Tips to Healthy Eating and Dieting

The entire country seems to be fighting the ever present “battle of the bulge.”

With an ever expanding population that is beginning to suffer from a variety of diseases and conditions directly related to obesity, consider adopting an alternative lifestyle that includes healthy eating and dieting.

Instead of trying to lose weight with potentially harmful pills or medications, consider changing your way of thinking about food.

Also, avoid popular fad diets that may take the weight off initially, but usually allow you to regain all the weight (and maybe even more) as soon as the diet ends.

Instead, look for measures of healthy eating and dieting that will work as a lifestyle change by allowing you to lose the weight and keep it off, in addition to gaining a better sense of your overall health.

Instead of looking to diets that require you to purchase budget breaking foods that are packed with preservatives, added colors, and chemicals, change your way of thinking about losing weight and gaining health!

This tip is the key to healthy eating and dieting. Look for fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats for your diet and avoid anything boxed, canned, or frozen–with the exception of frozen vegetables.

These processed foods, in addition to prepared foods, include a phenomenal amount of preservatives and are often high in sugars and fats, while being low in anything of nutritional value.

Also, check the dietary information on any items you purchase so that you can be sure the food is a good choice for your new, healthy lifestyle.

Also, look to the Food and Drug Administration for their dietary requirements for individuals of all different ages and health.

This guideline will allow you to choose the foods that are most beneficial for consumption.

Usually, these guidelines encourage you to avoid sugars and fats, usually the main causes of poor health and weight gain.

Also, the FDA will be able to provide you with nutritional information on a variety of items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, whose information may be a bit difficult to find.

Using this information, begin to plan you weekly meals.

Contact Lens Approval Process Has Similarities to Clinical Drug Trials

Contact Lenses are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) as Class 3 Medical Devices. Class 3 medical devices are defined by the FDA as those that support or sustain human life, are of substantial importance in preventing impairment of human health, or which present a potential, unreasonable risk of illness or injury.

Class 3 medical devices require the highest level of evidence for market approval which is a process to evaluate safety and effectiveness before the product can be brought to market. Clinical studies, scientific documentation, and reviews are required. There can also be post marketing surveillance studies after a new contact lens is released to look for further problems. Prescription drugs require a similar but much more involved process before they reach the market place.

A press release from the National Eye Institute in 2008 stated a phase one gene therapy clinical trial showed promising results for a blinding disease known as a congenital form (present at birth) of Optic Atrophy. The retinal pigment epithelium is the layer of the tissue lining the back of the eye, the retina, that nourishes the rod and cone cells we see with. A mutation in a retinal pigment epithelium gene causes these cells to respond very poorly to light and results in loss of vision. Frequently we see news on gene therapy and are led to believe everything will be cured by in short order. Patients in the study received a sub-retinal injection to replace the defective gene in areas of the retina that were still relatively healthy. Each patient had visual impairment that had been present since birth due to the defective gene. Over a 90-day period there was significant improvement in vision. Day vision was improved by 50-fold and night vision by 63,000-fold compared to levels prior to treatment. Restored vision was localized to the area of treatment in the eye that received the injection. We tend to think of new drugs and medical devices as overnight miracles but researchers have been working for 15 years to get to this point. The new generation of 30 day wear contact lenses actually started with research done in the 1970’s.

All new prescription drugs and medical devices face the funding and regulatory structures that are required to pass the requirements for approval. While this process is frustrating and fraught with problems, if you spend a little time reading about the equivalent processes and equivalent oversight agency in China, you will gain a greater appreciation for the system we do have in place.

Clinical trials for prescription drugs proceed in four phases over a period of years and millions of dollars. Actually there is a new phase zero but since it is still in transition we will cover only the 4 main phases.

The first testing of drugs in humans as referred to as phase one. Typically this involves healthy individuals in a group less than 50. The main goal of phase one trials are the to make sure there are no glaring safety issues and gain some understanding of how the drug works and is processed in the body. Normally, a small (20-50) group of healthy volunteers will be selected.

Phase 2 trials are mostly just an extension of phase one with several hundred patients. They also pry a little more into the amount of drugs needed to be effective in treatment and what time intervals are needed to administer the medication.

