Choosing The Right Foods

Throughout life, humans are responsible for choosing the right foods. Depending on how these food products are utilized, the result may be:

  • Improved health, avoiding, even curing disease. Or on the other hand,
  • Deteriorated health, disorders, and suffering.

Unfortunately, the way food is used very frequently bears negative health consequences. Because of this, the eminent Spanish physician Gregorio Marañón is quoted as saying, “Each day we are digging our own graves with knife and fork.”

However, there is no reason for this to be so. There must be a proper way to use food products to convert them into a health and well-being source. It runs counter to natural logic to think that eating foods, an essential act for sustaining life, inevitably leads to disease. Proper use of foods as described below requires that they be:

Chosen wisely, according to the healthful foods pyramid

Combined correctly and adequately balanced,

Well distributed throughout the day,

Prepared and cooked appropriately, and

Enjoyed with pleasure within the framework of a healthy lifestyle.

The knowledge of foods provided on this website should aid the visitor in using them properly to benefit health.

choosing the right foods

Choosing The Right Foods

When someone sits down in a restaurant, the first thing they usually do is study the menu to select a meal. Choosing what to eat takes place in the supermarket or the kitchen at home.

Eating is a choice

Eating is, before anything else, a choice. You only fail to choose food when you are forced by circumstances and have no choice. Social customs, acquired tastes, the variety available, and economic resources influence food choices. However, despite all this, it is still an act of free will.

The Role of Appetite in Selecting Foods

Of course, individual tastes are essential and play a significant role in the selection of foods and digestive physiology. However, the appetite is often jaded due to an artificial and unhealthy lifestyle. This creates a desire for products that do not meet the body’s physiological needs or, worse, are harmful to health.

woman eating watermelon

Because of this, the appetite is not a reliable guide in choosing foods, mainly if it has not been oriented toward health. Eating only what one likes presents a severe health risk. The appetite center, which resides in the diencephalon, must be controlled by reason, and the will resides in the cerebral cortex. This outer layer of the brain is accountable for higher brain function in humans.

Orienting the appetite toward healthful foods is a process that may be somewhat uncomfortable at first. But the ultimate benefit is worth the effort. Ideally, this process should begin at birth, but it is never too late to start. A study of the properties of foods and an understanding of their healing power, beginning in childhood, helps with this orientation.

Only with accurate information and a correctly oriented appetite can a person make wise food choices that lead to health and well-being.

How to Choose Foods

Foods must meet the following four conditions:

man eating cereal and holding a cup filled with coffee

1. They must meet nutritional needs: The foods chosen must meet individual dietary needs, bearing in mind that these vary with age, weight, and other personal circumstances.

2. They must be healthful: A hamburger, French fries, and ice cream, for example, may meet nutritional needs. However, they are not healthy foods. Although humans can eat a wide variety of foods, they are not all equally well suited for human consumption. As has been throughout this website, it is a fact that there are:

Foods with benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and others are the opposite.

Foods with healing powers and others that promote certain diseases.

Healthful foods and harmful foods.

Unfortunately, some nutrition specialists advocate a diet that includes “a little of everything” and that a balanced diet is one in which one eats a little of what is good, a little of what is not so good, and a little of that which is downright harmful. This is an undemanding, comfortable position, but one so good, and a little of that which is downright detrimental.

The proper use of foods is to choose only those that are healthful and abstain from all those that pose a health risk.

3. They must prevent disease – Food products can have the opposite effect, depending on how they are chosen: they can cause illness or prevent it. All plant-based foods described on this website have preventative and healing power. Those with preventive capacity are remarkable for:

woman eating from a bowl filled with various vegetables

– Their antioxidant content (primarily provitamin A and vitamins C and E), and

– Those that contain phytochemicals, many of which are natural coloring.

Fresh vegetables and fruits meet both requirements and are the foods with the most significant potential for preventing and even curing diseases. Because of this, they are considered medicinal foods. Their active ingredients and effects are like those of medicinal plants.

