How are you celebrating the 4th of July this year? For many people, the holiday usually involves a barbecue feast of grilled meats, beer, potato salad and other foods that don’t contribute to abundant health. This Independence Day, contemplate what it truly means to be free, including your freedom to eat junk food or nutrient-dense (mostly plant-based) natural foods that contribute to your optimal well-being.
We should all be grateful for living in a free, abundant society. Of course, we shouldn’t only recognize our freedoms on the 4th of July, but rather every day of the year.
But with most of the food supply in this country industrialized and controlled by just 10 conglomerates, it’s difficult for many people to find and afford food that contributes to health. Sadly, it’s much easier to find junk food that robs people of vitality.
For better and for worse, the American economy was in large part built upon the Horatio Alger myth: anybody can become a self-made man or woman, so long as you work hard.
When it comes to health and wellness, the same principle applies; anybody can overcome chronic health concerns so long as they work diligently at making healthy lifestyle choices. Just like Horatio Alger famously chronicled the lives of poor people who worked hard and possessed a never-quit entrepreneurial spirit to achieve a comfortable way of living, vibrant health takes a daily commitment.
The Freedom to Choose Healthy Carbs
Everybody has the freedom in this country to eat pretty much whatever their heart and stomach desires. Think about that for a second. It’s only been a blink of an eye, relatively speaking that humans have had so many food choices.
Just a couple generations ago, food choices were limited to what grew locally and in season. Nowadays, out of the three macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and dietary fats), it’s carbohydrates that, pardon the pun, takes the cake, when it comes to making or breaking your health.
You have the freedom to eat carbohydrates that are chock-full of vitamins and minerals and other phytonutrients, and provide you with long-lasting sustained energy.
Examples: quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, einkorn, teff, spelt
Or, you have the freedom to eat carbs which spike your blood sugar, create a massive release of insulin, and ultimately make you feel lethargic after the sugars get metabolized. These quick-burning carbs also can cause bloating, weight gain, and contribute to chronic metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Examples: white rice, brown rice, pasta, most types of bread, cereal, pastries, soda, juices, candy.
In this country, you also have the freedom to eat foods that have the same mouthfeel as blood-sugar spiking carbs, but have virtually no calories, carbs or sugar. That’s why Jonathan Carp, M.D. founded Miracle Noodle, to provide people with the feeling that they’re indulging in a decadent pasta meal—without the guilt. (And you don’t have to live in the U.S. to appreciate this freedom. Miracle Noodle is also sold in the UK, Canada, Italy and Sweden.)
The Freedom to Eat a Plant-Based Diet
On the 4th of July, will you be firing up the barbecue? Did you know that blackened or grilled meats contain cancer-causing compounds? The same goes for fast food burgers, which are wrapped in grease-proof packaging made from PFAS chemicals that have been linked to several serious health concerns.
You have the freedom to be a voracious meat eater and increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer. And you also have the freedom to eat a diet that overwhelmingly consists of plant-based foods.
But being vegan doesn’t grant you a guarantee of disease-free life. Even strict vegans can follow an unhealthy diet. For better or worse, the rise in vegan-friendly snacks has made it easier for people to eat less products derived from dairy and other animal sources.
So how do you know if a vegan-friendly food is healthy or not? It’s simple. If the food was around thousands of years ago, and is at most, minimally-processed it’s most likely good for you.
Think: green-leafy veggies and other salad greens; cruciferous veggies; berries; nuts; seeds; green beans; asparagus; mushrooms; zucchini; sprouts; fennel; algae and seaweed; and the healthy grains listed above.
Along with the rise in vegan-friendly options are plant-based restaurants. But again, beware if you’re going more towards a vegetarian and vegan-friendly lifestyle. Many imitation vegan foods contain problematic ingredients such as canola oil and/or other highly-inflammatory vegetable/seed oils (corn, soybean, safflower).
Perhaps Burger King’s Impossible Burger is aptly named; it’s truly impossible to make a fast food vegan burger without any inflammatory ingredients.
The moral of the story is that with so much freedom to eat out, the best choice is probably to cook at home.
The Freedom to Be Your Own Health Authority
One thing that frustrates people when it comes to health and nutrition is conflicting advice. Are eggs good or bad? Is coconut oil healthy for everyone?
You have the freedom to do the research yourself and be informed of the things that contribute to optimal health. But when one article touts one thing while another article bashes it, it’s hard to know what and who to believe.
That’s why one of the best things you can do is make sure you’re signed up for the Miracle Noodle newsletter. Dr. Carp hosts several health webinars that teach you how to be your own health authority. If you can’t make the webinars live, you’ll get an email with the recorded version.
With so many choices and so much freedom, it can be a challenge to stay on a healthy path when we’re constantly bombarded by unhealthy temptations.
This 4th of July and the 364 days that follow it, commit to the freedom to live with abundant health.