If you are what you eat, then many of you are butylated hydroxytoulene.  BHT is added to many packaged foods to prevent them from going rancid in your kitchen cupboard.  It is the same chemical they put in your fuel to prevent it from going bad in your gas tank.  Go check the label on that box of crackers and you will see this ingredient along with many other unknown sounding chemicals.  It is not a food, should not be going into your mouth, is a known carcinogen, and has been linked to hyperactivity in children.

Our food supply has been seriously compromised and is clearly linked to the epidemic levels of cancers, heart disease and diabetes in our culture.  When missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer arrived in Africa in 1913 he took note that there was almost no instances of cancer amongst the Congolese.  He eventually concluded that the most obvious factor was the significant difference in diet between Europeans and Africans.  Specifically that the Africans were eating fresh food and wild game and none of the refined, processed, canned or preserved foods of the Europeans. A fascinating modern day study has shown that the instances of breast cancer among Chinese women is very low.  However, once they immigrate to North America it only takes one generation for their breast cancer rate to jump to Western world levels.  This fact pretty much eliminates the genetic predisposition argument as the primary cause.

Given what is pretty much general knowledge as to what constitutes a healthy diet today, how is it that the 970 calorie Baconator is still at the top of Wendy’s menu?   In fairness to Wendy’s, the Baconator at 970 calories is not the world’s most unhealthy burger.  Check out this video about the Heart Attack Grill.

The restaurant’s 575 pound spokesman Blair River died last year at the age of 29.

I will admit that I am on a crusade to encourage people to get healthier.  I actually do know what I am talking about when it comes to the food supply.  Many of you will not know that my background is in food production.  I am an Agriculture grad from the University of Manitoba and worked in the farming and grain industry before I went into the ministry.  I was a bit of a radical back then and was always  experimenting.  I was one of the first persons to grow lentils in Manitoba when it was just taking off as a commercial crop in our province..  I imported the seed from Idaho.  Today it is an important Manitoba crop.  Over the years I have watched as our food supply has been poisoned by pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, genetically modified organisms, preservatives, additives etc.  I also know that at times I sound like one of those annoying ex-smokers that is always telling people that if they don’t quit they are going to die of lung cancer.  But I, like the ex-smokers, have pure motives.  It is not about being judgmental, it is because we want our friends to stick around awhile to continue to be our friends.  I could rag on and on about what not to eat and why, and tell you about all kinds of scary things in the food supply, but instead today I want to point you in a more positive direction.

When God created man one of the first things he did was tell him what to eat.  In the Garden of Eden it was fresh fruits and vegetables.  Mankind did not eat meat for at least 1700 years until after the flood. (See Genesis 9)  When God did permit the eating of meat it was already known which animals were fit for food and which were not. The unclean animals were the scavengers (snails, eels, shrimp, vultures, crows, pigs etc.).  The clean animals were those that chewed their cud like cows, sheep, goats, and fish with scales, and non-scavenging birds like chicken and the like. (Lev. 11)  For the record this list was known for at least a 1000 years before Moses law as it is mentioned in the story of Noah.   100’s of scriptures in the Old Testament are devoted to the dietary laws.  Pages and pages on what God’s people should eat, how they should prepare the food and what foods are in fact outright forbidden.  God’s purpose in it all was to keep His people in good health.  He created man, so I am reasonably convinced that He would be the best authority on what they should eat.   My question is this; So, the New Testament arrives and all of a sudden these foods have become healthy?  I highly doubt it.  How Jesus dying on the cross makes bacon healthy is beyond me.  But I digress.

I feel one of the biggest problems is there are too many voices telling us what we should or should not eat that it has become confusing, and so we just eat what we like and take our chances.  There is a simple solution to all this.  Many are probably familiar with the Mediterranean Diet.  It is 1000’s of years old and has come out of the very region that the bible emerged.  It is as close as you will find to the biblical diet.  One of the most helpful tools is the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.

The bulk of our diet should be made up of ‘whole’ grains, fruits, vegetables and nuts.  Diary should take the form of cheese or yogurt as animal milk is not easily digested by humans and was never drank in the bible.  Fish and poultry are the best forms of meat, with fish having the edge for low fat and high omega 3 fatty acid.  Sweets were only eaten as a special treat, not every day and certainly not after every meal.  An example in scripture was during the major Jewish feasts.  “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh 8:10)   The sugar in our diets is literally killing us.  Don’t forget that sugar is added to almost every packaged food on the store shelf.  Red meat was never consumed everyday or at every meal as it is today in our culture.  Even among those who were wealthy and could afford it, red meat was reserved for special occasions.  (See the story of the prodigal son  – Luke 15)  They only time we see Jesus eating red meat was during the Passover.  Red meat is too hard to digest and contains more animal fat than our bodies  can deal with.  The objection is always; “Well where will I get protein?”  How about the same place as cows get it.  Cows don’t eat meat. All the protein they make has come from the vegetation they consume.  Grains, nuts and vegetables are loaded with protein.  Lentils have more protein than beef.  Quinoa the ancient wonder grain has 16% protein more than twice that of rice.  But even whole wheat has 14% protein.

