Friday, April 13, 2007

Food, Health, and the Environment

I've posted here before about my allergies (wheat, sugar, milk and milk products, some nuts, some fruits, and a few other additives and preservatives). I only discovered my allergies about 2 years ago after nearly 10 years of feeling sick and not knowing why, and it was a great challenge and an exercise in discipline to overhaul my bagel-and-cream-cheese-lovin' diet to something that wouldn't leave me in a constant state of nausea.
I slowly improved and eliminated the foods I couldn't handle, but because nothing made me so sick that I could never cheat, I often went back and had "just a little bit" of a chocolate bar, or a slice of cake, or a peanut butter sandwich. and then I would start the slippery slope to having "just a little bit" more, and on and on until I constantly felt sick again.
Recently, my "just a little bits" left me feeling much sicker than they used to, and I made a decision that it's just not worth it. Period. Full Stop. I've been good and strict about my diet for a few weeks now, and I'm feeling much better. I've also been looking at some of the other health trends out there when it comes to incorporating what you eat with how you treat the Earth. While I'm not yet ready to make the drastic adjustments required for some of these (and may never be) I still enjoyed reading about the hundred mile diet and raw food eating.

I have some opinions about why so many people are now developing food sensitivities, and I believe that it's definitely linked to mistreatment of both our bodies and the environment. The antibiotics we ingest, the pollution we inhale, the pesticides we put on our crops, all of this is fairly recent, and eventually, our bodies rebel, and the Earth rebels. One thing I discovered in trying to overhaul my diet and consciously eat healthy food is that too many people eat without thinking about what they're consuming, and more often than not, what's out there (and what we're eventually putting inside us) on supermarket shelves is shockingly worse than we may have ever considered.
I'm convinced it's all interconnected, although I'm not yet sure what I'm going to do about it.


Lynne Eldridge M.D. said...

It sounds like you have a great start on dietary changes for health! I too, am concerned with the number of people who are developing multiple sensitivity syndrome, but not surprised, when we realise that the food we tend to put in our bodies has an analogous octane level we would never allow in our cars! Keep raising awareness. We are poisoning ourselves in many ways, and though I used to feel more protected, I realise it is up to us as individuals to take action for our own health. In the U.S., only 2 percent of chemicals used in commerce have been tested for carcinogenicity. It will be awhile, if we ever, understand what these are doing to our bodies.

Lynne Eldridge M.D.
Author, "Avoiding Cancer One Day At A time"

noha said...

It's pretty frightening. I remember talking with a co-worker who was quite well read on nutrition when I first discovered my sensitivity to wheat, and he told me that wheat is sprayed with a pesticide that, if sprayed on a patch of grass, would instantly kill that grass and nothing would grow in it's place for 2 years. But wheat is resistant to this. So it makes me wonder, am I sensitive to wheat, or am I actually sensitive to some carcinogen that's sprayed all over the wheat to keep bugs from getting at it?
and I also find it rather ironic that all the foods my body has bad reactions too are foods that have been commercialized and are now grown and sold in bulk. I'm not allergic to any of the more expensive, "gourmet" stuff. It's the cow's milk, not the goat's milk, I can't handle, and it's the cow's milk that's mainstream and as a result has probably been subjected to more modifications...

- K said...

This isn't exactly related to the artificial substances in food, but kind of relevant to healthy eating. Something I was discussing recently with a friend:

It's interesting to note that different cultures around the world can have significantly different diets (compare, for example, the cuisines of Egypt, Italy, and Japan), and yet over time they've all developed into something well-balanced and healthy.

What's scary about what we're seeing now is that the kinds of food available to us are changing so fast, and becoming so easily available, that there's no time to naturally develop a balanced and healthy diet out of what's around us. This means we have to be that much more self-aware of what we eat.