Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten)

by Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

The stories became far too frequent to ignore.
Emails from folks with allergic or digestive issues to wheat in the United States experienced no symptoms whatsoever when they tried eating pasta on vacation in Italy.
Confused parents wondering why wheat consumption sometimes triggered autoimmune reactions in their children but not at other times.
In my own home, I’ve long pondered why my husband can eat the wheat I prepare at home, but he experiences negative digestive effects eating even a single roll in a restaurant.
There is clearly something going on with wheat that is not well known by the general public. It goes far and beyond organic versus nonorganic, gluten or hybridization because even conventional wheat triggers no symptoms for some who eat wheat in other parts of the world.

What indeed is going on with wheat?

For quite some time, I secretly harbored the notion that wheat in the United States must, in fact, be genetically modified.  GMO wheat secretly invading the North American food supply seemed the only thing that made sense and could account for the varied experiences I was hearing about.
I reasoned that it couldn’t be the gluten or wheat hybridization. Gluten and wheat hybrids have been consumed for thousands of years. It just didn’t make sense that this could be the reason for so many people suddenly having problems with wheat and gluten in general in the past 5-10 years.
Finally, the answer came over dinner a couple of months ago with a friend who was well versed in the wheat production process. I started researching the issue for myself, and was, quite frankly, horrified at what I discovered.
The good news is that the reason wheat has become so toxic in the United States is not because it is secretly GMO as I had feared (thank goodness!).
The bad news is that the problem lies with the manner in which wheat is harvested by conventional wheat farmers.
You’re going to want to sit down for this one.  I’ve had some folks burst into tears in horror when I passed along this information before.

Wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as withered, dead wheat plants are less taxing on the farm equipment and allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest 

Pre-harvest application of the herbicide Roundup or other herbicides containing the deadly active ingredient glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980.  It has since become routine over the past 15 years and is used as a drying agent 7-10 days before harvest within the conventional farming community.
wheat graph 2According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT who has studied the issue in depth and who I recently saw present on the subject at a nutritional Conference in Indianapolis, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came into vogue late in the 1990′s with the result that most of the non-organic wheat in the United States is now contaminated with it.  Seneff explains that when you expose wheat to a toxic chemical like glyphosate, it actually releases more seeds resulting in a slightly greater yield:   “It ‘goes to seed’ as it dies. At its last gasp, it releases the seed” says Dr. Seneff.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, as of 2012, 99% of durum wheat, 97% of spring wheat, and 61% of winter wheat has been treated with herbicides. This is an increase from 88% for durum wheat, 91% for spring wheat and 47% for winter wheat since 1998.
Here’s what wheat farmer Keith Lewis has to say about the practice:
I have been a wheat farmer for 50 yrs and one wheat production practice that is very common is applying the herbicide Roundup (glyposate) just prior to harvest. Roundup is licensed for preharvest weed control. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup claims that application to plants at over 30% kernel moisture result in roundup uptake by the plant into the kernels. Farmers like this practice because Roundup kills the wheat plant allowing an earlier harvest.
A wheat field often ripens unevenly, thus applying Roundup preharvest evens up the greener parts of the field with the more mature. The result is on the less mature areas Roundup is translocated into the kernels and eventually harvested as such.
This practice is not licensed. Farmers mistakenly call it “dessication.” Consumers eating products made from wheat flour are undoubtedly consuming minute amounts of Roundup. An interesting aside, malt barley which is made into beer is not acceptable in the marketplace if it has been sprayed with preharvest Roundup. Lentils and peas are not accepted in the market place if it was sprayed with preharvest roundup….. but wheat is ok.. This farming practice greatly concerns me and it should further concern consumers of wheat products.
This practice is not just widespread in the United States either. The Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom reports that use of Roundup as a wheat desiccant results in glyphosate residues regularly showing up in bread samples. Other European countries are waking up to to the danger, however. In the Netherlands, use of Roundup is completely banned with France likely soon to follow.
Using Roundup as a dessicant on the wheat fields prior to harvest may save the farmer money and increase profits, but it is devastating to the health of the consumer who ultimately consumes those ground up wheat kernels which have absorbed a significant amount of Roundup!
wheat graph 1
While the herbicide industry maintains that glyphosate is minimally toxic to humans, research published in the Journal Entropy strongly argues otherwise by shedding light on exactly how glyphosate disrupts mammalian physiology.
Authored by Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff of MIT, the paper investigates glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, an overlooked component of lethal toxicity to mammals.
The currently accepted view is that ghyphosate is not harmful to humans or any mammals.  This flawed view is so pervasive in the conventional farming community that Roundup salesmen have been known to foolishly drink it during presentations!
However, just because Roundup doesn’t kill you immediately doesn’t make it nontoxic.  In fact, the active ingredient in Roundup lethally disrupts the all important shikimate pathway found in beneficial gut microbes which is responsible for synthesis of critical amino acids.
Friendly gut bacteria, also called probiotics, play a critical role in human health. Gut bacteria aid digestion, prevent permeability of the gastointestinal tract (which discourages the development of autoimmune disease), synthesize vitamins and provide the foundation for robust immunity.  In essence:

Roundup significantly disrupts the functioning of beneficial bacteria in the gut and contributes to permeability of the intestinal wall and consequent expression of autoimmune disease symptoms

In synergy with disruption of the biosynthesis of important amino acids via the shikimate pathway, glyphosate inhibits the cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes produced by the gut microbiome.  CYP enzymes are critical to human biology because they detoxify the multitude of foreign chemical compounds, xenobiotics, that we are exposed to in our modern environment today.
As a result, humans exposed to glyphosate through use of Roundup in their community or through ingestion of its residues on industrialized food products become even more vulnerable to the damaging effects of other chemicals and environmental toxins they encounter!
What’s worse is that the negative impact of glyphosate exposure is slow and insidious over months and years as inflammation gradually gains a foothold in the cellular systems of the body.
The consequences of this systemic inflammation are most of the diseases and conditions associated with the Western lifestyle:
-Gastrointestinal disorders
-Heart Disease
-Multiple Sclerosis
-Alzheimer’s disease
-And the list goes on and on and on …

In a nutshell, Dr. Seneff’s study of Roundup’s ghastly glyphosate which the wheat crop in the United States is doused with just days before harvest uncovers the manner in which this lethal toxin harms the human body by decimating beneficial gut microbes with the tragic end result of disease, degeneration, and widespread suffering

Got the picture yet?
Even if you think you have no trouble digesting wheat, it is still very wise to avoid conventional wheat as much as possible in your diet!

You Must Avoid Toxic Wheat No Matter What

The bottom line is that avoidance of conventional wheat in the United States is absolutely imperative even if you don’t currently have a gluten allergy or wheat sensitivity. The increase in the amount of glyphosate applied to wheat closely correlates with the rise of celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Dr. Seneff points out that the increases in these diseases are not just genetic in nature, but also have an environmental cause as not all patient symptoms are alleviated by eliminating gluten from the diet.
The effects of deadly glyphosate on your biology are so insidious that lack of symptoms today means literally nothing.
If you don’t have problems with wheat now, you will in the future if you keep eating conventionally produced, toxic wheat!

How to Eat Wheat Safely

Obviously, if you’ve already developed a sensitivity or allergy to wheat, you must avoid it.  Period.
But, if you aren’t celiac or gluten sensitive and would like to consume this ancestral food safely, you can do what we do in our home. We only source organic, preferably low gluten, unhybridized Einkorn wheat for breadmaking, pancakes, cookies etc.  But, when we eat out or are purchasing food from the store, conventional wheat products are rejected without exception.  This despite the fact that we have no gluten allergies whatsoever in our home – yet.
I am firmly convinced that if we did nothing, our entire family at some point would develop sensitivity to wheat or autoimmune disease in some form due to the toxic manner in which it is processed and the glyphosate residues that are contained in conventional wheat products.

What Are You Going to Do About Toxic Wheat?

How did you react to the news that US wheat farmers are using Roundup, not just to kill weeds, but to dry out the wheat plants to allow for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest and that such a practice causes absorption of toxic glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, right into the wheat kernels themselves?

Did you feel outraged and violated like I did? How will you implement a conventional wheat-avoidance strategy going forward even if you haven’t yet developed a problem with gluten or wheat sensitivity?
What about other crops where Roundup is used as a pre-harvest dessicant such as barley, sugar cane, rice, seeds, dried beans and peas, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, and sugar beets?  Will you only be buying these crops in organic form from now on to avoid this modern, man-made scourge?
Sources and More Information

Inspirational Quote – July 8, 2017

“Go out looking for one thing and that’s all you’ll ever find.”

This reminds me of horses with their blinkers on, unable to see anything but what’s straight ahead. They don’t have a choice about whether or not to be blinkered but we do, don’t we? If we choose not to see the opportunities and possibilities “outside the box” then we have only ourselves to blame. We should strive to be open to every opportunity that comes our way in life. We don’t need to take every one presented to us but we should at least acknowledge it as an opportunity, consider it, and either discard it or go for it! Who knows what adventures we will have and the treasure we will discover? Wonderful!

How Do You Build a Sacred Space?

Can architecture actually become a prayer answered? Can a building capture and transmit a sacred response through the play of light and materials? Architect Siamak Hariri describes the transformative potential of architecture in this TED talk. Listen to his creative journey and watch the sacred geometry unfold as the first international Baha'i' temple in South America comes alive.

Friday, July 7, 2017

What If a Poor Person Ran the U.S. Economy?

Research suggests that someone from a disadvantaged background might run the economy with more compassion and integrity.

