Unless you’re hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard something about the gluten-free craze that’s growing in our country (and other parts of the world). At the extreme are the people with celiac disease, who cannot have or be exposed to any gluten at all due to the risk of severe health issues. Their bodies fight gluten and harm themselves in the process. The larger group (and this includes me) are those who have been reading a bit here and there about gluten, wondering why we’d never heard of this 10 years ago, and experimenting with a gluten-free diet. You may have been diagnosed with a gluten allergy or a gluten intolerance or you may (this is me) have simply found that you feel better and your body seems to function better on a gluten-free eating plan.
But why? Every few years a new fad arises in the eating world — fat-free, low-carb, no-carb, blood type diet, etc. Could it be that these gluten issues are a fad? Or is this something real that could also be an indicator of bad things to come? Unfortunately the more I read, the more I think that the answer to the second question is “Yes.”
There is a Canadian company called Grainstorm that produces bread and cookie mixes made from ancient grains. While celiac sufferers could not eat these, some people who are simply intolerant to gluten have better luck with grains processed as they used to be. In this blog post, Grainstorm caught my attention! Could pesticides be to blame for this entire problem? Good grief, have we caused our own health mess?
Up to this point, my understanding was that some sort of combination of the way that we process wheat (and barley and rye) and the genetic modifications that we’ve done on the grains over the past 100 years has caused this gluten problem. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and it seems that many digestive issues, bloating, skin rashes, etc. are the body’s response to what it perceives to be a foreign body (toxin).
Still I wondered, how does this happen? Yes, I agree that the issue of genetic modifications to our food supply is a big one (blog post here), but still the gluten problem seemed extreme. Enter glyphosate (brand name, RoundUp). We are spraying our wheat with pesticides; we’ve decided that those pesticides are not harmful to humans (?!); and we are doing the spraying immediately before harvesting the grains (which seems like it would create an even heavier concentration of pesticide). Dr. Mercola provides a great article summarizing the findings of Dr. Stephanie Seneff (published originally here).
Let me give you the scary synposis: Dr. Seneff says that we are basically poisoning our food supply. What follows is that chronic diseases are on the rise – and she doesn’t just mention celiac disease. Autism is the other major problem that is on the rise and may have a connection to these very same practices. Again I say, scary. (I teach in a public school, and just the other day the head of our Special Education Department, while discussing modifications for special needs kids, warned us three times that the number of autistic kids is climbing. There must be a reason!)
Check out those links above and read the articles. I am not a scientist and I cannot do justice to the intricacies of this issue. But I do have some ideas for you. It’s scary to imagine that what we are feeding our kids (and ourselves) is harmful / poisonous / dangerous. But don’t hide and ignore the issue.
1. If you can do it, try gluten-free. If we aren’t sure if something is ok, let’s just not use it. But be careful what you substitute. More processed foods and mixes from boxes does not a better diet make.
2. Eat more foods that are as close as possible to their original form. Eat fruits and vegetables that look like fruits and vegetables (not pressed, squashed, or otherwise modified). If you eat meat, eat actual meat – not sliced meat-like fillers and additives.
3. Go organic with everything you can manage. Can’t afford everything organic? Just do something! Milk (if you drink it; I do not), berries and grapes, meats – buy organic! You avoid genetically modified ingredients and you avoid pesticides.
4. If you can eat wheat and you don’t feel any ill-effects, go organic with your grains anyway. If you don’t feel any effects now, make sure not to discount the fact that many years down the road we could potentially have built up quite a store of toxins in our bodies.
Do you have other ideas? How can we take action in a simple way to ensure that we and our families are healthy over the long term? Share below!