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Against the Grain – The Problem with Processed Foods
- Over the recent years, we have begun to notice just how dangerous grains could be to humans, animals, and the environment. Though they weren’t always a dangerous substance, the way that we grow, cultivate, and refine grains has changed over the last few decades, leading to a lower number of nutrients, and a higher exposure to dangerous chemicals.
- Modern grains lack much of the nutritional value that we used to get from whole and ancient grains. Today, the wheat products that we consume on a regular basis are lacking in everything from potassium, to magnesium, selenium, niacin, and Vitamin E.
- If the nutritional problems with modern grains wasn’t enough, these products are now sprayed with huge amounts of glyphosate herbicides in the United States. Glyphosate has been defined as dangerous to human health, and capable of binding with nutrients so that plants cannot absorb them fully.
- Regular exposure to glyphosate has been shown in numerous studies to contribute to hormone problems, cancer development, and even kidney or liver damage – yet the amount that we use on a regular basis is growing more every year. People are choosing quick and inexpensive harvesting over the health of society.
- Glyphosate can be found in many of the foods that we eat and feed our children on a regular basis from modern cookies, crackers, potato chips, and more. All of these refined foods are dangerous to consume for multiple reasons.
- On top of those problems, eating more grains also means that we’re eating less of other crucial substances like vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. We are all becoming more deficient in the nutrients that we need to survive. Some experts suggest that grains may even be contributing to higher levels of obesity and diabetes – as a refined carb.
- People need to start changing the way that they look at grains, and thinking of new ways to supplement these substances in their diet with vegetables and other healthy food sources. Modern grains should no longer be a dietary staple.
Understanding the Dangers of the Modern Grain
It’s only in the recent years that we have begun to recognize the problems associated with eating grains. Though grains have been consumed for thousands of years, our modern adaptation of wheat and similar substances is making the human race sicker, and more prone to illness than ever before. Thanks to modern grain milling, designed to turn natural grains into processed food – our opinion of grains has changed.
At a basic level, grains are the edible seeds of grass-based plants. There are a wide range of different varieties out there, and the most common include corn, wheat, oats, and rice. These substances are some of the most-consumed foods worldwide, and represent the primary source of energy and nutrition for most populations across the globe. By definition, a whole grain is made up of the full seed, while refined grains have the germ or bran removed, which leaves nothing more than the starchy endosperm.
While a full grain can have numerous nutritional benefits, including b-vitamins and magnesium, refined grains are processed beyond recognition, then enriched with synthetic solutions like iron, and folic acid. According to experts, modern industrial processes mean that we lose out on the following substances:
- Vitamin E 86%
- Niacin 81%
- Thiamine 77%
- Calcium 60%
- Magnesium 84%
- Phosphorus 71%
- Iron 76%
- Zinc 78%
- Cobalt 89%
- Selenium 16%
- Manganese 86%
- Copper 68%
- Potassium 77%
However, that’s by no means an exhaustive list.
Our Grains Have Changed
Perhaps one of the biggest problems with modern grains is that they’re nothing like what they used to be centuries ago. On top of that, the grains we eat in the U.S. aren’t the same as the grains in other countries.
For instance, if we look back a while, to 1872 – when the roller mill we use today was invented – we can see that before then, grains were consumed largely in whole form, often using rudimentary methods. This meant the flour still maintained all the important components of a whole grain. However, as the modern mill came to life, the whole grain could be separated to create a nutritionally lacking and inexpensive white flour. The lack of germ and bran meant that these refined flours could last longer on the shelves – but lacked the nutritional value we craved.
Only a couple of decades ago, the problem grew even worse as modern inventors designed ways to cultivate the way we consume wheat today. The modern wheat that is in our diets now is not the same as the food we used to have. Instead, it’s a form of dwarf wheat that was first developed during the 1960s in an attempt to increase the amount of wheat capable of being farmed per acre. Unfortunately, this wheat was far less nutritious and came with a huge list of problems. Centuries of study have tracked the changes in our diet since then, and we’ve found some distressing results.
