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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Gluten Free Lifestyle

There are many articles today that talk about the "gluten free" lifestyle.

You read them all over.

There's a lot of troubling implications with this sort of thing and its not that people aren't doing enough to "help" those with the problem.

Stefano Guandalini, founder and medical director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel its safe to say that "In general, it is safe to say the rates [ of autoimmune-type problems like gluten intolerance ] about double every 20 years or so."

It its not just gluten intolerance - other diseases as well.

The question is what is this a disease of?

Is it a disease of your body or a disease of the "food manufacturing" process in the SAD (Standard American Diet).

These problems are only arising only in our culture and others like it.

A couple of years ago I wrote "Live Long and Prosper" on my personal blog.   Basically I explained that if you lived poor in rural Mexico you wouldn't be suffering from these kinds of problems (nor SAD's heart disease and all the rest)...  you'd be better off health wise.

Of course many rural Mexicans are poor and don't have access to some of the few benefits of the American way of life - certain types of health care, etc.

But in general, in terms of diet, they're better off...

And that's SAD.

So now we have the WSJ talking about the danger of gluten intolerance.

I have family members with these kinds of problems - born well before SAD.

Even SADer is the fact that the medical establishment can't really tell if you have a gluten intolerance at all.  There's a spectrum of problems with no definite lines demarking the "levels" of the problem.

There is speculation that as many as 1 in 133 people have a gluten intolerance - about twice the rate of Asia and Africa.  If the number doubles as the Celiac Center predicts it will be some one in sixty by 2032.

Diagnosis, unfortunately, is also a problem.  The most common symptoms are irritable bowels, constipation,  and diarrhea. 

Know anyone with any of these problems?

Gluten intolerance occurs when gluten - a portion of the modern wheat you eat - enters your intestines.  If you are intolerant it acts as an invader and your body attempts to reject it.

Unfortunately, other problems, such as poor gut flora due to antibiotics, can cause similar reactions.

Its possible to "cure" the problem in some cases by cutting off gluten intake and waiting for the body to eliminate it completely.  At that point you can consume "gluten free" foods and move on.

If you don't eliminate the food from your intestines you will probably never "fix" the problem because your body will continue to attack the remaining gluten.

Similarly, if you continue to eat any gluten in any form (and its in virtually everything from beer to gum to soy sauce to ketchup packets) from any source (restaurant,  friends house, residue on your hands from feeding a pet) whether on purpose or not your efforts to rid your body of it will fail.

So special "cafeteria areas" like described in the WSJ such as those at Penn State are basically useless in my opinion because you can bet those kids will get gluten in their bodies from any number of sources.  (Meticulous habits are required if you go down this road.)

And if the problem is expanding its also tied to how wheat is grown and hybridized.  Two hundred years ago wheat was never used along - it was almost always mixed with other grains and beans in flour.  Fifty years ago the wheat varieties grown had much less gluten than today.

But wheat is both cheap and filling so you find it everywhere.

Could we live in a world without it?

Certainly - but because its cheap this won't change any time soon.

The best indicator I see of "wheat or gluten content" is the colorfulness of the packaging.  If its plastic or card board and painted with bright flashy colors its likely full of wheat or gluten.

So when you see folks at the check out with their carts piled high with this stuff its little wonder we have this problem today.

It takes the Celiac center four years on average to diagnose someone with this problem - four years.

The bottom line is that as everything gets "cheaper" our health goes out the window with it.

Personally in the Wolf household I've noticed that eating good food is cheaper than eating plastified crap from a box.  Yes its more work to handle and prepare - but on average I'd say you spend 20% less.

In part this is because good food is far more filling and satisfying than crap.

In large part as people of come to rely more on "convenient" foods the problems we face with SAD have grown - and will continue to grow.

We as a country are going into debt in part to pay for the medical problems our SAD diet is creating.

Where is FDA on this?

No where.

A friend of mine showed me an interesting article the other day.

The US Department of Interior does not want people to feed animals on lands owned by the US government.

The reason is that A) its bad for the animals and B) the animals become dependent on that food and don't eat what's good for them.

What does our debt-ridden welfare state do to people?

Pays for bad food and makes them dependent on it.

No wonder we are having problems as a nation.

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