You are on the Ethernet air with Doctor Showbizhair. Last week JC and I had a cool little conversation on an excellent book called Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, MD. Now we only had twenty minutes to talk about stuff and we got a little side tracked on a fascinating subject. But since this is about Grain Brain I suppose it should be limited to discussion.
Now JC, one of the things I got from you in the conversation was that the theoretical benefit to not eating gluten was intriguing. I know that you are a student of history and I was very pleased to hear you say “depending on what you believe” when it came to how long humans have been farming in context to how long we were hunters and gatherers (no matter what you believe it warms my heart to know you are thinking about how others are thinking).
The Fanboy Pastor:
I mean, whether you believe man has been here for millennia or millions of years, I think we can all agree that our current state of living is a bit far from hunter-gather or even agrarian sustenance farming of a couple hundred years ago.
I would argue that the agricultural leaps of the last 30 years in some ways are radically different than any of the leaps of the last thousand years. I believe that genetic engineering is not inherently bad, but the problem stems from what we do with it.
If you design a crop to survive strange weather patterns, then awesome. But if you are using it to increase the sugar in a fruit just because you know more people will eat it, and you know that sugar can be addictive, that falls into the misuse of science category.
One of the main points made about gluten in the book is that our bodies never really adapted mechanistically to remove it from our systems. Gluten is described as a sticky protein, which I must say is scary when it comes to brain health.
To put that in context, based on current Alzheimer’s knowledge, the beta amyloid plaques that form in the brain are just proteins that began sticking together forming the plaque. Gluten, conceptually, seems like it is a stone’s throw away from Alzheimer’s, even without the evidence presented in the book (I suggest you read it).
I know that a lot of people might be rolling their eyes here, but realize that even a couple of generations ago; we didn’t understand a correlation between smoking and cancer.
Science is showing more and more that the advances we’ve made might be harmful in the long run. Our bodies came with default settings, and it wasn’t sitting at a desk all day under fluorescent lights, eating pre-packaged processed “food” our great grandparents (or grandparents, if you’re of a certain age) wouldn’t have eaten.
I really love this point, to quote the quotation of the oft quoted Ian Malcolm of memes,
your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.
There are a lot of things that just haven’t been given the time to test to see if they work. I really hate to argue against progress, but it seems like in order to get ahead, people “progress” as fast as they can to make profit, or to just keep up. Even if that is to the detriment of the consumer.
Up until recently (last few decades), you used to be able to get fruit at only a certain time of year, and it was more expensive, thus more precious. Meaning you couldn’t go get the avocado, pineapples, mango smoothie you love so gosh darn much.
The same thing applies to breads that we eat. They weren’t affected in the same way by the seasons, but we didn’t use to eat so much. With the exception of the last few years, even the food pyramid had bread and wheat as the base of our diet. If you temporarily believe gluten and excess carbohydrates are bad for you, it is terrifying.
What interested me the most in the conversation was that, as you put it (paraphrasing of course), even if there are health and mental benefits to being gluten free, there is no way to do it and not increase the amount that you spend on food.
After reading the book, the argument is made that gluten is everywhere, not just obvious places like bread and pasta. It’s added to sausages, blue cheese, salad dressing, and a few other places.
It takes a lot of discipline to check every label, source every ingredient, and know for 100% certain that there is absolutely no gluten in your diet. It would be easier to just go off the grid, build a homestead, and live off the land. There are some folks who could say that is the way we were meant to live, and I can somewhat agree.
So, yeah, either way, it means making a radical and expensive change. Or, you can simply admit that you can’t clear all the gluten out of your life and intentionally cut out what you can. You mentioned using spaghetti squash instead of noodles. Little changes like that can make a big difference over the course of a lifetime.
And for me, setting those types of examples for my kids is paramount. I’m not just doing this for me; I’m doing it for them.
I completely agree JC, it should be for them. The crux of the problem seems to stem from the fact that it is hard to radically change one’s diet. Especially because if you do a complete overhaul, it is like being lost in the wilderness. You really don’t know where to begin.
Before jumping whole (not grain) heartedly onto the grain free tracks to begin my journey, I used to think that eating a meatball sub was pretty healthy. Now that is my “cheat” food – when I eat it, I know I have damaged my health for several days, even though it is delicious.
It is hard to pull yourself away from what you were raised to eat and trust that the new “fad” diet is actually going to help you. But I have tried it, and to the best of my ability I live it. Partially because I like the weight loss and more because I like looking down on the rest of you with my superior intellect, unencumbered by a gluten addled mind.
And while I love looking down on everyone, it would be nice if everyone fulfilled their potential by becoming more healthy (read: better) versions of themselves.
So we have told you not to eat gluten, soon we will tell you what to eat instead, and it is comparable in price, which I understand is important. Not everyone has a hydroponic garden…. YET.