Interview with dr Grażyna Pająk
Biologist, nature therapist, immune-dietician, Diet Coach, member of Slow Food International, psycho-dietician, obesitologist, Health Coach
G.O. : What do we eat now comparing to the food that was eaten by our grandparents ?
G.P. : In Poland and in the world we have changed our food completely over the last 50 years. Tens of years ago the animals were grazed on the pastures, they ate grass and were moving around natural environment. Today they more often are closed in the big industrial farms, they stand on concrete without the access to sunlight and nature – for instance because of that the composition of meat is different now. The same concerns plants – when years ago I started my studies at the Agricultural University we were talking only about the cultivation of plants. Today we can talk also about the artificial cultivation which has a great influence on their composition.
G.O. : How did the composition of food changed in the last decades ?
G.P. : Well, we entered the age of grand food processing with a body structure of our grandparents. By the intensive cultivation, monocultures, artificial fertilizers, herbicides, new technologies, etc. the food composition has changed completely. For example, for centuries the plants growing in nature and animals farmed ecologically with access to sunlight and nature produced in their cells appropriate proportions of omega 3 acids – to omega 6 and the proportion of those acids was 1:3, sometimes 1:4 and it was the healthiest proportion. Currently the researches indicate that in the food produced using the new techniques this proportion is 1:19 or even 1:25. So for one particle of omega-3 acid we have from nineteen to twenty-five particles of omega-6 acids. This unnatural surplus of omega-6 acids is the cause of inflammations in the body and it blocks the absorption of omega-3 acids. But that is not all, over the years the quantity of the basic food products that we have in our shops increased from 500 to 50 000. The consumption doubled and the new and unknown before, harmful processed refined plant oils appeared. The consumption of the purified carbohydrates and sugar increased by over 250% and the daily consumption of the glucose-fructose syrup increased from 1 g to 75 g. Only less than 100 years ago the seeds, full quality groats, vegetables, wild fruit constituted 60% in a diet, today it is only 20%. As you can see the modern mass production and sales of food is strongly disordered. Additionally, an unaware customer looks more at the name of a product and not the balanced composition, as it used to be before.
G.O. : We are talking about the composition of food that is the result of the methods of producing food. What is the biggest sin of the industrial food production ?
G.P. : The disorders of the nutritional value begin already on the seeds level because many times they are genetically modified and those modifications are beneficial only for the manufacturers. Secondly, the industrial production is based on monoculture so for years they grow the same plant species what disrupts the natural cycle of soil regeneration. Even in the medieval ages people used a primitive triple cropping that let the soil regenerate. The monoculture in growing plants in the natural environment is not effective so the manufacturers support it with artificial fertilizers to increase harvest and they use pesticides and herbicides to protect it. It is not all because the way of storing and processing plant products is also supported by chemical substances in order to get the product with a given flavor and taste, a long expiration date and low price. Unfortunately the same is with the animal farming – it is also based on monoculture, the mass production is supported by antibiotics and growth hormones as well as the newest technologies and many additions and preservatives.
G.O. : So how many chemical substances do we eat every year ?
G.P. : In 1990 The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that an average consumer eats about 2,5 kg of chemical substances (connected to producing and processing food) a year. I was shocked when I imagined over two kilograms of flour where every dust attacks a cell in my body which is much smaller. More than ten years later I came across a research that stated that along with an available food we eat 7,5 – 10 kg of chemical substances every year /Toks. – 20014/. Currently in the EU we add about 170 000 tons of aromas , the most of which is not examined for the influence on our body. As a result we eat around 20 – 30 grams of artificial chemical substances daily.
G.O. : Do those kilograms include sugar ?
G.P. : They don’t. I am talking only about the substances such as the remains of the pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, animal antibiotics, preservatives, flavor enhancers, aromas, colorants, etc. Sugar is a different topic. We can assume that in the last 25 years we 4-5 times increased the dose of chemical substances in food for which we pay to eat and then we pay to treat its side effects. Already Hippocrates said “you are what you eat” and “we never understand what is disease until we know what is nutrition”. It is because almost all the civilization illnesses can be treated combining medicine with a good, valuable food, what is confirmed by many research institutes around the world.
