Why are we meddling with our natural foodstuff?
We do have an obsession with the white colour. No, I am not talking about the white-skinned. Although, I guess, it first started with that. I am talking about everything white — sugar, salt, rice, bread, clothes and bath tiles. We have taken the help of chemicals to do away with what nature thought best for us.
Dark side of white sugar
Why is sugar so white? Some time ago there was an ad showing cockroaches creeping on sugar slightly less white in gunny bags while the branded product was stark white ‘pure.’ The dark colour is removed by passing sugar juice through different chemical media such as acid chalk, carbonic gas, sulphur dioxide, strontium hydroxide and sulphuric acid.
Most cavities in teeth are caused by sugar intake. A regular intake of white sugar destroys the enamel. So your ‘ouch’ tooth problems are not only due to your not brushing or not visiting the dentist but also because you take sugar in coffee, tea, drinks, sweets and snacks too.
People who take sweeteners are known to gain more weight than people on natural sugars. Some artificial sugars are known into break down to carcinogenic (cancer forming) material.
Sugar taken everyday in coffee, milk or other foods — sometimes as sweets — produces an acid condition and the body loses precious vitamins and minerals to set right the imbalance. The first symptoms are putting on weight. Then, there is the slow functioning of vital organs, a sluggish liver and a sluggish circulatory system. The body becomes weak and loses immunity to fever, cold and cough. Vitamin B is
needed for a proper functioning of the brain and that is lost when white sugar is taken in excess.
It is sometimes called the white death. Salt taken in excess can lead to hair loss; the skin can lose its usual shine and tone. Blood pressure shoots up. It can lead to vision problems and result in the lack of energy and attention.
The snacks, the crackers in packs, the bakery items, the pickles in the market, the salted butter and the ketchup are all high on salt. Salt is what “preserves them” as they have to be on the shelves till you buy them. Sugar and salt can be addictive. In branded salt, they take out some ingredients and add some like iodine.
“Aiyooooooooooo iodine” was the title of an article in the Tamil weekly Kalki some time in 2008. Therein Dr. P. Ravichandran was writing a series about the care of kidneys. He says: Some five lakh years ago there was no salt or sugar because the food in the natural state provided it. The one that is marketed is proclaimed to be good for growing children and good for the brain. The iodised salt is 90 per cent sodium.
They purchase normal salt from salt mines and grind it and remove the potassium, magnesium and zinc sulphate. These are then added to fertilizers. And eat that iodised salt, you are very much prone to cancer. What little iodine you need you can get from natural foods.
The ingredients taken out of salt are added to fertilizers. If they are bad for us, how come they are good for soil as fertilizer and then crops? And then to humanity, through crops grown in that soil. Back to square one again?
Nowadays, there is no drying of wheat in the sun; sometimes it is made to sprout and is dried to get those fluffy chapatis and pooris. The mills that grind the grain are getting fewer in number. With more women going to work they have little time to dry out the wheat and take it to the mill for making the flour.
The flour that is available in the market is smooth and makes puffy rotis/ chapatis. Processed white flour, be it enriched or fortified or added with vitamins and minerals, has lost the best part of the seed — the fibre, the outer bran and the germ or the embryo.
These are lost during processing/refining. Worms eat less of refined products. You keep some whole wheat grains or brown rice and you have a swarm of ants around, but it is not so fast with the refined products. What ants and other insects know instinctively, we have lost as thinking humans.
People who eat refined products are prone to putting on weight because the production of insulin increases with the intake of refined foods. This helps in the storage of fats, leading to heart diseases, high blood pressure, etc.
More and more insulin is produced when you consume more of the refined carbohydrates, and sugar is released right from the digestion in the mouth. Prolonged levels of elevated insulin to manage the extra sugars contribute to inflammation.
If left unchecked, this type of inflammation can lead to serious health problems and contribute to insulin resistance — the imbalance of blood glucose and insulin.
White flour is chemically bleached in mills that produce large
quantities of flour. It is the base for pizzas, pastas, noodles and all other snack items. What is taken away as bran is for the oil industry to make bran oil for you. The bran and the leftover roughage are added to fodder.
The whiter the bread, the sooner you are dead, so goes an old saying.
Refined oil is processed with chemicals. The once aromatic honey coloured til or sesame oil is now a pale yellow product with absolutely no aroma of the heavenly sesame. The same is with groundnut and other natural oils. These oils are heated, treated with chemicals and mixed with ingredients to make them less colourful or aromatic (deodorise).
Hydrogenation is another serious problem. Cotton sanitary
pads/tampons are bleached white with you know what — chemicals, of course. A study says these are treated with asbestos to bleach them whiter and hence the prevalence of uterine/cervical cancer in the U.S.
The white, absorbing baby diapers have absorbent vinyl, elastic, Velcro, gelling material and plastic packaging. It is bad for the skin of the baby and the environment.
We use detergents and washing liquids to keep our clothes extra white and the floors and bath tiles extra neat. In the process, we are adding chemicals to our precious water.
We are meddling with nature by refining products. We think we are right in altering soil components by adding chemical fertilizers. We think we are right in finding a way to process and keep foods for a longer time by refining them. In the process, we end up depriving ourselves of the best nutrients.
We then add ‘fortified, added nutrients and vitamins’ in the hope that our combination of adding them to these foods is right!
This could all be a marketing strategy for refined products. Should we not take time to think and perhaps stick as close to nature as possible at least as far as what goes into our mouth/body for our own wellness?
Source :THE HINDU 28/11/2010
Disclaimer: The above article is published in a daily national
magazine .I have no right in the above magazine.