Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Breaking Wind/Passing Gas; The delights of "health"

For the last couple of months, I have made a truly conscious effort to closely monitor every ingredient in the food that I eat. For those unfamiliar with my 'hobbies', I absolutely love to cook and experiment in the kitchen. Usually, due to the bland assortment of menu options (bland pertaining to choice, not seasoning), I almost always prefer a home cooked meal to anything at a restaurant.

While it becomes much easier to monitor what you eat when you dine in, inevitably some component of our meal is made outside the confines of our 'safe-zone.' It is the tortilla for my taco, the noodles for my Italian feast, the bread for my butter, and the cereal in the morning that I typically have no control over.

My 'healthy' emphasis has specifically targeted the consumption of more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. I think the post-lowcarb mentality has enveloped a new love and appreciation for the 'cleansing' power of these foods.  So, if this is the case... it makes complete sense to skip over the 'plain' processed options that lack the alchemist concoctions assuring a double, triple, or quadruple increase in their magical powers, right?!

As my wise consumer eyes drift along colorful packaging and bold pleasing titles to the list of ingredients accompanying my grocery store's offerings, a trend emerges. It has become more frequent that although a food claims to possess 'healthful benefits,' its 'substance' is chalk-full of words that I don't recognize let alone, understand. Among the recent claims permeating packages on shelves is an emphasis on fiber.

Initially, these claims entered my skull with a sense of glee and liberal accomplishment. It was as if my reading of, "Fast Food Nation" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma" had some how forced the Walmarts of the world to bring meaningful change to their money-sucking behemoth companies. Down with the fat, calories, artificial bullshit, HELLO clean colons and youthful hearts... HA! ... I'll concede, they won that battle... I'm still in the war...

Admittedly (with humility), I neglected to recognize the clever manipulations by the marketing geniuses behind the likes of Wheat tortillas, double fiber breads, high fiber pasta, Fiber One Bars, Kashi Cereals, etc. until I regularly consumed this food with pride and a lack of abandon, rendering my stomach into a collection of murmurs, roars, bleps, and an inescapable stench.

What could be doing this to me?!

I, like so many others, fell into the trap that plagues most of us... I wanted a shortcut.

Obviously, I am not a scientist. I am however, a person who is constantly curious and who hates being gassy... So, I did some research on this human-fumarole inducing trend and this is what i found:

This 2009 Slate article about Polydextrose (a 'fiber', additive)...
The always wise minions of Oprah provide some insight....
And, here's a TV news broadcast on the subject...

In a nutshell, the fiber additives (functional fiber ((fake)) ) pass through your body without any of the benefits obtained from the dietary fiber found in produce and whole grains. In fact, some of these functional fibers could actually strip your body of necessary minerals... And, if that wasn't bad enough... the rocket fuel emanating from your ass will be.

So, back to brown rice, steel cut oats, carrots, lettuce, and grapefruit... I think a good rule of thumb is, if it has only one ingredient, it's likely a safe and healthy bet (commentary on FDA inspections and my vagueness is more than acceptable and deserved after that declaration).

Tip: Make a batch of brown rice (NOT INSTANT) and/or steel cut oats on Sunday (as it takes about 30 - 45 minutes for both) and store in the fridge for use throughout the week... Simple and effective...

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