This morning when I logged on to my yahoo account, a news article was showing on the front page that caught my eye. It was talking about gluten, and whether or not it was actually an unhealthy substance. Most people believe that all whole grains are a healthy and necessary part of our diet. No one tends to question this because we have been told to include whole grains by the same experts we rely on for all of our health guidelines; the FDA, scientists, and our own doctors. That's why I was really happy to read in the article that not all whole grains fall into the category of good health. This is something that I've been aware of for a couple of years through my job and my own research, but I think it's great that the truth is getting out to the public through media now.
Unfortunately, this spreading of awareness is and has always been a slow process throughout history. Cigarettes are the perfect example. If you look at ads from the 1940's and 50's, it's clear that cigarettes were touted as stylish, cool, and yes, even healthy. It took many years for the public to fully accept that cigarette smoking caused cancer. Now, even as people become more aware of their personal health, the FDA is allowing more and more products on the shelves that are slickly marketed to people who think they are making good choices, but are really nothing more than wolves in sheep's clothing. Need an example? Diet soda! While many soda lovers try to lose weight, they switch to diet brands expecting that the loss of calories will automatically translate into a loss of pounds. This is hardly the case, as evidenced by the steadily increasing waistlines of the general population along with a rise in the popularity of low calorie foods. The problem, scientists are discovering, is that when a person consumes an artificial sweetener which is not followed by the delivery of calories, the body becomes confused and we tend to overeat throughout the day to make up for what we have lost by consuming the artificial substance (read more about the science behind this here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080210183902.htm ). And now, it is finally starting to become mainstream knowledge that these substances can not only cause weight gain, but are also linked to cancer, stroke, metabolic syndrome, and other serious health problems.
I don't want to go out on too much of a limb here, but in my opinion, most people are too quick to jump on the bandwagon and trust everything they are told about food. But the media only perpetuates the problem with marketing and scare tactics. And it's practically impossible to know who and what to trust these days when some new science seems to be discovered on a daily basis. Couple that with the FDA's slow response to the dangers of particular foods and substances, and how are we ever supposed to know what is healthy and what is not? It's incredibly frustrating and ridiculously confusing.
The gluten article on yahoo is a tiny victory for those of us who care about having to drudge through all the confusion and misconception out there. The point is that we should all make our own decisions when it comes to our health, but it's certainly helpful to make those decisions based on the truth. Not everyone benefits from eating all types of whole grains (and some people suffer from its effects). Not everyone needs cow's milk for calcium. And certainly, no one needs artificial sweeteners or fat-free foods to lose weight. I know it's really hard to know the right thing to do. I struggle with it on a daily basis. I just firmly believe that we should at least know the truth about food before deciding whether or not to eat it.
Published On: April 01, 2011