If I were to choose the No. 1 root cause of illness, it would be unhealthy food. But to change your diet effectively, you need to know WHAT exactly “unhealthy food” is and also fully understand WHY it is unhealthy.
Food has the biggest effect on our health. We eat regularly, usually several times a day, which creates a huge cumulative effect, for better or for worse.
Look at your hands right now. They’re made from what you eat and drink, plus partly of the oxygen you breathe, nothing else. And it’s not just your hands – your whole body, all your vital organs and tissues, consist of what you eat.
If you’re building a house, doesn’t it matter which materials you use? If a house is made of low-quality or toxic materials, will it serve as a nice home for your family?
Treat your body as your home house, and it’ll serve you much better.
The importance of food is summarized in the Tenth RCM Principle: Food is always a root cause. In other words, any food belongs either to the root causes of illness or the root causes of health.
Of course, there are varying degrees of healthiness or unhealthiness for different foods, but no food is “neutral” along that spectrum.
Avoid the “Everyone-Is-Eating-It” Trap
The fact that certain foods are eaten by the majority of people doesn’t necessarily make them healthy meals – quite often, the opposite is true.
The logic is simple: If you eat the Standard American Diet, you’ll get the standard American diseases. And similar logic applies to any “Western Diet” in general, even if you consume it in India or Asia.
There’s a famous quote by Mark Twain:
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
Mark Twain couldn’t know it, but these days, his quote unfortunately applies mainly to people’s food choices and the way people approach their health in general.
There’s nothing wrong in doing the same as the majority of people, but only if we have a valid reason to do so. Reasons like the tendency to conform, avoidance of temporary discomfort, resistance to change, or blind trust in authorities are not valid reasons.
If we apply critical thinking, we might come to understand that what is considered “normal food” is often the main driver of disease, and the fact that most people are eating it is precisely why we shouldn’t – if we want to be healthy, that is.
What Is Unhealthy food?
In principle, unhealthy food is any food that is not natural or naturally developed. Why?
Let’s learn from history again. Life on Earth has been developing for some 4 billion years. Mammals have been around for approximately 300 million years. The human species has existed for at least 300 thousand years.
It’s an enormous length of development, and all that time, the organisms have consumed nothing but food in its natural form.
For humans, that changed only some 100 years ago with the start of industrial agriculture. It got only worse with the introduction of toxic herbicides such as glyphosate (the main ingredient of Roundup) in the 1970s, followed in the 1990s by the release of genetically modified crops designed to withstand the increasing loads of herbicides poured onto the fields.
Industrial agriculture also employs increasingly unnatural breeding methods aimed at maximizing yields, typically wheat yield and milk yield.
As a result, current wheat and milk have highly antigenic proteins (gluten and casein, respectively), which irritate the human immune system way more and way faster than their original counterparts.
Along with industrial agriculture heavily relying on herbicides and unnatural breeding methods, the food industry started producing highly processed food, containing a lot of synthetic chemicals to make them last longer and look better, and a lot of added sugar, fat and salt to make them taste better.
A little joke sums this subchapter nicely:
“What was natural food called before the 1950s?
Putting Things into Perspective
Even if you consider the industrial agriculture and food processing era as the last 100 years (not just 70 or 50 years), it’s almost nothing compared to the evolution of humans, whether counted as the last 300 thousand years only, or the last 300 million years of mammal evolution, or the last 4 billion years of life evolution in total.
The last 100 years represent only 0,03% of the last 300 thousand years, and only 0,00003% compared to the 300 million years of the evolution of mammals.
Evolution is a highly sophisticated process, but it’s very slow, particularly in higher forms of life. On top of that, in its 4-billion-year history, the evolution was always based on adaptation to the natural environment and naturally occurring substances and phenomena.
The point is that the human body had almost no evolutionary time to adapt to synthetic chemicals and unnatural substances, nor is it well designed to adapt to them in general.
Therefore, all humans (and all higher forms of life, for that matter) have difficulties dealing with unnatural chemicals and substances, whether through elimination (liver, kidneys, etc.) or their immune system.
You cannot heal as long as you have chronic inflammation – it’s too damaging to your body, like any ongoing war is to the countries involved.
To stop the ongoing damage, it’s not a good idea to suppress the chronic inflammation as such. Instead, you need to remove the root causes of that inflammation, starting with unhealthy food.
The chronic inflammation will then gradually stop, and your body will heal itself, ideally with your support along the way.
Main Categories of Unhealthy Foods
I’ll go over the main categories of unhealthy foods in more detailed articles, but here they are in a nutshell:
- Genetically modified food
- Highly processed foods
- Sweetened beverages
- Foods containing gluten (such as bakery or pasta)
- Milk and milk products
- Foods containing added sugar
- Seed oils (such as sunflower, canola or soybean oil)
If you feel like there’s not much left to eat, don’t worry, appearances are deceptive. What you can – and should – eat is whole foods, such as:
- Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, and beans)
- Rice (brown if possible), and, in moderation:
all preferably from organic or naturally raised and fed sources.
Unhealthy Ways of Eating
This introduction would be incomplete if I didn’t mention that there are not only unhealthy foods, but also unhealthy ways of eating. Again, there will be more detailed articles on this topic, but to give you an overview, the unhealthy ways of eating are:
- Eating late at night
- Eating within longer than a 12-hour window in a day
- Eating too frequently
- Not being mindful of eating
- Inconsistent eating
Converting those unhealthy ways of eating into healthy ones can by itself significantly improve your health, sleep and waistline.
If you want that, then you should gradually:
- Stop consuming food less than three hours before going to bed
- Shorten your daily “eating window” to less than 12 hours (preferably 6 to 8 hours)
- Reduce the number of daily meals and snacks to 3 or 4
- Focus more on the act of eating rather than your mobile and other distractions
- Be more consistent in your eating habits.
Again, as with any other lifestyle changes, please remove the unhealthy ways of eating gradually, not at once – it’s a way more successful strategy than sweeping and sudden changes.
So pick the easiest change from your point of view and stick to it until it becomes a habit. Only then add another change – and so on and so forth.
And now, it’s your turn! What did you find most interesting? And which unhealthy food or unhealthy way of eating will you drop first?