Back to Basics–The Traditional Wisdom of Eating for Health and Healing
Back to Basics–The Traditional Wisdom of Eating for Health and Healing

By Emma Suttie

Humans have made incredible advances in understanding when it comes to the human body and the etiology of many modern diseases. Yet despite our progress, we seem to be in the midst of a growing number of health epidemics that are increasingly affecting our children.

Despite a significant drop in childhood mortality rates in the last 100 years due to advances such as improved sanitation and antibiotics, children in 2023 face new threats to their health. Some of the culprits are an increasingly toxic environment, pollutants in our water supply, electromagnetic fields, an ever-increasing number of childhood vaccines, lack of physical exercise, and chemically laden food.

Although the decline in our children’s health is a complex topic involving multiple factors, eating a healthy diet is one way we can prevent, reverse, and improve many diseases.

At a recent conference in Orlando, Florida, Mandy Blume gave a lecture on the powerful ways that foods can heal us.

Mandy Blume has a master’s of science in nutrition, has spent the last 15 years volunteering in foster group homes, helping children regain their health, and is the mother of an autistic child. She founded Real Food Recovery and is author of the best-selling GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) cookbook by the same name, “Real Food Recovery.” Ms. Blume practices nutrition at Docs Outside the Box, an organization that offers holistic, urgent, and primary care in St. Petersburg, Florida. She spoke at the Documenting Hope Conference representing the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a resource for information and research about nutrition based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price—a dentist who lived from 1870 to 1948. In his quest to find the cause of dental cavities and physical degeneration, Dr. Price traveled the world and discovered that people living on traditional diets had straight teeth, free of decay, and excellent overall health. Dr. Price also observed that when modern diets, which included processed foods like refined flour and sugar were introduced, cavities developed and health declined. He is author of the book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.”

To illustrate the problem, Ms. Blume shared statistics on various diseases in children. One of which was that 32 million children (43 percent) in the United States have at least one chronic health condition of 20 that were assessed. Additionally, 45 percent of children with any one of those 20 conditions had more than one condition. This means that 19.6 percent, or one in five of all children from birth to seventeen years have at least two of the chronic health conditions the study assessed. These statistics were taken from the American Pediatric Journal in 2011, meaning the numbers are likely much higher now.

Ms. Blume explained that food—something we put into our bodies every day—represents the best way to strengthen our bodies and reclaim our health. The foods we eat can heal us, and conversely, can make us sick. Many of our modern diseases can be attributed to lifestyle, which is something we can control by making informed, healthy food choices—vital to keeping ourselves robust and avoiding disease.

Sugar

Sugar is omnipresent in the standard American diet, is highly addictive, and detrimental to health—especially the health of children. It is also implicated in numerous chronic health conditions. A 2023 study published in the British Medical Journal found that excess sugar consumption significantly increased the risk of 45 negative health outcomes including gout, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, heart attack, strokes, and cancer.

Ms. Blume discussed the dramatic increase in sugar consumption in the last century, saying that 100 years ago, people consumed an average of 25 pounds of sugar per year, and that Americans now consume an average of 14 pounds of sugar a month—or 168 pounds a year. And although some people are not eating nearly that amount of sugar every month, others are consuming far more than the average. Sugar stored at a sugar mill and ethanol manufacturing plant, Minas Gerais, Brazil. (T photography/Shutterstock)

Offering options for better choices, Ms. Blume uses the example of orange juice, which most people think is a healthy choice because it contains vitamin C needed for healing and a strong immune system. She explains that most orange juice contains the equivalent of around 13 teaspoons of sugar (when at max we should have daily is nine teaspoons), and the beneficial fiber of the orange is missing—so a far better option would be to eat an orange and drink a glass of water. This healthier option only has the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of sugar.

For healthier options to white sugar, Ms. Blume recommends raw local honey, pure maple syrup (grade B), molasses, and stevia to satisfy your sweet tooth.

It is also vital to read the ingredients on products you buy as sugar is added to many products you might not associate with sugar, such as condiments, salad dressings, and prepared foods.

Healing With Foods

The good news is that even though many foods we eat can lead to disease and debility, choosing the right ones can detoxify and heal us. Diet has been shown again and again to prevent, reverse, and improve many diseases. Food can be a powerful medicine, depending on our educated choices.

Eating a healthy diet is particularly important for children’s growth and development. Optimum nutrition has also been shown to have healing effects on children with health challenges such as autism. In a systematic review, a GFCF diet was shown to benefit children with autism spectrum disorder. The diet was shown to reduce stereotypical behaviors associated with the condition as well as improving cognition.

In another meta-analysis, a high-protein diet was found to improve risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease in those with Type 2 diabetes.

Ms. Blume recommends limiting or avoiding processed foods as they have high levels of sodium, chemicals, and processed sugars. She also notes that companies use the cheapest ingredients to maximize profits and spend millions researching how to use chemicals to stimulate the brain to make their products more addictive and suppress the appetite so you eat more.

The recommendations Ms. Blume shares are ones she uses in her home and at the group homes where she works with sick children—saying she sees noticeable results after about two weeks. Her philosophy is to keep your food as close to the way God made it as possible and:

  • Read the ingredients on any packaged food.
  • Buy local—from farmers or farmers markets.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store (where the fresh food is).
  • Try to shop at grocery stores that support local farmers/growers.
Shopping at your local farmer’s market is a great way to eat fresh foods that are local and in season. (Sharon Vanorny/Courtesy of Destination Madison)

Ms. Blume went on to discuss the foods that benefit our health. An abbreviated list of her recommendations includes:

  • Fats: Animals fats, and from milk, cream, butter, yogurt, and kefir (if they are tolerated), coconut milk, and avocado.
  • Soup stock: After dinner, simmer your leftovers overnight and make soup in the morning with the stock—it’s very healing.
  • Water: A good way to start your day is to add a pinch of mineral salt to a glass of water.
  • Protein: Fish, beef, poultry, cheese, and nuts.
  • Meats and animal products: Grass-fed animals contain more Omega-3s. Beef has the most, then poultry, then eggs); wild-caught fish like salmon, mackerel, and haddock have the most Omega-3s; organ meat is the most nutrient-dense and can be added to other foods, or you can make it into pâté.
  • Leafy green vegetables.
  • Fermented and cultured foods: Yogurt, cheese, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi.

We ultimately have control over our health, especially when it comes to food—and the overall message is that choosing nourishing foods can heal any number of health concerns. Thankfully, resources abound for making delicious meals that the whole family will love that can also boost your nutrition.

If you have a child with health challenges, knowing where to start can be overwhelming—excellent websites to explore are Ms. Blume’s Real Food Recovery, and the Weston A. Price Foundation to help get your little one on the road to recovery.

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