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Your Gut—No, Not That One, This One

Your Gut—No, Not That One, This One

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What we eat in general, our diet, and how we prepare food have changed significantly in the last 60 or so years. This is most notable in industrialized countries as well as in cities all over the world. Since time immemorial, we ate food when it was available and when it was in season. After a harvest of grains, vegetables, or fruits, we ate what was gathered. As an example, we did not eat strawberries in winter. Meat consumption was rare for most people and usually it was caught or trapped in the wild. All of this has very much changed and been transformed. We now consume new strains of wheat, rice, soy, and corn, which were not available before; we have genetically modified (GM) crops and, in the United States, we use and eat more GM crops than all the other countries in the world combined. We use chemicals on and in our foods, such as insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides on vegetables and fruits. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which include cattle, hogs, chicken, and turkey, use antibiotics, hormones, and heavy metals, such as arsenic, in feeding these animals. For example, CAFOs use ractopamine to increase the meat content in cattle: It is a ß-agonist drug that is known to augment protein synthesis. It is also banned in 160 countries, including China, Europe, and Russia. There is widespread use of other chemicals, such as food coloring, artificial flavorings, and artificial preservatives in our foods. We use artificial sweeteners liberally and not only in soft drinks, adding to the pandemic of obesity. Salt adversely affects our cardiovascular and immune systems yet we consume, on average, more than twice the amount that we should. Salt is often added into foods we eat, especially canned goods, but also into bread and other staple foods. Bisphenol A, a plasticizer, is used in food containers, such as plastic bottles for soft drinks, other liquids, and cooking oil, and is used to line the inside of canned goods. It leaches into the contents of the container. Glass containers have mostly been replaced by plastic ones and are now much more common than ever before in all areas of our supermarkets and grocery stores. There are other chemicals we use or, we should say, overuse, such as antacids, antihistamines, histamine-2 blockers, and antibiotics. This last prescription drug has been shown to be highly overprescribed in the United States. The others are available to the general public over-the-counter. All these xenobiotics were not part of what we consumed, nor were most available and used until after World War II. As for food preparation, microwaving food and using coated pots and pans for food preparation is new as well. For generations since the beginning of humankind, we were neither exposed to these nor did they form part of our diet. And there is much more that cannot fit into this editorial.
What we eat in general, our diet, and how we prepare food have changed significantly in the last 60 or so years. This is most notable in industrialized countries as well as in cities all over the world. Since time immemorial, we ate food when it was available and when it was in season. After a harvest of grains, vegetables, or fruits, we ate what was gathered. As an example, we did not eat strawberries in winter. Meat consumption was rare for most people and usually it was caught or trapped in the wild. All of this has very much changed and been transformed. We now consume new strains of wheat, rice, soy, and corn, which were not available before; we have genetically modified (GM) crops and, in the United States, we use and eat more GM crops than all the other countries in the world combined. We use chemicals on and in our foods, such as insecticides, pesticides, and fungicides on vegetables and fruits. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which include cattle, hogs, chicken, and turkey, use antibiotics, hormones, and heavy metals, such as arsenic, in feeding these animals. For example, CAFOs use ractopamine to increase the meat content in cattle: It is a ß-agonist drug that is known to augment protein synthesis. It is also banned in 160 countries, including China, Europe, and Russia. There is widespread use of other chemicals, such as food coloring, artificial flavorings, and artificial preservatives in our foods. We use artificial sweeteners liberally and not only in soft drinks, adding to the pandemic of obesity. Salt adversely affects our cardiovascular and immune systems yet we consume, on average, more than twice the amount that we should. Salt is often added into foods we eat, especially canned goods, but also into bread and other staple foods. Bisphenol A, a plasticizer, is used in food containers, such as plastic bottles for soft drinks, other liquids, and cooking oil, and is used to line the inside of canned goods. It leaches into the contents of the container. Glass containers have mostly been replaced by plastic ones and are now much more common than ever before in all areas of our supermarkets and grocery stores. There are other chemicals we use or, we should say, overuse, such as antacids, antihistamines, histamine-2 blockers, and antibiotics. This last prescription drug has been shown to be highly overprescribed in the United States. The others are available to the general public over-the-counter. All these xenobiotics were not part of what we consumed, nor were most available and used until after World War II. As for food preparation, microwaving food and using coated pots and pans for food preparation is new as well. For generations since the beginning of humankind, we were neither exposed to these nor did they form part of our diet. And there is much more that cannot fit into this editorial.

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Published by: InnoVision Health Media on Feb 14, 2014
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05/15/2014

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