Is Your Food Killing You or Helping You? Guest Post By Elenor Sullivan.

Elenor Sullivan, 22 year old self proclaimed nutrition guru hails from South Chicago. She is a tough as nails modern Military Spouse who proudly takes her milk raw. She holds two degrees in Theatre, which is actually how I met her; as the leading lady (Penelope) in Phillip King’s British satire “See How They Run.” I discovered she was a food snob like me the final day of the show’s run. Several of the cast and My Assistant and I went to Wiener Works (my only fast food Caveat. I heard Elenor say something I’ve said so many times I wish I had a nickel for each one. “I’m not going to get anything; I’ve already eaten meat twice this week.” I can not describe to you how much I love meeting fellow food snobs! How ironic that that we should meet in a Wiener Works of all places. I We didn’t have chance for much discussion, as she was actually editing this very paper for a class. (That’s right, she’s going for a third degree. They make them driven in South Chicago!) I skimmed the first page or so and asked if she would be interested in Guest Blogging here on The Reckless Culinarian. Hooray, she loved the idea! I’m having the hardest time coming up with content lately anyway so, it’s a win-win!

Follow her on Twitter: @elenor628

Thousands of years ago, Hippocrates, a very wise man and physician, said, “Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food.” Thanks to modern medicine, America now has more than enough medications, surgeries, and technology to stay healthy and live longer. However, there are even more people suffering from disease now more than ever. Perhaps one is just trying to lose some extra weight, fight constant fatigue, avoid allergies, end depression, or solve a digestive disorder. Or perhaps a more serious ailment is a hindering factor, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and dangerous autoimmune disorders. Shouldn’t disease be an easy fix with modern medicine and a vast knowledge of the human body? Yet, millions of people suffer every day from these common health problems. According to Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, Americans spend one dollar out of every fourteen for medical services, or over $800 billion yearly- more than the national deficit [in 1999], the food bill and the profits of all U.S. corporations combined-yet we have little to show for this tremendous drain on our resources…fewer persons are alive at 70 today survive until 90 than forty years ago”. The hidden problem is nutrition. As stated in Food Matters, “Less than 6% of practicing physicians have any nutritional training”[M1]  (Food Matters). A lack of nutritional knowledge by both American patients and their doctors is a contributing factor to many of the ailments in today’s society, which is a shame because the body can be healed with nutrition.

How do Americans eat on a day to day basis? According to, the average American consumes 86 pounds of fat per year, which is drastically different from 1970 when the average was 53 pounds per person. Since 1980, the amount of overweight Americans has nearly doubled; and in 2004, according to Supersize Me!, 100 million people are overweight or obese. More and more people are no longer cooking at home, are instead eating out, and eating processed foods. One in four Americans visits a fast food restaurant every day with 43% of these fast food patrons visiting McDonalds (Supersize Me!). Statistics like this are not surprising, because two out of every three Americans are either overweight or obese (Mercola Nutrition Plan). Therefore, almost 66% of the population is overweight. Obviously, fad diets such as low fat, low carb, no carb, no sugar, and etc. are not working! What are these people eating? How much does a fast food processed diet really hurt the body? One man decided to find out.

Morgan Spurlock conducted an experiment for 30 days eating only McDonald’s every meal under medical supervision. Before Spurlock started the diet, doctors concluded that this otherwise perfectly healthy man would gain weight and his cholesterol would go up. However, after the 30 days, this man suffered from weight gain of 24.5 pounds, his cholesterol went up 65 points, his BMI increased from 11% to 18%, he doubled his risk of heart disease, developed mood swings, was depressed and exhausted, had no sex life, experienced headaches, and pickled his liver[M2] . When the doctors began doing their tests, they were astounded with his pickled liver, which is a similar outcome to a person embarking on an alcohol binge, and informed him if he kept eating this way, he would experience liver and possibly kidney failure, then eventually death. All of these problems came from certain foods. This experiment clearly demonstrates the lack of nutritional knowledge among doctors and the dangers of consuming fast food.

