Sandra's vision of health simply involves moving toward the unique, healthy balance that we must all find, in our own way and in our own time. Such a philosophy considers not only what we eat and whether or not we exercise, but also how we shop, cook, work, sleep, think, play, feel and move -- it considers our whole being.
Sandra Tonn is a registered holistic nutritionist, natural health writer and speaker, nutrition teacher, and certified hatha yoga instructor. For more information see: www.sandratonn.com.
In the early part of the 20th century Dr. Weston Price, a Canadian dentist, noticed a significant decline in the health of his patients. Knowing that nutrition is the foundation of health, he set off to travel the world for clues and answers.
Price studied 14 different cultures in a time when some were eating a modern processed diet, but others were still eating traditional foods. The further he traveled from civilization the better health he saw. The most uncivilized cultures did not experience heart disease and cancer. While the diets he witnessed were varied according to culture, they were all based on whole, traditional, nutrient-dense foods.
Price's groundbreaking studies showed that the recently introduced processed food was not only linked to tooth decay, but to changes in bone structure, lower IQ, personality disturbances degenerative disease and birth defects. He concluded that soil degradation, processed foods, and refined sugar products were to blame for the degenerating health of the modern human.
Unfortunately, food manufacturers became more powerful than health advocates and common sense. The food manufacturers have a heavy influence on government, which is why we have dangerous elements in our foods, such as artificial sweeteners, trans fats, refined sugar, colours, flavours and other proven toxins.
Many of the diseases we are dying from today, including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, are directly linked to a processed diet. Processed foods are stripped of nutrients to allow for a longer shelf life. They often contain low quality ingredients, a long list of additives and preservatives, lack fibre and are teeming with sugar. Instead of supporting the body, processed foods literally rob the body of health. Once we're sick, our health care system, which is really a sick care system, offers drugs and surgery via another influencial industry-with no focus on true disease prevention.
If Dr. Price toured Canada today he'd find additional food issues, such as chemical agriculture, genetically modified foods, factory farming, and fish farming, among others, to contend with. Awareness about food and nutrition has never been more important.
A community is only as healthy as its soil. Modern day farming practices deplete the soil of nutritents. Growing one cash crop on the same land year after year (monocropping) means the plant takes the same nutrients from the soil year after year. Farmers, as a result, must use chemical fertilizers, which further decrease the quality of food, and add chemicals to our air, land and water supply. Pesticide and herbicide chemicals also degrade soil and our food, and pollute our air and water.
Going organic means eating food that has been grown with concern for soil, nutrition and environment. A review of more than 40 studies, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (April 2001), found that there are significantly higher levels of several nutrients in organic crops, including 27 percent more vitamin C and 21 percent more iron.
Many people think organic food is more expensive than non-organic. However, since we pay for the environmental clean up caused by non-organic farming, and since our health and healthcare system suffers, we really are saving by purchasing organic. Non-organic farming practices contribute to the erosion of the earth's topsoil. Once our topsoil disappears, our means of growing naturally nutritious food also disappears. Organic farming is the only answer to a sustainable future for humans and our home planet.
Despite the fact that hundreds of scientists from dozens of countries have warned against the possible long-term implications of growing and eating genetically modified (GM) foods, the Canadian government has supported the huge corporations that manufacture GM seeds and foods. Research is already suggesting that allergies and asthma may be linked to GM foods.
To make matters worse, unless you are buying certified organic whole food, it is near impossible to avoid eat GM ingredients, which include staples such as potatoes, wheat, corn, soy, flax and canola. The majority of Canadians would like GM foods to be labeled, as they are in many other countries, however the government has so far refused. Public resistance to GM foods can make a huge difference, as it did when the giant GM food agro-chemical manufacturer Monsanto was forced to discontinue their efforts to grow GM wheat in Canada.
Farmed fish are higher in saturated fats and also contain antibiotics and chemicals. Fish farms endanger wild fish in the oceans and through unsustainable practices result in the death and destruction of surrounding sea life and ecology.
The government is approving more and more fish farms on the coast of BC even though science shows the irreversible environmental damage that they cause. Purchasing wild fish is a vote with your dollars against the harmful practice of fish farming.
Factory farming of livestock, such as cows and chickens, has resulted in the inhumane treatment of animals and in meat and animal products that have been treated with hormones and antibiotics. Both mad cow disease and the avian flu in humans have been directly related to factory farming practices-namely the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of animal factories.
Damaged fats, a ban on raw milk, artificial sweeteners, colours and flavours, and food irradiation are other food issues relative to our health today. By raising your awareness and voicing your opinion you can make a difference.
Through prevention we can alleviate the pressure on our healthcare system. A recent study, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clincial Nutrition, highlights nutrition as the prescription for reducing the risk factors for heart disease-the number one killer in Canada. Dr. Roger Rogers, a cancer prevention pioneer in Canada, has estimated that up to 80 percent of all cancers are preventable with diet and lifestyle factors. Obesity and a diet of processed foods are highly associated with the development of type II diabetes, which has reached epidemic proportions in Canada.
Let the government know that you recognize the value and necessity of nutritious foods in preventing disease. Let them know that you see the links between our food system, environment and health care. With awareness and dedication to food that sustains our bodies and our environment, we can heed the long ago advice of Dr. Price and focus on a healthy and nourishing future.
Alliance for Biointegrity www.biointegrity.org
Canadian Organic Growers www.cog.ca/
Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR). "Farmed and Dangerous" www.farmedanddangerous.org
Greenpeace. "Say No to Genetic Engineering" (http://www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/genetic-engineering)
Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation www.ppnf.org
Worthington, Virginia. "Nutritional Quality of Organic Versus Convention Fruits, Vegetables, and Grains." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 7 no. 2 (2001): 161-73.
Greene CM and ML Fernandez. The role of nutrition in the prevention of coronary heart disease in women of the developed world. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;16(1):1-9.
This information is offered for its educational value only and should not be used in the diagnose, treatment, or prevention of disease. Any attempt to diagnose and treat illness should come under the direction of your health care practitioner.