Food as Medicine: Christa Orechio at TEDxVillageGate

Translator: Rhonda Jacobs Reviewer: Aari Lemmik Good morning everyone. I’m a clinical and holistic nutritionist, and I have been for.

Translator: Rhonda Jacobs
Reviewer: Aari Lemmik Good morning everyone. I’m a clinical and holistic nutritionist, and I have been for the past eight years. And I honestly can’t imagine
ever being or doing anything else. This is a field that is just
so fascinating to me, and I feel like it’s the reason
I was put on Earth, is to share this information. Because I believe so strongly
in using food as medicine, and over the last eight years,
I have seen over and over again: give the body what it needs
and it will heal itself. Take away what it doesn’t need
and it will heal itself. There’s one thing though,
that as I do this work, that blows me away every single day, and that is how much
our food supply has changed. Our food supply has changed
more in the last 50 years than it has in the previous 10,000 years. So many things have happened, and we’re going to talk
all about what’s happened and how to avoid
the landmines, the pitfalls, and how to use food
as medicine to really thrive. Because as a result
of the changes in our food supply, we’re dealing with health issues
that we never had to deal with before. Our kids are dealing with health issues that they’ve never
had to deal with before. We have celiac disease. We have autoimmune issues in children that never existed before. Raging food sensitivities. I remember being a kid; as a benefit you get to eat
anything you want and it really doesn’t affect you. Kids have really kind of lost
that privelege today because of what’s happened
to the food supply. We’ve got major digestive disturbances. And the one that really gets me
is mental and emotional issues like we have never seen before
in children – depression and anxiety. And all of that can absolutely
be helped, reversed, eliminated through using food as medicine. And that’s the power in this. In using this information,
taking it into your daily life, because your children’s, our children’s
organs are forming now to what their health is going to be
in their adult life. Their glandular systems,
their digestive systems, so what you choose to feed them
and how you feed them is laying the foundation
for their adult life, for how their health is going to be. So this field of holistic nutrition,
it still seems to be very new, and an alternative thought pattern. So I just wanted to describe
what it actually is. It’s a philosophy that talks about health
as an interplay between all the systems. The mental and the emotional,
the physical and chemical, and the spiritual and environmental
aspects of one’s health and being. How can we separate it? For me, I can’t understand
how we can separate the mind from the body from the spirit. It’s impossible. Sounds like this is a new concept
but it’s not, it’s ancient wisdom. And its time has come
to bring it back into the mainstream so that we can achieve wellness
and experience wellness on all levels. And I’m going to go into
what’s happened to the food supply and we’re going to talk about food, but I would be remiss if I didn’t start,
especially as a holistic nutritionist, with the mental and with the emotional. Because in order to make this last
when we make changes in your diet and changes in your life, you take it away from being a diet
and it becomes a lifestyle. And so much of that
is your perspective around food, your approach to food. How many of us think
of food as a relationship? I think we think of food as a habit, as something we do, three times,
four times a day, however often we eat. But if we can start
to shift that perspective and look at food as an approach to life, something much bigger and deeper, something that can connects us
to the world around us and to our families, that’s the perspective shift
that takes away the diet and becomes a lifestyle. And that’s what we have to talk about. For years, I have been teaching
clients to separate emotional nourishment
from biological development, where we say that food feeds us
and advances us biologically, and it keeps us alive, but it shouldn’t nourish us emotionally. We shouldn’t turn to food
when we’re stressed, and when we’re tired
and when we’re lonely, but we teach them, turn to primary foods –
your sense of spiritual connection, your relationships,
exercise that you enjoy, creative outlets. And that philosophy worked for me
for a really long time, but then most recently,
I really started thinking about it. Is that complete? Is that possible even, to separate emotional nourishment
from biological development? Is it honest? And the answer
that I came to was ‘no’. And actually, it dawned on me, and I felt a little ashamed
that I hadn’t come to it sooner, because I am 100 percent Italian. How can I separate emotional nourishment
from biological development? My friends knew during
my childhood and adolescence not to call me on Sundays,
I couldn’t be with them, because, you know, we were eating. That’s what we were doing on Sunday. And we would be at the table
from 12 to 6:00 or 7:00 at night and that was a tradition,
that was a ritual, it was a family ceremony. So food, it’s not just for our bodies, it’s also for our mind and our emotion. And it’s a way to connect to so much more
than just the actual food that we eat. Now I’ve been calling this
the form and function of food, right? So food is more
than its physiological function, there’a form to it. It’s the difference between
a house and a home. A house is a structure
that will protect us from the elements. But a home is a place
where we store our memories and our emotions, and the things
that are most dear to us, the place that we go
for solace and nourishment. You can ask any morning coffee drinker – How many of you
are morning coffee drinkers? Right? It’s not just about
getting a cup of coffee, it’s about the ritual of it,
it’s about the ceremony of it. I see clients for the first session
and they say, “Don’t take away my coffee.
