Thursday, 25 April 2013

We Are What We Eat

   An old phrase I know but very true non the less.
   A friend was bemoaning the fact that she had stomach ache the other day after being tempted to eat some fresh bread, thus confirming her gluten allergy. Someone else mentioned that gluten is nothing but a poison and that we shouldn’t be eating it. And yet bread has been the staple diet of mankind for centuries. So why this sudden development of gluten allergies?
   I am not a scientist, biologist or nutritionist; I have no medical training whatsoever only a lifetime of feeding a family, so please feel free to move on and ignore what I am about to say.
   Mild gluten allergy probably affects more people than anyone realises. Most people probably put the symptoms down to eating too much as it tends to make you feel bloated. I know certain foods are harder to digest than others so I avoid them. Do I have an allergy? I don’t know, I’ve never been tested. But my own common sense tells me if something gives me indigestion on a regular basis, don’t eat it. I don’t need to know why.
   Are we noticing it more because more people are going to their doctor asking for diagnosis? Is it because people are living longer than they did when mankind first started growing wheat and using it? In theory humans are natural hunters therefore meat eaters, so it is not natural for us to eat wheat or vegetables. (Don’t show this article to any vegetarians or kids who won’t eat their five a day!)
   So why do we fill our bellies with stuff we don’t need?
   Lactose intolerance is another thing that is common especially amongst the young. When you stop to think about it this is not surprising. Although milk contains lots of good useful ingredients, humans are the only mammals who continue to drink milk after they have been weaned. So maybe we should think twice about that yoghurt for breakfast or pudding.
   The trouble is when we go shopping we are presented with all these wonderful products which tell us how good they are for us. And we believe them. What we need to remember is that all the advertising and pretty packaging is there for one reason only, to make us buy things to make a profit for the food producing company.
   My latest concern is the proliferation of drinks that are full of ‘good bacteria’. In these we are giving our bodies something that most of us do not need. Most people are perfectly healthy without the addition of whatever is in these drinks. If they ARE so important to our health they should be provided on prescription. Ok, that might be a bit drastic and costly, but what I’m trying to say is they should only be taken with medical advice.
   I might be slightly biased here because I tried some once. The result was a belly-ache the like of which I had never known in my life. My own bacteria were raging a war against these invaders resulting in pain I hadn’t known since giving birth. You don’t see that in the adverts! And since then I have been unable to touch any sort of yoghurt on a regular basis without rekindling the war.
   But there is enough of this stuff being sold to make it worthwhile for the company to continue producing it. Even if a customer only ever buys it once, there are enough first time buyers to make a profit. Hook a proportion of those first time buyers into making it a regular part of their diet even if only for one month and the profit increases. And that is what the whole thing is about. Profit. Not making or keeping people fit. If it wasn’t profitable it would quickly disappear from the supermarket shelves.
   So back to the question of food allergies. Some things are truly dangerous. Going into anaphylactic shock after eating something you are really allergic to can be fatal. 
   Other things are merely a nuisance, they might make you ill but won’t kill you. How can we avoid such things? Not sure we can,  but I would suggest being more cautious about what you buy and eat. Yes, we need food to survive. But we don’t necessarily need everything that is on offer. There is no doubt that many people in the developed world eat too much, so when filling your supermarket trolley next time you go shopping stop and think about what you are putting in it. Are you buying it because you need it to keep your body going or because it looks pretty and the TV ads make it sound like you can’t live without it. Or maybe ask yourself, ‘Did my grandparents eat this?’
   Right! Now I’ve finished this I’m off for a cup of tea and a couple of gluten rich biscuits!

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