**DIsclaimer** While the word of wisdom gives us basic guidelines for health, it leaves the interpretation of those guideline up to the individual members. This blog is not intended to replace your medical professional or the divine revelation of the Word of Wisdom, but rather it is practical knowledge that I have accumulated over the years in my own pursuit of a healthier lifestyle which I am passing along in the hopes that it will benefit others.**

It’s been on my mind for some time, and it has recently been brought back to the surface while I have been working on my current book about school choice, that there are a lot of things about our children that may be falling through the cracks.

downloadHow many of us haven’t been guilty of pulling out that large can of ravioli or the boxed mac and cheese when the kids come in hungry for lunch, and we are busy trying to meet a deadline? Or maybe we are merely attempting to get the laundry folded and put away before one of our family members starts picking through the basket looking for what they need?

If you can honestly say that you have never resorted to the lure of the quick fix convenient foods, then give yourself an A+, you’re better than I am. But unless you are from my Grandmother’s generation, and there aren’t many left who are, you have probably lived on prepackaged foods at some time in your life.

When I was growing up, Mom cooked from scratch. For those who may not know what that means, she used whole, unprocessed ingredients and made our meals without the aid of canned, boxed, or frozen components. They might not have been the most exciting meals ever, but at least they weren’t laced with a dozen or more chemicals and or other ingredients that no one can pronounce.

We were, unfortunately due to my parents having been raised during the great depression and a world war, subjected to the evils of Kool-Aid, overly processed white bread, powdered dry milk, cold cereals, margarine, and SPAM!

Ewww, Yuck!

Kool-Aid is loaded with sugar and artificial colors and flavors, but at least, it was real sugar and not the corn syrup that is loaded into virtually every other kind of drink out there today. We never had soda pop in the house, and we didn’t have sports drinks either. The powdered milk was probably innocent enough if you could get past the taste, but it certainly had to have some kind of preservatives in it to keep it good on the shelf as long as it did.

Cold cereals were another harbinger for sugars and artificial ingredients, and today they also are loaded with GMO ingredients as well so, buyers beware. If you really need, or want the cold cereal option for breakfast or snacks then look in your organics isle. At least you’ll know that the ingredients are pure, even if it is a dead food.

Spam, affectionately known as mystery meat, has been off my radar for many years, and I actually could not tell you what is in it without looking it up. So hang on a minute while I do a search and see what I can find…

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Okay, I’m back.  Here is what I found. Unlike so many canned and processed foods today, spam’s list of ingredients is reasonably short and readable. It does, however, contain sodium nitrate as a food preservative which it may be a good idea to avoid for the most part.

gallery_Gallery_HotDogSodium nitrate, which is used in many prepared meats such as hot dogs, bacon, deli meats, etc. can cause adverse effects, especially in young children, and has been linked to some forms of cancer in both children and adults. So if you like spam just eat it on occasion as a treat, not as a steady diet, and when possible purchase other prepared meats nitrate free. Kosher and Organic are healthier choices if you feel that to have a cookout without a grilled hot dog just can’t be done. I like the flavor of kosher hot dogs better than the standard variety in any case, so it isn’t a sacrifice at all.

Margarine, on the other hand, is on my list of dangerous foods to avoid. Margarine is an unnatural man-made fat that was developed in a lab in France in 1870 as a substitute for butter.  Margarine is high in Trans-fats, increases LDL, or bad cholesterol, increases the risk of heart attack, lowers the quality of breast milk, raises the blood insulin levels increasing the risk of diabetes, and may even be linked to suppressing the immune system, making it harder for our bodies to fight off infections.

I’m sure my parents had no idea what was in that stuff they were feeding us, but then it begs the question. Do we know what we are feeding our kids? How many of us make purchasing decisions based on the ingredients on the label?

The food industry spends untold amounts of money on advertising, because for whatever reason, that isn’t easy to explain, human beings are very susceptible to advertising. As long as the person selling the product is convincing, and their product is made to look appealing to the eye, taste, and smell we want it.

There have always been those who would capitalize on the ignorance of others to make a fast buck, but today more than ever we are bombarded with misleading advertising, and products made to appeal specifically to the most vulnerable among us, our children.

One of the biggest changes that I have seen over the decades is the availability and increased consumption of junk foods, particularly soda pop.

It is a banned substance in our home, but it is unusual today to find a home that doesn’t have an ever ready supply of soda pop available. Do we even realize how toxic that concoction of sugary carbonation is to our bodies? Or are we so addicted to it that we just don’t care anymore?

When I was growing up, soda pop was a treat to be had only on occasion, like at a movie theater, amusement parks, or a party. Today it has become a beverage of daily choice, for many as common as water.

SodaSoda contains vast amounts of sugar which spike the insulin levels in our bodies, which over time may lead to diabetes and obesity. The sugar and acid in the soda also eat away at the enamel of our teeth causing increased tooth decay.  

If your soda has caffeine it, it will raise your blood pressure while your brain’s dopamine levels increase as well.  Soda also contains Phosphoric acid which is associated with bone loss and a condition called osteoporosis. Phosphoric acid also causes kidney stones and other renal problems.

And finally, if that isn’t enough, all of that soda is addictive so once you’re hooked you just keep coming back for more.

And don’t believe for a moment that avoiding the high sugar content by drinking the low calorie or zero calorie varieties is any better for you. On the contrary, in some ways, sugar-free sodas are even worse than the real thing.

Artificial sweeteners are forms of excitotoxins which increase type 2 diabetes and have also been linked to migraine headaches, and vascular disease as well as cell damage.  

Additionally, while it is still in the research stages, there is also some evidence that increased consumption of diet drinks may be linked to an increase in depression symptoms.

And these artificial sweeteners don’t just affect our bodies they also affect our brains.

Dr. Blaylock, who is considered one of the foremost authorities on the subject of excitotoxins, like aspartame, warns that they not only contribute to the escalation of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, but also to several chronic illness, including learning disorders, psychiatric conditions, and even cancer.

To read more of Denise's articles, click here.

To read more of Denise’s articles, click here.

If we are serious about keeping our bodies and minds healthy, especially the growing minds and bodies of our children, then we need to get serious about what we are putting into them.

I am not perfect, and I like junk food as much as the next person. But maybe we need to mentally go back to a time when eating and drinking was healthier.

Make a commitment today to monitor what you take into your body. Making snacks the occasional treat instead of an everyday event.

References for my research:

http://myculturedpalate.com/2012/12/10/is-margarine-harmful-6-secrets-they-dont-tell-you/

http://www.spam.com/varieties/spam-classic

http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/soft-drink-dangers-8-ways-soda-negatively-affects-your-health-319054

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20739512_11,00.html

http://www.today.com/health/diet-soda-doing-these-7-awful-things-your-body-1C6558748

http://www.newsmax.com/Outbrain/diet-soda-brain-alzheimers/2012/10/24/id/461363/

About Denise Mastrocola
Denise is a Michigander turned Pennsylvanian, who has been writing stories since Elementary School. Denise won an award at the annual Lansing Youth Talent Show, when she was in 10th grade, for a short story entitled Procrastination is Fatal, but didn’t decide on writing as a career until she was 28 years old. While homeschooling her older children she spent 4 years working through a course from The Institute of Children’s Literature. Through the years Denise’s children have had a variety of health issues, many of which have been linked to various sensitives; having spent more than 20 years researching and trying different things Denise has a boots on the ground view on healthier living. Denise currently writes for 2 blogs and has several books in different stages of completion. She is planning to break ground in e publishing, and hopes to have her first Historical Fantasy book which is set during the renaissance, “Lisa, My Lisa?” ready by the first of the year.

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