Those ever elusive words that plaster the products lining the aisles of your favorite grocery store; enriched, fortified, refined and pasteurized.

What do they really mean?  Why are these processes performed, and what are they doing to our bodies?

According to the USDA we should be consuming wheat and dairy products on a daily basis in order to function properly.  In addition to that we are told that all of these manufacturing processes are completed in order to keep us safe and healthy.

Is that really the case?  Should we as humans ingest the milk of a cow and consume manually altered, genetically modified starches?

The following charts depict what the government believes to be proper daily portions of both grains and dairy.

USDA Preferred Grain Intake

One ounce for example is equivalent to 1 slice of whole grain bread, 1 pancake or 1/2 of an English muffin. USDA Preferred Grain Intake

Rather taking a dive into commodities and subsidized farming we’ll leave the politics aside for another post.  Feel free to surf the web for more insight into our governments backing control over our farmers.

For now, let’s break these concepts down a bit…

Enrichment is the addition of nutrients to food when said nutrients have been lost during processing.

Fortification involves the addition of vitamins and trace minerals that were not lost during processing but rather have been added for the nutritional benefit of the consumer.

“…so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and to provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health…” – World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Refinement involves the removal of impurities and unwanted elements during the production process.  For grains this means removing the germ and bran of the grain in order to reduce rot and lengthen the products shelf life.  These foods are then enriched or fortified  in an effort to replace the nutrients removed.

“..the germ contributes “some of the most valuable nutrients to the flour, including much of its protein, folic acid, and other B vitamins”, what is left is the endosperm, basically a “big packet of starch and protein” that is high in calories and low in nutrients (similar to sugar). – Michael Pollan, Professor, Graduate School of Journalism, UC, Berkeley, author, Cooked: A Natural (original article here)

Pasteurization involves the heating  and sterilization of milk past 160 degrees.  Thus removing the casein content within the milk protein, rendering the milk inorganic and unable to be assimilated by the human body.

So what does all this mean for our precious shrines – our bodies – are one and only temples?

Well…

Enriched  flour sends your body into hyper-drive as if it had just consumed a vast amount of sugars, filling you with energy and crashing soon after, which can be detrimental to your health.

“Cancer tumors develop, in part, by feeding on sugar in the bloodstream. If you eat lots of sugary snacks loaded with simple carbs, you’re loading your bloodstream with the chemical energy needed for cancer cells (and tumors) to proliferate.” – Natural News

Love white bread? I was dumbfounded by this statement.

“All white flour is nutritionally deadly. Really. White flour kills you. If you tried to live off of white flour for 60 days, you would literally die. That’s because white flour lacks all of the healthy elements found in the whole grain of the wheat berry. Whole wheat grains contain important minerals like magnesium, healthy oils like vitamin E, health-enhancing insoluble fiber, and a long list of important vitamins.” – Natural News

On to fortification, which in itself is not a horrible process, however, the over consumption of unnaturally fortified nutrients such as folic acid have been linked to breast, prostate and colorectal cancers.  This is because our bodies cannot break down these added elements without their naturally occurring counterparts.  Our bodies require 400mg of folate each day which we can get from a number of foods shown in the chart below.

Recommended Folate in Foods

Recommended Folate in Foods

When we decide instead to choose fortified foods rather than natural alternatives our bodies become confused and these elements pile up within our systems leading to further complications.

“At a high intake, the body can’t process all the folic acid into folate…High folate status may reduce the response to antifolate drugs used against malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and cancer. In the elderly, a combination of high folate levels and low vitamin B-12 status may be associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment and anemia and, in pregnant women, with an increased risk of insulin resistance and obesity in their children. Folate has a dual effect on cancer, protecting against cancer initiation but facilitating progression and growth of preneoplastic cells and subclinical cancers, which are common in the population.” – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Refined carbohydrates or “fast carbs” are found in breads, cereals and soda pops, you name it!

“Over time, eating lots of “fast carbs” can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes as much as—or more than—eating too much saturated fat.”- The Nutrition Source

Finally, pasteurization

“Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.” – Sally Fallon of the Weston Price Foundation, USA

While the sale and support of raw milk is still up in the air, 30 states have began selling it from local farmers.  However due to the natural organic nature of the milk, illnesses have been reported.

I suppose that’s not so surprising…

While I support anything natural and had drank milk for about 26 years of my life, I still find it odd that humans consume milk from cows – and I’m a cheese lover.  Furthermore, when we are open to the idea that pasteurization can be harmful to our bodies then we can begin to look for alternatives that may still please our dairy desires – such as raw milk cheese! And almond or coconut milk.

It may take time to alter our lifestyles and diets however, the more time we spend eating healthy, the more time we have on this precious earth.

In short, eat natural, live healthy.  LOVE YOURSELF!

Need some tips on how to move forward and apply this new-found wealth?

You’re all familiar with the traditional food pyramid that encourages you eat lots of breads and meats and wonderful things that the USDA would have us consume until we’re blue in the face and their pockets are overflowing.  Well, here’s a link to a really great NEW food pyramid that gives you a great look into what foods make your body happy.

Here’s another really simple food chart that I like.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 3.11.52 PM

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/

Everyone’s diets are different and many of us have restrictions, such as no meat or dairy, gluten, nut or nightshade allergies…these are simply things in mind when your reading labels.

And as always, I’m not a doctor. 🙂

Please share this information with those you love.  Avoid enriched, fortified, refined and pasteurized foods and eat happy – live healthy.