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Sunday, February 19, 2012

18: Yummy Partial-Wheat Bread

About ten years ago, I received a bread-maker as a Christmas present. Ever since I got into the habit of using it, our family has enjoyed the delight of fresh bread on a regular basis. Once I found that I could buy organic whole-wheat flour from a local mill, I had the added confidence that I was serving my family the healthiest bread on the face of the planet. Or so I believed. Friends always looked forward to bread at my house, and at church potlucks it always went like proverbial hotcakes.

Whole-wheat flour is notorious for rapidly going rancid. I buy it as fresh as possible and keep it in the freezer to preserve the oils in the highly nutritious wheat germ. But there was something that puzzled me: the mill mentioned one day that it didn’t need to be put in the freezer.

I quietly wondered about it for a couple of years.

At the Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays, I frequently have long conversations with some of the local Hutterites, whose table is a short distance from mine. I’ve been impressed with the agricultural knowledge and ethics of this particular colony, Pine Haven, located a few minutes southeast of Wetaskiwin. They seem to consider it their responsibility before God to carefully steward their land. And well they should.

Although the colony does not call their produce organic (the certification process is a long and difficult one), their vegetables are grown without synthetic fertilizers and their meat and poultry are raised using things like oregano in the feed and water as well as probiotics to ward off disease before it starts.

One market day last summer, I had a long chat with John Hofer, who has taken an interest in growing original grains. He told me that he has been working with three different ancient or heritage grains, as they are called, and making some of the flour available for sale along with their other produce. I was keen to buy a bag of his flour and try it out. As I paid for it, he told me to make sure to keep it in the freezer.

So I talked to him about the organic flour I had been buying and how confused I was that they’d told me it wouldn’t spoil. He promptly offered an answer to the riddle. Most wheat today, he said, has been genetically modified to one end or another, and one of the modifications they make is breeding the wheat germ right out of the kernel in order to improve the shelf-life. This leaves just the endosperm, which contains the gluten (a form of protein) and the wheat bran. So if this were true of my flour, it would mean that all this time I had been buying—not whole-wheat flour—but two-thirds-wheat flour. One very important, God-designed part would be missing. I was not impressed with this possibility.

Since that day, I have done some reading on the whole GMO thing. I understand now that there are over 30,000 different strains of wheat. They have been developed to many different ends: to make them resistant to herbicides like Round-Up; to help them survive difficult climatic conditions; and to change the composition in different ways for various reasons, the remove-the-wheat-germ scheme being a case in point. Gluten contents have been manipulated to make them “perform” better in specific products. One of the concerns here is that the “super-glutens” created are difficult for us to digest properly, and one of the questions posed is whether this trend in part explains the burgeoning numbers of people being diagnosed with celiac disease.

The health concerns include “endocrine disruption, reproductive disorders and sterility, digestive problems, rapid aging, organ damage, autoimmune problems, insulin imbalances.... Every human currently consuming GMOs on a regular basis is actually an unwitting test subject in a giant biotechnology experiment.”* Even crazier is the news that human DNA is being used in some of these grains, now no longer technically called plants but rather “organisms.”

All my reading was making me pretty paranoid, and I was ready to throw away my “organic whole-wheat flour” from the local mill on principle alone. But I decided to let them speak for themselves first.

A phone call reassured me that my flour is not genetically modified.

But neither does it contain wheat germ. It is mechanically removed so that the flour can sit on the shelf for six months without spoiling. “But,” I protested, “you call it whole wheat, and it’s really only two-thirds.”

And he answered, “But we don’t call it 100% whole wheat.”



Monday, February 13, 2012

17: Indispensable Iodine

Last week I was sitting at my table at the Farmers’ Market when a woman came up and commented on my colloidal silver, asking if I made my own. “Yes,” I told her, “I bought a good generator for my own purposes, and then, since I sit at the market anyway with my books and CDs, I decided to make the silver available at a low price.” As we talked it quickly became evident that she was a health enthusiast with a lot of knowledge. I was surprised when she said she was from St. Albert—I wondered what would bring her to our market. Well, she had a table at the market too; she comes here about once a month on a rotating schedule.

When I inquired what her product was, she explained that she leases a machine—that actually won a Nobel Prize—that scans your skin and gives a read-out as to the level of antioxidants you have in your body.

“How long does it take?”
“About two minutes.”
“How much does it cost?”
“Ten dollars.”
“I’ll be right there,” I told her as she left.

I gathered up my valuables, deserting my table and all my stuff, and off I went. Found her and her friend, laid down my ten-spot, and stuck my hand in front of their machine. A minute and a half later, they looked at my printout, their eyes got big, and they said, “Congratulations! No one we’ve ever checked has had as high a score as you!”

They showed me that my score was 91,000 on a scale of 10,000 to 100,000 (I’m not sure what the unit is) and told me that the average person falls between 20,000 and 29,000.

“Wow!” I said, wondering why this was. Most of us know that our antioxidant level is usually proportional to the amount of fruit and vegetables we eat. This is one of the reasons why Health Canada is always urging us to get our five to ten per day. I try, but I don’t think I do any better that most people. I try to have a salad most evenings, and some cooked veggies with my meat and potatoes. I might have a piece of fruit in the course of a given day; maybe even two. I sometimes have some tomatoes or bell peppers with my eggs in the morning. But really, when all is said and done, I might only average five servings daily.

When I saw my husband that evening and told him all about the scan, I pondered again why my antioxidants were so high.

“Maybe it’s all the iodine you take,” Greg suggested.
“Hmmm. I wonder.”

I went off to my office, googled “iodine antioxidants,” and quickly discovered that iodine does indeed act as a powerful antioxidant in the body most of the time—and can act also as an oxidant, “when it needs to,” whatever that means.

I mentioned in my last article that the skin uptakes a lot of iodine when there is plenty to go around, and I speculated that perhaps this would give the skin a fighting chance against the oxidative damage of sun exposure.

This brings to mind another snippet of information from my past reading: Although among Japanese men there is one of the highest percentages of heavy smokers, they have the lowest percentage of lung cancer. The theory is that with the Japanese population having the highest intake of iodine among people groups worldwide (13 mg. daily, approximately what I take), given that mucous membranes retain high levels of iodine when there is general body sufficiency, and given that iodine is known to kill abnormal cells … well, you get the picture. And this picture supports my hunch about iodine keeping the skin healthy.

This reminds me of a case I read about at Dr. Guy Abraham is “an endocrinologist who today is providing the backbone of the movement back toward the use of iodine as an essential, safe and effective medicine.” He says, “We placed an 83-year-old woman on ortho-iodo supplementation for six months at 50 mgs of elemental iodine daily. She experienced a tremendous increase in energy, endurance, well being, and memory.” But here is the part that astounded me, and the part that fits with the context of this article: “At six months all her skin peeled off and was replaced by new, younger-looking skin. She was flabbergasted and amazed at her new appearance.”