What you eat can kill youI’m not much of a sweets eater. Nor do I eat a lot of high-cholesterol foods that’ll clog me up and kill me. Not because I’m a super-disciplined eater but because I don’t really like them. It’s just the luck of the draw. Both of my grandfathers set the tone by eating for nourishment rather than fun or to satisfy a craving, to relieve boredom or as part of a “dining experience.”
By: Kevin Holten, The Dickinson Press
I’m not much of a sweets eater. Nor do I eat a lot of high-cholesterol foods that’ll clog me up and kill me. Not because I’m a super-disciplined eater but because I don’t really like them. It’s just the luck of the draw.
Both of my grandfathers set the tone by eating for nourishment rather than fun or to satisfy a craving, to relieve boredom or as part of a “dining experience.”
So for that reason I’d rather have a loving, riding, flying, diving or fishing experience than a dining experience.
After all, when you break it down, eating is just another bodily function that we’ve turned into a sport and daily obsession and now we know something else about it; it can kill you.
That’s right, overeating can kill you but so can certain types of foods and in North Dakota, where the hills and valleys are filled with golden waves of grain, you’re going to be especially depressed to learn that one of those foods is wheat.
“No, say it ain’t so,” you say. Mom’s Saturday morning, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread painted with butter, can kill me? That’s right and it’s real sneaky about it.
In fact, in the last 50 years the number of people with celiac disease or sensitivity to the gluten found in grains has increased by 400 percent.
Of course, if we saw that same 400 percent increase in heart disease, cancer, acne, hemorrhoids or rhinotillexomania we’d shut down the planet and move to Mars. But since the problem is just the gluten contained in wheat and other grains we treat it like a dense, too-vulgar-little brother who got shipped off to Arkansas to live with Aunt Mavis and Uncle Fergus.
The truth is gluten sensitivity is as serious as the Internal Revenue Service, the federal deficit, a toothache and Hurricane Sandy combined because it is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract and more.
In fact, two American clinicians, James Braly and Ron Hoggan, who published a book, “Dangerous Grains,” claim that what was thought to be a relatively rare condition may be more widespread than you, me, the Food and Drug Administration, nutritionists and Frank the Farmer previously thought.
You see, Braly and Hoggan are suggesting that gluten intolerance does not just affect a few tree huggers and nerds who dress in Sperry top siders and high-wasted khakis but rather, as many as 2 percent to 3 percent of the population.
Plus, they think that gluten sensitivity might just be root of a lot of causes of cancer, auto-immune disorders, neurological and psychiatric conditions and liver disease, which means that our heavily wheat-based western diet filled with bread, cereals, pastries and pasta, is making millions of people sick.
Now you may not know this but the word gluten comes from the Latin word for glue, and its adhesive properties that hold bread and cake together but also interferes with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including the nutrients from other foods in the same meal. The result is this glued-together constipating glob in your gut rather than a nutritious, easily digested meal.
The gluten glob then triggers your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, which causes all of the problems discussed above and soon your small intestine begins absorbing nutrients about as well as duck feathers absorb water and this leads to anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems.
So why didn’t those marauding Viking, Huns, nomadic goat traders and everyone else who walked the planet long before highways, byways, microwaves and minivans ever have problems with gluten globs? Because the percentage of gluten in modern wheat, as a result of hybridization, is so many times more than it was back then that today’s bread would be about as recognizable to them as a spaceship would be to Job.
So what do you if you’re gluten sensitive? Go to your doctor and be tested and then: Remove wheat, barley and rye-based baked goods, pastas and cereals from your pantry. Check product labels for hidden gluten and choose fresh foods over processed; simple as that.
Then, as Michael Pollan, American author, journalist, activist, professor of journalism and author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” said, “Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Holten is a freelance columnist and cartoonist from Dickinson.