Fragmented Foods: is low-quality food and lack of nutrition education to blame for poor digestion?

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When you think of food, what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and good quality meats? Or do you conjure up images of pre-packaged breakfast cereals touting ‘whole grains,’ and processed deli meat that is meant to inhabit a bleached-out bun? Most people wouldn’t admit it, but option number two is far more prevalent than the first.

Today’s “foods” are the leading contributors to the enormous influx of gastrointestinal disorders that over twenty million Canadians[1] currently suffer from. Forget meds and surgeries—could simply eating better food solve most of our gastrointestinal problems?

Dr. John McDougall is one doctor that thinks so. In his book, Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up, he says “the food you put in your body is the single most powerful factor that determines your health and well-being.”[2] If you’ve read his book, you’ll know that he’s speaking primarily about the power good foods have on proper (or improper) digestion.

Hmmm…food for thought?

I have to admit, I have a personal vendetta against food companies that market their products as healthy, natural, and whole, only to discover them teeming with filler, additives, artificial ingredients, and preservatives; companies that go out of their way to label sugar as “organic cane sugar” or “sucrose” so that un-savvy consumers think the sugar content is lower and healthier than it actually is—and don’t even get me started on “fat-free!”

I suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for nine years before realizing I could eradicate my terrible symptoms by eating actual food instead of food-like substances—in six days. (True story—and I was a pretty healthy eater to begin with! Just not informed.) If ordinary foods have the ability to correct extraordinary digestive problems, then why aren’t we all eating the good stuff and leaving the bad foods alone (to NOT rot– haha) on the grocery store shelves?

One reason is that most of us just don’t realize that digestive issues may be related to what we eat. When talking to a doctor about your IBS or IBD or whatever chronic digestive malfunction you may be experiencing, you will almost NEVER hear that doctor ask you what you’re eating or what you’re not. Even most specialists won’t ask you those questions! Most will ask you about family history, offer you medications that have been approved for treatment (even though many of them are statistically less effective than a placebo)[3], and maybe try and book you for another appointment with different doctor who may or may not be interested in talking you into surgery. Grrr…

The second most common reason for not changing your diet when confronted with digestive problems is that food companies do such a great job of disguising crappy ingredients from the average consumer. We genuinely have no idea what we’re putting into our bodies.

(If that major company is calling this food, then its food, right? I mean, is HAS been approved by the FDA…) Etc, etc, etc.

Can we please take a step back from this mess and do our own investigative work? Once you want to, it’s easy. Being diligent about such things as reading ingredients labels (if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it), buying organic (if it’s not organic then it’s been sprayed with chemicals), and making sure you consume plenty of whole foods (non-processed—a food with one ingredient; for example, apple, oats, grass-fed beef, almonds) will ENSURE you better digestion, and in turn, better overall health.

What’s it going to be? Confusion over your tummy’s ability to cooperate with you on a regular basis? Or will you begin to take a hard look at what you’ve been putting in your mouth? Your gut is important—create a happy, healthy environment, and you will alleviate a lot of unnecessary pain and embarrassment.

Happy Father’s Day!


[2] John A. McDougall, MD. Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up. Introduction. Book Publishing Company. 2008.

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