Death by Wheat, Corn, Tomatoes and Poultry
Deadly Foods that Have Been Optimized for the Dollar
What do You Get When You Optimize for Looks and Size?
If you answered plastic surgery, you are partly on track for this issue’s topic. However, today we are discussing US food production, and the epidemic of epi-pens and autoimmune disorders. If you are new to this topic, please stay with me. There is a book’s worth of information that we are going to brush over in the hopes that it may be helpful to yourself or someone you care about.
Many of these topics have been covered, but many of them have not been covered in concert with each other. Hopefully connecting some of these dots may shave some time off your journey of discovery if you are seeking this information. Happy New Years and apologies for my absence over the last five weeks, COP28, moving house and my day job have eaten all of my time and probably half of my soul.
Food Lobbies – Prioritizing Profits
When looking for a good place to start, following the money trail is always ground zero. The food groups that lobby congress are large organizations and due to economies of scale and the efficiencies of the US market, they represent massive food conglomerates. Simple questions like, “How much money was spent in food lobbies in 2022,” can produce baffling answers. Of the listed lobby activities, the top 35 food conglomerates spend $42.2 million dollars with 90% going towards lobbying, political campaigns and PR at respective portions of 40% / 30% / 20%. $22 million of the recorded lobbying events came from the beef industry alone. However, the actual numbers for buying influence are likely ten to fifty times this number when considering that the size of the US food sector is expected to have generated $2.39 trillion in 2023. If you are curious how powerful the food lobbies and industry groups can be you only have to look at the “fat-free” craze that was secretly pushed by the sugar industry, which contributed to an entire generation of obesity with the US government’s blessing.
The FDA – Too Weak to Beat the Food Lobbies, Too Political to Protect Us
In a world where big money rules, we at least have government watch dogs to help us out, right? Acts like The Honest Labeling and Deceptive Practices Act have been presented as having the consumers best interests at heart, yet its critics have brought to light that the act does not prevent false claims around health and nutrition. However, despite being a watered-down act, the food lobby still doesn’t like it and has repeatedly blocked the act since its proposal in 2021. To make matters worse, the FDA’s Attorney publicly declared in federal court in August of 2023 that its recommendations to the public and the government require zero scientific backing. This was determined when the judge asked, “Does it matter whether they (The FDA’s views) are scientific views or not… or whether they are just views,” to which the attorney replied “There is nothing in the multiple sources of authority that I cited that require the FDA to go through any sort of formal process.” The judge went on to ask what the check and balance mechanism was for the possibility of distributing ill-informed views to the public, in which the attorney answered, “The public can elect its government officials and the FDA can answer to those officials…It’s not the role of the court to fact-check the FDA’s scientific statements.” In this instance, the reason the FDA was in court was because they had publicly fought for the stance that Ivermectin was to be considered dangerous for the early treatment of Covid-19 as it was primarily used as a horse de-wormer. The reality of the drug was that Ivermectin had been used safely to treat humans for 4 decades, was listed on the essential medicines list of the World Health Organization, had been found to have significant anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties in addition to its anti-parasitic properties and had been the vehicle for its discoverers to win a Nobel Prize in medicine in 2015. The problem was that its patents had expired, and it was in the realm of generic medicine so there were no profits to be made from it and trials were deemed “too expensive.” However, in March of 2022 the UK’s NIH issued the following statement in a meta-analysis of 80 studies, “…there has been shown a significant reduction in hospitalization…” and “…and in addition the cost is in order of 100 times less when compared to the newer drugs.” So not only did the FDA condemn a highly effective early stage covid drug, but they led the world to condemn one of the most cost-effective drugs for treating covid and possibly committed countless thousands to death while awaiting the vaccine. What else could happen under a weak FDA?
