Digestive Disorders On The Increase
There are many health challenges we face these days. Sedentary and irregular lifestyle habits are the main causes. These include minimal physical activity, impaired sleeping patterns and wrong eating and drinking habits.
There are also several digestive disorders such as minor digestive problems, enteritis, gastro-enteritis, gas, bloating, acidity, constipation, gastric ulcers, loose motions and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Along with this, we also face increased waist lines and other related lifestyle diseases.
Reasons For Digestive Disorders
There are so many causes for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and all other digestive disorders. Many of these are listed below:
- If we are stressed, our digestion is affected. If we keep getting stressed for longer periods of time, then our digestion capacity is impacted over the long term, causing related problems.
- If we eat out too often then it can cause long-term problems. Bugs and bacterial infections impact our digestion.
- We eat a lot of processed, packaged and pre-packaged foods. Even though a lot of them claim to be healthy, there are always some additives or processing by-products, impacting digestion.
- A modern day life also prevents us from eating freshly made food. As a result, we land up eating stale food on a daily basis. Leftovers are kept in the refrigerator and re-heated and eaten.
- TV dinners are becoming a norm and one has no time to cook fresh food for every meal. All this stale food is not good for the body.
- Most of our food and drinks these days (including milk and drinking water) contains preservatives, hormones, pesticides and additives. All of these cause digestion problems.
- In recent times, we have little or no physical activity. In fact, more and more people these days do no physical work. Most of us do not even exercise. However, we keep eating in the same way. This lack of physical activity or regular exercise is one of the main causes of digestion problems.
- The trend these days is to eat a lot of heavy foods which require the digestive system to work harder. These include: red meat, sauce laden foods, curries, baked breads, pastries, sweets, processed cheese, fried foods, refined flour, junk food, burgers, pizzas and foods with added sugar.
- Beverages like tea, coffee, alcohol, soft drinks and energy drinks are unhealthy and upset the digestive system completely.
- One of the lesser known reasons for digestive problems is irregular or less sleep. We seem to be not only sleeping late, but sleeping for lesser number of hours. Sleeping correctly is, therefore, becoming core to proper digestion.
The Gluten Intolerance Myth
Now we have seen so many reasons for digestive problems and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Then how does gluten enter into the picture? When we talk about gluten intolerance, researches are incomplete and biased. More often than not, they show only one side of the story.
We say ‘one side of the story’ because gluten-free products, gluten-free wheat and other related products cost at least two hundred to three hundred percent more than regular wheat and other products.
The other fact is that gluten intolerance is a very minor problem. It only affects a miniscule amount of the population – mainly Caucasians. So what we have done is to generalize a non-existent problem for the whole population. This has been done through some smart marketing by the American processed food industry.
This has been spread without any scientific research or basis; that the whole world is now running around to go ‘gluten free’. This is another myth like the ‘fat is bad’ marketing and the cholesterol myth. There is no basis to this.
How people actually get affected by wheat or gluten is as random as tossing a coin and the outcome is less than one percent. More than ninety nine percent of people are not impacted at all. So the question we must ask is, why should we stop something if it does not harm us?
Even among people where these problems are seen, they are not caused by gluten or wheat. The main reasons as we have already seen are incorrect and excess eating, processed foods; chemicals and hormones present in the grains, milk, water and other products.
It has been found that if you just reduce grains and increase vegetables and fruits, the problem gets resolved on its own. It is probably only a very tiny percentage of the population which has a genuine gluten problem.
There are so many ‘credible’ researches done on Gluten intolerance. However, these do not take into account all factors like lifestyle, stress, food habits, exercise, differing metabolism, genetic and racial factors and other variables.
There are also other recent surveys and researches done by credible organizations and individuals which clearly state that there is no such thing as gluten intolerance IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) caused by gluten in a majority of cases. Rather, it is a combination of all the other factors as already stated above.
What Is The Problem With Wheat?
Wheat causes problems due to the following reasons:
- When it is consumed in large quantities.
- When wheat-based products are ‘dense’ in nature.
- When refined and processed versions of wheat are devoid of healthy fiber.
For example: Baked breads will cause a problem, but the Indian phulka or fresh chapati is very healthy. Both are made of wheat. This is because phulka is light and cooked through properly. Similarly, if you have pasta made of wheat, it may cause digestion problems because it is processed and very dense.
But upma or ‘daliya’ (always freshly made and normally had as breakfast in India), made of cracked and broken wheat, called Suji, is healthy. Therefore, this does not cause a problem.
This logic holds true for all grains and pulses. If we eat a lot of baked or ‘dense’ food or large grain-based food, it will cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive problems.
So the problem is not with wheat or the gluten, it is the way we eat it and how much of it we consume.
The solution to these problems is actually very simple. Improve your lifestyle and exercise or walk regularly. Reduce the consumption of all grains a little bit, and not just wheat. Eat more freshly prepared food and vegetables and avoid re-heated or outside food.