For the past month or so, we’ve been discussing all things brain health, including how insulin resistance and gluten sensitivity damage our noodles, how a brain on fire can leave us feeling foggy, and the role of hormonal imbalances in neurotransmitter and mood issues.
Plus, our pal Jim Kwik — he’s on UW Radio Monday night, by the way — invited us to learn his best kept secrets and strategies for upgrading your memory, recall, and learning speed in this FREE video series.
Today, we eat.
In the video below, Christa Orecchio of The Whole Journey invites us into her kitchen and shows us the very BEST foods to protect our brains…and live longer.
Adding these foods to your diet will reduce oxidative stress, cool down inflammation, and significantly cut your risk of major brain conditions like Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s.
Now that’s smart!
Press the PLAY button below to get your learn on. It’s good for you!
Note: The following blog post has been adapted from a post I wrote back in December of 2010 called Detecting Gluten Sensitivity: The New Frontier. A lot has happened on this site since then. So if you missed this post or are new to UW, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
I used to be the King of Whole Grains.
Indoctrinated to be a processed food salesman by my university-taught nutrition courses, I spent several years drilling the base of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid into the skulls of my personal training clients.
“Six to eleven servings of bread, rice, and pasta a day, you people!! How on Earth do you expect to meet your energy and fiber requirements? Do it! DO IT NOW!”
Fast-forward ten years to present day and I can’t help but wonder how much damage my whole grain zealotry may have caused. Who knows how many of my clients were overweight, fatigued, depressed, and more due to undiagnosed gluten sensitivity.
I honestly didn’t know any better.
And even when I thought I knew the intricacies of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, I really didn’t. Yeah, I knew more than the average person, but I was still in the Stone Age as far as the research was concerned.
That all changed when I had the privilege of attending Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s Understanding the Complexity of Gluten Sensitivity seminar here in San Diego back in 2010.
As always, Dr. K blew my mind with his thorough research and clear presentation on a topic that literally affects millions of people. The doc dropped some monster truth bombs!
With new information comes responsibility. So even though I can’t by any means claim to be an authority on gluten, I feel it is my duty to share what I believe to be a new, promising paradigm in the detection and diagnosis of gluten sensitivity. This is literally information that will not only change lives, but save them as well.
Gluten sensitivity is an immune response to gluten, which is found in commonly consumed grains such as wheat, spelt, kamut, oats (unless designated gluten-free), rye, and barley. In other words, it’s pretty much the bottom of the food pyramid I was at one time enamored with, the very same foods we are advised to eat the most often.
I could probably write a short book on how this errant dietary recommendation has caused much pain and suffering by way of inflammation, intestinal destruction, neurological disorders, and autoimmunity, but today we’ll stick to the matter of detection.
When I worked as a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner, one of the first recommendations I would give to my clients was the removal of all gluten-containing grains. After some time making this recommendation I went a step further and not only asked that my clients remove gluten, but all grains, legumes (including peanuts), and dairy products.
It never ceases to amaze me how the removal of gluten alone can cause such a profound improvement in my clients’ lives.
Bowels become regular.
Brain fog dissipates.
Skin clears up.
One simple recommendation can make a world of difference.
Despite their apparent improvements on a gluten-free diet, many of these same people had at one time been tested for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. All had tested negative, giving them no conclusive reason to stop consuming gluten.
But if the tests came up negative, then why do they feel so much better when they stop eating gluten?
The answer is that the tests most commonly used to detect gluten sensitivity are nowhere near as thorough as you’d think.
Let’s start with celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune condition that falls under the umbrella of gluten sensitivity. With celiac, the consumption of gluten causes damage to the small intestine.
According to Dr. Kharrazian in his bestselling book Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms?, “the disease affects up to one in 100 Americans, although only 1 in 8 are expected to be aware of their condition, as symptoms are silent.”
