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Animal Health Notebook

We need to change the American diet

julos/iStock/Thinkstock fat cow working out
Exercise is good, but the biggest problem in America is the type of foods we eat. It takes healthy food choices, a little bit of exercise, and a mind set on health and ready to learn if we are to change the American epidemic.
Our ideas about what we should eat have become distorted and are the cause of our ills.

Three food ingredients are in short supply in the vast majority of the natural world. All are essential for most or all physiological animal functions including brain, hormone and endocrine, joint, muscle and central nervous systems. Wars have been fought over salt, energy and fat for good reason; they are essential.

I heard a radio commentator make the statement the other day that Obamacare had destroyed the health care system of America. The gentleman was wrong. The health care system of the US has been destroyed by greed, third-party payment (insurance), apathy and cheap food. It is past time for all of us to assume the responsibility for the health of ourselves and our children. The government has trouble keeping the roads up. Why would anyone expect them to have a positive impact on health or nutrition?

This nation is in the midst of a major health crisis. Few Americans are truly healthy and capable of physical labor. Close to 60% are fat, really fat. By definition, 30% body fat is considered obese and 35% is considered to be morbidly obese. Adult onset diabetes (now renamed type 2 diabetes) is totally out of control. Food is damn near free. Locally, I have friends that spend more dollars on their tobacco than on their food. The cost of eating is erased quite easily by making a phone call to any of a dozen or more government or private food banks in our area. Twelve-thousand of the world’s citizens may die daily from starvation but locally the problem is nutrient density not simple calories. Notably lacking in American eating is real, nutrient-dense food.

A handful of producers grow the “real thing”. A few folks grow their own. With a little effort, knowledge, and discipline we can eat our way to good health. It does not take a doctor's degree, or even a master's. Some honest physical work on a daily basis will help.

Less than 20 companies control 80% of our food in America. Do any of us know where the stuff that fills the middle aisles of the grocery was grown or derived or how it has been processed? The meats in the back of the store cannot be traced as to their origin, and the majority of our industry and all of the big packers plan on keeping the status quo. The salvation of beef comes only after investigating chicken, turkey, pork, fish, seafood and soy.

Salt and fat have been demonized for all the wrong reasons and often no reason at all. Quality non-adulterated fat is likely one of the scarcest items in America and often deemed one of the cheapest. Trimmed fat from grain-finished cattle is traded for something like 15 cents per pound. Fat from real grass-fed cattle and lambs is likely the most needed addition to the American diet. Remember that seed-derived-fat is also essential, but it does not need to be heated or denatured. Seeds are inflammatory. We require some seeds but not a lot.

Over a year ago, I wrote that health was and is a three-legged stool:

  • What we do
  • What we think and believe
  • What we eat and drink

Healthy people physically work and have good attitudes. Most of them pay attention to what they eat and drink.

Our daily diet needs to include one or more servings of local grass-derived beef and/or lamb, compost-driven leafy vegetables, a little whole grains, fruits and nuts. You should stay away from drinks that are sweet and carbonated, sport and fruit, in addition to processed food. A couple of beers or a little wine on a daily basis is good.

If we want to lose weight, the weight we lose needs to be the excessive, hard fat we are carrying around. Remember that the consumption of fat does not make you fat. As an example, cats in the wild select for a 40% quality fat ration and it does not make them fat. Sugar and grains become sugar and make you fat. The more processed the grain, the faster the sugar release; the less fat, the faster the sugar release. High-fat milk (6%) is not fattening.

A common way to get cattle to melt is worth discussing since most folks have never lived in the years gone by. Cattle consuming high levels of wheat straw or overly mature hay or forage that is not balanced with added energy will burn their own energy (fat) to process the straw which is mostly non-digestible. The body fat is processed through the liver and becomes blood sugar or energy to keep the cow's system functioning, alive and melting. If properly controlled, the animal will lose 10 to 15% of her body weight in fat between December 1 and April 1 (120 days).

The first fat to go is marbling and invisible fat (Omega 3). This includes joint lubes. The last fat to leave is hard (inflammatory) fat. Animals that can stay productive and healthy while going thru the hard times and “slicking up” quickly in the spring are what we breed and select for. Good husbandry men and woman learn to tweak the natural system to maintain the herd in profitability every year. It is simple but not necessarily easy.

If you want or need to lose fat, get your attitude up and keep it there. Eat meals based on quality grass-produced beef or lamb. Eat quality mineralized greens, yellows and reds in the form of vegetables and whole fruits. Eat a few nuts and stay away from the sweets and processed grains.

Take my taste test. If you put a foodstuff in your mouth and leave it there for 15 to 30 seconds and it tastes or becomes sweet, then we need to cull it.

Many raw plants and vegetables burn more calories of digestion than they furnish. Broccoli, celery and many other tops, plus lots of skins furnish lots of minerals, trace minerals and vitamins while burning caloric energy. Lots of clean water keeps the system flushed and running. Grass-derived fat and fish oil maintain the oil for the brain, joints, hormones and elasticity of skin and muscle.

My take-to-the house messages about human food choices are these:

  • Grass beef with fat
  • Leaves, vegetables, skins, whole fruits and nuts (peanuts are not nuts)
  • High-fat raw milk
  • Cull the sweets, processed grains and oil
  • Add or supplement fish oil, acidified calcium, B-vitamins, vitamins A and E, and some trace minerals in small amounts
  • Drink a little coffee, beer, wine, whiskey and a lot of clean water
  • Get rid of carbonated beverages and fruit juices and sports drinks

Last, the canary in our personal coal mine is if we do not poop every day, we are not going to stay around a long time. Five prunes with a cup of coffee every morning will accomplish much. We are what we do, think, believe, eat and drink. Our individual health is our responsibility; not that of the medical profession, the government, or the insurance industry. Until we totally acknowledge these facts, I promise that health care in America will continue to be a wreck. Take a long look in a full length mirror and see where you stand.

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