Rachel Adams >>

Roshelle Amundson >>

Kenny Bellew >>

Cat Campbell >>

Alicia Catt >>

Raymond Cott-Meissel >>

Ben Findlay >>

Gail Gates >>

Brent Giesen >>

Kristine Hayes >>

Blaine Huberty >>

Peter Laine >>

Amy Mattila >>

Suzanne Nielsen >>

Dawn Nissen >>

Norah O'Shaughnessy >>

Rebekah Pahr >>

Sally Reynolds >>

Donna Ronning >>

Kah Shepard >>

Kelly Taylor >>

Jonah Volheim >>

William Wells >>

Jake Wendlandt >>

S. A. Victory >>

Kate Young >>

Alice Lundy Blum 

Natallia Meleshkevich >>

Kenny Bellew

The Invisible Dangers Of Healthy Eating

When 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:  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 jail.
      When you arrive at, 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 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 reads something like the following:

          Fruits 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.
      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 ear.
      “Nice tie.”
      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 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 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.
      What the 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 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, 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.