Gluten expert Dr. Thomas O’Bryan describes celiac as one of the most common lifelong disorders in the United States and Europe. In fact, autoimmune disease (when your immune system attacks your own glands, tissues, and organs) is ten times more common in those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity than the general population (1).
Coincidence? I think not.
When we consider that autoimmune disease is the number three cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world, you can understand why detecting sensitivity to gluten is of critical importance. At the same time, we must also wonder why it is so seldom diagnosed.
The gold standard for celiac diagnosis is a small intestinal biopsy, which requires a sample of the cells in the intestinal wall to detect gluten-induced injury. An extremely uncomfortable procedure to begin with, intestinal biopsy commonly results in false negatives since intestinal damage can vary from one location to the next.
Also, since the intestinal cells are replaced every few days, the biopsied area may have healed prior to the procedure. In fact, the intestine will appear perfectly normal after just a week or two of strict compliance with a gluten-free diet (2). Hardly a definitive test by any stretch, many true celiacs slip through the cracks. Told that gluten is not the cause of their health challenges, many spend the rest of their lives seeking help for “unexplained illnesses”. Meanwhile, they are eating themselves sick.
Another marker for celiac disease is tissue transglutaminase and endomysial antibodies. This blood test is said to be 97% accurate, an extremely impressive statistic when taken at face value. However, it only exhibits such pinpoint accuracy when there is total villous atrophy, or when the small intestinal lining has been worn all the way down!
With only partial villous atrophy the test’s accuracy plummets to 32%. What this means is that the test is wrong 7 times out of 10 and that in order to be diagnosed with celiac the intestinal wall has to be demolished beyond recognition! In other words, you may in fact have celiac disease, but your gut just isn’t bad enough yet for the doctor to diagnose it. So you just continue eating gluten until sufficient damage accumulates for standard diagnosis. Silly, I know!
Speaking of silliness, gluten sensitivity (which may or may not be celiac) is often detected by what are called gliadin antibodies. Gluten is actually made up of two components, gliadin (the protein part) and glutenin (the sticky part). The gliadin protein is believed to be the immune-reactive component (more on this later). A positive gliadin antibodies test indicates the immune system is mounting a defense against the protein.
The big problem with the gliadin antibody test is that there are four components of gliadin: alpha, beta, gamma, and omega. However, this test only measures the alpha portion, since it is most commonly associated with celiac disease. The test ignores the remaining three potentially reactive gliadin components! You can test negative for alpha, but may still be positive for beta, gamma, or omega. Unfortunately, you’d never know since you were not tested for them! This is the “state-of-the-art” testing we’ve relied upon for the detection of a potentially debilitating condition.
But wait, there’s more.
Glutenin: Gliadin’s Other Half
As mentioned above, gluten is composed of gliadin and glutenin. It has long been believed that only the gliadin portion is responsible for gluten sensitivity. According to a study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (2006), “it is highly probable that the glutenin proteins are toxic.” In other words, laboratories are only testing for half of the potentially immune-reactive components of gluten. And for the half that they do test (gliadin), only one-quarter of it is being measured (alpha gliadin).
Traditional gluten testing does not look for glutenin antibodies.
We have yet another reason to avoid processed foods. By way of a process called deamidation, food manufacturers alter the gliadin protein in order to make it more water soluble and easier to mix with other foods and liquids. This deamidation process also occurs naturally in the intestines, which can be a problem within itself. But the use of deamidated wheat isolates in our food supply has become a hidden source of food allergy. In fact, immune T-cells respond more readily to deamidated gliadin than non-deamidated gliadin.
What all this means is that an individual can have no sensitivities to any other forms of gliadin but its deamidated form in processed foods. And the immune system’s response to it will be far more aggressive.
Traditional gluten testing does not look for deamidated gliadin antibodies.
Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA): Rethinking Sprouted Wheat
WGA is the lectin component of wheat. Lectins are present in all grains and can pass through the gut wall in their intact form, causing the immune system to recognize them as foreign invaders and mount a defense against them. WGA, the most studied of the lectin family, is found in high concentrations in whole-wheat products, especially sprouted wheat.
