Saving America With Food

Antonio Sanchez, Staff Editor

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The United States hasn’t experienced this many problems with food, health, or diet since World War II. As the States began to climb out of the Great Depression and the economy began to rise, more goods and services were required out of the American industry and its workers. The war pressured the United States with finding alternatives to creating and processing foods, goods, and other materials quickly, efficiently and at a lower price.

Foods in the early 20th century were unprocessed, meaning they contained no additives or preservatives and no methods were used to manipulate the taste or structure of the food. This resulted in healthy foods that did not last for very long. Unfortunately for troops in Europe, food would be transported over a long distance for a long period of time, and would spoil before being used. After the Food and Drug Administration was created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, new methods for processing and preserving foods began to be instituted nationwide and were implemented not only in military rations, but also in the American household.

As the 1950’s began, the demand for more foods and goods to be made quickly and easily rose exponentially. A population boom occurred, and more and more households had more mouths to feed. Preservatives were added to improve the shelf life of perishable goods. Additives and flavorings, such as corn syrup, were added to sweeten and enhance the flavors of fried and baked foods. Most importantly, new refining processes were instituted to lengthen the shelf life of grains, meats and cheeses while cutting down on the amount of time needed to produce foods.

While these new processes were revolutionary, they began to affect the overall health of citizens in the United States. As more and more people consume processed and refined foods, the body begins to undergo some very strange changes. When the body digests unprocessed food, glucose is released into the bloodstream and insulin places glucose into the cells. The release of glucose is relatively low and the body experiences a feeling satiety (fullness) very quickly. However, with processed or refined foods, such as fried foods and prepackaged items, glucose is released very quickly resulting in excess glucose and then an overflow of insulin bringing down glucose levels.

The overflow of insulin brings about fatigue and nausea, a common side effect after a very large meal. The sugar levels in the blood begin to fall dangerously low and the body begins to overcompensate. As glucose fills the bloodstream, fat builds up and excess sugar crystals begin the scrape against veins, arteries and nerves. This can result in kidney failure, retinal bleeding, obesity, diabetes and a higher susceptibility to certain cancers.

How can we prevent such terrible afflictions? There are many answers, but these answers must be introduced slowly. If the body experiences a sudden and rapid change in diet, it can result in more harm than benefit. Foods high in fat and protein are extremely healthy, such as fresh meats and cheeses, whole milk, and plain yogurt. Foods that are also high in fiber such as vegetables, as well as berries with normal amounts of natural sugars are highly beneficial as well. Drinking more water and less fruit juices creates many positive changes. Staying away from certain fruits such as bananas, which have been modified to have no nutritional benefits at all, can help blood sugar levels as well as weight loss. Eating less fried foods, foods that come in boxes, or foods that must be microwaved or boiled to be eaten.

This is just the beginning to a new form of diet and lifestyle. While many people may not find this pleasant or enjoyable, it truly does work. In the next installment of this series, I will begin to recount my experience with poor diet and exercise, and how my entire life changed over the course of one year. People in positions similar to me have experienced much trial and tribulation and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives.