Jul
20
2013

Our Endangered Food

Our grandparents were eating foods that were healthier and more pure than today’s mass produced food. Beef came from grass-fed cattle; milk came from cows that grazed on pastures; bread was baked from the old Emmer wheat or Einkorn wheat. Geneticists were not around yet, so their food was safe from adulteration.

The adulterated modern wheat

Fast forward to the late 1990’s. Now farmers around the world are growing 19 different Clearfield wheat varieties that were produced by hybridization from exposure to toxic chemicals in the 1960’s and 1970’s when GMO (genetically modified organisms) regulations were not around yet.  Modern wheat was produced by hybridization with grasses using exposure to a toxic substance, sodium azide. Technically this forced chemical hybridization is different from genetic engineering although in both cases there are significant genetic changes of the chromosomes in the plant. The end result with regard to wheat hybridizations were wheat varieties that grow under adverse conditions and that have much faster growing rates, higher yields and are easier to harvest because they grow only to a about 2 feet height instead of 4 feet.  When compared to the older Emmer and Einkorn types of wheat there have been significant chromosomal changes. Einkorn (Triticum monoccocum) has 14 chromosomes; Emmer (Triticum diccocum) has 28 chromosomes. Modern wheat, the Clearfield variety has 42 chromosomes, like spelt. The hybridization process for Clearfield wheat by BASF is summarized in this link. Here is a discussion with Dr. Davis, the author of the book “Wheat Belly” (Ref.1), which reviews the history of modern wheat

The point of mentioning all this here is that modern wheat with many more chromosomes than the original Einkorn wheat has also much more gliadin content, which is the protein that makes celiac disease sufferers sick when they eat wheat. However, despite the significant chromosomal changes of modern wheat, which his grown in 99% of the world today no safety experiments were done to show that it is harmless to your health. There were no animal experiments and no human exposure trials with proper controls to show that it is safe to be exposed to the modern wheat varieties on the long-term.

It turns out now in hindsight that it is not only the person with celiac disease that has to fear modern wheat. The increased concentration of gliadin in modern wheat is the protein that splits the sealant between gut cells and sensitizes your body to produce autoantibodies. The food processing plants mix wheat into soups, baby food, lip stick, sauces and a host of other processed foods,which increases the concentration of gliadin that you are exposed to, if you do not eliminate it. You have to be a detective in the supermarket and constantly read labels to look for wheat and avoid it, at least I do. The reason is that even low doses of wheat over a long period of time cause leaky gut syndrome and cause antibodies against gliadin. Soon after autoimmune antibodies against your own tissues are formed that will attack your gut cells (causing irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and ulcerative colitis); joint cells (causing rheumatoid arthritis), thyroid cells (causing Hashimoto disease) and it can even cause colon cancer.

Remember, there have never been any clinical trials to show that modern wheat is safe.

Our Endangered Food

Our Endangered Food

Alternatives to wheat

Oats used to be thought safe to eat for celiac disease patients, provided they are not contaminated with rye, wheat or barley.

As this publication shows there can still be prolamins in oats, which are different from gliadin, but may be toxic for celiac patients. Another paper showed that there are different levels of gliadin- and glutenin-like avenins in different varieties of oats. These are subunits of prolamin. Depending on what type of avenins or prolamins are contained in an oat variety, the oat brand could be entirely gluten free, but the question is whether the manufacturer tested this before it reached the shelves of the grocery store. For a celiac patient it would not be safe to eat these types of oats as labeling requirements for avenins or prolamins do not yet exist. So the label “gluten free oats” may be misleading as oats containing prolamins or avenins still could make celiac patients sick.

So, what are safe gluten substitutes? Rice, corn, soy, chickpeas, sweet potatoes and nuts. A helpful reference can be found through this link.

As we will discover below, unfortunately in the US most rice, corn and soy is now GMO food and celiac patients will likely react much more to these as they are more sensitive and will likely produce autoantibodies easier. So stick to organic rice, organic corn and organic soy (often the package will mention ”free of GMO”).

GMO foods to avoid

It is interesting that no law was passed so far in the US and in Canada that GMO foods should be labeled. This is changing rapidly as people realize that in Europe many countries have required all GMO foods to be labeled as such. Here is a publication that shows that the GMO labeling campaign is gaining momentum.

Genetically modified corn and soy contains the Bt toxin; it has been found in babies as mentioned in this article. Bt toxin damages the small bowel (the ileum) through Cry1Ab (the protein produced in genetically modified corn and soy), which disables the absorption of vitamin B12. This in turn will cause anemia (historically the cause of pernicious anemia was found to be due to a lack of vitamin B12 absorption).

Drs. Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff  stated about the effects of Roundup in a publication dated April 2013  that glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, which is a crucial detoxification enzyme complex in the liver has been overlooked when studies were done regarding toxicity in mammals. The CYP enzymes in the liver is important to metabolize and eliminate estrogens and also helps to detoxify xenobiotics, which are estrogen-like substances as residues from insecticides and other chemicals. Thus, glyphosate (=”Roundup” produced by Monsanto) amplifies the damaging effect of environmental toxins and chemical residues from non-organic food that we eat. The build-up of estrogens and xenoestrogens has been shown to be responsible for many cancers (atypical Hodgkins lymphoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer etc.).

