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Omnivore?

 
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I was just reading the thread about oxalates in turmeric, and I was struck by one of the comments: "We're omnivores...so why can't we?"

That's something I have long wondered about. I read so many threads on here, and out there in the blogosphere, about cutting out this and that food, and here's why. Sometimes I wonder how there is any food left after all the advice. But of course, that is where the eating disorder known as orthorexia nervosa comes in -- the person gets so fixated on cutting out every food that anyone advises cutting out, they end up with dietary deficiencies.

I'm trying to figure out where this comes from. Most of what I see here (not so much in the blogosphere) involves narratives of people who cured themselves of this and that chronic disease condition by cutting out this or that.

I was raised on the "Standard American Diet." Now, everything I hear about the Standard American Diet is that it is the cause of pretty much every chronic disease condition. Well... then how come I am not afflicted? The arthritis in my toes is caused by bone spurs, which in turn are caused by years of pronation with flat feet. So said the podiatrist. My family lineage has a history of ulcerative colitis; it killed my grandmother when she was younger than I am now. No sign of my having it. No, unless you count the sluggish "food coma" feeling I used to get after eating meat (which is why I went vegetarian), I can't point to any chronic disease condition that I could cure by cutting out a food. No gluten sensitivity, no problem with carbs, or oxalates, or lactose...

So what I propose discussing is, why does it seem that so many people these days have to go on specialized diets? I'm not talking about switching from highly processed foods with lots of preservatives to natural foods; I mean why are people having to cut out even whole, wholesome foods like grains, or greens that contain oxalates, or (in my case) all kinds of meat?
 
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So many factors could be coming into play. Genetics, lifestyle (physical activity, exposure to outdoors), mental states (stress, love, anger, etc.), exposures to toxins or viruses.

I used to be able to eat anything without problems and ate the standard American diet, too. Then I was exposed to mold. I developed multiple food intolerances, along with chronic conditions. My husband didn't react to the mold, and the doctor's theory was that he's bigger (so it would take more to affect him) and was more physically active with more frequent bowel movements compared to me (so he filtered toxins at a faster rate). He can still eat anything, whereas I have to be choosier.

I listened to a podcast last month of a man who couldn't eat oxalates until his gut bacteria was adjusted. I haven't read the oxalates thread, but an internet search of "oxalate and microbiome" has interesting results.

From all I've read, I think gut bacteria is one of the biggest factors in what we can or cannot digest. Not being able to digest foods leads to not being able to utilize the nutrients and/or gut irritation, which can lead to chronic diseases. So many things affect the microbiome, more than just which kind of diet is followed. Genetics, pregnancy and delivery, breastfeeding or not, access to the outdoors, pets, surrounding people, environmental toxins...

I listened to another talk by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, of how sulfur deficiency affects our health. One of her points was that glyphosate interferes with our use of proteins, and it's the proteins in foods that many people with intolerances have trouble with...casein in milk, gluten in wheat. She described it a lot better, and it seemed logical.

For some, it could be a mental affect. We're bombarded by the idea that food is the cause and the solution to health problems. It's a collective thought that most of us have internalized, and mind and body greatly affect each other. If the media and businesses had pushed having fun with loved ones rather than food choices, maybe we would see similar drastic improvements from a different cause. Anecdotes and small studies suggest that to be so.

So that's just a few of my disjointed thoughts. I react negatively to nearly any food that I eat too consistently (even squash and strawberries), so finding causes and solutions to food intolerances without removing whole food groups is dear to me.
 
steward
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Jason Hernandez wrote:.... I mean why are people having to cut out even whole, wholesome foods like grains, or greens that contain oxalates, or (in my case) all kinds of meat?



I think one aspect of this very complicated concern is plant breeding. For example, commodity grains such as wheat have been bred and rebred and then bred again, selecting for size to yield more per acre. I believe when hybridizing and breeding plants to select for certain traits such as size, appearance, disease resistance, there are other unforeseen impacts occurring in the result, such as loss of nutrition, and changes is unique plant compounds (like gluten in todays modern wheat compared to very old heirloom wheat). I think nutritional deficiencies in todays modern grain and produce hybrids aren't just limited to selective plant breeding, but also includes mineral deficiencies in the soils they are grown in. I'm no expert on the subject, but I think some modern meats can be included in this, such as cattle bred and inbred (line breeding) to perform well on grain, being fed the same modern hybrid grains that may be grown in deficient soils. Cattle evolved side by side with grasses and forbs, eating those, not grains. Some people who can't tolerate commodity beef and milk can eat pastured beef and dairy without the health problems associated with the former. It's of my thinking that growing the old varieties of grains and produce that we still have and haven't been lost to extinction, and eating those crops may result in much fewer cases of food allergies and illnesses related to diet. I think it would benefit humanity and the planet to let modern "grain bred" cattle die off and humans raise the older breeds of cattle on permanent pastures, the way it used to be with no grain needed. There are millions of acres in grain each year for feeding cattle, all of which could be put in permanent pasture to feed cattle. I think it's no coincidence that the modern illnesses and chronic health problems coincide with and are directly related to and influenced by modern plant breeding and food production systems.
 
pollinator
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Good out of the box question and thoughts!