Maybe that Ezekiel bread isn’t so good for you after all…
WGA reactions can cause red blood cells to clump together. Not good. It can also break down the blood-brain barrier and inhibit nerve growth factor (just as bad as it sounds).
Common WGA-induced symptoms are poor circulation, cold hands and feet, reduced learning capacity, and brain fog.
Traditional gluten testing does not look for wheat germ agglutinin antibodies.
Gluteomorphins: Are You an Addict?
Many people who go gluten-free claim that the diet actually makes them feel worse. This can be quite baffling if one is unfamiliar with gluteomorphins. Common in autistic children, gluteomorphins are opiod peptides formed during the digestion of the gliadin component of the gluten protein (3). For these folks, getting off of gluten can be like kicking a cocaine habit!
The discontinuance of any addictive substance will result in a period of withdrawal lasting a few days to several weeks. In the case of gluteomorphin withdrawal, symptoms can include neurochemical imbalances, altered mood, and gastrointestinal distress. Yes, gluten can be a drug.
An individual whose immune system is making antibodies to gluteomorphins will have a much tougher time in the early phases of a gluten-free diet.
Traditional gluten testing does not look for gluteomorphin antibodies.
Wrapping It Up
Ugh! I hate when my blogs turn out this long…
Another antibody to look for is prodynorphin. A basic building block of endorphins, the manufacturing of prodynorphin can become depleted in gluten sensitive individuals, leading to vulnerability to drug addiction, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and a form of epilepsy (3).
Lastly, many gluten sensitive individuals go off of gluten and continue to have problems. This can be due to cross-reactivity with other foods, including rice, corn, quinoa, chocolate, cow’s milk, and more. Your best bet is to avoid all grains. And while you’re at it, cut out the legumes and dairy too. If you don’t think you can do this, I highly recommend you get tested for any cross-reactive foods.
So, how do you get tested for what today’s standard lab tests tend to miss?
Cyrex Laboratories has made the definitive test for gluten sensitivity available to the millions of people who desperately need them. For more information, please visit www.cyrexlabs.com.
Again, I’m no expert on gluten sensitivity. Nor should any of us have to be in order to get the best testing possible for such a potentially debilitating condition. The effects of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity are far-reaching. It can literally affect all parts of the body and be involved in any disease process.
You can be gluten sensitive and have absolutely no gastrointestinal symptoms. In fact, more people will have gluten disruption against the brain than against their intestinal tracts. It can be a silent killer slowly wearing down the body until enough destruction has occurred to warrant an autoimmune disease diagnosis. If the antibodies are present, autoimmunity can’t be far behind.
Get tested. And get the right test.
Disclaimer: The author is in no way affiliated with Cyrex Laboratories. He just thinks this stuff is really cool!
1. ACAM Podcast: Antibody Array for the Detection of Autoimmune Disease Disorders Associated with Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease presented by Dr. Thomas O’Bryan. Available on iTunes
2. Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan, M.A.
3. Dr. Datis Kharrazian, Understanding the Complexity of Gluten Sensitivity lecture slide notes
Did you know that too much sugar and insulin circulating through your bloodstream causes inflammation, skews hormones, and throws off neurotransmitter balance, all of which lead to rapid degeneration of your brain?
It’s true! It’s true!
Get the scoop on hyperglycemia, diabetes, and how too much sugar and starch may be killing your brain cells in today’s video.
Sometimes the simplest answer can be the correct one, especially in times of gross incertitude when contradictory information calls everything into question.
Factor in the emotional charge of scam artists tugging at our wallets and pursestrings, and the majority will resolve to not be the suckers. To wash their hands of it all.
Meanwhile, an ever so small segment of the minority opts to dig through the dirt for the real answers, probing beyond the bought-and-paid-for research and the front page media reports that transmit these faux scientific findings to the masses.
