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Packaged By Nature

A while ago I watched an interesting documentary called SuperSize Me. In the movie, director Morgan Spurlock, decides to do a macabre experiment whereby he ate nothing but McDonalds for a whole month. Now some of you who love the taste of a Big Mac may be saying how cool but before you reach for the fries and coke I implore you to check out the movie.

It raises some interesting social and health issues which I encourage you to explore.

There is no doubt that the pace of modern life is increasing. It has been estimated that by the time a child reaches 6th grade they have been exposed to more information than their grandparents were in their entire lifetime. With the pace increasing we have unfortunately become a fast food nation.

In 1970 Americans spent about $6 billion on fast foods. By 2001 that had grown to a massive $110 billion annually. In fact, it has been estimated that today fully 50 cents in every dollar spent on food is spent on fast foods. That is an alarming shift in our dietary spending.

This shift does not come without a price; and when it comes to our health and nutrition we are paying a high price indeed. Unfortunately, Australia is challenging the United States to become the fattest nation on earth. (Sidebar - recently Australia was actually "diagnosed" as being the fattest nation in the western world based on using the Body Mass Index...the measure has it's own pitfalls however it is a stark reminder of how we as a nation are increased in girth).

The number of adult Australians that are obese (i.e massively overweight) is about 3.3 million people, which is just under the population of Melbourne. Think about it, if all the obese people of Australia were to live together it would take a city the size of Melbourne just to house them. To make matters worse if you add in the people who were overweight but not obese we would need to find room for another 5.6 million people.

If you do the maths that means almost 9 million Australians are overweight or obese.

What about the children?

Surely they are better informed and therefore should be arresting these sickening statistics.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with our kids getting bigger by the year. A recent report has shown that 27.5% of primary aged children are overweight or obese. That has belatedly forced the Governments to recently ammend school policy to discourage unhealthy eating practices and increase the level of physical activity.

One of the reasons for this increase in girth, as well as the health & social costs associated with obesity, is that 90% of the money Americans spend on food goes towards processed foods. Now whilst I don't have the exact figure for Australia's consumption of processed foods it is reasonable to estimate that it would be almost identical.

When it comes to food it is important to remember that when it was originally packaged by Mother Nature it came with all the goodness, energy and nutrition that our bodies needed.

More people die in Western societies from too much food as opposed to too little food. We are becoming overfed but undernourished. That is whilst we are eating foods that contain an abundance of calories these same foods are supplying us with a meager amount of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.

Natural, whole foods have evolved over millions of years to provide us with energy, fibre, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and co-factors in exactly the right combination to help us achieve maximum absorption and optimal hormonal balance.

However, over the last 60 years, man in an attempt to get food produced faster, cheaper and with a longer shelf life for mass consumption, has negatively altered this delicate balance. Given this fact we challenge you to start to reduce the amount of processed foods that you eat.

We challenge you to write down a list of the Top 7 foods that you eat regularly now and determine whether these provide you with any nutritional value.

Now next to these write down the Top 7 Bad Food Choices and then write down 7 Healthier alternatives for each one.

Over the next 21 days we challenge you to replace the bad foods with better, healthier food choices.

Attempt to consume as many natural whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible (with the exception of some vegetables like potatoes which are better eaten cooked) to help ensure that you get a healthy supply of essential nutrients just the way Mother Nature intended.

The healthier you eat, the more energy you will have, the better you will feel and look and even perform better at school!

Yours in Better Health,

Dr Matt

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