For instance, between1843 and the 1960s, the mineral content of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper remained mostly constant. However, beyond that point, the nutrient levels started to fall. Studies have also found that older wheats had higher amounts of selenium – a crucial mineral that modern wheats struggle to offer.
Simply put, our modern conveniences have found new types of wheat that are simpler and faster to grow – but they don’t contain the same levels of nutrients or have the same levels of health-boosting abilities as we once received from wheat. Instead, they have huge levels of phytic acid that can help to promote an imbalance that leads to nutrient deficiencies – and that’s not even the biggest problem.
Modern Grains are Sprayed with Poison
In other countries throughout the world, scientific studies have found that rates of intolerance and allergies related to grain consumption are nowhere near as high as they are in the U.S. This means, people who travel away from America generally find that they are able to eat grains with fewer problems – even if they have negative reactions at home. The reason for this is simply that we treat our grains differently in the United States than other places throughout the world.
The common protocol for harvesting wheat in the U.S. generally involves coating the fields with a chemical solution before the harvesters move through the fields and collect the grain. This means that they can collect a larger harvest overall. Unfortunately, the decision to spray the wheat with herbicides means exposing it to a huge dose of an active ingredient known as glyphosate.
According to research from MIT studies – which lead to the in depth study of glyphosate in modern grains, the current crops that we consume are all contaminated with a product that we largely regard to be poisonous and dangerous to human health. If we look at the time line of when glyphosate spraying was introduced to the cultivation of modern grains, we see a strange connection between the large amounts of poisonous herbicides, and the growing wheat and gluten intolerance in the U.S.
In other words, it’s safe to assume that there’s a connection between glyphosate and the way we react to grains. After all, where this product is banned in many parts of the world – people generally don’t have the same reaction to consuming grains. A recent news release has helped to explain how the use of glyphosate on crops may be to blame – in part for the raised amount of people suffering from celiac disease and similar problems.
The Dangers of Glyphosate
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and particularly the United States. The news release mentioned above discovered that this substance has been found in a wide range of best-selling foods that people eat today – in very alarming levels.
While glyphosate is often recognized as the active ingredient of Roundup weed killer and similar commercial herbicides, it was originally patented in 1964 as a drain cleaner. Similar to other forms of pipe cleaning products, this substance also binds with vital nutrients such as zinc, manganese, and iron – preventing plants from absorbing them as they should. This leads to serious problems for the humans and animals that consume these grains.
Since the first glyphosate-based herbicides were delivered in 1974, the use of this substance has skyrocketed by more than 300 times, leading to 3.5 billion pounds of herbicide being sold throughout the United States now. Since plants that are treated with glyphosate have lower levels of nutrients and struggle with reduced growth in comparison to non-sprayed products, this lower nutrient uptake could be linked to the increased susceptibility to various diseases.
The findings of this news report come at the exact same time as the EPA postponed hearings that were expected to explore the link between glyphosate and cancer in humans. In 2015, seventeen cancer experts from across the globe sparked controversy when they determined glyphosate to be a class 2A “probably human carcinogen“.
Yet, despite all of these terrifying results, many of the foods that we eat every day are absolutely brimming with glyphosate content. For instance:
- Original cheerios have 1,125.3 ppb AMPA
- Honey nut cheerios have 670.2 ppb AMPA
- Wheaties have 31.2 ppb
- Trix have 9.9 ppb
- Oreo double stuff cookies have 140.90 ppb
- Lays original have 452.71 ppb
- Doritos have 481.27 ppb
- Ritz have 270.24 ppb
- Fritos have 175.71 ppb
(PPB stands for Parts Per Billion)
What Does Glyphosate Mean to Us?
Unfortunately, the dangers of glyphosate go far beyond concerns involving the limited level of nutrients in modern foods. Many peer-reviewed scientific studies into the effects of modern grains laced heavily with glyphosate have shown that the damage caused by this substance to environmental, animal, and human health is astronomical. For instance, glyphosate has been linked to everything from hormone disruption, to cancer, and more.
