How safe is the food you eat?
Monday June 7th is World Food Safety Day. It’s one of the lesser-known international days, unlike say World Mental Health Day or International Women’s Day. It was initiated by the World Health Assembly in collaboration with the World health Organisation and the United Nations back in 2018 and aims to address foodborne disease.
Most of its work is aimed at low-income countries. But as food and nutrition is such a big part of my programs and my life, I wanted to talk about it today. Grab a cuppa. It’s a long one.
Here’s the thing.
In ‘richer’ countries like the UK and USA, we think our food is safe. We think our food is nutritionally sound and that foodborne disease isn’t something we should be concerned about.
But we’re wrong. In fact, we couldn’t be more wrong.
We are living in the midst of a global obesity crisis. According to the World Health Organisation, obesity rates across the globe have tripled since 1975. In 2016 more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight and 650 million were obese. In 2019, 38 million children under age 5 were overweight or obese. To give this some perspective, a BMI of 25 or above puts you in the overweight category. A BMI of 30 or more classes you as obese.
Obesity opens the door to other disease too. Heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer and more. It’s predicted that obesity will cost the NHS around £9.7 billion buy 2050.
Now, you might well be thinking What has this got to do with food or World Food Safety Day? Well, it’s this. Obesity is caused by the foods we eat, most notably sugar and sugar plays a big role in the typical diet.
There are the foods we know are sugary: soft drinks, chocolate, doughnuts, cake…There are the sugars we’re less aware of bagels, bread, pasta, rice, fruit juice. Anyone on my Feel Look Be program will be familiar with a video I show exposing the amounts of sugar in rice, bagels and the like. It’s quite an eye-opener.
And then there’s processed food. Microwave meals, take-aways, pizzas, fast food. Foods produced in a factory and pumped full of chemicals with names you need a degree to pronounce. Processed food is high in sugar and low in fibre. The sugar makes it taste better. The low fibre (and the chemicals), mean it’ll live on a shelf longer. I don’t know about you but I don’t fancy eating anything that could potentially outlive me!
Processed food is insanely addictive. It’s also a huge cash cow for the food industry. If you didn’t see Dr Chris van Tulleken’s BBC documentary ‘What are we feeding our kids?’ I urge you to. It definitely leaves a bad taste in the mouth. But essentially, the food industry puts profit before people. Processed food is designed to be hyperpalatable to reach a taste nirvana called the bliss point. It’s designed to have us hooked; the more we eat the more we crave. Clever eh?
Let’s remember too that the Government makes millions from the food industry in export and import tariffs, so they’re unlikely to push for change. They’ve found their sweet spot. There’s masses of profit to be made when the masses eat cake!
Sugar should carry a health warning because it causes serious disease. Sugar goes directly to the liver to be processed. Once there it’s regarded as a toxin, in the same way that alcohol is, and the liver has limited ability to metabolise it. So, the excess is turned into liver fat.
Liver fat causes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – all of the chronic illnesses a large percentage of the population is living with today.
Can you see the connection now?
So how do you clean up your diet and reduce your risk?
I’d like to say opt for real food. Single ingredient foods that don’t come in a can or a packet. However, this is where agribusiness comes into play and our fruit and vegetables are laced in toxic pesticides. Our animals are fed genetically modified corn products and pumped full of hormones. Yet more chemicals in the food chain! When you think about it our bodies don’t stand a chance.
Makes you feel sick? Yeah, it probably is.
Right about now you’re probably thinking sh*t Shelley, where’s the good news?!
Here it is. Organic food. Meat from grass fed animals. Fruit and vegetables that aren’t swimming in pesticides. Fish that’s wild caught.
Yes, it’s less easy to find but I predict that over the next few years there’ll be a rise in organic farming. Yes, it’s a little more expensive. But, when it comes to my health and the health of my family, that’s a price I’m prepared to pay. What about you?
The food industry isn’t going to help. The Government isn’t going to help. But my 4-week Feel Look Be Formula is helping thousands of women - and their families - reduce the risk of disease and live happier, healthier lives.
My weekly food plans are designed to nourish and heal. My mindset and education sessions put the power in your hands. Be the change you want to see in the world. It all starts with you.
Feel Look Be July is enrolling now. Click here for details.