I suspect toxins (including glyphosate) has reduced our adaptability and so increased our sensitivities.

The eat right for your bood type book helped me understand what my body was least tolerant of. Blood type is related to both ancestry and more loosely to geography. With increased mobility and cross pollination of genetic diversity from people of different tribes and points of origin, things have gotten messy. So my dietary triggers are different from my neighbors and my family.

Learning your sensitivities and giving your body a break from triggers seems to help. But then what?

I think exercise, mental health (stress management), sunshine, fat soluble nutrients,  detox, and gut biome are things everyone can do to lower our food sensitivities.

But avoiding toxic load from mold, glyphosate, electronic, heavy metals, and foods that dont resemble what our grandparents ate (modern wheat for example) is also key.
 
pollinator
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Jason Hernandez wrote:
So what I propose discussing is, why does it seem that so many people these days have to go on specialized diets? I'm not talking about switching from highly processed foods with lots of preservatives to natural foods; I mean why are people having to cut out even whole, wholesome foods like grains, or greens that contain oxalates, or (in my case) all kinds of meat?



I often wonder about this too. It seems that one of the defining features of human biology is our ability to derive nourishment from a vast array of plant and animal foods so that our species thrives in all climates. So the general claim that humans "didn't evolve to eat X" which many people cite when eliminating a particualr food from their diet never made much sense to me. Seems like we evolved to eat whatever we could digest without it killing us in the process.

Yet I also know so many people who have eliminated one type of food or another and feel much better for it. Maybe each person just needs to figure out what works best for their own body. Or maybe just the act of eliminating one type of food makes a person more intentional overall about what they eat and a better diet and better health results, regardless of what particular food was eliminated.
 
pollinator
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Each person has a different mix of microbes and enzymes digesting their food. If a person is deficient in one enzyme, they might not be able to digest a certain food (or foods, plural) properly. In which case, cutting that food out would help them feel better.

On the other hand, the missing enzyme might mean they can't cut out a certain food, because it's the only source they can handle for a certain nutrient.

I tried going vegetarian a few times over the years. It always made me so sick I thought I was dying. Eventually, a doctor was checking for something else and discovered that I'm missing several of the enzymes needed to obtain protein from plant sources. Cutting out meat and dairy would be a serious mistake for me.

People are as different on the inside as they are on the outside.
 
pioneer
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I think some of the biggest reasons are glyphosate, other pesticides and herbicides, soil contamination, air contamination, and water contamination. The ambient toxic load in the good ol’ US of A is astounding. Chances are, any given person has a toxic load such that eating a food that has even extremely minor amounts of some toxin or even just somewhat unruly nutrient is enough to tip the scale by amplifying the effect of said toxic load, possibly by forcing the detox pathway to work on it instead of said preexisting toxic load. An example of this would be mold and alcohol. Mold detoxes through the liver. The liver will be quite stressed if you live in an environment with a lot of mold spores in the air. If you then go and have a couple drinks, you’re liver is not going to be happy with you, and you may experience symptoms of severe mold poisoning. Hence cutting out alcohol will make you feel better even though it’s absolutely not the problem. With gluten, the problem is probably just that it usually has TONS of glyphosate in it, so it’s super hard to digest.
 
pollinator
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Myron Platte wrote:

I think some of the biggest reasons are glyphosate, other pesticides and herbicides, soil contamination, air contamination, and water contamination. The ambient toxic load in the good ol’ US of A is astounding.



Amongst other things, I would tend to agree with the above, especially with the ever more popular use of Round up at pre harvest time.

https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/pre-harvest-roundup-crops-not-just-wheat/
 
pollinator
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The way I see it, what we now call "specialized" diets are just a return to a more normal state of affairs than the "standard American diet" that has held sway for half a century. At no time in history has a geographic and cultural landscape as vast and diverse as.the continental US had a diet as homogeneous as we have for 50ish years. The only reason the homogeneity arose seems to have been to satisfy the desires of industrial agriculture. People are growing more and more aware of the problems caused by industrial homogeneity, and one of the avenues people ate using to.push back against that is to explore their control of their diets
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