The proper use of foods also involves correctly choosing those plant-based foods that inhibit the diseases to which one is most exposed due to environmental or hereditary factors.

4. They must avoid the problems of the modern diet: Understanding these problems facilitates the selection of foods that prevent them.

Combine Foods the Right Way

No single food provides all the human nutrients except the mother’s milk during the first months of life. Thus, combining foods is essential. Doing this correctly is not difficult since the digestive tract is prepared to digest various foods at once from an anatomical and physiological point of view.

The right combination:

1. Achieves a balance among the energy-producing nutrients – Foods must be combined so that a balance exists among the calories supplied by the three energy-producing nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Most calories should come from carbohydrates, primarily grains, legumes, and tubers. As recommended in the food pyramid, eating ample amounts of these foods makes reaching this ideal balance easy.

2. Adequately supplements proteins – There is no protein, except mother’s milk, which provides the exact proportion of amino acids that humans need. The proteins in eggs are the closest to this ideal since their biological value is ninety-four percent. Meat proteins (biological value = seventy-five percent) are not as complete as some believe. They must also be complemented.

Vegetable proteins are those with the lowest biological value (except soy). But by combining two or more of them in the same meal (or within 12 hours), the body obtains all necessary amino acids in the ideal proportions. This is the phenomenon of supplementation, thanks to which mixing two vegetable proteins equals a complete protein. The following combinations provide complete proteins:

  • Grains with milk or dairy products,
  • Grains and legumes,
  • Grains and vegetables,
  • Legumes with vegetables.

3. Avoid incompatibilities – Avoiding dietary incompatibilities is simply a question of not eating an excessive amount of foods at the same meal and observing oneself determine any personal intolerance. Many doubt that food incompatibilities exist since all healthful foods are compatible. What does exist are individual intolerances, both to foods and their mixture. Mixing milk and sugar or eggs is one of the worst tolerated.

Other Ideas for Using Food Properly

two women cutting and juicing fruits and vegetables

Distribute them throughout the day

  • Breakfast and dinner should be the most energy-producing of the day.
  • For adults, supper should be either avoided or very light. In any case, it should be eaten at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Do not stack between meals. This bad habit leads to obesity and increased cholesterol.

Prepare and cook them properly

  • Eat raw foods whenever possible.
  • Avoid overcooking foods since this destroys certain nutrients (proteins and vitamins).
  • Avoid toasted, roasted, or smoked foods, particularly meat and fish, since these preparation forms entail the production of carcinogens.

Enjoy them

The proper use of foods also includes learning to enjoy them, notably the healthier they are.

Appetite and Reason

Diencephalon – This part of the brain is where food appetite and sensations of hunger and thirst are located.

Cerebral cortex – This is the anatomical seat of reason and the will. Under normal conditions, it can control the rest of the brain, including the diencephalon, where the appetite and other instinctual behaviors reside.

In the human brain, reason can and must control the appetite. The appetite or pleasure is not a reliable guide in choosing the best foods for health and well-being.

Consequences of Food Choices

pot of stewed legumes with a whole wheat toast on the side

The decisions that are continually being made concerning what foods to eat are transcendent acts that have varied and far-fetched consequences, particularly on:

  • Long and short-term individual health.
  • The health of progeny; in the case of fathers before procreation and mothers during pregnancy and nursing.
  • Collective and individual economy
  • Ecology and the environment.

Foods must provide these four groups of substances:

Energy-producing nutrients (fuel): Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These release energy with which the body maintains its temperature and performs chemical and physical work.

Plastic nutrients (constructive): Primarily proteins, calcium, and phosphorus. These form the structure of the body and renew and repair tissues.

Regulating nutrients (biocatalysts): vitamins and minerals. These facilitate and control the various physiological functions.

Non-nutritive components: Fiber and phytochemicals. Together with vitamins, these are responsible for foods’ preventative and healing power.

American Dietary Guidelines

The following guidelines were prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture of the United States. They apply from two years of age. They deserve consideration because of the preventative value they present to the inhabitants of all countries.

