March 19, 2017

Our Second March Meeting

On March 18, Brenda called our second meeting to order and said Allison would have the presentation. This time everyone was present plus one guest that A.J introduced.

Allison said she had wanted to have this last meeting, but with all the flu, she felt that should be covered instead. Now she felt that gluten-free foods needed to be covered. She asked how many knew about gluten-free foods. Of the 26 present, only three hands were not raised. Next, she asked if anyone had celiac disease. No hands were raised and she commented that was understandable. Next, she asked if anyone had not read Bob's blog on February 19 about arsenic and mercury poisoning. Five hands were raised and Allison said that she was happy there were so few.

She said she had found the same article from many sources from many countries. She felt this indicated that the study was important and people around the world were concerned about the possibility of arsenic and mercury poisoning.

She then had Brenda bring up a slide with this paragraph - The way I see it, this research doesn’t mean that going gluten-free will automatically increase your intake of the heavy metals. However it's an important reminder that how you eat gluten-free matters, both in terms of arsenic and mercury, and your overall nutrient intake. Here are three key ways you can optimize your health if you eat gluten-free.

Next she asked if anyone was gluten sensitive and trying to eat gluten-free. Two hands were raised and one of the two asked how serious this could be and she felt she was gluten sensitive and was eating more gluten-free foods. Allison asked her to remember her question and asked for the next slide.

The next paragraph said - You can find gluten-free versions of nearly any food these days, including bagels, bread, wraps, baked goods, and crackers. Many are made with rice flour, but what they also have in common is that they’re all highly processed. If you need to follow a gluten-free diet, yes, it’s nice to be able to eat pizza or a cookie if you really want it. But these foods should be occasional treats, not daily staples. And it’s important to note that simply being gluten-free does not make a product healthy. Many processed gluten-free foods are made with refined flour (stripped of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants), as well as added sugar, sodium, or other unwanted additives. Make whole, fresh, and minimally-processed foods your go-tos, not gluten-free versions of packaged, multi-ingredient products.

Then Allison said she had several more slides and would read them before discussion. Brenda started the slides, which are here:

Rice is just one of many gluten-free grains. Others include quinoa, buckwheat, millet, oats, sorghum, teff, corn, and amaranth. Pulses (the umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas) are also gluten-free, as are starchy vegetables, including sweet potato, yams, fingerling potatoes, and squash. When planning meals, include a wide variety of these whole foods that are naturally gluten-free.

For example, instead of whole wheat toast at breakfast with your veggie and avocado omelet, opt for sweet potato toast, or a side of black beans. In place of a sandwich or wrap for lunch, make a salad and add a small scoop of quinoa or lentils for a healthy source of carbs. At dinner, replace pasta with spaghetti squash. And snack on roasted chickpeas or hummus with veggies rather than chips, pretzels, or crackers.

Consume low-mercury seafood. We don’t know the precise source of the mercury that caused the elevated levels detected in this study, but seafood can be a significant contributor in people's diets. One resource to help you figure out which seafood to avoid is the Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guide to Seafood.

Generally, low-mercury options include wild Alaskan salmon, Atlantic mackerel, rainbow trout, shrimp, and clams. Varieties with moderate mercury levels include cod, crab, canned tuna, lobster, mahi mahi, and sea bass. High levels of mercury are found in shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and grouper.

As with any eating plan, this simple motto can help you strike a healthy balance: Keep it real, mix it up, and don’t overdo it.

After reading each slide, Allison went back to the question. She stated that most gluten-free foods in grocery stores have many added ingredients and are often loaded with sugar.

Then she opened it up for more questions and several people asked for a repeat of the slides, which Brenda did with discussion on each paragraph. Another 40 minutes were spent in discussion and many good questions were raised and when the last question was answered, a round of applause happened and the woman that had asked the first question said she was happy with the discussion. Several others also said thank you and felt that this was near the top of the discussions presented to the group. Several of the members that had been with the group since the early days, agreed but said there were a couple of meetings that had been more valuable.

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