Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Conquer Food Confusion with Two Simple Principles

With articles like this, no wonder consumers are confused! As I read it, I couldn’t help but think that this perfectly illustrates the quintessential debate amongst “health gurus” that leaves the American public overwhelmed and easily swayed by the next big find in diet and nutrition— your study vs. my study.

As a consumer, it’s easy to get caught up in the “latest study” media hype. One day, studies show that a particular food or ingredient should be “generally regarded as safe,” or perhaps that it even improves health, then future studies reveal that same food or ingredient is linked to cancer or other debilitating disease. Case in point, in the 1970s, the FDA wanted to ban saccharin (Sweet’N Low), because it caused bladder cancer in lab rats. However, Congress imposed a moratorium on the ban (I’m certain this was done with the health of the American people and not corporate interests in mind), which kept Sweet’N Low on the market. Mysteriously, in 1991, the FDA withdrew its ban proposal on saccharin, after new research showed that “it acts differently in rats and humans.”

To add to the confusion, consider the slowness of the nutritional science process— especially when big food companies are not willing to foot the bill for studies that may prove their product causes disease. Why do you think, as the article points out, it took regulators and the conventional medical community in America about 90 years to realize the dangers in Trans fats.

So, what’s a confused consumer to do?

I’d like to share two simple principles of wisdom that have guided me in food decisions for nearly two decades. They are principles that were taught to me by my late mentor, Bud Keith and principles that I wrote about in my book, Live Beyond Organic

1. Eat what God created for food.
2. Eat foods in a form that are healthy for the body.

Now I realize that these principles still leave some room for interpretation, but generally speaking, I think it rules out eating “foods” comprised of chemical ingredients that were made in a laboratory. And you’d be surprised how many items on grocery store shelves that eliminates.

As it relates to this article, I disagree with Dr. Willett’s conclusion of choosing artificial sweeteners over sugar. Rather, these two principles have convinced me to choose raw honey and organic cane sugar as my sweeteners of choice. Sure, it’s important to limit your sugar intake, and even more so for those who are trying to lose weight or balance insulin levels, but when you use sweeteners— and let’s face it, we all use them at times— I am confident that when all the studies are tallied up, these will win out as the sweeteners with the fewest risks and the greatest health benefits. You see, when all the “your science vs. my science” debates are concluded, simple wisdom is usually the victor.

Does this mean that you should ignore scientific studies? Of course not! But what it does mean is that when there are conflicting studies, or study results that seem to stray from common sense or basic principles of wisdom, you should err on the side of wisdom.

Proverbs 3:13-18, Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, 14 for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold… 16 Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. 18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.