GuidelineOur Comments
Eat a variety of foodsThis variety should be chosen following the healthful food pyramid.
Stabilize the foods you consume with physical activity. Improve or maintain adequate weight.Maintaining an ideal weight should be a personal objective.
Select a diet with lots of grain products, fruits, and vegetables.This includes products made from whole grains, if they contain little or no fat or sugar (for example, whole grain bread and pasta).
Opt for a diet low in cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat.Saturated fat and cholesterol are found mainly in whole milk, cheese, egg yolk, and meat and their derivatives.
Choose a diet moderate in sugarsThis includes sugars added to foods and honey.
Select a diet low in salt and sodium.Common salt is the primary source of sodium but not the only one.
If you consume alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.If you do not drink, do not begin. To enjoy optimal health, it is best to eliminate alcoholic beverages from the diet. Grapes or grape juice are far superior to wine in preventative effect.

Health Foods Pyramid

The relative quantity of each food group that should be eaten daily is represented by the size of each section of the pyramid. The lower (closer to the base) a food group is situated, the more critical it is to a healthful diet.

Milk and dairy products:

2-3 servings a day. Counts as a serving of one cup of milk or yogurt or 1,5 ounces of natural cheese. Preferably nonfat or low-fat. These may be replaced with soymilk, almond milk, tofu, or other daily alternatives.

Vegetable oils:

2-3 tablespoons daily of olive oils.

food pyramid

Nuts:

One serving daily. Counts as a serving, for example

Vegetables:

3-4 servings daily. Counts as a serving, for example

  • One cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • Half a cup of other vegetables chopped or cooked raw.

Solid fats, sugar, and sweets:

May be used sparingly or not at all.

Protein-based foods:

2-3 servings daily. These include legumes, meat analogs, other soy derivatives (as alternatives to meat and fish), and eggs. Counts as a serving, for example:

  • Two or three ounces of meat analog.

Grains and their products:

6-11 servings daily. Counts as a serving, for example:

  • One slice of bread
  • One ounce of ready-to-eat cereal.
  • ½ cup of cooked rice, pasta, or cereal.

Fruit:

2-4 servings daily. Counts as a serving, for example:

Source of Calories in a Balanced Diet

Paraphrasing the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, we may say: “Choose the best foods. Habits will soon make a diet of these pleasurable and effortless.”

NutrientPercentage of daily total (a)Energy for a 2,000-calorie diet (a x 2,000/100=b)Calories per gram (c)Grams of daily nutrients for a 2,000-calorie diet (b/c=d)
HydrocarbonsSixty percent1200 kcal4 kcal/gThree hundred grams
FatsThirty percent600 kcal9 kcal/gSixty-five grams
ProteinsTen percent200 kcal4 kcal/gFifty grams
Total100 percent2000 kcal  

Benefits and Drawbacks of Additives

Benefits of additives:

  • They improve the appearance of foods
  • They prolong the storage capacity of foods, preventing spoilage, loss of nutritional value, and contamination by various microorganisms.
  • Artificial sweeteners permit a reduction in sugar consumption.

Drawbacks to additives:

Additives are the hidden dark side of foods. Not all are listed on the label (if the law does not require it); scientific information regarding their safety is occasionally withheld for economic reasons. This notwithstanding, it is well known that numerous chemical or artificial additives are potentially toxic. Even without exceeding the ADI (acceptable daily intake), which is considered safe, their repeated use may cause:

The cumulative effect of additives on the human body over the years is little understood, but there are well-founded suspicions that they may be a factor in cancer.