Phase 3 studies are what brings a new drug to the corner pharmacy. Phase 3 trials may base tentative approval on only several hundred patients, and typically no more than 2000-3000 are in this phase. For you, that does mean a 1 in 10,000 lethal effect may not be known initially, or some other surprises may not be uncovered for several years. In Phase 3 patients are split into groups with one group receiving placebos (no active medication) and another group receives the actual medication, Researchers typically don’t know who is getting what until the end of the study. Occasionally, it becomes so evident that a drug is saving lives or vision that the study is stopped as it is not ethical to deprive the patients receiving placebos of the full benefits of the new drug. The Woman’s Health Initiative study on hormone replacement therapy for menopause was an example of this. The study was terminated early when it was determined that hormone therapy increased the risk of breast cancer.

Phase 4 is where the good, the bad, and the ugly comes out. This is also called the Post Marketing Surveillance Phase. Phase 4 trials involve the long term safety monitoring where the 1 in a million problems start to be seen over time. Also the interactions with other medications may become more evident, and strange reactions specific to an individual may appear. Long term effects like the diet drug that caused heart problems may show up after a number of years.

Our Fort Collins office has taken part in several optometrist clinical studies with contact lenses. These are somewhat like the phase 3 clinical trials for medications. A lens may be studied by eye doctors on 500-600 patients prior to approval. While there is no such thing as a placebo lens, a contact lenses that has been approved in the past can be used on one eye as a comparison control. It a lot of fun to be involved in these emerging contact lens products but also a lot of record keeping, and when patients don’t keep their appointments the stipulations are pretty rigid about dropping them from the study. Generally we do not expect the same type of serious complications with contact lenses that can be seen with new medications.

One final bit of information. Sometimes things works out in odd ways. While drugs may have undergone all 4 phases and have approval for specific conditions, that does not restrict doctors from using medications “off label” in ways they have not been studied and approved for.The Food and Drug Administration regulates drugs and medical devices, not Doctors. Currently, the standard of care for certain eye infections is “off label eye drops.” It would be considered substandard care to use the FDA approved medication in these special cases. This a very uncommon occurrence indicative of some weak point in the system where clinical experience is ahead of the curve. Someday there will be a way to account for these situations. Until then, we will continue to do the best with what we know today.

Whole Food Supplements

Alternative To Typical Synthetic Supplements Is Needed, Say Experts

Whole food supplements is currently a topic of worldwide interest. A profusion of evidence has recently come to light suggesting that ordinary synthetic multivitamin supplements may be hazardous to your health. Goran Bjelakovic, a respected scientist from the University of Copenhagen, headed up a massive meta-study that looked at the results of 67 placebo-controlled trials previously undertaken to determine the effects of vitamin and anti-oxidant supplements on longevity. In the end, the study combined observations of 232 000 test subjects. By using such a large population sample, a study can become much more powerful with regards to spotting large-scale trends and overcoming human bias.

The results of the analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, were nothing less than shocking. Looking at patients with diabetes, heart disease and lung cancer, as well as healthy, normal individuals, there was no apparent benefit to taking popular fractionated supplements like Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Selenium, or beta-Carotene. In fact, the results went in the opposite direction – there was an increased chance of death (16 percent) amongst Vitamin A users, a 7 percent higher death rate amongst beta-Carotene users, and a 4 percent mortality increase in Vitamin E users. Beta-Carotene and Retinol, promoted as anti-carcinogenic agents, may promote lung cancer. That’s right – pills marketed as helping you towards a longer, healthier life are in fact correlated with a speedier demise. This study used typical supplements on the market made from synthetic vitamins.

To add insult to injury, a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition under the unimaginative title of “Ascorbic Acid Supplementation Does Not Attenuate Post-Exercise Muscle Soreness Following Muscle-Damaging Exercise But May Delay The Recovery Process” indicated that supplementation with anti-oxidants from synthetic sources may reverse many of the beneficial effects of physical training.

Now, this is not to say that anti-oxidants or vitamins are bad for you. Far from it – these supplements were created on the basis of solid science. Anti-oxidants are still believed to protect cells from the ravages of free radicals. The problem, rather, is the idea that you can get those benefits from synthetic isolated compounds. Disease and the aging process are usually far more complicated than test-tube studies can account for. Furthermore, the issue of bioavailability is an ever-present concern. Many typical synthetic supplements include huge amounts of the advertised vitamin, but lack the additional compounds needed to ensure that their key ingredients are actually absorbed by the body. Passing straight through the digestive tract, these ‘miracle health cures’ often wind up doing little beyond giving people expensive urine. To the rescue…Whole Food Supplements.

