Eating for Happiness
We are what we eat. As Hippocrates stated long ago, “Let food be thy medicine”. Each day we have the choice to nourish our bodies with nutrient dense foods or poison ourselves with processed, empty calories.
Modern research has discovered what endemic cultures knew through their intrinsic wisdom, passed on from generation to generation. New researchers are discovering that traditional diets carry one key to happiness. Weston A. Price, in his meticulous 1930’s research, observed that traditional groups knew what foods were needed to ensure the superior health of future generations. These people were happy and healthy. The indigenous groups went to great lengths to obtain foods providing the nutrients required for their optimal physical and mental health. This contrasts greatly with the American fast food culture of easy, processed foods.
Real food versus processed
Raw milk, cheese and butter from pastured animals fed an organic diet are super foods, full of nutrients and life giving properties. See High quality raw milk enhances health while pasteurized milk contributes to illness. Likewise, meat and fat from pastured, organic fed animals are far superior in nutrients when compared to the meat from factory farmed animals. Nutrients contained in pastured eggs with their rich orange yolks surpasses that found in factory eggs commonly found in our grocery stores. Organic vegetables and fruits contain higher amounts of vitamins compared to conventional produce.
While there is a higher cost paid for better quality foods, this cost will most certainly be repaid and saved in reduced illness and improved health. For those with financial constraints, making simple changes such as replacing processed, boxed cereals with eggs or oatmeal for breakfast can improve health. One can buy butter instead of processed margarine and oils. Substituting fresh vegetables and fruits for chips and “junk food” can enhance nutrition. An excellent health food is home-made broth from meat or fish bones.
100 reasons to avoid processed foods
In the book,The Happiness Diet, health journalist Graham and physician Ramsey provide 100 reasons to avoid processed foods. Reason #36 states: “The FDA allows nineteen maggots and seventy-four mites in a three-and-a-half-ounce can of mushrooms”. Reason #45 states: “When you buy processed food, you help fund the ten billion dollars spent every year to market junk foods to kids. Since 1980, obesity has tripled among adolescents.” #83 states: “Milk from factory-farmed cows treated with growth hormones often contains pus”.
According to The Happiness Diet nutrients essential for mental health include vitamins B12, A, D and E, iodine, magnesium, cholesterol, calcium, fiber, folate, omega 3 and iron. Sources for these critical nutrients include: shellfish, sardines, fish, fatty fish, wild salmon, liver, duck, dark chicken meat, grass-fed meat and milk, pastured eggs, egg yolk, cheese, yogurt, butter and lard from pastured animals, seaweed, potato skin, green leaves, whole grains, beans, black beans, black-eyes peas, lentils, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, walnuts, blackstrap molasses, mushrooms (exposed to sunlight), kale, cabbage, mustard, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, olives, swiss chard, beet, turnip and collard greens, and fruit.
Graham and Ramsey cite research from well known journals to support their dietary recommendations. Their dietary suggestions are remarkably similar to the nutrient dense dietary principles discovered by Weston A. Price in his landmark study.
Guidelines for better quality foods
The following labels can assist in purchasing higher quality foods: U.S. grass fed, naturally raised, humanely raised, fed an all-vegetarian diet, no rBGH, GMO-free, organic, wild Alaskan, and fair-trade. Buying from a local, trusted farmer with no certifications is another good option.
Recalling how our great-grandparent ate is one of the best guidelines. One of my favorite kitchen magnets states: “Try organic food…or as your grandparents called it, “Food”.
Sources for this article include:
Graham, Tyler; Ramsey, Drew. The Happiness Diet. 2011. Rodale:NY,NY
Price, Weston. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. 8th Edition. La Mesa, CA: the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 2009. Print.