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Posted by on Mar 2, 2014 in Health & Nutrition | 0 comments

Is it all Hype: Gluten Free, Paleo and non-GMO

Gluten free, non-GMO, and Paleo… it is all hype. Right? Hell yes, many shout.

Well. Yes and No.

Like this blog’s namesake, all those terms are buzzwords and are getting a lot of hype.

Gluten free, non-GMO and Paleo are all hype IF you just latch onto the concepts without actually knowing what they mean. So, in that case- YES, it is all hype.

Conviction without knowledge tends to muddy the waters of any subject matter.

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You no longer have to go to a health food store to find Gluten free products. The food industry willingly is jumping onto that bandwagon if it means profits.

Simply swapping out gluten for “gluten free” substitutes isn’t necessarily healthier. Most of the gluten free alternatives are still high in carbohydrates and still raises blood sugar higher than sugar itself. The only difference is, there is NO gluten (glue) to digest, but rice, tapioca and potato starch in large volumes  (or at the same volume of your previous wheat intake) isn’t doing much for your overall health. So, removing gluten from your diet has been shown to be beneficial, but just replacing wheat with junk substitutes, isn’t healthy.

Read: Just because it says it is gluten free doesn’t automatically equate it to mean healthier.

The non-GMO Project is a great organization, for they have helped lead the way for public awareness. The public has a right to know what is in their food. And the non-GMO Project is bringing this important message to the public.

If you had to choose between food with the non-GMO label or foods without the label, opt for the non-GMO label.

My friend Sam’s sentiment about this issue, is- put your money where your mouth is. If we stop buying processed, GMO foods and demand that healthy food is made affordable, the food industry will have to comply with demand.

Awareness eventually can lead to change of policy. Sounds idealistic, but it can happen. The Tobacco industry used to be above the law and had no liability. Maybe one day, Monsanto could face the same fall from grace.

The caveat to non-GMO labeling is, again, just because it has the non-GMO label it doesn’t automatically equate to healthy. It just means that the ingredients do not contain genetically modified ingredients, albeit a great start, but may not mean the ingredients contained are the most nutritious.

Read: Just because it says it is non-GMO doesn’t automatically equate it to mean healthier.

For example, non-GMO potato starch may not contain GMO potatoes but potato starch isn’t actually nutritious… in small amounts, okay but maybe just have a sweet potato.

I am not saying the non-GMO label is a bad thing, but something to consider:

Don’t let the non-GMO label be a way for the food industry to trick you to think it just means a healthier, less expensive alternative to organic foods.

It isn’t as simplistic as that. See my previous post that reviews the differences between organic and conventional farming. The entire agricultural system needs to be revamped, a label alone isn’t solving this issue.

non-GMO labeled foods may still have had synthetic pesticides sprayed on it.

Check out this link for a handy chart to show the differences.

And I will tell you what I tell my six year old: just because it says Organic, it does not always mean it is healthy! “Mom, mom, look- these gummy bears are organic.”

Read: Just because it says it is Organic doesn’t automatically equate it to mean healthier.

Organic foods currently may cost more because the entire organic farming process costs more. But, even if the treatment of animals doesn’t concern you- food for thought: the better the animals are treated and processed, the healthier they are when YOU consume them.

This video clip offers great insight on the difference between grass-fed beef and beef that comes from a feedlot. To see the whole thing, check out the documentary, Frankensteer.

Paleo. The media would always have us imagining a caveman in a loincloth, hunting game…

But Paleo isn’t just cavemen, and it isn’t just a “diet” but more of a lifestyle.

Following the Paleo diet doesn’t just mean meat, meat, meat all day long. Actually, hunter and gathers couldn’t just go to the grocery store and get unlimited quantities of meat. They had to hunt for them; sometimes it would take days to get an animal.

Yes, Paleo is just hype if you believe it to mean you’re eating loads of meat day after day.

Our Paleo ancestors did eat fruit, but only when in season, not year round. They did consume meat, but not in excess.  Animal proteins are acidic in nature, and can cause inflammation (especially with grain-feed meat), which is the cornerstone to most diseases; so also eating [alkalizing] green vegetables is crucial—in any diet.

I hate the term, moderation. It is so subjective. The term balanced seemingly is more measurable and attainable. Moderation almost feels like a justification to have 3 scoops of ice cream or french fries with every meal out. Balanced may keep us in check. If I do eat this ice cream sundae, have I eaten anything nutritious today? This week? How balanced is your actual diet?

Not ingesting gluten, GMOs and synthetic chemicals in any of our food is a good thing; but candy is still candy and gluten free pasta still contains a high amount of carbohydrates, so intakes should be limited, even if it is organic.

And like with the Paleo diet, it is about a BALANCED diet. Not the concentration of one food group alone.

Maybe instead of giving your kid a plate full of (gluten free) mac and cheese, make it a side dish and not the star of the plate. Add some protein and some greens. Ta da: balanced meal.

As I have stated before, this food revolution is a journey.

Maybe it starts with reading labels and looking at ingredients, rather than calories alone; you start the elimination of gluten; you begin looking for foods with the non-GMO label; soon you are buying organic foods regularly. Next you choose local, organic farms over organic food made in Mexico…

We are at the crossroads, and hopefully the road forks into the direction of progress, and awareness can facilitate policy change to make healthy foods available and attainable to all!

 

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