People may believe that diet has no impact on one’s overall health, and they would be in good company. With only six percent of our medical doctors having formal nutrition training, why would one worry about nutrition? If the food tastes good, then it must be ok to eat, right?[M3]  Not only is that assumption incorrect, it could be a fatal assumption. Spurlock became addicted to eating fast food, in addition to gaining weight and developing many other health problems. He would experience headaches and fatigue that only subsided with the consumption of more McDonalds, which, again, shocked his medical doctors. Therefore, if eating fast food really is an addiction, is it really a surprise 25% of Americans eat at fast food restaurants every day? Or is it really a surprise that two out of three Americans are overweight?

People eat around tables; they eat with friends, in the car, on the couch, in a restaurant, and many other places. People mourn with food and celebrate with food. Food is a constant part of day to day life, especially in America, moreover, as Junger says in his book Clean, “Food is us”. Then why is it that only six percent of doctors have nutritional training[M4] ? When a doctor goes to medical school, the doctor is taught about surgeries and medication. Since there is little to no training in nutrition, during a diagnosis, why would a doctor even consider food or nutrition as the problem? Of course, a highly trained doctor would revert to his medical training and use medicine as treatment. It is a well-known fact that doctors, medical schools, clinics, hospitals, and so on are heavily funded by pharmaceutical companies. And pharmaceutical companies are just a company, and a company is designed to make money. Therefore, it would be the perfect business model to create a product that must be consumed on a daily basis by large groups of people. To top it off, it would be even better if this product was recommended by doctors and used to treat and/or prevent disease and/or death. Most people are afraid of dying, so of course they are going to use the product.

However, when one is examining the statistics, modern medicine is a top three killer in the United States, right along with cancer and cardiovascular disease (Food Matters). Modern medicine has been killing people for too many years with its failed surgeries, adverse medication reactions, and death from antibiotic resistant infections. Modern medicine is working so well, that it has actually created diseases that are immune to its modern medication and other techniques. While modern medicine is very useful if one gets injured in a car crash, or breaks a bone, modern medicine is failing to treat disease. Since food is such an integral part of life, it would be absurd to not examine it as the cause in America’s epidemic of sickness.

Processed foods are another food source for the general population. What does one see when walking into the grocery store? One sees about 47, 000 different kinds of prepackaged products. Anything that comes to mind is available at the local grocery store, cookies, cakes, ice cream, french fries, packaged dinners, and many more products. Almost all of these products are made in factories, farmed or grown at corporate farms, and handled by so many different people, it’s impossible to keep track:

There is this deliberate veil…between us and where our food is coming from. The industry doesn’t want you to know the truth about what you’re eating…you might not want to eat it…pulling back the veil looking at [the food chain], you find a factory [not a farm]…where both the workers and animals are being abused…the food has become much more dangerous in ways that are being deliberately hidden from us…which is controlled by a small group of multinational corporations. (Food, INC.)

Corporation farmed food is dangerous. If consumers knew the facts, or if people saw the way animals are treated, they wouldn’t support these companies. Probably the most upsetting part about corporation farms is not only the animals’ abuse, the workers’ abuse, the environmental abuse, or the absurd amounts of money made, it’s what corporations are doing to America’s health and the rest of the world.

Prepackaged processed food is dangerous because many people handle it, package it, and grow it but is also dangerous because of the additives in it. Ironically enough, in “diet” soda, sugar free foods, and even in multivitamins and laxatives, there is a dangerous chemical lurking, aspartame. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used by millions every day (Mercola Aspartame’s Hidden Dangers). This “sweetener” and “low calorie” sugar substitute can cause anything from birth defects to diabetes and even cancer when injected. Not to mention that consuming the artificial sweetener can even increase one’s appetite, which is so ironic it can make one’s stomach turn considering it is in almost every “diet” food or drink. It is even in chewing gum and pharmaceutical medications. Unfortunately Aspartame is only an example of one additive and its effects; there are hundreds of other additives being added to foods and other consumables every day with serious side effects that are even more dangerous than Aspartame.