The “Episode Pens” Epidemic
In the last 15 years there has been a 245% increase in epinephrine pen prescriptions and a 1,350% increase since 1980. The increase in anaphylaxis allergic reactions has increased at nearly the same rates respectively over the same periods of time. Primary school teachers often have desk drawers with as many as a dozen “epi-pens” in them with names and notes on each child owner’s conditions. The beginning of the years often involves notes going out to other parents with messages such as, “Please don’t sent almonds to school in your child’s lunch or snack they could kill Thomas and Maya. Thank you.” Menus across the country now have symbols for common allergens such as wheat, dairy, nuts, shellfish, etc.., and in many cities these symbols have been present for over a decade now. These symbols have now also spread East, across Europe and are now becoming part of menus in larger cities in India. But, why now?
What is the Change, Why Now?
At the heart of these matters we are finding that there have been fundamental changes in our digestive processes, as well as the bacteria compositions of our guts. These changes have far reaching implications in our long-term health, have been brought about for many reasons and many seem to pre-date smartphones and even the personal computer. However, there are a couple of topics that seem to resurface repeatedly. The first is an agricultural chemical called glyphosate, which was commercially introduced in 1974 and has been part of the “better living through chemistry” experiment that we have used to grow our grains. The second is GMO based veg and fruit crops, which have also been part of the ”Genetic modifications for better living” experiment which was introduced to the US in 1994. Over the last 40 years these two smoking guns have ducked and dodged a number of accusations, but if you look at their adoption across the globe it can be seen that within a generation of consumming these products, that region’s population starts to show measurable change in allergies. Other aspects of the problem that are being found to play a role in this allergy epidemic are increased systemic stress levels, over prescription of anti-biotics to man and beast, and weird things that we didn’t think mattered, like C-section birth versus vaginal birth. However, before we connect all of this, a basic understanding of the gut may be required.
I Have Never Heard of the Gut Micro-biome
Over the last twenty years the research on the bacteria in our gut and our relationship with it has exploded and with each discovery it has been confirmed that there is even more that we don’t know. One source suggests that we have 40 trillion different types of bacteria in our gut while only having a total of 30 trillion different types of cells that make up our body. You may ask how something in our gut is not considered in our body. As it turns out, the tunnel from our lips to our rear is technically external to the skin boundaries of our internal body and the inhabitants of this tunnel are mostly helpful and crucial to our survival. When food is being chewed in our mouths, our stomachs are signaled on what type of food is coming and the relevant bacteria to the digestion of these particular foods are alerted. Sometimes within hours of this alert, dormant strains of bacteria replicate by the thousand for the task of digesting a rarer delight, such as eating your first oyster in a decade. However, problems can arise when we call these specific bacteria into service for digestion or to fight off a pathogen, but we have accidentally killed them off with antibiotics or over nurtured their competitors. The diversity of our gut bacteria is the ultimate Swiss-army knife for our health. This bacteria diversity in our guts, or lack of it, is part of the reason why one diet may work for one person and fail horribly for another.
Rabbit hole: Links to gut health and neurodegenerative diseases have been clearly established
You Are What You Eat, is Partially True
Whatever you eat on a regular basis will cultivate the corresponding bacteria in your gut. If you have spent a lifetime on sugar and booz, one can only expect that the bacteria that thrives on sugar and booz will be in great shape in your gut, but that the neighborhood that is typically occupied by the bacteria species that handle various vegetables and fruit may be a bit empty. The standard American diet mostly favors cheap wheat, cheap dairy and a great deal of processed foods. These dietary habits are set from childhood for most of us as foods like “Kraft Mac-n-Cheese” might as well have made up an entire food category for at least two generations of Americans. The results are that many of us may have got off on the wrong foot when it came to our gut bacteria with our diet. On top of that, other researchers think that our biodiversity starts even earlier.
