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‘ultra-processed’ food and the “kombucha industry” dilemma

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The Kombucha sector should be a shining light within a global industry that ‘kills’ food in pursuit of mass profits. So why is it following suit?

by Gary Leigh  Part 1 (of 2)

New research published by The British Medical Journal, based on the food diaries of 105,000 adults, adds weight to the hypothesis that “ultra-processed” food significantly raises the risk of cancer, citing middle-aged women as being in particular danger of developing the disease. Factory-made convenience foods – from salt-laden ready meals, sugary cereals and chemical-infused fizzy drinks – now make up half of the typical British diet.

Study head Dr Mathilde Tourier said the poor nutritional value of factory food was probably the most important factor in cancer risk. “They all have additives, they all have compounds formed during the processing and heating of the products, and they have compounds that could come from the packaging itself,” she said, echoing ongoing fears that ready meals packed in plastic trays and drinks sold in plastic bottles could leach chemical residues.

you really are what you eat!

Ultra-processing involves applying artificial and industrialized techniques to foods to alter their make-up and structure, and is mostly profit-driven. Heat-treating/pasteurization destroys pathogens – and also live nutrients – to extend shelf life; chemical agents and additives add bulk and enhance flavor; cheap fats, refined sugar and salt together seduce the tastebuds and trick the brain into thinking it is still hungry, encouraging greater consumption…

These processes together leach and kill the microorganisms that give raw food its vitality, or life force; the good bacteria, beneficial yeasts, active enzymes, vitamins and minerals which confer life-enhancing benefits to the body. When destroyed, the deadened food in turn slumps us into a state of lethargy and listlessness instead of working symbiotically with the body’s natural processes and microbial ecosystem to invigorate and sustain it. You really are what you eat!

industrialization by stealth

How did we arrive at such a backward step in our evolution when, just 100 years ago, most of our food was ‘whole’ (i.e. untampered) and delivered direct to independent grocers shops and street markets from family-run farms which, by default, practiced natural and largely organic processes, and where livestock was allowed to roam and graze freely on green pasture as opposed to today’s intensive and comparatively barbaric factory farms?

The industrialization of food occurred by stealth, but a massive sleight of hand was dealt in the 1980s when food conglomerates convinced the western world that fat in all its forms was responsible for our waistlines slowly expanding since the 1950s, when food processing took off in earnest. We were told by industry heads and medical experts alike that shunning all fats and switching to low fat and synthetic versions of popular foods was the answer.

Low fat versions of everything from biscuits and snacks to cakes and yogurts hit the shelves, the fat replaced with sugar and refined / ’empty’ carbohydrates to compensate for the reduction in taste and texture. There was also a mass swing away from natural fats like grass fed butter – ironically one of the most nutritionally-dense foods of all – to synthetic spreads made with modified ‘Frankenstein fats’, because natural fats “clog up the arteries”, or so they claimed.

obesity, diabetes and heart disease

With the public buying into the hype and false claims wholesale, this could in retrospect be perceived as a cynical collusion between the food and pharma industries on a massive scale, because rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease began soaring in the west in the 1980s alongside the rise in the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar, and pharma shareholders have profited massively from the synthetic compounds developed to treat them.

And these debilitating conditions have continued rising ever since, and wherever in the world the industrialization of food has occurred.

Foods lacking the digestive enzymes, live nutrients and fibre that processing and refining ruthlessly strips away in turn inhibits the body’s ability to process and break food down to enable it to pass through the body naturally, causing the digestive system to clog up. Bloating and flatulence are a result of undigested, decaying food trapped in the intestine producing noxious gasses, in much the same way methane gas is emitted from rotting compost.

No surprise that this breakthrough research found no cancer link to fruit, vegetables and pulses. Today the raw food and vegan movements lead the way in reawakening the world to the benefits of whole foods and healthy eating, and unadulterated, real Kombucha tea is about as raw and unprocessed as it gets.

However, in part 2 we turn the spotlight on the burgeoning global Kombucha industry itself, and the artificial processes and short cuts now being utilised by profit-driven brands to manufacture strange concoctions that are Kombucha in name only in a mad dash to scale up quickly and sell en masse. At what cost?

To be continued…

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