I’m not coming back if you do.” It’s their weapon to the world. It’s the security blanket
to go out into the world and have this warm cup
of something that nourishes you, your little buddy, your friend,
at your desk by your side. It’s so much more… It’s so much more
than just that morning coffee. I also relate – it’s the difference
between clothes and fashion. Clothes are so much more
than their function to cover our bodies
and to keep us warm. They are a tool for self-expression,
for creativity, for individuality. It’s fun to dress according
to how you feel, right? It’s a way to let the world know
who you are, how you feel, and how things are working. So if we can have this approach to food,
it lays a foundation, because I can talk all day long
about greens, and water, and grains, and all of that stuff, but it’s not going to be a finishing work,
unless the perspective has shifted. So we get that foundation in place,
and then we move on to the physical, and to the chemical. That’s what we’re going to talk about: challenges in our food supply. And we have a lot of them. Because in the last 50 years, our food
supply has changed so dramatically. The reason I’m telling you this
is not to incite doom and gloom, but rather, empowerment, because awareness is the first step
towards changing anything. And the reason I’m standing up here
is because I am certain, I will tell you, so many of us
have no idea how amazing we can feel, how many extra levels
of wellness that there are than we’re currently
experiencing right now. First major challenge
is soil depletion. Do you believe that we have
to eat three apples today to equal the nutrient value
of one apple in 1940? How do you like them apples? (Laughter) 85 percent soil depletion is what
we’re dealing with in North America. Less minerals in the soil – weaker plants. Weaker plants – we need
to spray them with more chemicals. We need minerals for so many
functions within the body. We need minerals
for our bones, for our teeth. We need minerals so that
our nervous system can function properly. There are nutritional
roots to mental illness. So much of it lies
in mineral deficiency. And we need minerals
for our metabolic process to function. The body doesn’t work without minerals. This next one is the one
that really gets me. Hormones and antibiotics
in our meat supply. So what I want to know
is when did it become okay for it to be looked at as the mainstream
to eat polluted meat? When did that become normal, and guiding people towards eating organic,
free-range, all these buzz words that seem on the fringe – we’re just
guiding them to eat real food, that’s all. Antibiotics – when we’re eating
a low dose of antibiotics every time we eat out from these animals
that are raised in feed lots, in conditions that really no living thing
should have to be subjected to, of course they have
to give them antibiotics because there’s not enough room for them,
and there’s disease that comes up. And the antibiotics that we’re eating
are killing the good bugs, the good bacteria in our gut. And digestion is the cornerstone
of your health. If that’s not the foundation
and that’s not working, nothing else is going to work
and everything else will be a band-aid. So taking antibiotics, a low dose,
when we eat out, these animal meats, eggs, milk –
that’s weakening our immune system. And then we have hormones. I think every other woman in the room
would agree with me when I say, it’s hard enough to keep
our hormones balanced, do we ever need to have anything else that’s going to start
to throw them off course? In March, the New York Times
came out with an article, and the title was:
“Puberty at Age 10: The New ‘Normal’?” I’m not okay with that. Girls are developing three to five years
earlier on average now, largely due, in part, to the consumption of added growth hormones
to the meat supply. So if there’s one thing to remember
from what I have to say, and there’s one thing you need to take,
and you’re going to shift your budget somewhere else with your food,
it’s towards clean animal products. How may of you know what a GMO is? Good. Almost everyone. Genetically modified organisms are organisms where they take
the DNA of one species and they inject it into the DNA
of another species in a lab. And that creates a combination of plants
that have not existed in nature before and also do not exist in traditional
cross-breeding methods. So what we have with GMOs
is Frankenfood, in my opinion. Corn, soy, canola, dairy – these are the foods
that are the most genetically modified and in 30 countries around the world, and all the countries
of the European Union, there’s severe limitation and restrictions