Glyphosate and Cancer
Various long-term studies have begun to indicate that glyphosate may prompt the growth of cancer in animal and human subject. For instance, one long-term study on rats found that glyphosate has significant carcinogenic effects on the animals it is exposed to.
Similarly, an epidemiological study of pesticides in the USA found that frequent exposure to glyphosate was associated with higher amounts of multiple myeloma. If that wasn’t enough, further research conducted in Sweden confirms the concerns associated with glyphosate and cancer by showing that exposure to the herbicide could be linked to higher risks of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Regular doses of glyphosate have also been linked to a process known as “hormone hacking” – where the toxins our bodies are exposed to can change the way our natural hormones function. For instance, glyphosate herbicide was an EDC in rats in a recent study, and was found to prevent proper reproductive development when they were exposed to the substance during puberty.
A further study on the glyphosate administered to rats in diluted drinking water found that those exposed to the substance suffered from serious organ damage and an increased number of mammary tumors within female animals over the two-year period for exposure.
Liver and Kidney Damage
Even at extremely low doses, research has found that glyphosate exposure can damage the liver and kidneys in animals – and probably humans too. A ground-breaking study published in 2015 discovered that the levels of glyphosate herbicides that the general public consume every day altered the gene functions of over 4000 genes in the kidneys and livers of rats.
Binding Essential Nutrients
As we mentioned above, glyphosate chelates vital nutrients in grains such as zinc, manganese, iron, and boron – which prevents plants from absorbing them as they should. In other words, the more of this substance that we eat, the less nutrients we get.
Finally, research that was conducted in New Zealand discovered that common herbicides – such as those including glyphosate can cause bacteria to become more antibiotic-resistant.
The Problems with Grains Don’t Stop There
Unfortunately, as terrifying as the above problems might be – the issues that we’re currently having with glyphosate and grains don’t end with the issues addressed above. Aside from those problems, there are also a range of other concerns to think about.
For instance, because corn and grain are two of the most popular foods consumed in the United States, this should mean statistically that we are consuming fewer vegetables and fats than we used to. Since the refined grains that we eat on a regular basis are a refined carbohydrate – which can spike insulin levels, our increased consumption of them could be to blame for our higher levels of obesity and diabetes throughout the country.
Because grains are easy to consume and cheap to buy, we’re all eating huge amounts on a regular basis. Unfortunately, this means that we’re also ignoring the benefits of other crucial parts of the food pyramid, including beneficial fats, healthy proteins and vegetables. The result is that some experts are beginning to suggest that micronutrient deficiency caused by these grains may be a significant contributing factor to the types of modern disease we suffer from today. In other words, the fact that we can’t obtain enough micronutrients from our current food supply is making us sicker than ever.
So, What Can You Do?
As great as it might be to simply suggest that we stop eating refined grains altogether – the truth is that this isn’t a practical option for most people. Simply ignoring grains in our diets might not be desirable, or indeed possible – and for some people it may not be completely necessary. However, at the same time, it’s worth avoiding processed modern grains as much as possible – particularly those that offer no nutritional value and have been highly sprayed.
Most of the time, the best steps that you can take to protect yourself include:
- Avoiding most grains – particularly those that contain gluten, or those that have been sprayed heavily with glyphosate.
- Consuming whole or ancient grains instead that are full of the necessary vitamins and nutrients that we need to thrive and develop.
- Using vegetables instead of grains in as many recipes as possible. Regardless of how many grains you try to consume from “healthy” sources, the chances are that most vegetables will contain more nutrients. For instance, you might choose to use sweet potatoes for noodles, or other vegetables in new and exciting ways.
- Bake with flours that are completely free of grain. Today you can purchase flours that have no grains in them at all, such as almond or coconut flours. These substances are high in protein and pack plenty of fiber.
Perhaps the best step you can take is to avoid making grains an active staple of your diet. Do what you can to avoid grains in your meals as much as possible and search for new and creative ways to supplement the wheat in your food with vegetables and other food items.