Early Life and Your Bacteria
At a recent trip to the pediatrician a friend of mine asked his son’s doctor, “Why do my kids have so many Allergies?!” The doctor’s response startled him a bit, he asked, “Were their births naturally or via c-section?” You may ask yourself why this would matter, but recent research seems to confirm that a child’s first healthy dose of bacteria biodiversity comes from traveling down the birth canal. This trip exposes children to a wide variety of bacteria that often stay with the children for the rest of their lives. Following this trip down the birth canal some children are breast fed and some are not, here too, they are finding that the bacteria exposure and bacteria nurturing also varies for early biodiversity. In both cases there are work arounds to supplement and create artificial bacterial environments, and in the modern-day world we are thankful that millions of children are here today that would not have been with us without c-sections and formula. However, it is only now that we are starting to understand these different paths and their affects. The problem is that no matter how we started off as kids, most of us have worsened our conditions by eating foods that were traditionally ok to eat by the generations that came before us.
Why are Wheat, Corn and Soy Killing Me and What is Glyphosate?
In the US many of us know the product by its branded name Round UP weed killer. For years it has been the go-to weed killer that we have used to keep weeds away. The problem is that Round Up was also discovered to increase wheat, corn and soy production by as much as 20-30%. Wheat kernels are part of the plant’s reproductive system and what has been found is that whenever an organism’s life is threatened, biology speeds up the process of trying to secure the passing on of the next generation of genes. What this means for high yield crops, is that when 70% to 80% of the crop has matured, a farmer can dust the crop with glyphosate and cause the remaining 20-30% to rapidly mature and make itself ready for harvest as well. The process has made harvests far more productive, but this has come at a cost. Not surprisingly, baked goods created from grains dusted in a mild poison have caused trouble for millions of people across the globe. Even though the grains are plentiful and beautiful, the inhabitants of our guts aren’t necessarily ok with being exposed to the poison. Glyphosate has been banned in US and EU organic farming, but is still used widely in conventional farming despite Monsanto/Bayer paying out several billion dollars in cancer based lawsuits. Despite the many legal victories won against the product, the US EPA has determined that it was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans” in 2019, and recently the EU has cleared it again for conventional farming as well.
Rabbit Hole: Search “grains, diet and developmental disorders” - many parents have found significant improvements to their children’s conditions by eliminating many of these grains.
The Fruit and Vegetables are Gorgeous, What is the Issue with GMO’s?
Genetically modified organisms are another example of man’s intervention with plants. Over the agrarian history of man, we have grafted different plants onto different root structures, we have systematically picked the plants that seem to grow best in different environments and as of our recent history we have started genetically enhancing various plants’ abilities to defend themselves from an array of pathogens and pests. I cannot tell you what percentage of these changes have been purely good or purely bad, but I can tell you that studies are growing in number that seem to suggest that we are having more and more trouble digesting these big, beautiful, colorful plants (or the animals that eat them) ourselves. GMO’s in particular seem to be being attacked by our immune system and causing inflammation responses. In both GMO’s and glyphosate, it appears that we have created foods that have been accidentally disrupting our gut bacteria, on top of the gut bacteria that we have been intentionally killing off for decades with antibiotics.
Rabbit Hole: Search Inflammation and GMO, example articles clearly show a link inflammation but the FDA stands firm that there is zero risk
Did You Know that Animal Farming Uses up to 80% of the World’s Antibiotics?
For years we have liberally and selectively been dosing ourselves with different strains of antibiotics to fight different illnesses, but most of us are not aware that the fish, cows, chickens and pigs that we eat have been consuming up to 80% of the world’s antibiotics as well. The label on grocery store meat “Antibiotic Free” is a favorite of mine, as it doesn’t mean that the animal was not exposed to antibiotics, it means that the animal was only slaughtered after enough time to metabolize the antibiotics that it was given to help it gain weight and survive in close quarters. As of February of 2020, there was not a single class of antibiotic that had not been given to animal herds around the world. In 2021a study showed that a casual trip to the poultry isle could result in possible exposure to countless strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as it was determined that over 50% of the birds on the shelves contain one or more of these microbes. When they say cook your meats and wash your hands, it’s not for fear of a tummy ache. The reason you should care about this mass abuse of all of our antibiotic classes, is that it means that there is an anti-antibiotic pathogen out there for every single antibiotic we have in reserve, and when you are exposed to one of these pathogens, that class of antibiotic will no longer work to save your life.