Highest Risk Additives

E codeSubstanceUseAdverse effects
Colorings (E100-E199   
E102Tartrazine (food yellow 4)Yellow coloring in candies, lemon soft drinks, and chewing gumUrticaria, rhinitis, and other allergic manifestations
E110Sunset yellow (food yellow 3)Instant soups, candies, fruit jamsSevere allergies, gastric disturbances
E123AmaranthRed coloring is used in canned fruits, snacks, and soft drinksAllergies
E124Cochineal Red A (food red 7)Snacks, soft drinks, gelatinsAllergies
E127ErythrosinePink coloring is used in snacks, prepared desserts, and chewing gum (which contains iodine)Hyperthyroidism, eczema
Preservatives (E200-E299)   
E210Benzoic acidPrepared sauces, beer, fruit juices, yogurtAllergies, liver conditions
E211-E215BenzoatesCanned fish, shellfish, mayonnaise, and other sauces, dessertsAllergies, numbing sensation in the mouth
E220-227Sulfur dioxide and sulfitesDried fruits, prepared salads (to maintain natural color), packaged dry soups, pre-fried potatoes, jams, winesSevere allergies, particularly respiratory type; stomach irritation; interference with vitamin B1. It is a suspected carcinogen (benzoic acid and benzoates potentiate its adverse action)
E249-E252NitritesCured meats, hams, sausages, cured fishForms carcinogenic nitrosamines; interferes with oxygen transport in the bloodstream
Antioxidants (E300-321)   
E320Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)Helps maintain the freshness of oils and fats: desserts, margarine, butterIncreases the lipid and cholesterol levels in the bloodstream
Emulsifiers, Thickeners y Stabilizers (E322-E499)   
Orthophosphoric Acid and Orthophosphates E338-E343) Soft drinks, particularly colasIrritate the digestive tract, decalcification in children
Artificial sweeteners   
Flavor enhancers   
E621-E625)GlutamatesAll types of preserved prepared foods; Chinese foodHeadache, allergies

Benefits and Drawbacks of Genetically Modified Foods

Benefits of genetically manipulating living organisms

  • Resistance of crops such as soy, corn, and others to herbicides and disease. This is the primary objective of creating a genetically altered plant. This resistance permits potent herbicides to destroy all weeds without affecting the crop. This, together with more excellent resistance to viruses, bacteria, fungi, or disease-causing insects, increases crop yield.
  • Improves the appearance, flavor, and storage capability of foods.
  • Improves the composition of food products, making them more nutritious and healthful. For example, it is possible to create a strain of corn that contains more lysine (an amino acid that it lacks) or for the oil of certain plants to contain unsaturated fatty acids that benefit health.
  • Increased production of milk, eggs, and meat by genetically modifying animals.

Drawbacks to genetic manipulation

Repercussions on the environment: This is the most severe drawback, primarily because of its unforeseen consequences. For example, herbicide resistance could pass from genetically modified crops to the weeds, converting them into “super weeds” that would require new, more toxic herbicides.

Repercussions on human health: Studies have found no significant problems. Genetically modified foods are digested and assimilated the same as those that have not been modified. All that is known is that their consumption produces:

  • A higher incidence of food allergies and
  • Greater risk of acquired resistance to antibiotics, such as ampicillin.

Altering the balance of nature: The transfer of genes from one species to another might be interpreted as interfering with the natural order, with grave consequences in bioethics. Currently, it is technically possible, for example, to implant some genes from a pig in a tomato seed. What would be the effect of eating such a tomato?

Is There a Remedy to Cure Hunger?

Genetically modified organisms, such as transgenic plants, permit an increase in food production and can solve the problem of world hunger. Thus, they are presented by the multinational corporations producing them. But meanwhile, there is the contradiction that in so-called “civilized” nations, the destruction of surplus food is authorized in the name of “market stability.”

Many firmly believe there are sufficient resources to end world hunger, even without recourse to biotechnology. Thus, the solution to malnutrition and desire in the world is not producing transgenic soy or other foods but gaining victory over human greed. This is only possible through a profound mental and spiritual change, which leads to genuine love and solidarity.

REFERENCES

George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Trans. Annette Melgosa. Vol. 2. Chai Wan: Editorial Safeliz, 2005. 388, 389, 390, 391, 392, 393, 399, 403. Print.

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