Friday, October 1, 2010

While writing the comments on Facebook, I wrote about the circle of life.

It got me thinking about how we are damaging the circle of life.
Humans are using up a lot of resources. We eat some and we waste a lot.
Also we send human wastes into garbage dump, and then throw it into rivers.
The minerals in our wastes must be returned to the lands where we grew up the food. Otherwise we have taken out the minerals, transported it to elsewhere and thrown it down the river. The land has grown poorer, and the sea has gotten too much of some minerals that it doesn't want.

The problem with this is that we have too many algal growth in the seas, and too little nutrients in the soil.

Then we add artificial fertilizers. Substituiting some minerals that we know about. What about the minerals that we don't know about?

We might think that the food industry is not causing any environment problems, but it is probably causing more problems than the fuel industry.
I had the following exchange recently on Facebook.

Anand Srivastava It is interesting that the spike in obesity happened exactly when the food pyramid was created. Check out the graph. Do you need any more evidence that the food pyramid is evil?

Somebody: Couldn't it be a coincidence? Correlation does not imply causality and all that.
Someone said to me that America is the only place where the poor are obese :)

Anand Srivastava You can find those in India too. They are not that common though. They are mostly found in the food industry ;-). Sugar is cheap these days. Refined oil is cheaper (compared to the natural fats).

Anand Srivastava It is not really a coincidence. If you look at how our body deals with different food items, you will understand it. Read about Glucose effects on insulin. Insulin effects on fat storage. InFibers effect on the intestine. Wheat Germ Aggluti...nin's effect on Intestines. How gluten/casein causes auto-immune diseases. How Fructose causes high Hba1c, and insulin resistance. Inflammation/anti-inflammation signalling of Omega6 and Omega3 fats.

When you have gone through all these, things will begin to fall in place and you will understand that it is actually the food pyramid (ie the low fat high carb regime) that is causing the obesity, the heart disease, the cancer, the diabetes, etc.

Anand Srivastava Correlation does not imply causality is a good thing to remember when you read newspaper headlines on food studies results. They are normally mistaking correlation with causation.

The studies are mostly designed carefully and interpreted appropriately (or sometimes grossly incorrectly) to bring about a specific outcome, namely getting a new grant. This normally involves following the party line, ie fat is bad.

Somebody: Good stuff, Anand. The best advice is still to eat a balanced diet - it has worked for 5,000 years. No more analysis or proof needed :)

Anand Srivastava That depends on the definition of a balanced diet. What we want is a diet that had worked for a 100,000 years not the last 5000years.
Homo-Sapiens evolved 200,000years ago. Agriculture has been around only 10,000years ago. Our body has not a...dapted sufficiently for the agricultural products ie grains or legumes, and also milk which we adapted for lactose digestion around 8000years ago.

The other theory is that plants also need to protect their children, just like animals. They use a number of mechanisms. Nuts use a very hard shell. Fruits use a softer covering and a smaller harder seed to avoid getting broken, and enough toughness to pass through the digestive systems.

What have grains got? We might think they use nothing, but they use poisons, called lectins. WGA is a lectin which causes damage to the intestines so that rest of the grains can pass by. That mechanism was meant for herbivores. We grind them anyway, so no grains can pass by. But nevertheless it does damage the intestine, the result is celiac. Coeliac is known to be a gluten insensitivity issue, but is actually caused by WGA.

They do feed grains to cows in the USA, to fatten them up before slaughter. Funnily nobody puts two and two together, to understand that grains cause humans to get fat as well. Humans are probably better adapted to grains than cows.

Anand Srivastava From my reading of the issues, a good balanced diet would be
Tubers, eg potatoes, onions.
...other vegetables.

Where proportion of plant matter is higher than meat/fish, by weight rather than calories.

No milk, no grains, no legumes.

Somebody: And if you have an ethical concern about eating meat/fish?

Anand Srivastava That will be a tough one.
If they are religious in nature, then nothing can be done about it.

But if the concerns are really ethical, then you might want to read The Vegetarian Myth.

The book is written by a former Vegan, who was an ethical vegan, and now is an ethical meat eater ;-). The best part of the book is when she meets a chinese master.

He asks her what she eats.
She says that she does not eat anything from animals.
He says, bigger fish eat smaller fish.
She says she is not a fish.
He says, we all are.

It is very arrogant to disown our place in the circle of life. Our nature is to eat animals and plants, we are omnivores. And in turn we will be eaten by the animals and plants when we die. It is also illogical to not consider plants as living things.

Search and read about the Temple of Eden. It was a very fertile plain which was destroyed by agriculture. It is possibly the location where agriculture was born. It is also the place referred by Bible as the Eden. Humans had to leave the place because it became barren, hence the allegory.

Agriculture destroys more land than feeding animals on grass, and eating them. The current high population is not supportable by the Earth.

Anand Srivastava If concern is religious then drinking milk cannot be avoided. There is a reason that raw milk, curd, and ghee are considered Amrit. They are that much important for a vegetarian. They are the only source of animal fats, fat soluble vitamins... (A and K2), zinc, and Vitamin B12.

White Rice and Dal (the split lentils, after removing the covering) are much less problematic compared to other grains and legumes. You would want to ferment them to increase the mineral availability and killing the remaining lectins, before cooking and eating them.

It is no wonder that Indians developed the Idly, Dosa, Vada etc. They are the healthiest way of eating grains and legumes. Swiss make their bread after fermenting for several days and then leaving the cooked bread to become stale before eating them. Such bread does not cause problem to coeliacs, even though it has gluten in it.

You have to go traditional, leaning towards the South Indian food rather than North Indian. North Indian food requires a lot more nutrition, which is no longer there due to the intensive farming methods. Also try to eat more tubers, like potatoes and sweet potatoes. They should be more of a staple, than Idly, dosa.

Anand Srivastava I guess this applies to cultural vegetarians as well. It is difficult for vegetarians to eat meat when they have never eaten it.

There is a reason why we are the only cultural vegetarians in the world. Vegetarianism requires all year Sunligh...t, and milk consumption, in addition to an advanced society, where thinkers go beyond what is considered in the realm of possibilities. You could not be a vegetarian in say Tibbet. No wonder The Dalai Lama eats meat. He could not survive without it. He has tried vegetarianism before without success. He loses his health and has to return to meat.