IN THIS ISSUE:
S. A. Victory >>
Alice Lundy Blum >>
Natallia Meleshkevich >>
The Invisible Dangers Of Healthy Eating
I was a baby, my mother tried her best to get me to eat my vegetables.
This was my first encounter with subterfuge related to vegetable
coercion. She would place peas on the back of the spoon and pudding on
the front. Apparently, my eyesight was not as developed as my
taste buds, and she would slip the tip of the spoon just between my
lips. Upon tasting the gooey concoction, it was like the combination
lock between my brain and my lips would disengage and my mouth popped
open like a baby bird greeting its mother. However, it didn't
take long before I uncovered this evil plot, and the roly-poly shaped
legumes scrolled over my lower lip, down my bib and landed in my high
chair completely intact and stripped of all pudding residue.
Since we were young enough to remember, someone has been telling us to
eat more fruits and vegetables. The US government recently
launched a new website through efforts of the CDC (Center for Disease
Control). The website is: www.FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov.
The site brings a new twist to the obscure government recommended daily
allowance for eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. With
modern web tools, citizens may now plug in their age and level of
activity, and discover the exact amount of fruits and vegetables we
need to eat to achieve near superhuman benefits.
I plugged in my stats, pressed the calculate button and the web logo
spun once, twice and then the man behind the curtain launched a popup
window informing me that I need to eat two cups of fruit and three cups
of vegetables every day. What the website, and just about every health
writer I've read, fail to mention are the invisible dangers of
following this advice. What is this unseen peril? The
answer is gas.
Fruits and vegetables
are usually high-fiber staples equipped with all of the leading causes
of flatulence, but you never hear of this danger when dietary
guidelines are shoved at you like an orange jump suit in the county
When you arrive at
FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov, you are greeted with the smiling face of an
attractive young woman. This is part of the confabulation's
slight-of-hand; because, most rarely associate such a bewitching
countenance with someone who could singlehandedly burn a hole in the
local ozone layer. However, that's the problem isn't it? Soon
they will! In order to maintain their athletic appearance and healthy
glow, they too must follow the guidelines of the CDC. Now, they are
eating broccoli by the bowlful and cabbage by the cups.
It's time to vent about truth in information. No longer should we pass
in silence. We need to stand up and feel a sense of release by
trumpeting the facts. If you follow the advice of
FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov and eat even a single cup of cauliflower,
you will produce enough gas to fumigate a barn and psychologically
damage everyone in your neighborhood car pool, but this is never even
hinted at by the CDC.
The front page of FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov reads something like the following:
and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may
help protect you from chronic diseases. Compared with people who
consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, those
who eat more generous amounts…blah…blah…blah…less strokes, fewer
cardiovascular diseases and less cancer.
The message is, the more broccoli and verdant roughage you scarf down,
the greater your chances of avoiding an ignominious death. So what's
all the stink about? Isn't it a good idea to avoid heart disease and
cancers? Perhaps this example will illustrate the problem.
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The other day I followed the advice of the CDC. I ate a full cup of
broccoli. On this day, we had a company-wide meeting. People packed
into the room like a school of salmon heading up stream. I held back,
as I began to feel the effects of the healthy meal. I stood against the
wall next to the men's room listening to executives pontificate. Soon
pressure was building, and I was happy that no one was standing near
me. Thinking I was far enough away from the crowd to let the
breeze blow, I allowed the air to escape from the tank.
It was at that very moment that the president of the company looked
over and saw me standing alone. He mouthed something to me from 30 feet
(9 m) away. It was two syllables. Something like “Not time.” Then, I
made a horrible mistake. I scrunched my face into a look that revealed
I had no clue what he was saying. He began walking toward me. “No!” I
thought, “Not now! Do not choose this moment to talk to me.” But then
he was next to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and leaned toward my
Suddenly the full cloud of broccoli vapor enveloped us both. His
expression changed, as if something was stuck in his throat. His eyes
grimaced. My head raced to think of something to say. My mind tried
out, “Thanks for the compliment. Sorry I farted,” but it just didn't
seem to work. Something had to be said, it was the 800 lb stinky
gorilla in the room, but I couldn't speak. Instead, my eyes slowly
looked over at the bathroom door, which I hoped would send the message,
“It's coming from there.” He followed my gaze and also looked at the
door. There was a mutual realization between us that the best thing to
do was for him to just back away. I was mortified. The one moment that
the company president chose to speak to me, and I gassed him like a
swamp valley fog machine.
