8 Foods That Are Destroying Your Health and The Environment

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foods-that-are-destroying-your-healthDo you ever wonder about how the food you eat impacts not only your health, but the environment, too?

From genetically modified foods, to factory raised meat and fast food, we’ve made our bodies (and mother nature) a graveyard of greasy sludge, instead of garden rich in nutrients and life. It is time to take a stand against the foods that are destroying your health and the beautiful environment that keeps us alive.

Here are 8 foods that are destroying your health, and the environment:

Genetically Modified Foots

The health and environmental hazards of genetically modified foods (GMOs) is quite extensive. They are toxic to the human body, provoking allergic reactions (allergenicity), increasing cancer risk, reducing nutrient absorption, increasing inflammation, and put fetuses at major risk.

Because most studies have been performed on mice, here is a list of the potential hazard of GM foods:
– Cause lung damage in mice
– Cause cancer in rats
– Gut bacteria can uptake DNA from GM food, and insert it into your own DNA (freaky, right?)
– Significant organ disruptions in rats and mice (kidney, liver, heart and spleen)
GM corn causes major immune responses in mice, ranging from things like arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, osteoporosis, and inflammatory bowel disease
– Offspring of pregnant rats fed GM soy had a 5-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and inability to reproduce
– Altered DNA function
– Damaged sperm cells
– Major fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and deaths found among buffalo fed GM cottonseed products

GMOs require many different chemicals to avoid being suffocated by weeds and pests that have developed resistance to GMO tinkering. In fact, up to 99.7% of GM crop chemicals end up seeping into the environment, contaminating the soil and waterways.

More GM environmental concerns include:
– Detrimental effects on beneficial insects
– Potential generation of new plant pathogens
– Movement of herbicide resistance genes to other plants
– Detrimental consequences for plant biodiversity and wildlife
– Less importance placed on crop rotation (which is an extremely important practice)
– Monsanto forces farmers to buy new seeds every year
– Glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup) causes Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS) (a serious plant disease), and has been found in many fields around the world
– Glyphosate also promotes disease by acting as a chelator of vital nutrients, destroying beneficial soil organisms, interfering with photosynthesis, and weakening plant growth

Factory-Raised Meat

Most people have no idea how much factory-raised meat is destroying the planet (and their health). How does meat affect your health? Here is a short list (and it goes far beyond that):
– Loaded with synthetic and naturally-occurring hormones that confuse our own body’s hormones and contribute to cancers of the prostate and breast.
– Hardens the blood vessels, thanks to a compound found in red meat called carnitine, which causes atherosclerosis (hardening or clogging of the arteries).
– Risk of shortened lifespan. For years studies have proven that vegans and vegetarians live longer than their meat-eating counterparts.
– You risk getting sick from E. coli.
– Up your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity.
– Raise your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
– Put your colon and brain at risk. Eating too much iron (high levels found in meat) can increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (when iron accumulates in the brain, myelin is destroyed, and thus communication among neurons is destroyed). Eating meat triggers an inflammatory response in colon, too, and greatly increases the risk of colorectal cancer (not to mention that meat ferments and sits in the colon for a whopping 7 days – no food should sit in the colon for that long).

Factory-raised meat is also a huge problem for the environment. Here are some of the few (among many) ways that meat impacts the plant:
– Animal cruelty in factory farms is worse than you may think. Watch Earthlings!
– To produce 1 pound of beef, you need 13 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water. This is completely inefficient, seeing as how you could feed thousands of people with the grain and water it takes to raise 1 cow.
– Up to a third of earth’s landmass is used for growing crops and grazing. This means more deforestation, and destroying the homes of many animals and reducing our tree count. Again, completely inefficient.
– Greenhouse gases as a result of mass-animal production have significantly altered our climate (aka. global warming). Over 401 pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere, per person, every year!

Fast Food

Fast food is not only linked to depression, but it can manifest as different mental illnesses, too. It triggers an inflammatory response in the body that speeds the aging process, and makes us look older than we actually are. Fast food is also a great way to maintain chronic headaches (if that’s what you’re going for), not to mention a speedway to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

A lot of fast food depends on factory farms, which contributes to a huge carbon footprint (see above). The greenhouse gases produced from growing the wheat to make the buns is also phenomenal. Fast food also requires a lot of packaging – plastic wrappers, styrofoam boxes (which take over 900 years to break down in the landfill), wax boxed packaging, straws, and bags, accounts for over 40% of all litter. The hormones, drugs and fertilizers needed to produce fast food are also a big reason why our water is so heavily contaminated, and why outbreaks of E. Coli, and marine life dead zones have increased over the years.

Soy

Soy has a negative effect on both your health and the environment. Five health issues concerning soy consumption are an impaired immune system (contains endocrine disrupting chemicals called phytoestrogens), impaired fertility (structurally similar to endogenous estrogens and display both estrogenic and weak anti-estrogenic activities), thyroid disorders (isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function), brain damage (exaggeration of brain shrinkage in those who consume high levels of soy), and infant abnormalities (the amount of phytoestrogens that are in a day’s worth of soy infant formula equals 5 birth control pills).

