‘Plus,’ ‘Zero’ and ‘Negative’ a simple way to think of foods

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You’ve heard it said that this person or that person died of “old age.” Were their bodies uniformly worn out? Did they succumb to some illness? Did they die from a specific disease, or did just one organ fail?

When one dies, we must ask, “Why?” Surely our genes and environment must have something to do with why some people live long lives while other people’s bodies fail them earlier on, and indeed genetics and environment do have a role.

And so do our diets.

To put it bluntly, never in our entire history has mankind been offered the absolute junk now being sold as food in our stores. These “foods,” if we indeed can call them that, are making us fat, lazy and short lived. The chips, the sodas, the foods tainted with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, synthetic colors and flavors. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Never before has any civilization been exposed to the type of “junk” and dangerous foods that we are offered. But, conversely, never before has any civilization had the opportunity to have some of the best food that ever has been produced, and have it year round.

By that I mean we have at our disposal such things as organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year, not just seasonal anymore. Exotic foods grown or produced in other lands and climates. “Super phytonutrients” and natural food supplements.

The worst as well as the best is offered to almost everyone. Our dilemma lies in the fact that most people just don’t know which is which, or how to choose.

Unfortunately, much of the advertising we are exposed each day can be misleading if not downright false. Consumers must learn to be discriminating — their health, possibly even their life, depend on it.

I challenge you to become aware of what you see in the shopping carts of other shoppers at the supermarkets. On what things are people wasting their hard-earned money?

I have a way of rating food on its ultimate value to the human body. I group them as “plus,” “zero” or “negative” foods. It’s not really very hard to do this. Simply try to determine if a food has any intrinsic, nutritional value.

For instance, vegetables to me are obviously a “plus” food. The same with fish, eggs, poultry, meat, fruit, etc.

How about potato chips, candy, soda pop, french-fries? Definitely “negative” foods, since they obviously do the body more harm than good.

But how about something like ice cream or frozen yogurt? It is apparent that there is some value in these foods — calcium, phosphorus and some protein. But does the bad — sugar and synthetic flavors and colors — outbalance out the good? So, I write them off as “zero” foods, neither good nor bad but reasonably tolerable by the body so long as they are not overdone.

I have been in this field for many years and critics have chided this type of thinking as “food faddism.” My answer has always been this:

Humans have been on this planet for many thousands of years. Although their diets have typically been far from balanced, they have survived on natural, but limited whole foods throughout that entire time. It has been only within the past 50 to 75 years that we have slipped into the culture of refined, manufactured and adulterated foods.

The dictionary definition for “fad” is “a passing fashion.” When examining the different diets throughout the millennia, I don’t think it is stretching it too far to understand which diets and which foods are the fads.

Retired chiropractic doctor Francis Trapani’s background includes 41 years of practice plus doing investigative reporting and fitness programs for broadcast media in Hawaii. He has written three books and is working on a yoga self-help manual “The Doctor Prescribes Yoga.” For more information, go to drftrapani.com.

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