Happy Holidays, Natural Foods, and Holiday Heartburn

By Dr. Ian Wahl

This holiday season we are seeing more and more “All Natural” foods being offered from fresh produce and meats (why should they need an “All Natural” label) to processed foods and cereals (how do they qualify for an “All Natural” label). What does “All Natural” mean when you see it prominently displayed on the package of the food you’re buying? It means nothing. The FDA has not defined “Natural” food. In fact, the FDA states on their website, “from a food science perspective it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.” That said, the FDA has also not developed a definition for the marketing use of the term “Natural” or its derivatives.

In other words, “Natural” has no legal definition and offers no promise of consumer protection. Companies use “Natural” and other terms like “Green”, “Environmentally-Friendly”, and “Local” to evoke values for their products. Bluntly put, ‘Natural Food’ is a marketing term, not a guarantee of purity. In fact, manufacturers routinely use the label ‘all natural food’ when they in fact include genetically engineered organisms. This is especially true when animals are fed GMO grains. I guess “all natural food” now means “all natural food including GMOs”.

What does “all natural foods” have to do with holiday heartburn? Many of you reading this article are concerned about the quality of the food you consume. And yet, during the holidays, I’ll bet most of you are still prone to over-indulge. And for many that leads to holiday heartburn.

Let’s take Thanksgiving as an example. Did you know that the average American consumes more than 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day? And that number goes up for those of us who watch football while eating snacks and drinking beer and other alcohol in addition to the Thanksgiving meal and desserts.

Speaking of desserts, did you know that “Desserts” spelled backwards is “Stressed”? Speaking of stressed, did you know that the average American eats over 1996 pounds of food a year? That’s over 38 pounds of food a week (not including the 3 pounds of sugar the government says we each consume every day). And that’s the average of all Americans from poverty level to the top 1%. So, plenty of people eat more than that…talk about stressing your body!

Did you know that Thanksgiving brought about the creation of TV dinners? Part of the reason that Swanson created the TV dinner in 1953 was because they needed to find something to do with 260 tons of frozen turkeys that were left over from Thanksgiving! Once again, necessity is proven to be the mother of invention—healthy or not.

To close on a more uplifting note, I’ve always thought that holidays are like bridges. As the river of time flows, holidays can bridge happy moments in the past with the anticipation that the future holds many more. I hope this Holiday Season is your bridge to much happiness and many happy memories. I pray we close this year with peace, gratitude, and blessings for all who share this beautiful planet.

Dr. Ian Wahl is the Clinic Director of St. Louis Allergy Relief Center in Chesterfield, MO, specializing in Advanced Allergy Therapeutics, a holistic treatment for allergies and asthma that is non-invasive, no shots, no pills, no pain, no avoidance. For more information please call 314-384-9304 or visit www.StLouisAllergyRelief.com and read the FAQs and Testimonials.