Food Ethics: The Delicate Balance of Nature and Nutrition
April 20, 2011 Leave a comment
The Delicate Balance of Nature and Nutrition
We are learning through research that nutrition is more complex and delicately balanced than we had thought. Changing foods or using only part of a food that we think of as healthy may change the health benefits drastically.
Savvy consumers today tend to look for whole foods that have the natural health benefits that our bodies need.
- Organic, Natural Food Catching On by Carol Hazard, Richmond Times-Dispatch
The food industry is adapting by removing chemical additives and incorporating more whole grains back into foods:
- Look Into the Future: The State of the Food and Beverage Industry by Diane Toops and Dave Fusaro, Foodprocessing.com
The Food and Drug Administration is making changes to food safety laws that many consider to be long overdue. I noticed that school lunches got a major overhaul this year:
Whole Foods Provide Benefits Not Found in the Parts
What happens when you remove part of a food? It turns out that there are nutritional benefits in the whole food that are not gained from eating parts of the food.
Here is an interesting example of what happens when you remove the husk from grains of rice:
- whole brown rice (lower glycemic index – 55) (gluten free) (whole grain)
- white rice (which is whole brown rice with the fibrous husk removed) – (higher glycemic index – 64)(may not be gluten free due to contents in sprayed-on vitamins to add vitamins back)
The Simple Answer: It’s Whole for a Reason
When food is consumed in its natural whole state, it seems to include necessary factors that regulate the body, prevent disease and regulate weight. When it is altered to appeal to consumer tastes or to increase profits, the negative health impact appears to be dramatic.
Altered foods (such as the brown rice/white rice example) increase the body’s glycemic load. Higher glycemic load is implicated in diabetes and obesity among other health problems that are currently escalating.
Several lines of recent scientific evidence have shown that individuals who followed a low-GI diet over many years were at a lower risk for developing both type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease than others. High blood glucose levels or repeated glycemic “spikes” following a meal may promote these diseases by increasing oxidative stress to the vasculature and also by the direct increase in insulin levels. “Glycemic Index” – Wikipedia
According to this study, whole foods take more energy to digest and eating whole foods burns more calories than eating processed foods:
- New Study by Sadie Barr ’09 and Prof. Wright Finds Eating Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods Burns More Calories (by Cynthia Peters, online at Pomona.edu)
Should We Consider Altered Food (Without the Health Benefits of Whole Food) to Be “Food”?
Three questions that we should ponder…
- Should “food” by definition only include food from nature that has not been changed?
- Should “food” by definition have to include all of the parts that came from nature?
- Should “food” by definition be healthful for humans?