Avoid Synthetic Food
Part 8: Refined Oils and Salt
“One hundred years ago, heart disease was virtually unknown. Today, two-thirds of US citizens develop heart disease. Something has clearly gone wrong with the way we are living, and one of the main factors may well be the introduction of refined, over-processed, devitalized oils.”[i]
~Dr. Dane Roubos, B.Sc., D.C.
When you shop at the supermarket and buy conventional, non-organic produce or pre-packaged foods, you risk being exposed to a multitude of poisons in minute quantities.
Most conventional packaged foods have been so processed that all the natural vitamins, minerals and life force have been stripped away, leaving you with virtual “non-foods,” which then require artificial flavorings and colorings to be palatable. Instead of eating these food substitutes, (known in the industry as “designer foods”). I suggest you buy only natural foods, preferably organic. Additionally, there are a few specific processed foods that ought to be entirely eliminated from your diet, because they cause harm to the body.
Highly Processed Oils
Nearly all oils carried by conventional supermarkets have been processed to such a degree that your health will be compromised if you ingest them on a regular basis. The refining process usually includes using a chemical solvent (often hexane) for extraction of the oil, and very high temperatures (of over 400 degrees) for processing and deodorizing. The
resulting oiloften colorless and nearly tastelessis packed with newly formed trans fatty acids, which are known to raise cholesterol levels in the blood and cause metabolic disorders such as cancer and arthritis. Oils easily go rancid, especially when stored in clear bottles; rancidity also contributes to health problems. When these oils are used for cooking, even more trans fatty acids are created, making a potentially hazardous meal!
The alternative is to buy “expeller pressed,” unrefined, organic oils. Expeller-pressed means the oil has been extracted mechanically rather than via heat. Look for the word “unrefined” on the label, indicating that the oil has not been subjected to high heat and thus retains its full flavor. Even expeller pressed, organic oils are subject to rancidity, so buy those which come in dark bottles whenever possible (the darker bottle shields the oil from light oxidation more than a clear bottle does).
Live Naturally: Improve Your Health Today
In my opinion, the best oils for recipes and salads are olive and sesame. For cooking, unrefined coconut oil (hard at room temperature) is the best. You read that right! Coconut oil has gotten a bad rap, mostly because the soybean industry managed to convince the public through a massive advertising campaign that heat or chemical processed coconut oil contributes to high cholesterol. However, expeller pressed coconut oil is a fantastic oil that can tolerate high cooking temperatures and it offers numerous health benefits. It can kill viruses that cause influenza, hepatitis C, measles, herpes and even AIDS, as well as bacteria, fungi and yeast, while boosting energy and improving digestion.[ii] Flaxseed oil, because of its high omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid content, is also excellent for salads and baked goods, but never use this oil for cooking (see the Supplement chapter for more information about flax oil, and the Appendix for how I use it on most of my food).
Many people buy margarine to avoid using butter. Unfortunately, margarine is created by a process called hydrogenation. This process adds hydrogen to an oil to make it hard at room temperature, but creates an immune-damaging synthetic fata type of trans fatty acid. As stated before, trans fatty acids elevate blood cholesterol, which can cause health problems such as heart disease. Trans-fatty acids in cell membranes weaken the membrane’s protective structure and function. This alters normal transport of minerals and other nutrients across the membrane and allows disease microbes and toxic chemicals to get into the cell more easily. The result: sick, weakened cells, poor organ function and an exhausted immune system. In the United States, 95 percent of trans fatty ingestion is from eating margarine and shortening.[iii] Be aware of hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils in packaged foods and avoid them completely. Margarine is basically a non-food.
Fortunately, an all-natural margarine-like product called Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread is now available. It’s GMO-free, 100 percent expeller pressed, is not hydrogenated and contains no animal products. I eat it all the time and believe it’s currently the best product on the market.
The effect of salt on body chemistry is not well understood. Most of us believe that salt is bad for our health and that we need to reduce our intake of it. However, this isn’t exactly true. While refined salt is bad for us, sea salt in its natural form is actually beneficial. And since potassium is the regulator of sodium chloride (salt), it’s when our potassium/sodium ratio is out of balance that salt is detrimental.
Sea salt (in its natural, unrefined form) has been considered essential for good health for aeons. In the sixth century, merchants traded it with the equivalent value of gold. Salt was used as payment to Roman soldiers, which is where we get the word salary. For centuries the French were required to buy their salt from royal despots; the tax was so high that it helped ignite the French Revolution. In 1930, in protest against the high tax imposed on salt in India by the British Government, Mahatma Gandhi led a mass pilgrimage of his followers to the seaside to make their own salt (which was an illegal act according to British law).[iv] If salt was so important to our health back then, why is it so unpopular today? Over-processing has changed a natural, necessary element into a chemical, synthetic imitation.
Over 65 years ago, salt manufacturers sped up production by drying salt in huge kilns which could reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees. This process not only changes the chemical structure of salt, but also completely eliminates about 4 percent of its mixed trace mineral content. In fact, over 60 trace minerals are virtually wiped out by the processing. What’s left is a chemical structure of about 99.5 percent sodium chloride, to which anti-caking chemicals, potassium iodide and dextrose (sugar) are added to stabilize the iodine. The result is a new chemical structure, which corporations label as salt, but in reality is an entirely different componentone that doesn’t agree with the body.[v]
As I already mentioned, the amount of salt retained in our bodies is primarily controlled by the metabolic action of potassium in relationship to sodium, known as the sodium/potassium ratio. When the ratio is balanced, the body retains the amount of salt it requires and discards the rest. When this balance is not maintained, then salt (sodium chloride) can cause health problems.
Potassium is a nutrient essential to our health, but is rarely found in processed foods. Furthermore, foods such as coffee, alcohol, candy and sweets deplete potassium supplies in our body. Eating refined foods that are high in sodium with little to no potassium strongly contributes to high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and degenerative diseases. To summarize, eating sodium chloride in place of natural, unprocessed salt and depleting our potassium levels causes the health problems that are blamed on too much salt!
Unrefined sea salt, on the other hand, is quite beneficial in reasonable quantities. It’s still a good idea to read the labels for salt content, even on natural food products. Unrefined sea salt (which has a gray hue) contains approximately 4 percent trace mineralsa profile similar to that of our blood (hence its popularity and value for thousands of years). Sea salt has a purifying effect on toxic residues in foods; it strengthens digestion and contributes to the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Sea salt also helps build the immune system. Most diseases gain foothold in an acidic body, and sea salt helps to neutralize that condition by making us more alkaline. As I said, about 60 trace minerals are found in sea salt. Interestingly, vitamins cannot work properly without minerals.
Sea salt also contributes to solid mental health and emotional stability. Whereas refined sugar (and sweets in general) has an overly expansive effect on consciousness (known as “yin” in Oriental medicine), sea saltbecause of its mineral contenthas a very grounding effect (known as “yang” in Oriental medicine). [See Chapter 5 for a more detailed discussion of the yin/yang concept and of acid/alkaline conditions in the body.]
Avoid refined salt entirely, both at home and in packaged goodsit’s just not good for you. Using sea salt and eating unrefined, whole, organic foodswhich contain large quantities of potassiumis good for you. You can buy unrefined sea salt at natural foods stores. Look for larger crystals that are a little gray in color. If they aren’t gray, the salt may have been processed to some degree. Another excellent source of sea salt is seaweed. My favorite seaweed to add to soups and other cooked meals is dulse. It has a mild flavor and is a great source for sea salt and minerals.
>>> Go To Part 8: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
[iii] Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford, p. 141.
[v] Healing With Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford, pp. 156-162.