Example. Around this time last year, one such headline was all the buzz in just about every newsroom, kitchen, and produce aisle across the land.
It read: Little Evidence of Health Benefits from Organic Foods, Stanford Study Finds.
The verdict had been handed down. Not by a jury of our peers, but by highly intelligent PhDs in lab coats. Game over.
The majority rejoiced en masse, whooping a collective “I told you so!” across social media feeds.
Organic and non-organic (a.k.a. conventional) foods were deemed separate but equal — separated by stock keeping units and, of course, a palpable cost chasm, but equal in nutritional value. So they said.
The Stanford review, however, came with one caveat that certainly did not go unnoticed by conventional produce consumers.
Quoting this article published on the Stanford Medicine website, “…researchers found that organic produce had a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, [though] organic foods are not necessarily 100 percent free of pesticides.”
The solution seemed simple: If there’s pesticide on your produce, just wash it off.
If it were only that easy.
More Than Skin Deep.
The truth about organic food goes well beneath the skins of our fruits and vegetables. While we sling dirt about nutritional value, our attention is drawn away from the deeper issues lying at the roots of the food debate.
Ironically, these very same issues — climate change, rising sea levels, endangered species, and clean water — are the ones guiding our decisions to bring our own bags to the supermarket, to feel ashamed when we don’t use the recycle bins, and to downsize our SUVs for electric or hybrid cars.
The story that is not being told is one that lends credence to the fact that our food buying decisions wield far more eco-power than many of us ever thought.
The cast of characters in this story are a bunch of D-listers (D for dirt, get it?) — so inconspicuous that there are probably about a trillion of them stuck to the bottoms of your shoes, so tiny that a million or so can fit on the period at the end of this sentence. They don’t wear lab coats. Nor do are the looking to sell you anything.
We can’t survive without them. But we know little about them.
And only by getting to know them will we ever elude the misinformation machine that governs what we think and how we decide when it comes to the foods we eat.
Here’s what the Stanford jury (and the media) didn’t tell you…
An Inconvenient Half-Truth.
My initiation into the world of eco-consciousness happened while sitting all alone in a movie theater.
I remember Al Gore scaring the crap out of me with his rather compelling slideshow of maps, curves, polar bears, and melting ice caps.
The take-home message: Lower Carbon Emissions, or Else!
I’m no fan of scorching hot weather or my San Diego home becoming part of the Pacific Ocean, so I eventually traded in my gas guzzler for a fuel-friendlier vehicle and did my best to Go Green. Doing my part to heal the world.
Lowering our carbon footprints became all the rage. However, Former Vice President Gore unfortunately glossed over one hugely important topic, the role of soil (yeah, dirt) and conventional farming practices in our carbon predicament.
Writes Judith D. Schwartz in her book Cows Save the Planet…and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth,
“When you hear reports of rising carbon dioxide levels, it’s easy to get the impression that the carbon-and-oxygen molecule is a kind of toxin, some alien vapor coughed up by a century-plus of rampant industrialism that has now come back to haunt us. But the trouble isn’t the carbon itself; it’s that there’s too much in the air rather than in the ground, where it lends to fertility to the soil. Soil, as it turns out, is the natural and the most cost-effective carbon sink.”
In other words, when soil is properly managed, allowing for ample photosynthesis and minimal oxidation (more on this later), carbon is drawn out of the atmosphere and held underground, where it carries out its critical functions.
Schwartz goes on, “[Distinguished University Professor] Rattan Lal, of Ohio State University, has estimated that globally soil carbon restoration can potentially store about one billion tons of atmospheric carbon a year. This means that soil could offset about one-third of the human-generated emissions annually absorbed in the atmosphere.”
Needless to say, getting carbon into the soil is key. But what exactly ferries carbon underground and what does it do once it gets there?
Photosynthesize More, Oxidize Less.
Before we go underground, let’s first look up to the sun.