or outright bans on GMOs. That’s what I mean. It’s not that the food supply
has just changed towards processed foods, but the raw materials
that go into those processed foods have changed so dramatically,
and we need to avoid them. Especially when we’re eating out, restaurants are using genetically
modified soybean and canola oil because it’s not that expensive, and we’re not getting
the nutrients out of our meal. We’re getting maybe 50 percent
of the nutrients out of our meal when we’re consuming GMOs. There’s lots of chemicals
that we’re contending with. The FDA has 2,700 intentional
food chemicals from food dyes, FD&C yellow number 5
and yellow number 6. We’ve got artificial sweeteners, MSG – we really have to start to look at that. And bath and body products
is the other part of the hormonal equation because there’s a huge opportunity
to disrupt your endocrine system by what you put on your body. And I just want you to think about
the skin as the largest absorbative organ. So if you wouldn’t put it in your body, a good rule of thumb
is don’t put it on your body. And this one I could talk
about all day long because this is how I got into nutrition. There is no doubt in my mind
I would have diabetes right now and I would probably be 50 pounds
heavier than what I am had I not found this field, because I used to eat
a package of Sour Patch Kids and a package of Swedish fish
every day for lunch. I was a total sugar junkie. And we don’t have
to talk too much about sugar because I think everyone knows
that it’s not good for you at this point. But I just want to point out: How did it become okay to drink
a soda the size of your head? (Laughter) I don’t know how that happened. Clients say, “I only drink
one soda a day.” I have to say, “But what is it?” “It’s a Big Gulp, but that’s okay, it’s from, like, lunch,
all the way to the end of the day.” Right? One soda today is the equivalent
of 18 in 1955. The solution is simple. That’s a simple solution
to changing things. But you need to know
what real food is in order to change it. A chicken breast – a client will say,
“It’s just a chicken breast” – isn’t a chicken breast any more. We need to know,
what did the chicken eat? How was it raised, how was it fed? So that’s why we have
to challenge the food supply, so you can discern what’s
real food and what’s not real food. You can be part of the solution. Local, organically grown
fruits and vegetables. We have Community Supported Agriculture –
farms that we can buy our food from. We’re so blessed to live in this area. You buy local, organically
grown fruits and vegetables, you don’t have to eat three apples,
you can just eat one, because the nutrients will be there, the minerals will be there, because of the way that they’re using
traditional farming techniques. Wild fish and pastured animal products. ‘Pastured’ – such a buzzword these days. It just means the animal ate
what it wanted to eat in nature, and lived how it should have lived, then you’re getting
nutrients from that food. Choosing gluten-free grains –
that’s really important. Gluten sensitivity is huge. Staging beans, legumes
and root vegetables throughout your diet, will slowly release the glucose
in your system, so you never really get those cravings
for the white stuff or for the sugar. I’m such a fan of healthy fats and oils. There’s nothing wrong
with grass-fed butter, coconut oil, avocados, all these things
are so important. And keep the sweetness,
but lose the sugar. Learn about sugar alternatives. There’s so many of them out there. Coconut sugar – looks and tastes
exactly like brown sugar. It doesn’t affect you nearly
like regular sugar does. Stevia has no effect on blood sugar;
it’s 100 times sweeter than sugar. We can still enjoy sweet treats. We don’t have to have this approach
of denial or deprivation, it’s just upgrading. And we’re creating rituals, traditions,
having that anchor around food. Mindful eating, not being
a stand-at-the-kitchen-counter eater, or eat-in-your-car eater. It’s eating for true nourishment. This is not a new concept. Two-and-a-half thousand years ago,
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine,
and medicine be thy food.” So if I leave you with one thought, it’s that healthcare reform,
it doesn’t start in Washington, it starts in our kitchen. We need to vote with our dollars
when we go to the grocery store and that’s voting
for a cleaner food supply. My favorite quote
by Margaret Mead states, “Never doubt that a small commited group
of individuals can change the world; indeed, it’s the only
thing that ever has.” Thank you.

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