Here is a summary of the 10 most common GM foods in the US : Sugar beets, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, squash, golden rice, soybeans, soybean oils, animal feed, salmon. You see that almost all of our foods are being invaded by genetic engineering.

Why is that of any concern?

The problem is that it is extremely difficult to conduct safety studies for human consumption. It likely takes three generations of feeding GMO food before diseases develop and in the case of humans where the reproductive cycle is 30 years this would mean that it could take up to 90 years to obtain meaningful human safety study results. From a commercial point of view this is perceived as too long, so the standard rat or mouse model of testing for 90 days was introduced, which is used instead as a “test for toxicity for mammals”, but typically this does not show any change between GMO food compared to regular food (as it is too short an observation time). I have described this earlier in this blog. In this recent publication pigs fed GM crops were found to have severe stomach inflammation and the female GM fed pigs developed a 25% larger uterus than the non-GM-fed controls. The 20-year approval process for GMO foods is flawed according to this review. It states that Belgium researchers found virus particles in GMO foods that were not assumed to be present, but never tested for. This is fed in feedlots to milk producing animals and beef cows and gets transmitted into milk and beef. The FDA, USDA and other official food safety agencies continue to state that GMO foods are safe. As outlined in the beginning of this blog a significant proportion of the US public disagrees about the safety of GMO foods and wants all GMO to be clearly labeled. We should have a choice whether we get organic food with no chemicals, no antibiotics and no GMO in it or whether we buy the cheaper regular food.

You are what you eat.

Conclusion

Originally wheat was modified by hybridization to safe the world from hunger. The production worldwide has improved tremendously so that this objective has been reached. However, since then genetic engineers have worked on adulterating the rest of our foods mostly with the aim to make farming on a large scale easier. In both instances safety testing on animals and humans was never properly done, and it is only now that it is becoming apparent that there are flaws with regard to food safety both in wheat and with GMO foods. With wheat it is the higher concentration of gluten and gluten-like substances that cause a leaky gut, a breakdown of the gut/blood barrier and cause autoimmunity and colon cancer. GMO foods may transmit viral particles and Bt toxin, which can cause autoimmune diseases and fertility problems as well as interference with the liver’s detoxification system, which causes cancers. The full health impact is not clear at this point and it may take another 70 years for wheat and another 80 years for GMO foods to find out all the consequences. Some people have decided not to be part of this mass experiment and rather buy organic foods. I belong to this group.

More information on genetically modified food: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/genetically-engineered-foods/

Reference:

1. William Davis, MD: “Wheat belly. Lose the wheat, lose the weight, and find your path back to health.” HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2011.

Last edited Nov. 24, 2014

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Jul
06
2013

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

When your grandmother grew up there was very little convenience food, maybe ketchup and yes, there was processed cheese and coke. There were also bread and butter.

Now we go through a large grocery store and the center of the whole store is occupied by convenience food, row after row.

What is convenience food? It is pre-cooked or processed food that sits on a shelf waiting to be bought and consumed. You may be able to just eat it the way it is (power bars, fruit yoghurt snacks, ice cream, breakfast cereals etc.) or you just have to microwave it for a minute or two (ready made meals, pizzas). Even, if you make a fresh salad, you top it with a salad dressing that has been processed and may contain chemicals that are not necessarily healthy for you.

This blog is meant to make you think and get educated as a consumer. As a physician I am guided by what is healthy for you, but at the same time food needs to be interesting and taste good and be affordable.

As fat, carbohydrates and protein are the main food groups that we eat, I will deal with each of these categories first followed by vitamins and minerals, which we also need.

Fats and oils

Many convenience foods are full of saturated fatty acids, which contribute to the overall calorie count of the package and are one of the main reasons why we gain weight and deposit fat into our arteries in preparation for a heart attack or stroke down the road. As you may know the worst form of fat is hydrogenated fat, also known as “trans fat”.

It contains free radicals from the hydrogenation process, which damage your cells and interfere with normal body metabolism. Read labels and avoid any foods that have a long shelf life as this is due to hydrogenated fats and chemicals known as food preservatives.

This food group also contains sausages and other processed meat; I wrote a separate blog about this recently.

If you eat cheese, reduce your saturated fat intake by buying cheese with only 18% fat (such as Cantenaar cheese, Jarlsberg light, skim milk mozzarella and goat cheese). Avoid the rich 45% type cheeses. The best oil in your kitchen would be an organic cold pressed olive oil. It figures prominently in Mediterranean cooking.

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

The Inconvenient Truth About Convenience Foods

Sugar, starch and other carbohydrates

A large portion of snacks from the mid section of the grocery store contains all forms of sugar: high fructose corn syrup, sugar, honey, agave syrup, maple syrup etc.  You may think that a harmless fruit juice would be healthy until you see from the ingredient list on the label that it contains 5 to 6 teaspoons of sugar per cup (250 ml) of juice.