One of the mysteries of the Trump presidency boils down to this question: Will he prove to be an economic populist and advance the economic well-being of the poor and, most strategically, the rural white voters who turned out in droves to support him at the ballot box? Or will he prove to be the champion of the economic status quo, advancing policies that have given rise to the historic levels of inequality that are of such intense focus today? At a rally in Iowa, Trump gave himself away, saying he wouldn’t want a poor person running the economy.
So what if a poor person did run the U.S. economy? For the past 15 years, my lab has been studying the decision-making and ethical tendencies of the rich and poor, which I summarize in my book, The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence. This has given us a pretty good picture of what the United States might look like if a poor person ran the show.

Costly forms of suffering

© DNY59
First, that poor person in charge would be more acutely aware of the problems that the poor suffer from today—problems that undermine the economic health of our nation. The poor are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, which cost the U.S. economy $210 billion a year in terms of sick days at work, health care costs, and other reasons. It is now well documented how commonly poor whites suffer from addictions to opiates, now wreaking havoc in so many American communities. A recent neuroimaging study of over 1,000 children found that being raised poor stunts the development of the frontal lobes, thus reducing the likelihood that those children will be vibrant and innovative contributors to the U.S. economy.
These are costly forms of suffering in the United States that our poor person in charge would be more likely to perceive and direct resources to. In one study from my lab that illustrates this point, participants viewed a one-and-a-half-minute video about children suffering from cancer. The videos were full of images of children in hospital settings with drawn faces and wisps of hair. In this study, it was the participants who had grown up poor who reported greater compassion and showed an increased compassion-related physiological response in what is known as the vagus nerve, which enables altruistic action.
Put a poor person in charge of the economy, and that person would be more likely and more equipped to take on the psychological, economic, and physical suffering of the poor, so costly to the health of U.S. society.
That poor person in charge of the economy, our laboratory science tells us, would also be less likely to champion economic policies that benefit the very rich. As chronicled by numerous social scientists such as my colleagues Paul Pierson and Emmanual Saez and their collaborators, the rising gap in the wealth of the rich and poor has been the defining domestic economic trend of the past 40 years. The origins of economic inequality aren’t mysterious—policies that transfer wealth to the very rich, like the current Senate proposal to repeal Obamacare. And new studies of economic inequality by social scientists such as Ichiro Kawachi at Harvard are finding that in historical periods or geographical regions where U.S. citizens live amidst greater economic inequality, they are likely to be less happy, suffer from greater physical pain, and succumb to all manner of health ailments and serious diseases.

Terms of empowerment

A poor person in charge of the economy would advocate for policies that direct resources to and empower those who have less. We know this from many studies in social psychology.
For example, in one illustrative study from my lab, participants completed a variety of tasks and then were free to leave the lab. As they departed, they walked past a bowl full of 40 or so wrapped candies. On the side of the bowl was a label in bold letters indicating that the candy was meant for children who visit my department to participate in scientific studies. And, yes, in departing my lab it was the wealthy participants who took nearly twice as much candy as those who were from poor backgrounds. It’s a safe bet that if a poor person were in charge, we would see policies that would reverse the trend of economic inequality, which has had enormous costs, such as the fact that one in eight U.S. children suffers from hunger and food insecurity.
Perhaps most critically, a poor person in charge would be more likely to honor the ethical standards that give people faith in the government. The poor, studies show, are less likely to cheat, lie, shoplift, violate the rules of the road, and swear and bully at work. For example, in one study in my lab led by Paul Piff, participants played a gambling game, pressing a key on a computer that rolled a virtual dice. They played this virtual craps game five times and then reported the outcome of their rolls to the experimenter, which determined their chances of winning $50. Unbeknownst to the participants, the roll of the dice was rigged so that the sum of five rolls always totaled 12. The measure of interest: Did participants report higher scores than 12? It was the rich who were more likely to lie, reporting higher scores to the experimenter.
“The poor, studies show, are less likely to cheat, lie, shoplift, violate the rules of the road, and swear and bully at work.”
―Dacher Keltner
Put a poor person in charge of the economy, and we would have a better chance of seeing the president’s tax returns and having confidence that the emolument clause of the constitution is being honored. We would be less likely to hear of questionable Trump hotel deals in Azerbaijan, or that Ivanka’s high-end fashion company received prized trademarks in China the day after her dinner with China’s President Xi Jinping.
Put a poor person in charge of the economy, and it’s a safe bet we would be less likely to see this cycle of compassion deficits, resource grabs, and disregard of ethics that is of such concern in Trump’s presidency. This cycle produces the inequality and poverty of today that is costly to our economy; childhood poverty alone is estimated to cost the U.S. economy over $500 billion annually. The lab science tells us that a poor person would be better equipped to avoid this cycle, and take on these problems of the day. The irony is that were a poor person in charge, he or she would be more likely to better the lives of those poor white voters who were so significant to Trump’s election.
But, surrounded by the richest cabinet in U.S. history, it is pretty unlikely President Trump is aware of this irony.