Julia Lupine

People are always asking me to prove myself when they notice my eating habits vary considerably from the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).

“What’s wrong with chicken?” they ask suspiciously, when I turn down a piece of barbecued chicken from the deli at City Market. “Are you a vegetarian?” Well, I tell them, since you ask, most commercial barbecue sauce contains high fructose corn syrup (HFCS for short), a sugar made from genetically modified corn using a process as chemically complex as making crystal meth. HFCS is usually contaminated with mercury, and is known to contribute to diabetes, A.D.D., obesity and fatigue. It is found in many processed foods, from ketchup to soda to crackers. And HFCS is only one of thousands of additives that have never been intended for human consumption. Hydrogenated oils, MSG, artificial colors and aspartame are some of the others that are vital to avoid.

“But there’s so much to remember!” people sigh in frustration when I explain this stuff. “How can I possibly keep track of all the stuff that’s supposed to be bad for me?” Yes, it is a lot to remember. Our animal brains are not designed to process vast amounts of information when preparing for a Big Feed. They are designed to select food based on how it appears to our senses (which do not read the fine print). Luckily, I’ve come up with a simple, condensed version of what these processed foodlike substances do to our bodies.

Basically, all disease is a form of congestion. It may take the form of nasal congestion (globs of sticky mucus gumming up your nasal passages because of food allergies), constipation (remember mixing flour and water to make papier-mâché? Well, white flour does the same thing to your intestines. It sticks around for years, collecting bits of undigested food that fester for years and leak toxins into your bloodstream), or liver congestion (toxins build up in the liver faster than it can filter them out). Heart disease is caused by a congestion of fat in the arteries, mostly trans-fat (hydrogenated oils, like margarine) that are made in a lab and are not digestible by the body.

Picture a Big Mac in your stomach. It stagnates there for hours, churning and bubbling like a witch’s brew of meat and chemicals. How do you feel after eating this? Probably you have a headache or a stomachache. It’s all due to congestion.

Congestion can also occur on a mental level. Picture a person who’s stuck in the life they are not meant to live. Day after day they have the same routine, watch the same shows on television, think the same thoughts. They are unable to change because their minds are stuck. Sometimes stimulating herbs like ginkgo, which get the blood flowing to the brain, can help with mental congestion. Other times a change of diet is warranted, or exercise, or a change of scenery and some fresh air. Put simply, congestion/ stagnation causes disease. Movement facilitates health.

A natural diet is not conducive to congestion. As any old-timer will gladly tell you, “If you eat your fiber, you’ll stay regular.” Healthy fats (such as those found in nuts, avocados, and grass-fed beef) are burned by the body as energy and do not stick to your artery walls. Herbs are an especially powerful way to get things moving, and there are different herbs to address different types of congestion. For example, ginger and yarrow get your blood moving. Yellow dock “keeps you regular.” Mullein helps you cough up phlegm from your lungs.

But feeding your body with artificially created fats, sugars and chemicals is like stuffing hair down a shower drain. Stuff’s gonna get clogged. Eventually, whether it’s right away or 50 years from now, some type of disease (due to congestion) will be the result. The simple solution for good health is to eat a variety of plants and animals that we, animals ourselves, are designed to eat.

Julia Lupine is the author of “Road Dogs” and “Yellowstoned: A Sideways Look at Yellowstone.”

… Feeding your body with artificially created fats, sugars and chemicals is like stuffing hair down a shower drain. Stuff’s gonna get clogged.