If you turn back the clock to seventh grade science class, you may recall the week you spent in awe of photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water to produce energy (read: carbon-containing organic matter) while exhaling oxygen.
Photosynthesis in reverse — called oxidation — converts carbon compounds back into carbon dioxide, water, and energy, releasing them back into the atmosphere, thus increasing CO2 levels and removing moisture from the soil.
So we want more photosynthesis and less oxidation. If you’ve ever visited or driven by a conventional farm, you may have noticed plenty of bare soil where no crops are growing. In fact, these fields can lie fallow for many months between harvests.
Photosynthesis, of course, requires chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plant leaves capable of absorbing energy from light.
Bare soil is chlorophyll-free, meaning it is also photosynthesis-free. In other words, CO2 cannot be taken out of the atmosphere in a place where there are no leaves. And where these are no leaves, oxidation reigns supreme, pushing carbon out of the soil and into the air.
Add to this the fact that for every 1% loss of soil carbon, a single acre of land loses the capacity to store 60,000 gallons of water. This is how floods happens.
Soils lacking carbon cannot withstand and hold onto heavy rainfalls. Consequently, water, topsoil, and conventional farming chemicals run off into waterways, contributing to dead zones in our oceans, water pollution, and yes, rising sea levels. (If my home ever goes underwater I’m blaming conventional farming.)
This is the eco-unfriendly state of the many conventional farms growing monocultures, completely lacking biodiversity on their land and leaving their soils bare for months at a time.
This is what we support when we buy conventional foods.
The Underground Food Trade.
Now, let’s meet our D-listers.
A single teaspoon of what we call dirt contains about 50 billion living microbes — bacteria, yeast, fungi, protozoa, nematodes, and more — all acting out their roles as the support cast responsible for the health of the soil, plants, and planet at large.
Although most of us would assume that plants simply suck nutrition from the soil without giving anything in return, the truth is that plants are intended to coexist with microbes, scratching each other’s back in the name of optimal performance and survival.
Take, for example, the crucial trade agreement between plants and fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi (or “root fungus”) cannot run on any other form of energy but dissolved organic carbon. To obtain its energy source, it takes part in an underground barter scheme, providing essential nutrients to plants in exchange for liquid carbon fuel.
Plants could not have picked a better partner to trade with, as the mycorrhizal fungi have the remarkable ability to grab nutrients and water from distant locations by using their long, threadlike filaments called hyphae. (Think of Plastic Man and his super-strechy limbs.) These hyphae also contain a sticky substance called glomulin — or “soil’s superglue” — which can hold onto carbon, literally storing it for decades. It is glomulin that maintains the soil’s crumb-like structure, inhibiting erosion and allowing for air and water flow.
This barter exchange is one that works for all sides. Both parties are nourished, and the plant can feel secure that with a strong team of mycorrhizal fungi at its roots it will have healthy carbon-rich soil to grow in while remaining resistant to drought and disease.
It doesn’t end there.
The liquid carbon buffet provided to the fungi also feeds and energizes the soil microbes responsible for breaking down mineral particles and making them available to plants in a form they can use. This is where the minerals in our foods come from.
Not a bad deal.
Things Fall Apart.
Sometimes a sweet deal can fall apart. However, in this case, the breakdown is by no fault of the parties involved, but by dreadful land stewardship.
First, let’s consider the bare soil issue discussed above. Soils left without plant cover are losing carbon, thus starving the mycorrhizal fungi of their primary fuel source. When the fungi are underfed, so too are the microorganisms and plants. As a result, plants are more prone to disease, soil loses moisture, and the food we eat is less nutritious. (Despite what flawed studies may say.)
Let’s also consider the common conventional farming practice of tilling the soil and how it affects the fungi’s nutrient-grabbing hyphae. Turning over topsoil with shovels and machinery severs these tendrils, impairing the fungi’s ability to locate nutrients to meet its end of the barter.