It’s a well-known phrase, “You are what you eat.” If America was what it eats, it would be soy and corn. According to the Office of Chief Economist, 90.7 acres of corn and 77.4 million acres of soybeans, which comes to about 11 bushels of soybeans and 44 bushels of corn per person a year. A bushel is about 56 pounds of corn and about 60 pounds of soybeans. That means that 2,464 pounds of corn and 660 pounds of soybeans are produced every year per person in the United States. The amount of corn and soy needed for animal feed was not taken into account because as meat eaters, milk drinkers, cheese consumers, we indirectly consume these products.

Corn and soy are not only common allergens, but also contribute to an acidic pH in the body. However, this pH imbalance does not only happen in human bodies, but farm animals as well (Junger 151). When farm animals eat soybeans and corn as feed, their bodies become acidic, and an acidic pH in the body makes it very susceptible to disease, including E.coli. Food, INC. even points out that if all farm animals ate a natural, wild, pasture fed diet, E.Coli wouldn’t exist. However, due to giant corporations’ farming systems, not only is this disease found in meat, eggs, and dairy, but it is also being transferred to vegetables. And don’t be fooled by packing that says vegetarian fed. Vegetarian fed simply means the animals were fed vegetarian foods; therefore, they could be fed anything from grass, to corn, and even soy, a common allergen.

One may ask why additives are bad for the body. Why should it matter that animals are given hormones to get bigger, vegetables are ripened with chemicals, and foods are processed with dangerous chemicals? Wouldn’t the body adapt? While the body is very adaptable, it does not have the capability to adapt overnight, or even in the past century since the food industry became industrialized. During the beginning of human civilization, humans would get their food from trees, land, shorelines. Then they would hunt or fish for the remainder. Now there is an unlimited amount of food that never goes bad and can be consumed whenever. The body is not used to this type of environment. Therefore, when substances that don’t belong in the body a full blown attack is launched by the immune system. As these chemicals, additives, and artificial hormones enter they body, the body responds with attacking them, and that’s how inflammation begins.

The same process happens when an allergen is consumed. These “toxins” build up in the body which the body tries to combat them with inflammation or literally mucus. Many people don’t realize that most of their “extra weight” is likely inflammation caused by eating the average toxic American diet . People are constantly fatigued during the day. If people were to remove toxins they consume every day, there would be more energy available in the body because there is not a constant attack being launched. Therefore if the body is not launching attacks and is properly nourished, the body has more energy and resources to fight chronic and serious disease.

What is the choice then? With grocery stores in every city, where does one go to shop? The answer is a pure and simple diet. People should be eating a diet filled with vitamins and nutrients. Eating an organic, natural diet is not as hard and expensive as people may think[M5] . One just needs to look locally for their food at farmer’s markets, farms, CSA’s, and co-ops, which is usually cheaper because there is no corporate middle man. The only produce that should be consumed is seasonal produce, or during the winter, frozen and healthy canned options. It is important to remember that the more distance food travels, the more hands it goes through, and the more chemical processes it has endured in order to survive the journey.

An example of why locally grown food is healthier than store bought is eggs. When looking in the store at organic and non-organic eggs, there seems to be no difference, except for the way the eggs were farmed. However, what matters with eggs is also how they are treated after being collected. Store bought eggs, whether organic or non-organic, must comply with government regulations. Dr. Mercola explains on his natural health website that both organic eggs and non-organic eggs undergo a toxic chlorine bath. A chlorine bath damages the delicate cuticle, which protects the inside of the eggs, and therefore makes it more susceptible to contamination and spoiling. The only way to guarantee that the cuticle is not damaged is to obtain eggs from a local source where the farmer either does a dry brush technique or simply rinses the eggs with water. Natural diets are not more difficult; in fact they are easier and simple. The solution is reverting to organic foods.

