The Food System Is Failing You. Here’s How.

August 30, 2022
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When it comes to prioritizing your own health, we’re strongly in the “you get out what you put in” mindset. That’s why we talk the talk and walk the walk: If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll know that we never shy away from trying a science-backed healing modality, whether it’s an immersive ice bath or a sound meditation.

But while our advanced testing and personalized, patient-first care can give you the information you need to make informed decisions about your health, that data can only do so much. The truth is, there are bigger issues at play that can create major obstacles to achieving your health goals — issues that run deeper than whether you choose to buy organic or eliminate added sugars.

As data-driven medical professionals, we’re rarely dramatic, but we have to give it to you straight: The American food system is failing your health. Here’s what you might not know about different (but unfortunately common) issues within our food system, and how precision medicine can help counteract these negative effects.

Our soil is no longer as nutritionally dense as it used to be.

Even if you’re eating your CDC-recommended two to three cups of vegetables per day, you’re still at a disadvantage compared to your ancestors in terms of nutrition. That’s because industrialized farming (the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals) involves several practices that degrade the soil and strip it of nutrients.

For example, monocropping is a practice in which farmers grow the same crop on the same land for many seasons in a row. The result? Damaged soil quality that’s nutrient-deficient and often needs pesticides and fertilizers to thrive. (Crop rotation, on the other hand, can improve soil’s health and increase the nutrients in crops.)

Pesticides and fertilizers can also impact your health in hidden ways. Pesticides, for example, have been linked to neurological disorders, hormonal issues, birth defects, cancer, and more (which is why it’s so important to buy organic produce). Similarly, when fertilizers are over-applied, they become agricultural runoff, which can get into waterways and cause algal blooms. Algal blooms (exacerbated algae growth in water systems) can harm aquatic food systems and become a danger to humans when present in seafood.

Finally, the industrial farming complex intentionally prioritizes low-cost, low-nutrient foods — most notably, corn, wheat, and soybeans. With these processed foods dominating grocery shelves, many Americans eat a bland, homogenous diet without essential nutrients. And unfortunately, a diet high in processed food is associated with diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Your foods contain hidden oils that can cause inflammation.

You might loyally follow an anti-inflammatory diet and still find yourself experiencing symptoms of chronic inflammation, such as abdominal pain, chest pain, fatigue, or joint pain. So what gives?

Chances are, you’re ingesting some oils in processed foods — and it’s likely you didn’t even realize the oil was present to begin with. Seed oils, for example, are a category of refined vegetable oil that includes canola oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, and safflower oil. Seed oils tend to be high in omega-6 fatty acids (a type of polyunsaturated fat), and studies have theorized that too much omega-6 relative to omega-3 may contribute to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation, remember, is linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Your best bet for decreasing this inflammation? Avoiding processed foods whenever possible — which is easier said than done for most Americans who rely on convenient, affordable food. Note: the organic versions of sunflower and safflower oil are at least not processed with chemicals, which can help reduce some toxin exposure

Your diet (including drinks) is shockingly high in sugar.

Similar to seed oils, sugar is a major cause of inflammation. No problem, you may be thinking. I’ll just stop eating desserts. Unfortunately, even if you can quit eating sugar cold turkey (and that might be hard, with its addictive properties), you’ll still likely find sugar in foods you eat regularly. Sugar is added to many processed foods to add flavor and texture, preserve them, balance acidity, and even add bulk and mass to take up more space.

And don’t forget about the added sugar in many drinks. You probably know to look out for high fructose corn syrup, but even “healthy” sweeteners like agave syrup have a high glycemic index. And if so many readily-available foods and drinks are going to spike your blood sugar, it’s no wonder nearly 1 in 3 Americans are pre-diabetic.

Again, we want to emphasize that none of this is your fault. The American food system is built on cost-efficient and available food, and too often that translates to “not nutritionally dense.” We know this is a challenge that all of our patients face, which is why we’re here to translate the science into actionable, practical measures you can take in your everyday life. We may not be able to change the system, but we can help you beat it with our precision medicine and advanced testing. Start your precision health journey today by clicking here.

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