Over 91% of soy grown in the U.S is genetically modified. They are specially selected so that they will resist the toxic herbicide Roundup, which has huge implications for the health of our planet. Soy threatens biodiversity, endangered species and the lives of local people. Soybean plantations need large areas to grow, which contributes to deforestation and thus climate change. The heavy use of pesticides for most conventional soy also contributes to soil erosion and major environmental impacts for where the soy is being grown.

If you must consume soy, choose organic fermented soy products. Fermented soy has less health impacts, and soy that is organically grown has less environmental impacts.

Palm Oil

If you eat nutella, or other spreads, boxed and frozen goods, or bagged chips, there is a high chance that you’re consuming palm oil. It is also used in margarine, shortening, baked goods and candies. Research indicates that palm oil, high in saturated fat, promotes heart disease. In fact, palm oil contains as much saturated fat as butter. It also promotes reproductive and organ toxicity, affecting organs like the kidneys and lungs.

Palm oil is an environmental disaster. It is a major cause of deforestation and habitat loss, especially for orangutans. Not only orangutans are effected, however. Areas that are cleared for palm oil have affected the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, Asian elephant and Sumatran rhinoceros. Where these species once used to flourish, are now stripped down to grow palm oil for mass-production of processed foods. Palm oil plantations also hinder migration patterns and block travel corridors for locals. They pollute the soil and water with pesticides, cause soil erosion and contribute to air pollution due to forest fires.

Non-Organic Foods

Consuming conventional foods that aren’t organic can have huge health impacts. If you can, stay away from the dirty dozen. People who eat organic produce have been found to contain lower levels of pesticides in their bodies than people who eat conventionally grown fruit and vegetables. A lot of conventional produce is also loaded with GMOs, and that in itself affects our health big-time. Organic food has more antioxidant compounds and higher nutritional rating, which leads to a reduced risk of chronic disease like cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.

How does conventional produce affect the environment? Pesticides used for conventional produce not only puts farmers at risk, but it destroys the environment and causes leakage into the soil and waterways. The soil affects everything from the animals, the water and air.

Shop at local farmers markets, and try to stick to organic. Ask local farmers if they spray or not (some farmers can’t afford the ridiculous price it takes to label as “certified” organic), and scope out deals by looking around. It might take a little more effort, but it is so worth it!

Refined Sugar

Refined sugar is toxic to the body. It is a product that has been depleted of vitamins, minerals, and crucial phytonutrients and becomes something that the body simply cannot utilize. Refined sugar drains the body of vitamins and minerals needed to help digest, detox and eliminate the sugar. When taken every day, sugar produces an acidic state within the body, which results in leaching of calcium and other minerals from the bones and teeth that decay and weaken over time. Excess refined sugar also puts a heavy toll on our liver, reduces brain function, and contributes to diabetes, obesity and a chronic inflammatory state in the body.

Because of the large production practices used to create refined sugar, it does, unfortunately, have an effect on the environment. White sugar is the result of sulphur dioxide being introduced into cane juice before evaporation. It basically bleaches the mixture (yes, bleaches the mixture). Phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide are then added, which absorb and trap impurities. These chemical waste products creates major problems for local environments. Not to mention the amount of pesticides and herbicides applied during cultivation contaminate our soils and water supplies. Cane sugar harvesting also pumps millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other chemicals into the atmosphere each year.

Dairy

If you haven’t read the “10 great reasons why you should ditch milk and dairy products” I suggest going and doing that right now. Dairy can cause things like osteoporosis, cancer, constipation, diarrhea, asthma, ear infections, inflammation (i.e., arthritis), bronchitis, diabetes, high cholesterol and so much more. Lactose doesn’t digest properly, and this leaves people chronically bloated, gassy and sick. If you really want to continue drinking milk, opt for yummy plant-based milk alternatives like coconut, almond, milk, rice and oat milk. Daiya also creates some yummy cheese, and cream cheese alternatives!

Dairy, similar to factory farming, has a huge carbon footprint. Dairy farms are a culprit of major greenhouse gas emissions, bacterial contamination in water, and over-exploitation of forests for cattle roaming and “harvesting.” Plus, the dairy industry is incredibly cruel. They essentially keep female cows chronically pregnant so that they will produce milk, and once the mother gives birth, her baby is taken away to be slaughtered as veal, while she gets hooked up to machines to pump out milk. The emotional turmoil a mother and baby cow go through is not worth it, in my opinion. Watching videos on youtube makes this thought reality.

Sources:
http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/10-ways-fast-food-is-destroying-the-world/
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/05/has-any-company-ever-harmed-the-planet-more-than-this.aspx
http://www.cspinet.org/palm/PalmOilReport.pdf
http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/white-sugar-vs-raw-sugar.html

     
Carly Fraser has her BSc (Hons.) Degree in Neuroscience, and is the owner and founder at Live Love Fruit. She currently lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with a determined life mission to help inspire and motivate individuals to critically think about what they put in their bodies and to find balance through nutrition and lifestyle. She has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals to re-connect with their bodies and learn self-love through proper eating habits and natural living. She loves to do yoga, dance, and immerse herself in nature.

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