Rabbit Hole: Search “AMR Apocalypse,” but be warned it is not for the faint of heart
We Can Make New Antibiotics Though, Right?
The problem with developing a new antibiotic class is that it can take years of research to develop targeted and effective anti-biotics, but it only takes a couple months of abuse on a poultry farm for that antibiotic to no longer be effective in the humans that are exposed to the pathogens in that poultry. The combination of taking antibiotics for medicinal issues as well as ingesting them and their resistant strains of bacteria in our store-bought meats have introduced another level of complexity in our guts. For many of us this has resulted in the extinction of useful strains of bacteria in our own guts. The problem is that it is very difficult to determine which strains have been killed off and how critical they were for us. Unfortunately, this all seems to compound the problem around the growing allergy and in-digestion epidemic.
How Bad Can All of This Be?
Your autonomic nervous system in combination with your limbic system are responsible for many basic survival functions from fight, flight, freeze and other “f” starting words that humans seem to do regularly to the speed of our emotional cues on various life or death topics. These systems also help identify when it is time to rest-and-digest, which signals our gut microbes that it is time to work. These immensely important functions are all controlled in the background in a symphony of signals between the brain and the gut. Some of the signals that have historically taken place have had to do with the accidental ingesting of poisonous plants. The gut would then signal the body to stop al rest-and-digest functions and to expel and all problematic materials as a matter of survival. Historically these events occurred very infrequently, but we now have to cope with a new question, “What if a majority of the foods we consume are registered as a minor poison?”
Allergies - Now and Forever…
When I was growing up allergies were considered static. Definitive proclamations like, “I am allergic to ragweed,” or “Bill is allergic to tree pollen,” were considered permanent. It was understood that the sufferer was granted an unfair lot in life and that they were probably always going to sit at the table with other genetically inferior specimens of humans which gained nicknames like “Wheezy” and “Sniffles.” If you were lucky, you received weekly “allergy” shots for exposure therapy, if you were less lucky you were dosed on a daily basis with any number of medications that often made you think at half speed with the coordination of a baby giraffe during allergy season. Exposure therapy was based on the idea that being repeatedly exposed to the allergen in tiny amounts would eventually show your body that it wasn’t a threat. This principle for reversing allergies had been around for centuries but it required patience and a weekly pain tolerance threshold that sometimes bordered on self-loathing. However, when it came to food allergies, most assumed that not even exposure therapy would work, and that the sufferer was just horribly unlucky. Thankfully modern-day alternative medicine allergy reversal techniques are more dynamic and breed hope for allergy sufferers. As much as our understanding has changed about reversing allergies, many of us have also had to embrace an understanding of gaining allergies as well.
The Unsophisticated Bank Guard
Later in life I came to understand that not only could we get over an allergy, but we could also gain an allergy. My mother became allergic to shellfish, and I gained my fair share of new allergies as well. A naturopath did their best to explain the situation and used the following simple analogy. Your allergy response mechanism can be likened to an unsophisticated bank guard. If the bank gets cleaned out in a robbery, the guard will identify occupants in the bank and register them all as possible threats. If the robbery was horrible, all occupants will be considered definite threats. If the robbery was less traumatic, all occupants will be suspects; and if the same suspects find themselves in the bank during another robbery, they will also be considered threats. In this analogy the “robbery” was an inflammatory event. In most food allergy cases our bodies our under stress and having trouble digesting something at the same time. Extreme stress with the same suspect can create an allergy. In an extreme event, multiple allergies can be created all at once. Example: A friend left her office to pick up lunch at a Subway, her cubical was sprayed with pesticides while she was away, she came back and ate her sandwich, but shortly after finishing she had a violent reaction to the pesticides that required hospitalization. Once out of the hospital, she came to realize that she had become allergic to everything in her sandwich. This is an extreme example, but these days the stress events seem to be registered more regularly, providing a constant level of stress for the body to never recover from; especially when the food we are eating is now also part of the stress. So, what happens when the bank gets robbed every day?