Unfortunately our body is not equipped to process all the sugar that the food industry wants us to consume and we develop insulin resistance; the liver converts the excess sugars into fat and deposits it into our arteries and as fat deposits between our guts (visceral fat) and as subcutaneous fat in the thighs, around the hips and the waist. It is no secret that a lot of obesity is related to overconsumption of sugar containing convenience foods (snacks and sugar-laden drinks).

Often low calorie alternatives contain aspartame or sucralose (Splenda). Aspartame is an excitotoxin damaging your brain cells and sucralose was developed in the 1950’s as an insecticide. We do not want to replace disease-promoting sugar with toxins as sweeteners. Safe alternatives for sugar are xylitol, mannitol, and stevia.

What is sometimes overlooked is the fact that your body digests bread, starchy foods such as potatoes, and pasta, rice and flour products like pizza or cookies within 30 minutes into sugar that is as harmful to your pancreas as plain sugar or high fructose corn syrup. The body reacts with the same overproduction of insulin converting the excess sugar into fat and depositing it in your body as described above. Much of the obesity wave we see in the past 3 decades is due to baked goods like bagels, bread, pasta and pizza. It is much better to enjoy your stevia-sweetened coffee without any bakery pieces to go along with it.

Protein in meats, dairy products and sausages

You would think that a healthy cut of meat from the grocery store would be a good source of protein for you. You probably did not think that it could be contaminated with a superbug when you bought it. This is especially true for ground meats like hamburger meat. If you bought a portion of organic meat you can be more certain that you are buying a qualitatively superior product. I discussed this whole issue of superbugs in meat and meat products in this blog recently.

We need to be aware of the agroindustry, the feedlots and what they fed the animals. I only buy organic meat and organic dairy products as my source of protein. I avoid sausages altogether because of the food additives that they contain, which are cancer causing.

The problem with prepared meats like chicken nuggets and others is that they contain breading and food preservatives and they have been deep fried, which makes these items an unhealthy choice.

What are some of the problems with dairy products? Despite the allegations that bovine growth hormone would be harmless to your health, your body thinks otherwise. Your body has hormone receptors that are very specific and bovine growth hormone can block them so your own human growth hormone from the pituitary gland cannot function properly. This is why I would recommend only organic milk products. You may have heard that in many European countries bovine growth hormone is banned for that reason.

Next the fat content of dairy products needs to be monitored: go for low-fat milk, cheese and yoghurt. While we are talking about yoghurt, stay away from fruit yoghurts that have all kinds of sugar and food additives mixed in. Add fruit of your choice and stevia, if you need a sweet taste.

Vitamins and minerals

The more foods are processed, the less natural vitamins and minerals stay behind. Particularly vitamin C and the B complex group are affected, but also magnesium, which is an important co-factor to enzymatic reactions within our cells. Often processed foods contain too much salt with sodium displacing potassium from the cells resulting in a lack of energy and high blood pressure.

Your best prevention is to stick to as little processed food as possible and to eat organic. If you eat enough organic greens and vegetables, there is an ample supply of vitamins and minerals. Prepare your own soups as canned products are high in sodium; another unwanted additive is often sodium glutamate (MSG), which comes under many disguised names. It belongs to the group of excitotoxins like aspartame and is not welcomed by your brain cells.

Public Awareness

Lately there has been more of public interest and awareness to the detrimental effects of convenience foods. Alarming reports about the increase in the obesity rates, the rise in diabetes type 2 even in children have been in the media for some time. The publications are not only North American, but also European, as can bee seen in this link.

New legislation is being introduced in many states of the US regarding school snacks and vending machines in schools.

Not all food news is bad. Recently it was reported that fish oil could protect against the effects of junk food. Omega-3-fatty acids contained in fish oil are helping to rebalance the ratio between omega 3 and omega 6-fatty acids in food, which often is disbalanced towards an overabundance of omega-6 fatty aids in processed foods. Rebalancing the omega3/omega6 ratio in food helps to normalize the metabolism of the brain and prevents hardening of arteries.

What you can do to get healthy food

It starts when you buy food. Read labels and look for calories, sugar, fat and sodium content. You may be surprised how many stores carry organic foods now. The price may not be that much more. There is a useful app for your cell phone, Buycott, that you may want to download. This way you can scan items in the store and find out what ingredients are contained in a particular food item and which company produces it.

With meats it is particularly important to buy organic (because of superbugs and also because of the aspect that feed lot animals often receive antibiotics and hormones). Stick to organics also with vegetables and greens (xenoestrogens in non-organic greens that block hormone receptors). Milk products also need to be organic because of the bovine growth hormone facts mentioned above.

When you eat out, things become more difficult unless you find an organic food restaurant. You can always prepare your own salad for lunch with organic greens and a lean protein food, which you keep refrigerated until you are ready to consume it. On weekends a portable picnic in a park can be a great way to relax and socialize, especially in summer.

More information about nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014