How can a
website, in good conscience, recommend we eat so much food that causes
gas without warning you of the problem or telling you how to deal with
the outcome? Admittedly, this can be a cloudy topic. In fact, the CDC
didn't even originate the 5 servings per day recommendation. This was
initiated by the NCI (National Cancer Institute) in 1991 with the 5 A
Day for Better Health Program. The NCI were also blatantly more
interested in saving humanity from cancer than keeping people from
producing their own personal greenhouse gases.
What exactly is it that FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov is not telling us?
Let's cut through the cheese and take look.
In general, gases that produce flatulence are caused by complex sugars
that make it through the stomach and small intestine and into the large
intestine without being digested. The sugars that don't get digested
are due to a lack of digestive enzyme. Foods high in soluble fiber
(versus insoluble fiber) also produce gas. Once the complex sugars,
like fructose and sorbitol, are in your large intestine, hungry
bacteria are recruited to enjoy this happy meal. The bacteria, in turn,
pass gas in your large intestine, producing methane and hydrogen
sulfide. This gas has to go some place, and it's not going back up.
Some foods have a double whammy for gas. They contain both indigestible
sugars and are high in soluble fibers that produce gas in the large
intestine. These are foods like beans and other legumes made famous in
the musical renditions of Blazing Saddles.
On the FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov website, there is a section called
“Fruits and Vegetable Benefits.” The top beneficial reason is “Fiber,”
and readers are told that fiber has been shown to decrease risk of
coronary artery disease. Next to the benefit is a list of “Excellent
vegetables sources,” and the following twelve items: navy beans, kidney
beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans, white beans, soybeans,
split peas, chick peas, black eyed peas, lentils, and artichokes.”
They might as well have listed twelve steps to never dating again. Or,
twelve reasons your friends don't come around any more- Or, twelve ways
to ride the elevator alone.
website could suggest is that for every cup of cabbage you eat, be sure
to add the enzyme alpha-galactosidase [glac-co-sa-dayz] to the meal.
This enzyme is the active ingredient of the anti-flatulence pill called
Beano. There are also less expensive generic brands of
alpha-galactosidase. This enzyme breaks down the hard-to-digest sugars
before they reach the large intestine, which prevents the bacteria from
converting the sugars to explosive gas.
This enzyme does not cover flatulence sources caused by soluble fiber.
If FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov really wanted to be cutting edge, they
might mention Bismuth Subgallate, which is an FDA approved internal
deodorizer in a pill that is often found under the brand name Devom,
which doesn't control your gas propulsions, but it does allow you to
puff the magic dragon odor free.
Without argument, FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov provides us with valuable
information, but they have not exhausted all possibilities. The
government requires drug companies to list side effects, and it's only
fair to list and discuss fruit and vegetable side effects that have
long been called silent but deadly. I'll gladly put up with a few
barking spiders to avoid cancer and heart disease. All I'm saying is
that- If the CDC knows something's in the air tonight, they should
spill the beans. Warn us about the invisible dangers of eating healthy
before all of our friends are gone with the wind.
Kenny Bellew has
been a technical writer for 17 years. Currently, he's the Senior
Technical Writer for the Minnesota division of Hewlett-Packard in
charge of all service documentation. He's in the graduate program
seeking a Master of Science in Technical Communication (M.S.). Kenny's
hobbies include running, participating in local 5K races (especially if
he gets to run in costume), biking, photography, blogging, creative
writing and multimedia for the web.