What the layperson should take from all this is not a sense that we’ve made no progress in the last century regarding uncovering adequate means of personal health maintenance. There’s one thing that nobody is disputing, and that’s the importance of a healthy, well-rounded diet replete in fruit, orange, yellow and dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, high quality carbohydrates and lean proteins and supplementation from whole food supplements. . When you avoid taking in harmful chemicals such as those in food preservatives, flavorings, flavor enhancers and ‘synthetic vitamin additives’, you’ll not only reduce your intake of toxins. You’ll also be forced to tap into the most nutritionally reliable source available, namely natural nutrition. Human beings have evolved to consume unprocessed plant and animal food sources. Recent research suggests that the superiority of natural ratios and formulations has been massively undervalued.

Whole food supplements are foods that haven’t been processed or refined, or have undergone as little processing as possible for preservation or human consumption. Much as is the case with organic food, whole food supplements call for the avoidance of chemically assisted agriculture. The concept is one of a minimization of human interference with the processes of nature. This is based on the guiding principle that nature’s products make for healthier products than the products of human industry.

While this is a claim met by much resistance from the refined food and pharmaceutical industries, it’s being repeatedly borne out by the results of research. A study of women shifted from a diet high in processed foods to one replete with whole foods and whole food supplements resulted in a 61% decrease in saturated fat intake. They also experienced increases in dietary fiber of 60 percent, a 45 percent increase in vitamin E, a 60 percent improvement in vitamin C intake, and a five-fold increase in carotene intake. The net result of this new phytochemical-rich diet was an induced drop in total cholesterol of 13 percent – meaning less risk of heart disease and stroke, statistically still the biggest killers of people in first world countries. In the short term, they also saw vast improvements in bowel function and overall perceived health. Clearly whole food supplements are preferable to typical synthetic supplementation.

So the message, actually, seems to be rather clear. Eat a diet comprised primarily of whole foods and whole food supplements, and you’ll be a shoe-in for long life and a vital, healthy old age. It sounds simple, but there is a problem with that approach, at least in our current era of constant industry and nine-to-five workdays. Progressively, people in developed countries are struggling to keep up with the clock. Even as work-induced stress makes the disciplinary challenge of sticking to a diet more daunting, so spending what little free time one has on grocery shopping can seem like its own special kind of waste. Unlike processed foods, whole foods are not very easily stored, meaning that to eat according to such a diet, you’ll need to visit a farmer’s market and buy your food fresh every few days. This is where well-meaning eaters so often falter in the journey towards health improvement and a trimmer waistline, entering the lifelong trend of yo-yo dieting.

Furthermore, many foods may not even be available in certain countries. Tell someone that lives in South Africa to eat more kale and you might as well be informing them of the beneficial effects of zero gravity.

Bent on finding their way around these obstacles to simple health maintenance, scientists have worked an angle that may sound, at first blush, a little counterintuitive. The goal of pharmaceutical supplementation has always been to preserve or improve upon the nutritional efficacy of whole foods in tablet and powder form. Through a rigorous process of trial and error, it was discovered that, by curing vegetables, herbs and other nutrient sources, grinding them up into powder, and forming that powder into tablets or capsules, it was possible to retain much of their nourishing value .This is only true of whole food supplements that have been processed using little or no heat. And so, it appears, one can finally enjoy the benefits of healthy eating via the simple act of popping a few pills. The benefit over ordinary eating is in the combinations of nutrient sources (and the quantities thereof) chosen, designed to complement each other and aid in the most complete, favorable absorption of the ingredients. Due to the incredible decrease in size that desiccation brings, it’s also possible to consume far more of said nutrients, avoiding the sometimes undesirable need to stuff one’s face with greens.

The effect of whole food supplements has been very favorably contrasted with artificial supplements such as multivitamins. The reason whole food supplements come out on top is simple: your body recognizes the ratios of nutrients in whole foods and processes them far more easily than supplements consisting of isolated or fractionated nutrients.The body recognizes whole food supplements as nutrition and is able to metabolize and utilize them efficiently.

The best idea, say experts, when it comes to determining your whole food supplements requirements is to decide on the readily available foods that you can and will eat consistently, then fill in the gaps from there. A general list of the most highly recommended vegetables with regards to anti-aging and health benefits would include kale, chard, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, red and green peppers, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green peas, asparagus and carrots. At Rutgers University, New Jersey, nutritional and food science Professor Paul A. Lachance headed up a study, published in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition, to evaluate 29 popular fruit, and ranked them in descending order of value according to the benefits they confer. His top ten list read as follows: kiwi, papaya, cantaloupe, strawberry, mango, lemon, orange, red currant, mandarin orange and avocado. To be effective these foods must be eaten raw.

