Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Just a Little Bit of Wheat

Wheat and Gluten allergies come – like all food intolerances – in many forms. Quickened pulse rate, light headedness, stomach cramps, vomiting and nausea, hives, rashes, difficulty breathing as well as anaphylactic shock. In Celiac disease instead of antibodies attacking food and causing allergy like symptoms, the antibodies attack the villi and micro villi that cover the small intestine. These villi are the mechanism by which nutrients from food are absorbed thought the wall of the small intestine and into the bloodstream. When gluten is consumed villi are destroyed and the host will become malnourished.

These reactions can be mostly attributed to the trilploid and hexiploid nature of agricultural wheats and grains. The most common grain used is appropriately named Common Wheat or Bread Wheat, a hexaploid species of wheat that has been cultivated and genetically engineered from several types wheats to be both hardy to weather conditions, pests and still yield high protein content. As a result of this breeding, the chromosomes of the wheat cells have more than the natural two chromosome pairs (diploid). A cell difference that antibodies and cell recognition sensors internally see as an abnormality and often a mutation that should be destroyed. Hence the adverse reactions in most people when consumed. Other common wheat types such as Durum and Emmer are only triploid and spelt is actually another hexaploid. Einkorn wheat however is a diploid species that is usually found wild (an ancient wheat that was used to help cultivate the unnatural wheats used worldwide today), but there are few and hard to find cultivated varieties of Einkorn. And these Einkorn varieties of wheat can be consumed and absorbed reaction free by nearly all wheat sufferers.

Due to the agricultural disadvantage of growing non genetically engineered wheat (more susceptible to damage and less protein yields) Einkorn farming is fairly limited. However, some Eastern Oregon Farmers are making an attempt to incorporate Einkorn varieties in with Durman and Spelt yields. And Hopworks Brewery is currently brewing  Einkorn into their 7 Grain Stout. Luckily for us Oregonians our state tends to be idea for grass growth I would imagine any advances in Einkorn cultivation would be heard first on home ground (most likely at Bob’s Red Mill).

Friday, November 19, 2010


The health message in today's post: doing things that make you happy can do wonders for your ability to process and endure life’s downs. This resilience to tougher times can help lower your stress levels, which in turn keeps your body functioning outside of crisis mode even though it seems life wants nothing more than to destroy you. We have all felt like that, and the most important thing to remember in getting through these tough times are the things that make you truly happy. Movies have always been one of my favorite pleasures, they are bright and shiny and beautiful, whether it be a musical, a comedy, a horror movie or cartoons, they always cheer me up. Today I got to thinking about cartoons in general and how the limitless possibilities of expression in this medium is truly astounding. You don’t need special effects or fancy contraptions to defy the laws of nature and gravity. Given the right tools you can reinvent the world. And while some of my favorite cartoons have always been on the light and fluffy side, there are some noteworthy films in the animation category that may change your life as much as they changed mind. Such movies as, “Waltz with Bashir”, “Grave of the Fire Flies”, “Persepolis” and “The Triplets of Bellville” run the gamete from unimaginably sad, to beautiful, to awe inspiring to hilarious, and have truly expanded my world view.  But if you are reading at work and do not have time go out and hunt for these movies,  watch these shorts and maybe find some inspiration to seek the limitless possibilities of animated films.

Between Bears by Ori Avni and Daniela Spector

Day and Night by Pixar

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eat Your Apples Not Your Pills

Have you ever been out to a restaurant and witnessed a person pulling a kayak sized pill box out and taking more vitamins than food is on the table, or is this you? While eating poorly and subsidizing your diet with vitamins may be an easy diet option, it is not a wise one. Throw the pills away and pick up an apple.

There are a lot of things wrong with vitamins. Aside from the obvious fact that you as a consumer have no way of knowing how long those pills have been on the shelf, or for that matter how long the ingredients in the pills sat before they got inserted into capsules and sent to the grocery. But also take into consideration how much trust you are putting into a label. There are a lot of big words on there, do you know what they are? Ninety percent of most dietary supplements are made of filler. And that filler can range to any number of mysterious albeit digestible materials. But just because the FDA and our friendly supplement manufactures say it’s okay to ingest it doesn’t mean that you should.

The ingredients that people flock towards supplements for, are found in food. Food that is found in your grocery store. In the produce section, the whole meats section (not chicken strips or nuggets, real honest to goodness chicken, beef, fish, pork etc), and the whole dairy section (milk, cream ,cheese), and the whole grains located in the bulk sections of most markets (oats, nuts and legumes). We as humans have evolved along with every other living organisms on this planet to suit our environment. We evolved with our food sources and unless you ate a radioactive Cheesy Poof, I don’t think the chip/cookie isle, the boxes and prepared food isle, or the frozen dinner isle is going to provide the substance your body need to carry out normal daily metabolic functions.  

These very real, very normal foods have all the vitamins and minerals a person needs. If you eat them, veggies first, then fruits, followed by legumes and meats, then dairy and breads. Daily at every meal you will be taking in Vitamin A, B, C, D, K as well as Chromium, Copper, Fluorine, Manganese, Selenium Zinc, and Iron. And not only will you be taking them in, but they come prepared by nature in packages that allow for optimum absorption and complimentary pairing, ie your body will know what to do with it.  

Vitamins and minerals are good, in fact your body needs them to function. So do yourself a favor and eat them in a way they can be used. Eating an apple a day really does keep the doctor away.