“Organic” foods are nothing new. All foods pre-World War II were organic and local grown foods. One must understand there truly is a difference between organic and non-organic foods, and it is especially important when shopping at a grocery store. According to, the major difference between organic and non-organic is artificial chemicals. Instead of using pesticides, hormones, herbicides, genetically modified plants, and antibiotics, organic farms use natural farming techniques, natural fertilizers, compost and other safe environmental and human friendly practices. Adding antibiotics, as explained in Skinny Bitch, is just ridiculous; Farm animals are injected with an antibiotic or several antibiotics, which makes any human that consumes these meats an resistant to such anti-biotics. Therefore, science is fighting itself!”. It’s astonishing to discover all of the chemicals and processed changes our food undergoes.

Some may argue that there is no nutritional difference between organic and non-organic. However, when recalling the DDT chemical, no one knew it was dangerous for many years. Then it was discovered that DDT caused a wide array of chronic diseases, diabetes, and cancer. Does anyone really know how a combination of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides affects the body in the long term? Or what about the combination of growth hormones, antibiotics, and corn/soy feed on farm animal’s bodies? It would be a smarter choice to stick with natural farming that is environmentally safe and has been working since the beginning of farming. No matter what cycle the food market is following, it always reverts back to old fashioned farming habits. It should also be noted when consuming foods, raw foods are the way to go. In the Southern Medical Journal, a study using a raw diet is done with diabetic patients. Twenty-four diabetic patients were divided up into two groups. Group one was fed a high advanced glycation end products (AGE) diet and the other a low AGE diet. Environmental heat-generated AGEs are the result of overcooking, broiling, grilling, and eating charred foods. At the end of the six week study, tumor necrosis factor rose to a whopping 86.3% in the group with a high AGE level and declined 20% in the low AGE group. Among other statistics were CPR and low density lipid protein, or cholesterol, increased in the high AGE group and those same levels decreased in the low level AGE group. Having high levels of tumor necrosis is associated with cancer, low density lipid protein is LDL cholesterol, and CPR is C-reactive protein, which rises during inflammation in the body. These high levels should be avoided at all costs.

A little known fact is that chronic disease can be prevented and cured with nutrition and vitamins. In the Indian Journal of Psychiatry‘s article “Understanding Nutrition, Depression, and Mental Illnesses.” it is pointed out that there is a connection between nutrition and depression. Some of the most common mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder are caused by a deficiency in different nutrients, but most importantly essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Nutritional supplements and treatments are being used to fight these common disorders and they are better than their medical counterparts, antidepressants. All prescription drugs have some side effects, and antidepressants have their fair share. One side effect is depression, suicidal thoughts, and even suicide. Wait a minute? A medication creating a symptom it was made to prevent? Sounds like a scam! In fact in 2008, two-thirds of adolescents admitted in the ER for drug related suicide attempts were taking an anti-depressant, and three-fourths of young adults admitted for the same were taking an antidepressant (“Study Looks at ER Visits Involving Antidepressants |SAMHSA News”). Taking an anti-depressant seems pretty risky. There is evidence connecting Asian countries with low levels of disease, mainly mental disorders. It is a fact that a diet high in seafood contains a plethora Omega-3 fatty acids. This wards off disease.

A study done at a California state hospital in the 1970’s showed how much progress can be made with mental patients using orthomolecular treatment, which is a type of treatment using nutrients, vitamins, and hormones (“Orthomolecular Medicine,” ACS). Elizabeth LeClair conducted a trial with six men, all of whom were diagnosed with severe mental disorders such a schizophrenia and paranoia. Three out of the six men were in constant restraints due to the danger of them hurting themselves or others. Each week these men were given dosages of niacin and ascorbic acid, and the dosages increased a gram every week, up to 15g of niacin. They also took their regularly prescribed dosage of tranquilizers. Before the trail, none of the men were improving. However, after the treatment continued each patient significantly improved. The average hospitalization went from 4.8 months to 2.5 months. After the patients were discharged, four out of the six were completely off of the tranquilizers and still continuing their niacin and ascorbic acid. Then, after six months, only one out of the six was still on tranquilizers. However, the dosage was much smaller than when in the hospital previous to the study. To further reinforce this point, five out of six of the men stayed on their multi-vitamin and didn’t come back to the hospital and continued to live a normal life. Additionally, the one who did not continue the treatment was hospitalized three times in ten months. Is there any doubt that vitamins, nutrition, and natural therapy are the way to go?

