5-Lessons for health from the ground up: Izabella Natrins, Real Food UK Campaign Manager says the way we grow and produce our food today impacts our local and global environments and our health… and not always in a good way. Change is needed!
As a real food nutritionist, lifestyle medicine health coach and a nutritional chef, I’ve studied and witnessed daily the ‘pandemic’ of chronic diseases that are crippling our modern developed world. I’d like to share five important lessons I’ve learned:
#1 Our health starts from the GROUND up
The soil beneath our feet is teeming with life – some 10,000 pounds of biological life in every acre. Soil is the foundation for Mother Nature’s biodiversity and a ‘switching yard’ for the global cycles of carbon, water and nutrients. This living ‘microbiome’ supports nearly all of our food production and cycles nutrients in the food we grow; carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other micronutrients are stored, transformed, and cycled through soil, producing nutritious, delicious food. Yet in the last 150 years, according to the WWF, we’ve lost 50% of the basic building blocks that make our soils productive across the planet – our topsoil.
#2 How our food is raised and grown MATTERS
Mother Nature loves diversity and she hates monoculture. The vast conventional monocultures of single crops rely on synthetic fertilizers to maintain yield but deplete the mineral nutrient content of our food by discouraging the soils natural nutrient cycles. Herbicides, fungicides and pesticides not only destroy the very microbial soil life on which our health depends, but many leave toxic residues that impact our human microbiome to compromise our health.
#3: We MUST heal the soil
Organic and regenerative farming, together with holistic land management practices are critical if we are to heal our soils and rejuvenate our own health. We need to start this healing now.
#4: Whole food IS medicine
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said, “All diseases begin in the gut” and modern science is proving him right. Every day, research studies show us the health-critical dependencies between our human microbiome and soil microbiome. We learn daily how agrochemicals, food processing methods, preservatives and additives not only destroy the nutrient density of the food we eat, but also the integrity of our gut lining. Thus provoking chronic inflammation and opening the door to a compromised immune system (which lies just one cell the other side of our gut wall), leading to autoimmune and degenerative disorders.
#5: We MUST rediscover our love of cooking
Cooking whole, organic foods from scratch has always been the foundation of our health, our community and our culture; food cooked at home and shared in community can mend our disconnection not only from our soil and our food, but from each other. In handing over responsibility to the food industry for feeding us, we have lost the skills to feed ourselves and now, over half the ‘food’ we eat in the UK is ultra-processed and nutritionally doubtful. Yet science shows us how this kind of diet is linked to obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and a host of other health conditions that destroy our quality of life, reduce our lifespan and leave a huge impact on our planet.
I believe that we CAN and we MUST do better. By supporting and nurturing regenerative and sustainable farming practices and communities we will lead the change to reconnect farming, food and health… from the ground up!
(This article appeared in The Grazer Fordhall CLI Newsletter, Fordhall Organic Farm, Autumn 2020)
A former health research psychologist, she is a qualified nutritionist and lifestyle medicine health coach, a Ballymaloe-trained nutritional chef, an educator, speaker and founder of the health and wellness education and coaching website IzabellaNatrins.Com.
Izabella is the author of THE REAL FOOD SOLUTION which she wrote to support funds for The Real Food Campaign UK