Autoimmune Disorders, Allergies and Diet
Autoimmune disorders, or “no-mans-land” for western medicine, are extremely tricky situations and are on the rise. In 2022 it was estimated that autoimmune diseases were rising by 3% to 9% a year globally and showing up in countries that they had never had significant prevalence in. The extreme version of these diseases are characteristically defined by people stating a version of one of the following statements; “I have been to several specialists and they say it is all in my head,” “The tests say I am fine, but obviously I am not fine, as I can no longer _____,” or “I used to think I believed in science, but this witch doctor seems to be the only person that has made it possible for me to live a normal and functional life.” Most autoimmune disorders also seem to snowball and accelerate quickly. On the digestive front, if the body is under constant stress, it never allows itself to “rest-and-digest” which means that the person’s nutrition drops substantially. This compounds the stress on the body and can facilitate gaining mild allergies, adding to the overall problem. Traditionally many of the initial events were often thought to be an unprocessed large emotion or an environmental issue such as exposure to mold, EBV or Lyme’s; but the sharp increase in autoimmune disorders lends itself to the hypothesis that our daily diets may be encouraging this growth. The problem is that once this unhealthy flywheel starts turning, poisonous foods and the body’s tendency to reduce digestion under stress compounds everything and it can be very hard to regain a normal healthy state. I have read extreme cases where a person is eventually only able to eat rice and broccoli, or they must avoid 90% of the foods that they used to eat, but in most cases these kinds of diets are only temporary. The multi-billion-dollar question is, Did our modern day foods initiate the autoimmune issues, or did the autoimmune issues initiate the digestive issues? In either case, how can you remove yourself from a continuous stress loop.
Rabbit hole: Search “Autoimmune disorders and Allergies” – immune response regulation
***The following is not medical advice, this is strictly discovered information over the last two decades that may, or may not, be of use. I have no medical credentials and claim no authority in this space. I am just another seeker of knowledge that unfortunately needed to study in this direction for my own personal reasons.***
How Do I Slow This Train Down?
There seems to be a couple of standard answers that work for larger groups of people, but it is important to know that there are no silver bullets and some damage cannot be reversed. That said, I think I read somewhere that an ailment is considered “permanent” in western medicine if 18 months of therapy has no significant affects towards reversing it, which is laughable, as the path to recovering from these types of issues regularly take longer than this time frame.
The time required for recovery may be a mystery, but the generic path to recovery goes as follows for most:
- The first step that seems to help is some form of dietary stabilization that is designed to slow the negative spiral down, rebuilding the gut and starting a new dietary journey from there.
- The second step is to identify the likely stressor that may have triggered onset of the issue or slowly built up the problem, and dealing with or removing the negative stimuli.
- The third step is resetting the nervous system and rebuilding a life around a healthier environment and healthier life habits.
No matter where you are starting, it is important to find your people and in particular a trusted guide to start this journey. For many of us this typically means finding a health practitioner that may be less aligned with a strict western medicine background. However, at a growth-rate of 3% to 9% autoimmune disorders are getting more press now than ever before and are becoming more mainstream. The first step that many people have success with is an IgG, IgE and IgM allergy tests. These tests sometimes do a better job of identifying foods that you may have an allergic reaction to hours or days later. Some of you may find that your trouble foods were consumed a full two days before your daily symptoms show up. Once you are on the elimination diet program, the will-power game has begun, as some of these foods not only have to be avoided, but they may have to be avoided for a month before you show consistent benefits from being away from them.
In my own story I took a standard food allergy prick test and was told that I only had a mild allergy to green beans. At the time I was using an inhaler every four hours and waking up a couple times a night desperate for air. Three months later I took a more thorough allergy test. The results required that I cut out wheat, dairy and refined sugars, among other things. Once I got used to the diet, I lost track of all of my inhalers and was able to take on aerobic activities.