Lastly, the use of fertilizers containing synthetic nitrogen on conventional farmland, as well as the application of FUNGIcides reduces the population of mycorrhizal fungi.
Says soil ecologist Christine Jones, “[When fungicides are used], carbon flow will be stopped before it even starts.”
Although not so cute and cuddly, mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial soil microbes deserve as much saving as the polar bears.
I can go on for many more pages describing how conventional farming negatively impacts soil biology, warms the climate, and contributes to desertification, droughts, and flooding.
To be honest, for the sake of brevity I left a lot of points out, including humus production, plant fertility, nitrogen saturation, acidity and salinity, the water cycle, deforestation, biotic pumps, and more. But this blog post is getting kinda long. We’ll have to cover that stuff on another day.
My point is that there is more to the organic versus non-organic debate than nutritional value alone. The rabbit hole goes much deeper than that. And it can get pretty complicated, I must admit.
I’m having a hard enough time piecing it together myself…
But if there’s one thing I know for sure after spending the past month studying farming and soil biology, it’s that the food choices we make have a profound impact on the planet and its future.
If you’re buying conventional, you can’t just wash that kind of impact off.
Wanna learn more? Click the player below to listen to my interview with Judith D. Schwartz, author of Cows Save the Planet!
With activism at its core and clear purpose in its actions, this frequently heard foodie maxim has become the battle cry for those of us demanding change in our food system.
On its face, food dollar voting is intended to support those who do it the right way — the farmers who rotate their crops, protect the integrity of their soils, feed their animals their proper diets, and provide their customers, you and me, with real organic produce and pastured meats and eggs.
It just feels so warm and fuzzy. Sustainable, too.
But on the flip side of all of that warmth and fuzziness are the ones who come out on the short end of our votes — the farmers who do it the wrong way.
To hell with them, you might say. They raise monocrops. They erode their soils with harsh chemicals and tillage. They confine their animals, feeding them grains and antibiotics. And then they have the nerve to sell their sick foods to paying customers in the name of health.
The prevailing consumer solution for the horrendous stewardship of conventional farmers has been to take money out of their pockets by casting fiscal votes for the good guys, the ones who do it right. Then at some point, the ones who do it wrong will get the message and change their ways.
If it were only that simple.
The foodie electoral system is broken. This concept of voting with our food dollars is one on par with the “calories in, calories out” slogan of the fitness world — a half truth with sparse results and a laundry list of side effects.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of supporting local organic farms. However, my food purchases are made with the intention of keeping real farmers in business, not driving conventional farmers out.
No one benefits from farmers gone bankrupt.
Here’s where I’m coming from. While our foodie hearts are in the right place, our minds are living on Fantasy Farm, a place where conventional farmers listen to their customer’s demands, resolve to become better stewards of the land, and then convert all things conventional and synthetic into organic and eco-friendly by twinkling their collective noses.
It doesn’t work that way.
The reality is that even if a “wrong way” farmer felt compelled to take the leap, make the conversion, and raise animals and crops on an organic mixed farm, he’d most likely soon find his feet planted firmly on his eroded soil, weighted down by the time, money, and knowledge it takes to get off the ground.
Here are just a handful of the obstacles conventional farmers face…
Debt and the Coming Bust.
Farming is a boom and bust industry. Currently in a boom due to overseas demand, ethanol production, and soaring farmland prices, conventional farmers who grow commodity drops like corn, wheat, and soy are very much aware that the good times won’t keep on rolling forever.
In fact, the Department of Agriculture has predicted that in 2014 farmers can expect a 25 percent drop in income due to a speculated reduction in commodity prices.
As we all know, a slump in income combined with rising debt is never a good thing.
According to this article, farmer debt has risen almost a third since 2007, much of it due to borrowing against the value of farmland.
Farmers who have been in the game for some time will recall the bust of the 1980s, when they saw their land values decline by 27 percent, leading to the highest annual farm bankruptcy rate ever recorded, according to the USDA.
