean hands, wear clean outer garments, and be free of infection (q, r)
•Effective insect and rodent control is required (t)
•Animal Health: All herds shall be tested and found free of tuberculosis and brucellosis before any milk is sold; herds shall be retested at least every 12 months; cattle herds participate in brucellosis ring testing by Texas Animal Health Commission. For other diseases, the department may require physical, chemical, or bacteriological tests. (217.20)
As you can see, requirements are very strict... I trust a Grade A Raw Milk facility 100% (obviously, I drank it when I was pregnant and my kids drink it!).
Organic and Why It's ImportantOrganic foods are not sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides and herbicides can alter hormones, can disrupt immune systems, and can cause certain types of cancer (breast, uterine, prostate cancer, and leukemia). See "external toxins" for more detailed information on what pesticides and herbicides can do. Organic meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not contain hormones, antibiotics, steroids, or pesticides. I have been buying my meats through a local co-op that sells grass-fed/pastured/cage free meats, milk, and eggs. Meats, poultry, milk, eggs, etc are the highest on the list to buy organic, if possible.
  • Local harvest is a great resource for finding CSA's, Farmer's markets, Farms, etc that sell organic foods in your area.
  • A great resource to find out more information on organic foods and why they are important is Organic Consumers.
Pastured animals and eggsEating grass-fed/pastured animals and eggs is more important to me, even, than organic.
Pastured means that the animals are not confined and are able to graze the pasture. Not only are the animals able to eat grass, they are able to walk around, which means they exercise. Because of this, the meat is lower in fat.
The benefits of grass-fed vs. grain fed are that pastured animals (beef, pork, chickens, etc) contain more omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin E, and Vitamin A, beta carotene, lecithin, and are lower in fat. Pastured animals and eggs contain no hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. And, most of the time, they don't contain pesticides.
A great resource for finding grass fed meats, poultry, and eggs is Eat Wild. Not only will you get a lot of information, you can search for local farmers that sell pastured meat, poultry, and eggs.
Real Foods has some more information on why to eat pastured animals and eggs.
Sweeteners that we use (in moderation)
  • Sucanat (SUgar Cane NATural)- evaporated cane juice.  Keeps all of the original nutrients intact because it is just evaporated... not refined or processed at all.  Another brand/type is called Rapadura.  It's basically the same thing.
  • Raw, unfiltered, unheated, local honey
  • Molasses
  • Pure Maple
  • Stevia (a natural, zero calorie sweetener.. the actual plant or the drops are the least processed)
Foods, drinks, other things to limit/avoid
  • Food coloring
  • Artificial flavors and sweeteners
  • Caffeine- Some is okay, but excess can cause many problems.  Also, if you drink this, you need to drink more water to counter act it. Caffeine is a diuretic. It depletes your body of necessary water and nutrients.
  • Nitrates- these are found in lunch meats, hot dogs, and bacon that is not specially made nitrate-free.
  • Refined sugars and flours- these can cause diabetes and can alter brain chemistry. They do nothing good for you.
  • Hydrogenated oils ("trans fat")- this raises the bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol. This oil is found in many packaged foods and commercially fried foods.
  • High fructose corn syrup- found in almost every canned, packaged product. Look at labels!!
  • Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs- for obvious reasons.
Resources for Whole, Real Foods
Real Foods Co-op- I am a part of a local co-op that gets foods from local farms... this includes produce, milk, honey, beef, chicken, and eggs. Let me know if you're interested in this, and I will get you the info!
Azure Standard- While this company isn't local, there are several drop points in the area.  You can call Azure, give them your zip code, and they will tell you the closest one!
Eat Wild- You can find local meats through this website.
Local Harvest- You can find local farms and co-ops through this website.
Costco- Believe it or not, this store has been a huge help towards eating real foods!

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