What can I eat?
Have you noticed that more and more people seem to have “food sensitivities?” It is hard to invite people over for dinner anymore because so many have special dietary requirements. Their symptoms are real and the increase in food allergies is rising. Food sensitivities are complex immune reactions that lead to an inflammatory cascade. Symptoms vary for each person and can range in severity and location. Common symptoms can include migraines, gas and bloating, constipation/diarrhea, sinus problems, joint/muscle pain, edema, hives, skin rashes, fatigue, depression/anxiety, or brain fog.
So what is happening to our food chain? Bottom line: we no longer eat the same foods our ancestors ate. While our DNA and biology have only changed a little, our food supply has changed in an extreme way over the last 50 years. Unfortunately with the birth of modern mega-agriculture and the conglomeration of a food industry, most of “'food" today is not really food. Our senses, palates, and bodies are being tricked into believing that these fake or altered “foods” are nutritional substances. Modern farming practices use pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals that previously did not exist. Modern farming practices have left our soils depleted of nutrients and therefore crops have less nutrients. Our meat supply is fed antibiotics, hormones, and raised in a totally unnatural way. The food industry has found ways to harvest food before it is ripe and store it for many months or ship it around the world. Our grains are harvested and kept in moldy silos for 2 years before going to the mills where they are then refined and stripped of essential vitamins and minerals. The genetic modification of food has also been playing a large role in changing our food supply down to the very genetic level. It may be many decades before we see the true outcome of this manipulation. Increasingly, the US high tech food industry has been producing cheap synthetic foods with additives, stabilizers, colors, preservatives, and chemicals the likes of which our cells have never seen!
Gluten is fast becoming one of the most common food sensitivities. Gluten is a sticky protein found in certain grains (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut) that acts like a glue or paste. Did you ever paper mache as a kid? That paste is flour and water! Gluten holds flour together to make “good” bread; it keeps sauces and gravies from curdling; it gives cheese dips, dressing, and sweets a smooth texture. The US food industry is so in love with gluten that they have been genetically modifying wheat to contain a higher percentage. Problems with gluten are becoming literally epidemic and although public awareness about this issue is increasing, there are still many misconceptions. Did you know that in the US wheat feels are sprayed with RoundUp (Glycosate) before harvesting?!
Although commonly associated with celiac disease many do not appreciate gluten’s potentially incredible impact on the health of most of us. Many experts feel we would do better to limit all of our grain consumption! This is quite contrary to the USDA Food pyramid of a large grain base. In fact, gluten may well be at the silent root of a great many of the health challenges millions of people face today, both physical and mental.
Furthermore, the inherent presence of what are called exorphins in grains (morphine-like compounds) make gluten-containing grains quite addictive and leave many in frank denial of the havoc they can create.
Gluten can also be looked upon as a “gateway food sensitivity”. It is known to increase an enzyme in the body known as zonulin, which controls intestinal permeability. Elevated zonulin levels in the presence of gluten can also serve to allow other types of undigested proteins to slip past what would otherwise be more selectively permeable barriers and cause additional immunological reactions to other foods. Casein (milk protein) is the most common co-sensitivity with gluten, but the immune system can come to react to almost anything if gluten consumption persists. This can be a very real problem. Once multiple food sensitivities take over it can amount to a very vicious cycle that only worsens with time and becomes extremely difficult to correct. Healing can only occur when one eliminates the offending foods.