The bottom line: With what appears on the horizon, no farmer in his right mind would gamble his or her future to convert to organic — a conversion that requires the purchase of new equipment for soil-friendly tilling, the cost of intensive manual labor, and….well, animals.
Probably not a savvy business move at this time.
The Three-Year Wait.
If a farmer declared today to be the last time he would ever apply synthetic, chemical inputs onto his land, his crops could not be called organic until August 3, 2016.
This 36 month period is known as the transition period.
During this transition, improving soil structure and nutrition typically calls for the removal of high value crops like vegetables, replacing them with grains and legumes.
Ironically, most food dollar voters don’t eat grains or legumes.
And of course, organic conversion comes with a price.
According to this article, in a study of certification costs across eleven certification agencies, initial costs averaged $579, $1,414, $3,623, and $33,276 for farms with incomes of $30,000, $200,000, $800,000, and $10,000,000, respectively. For small farms, costs ranged from $90 to $1,290. For medium farms, certification cost anywhere from $155 to $3,300.
On a happier note, financial assistance is available to those who qualify.
A Steep Learning Curve.
The farming practices of conventional versus organic are like night and day.
The days of controlling weeds and pests with chemicals are over. Instead, one must learn which beneficial insects and bugs control for pests, how to eliminate specific weed species without toxins, the nutritional needs of a diversity of crops, the intricacies of tilling without contributing to soil erosion, how to move efficiently move and graze cattle…
The list is endless, as is the process of learning these new techniques — through books, journals, seminars, and mentorships — as well as teaching them to farmhands.
I imagine it feels like starting over.
A recent survey found that transition costs were estimated at over $50,000 (Canadian dollars) per farm, but this will vary depending on the length of the transition period (which may be phased in over several years), the current products being produced and the available buildings and equipment. [Source]
Chances are that many well-meaning conventional farmers — the ones who wish to join the ranks of the organic and humane — simply cannot weather the expense, mounting debt, and uncertainty attached to the demands of a foodie electorate whose votes empower those farmers who are already doing, while stifling the ones who wish to do.
To create change, money needs to go into these conventional farms, not come out. As backward as it may sound, it’s the truth. The discernible hitch is in identifying which farms to invest in. And how.
How can we support these farms, keeping them above water during the period of transition and beyond?
My own personal solution is to start a non-profit foodie-funded subsidy program that provides financial, educational, and voluntary labor support for transitioning farmers.
With more organic farms comes healthier soils — soils that take in carbon from the atmosphere, reduce water runoff and flooding, and of course, produce nutritious crops.
Healthy crops mean healthy animals and healthy people.
And with more organic food production comes lower prices, so less complaints about the cost of buying organic.
Though a very raw idea at the moment — I just came up with it in the shower a few days ago — I feel like such a program would support change in our food system.
It’s not about voting with our food dollars, but rather supporting with our dollars — pulling farmers up, not pushing them down.
At least that’s how I see it.
Or, maybe I’m the one living on Fantasy Farm.
With the above in mind, how effective is our current “voting with your food dollars” strategy in truly altering the real food landscape?
What solutions do you have for supporting transitioning farms?
Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!
As many of you know, Sean has been feeling a bit under the weather this week so I’m stepping in to share with you guys some awesome info from Dr. Peter Osborne’s show on UW Radio last week, The Gluten Free Lie.
May 18th will mark my 3-year anniversary working for Sean and let me tell you, since then, I’ve learned a TON about the evils of gluten.
But the coolest thing about working for Sean is that I’m always learning more. I know consuming gluten is linked to developing autoimmune disease, but listening to Dr. Osborne’s podcast really helped shed some light on the science behind it.
Simply put, ignoring a gluten sensitivity leads to leaky gut.
And leaky gut leads to autoimmune disease.
How can this happen?
