pre-packaged foods typically contain processed salt, additives,
food colorings, MSG, and genetically engineered ingredients.
Many companies also still use cans with bisphenol-A (BPA)
in the lining of cans and non-stick packaging. This plastic
chemical has been identified as a potent endocrine disruptor,
which means it mimics or interferes with your hormones and
"disrupts" your endocrine system.
packaged foods that are easily and inexpensively replaced
with whole foods are reviewed, including canned soup, stock/bouillon,
canned beans, hummus, breakfast cereal, microwave popcorn,
bottled and functional waters, fruit and vegetable juice,
yogurt, and fermented vegetables.
Magazine started me off on this list by providing the first
five packaged foods that are completely unnecessary, as making
them at home is not only simple, but far healthier and more inexpensive.
I added five more to Jane Mountain's list, for a total of 10.
soup: This typically contains large amounts of processed
salt, additives, MSG, and genetically engineered ingredients.
Many companies also still use cans with bisphenol-A (BPA) in
the lining. This plastic chemical has been identified as a potent
endocrine disruptor, which means it mimics or interferes with
your body's hormones and "disrupts" your endocrine system.
making home-made soup is easy to learn and ensures you know
exactly what's in it. Jane offers three soup recipes in her
The Internet offers countless more. She also offers the following
up for a CSA [local community supported agriculture]
box and you'll have lots of crazy fruits and vegetables on
hand to make soup.
in a hand blender... we use ours every single day and it's
so much easier to blend the soup right in the pot.
your own stock!"
and Bouillon: Making stock is even easier than making
soup. Instead of composting potato peels, onion skins, leek
tops, eggplant stems and whatever else you happen to be left
with, freeze them and make stock when you have enough to make
a batch of vegetable stock.
to a page with instructions for making "Scrappy Veggie Stock"
that looks to be easy enough even for the most intimidated of
beginners. I also like Jane's suggestion to: "pour the stock
into some flexible ice-cube trays and freeze them. Then it's
ready to use in small portions..." Excellent advice.
Beans: Just like soup, beans taste better and fresher,
and are better for you, if you buy them dried and prepare them
at home – and again, this way you'll ensure your beans aren't
laced with BPA. CookingManager.com offers all sorts of cooking
tips, including how to prepare dried beans from scratch.3
Commercially prepared beans are also typically cooked at very
high heat for short periods of time, which is not as good as
cooking them longer at lower temperatures.
at high temperatures, advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
are produced. These compounds, which stimulate cells to produce
proteins that cause inflammation, can be toxic to the body.
AGEs are normally produced at a slow rate, but the rate increases
when food is highly heated. There is also a substantial body
of evidence supporting the notion that heat
treatment of food alters, damages or destroys many nutrients
in the food.
beans are too time consuming? Consider Jane's comment on the
reality, it takes around three minutes to put the beans in some
water, another minute to change that water during soaking, and
then about five more minutes to put them on the stove. All the
beans you'll eat all week in less than 10 minutes."
Making your own hummus using fresh chickpeas takes
just minutes once you get the hang of it, and gives you the
freedom to season it to taste.
Most cereal is a combination of high-fructose corn
syrup and GM corn, and cereals marketed to children are the
worst offenders. According to one 2008 study, one serving of
cereal equated to 11 percent of the daily limit of added sugar
for active boys aged 14 to 18 years old, and an astounding 92
percent of the daily sugar intake for sedentary girls aged 9
sugar intake should be on the top of your list regardless of
whether you or your child is currently overweight, because it's
been proven over and over that sugar increases insulin levels,
which can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart
disease, diabetes, weight gain, premature aging, and more.
featured article points out that you can make muesli in a matter
of minutes, sans added sugars, I don't recommend eating grain
carbs for breakfast, even if it doesn't have any added sugars.
Instead, I recommend focusing on protein for breakfast, such
as easily-digested whey
high quality whey protein derived from grass-fed, non-hormonally
treated cows that's been minimally processed. This ensures it
still contains beneficial immuno components, including immunoglobins,
bovine serum albumin, and lactoferins, in addition to all the
key amino acids and other beneficial nutrients you typically
get from a high quality whey protein. Organic, pastured eggs
are another excellent breakfast food, as long as it's consumed
as close to raw as possible. Avoid scrambled eggs, as cooking
destroys many of the beneficial nutrients.
popcorn: Perfluoroalkyls chemicals used to keep
grease from leaking through fast food wrappers are being
ingested by people through their food and showing up as contaminants
in their blood. One common source of these hazardous chemicals
is you guessed it microwave popcorn bags...
acid (PFOA) has been linked to infertility and a slew of
other health problems. For example, these "gender-bending"
chemicals can disrupt your endocrine system and affect your
sex hormones, but they've also been linked to thyroid disease,
cancer, immune system problems, and increased LDL cholesterol
popcorn "from scratch" on the stove is simple, and gives you
the option to salt and season to taste. I recommend using tasty
and nutritious Himalayan Pink salt instead of processed table
salt. Microwave popcorn typically contains harmful trans fats
(although some brands will use the healthier palm oil rather
than canola or soybean oil). If you choose to consume popcorn
(it is not the healthiest food out there) you can at least use
organic corn and a far healthier oil like organic virgin coconut
oil and smoother it with raw grass-fed organic butter.