There needs to be a change with more and more people dying every year from chronic disease, cancer, mental disorders, side effects, botched surgeries, infections, food poisoning, and much more. The current habits of Americans are not working and failure results in death. These changes are easy, however, just simplifying things and reverting to natural practices. Doctors and patients both need to gain more nutritional knowledge in order to reverse the epidemic hitting America today. People need to stand up for what’s healthy and right to make a change which will benefit them for the rest of their life. Changes like this will continue to benefit the environment and generations to come. [M6] 

Works Cited

“Exposure to DDT Poses Serious Health Risks –” News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USA Today, 2 May 2010. Web. 29 June 2011. <>.

Fallon, Sally, Mary G. Enig, Kim Murray, and Marion Dearth. Nourishing Traditions: the Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Washington, DC: NewTrends Pub., 2001. Print.

Fong RD, Bethany. “Daily American Diet | LIVESTRONG.COM.” LIVESTRONG.COM – Lose Weight & Get Fit with Diet, Nutrition & Fitness Tools. Livestrong, 1 July 2010. Web. 22 June 2011. <>.

Food, Inc. Dir. Robert Kenner. By Robert Kenner, Kim Rogers, and Elise Pearlstein. Perf. Michael Pollan. Magnolia Pictures, 2008. DVD.

Food Matters. Dir. James Colquhoun and Carlo Ledesma. By Laurentine Ten Bosch. Perf. Ian Brighthope. 2008. DVD.

Freedman, Rory, and Kim Barnouin. Skinny Bitch: a No-nonsense, Tough-love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! Philadelphia: Running, 2005. Print.

Johnson, Donna B. “Public Health Nutrition Practice in the United States.” General OneFile. Gale, 2001. Web. 19 June 2011.

Junger, Alejandro. Clean: the Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself. San Francisco: HarperOne, 2009. Print.

LeClair, Elizabeth R. A Report on the Use of Orthomolecular Therapy in a California State Hospital. Rep. San Bernardino, CA, 1972. Print.

Mayo Clinic Staff. “Organic Foods: Are They Safer? More Nutritious?” Nutrition and Healthy Eating. Mayo Clinic, 2011. Web. 29 June 2011. <>.

Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “Achieve Independent Health With My Nutrition Plan: Getting Started.” Natural Health Information Articles and Health Newsletter by Dr. Joseph Mercola., Jan. 2011. Web. 22 June 2011. <>.

Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “Are Organic Eggs Safer?” Natural Health Articles – Latest and Current Health News and Information by Dr. Mercola. Mercola, 14 Sept. 2010. Web. 29 June 2011. <>.

Mercola, Dr. Joseph. “Aspartame’s Hidden Dangers.” Natural Health Information Articles and Health Newsletter by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Mercola, 2011. Web. 19 June 2011. <>.

Office of the Chief Economist. World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates. Rep. no. 1554-9089. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture, 2011. Print.

“Orthomolecular Medicine.” American Cancer Society :: Information and Resources for Cancer: Breast, Colon, Prostate, Lung and Other Forms. American Cancer Society, 28 Nov. 2008. Web. 29 June 2011.


Rakel, David P., and Adam Rindfleisch. “Inflammation: Nutritional, Botanical, and Mind-body Influences.” Southern Medical Journal (2005): 303-11. General OneFile. Web. 7 June 2011.

Sathyanarayana, T. Rao, M. Asha, B. Ramesh, and K. Rao Jagannatha. “Understanding Nutrition, Depression, and Mental Illness.” Indian Journal of Physhiatry (2008): 77. Academic OneFile. Web. 6 June 2011.

“Study Looks at ER Visits Involving Antidepressants |SAMHSA News.” The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Homepage. SAMHSA, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 29 June 2011.


Super Size Me. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Cameo, 2005. DVD.

NOTE: This research article is the Property of Elenor Sullivan, and does not fall under my Creative Commons License. She retains all rights to redistribution and reproduction.


Posted on July 8, 2011, in Food For Thought. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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