You know me, give me a book about the evils of our current food industry or of a certain food in particular, and I'll be all over it. And this book, "The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick - And What We Can Do About It" by Robyn O'Brien and Rachel Kranz, is that but so much more. It tells the story of how Robyn's, a mother of four, discovery of a food allergy in one of her children led to the discovery/realization that the food we eat and feed our kids is not the same food our parents fed us.
I highly suggest anyone with an interest in how food affects our health and our children's health should read this, but as always, I'd like to share a few tidbits. These are the things that stuck with me, opened my eyes and hopefully will inspire you to read the book to get the whole picture....
*At least one out of every 17 kids under the age of 3 has a food allergy. That's more than double what it was 10 years ago.
*One out of every three kids currently suffers from allergies, asthma, ADHD, or autism
*The number of children with peanut allergies has doubled between 1997 and 2002.
*Many childhood ailments (chronic ear infections, coughs, runny noses, headaches, eczema, itchy skin, sleepiness, listlessness, crankiness, sickness) may result from diet. These could be inflammatory reactions by the body trying to rid itself of what it perceives as a toxic invader, a.k.a. an allergy.
*The author believes some of the answers to the potential causes behind the allergy epidemic include:
- the shift from a natural to an industrialized environment
- excessive exposure to antibiotics, both as prescribed and as consumed through antibiotic-laden meat, milk and poultry.
- the rise in pollutants and environmental toxins
- our tendency to eat more processed foods loaded with chemical additives and preservatives and eat far fewer natural whole foods.
*All of Europe, Great Britian, Australia, Japan and even Russia have very strong labeling laws that require food manufacturers to state when a product contains genetically engineered ingredients.
*GMO's are crops such as corn and soy whose DNA has been modified by the insertion of a protein from a different organism. The genetically engineered crops are suppose to be more resistant to insects and disease. So, if food allergies are an overreaction to a protein that the immune system reads as foreign and dangerous, our kids' immune systems could be reacting to the GMO's. This could be the trigger behind the new surge of allergic responses.
- Soy has a tendency to block our absorption of essential minerals.
- Soy contains toxins that interfere with the enzymes that we need for digestion--one being trypsin, which is essential to the digestion of protein, which coincidentally kids with food allergies have problems with.
- Soy is "non-digestible" in animals who have only one stomach, such as pigs. Guess what, that's us too!
- Soy plays at least a small part in 20,000 to 30,000 products on the market today, whether directly as an ingredient or indirectly as feed or nutrient source.
- Infants given soy formula had high levels of isoflavones. Isoflavones help produce estrogen and might be toxic to the thyroid. High levels of estrogen have been associated with breast and reproductive cancers, weight gain, obesity and early puberty.
- In the U.S., nothing has been done about this "soy danger" whereas the United Kingdom's chief medical officer and the British Dietetic Association have warned parents and pediatricians that soy formula is an absolute last resort. Other countries followed suit in some sort of way including New Zealand, Israel, France, and Germany. Our own FDA has remained silent. Scary, huh? Even scarier is the reason why. The author goes into great detail to explain how the multibillion dollar soybean industry has great influence on our doctors and government agencies.
*92% of soy grown worldwide is genetically modified. (As is 80% of corn and 86% of all U.S. cotton).
*The authors information and study of how genetically modified crops were not tested to make sure they wouldn't generate new allergies before being released into the food supply.
*The story of how rBGH (the growth hormone given to cows to increase milk production) was allowed to be used even though it's been linked to cancer.
*And so much more! She brings up the big company Monsanto and it's less than stellar reputation, the issues of gmo corn, and even the affects of artificial food coloring, flavorings and additives.
I learned a ton from this book and am so grateful to have been able to benefit from the years and hours she spent researching this information. I think the thing that bothered me the most was how poorly the light was that shone on our own government and companies. For example, the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese sold in Great Britian is not the same as the boxes you buy here. Over there they've taken out the artificial colors.Why not here? One reason is that the moms and dads over there are more informed, but the British government actually regulates their corporations unlike us. It was so discouraging to me to read about how our governmental agencies whose job it is to make sure that the public is safe has basically revolving doors with the companies making these GMO's and hormone-laden meat and milk. It's all about the money and I find that very disturbing.
Although it is disturbing, Robyn gives some great tips/advice on how to make a difference not just in your families' diet but also in the bigger picture of it all (and she doesn't suggest moving to Australia). Her tips are very practical and she shares her own experience in changing her own family's diet, which is helpful.
Again, I would highly recommend this book as the detail she gives regarding what I've shared is thorough and extremely educational!