In terms of supplementing beyond this list, when it comes to picking the right whole food supplements for your purposes, you’ll probably want to look for much the same things you might have looked for in artificial supplements in the past – compounds to promote joint health, brain health, immunity and so on, by the use of anti-oxidants like resveratrol, beta-carotene along with other amino acids and vitamins. The difference may not lie in the listed ingredients, but rather in the manner those ingredients were derived – from common (and some not-so-common) plants, vegetables, fruits, herbs and so on. This is how natural whole food supplements companies source their nutrients.

What Supplements Should You Take?

Whether you use vital nutrients as your barometer of what and how much to eat, or the guide in determining what wholefood supplements you need, determining their presence or lack thereof is probably the best way to evaluate a diet. Below are listed some of the vital nutrients most people should consider supplementing in their diets – the ones people are typically deficient in, and those that provide the most benefits. Included are the foods in which those nutrients can be found.

Anti-oxidants

Anti-oxidant supplementation is, obviously, sought after for its promised effects of protection against disease, cellular breakdown, cancer and ultimately aging. In 2004, a study by the USDA revealed the best dietary sources of anti-oxidants. Published in the peer-reviewed publication of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the study showed that foods like beans and artichokes take pride of place in the anti-oxidant-rich-food hierarchy. The study also demonstrated powerfully beneficial effects from pecan nuts, cinnamon and russet potatoes.

B-Vitamins

The B-Vitamins play a highly important role in cell metabolism. Once thought to be a single vitamin, these were later discovered to be a group of chemically distinct vitamins that frequently coexist in particular foods. Health supplements that contain the full roster of eight B-Vitamins are called Vitamin B Complex supplements. These vitamins help to maintain good muscle and skin tone, promoting cell growth, particularly of red blood cells, and thereby providing protection from anemia. They support and increase the rate of metabolism, meaning that they can also assist in maintaining a healthy weight. Notably, they decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer, but only when consumed as a whole food, not as a synthetic fractionated tablet. Most B-vitamins must be consumed daily, as any excess is speedily excreted in the urine. Good sources include potatoes, bananas, lentils, chile peppers, brewer’s yeast, whole food supplements, molasses, tuna, animal livers and meat. Since the vitamin B12 cannot be produced by vegetable sources, deficiency in this nutrient is of particular concern for vegetarians, who need to get it by consuming supplements or fortified breakfast cereals to avoid possible ill consequences on health. For the more omnivorous amongst us, good sources are fish, meat, poultry and eggs.

Beta-Carotene

A famed member of the antioxidant family, Beta-Carotene is worth mentioning alone, especially for its assistance in the uptake of vitamin A. It’s the substance that colors carrots orange, and assists in the buildup of epidermal retinol, responsible for protecting the skin from sun damage. It’s abundant in crude palm oil and Vietnamese gac, which have the highest Beta-Carotene content of any vegetable or fruit. These are, unfortunately, often filtered for clarity before sale, a process which removes all carotenoids. Other sources include papayas, mangoes, carrots, yams, spinach, kale and sweet potato leaves and quality whole food supplements.

Calcium

It’s the fifth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, but that doesn’t mean that conscientious calcium consumption shouldn’t be a concern of anyone looking to live to a sturdy, healthy old age. Calcium is essential for many essential cellular processes. “Calcium plays an important role in building stronger, denser bones early in life and keeping bones strong and healthy later in life,” says the National Osteoporosis Foundation, and it’s a recommendation that has been hammered into us through media to the point of filtering into commonsense and popular culture. Prolonged calcium deficiency leads to rickets, poor blood clotting and an increased risk of fractures.

The best known sources of calcium are dairy products. Unfortunately, lactose intolerance is far from a rare disorder, and various other ailments and personal philosophies (such as veganism) keep certain individuals from consuming dairy products. Luckily, there are numerous good vegetable sources of calcium, including nuts, seeds, seaweed, oranges, figs, beans, broccoli and fortified products like soy milk. One poorly recognized sources of calcium is ground eggshell. For information on the calcium content of foods, visit the USDA National Nutrient Database online. The easiest way to consume calcium that the body will recognize as food is to take whole food supplements.