Elimination Diets, The Water-Glass Theory of Inflammation and Allergies
Many allergy sufferers are operating in a perpetual state of high inflammation. Unfortunately, this means that any additional issues that are experienced can cause a noticeable reaction. The value of a restricted diet is that it often lowers the base-level of inflammation to the point that the person may gain some tolerance for other minor inflammatory triggers. This is known as the water-glass theory of inflammation. As long as the glass isn’t full to the brim, you can add and take a little water here and there and not really notice it, but it the glass is full to the top, every drop added, is noticed. An example of this is that my wife has a mild allergy to dairy, but as long as she only consumes it on occasion, she may get away without even a sniffle. However, if she adds a little milk to her coffee when she has a cold, she is likely to spend the rest of the morning miserable. There are so many inflammatory triggers and issues out there, unfortunately for those who love their food, diet is one of the few inputs that we have the ability to clearly control and is the first line of defense for reducing overall inflammation and starting the heeling process. Once a person is on stable footing with their diet and symptoms they can start to reintroduce foods back to their gut to see which foods they may still have intolerances for.
Rebuilding the Biome
Once a person has stabilized their diet it is important to try and “nourish the gut.” This often involves taking on activities like consuming collagen sources to repair gut lining, and eating fermented foods and fibers to rebuild better bacteria populations in the gut. There are countless resources on this process and again there is no silver bullet. If you find yourself reading this and in great shape, a “money in the bank” activity is to start or increase your dietary fibers and foods that increase your gut health.
Identifying The Big Stressor
For some people the answer to this question may be eliminating the foods we have discussed in this article, or other foods that don’t work for them. For others it will be work, relationships, traumatic events, pathogens, medical procedures and any number of other possible unfortunate situations. The primary value of identification is to eliminate it if it is still ongoing and persistent. If the big stressor was a past event the person may need to find a way to make peace with it. If it was a past environment, they may just need to make sure that they are no longer exposed to it. Many will heel without ever knowing what caused the issue in the first place. For those that need to identify the event this is often the domain of quieting the mind and working with various professionals to have an honest understanding of the situation and how it started the journey that they are now dealing with. For some this may involve working with professionals such as functional medicine doctors, environmental specialists or psychologists; for others it may just require pen, paper and time. Once the big stressor is no longer a stressor and the day-to-day inflammation is under control, some may still have another step if things aren’t getting better.
Some people need some form of “resetting” of the system. Once a nervous system has been operating for a prolonged period of time in an alternate state it often has trouble making the jump to another state, even if that state is considered “normal.” Books like Toxic by Neil Nathan discuss different modalities and therapies for nervous system resets. For those that do not have the time for reading a book, searching topics around vagus nerve tone and conditioning can be useful. Many others have successfully turned to eastern medicine. Whatever seems to work is fair game when it comes to this topic, it’s just important that forward progress is being made.
Ending on A Positive Note
Many sufferers in this game will find themselves on fairly restrictive diets. Many of these diets will involve avoiding major inflammatory food groups for extended periods of time. For what it is worth, being forced to avoid these foods may be a blessing in disguise when it comes to other major illnesses that set in later in life. They have found many links to gut health and neurodegenerative diseases. One can only hope that there is a trade-off for avoiding your favorite foods, at least this is what I have been telling myself.
5,000 words is a bit long for most to read in a sitting, but for anyone who may be starting in on the “inappropriate immune system response” rollercoaster it is possibly far too little. I know this is a very different article than what I typically write about and I apologize for the change up. My trust in government ineptitude is still the same, I just took it down a different path this time.
The Keyboard Chimp
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Christopher LaBorde, his wife and their two children live part time in the Middle East and part time in Louisiana. As a curious engineer and novice researcher that studies a multitude of topics, Christopher always welcomes feedback at Chris@silvertrading.net and www.TheSophisticatedChimp.com. All of Christopher’s writing is made possible by The Silver Trading Company www.SilverTrading.net , +1 (318) 684-4272 please allow them to help you with any of your precious metals needs domestically or abroad.