In our modern civilization, we tend to think of malnutrition as a third-world-country issue, where people suffer and die due to lack of food supply, clean water and the inability to grow sustainable crops. This is still a true and sad fact.
However, in the past fifty years science has come a long way to assist the current generations with living longer, by creating food-like substances to meet supply and demand. In doing this, they have also created generations that are malnourished due to decades of eating foods that are void of any type of real nutrition. Science and medicine have assisted us in living longer, but we are also dying longer due to sicknesses attributed to chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, Chron’s diseases, and cancer, just to name a few.
Nutrition is defined as the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth. However, that definition leaves a path for broad interpretation. We all know we should be eating fresh fruits and vegetables and other natural resources of nutrition, but what exactly is natural nutrition?
Even though the nutrition industry is seeing sales of natural and organic foods increase steadily, the nutrition industry can’t quite define what is natural versus organic, which leaves the “natural” label open to broad interpretations.
Mike Howell, Organic Market Gardener and Harvester of Wild Edibles, has a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and loves to explore new foods and cooking methods at his home in Southwestern Wisconsin. Mike states, “As a society, we have gotten to the point where the majority of what we eat is not natural.” Mike does not consider processed foods that you buy in a box or can at the grocery store as natural food. Mike goes on to say that natural food is, ”Food that grows. Whether that is an animal, or fruits and vegetables that come from your garden or wild edibles from the woods, it’s all edible natural food.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says natural foods are "minimally processed and free of synthetic preservatives." Organic foods on the other hand are defined as “organic produce and other ingredients that are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. [...] Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.”
However, marketers are taking advantage of the government not making a distinction between natural and organic, so it is imperative that the consumer does their homework when choosing healthy, natural foods to eat.
UC Davis Integrative Medicine states the 5 pillars of Healthful Eating:
1. Be Plant-Centered — each meal should be filled predominately with unprocessed and/or minimally processed plant foods.
2. Choose minimally processed foods.
3. Consume lower calorie dense foods. (i.e. 1 cup of broccoli weighs more than 1 cup of pasta, but pasta has more calories)
4. Avoid S.O.S. — SOS stands for salt, oils, and sugar
5. Embrace Variety — Variety is the spice of life!"
We all know a perfect diet does not exist. Ideally, if we could cook whole, natural foods every day at each meal, we would all be on the path of good health. But, life gets messy and we find ourselves faced with eating things from a box, can or bag or worse yet, a drive-through window. We can still choose healthier options by sticking to minimally processed foods that follow these guidelines:
- Less than 20% of calories from fat
- No trans fat
- No cholesterol
- No added oil
- No added sugar
- 2-3 grams of fiber per serving
- Less sodium than the number of calories per serving
- Intact (whole) grains
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." — 1 Corinthians 10:31
Jesus freed us from the laws of “religion” but as Christians we should take more into consideration than what is allowed by the freedom from the religious laws. We need to take care not to abuse our liberties through Christ so that we don’t ruin a chance to witness for Him. In eating and drinking, and for that matter, everything we do, we should do it with the intent of honoring and pleasing God, and that we can live a life that is attractive to others so that we may have an opportunity to spread the good news of God.
When we eat the way God intended us to eat, that is, eating things that grow in natural, organic dirt or are sustained from the same, it allows us to get our nutrition naturally. It’s a win-win! As we become healthier on the inside, it reflects on our outsides. We can live long and healthy lives, physically able to do the work God calls us to long into our senior years.
"You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess." — Deuteronomy 5:33