by Karen Ranzi, MA
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “Childhood obesity has been called ‘one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century,’ and with good reason. Obesity can harm nearly every system in a child’s body—heart and lungs, muscles and bones, kidneys and digestive tract, as well as the hormones that control blood sugar and puberty—and can also take a heavy social and emotional toll. What’s worse, youth who are overweight or obese have substantially higher odds of remaining overweight or obese into adulthood, increasing their risk of disease and disability later in life.”
As Western fast foods, including factory-farmed animal foods and processed foods, are replacing traditional foods in developing countries, obesity rates continue to soar worldwide. Inhabitants of many nations are experiencing unprecedented rates of debilitating chronic diseases that are inextricably linked to obesity, thanks to current commercial Western eating policies and choices.
According to FRAC, Food Research and Action Center, “Obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970s (National Center for Health Statistics, 2009).”
Whereas weight loss diets don’t work in the long run, improved nutrition through a raw vegan lifestyle offers lifelong health benefits, including ideal weight. Life in our foods communicates with life in us, but, unfortunately, this vital aspect is lost once foods are heated and processed.
White, refined foods are addictive—their eaters will endlessly eat more, hoping to find that satisfying spark of life that is no longer there. It was destroyed in these foods, ironically, to give them a longer shelf life.
Children will not be obese when their parents uphold a strong conviction about the benefits of fresh raw vegan foods. These parents will teach the health promoting aspects of fresh fruits, leafy greens, sprouts and vegetables to their children. When foods are whole, ripe, fresh and organic, they contain vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that satisfy us. We’ll benefit from the essential fiber that keeps us feeling full, but this will never be an incapacitating full feeling such as that following a standard holiday dinner. Remember that unpleasant full feeling after big cooked holiday meals? But now, after fresh raw vegan meals, there’s no longer the sensation of having an overstuffed stomach. Now, feeling full simply means satisfied—energetic.
Animal foods are devoid of fiber, but the essential fiber, contained in all fresh vegan foods, has powerful cleansing benefits. When food is refined, processed and denatured in packages, its nutritive characteristics are sadly no longer intact. The eater will not feel satisfied, and the feeling of craving something else will linger. In an attempt to obtain essential nutrients, the craving for more will persist, but refined foods will always lack what the body needs—overeating of nutritionally empty foods ensues and becomes habitual.
Such “empty” eating habits result in vitamin/mineral deficiencies and obesity. In addition to being unaesthetic, obesity lays the groundwork for myriad diseases.
Whenever there is excess body fat, there is an accumulation of toxins in the fat cells that must be diluted in water. The fat cells thus become bloated and heavy, and all bodily functions become more difficult, resulting in diseases based solely on eating disorders. In reality, the disorder is nothing more than eating empty foods that have been destroyed by heat, chemicals and many processing techniques before arriving on the plate. Paradoxically, the obesity victim is really starving for nutrients found only in fresh vegan foods.
Commercial interests selling acrylamide, a carcinogenic plastic resulting from high temperatures in contact with foods that are fried, baked or roasted, further facilitate excess fat gain. A study done at the University of Stockholm, Sweden in 2002 demonstrated the toxic effects of high cooking temperatures. For example, potatoes when cooked at high temperatures in boiling oil get coated with the potent cancer-causing plastic compound called acrylamide, especially prevalent in French fries or chips. Acrylamide, easily recognized by the golden brown surface on foods, combined with the polyunsaturated oils used in cooking with canola, soybean, safflower, corn and other seed and nut oils, produce toxic amounts of free radicals, causing aging, inflammation, fat gain and cancer.
In her article, “Turning Up the Heat on Acrylamide,” in the FDA Consumer Magazine (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), January – February 2003, Linda Bren explains: “Acrylamide was not found in uncooked or boiled food – studies indicate that it appears to form during certain high-temperature (greater than 250 degrees Fahrenheit) cooking processes, such as frying and baking, and that levels of acrylamide increase with heating time. Acrylamide is classified as a potential human carcinogen, as well as a genotoxicant, a substance that can mutate and damage genetic material.”
Animal foods contain cholesterol, which with time builds up to clog blood vessels. Leafy greens, vegetables, sprouts and fruit are 100% cholesterol-free. Since our livers make all the cholesterol we need, there is no dietary requirement for cholesterol. Animal fat is solid at body temperature, whereas fruit and vegetable fat is liquid. Unfortunately, obese children are clogging their arteries, laying the foundation for future diseases that are unknown in countries where people remain, fortunately, too poor to eat animals and their byproducts.
The milk of the different species varies in protein and fat content according to how fast the infant of that species grows. The bovine calf grows four times faster than the human baby, which explains why cow milk is 20% protein and human mother’s milk is only 5–6% protein—a true indication that cow milk is meant for calves, not for humans. Cow milk is meant to grow a calf into a 1000-pound plus animal. Is that what we should be doing to humans?
Even vegan children become obese when white foods are eaten: white flour, refined sugar, salt, white potatoes, starchy, sugary refined cereals, white rice, crackers, breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, etc. Baking and frying require high temperatures. Not only are the heated oils and shortening toxic to the point of becoming carcinogenic, the resultant acrylamide (a deadly golden brown plastic), albeit crunchy to taste, becomes yet another toxin that gets stored in the fat cells and must be diluted with water and held in solution – hence obesity.
Refined sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup and aspartame absorbed by means of guzzling sodas, whether diet or regular, cause an inflammatory response, preventing weight loss.
When the precepts of fresh plant nutrition are fully lived, obesity will no longer be an epidemic; it will be impossible.
Bren, Linda. “Turning Up the Heat on Acrylamide.” FDA Consumer Magazine, January – February 2003.
Ranzi, Karen. Creating Healthy Children. Ramsey, NJ: SHC Publishing, 2010.
Award-winning author, international lecturer, raw food coach and chef, Karen Ranzi is the author of Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods and Raw Vegan Recipe Fun for Families.