G.O. : How can we avoid chemical substances in food ?
G.P. : The are few ways, but the most important is to think about food not as of a ready product but as of a nutrition. When we go to the supermarket we are usually influenced by pushy commercials, pretty packaging and deceptive prices. A good product doesn’t have to be expensive. We should look for the natural products, fresh intermediate products with which we can compose healthy meals. Let’s be careful when the food in unnaturally beautiful, too clean, symmetrical, with an exquisite durability or is very cheap or available outside season, because something is not right. Let’s read the labels, buy healthy products and not the names of the products that are usually only scams. For example, cream or yoghurt should consist only of milk and bacterial cultures and all the additions such as preservatives, gels, gums or colorants are unnecessary and sometimes harmful. In order to eat healthily we should avoid the valueless, highly processed products – they are really unhealthy and expensive.
G.O. : Is the organic food a solution? Does it support us and protect from illnesses ?
G.P. : The ecological food is what we were used to for centuries. The natural products created using for example a natural manure, the crop rotation, the low-processing and without any preservatives are the most beneficial for our health. Unfortunately, we are lost in the commercialization and dishonesty of the manufacturers. Most commonly, when the food starts to be manufactured in a mass scale, the composition and quality change. The ecological certificate of a leaf that appears on the packaging of the ecological food should be a permit to check its quality. For example for a long time on the market near my office there was a stall with ecological strawberries. After checking them I recommended them to my patients, especially mothers with children. After a while it turned out that the seller started to get supply from the industrial manufacturers, but the sign of “ecological food” was still at the stall. That is why it is necessary to be careful not to pay for the expensive, organic food.
G.O. : What happens to a body that is bombed every day with dozens of grams of chemical substances ?
G.P. : We must remember that if we want our body to function correctly we must keep the internal balance, no matter the changes that happen in our external environment. So when the environmental pollution exceeds the adaption capacity of our bodies, the disorders inside it lead to decrease of energy, weakening or even many diseases. We must remember that nutrition is supplying the body in all the plant and animal substances which are necessary to keep us alive and which are needed by every cell in our body to live, work and regenerate. What the cell builds in its membrane depends mostly on the individual way of nutrition. When we eat bad things, the body cannot process those substances, works much weaker and after some time it doesn’t tolerate this state and starts to be ill. The civilization illnesses are a great example. For many years I’ve been watching my patients in my office and no matter the problems with guts, respiratory or immune system, depression or other disorders – by a right nutrition they recovered after few months. They do not resign from the conventional medicine, but the healthy diet is a great support. It is no surprise, because when in the “Apollo” program the American astronauts were training before the mission they were isolated and ate only the natural food. After few months their bodies returned to the optimal, natural state. The same therapy should be adopted by each of us and after two or three months it is enough to eat rationally and healthily. It means limiting chemical substances, wheat gluten, trans fat acids, sugar, maximally modified plants, so without the necessity to get tired and using all that nature has to offer.
G.O. : How will the food look like in 10 or 15 years if it changes so fast ?
G.P. : All of this depends on us, the consumers. If we will demand healthy products, without chemical substances, then the manufacturers will give it to us in time. It happened in some regions of the USA, in Denmark, Italy or Switzerland where people came to their senses. However if we will still buy e.g. the sausages for children with only 30% of meat and the rest of mechanically separated meat, modified soya, enhancers and preservatives, then in dozen of years we will eat the same as is eaten in the most of the Western European countries and in the USA. This cannot be changed anymore. We will get all the civilization diseases, among other: diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, allergies or cancer because our body is not able to function normally when is bombed with artificial and unnatural food.
Dr Grażyna Pająk – The author of the scientific and press publications, known for the radio and TV auditions, the founder of the Health Academy DGD. She is the creator of the complex system ONKO HELP that combines the role of nutrition, positive thinking and physical activity in treatment and prevention of cancer.