|Whole foods contain active enzymes and
complex, living microbiomes
Most health and wellness experts agree whole foods are the best source of nutrition. Yet here in the US, we support an enormous dietary supplement industry. Why? Why do consumers buy supplements that provide one or a few nutrients at a time, instead of buying whole foods that provide everything they need? Do we prefer swallowing pills over eating dinner? Or are truly “whole” foods too hard to come by in the United States? The complete answer includes many factors, but today I will focus on the availability of whole foods. It is time we admit that most Americans simply do not have access to foods that contain complete nutrition. Now, this statement suggests we, as Americans, are food insecure. I know many readers will argue with this concept. To some, it seems preposterous. After all, most Americans live within reasonable distances of a store they can enter and purchase foods some would define as “whole.” When measured as a percentage of their total income, most Americans would pay less for these foods than people in other countries pay. We have a tremendous variety of foods available. The produce aisles in typical supermarkets contain apples, grapes, bananas, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and more. We can buy eggs defined as fresh, we can buy meats, fish, milk that is legally labeled “whole”, and more. Even many nutritionists would consider these foods “whole.” But I cannot consider these foods whole, because in my mind, a whole food is a food that contains the entire complement of nutrients, enzymes, and microorganisms that are associated with whole foods in nature. Whole foods contain active enzymes and complex microbiomes. Let’s elaborate:
|Microorganisms, like the marine phytoplankton shown
here, reside in communities called ‘microbiomes that form
the foundation of all food systems. Microbes even live inside
the cells of larger plants and animals.
Take, for example, an apple. In the natural world, the apple would be filled with, and surrounded by, most of these would be beneficial or incidental microbes that help render the “germs” inactive. Each of these microbes would contain unique nutrients, genes, and enzymes that an apple tree alone simply cannot synthesize. These living microbes, along with their genes and enzymes, would contribute to the flavor, nutrition, and disease resistance of the apple. When you ate such an apple, these microbes would provide you with vitamins, nutrients, and biomolecules that would interact with nutrients and enzymes in your own body to support metabolism and detox. They would strengthen your immune system, and work with it to defend your body from an overabundance of disease causing organisms or conditions. Some of them might even take up residence in your intestines, where they themselves would synthesize nutrients and and support digestion long after the apple itself was gone and forgotten.
endophytic and epiphytic microbes (microbes that live in and on plants). Even in a healthy system, a small minority of these would be the bad guys we view as “germs.” But
However, in the world of industrialized agriculture and food processing, we treat our soils, our crops, and our harvested foods with synthetic chemicals and mechanical processes that drastically disrupt the balance and function of these natural microbial communities, or micro-biomes. Furthermore, we rely on elimination procedures (sterilization, pasteurization, or chemical disinfectants and antibiotics), rather than nutritional and ecological balancing, to protect ourselves from foodborne diseases. These choices result in widespread distribution of foods that appear whole, but lack much of the nutrition necessary to support our health. The cost of these decisions is high. We live in a country that is being crippled by chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease that are associated with inadequate nutrition. Half of our adult population is sick (see this overview from the Centers for Disease Control), and growing numbers of experts recognize disruption of microbiomes as a contributing factor.
The good news is that restoring your own microbiome can be safe, natural, and affordable. The logical approach is to reduce your own use of synthetic chemicals and start eating whole foods. You will want to reduce your use of synthetic chemicals because they typically create imbalance, supporting a few kinds of microbes while killing many others. Obviously, you will want to discuss this with a health care professional, preferably one who understands microbial ecology and microbiomes, before altering your use of prescription drugs. By eating a complex diet complete with the nutrients present in hundreds to thousands of unique species of microbes, you can attract and retain microbes from your surrounding environment that naturally restore your microbiome. Here are some good ways to get the whole foods you need.
- The first, and best way is to eat a variety of locally grown organic foods. One reason we support the development of 21st century Victory Gardens is because when families become competent at growing their own organic fruits and vegetables, fresh whole produce is both accessible and affordable. When foods are grown organically in a well managed soil, they attract natural microbiomes that support health. These plants consistently prove to be more nutritious and more flavorful than plants that have been treated with chemicals, shipped long distances, and stored for long periods of time. Farmer’s markets can also help connect consumers with producers of local organic foods.
- The second way is to consume products that contain marine phytoplankton. I’m not talking about individual species of phytoplankton. I’m talking about entire communities, or “microbiomes” of marine phytoplankton. Cultivated historically for use in the shellfish industry, marine phytoplankton forms the foundation of all oceanic food systems. Increasingly recognized as a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids, marine phytoplankton is increasingly recognized for its importance to land dwellers as well. (See Kang et. al. Biotechnology advances. 2011;29(4):388-390)
A company that has pioneered the distribution of dietary quality marine phytoplankton products is ForeverGreen Worldwide Corporation. The reader needs to know that I use and distribute ForeverGreen products. I chose to do so because I understand the nutritional value of their marine phytoplankton formula, and I understand the widespread need for more complete, whole foods nutrition. Now that the disclosure is clear, I will devote the remainder of this article to details that explain why the marine phytoplankton ForeverGreen provides creates a standard against which similar products may be difficult to compare.
The video above, which I believe was produced by ForeverGreen International, highlights the origins of their marine phytoplankton. Though I’ve never tasted Tom Harper’s phytoplankton paste directly, I suspect that ForeverGreen’s formulas make the phytoplankton little tastier than the concentrated paste Tom Harper consumed.
Phytoplankton don’t surrender their nutrients easily, so ForeverGreen also subjects the marine phytoplankton to a proprietary procedure, using GMP practices carried out in a facility that is licensed and certified by Health Canada, to breaks down the phytoplankton cell walls, making the nutrients more available. Production includes quality controls that ensure the product is free of contaminating pathogens, toxins, and heavy metals. The final alpha3 CMP marine phytoplankton mixture is an ingredient in several ForeverGreen and FG Xpress products, including the globally distributed PowerStrips and SolarStrips, the beverages FrequenSea and Azul, and the dietary supplement, Pure. While PowerStrips and SolarStrips are available anywhere a greeting card can be sent, FrequenSea, Azul, and Pure are available throughout North America, and in a growing list of other countries.