Magnesium

It plays a vital role in regulating neuromuscular activities, most notably those of the heart. It assists in maintaining good blood pressure, healthy muscle tone and good skin pallor. It helps us metabolize calcium and vitamin C, and as such deficiency in magnesium can result in calcium depletion, kidney stones, muscular irritability, nervousness and confusion. Yet the stunning fact is that the majority of people on earth (around 80%) are known to be deficient in Magnesium. Typical rates of intake are between 143 and 266 mg per day – significantly lower than the FDA’s recommended daily intake of 350 mg. Deficiency in Magnesium has also been implicated in the development of chronic diseases like asthma, osteoporosis and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Good food sources include nuts, seeds, spices, bran cereals, quinoa, soybeans, coffee, cocoa, tea and green, leafy vegetables. It has been speculated that the reduced intake of dietary magnesium in developed countries can be correlated with the rise of food refinement and the use of modern, magnesium-free fertilizers. Amongst dietary supplements, magnesium citrate has been regularly proven as the most bioavailable, beating the oxide and amino-acid chelate forms for its rate of absorption. Synthetic supplements can not be absorbed: use whole food supplements to maintain proper levels.

L-ascorbic Acid

Better known as vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid is perhaps the most popular of supplements, and has been used to treat disease ever since the French explorer Jacques Cartier boiled the needles of the arbor vitae tree to treat scurvy in 1536. The resultant tea was later shown to contain 50mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Like Magnesium, without regular uptake vitamin C is quickly eliminated through the urine, so it’s easy to become deficient without supplementation. While oranges are famous for their vitamin C content, the more obscure but vastly more potent sources, such as kakadu plums, camu camu, rose hips and Indian gooseberries are slowly gaining popular recognition, as are common sources like blackcurrants, red peppers, parsley and guava. Animal sources of this nutrient include oysters, pork, beef, calf and chicken livers, cod roe and, as unpalatable as it may sound, lamb brain. The easiest way to maintain proper levels is with whole food supplements.

Coenzyme Q10

An oil-soluble, vitamin-like substance found in most plants and animals, CoQ10 is responsible for supporting the process of ATP generation, responsible for ninety five percent of the human body’s energy. The organs with the highest energy requirements – such as the liver and heart – thus require the most Co-Q10. Known for this strengthening effect on the heart muscle, CoQ10 has been used to treat many forms of cardiac condition, although the extent of its role in energy production is still not fully understood. It has been shown to have beneficial effects on sufferers of migraine headaches, to lower blood pressure, reverse gum disease, and aid in weight loss. It is known for its ability to slow the shrinkage of the thymus gland, thus preventing the weakening of the immune system that typically accompanies old age. It is also being investigated for its potential to mitigate the effects of cancer.

The best dietary sources of CoQ10 are sardines, mackerel, the livers of beef, pork and lamb, eggs, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, wheat germ and whole grains. The easiest way to maintain levels is with whole food supplements for rapid absorption.

Dietary Fiber

While it might be a bit of stretch to call it a nutrient, dietary fiber or ‘roughage’ is vital to the health of the digestive system, and thus to the efficacy with which all other nutrients get absorbed. Roughage is comprised of the indigestible parts of plant foods that easy the progress of food through the digestive system, easing defecation.

Good plant sources of fiber include psyllium seed husk, bran flakes, legumes, oats, rye, barley, prune juice, plums, lentils, beans, quinoa, berries, bananas, broccoli, carrots, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, whole grain foods, wheat, corn bran, flax seed, green beans and tomatoes.

Soluble fiber or probiotic supplements can also be beneficial to easing the symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome. The FDA reports that studies have found that “diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber are associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, diabetes, digestive disorders, and heart disease.”

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The nutritionally important Omega 3 fatty acids – Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA) – have been credited with supporting cardiovascular health, circulation and healthy vision, as well as promoting better function of the brain and immune system. DHA and EPA are made by microalgae which, living in seawater, are consumed by fish and plankton, accumulating to high levels in their internal organs.

Use of omega 3’s in the form of fish oil has been shown to reduce risk of heart attack, lower blood pressure, and offset the effects of arthritis. It also causes a decrease in LDL, the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol. Additionally, there is some evidence that it helps in ameliorating depression and anxiety. Amongst cancer patients, fish oil clearly reduced tumor growth, increased survival times, and help patients retain muscle mass during treatment. It has also demonstrably reduced the symptoms of sufferers of mental disorders, including chronic aggression and ADHD.