The cells in the gut that line the intestine are tightly bound together to keep bacteria and toxins from the food we eat inside the GI tract, preventing them from getting into the bloodstream.
Gluten can cause the gut cells to open up and drift apart, allowing food proteins to slip between the cells. Since 80% of our immune systems resides in the lymphatic system behind the gut wall, the escaped food proteins start to cause an immune reaction.
Here’s the kicker – molecular mimicry.
Some of the foods we eat have similar protein structures as other parts of our body such as cartilage, thyroid, and liver tissue. Once the immune system gets used to reacting to the food leaked from the gut, it can start looking at these structures in our body and think, “these guys look similar, let’s attack them too!” Thus creating autoimmunity.
I’d heard about leaky gut and tight junctions, but this concept really helped me make sense of it all.
Another big thing I learned from Dr. Osborne was what he classifies to be gluten. But you’re going to have to listen to the entire show for that.
I promise you’ll be surprised. Click on the player at the bottom of the post to learn more…
Here are my notes…
3:18 – How Dr. Osborne got into gluten research
3:54 – “This is a miserable field to work in because nobody ever gets better”
4:24 – 3 things in medical literature to arrest autoimmune disease
5:00 – Gluten – the agreed upon culprit for autoimmune disease
6:23 – The difference between Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
7:10 – Why gluten sensitivity is not a disease
7:45 – Can somebody acquire a gluten sensitivity?
8:35 – Turning gluten sensitivity on
9:35 – Sean’s stress response
10:33 – Can stress trigger leaky gut?
11:12 – Is Sean allergic to eggs?
11:42 – 190 diseases associated with gluten consumption
12:06 – Your thyroid and the immune system
12:41 – Can gluten alter gut bacteria?
13:53 – “We know that gluten can impact any tissue in the body”
14:13 – What is leaky gut?
15:34 – Problems with leaky gut
16:25 – What gets through the leaky gut gate?
17:23 – Why does gluten cause so many problems?
18:36 – Caller Q – Besides removing foods from diet, are there other ways to heal the gut?
19:36 – Get the grain out!
21:28 – The Gluten Free Lie
23:10 – Why a traditional “gluten free” diet doesn’t work for Celiac disease
24:53 – Playing nutritional roulette
25:52 – Proof that JERF works
26:46 – What about beans and nuts?
29:36 – Does sprouting and soaking help the digestion process?
31:03 – Is gluten free for everyone?
32:20 – Listener Q – Are there false negatives in genetic testing?
34:10 – Was grain once ban for sale in the US?
35:53 – Caller Q – Can you leak oxilates through leaky gut and and not other foods?
38:50 – Delayed reactions to foods
40:11 – Caller Q – Can you add back in foods you were once sensitive to?
42:05 – Facebook Q – Are coconut products tolerated for those with leaky gut?
43:10 – Caller Q – Does eating grain-fed meat defeat the purpose of eating a paleo diet?
44:10 – Caller Q – Can you test for leaky gut?
45:01 – Caller Q – How do you know if your Hashimoto’s is under control?
47:00 – Caller Q – Why aren’t polysaccharides mentioned with regards to Celiac disease?
52:25 – Caller Q – What is the relationship between Tourettes, Autism, gluten and vaccines?
57:09 – Caller Q – Using nutritional supplements if you have gut permeability issues?
58:38 – Thyroid medication contains gluten
1:00:53 – Caller Q – Do you recommend applied kinesiology for gluten sensitivity?
1:06:08 – Caller Q – What tests do you run to know if the paleo diet works for you?
1:08:18 – Caller Q – What are your opinions on the GAPS diet?
1:08:47 – Caller Q – Is there really no cure for Hashimoto’s?
1:10:25 – Dr. Osborne’s Gluten Free Society
Naturopathic doctor Trevor Cates makes her debut appearance on Underground Wellness Radio, as she shares her very BEST tips for aging gracefully, inside and out, without the weird creams and overhyped, expensive berries.