If I could leave you with one more challenge.  You have got to get the ‘whites’ out of your diet, they are killing you – white flour, white pasta, white rice, white bread (simple carbohydrates that turn into sugar in your bloodstream) and of course white sugar.  And finally here’s my best dietary advice.  Print this pyramid off and post it on your fridge.   Start putting it into practice every day and  you will feel better, stay healthier, lose weight and never have to go on diet again.  So, meet me at Club Med.

UPDATE: FEB 25, 2013

Today the New England Journal of Medicine published a 5 year study confirming the health benefits of adopting the Mediterranean diet.  The following article appeared in the Calgary Herald:

Pour on the olive oil, preferably over fish and vegetables: One of the longest and most scientific tests of a Mediterranean diet suggests this style of eating can cut the chance of suffering heart-related problems, especially strokes, in older people at high risk of them.

The study lasted five years and involved about 7,500 people in Spain. Those who ate Mediterranean-style with lots of olive oil or nuts had a 30 per cent lower risk of major cardiovascular problems compared to others who were told to follow a low-fat diet. Mediterranean meant lots of fruit, fish, chicken, beans, tomato sauce, salads, and wine and little baked goods and pastries.

Mediterranean diets have long been touted as heart-healthy, but that’s based on observational studies that can’t prove the point. The new research is much stronger because people were assigned diets to follow for a long time and carefully monitored. Doctors even did lab tests to verify that the Mediterranean diet folks were consuming more olive oil or nuts as recommended.

Most of these people were taking medicines for high cholesterol and blood pressure, and researchers did not alter those proven treatments, said the study’s leader, Dr. Ramon Estruch of Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

But as a first step to prevent heart problems, “we think diet is better than a drug” because it has few if any side effects, Estruch said. “Diet works.”

Results were published online Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine and were to be discussed at a nutrition conference in Loma Linda, Calif.

People in the study were not given rigid menus or calorie goals because weight loss was not the aim. That could be why they found the “diets” easy to stick with — only about 7 per cent dropped out within two years. There were twice as many dropouts in the low-fat group than among those eating Mediterranean-style.

Researchers also provided the nuts and olive oil, so it didn’t cost participants anything to use these relatively pricey ingredients. The type of oil may have mattered — they used extra-virgin olive oil, which is richer than regular or light olive oil in the chemicals and nutrients that earlier studies have suggested are beneficial.

The study involved people ages 55 to 80, just over half of them women. All were free of heart disease at the start but were at high risk for it because of health problems — half had diabetes and most were overweight and had high cholesterol and blood pressure.

They were assigned to one of three groups: Two followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with either extra-virgin olive oil (4 tablespoons a day) or with walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds (a fistful a day). The third group was urged to eat a low-fat diet heavy on bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, fruits, vegetables and fish and light on baked goods, nuts, oils and red meat.

Independent monitors stopped the study after nearly five years when they saw fewer problems in the two groups on Mediterranean diets.

Doctors tracked a composite of heart attacks, strokes or heart-related deaths. There were 96 of these in the Mediterranean-olive oil group, 83 in the Mediterranean-nut group and 109 in the low-fat group.

Looked at individually, stroke was the only problem where type of diet made a big difference. Diet had no effect on death rates overall.

The Spanish government’s health research agency initiated and paid for the study, and foods were supplied by olive oil and nut producers in Spain and the California Walnut Commission. Many of the authors have extensive financial ties to food, wine and other industry groups but said the sponsors had no role in designing the study or analyzing and reporting its results.

Rachel Johnson, a University of Vermont professor who heads the American Heart Association’s nutrition committee, said the study is very strong because of the lab tests to verify oil and nut consumption and because researchers tracked actual heart attacks, strokes and deaths — not just changes in risk factors such as high cholesterol.

“At the end of the day, what we care about is whether or not disease develops,” she said. “It’s an important study.”

Rena Wing, a weight-loss expert at Brown University, noted that researchers provided the oil and nuts, and said “it’s not clear if people could get the same results from self-designed Mediterranean diets” — or if Americans would stick to them more than Europeans used to such foods.

A third independent expert also praised the study as evidence diet can lower heart risks.

“The risk reduction is close to that achieved with statins” — widely used cholesterol drugs, said Dr. Robert Eckel, a diet and heart disease expert at the University of Colorado.

“But this study was not carried out or intended to compare diet to statins or blood pressure medicines,” he warned. “I don’t think people should think now they can quit taking their medicines.”

By Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press February 25, 2013 7:50 AM