The best dietary source of omega 3’s is probably fish. However, a much publicized risk of regular fish ingestion lies in the potential for heavy metal poisoning by the accumulation of toxic elements in the gut – notably mercury, lead, nickel and arsenic. However, a 2004 study by the FDA has indicated that, of the 44 popular commercial fish oils tested, all passed contaminant safety standards. Thus it is recommended that health conscious individuals get their omega 3’s this way – by mixing fish oil into their foods, or taking gel supplement capsules. Omega 3 supplementation has turned into a food marketing trend, with many companies selling everything from fortified yoghurts and juices to milk, eggs and pasta. Flax seeds, which produce linseed oil, also have a very high omega 3 content, and are probably the most widely available botanical source of omega 3. Other sources include chia, kiwifruit, perilla , lingonberry, butternut, black raspberry, broccoli and strawberries. The best and easiest way to obtain this is by taking exceptionally pure, cold processed oils in whole food supplements.

Flavonoids

These plant secondary metabolites are best known for their antioxidant activity. This impression may be a little inaccurate. The massive increase in the antioxidant capacity of the blood after the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods is most probably due to increased levels of uric acid. In essence, the body sees flavonoids as foreign, invading compounds, and does its best to eliminate them. This induces the activity of Phase II enzymes, which help to eliminate carcinogens. Cancer researchers at UCLA found that people who eat foods containing certain flavonoids appear to be virtually immune to lung cancer. The best among these appear to be strawberries, green and black teas, Brussels sprouts, apples, beans and onions, parsley, pulses, red wine, and gingko biloba. Evidently, only small quantities of such flavonoids is required to see the desired effects, an overindulgence can reverse them into negative territory. Other applications of flavonoids includes the treatment of easy bruising, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.

What a “Muscle-Head” Bodybuilder Says About Organic Food

Last week I was talking about nutrition with one of my workout buddies and when I mentioned grass fed beef and “organic food” he asked, “Do you mean like what you get at Whole Foods Market?”

I said, “Yes, exactly… that’s a natural food and organic supermarket.” He said, “Yeah well, that place costs so much, I call it Whole Paycheck!”

I was rolling on the floor laughing, but the truth is, organic food really is expensive and so is grass fed beef and free range chicken, so it’s a valid question to ask, “Is it worth it?”

After researching the subject and doing some personal experiments with my own diet, let me offer you my take on it from a bodybuilder’s viewpoint. This is a perspective on organics you may not have heard before.

First, look at it this way – if you put the cheapest fuel in your luxury car, how well is it going to run and how many miles are you going to get out of it?

While I’m on car analogies, health and fitness author and educator Paul Chek once wrote about how ridiculous it is to watch how many $75,000 + cars pull up to the Mcdonald’s or Burger King drive through window to buy $1.99 hamburgers.

I would say that’s a serious case of screwed up priorities, wouldn’t you? The driver has no problem shelling out the $1,100 monthly car payment, but it’s too much to ask him to put premium fuel into his own “bodily vehicle.”

How can you put ANY price tag on your body and your health? You can buy another car, but you’ve only got one body.

Now, as for the grass fed beef and organic foods question….

For best results in body composition improvement, which I define as burning fat and or building muscle, (and I’ll even go as far as to say for optimal health as well), I am a believer in including animal proteins, including lean meats.

I have no wish to take up the vegetarian debate in this article. I respect vegetarians and acknowledge that a healthy and lean body can be developed with a vegetarian diet if it is done properly, although it may be more challenging for strict vegans to gain muscle for various reasons.

However, in recommending animal protein as part of a healthy fat loss and muscle building nutrition program, I do agree that we all need to give some serious thought to what is in our meat (and in the rest of our food).

Some people say that meat is part of our “evolutionary” diet and it’s the way we were intended to eat and I wouldn’t argue with that. But is the meat we’re eating in today’s modern society the same as what was hunted and eaten many thousands of years ago, or has some “toxic stuff” found its way into our beef, poultry and fish that wasn’t there before?

I also think we should consider what is *missing* from our commercially grown food, that is supposed to be in there, that probably used to be there in the past, but may not be today.