water and "functional" waters: Plain, pure water is
by far the most healthful beverage you can conceive of, and
you need water to survive. However, slick marketing campaigns
have managed to turn an essential part of your diet into a pure
disaster... We now have an ever-widening array of flavored water,
"zero calorie" water, and so-called "enhanced" or "functional"
water products on the market.
they will add artificial sweeteners and dyes, listed in virtually
microscopic four-point font hidden on the bottom or side of
the bottle. These enhanced water products can also contain enormous
amounts of sugar and fructose, adding to the numerous health
problems caused by both excessive fructose consumption and genetically
engineered ingredients (as an unknown amount of high fructose
corn syrup is made from genetically engineered corn). Clearly,
any type of water other than purified water is NOT going to
improve your health, and should be avoided entirely.
plastic chemicals can leach out of the bottles and contaminate
the water, like phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA). Then there's
the issue with all that plastic trash being generated, which
is wreaking havoc on our environment. Your best bet for clean,
pure water is to simply install a high quality water filter
for your tap, or entire home.
and vegetable juices: Fruit juices are far worse then
vegetable juices and should be avoided as it is far better to
have the whole unprocessed fruit. While labels promise the contents
are "100 percent juice," there's virtually no such thing when
you're buying commercial juice. Not only does the flavor come
courtesy of professional flavor and fragrance chemists, fruit
juice is also notoriously high in fructose, whether it's
from added high fructose corn syrup or naturally-occurring fructose
in the fruit.
better off juicing vegetables at home to boost the nutrition
of your overall diet. Raw vegetable juice teems with valuable
and sensitive micronutrients that become damaged or destroyed
when the juice is pasteurized, so avoid the store-bought versions
and juice your own from scratch instead. Raw juice can be likened
to a "living broth." It is the closest transfer of solar energy
directly to you that we know of. Additionally, vitamins, minerals,
and enzymes can be rapidly absorbed. The benefits of raw organic
vegetable juice are numerous. For example, it can help:
your immune system by supercharging it with concentrated
energy. When your body has an abundance of the nutrients
it needs, and your pH is optimally balanced, you feel energized.
Since it can be utilized by your body immediately, those who
juice report feeling the "kick" of energy almost instantly.
brain health. People who drank juices (fruit and
vegetable) more than three times per week, compared to less
than once a week, were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer's
disease, according to the Kame Project.5
previously written an extensive guide to juicing,
which I highly recommend reading to help you get started. One
important factor to keep in mind is that, since vegetable juice
is very perishable, it's best to drink all of your juice right
after you make it. However, if you're careful, you can store
it for up to 24 hours with only moderate nutritional decline.
there is the concern that free
methanol will be created once you process the juice and
store it in a container. Methanol (wood alcohol) has been associated
with autoimmune diseases like MS. Fresh fruits and vegetables
contain small amounts of naturally-occurring methanol. Normally
this is not a problem as the methanol is typically bound to
pectin, and since your body has no enzyme to metabolize that
bond, it is simply excreted in your stool and none of the methanol
is absorbed into your body. However, the problem occurs when
you can or bottle fruit or vegetable juice, as the methanol
tends to then dissociate from the pectin into free methanol,
which you do absorb.
you absorb readily passes the blood brain barrier where it can
be converted to form formaldehyde, which is a potent toxin that
actually causes most of the damage. An exciting paper that delves
into this topic is food scientist Woody Monte's "Methanol: A
chemical Trojan horse" as the root of the inscrutable U,6
published in the March, 2010 issue of Medical Hypotheses.7
Kefir or traditionally fermented yoghurt is chock full of healthful
bacteria (probiotics). In ancient times, food preservation was
accomplished through lacto-fermentation, a process that adds
a host of beneficial micro-organisms to food. This makes them
easier to digest, and increases the healthy flora in your intestinal
expect to be able to pick up the real deal in your local supermarket.
Pasteurized products will not provide you with these health
benefits, as the pasteurization process destroys most of the
precious enzymes and other nutrients. In addition to beneficial
probiotics, traditionally fermented kefir also contains:
such as magnesium
amino acids (such as tryptophan, which is well-known for
its relaxing effect on the nervous system)
B1, B2, and biotin (B7)
kefir or fermented yoghurt is both easy and inexpensive to make
at home using a starter
culture and raw grass-fed milk. While raw grass-fed organic
yoghurt has many similar immune-boosting benefits, kefir contains
several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found
in yogurt, including Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter
species, and Streptococcus species.
vegetables: Cultured or fermented foods have a very
long history in virtually all native diets, and have always
been highly prized for their health benefits. The culturing
process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important
for human health as they help balance your intestinal flora,
thereby boosting overall immunity. Moreover, your gut literally
serves as your second brain, and even produces more of the neurotransmitter
serotonin known to have a beneficial influence on your
mood than your brain does, so maintaining a healthy gut
will benefit your mind as well as your body. Fermented foods
are also some of the best chelators and detox agents available,
meaning they can help rid your body of a wide variety of toxins,
including heavy metals.
kefir, you'll want to avoid any product that's been pasteurized
or contains preservatives or other additives. Fortunately, culturing
your own vegetables is much easier than you might think, and
more economical than buying from someone else. For instructions
on making your own, see this previous article featuring an interview
Barringer and discusses the health benefits of fermented
vegetables in greater detail.