A lot of people are not paying any attention to this… even people who should know better. I admit it – I was oblivious to this for a long time myself. Here’s why:

I am not your typical “health and wellness” or “weight loss” expert. I am also competitive bodybuilder. We bodybuilders are well know for eating very clean diets with lots of lean protein and natural carbs, as well as for looking like “the picture of health” with our ripped abs and impressive muscularity.

We eat our oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, and proudly walk around with our chicken breast, rice and broccoli or our flank steak, yams and asparagus, and boast about how perfect and clean our meals are and how our diets are already “clean” and could not be improved.

But how many bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts are there – even serious, dedicated and educated ones – who don’t give a single thought to the poisonous chemicals that might be lurking in our supposedly “clean” food?

The Food and Drug Administration lists more than 3,000 chemicals that can be added to our food supply. One billion pounds of pesticides and farming chemicals are used on our crops every year.

Depending on what source you quote, the average American consumes as much as 150 pounds of chemicals and food additives per year.

Does ANYBODY out there think that this is good for you?

Didn’t think so.

If you had a way to avoid all these chemicals and toxins, would you at least explore it, even if it cost a little more?

Although this topic is controversial and hotly debated, organic food is gaining in popularity and seems to fit this bill.

Food grown on certified organic farms does not contain:

Pesticides, Herbicides, Fungicides, Hormones, Antibiotics or Chemical fertilizers

It is also not:

Irradiated or Genetically modified

Beyond the “certified organic” label, grass fed beef and free range chicken (and eggs), have other advantages.

Not only can there be tons of antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals in our meat, but also commercially raised beef is fed grain or corn and yet that is not what the animals were meant to eat.

The result – aside from sick, drugged animals – is a higher overall fat, higher saturated fat and a screwed up ratio of omega three to omega six fats, which is a very big problem today – even when you think you’re eating “clean.” Most people accept the idea that “you are what you eat,” but they forget that the animals we eat are what they ate!

Last but not least, proponents of organic food suggest that the vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content of commercially grown foods can be anywhere from a little bit low to virtually absent.

So… if organic and or grass fed beef and free range chicken can help us avoid some of these problems and dangers, then I’m all for it and the extra investment.

I started eating grass fed beef almost exclusively (except for my occasional restaurant steak), quite a few years ago and started eating more and more organic food. I can’t say I eat entirely organic. I eat a lot of it, but not 100%. If I’m eating an apple or some blueberries, and it doesn’t happen to be organic, I don’t freak out over it.

When you really study deeply into the subject of food processing, industrial pollution and commercial farming, it can almost scare you half to death, but I don’t recommend getting “alarmist” about it.

Sometimes it’s the people who live in fear of a disease who are most likely to get it. I for one, am not going to live in a plastic bubble to isolate myself from a “toxic world”… oh, wait… make that a ceramic bubble, plastics are really bad for you.

All joking aside, the fear of toxins can be taken to the point where the fear itself is unhealthy, but the more I study this subject – from a variety of sources and perspectives – the more the organic argument does make sense to me. I’ve built my career in fitness based on being a natural bodybuilder, which means no steroids or performance enhancing drugs, so why would I expose myself to other chemicals if I can avoid them?

Honestly, I can’t say I noticed any dramatic change in my physique or in the way I feel – at least not yet. I have always eaten clean and I was a successful bodybuilder for many years before I started eating more organic food and grass fed beef.

However, I feel confident about my decision to spend the extra money on grass fed beef, free range chicken (and eggs), and an increasing amount of organic food, knowing that I am avoiding toxins and getting more of the nutritional value I need to support my training and my health long term.

I’m certain this is the type of nutritional lifestyle change that can accrue benefits over time, even if you don’t see an immediate “transformation.”

One thing I would suggest before you run out for organic fruits and vegetables or grass fed beef and so on, is to consider what kind of shape your diet and your lifestyle are in right now. If your diet is currently such a total mess that you’re drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, abusing coffee and stimulants, not even eating ANY fruits and vegetables to begin with…

And if your idea of lean protein is the processed lunch meat you get in your foot long sub, then I think it might be a little moot to worry about whether your fruits and veggies are 100% certified organic or whether your beef is grass fed. Just start cleaning up your diet and establishing new healthy habits, one step at a time. Focus on nutrition and lifestyle improvement, not perfection.

There are some very strong opinions on this subject. I am aware of that, and I’m not going to stand up on a pulpit and preach either way. What I have done here is simply share what I have found from my own research and what I decided to do in my own personal health and bodybuilding regimen.