Harm to table

I can’t decide whether I’m alarmed by or excited about a bit of news I recently read. Maybe a little bit of both.

It seems as though scientists are close to being able to control intestinal enzymes responsible for breaking down starchy foods.

In fact, they may be able to turn these starch-digesting enzymes on and off. And this might allow the scientists to selectively block enzymes responsible for glucose release.

The researchers pointed out that, under certain conditions, enzymes that aid in turning starches to sugars can be missing, which can contribute to health problems. But this new technology could lead to foods that fight obesity and diabetes by better controlling blood sugar levels.

Maybe they should have also pointed out that if people didn’t eat so many starches and sugars to begin with, their enzymes wouldn’t be so overburdened. Then they might just be able to work properly in the first place.

Either way, I doubt designing new foods is the answer. We’ve done that with wheat and look at the severe gluten intolerances many people suffer from now. We’ve also done it with corn and so many of the staple crops that this country produces.

When you think about it, we’ve altered just about all of the foods we eat on a regular basis. Either through straight genetic manipulation or through the chemicals we dump on all of the crops that we grow.

But I’m not sure we’ve achieved anything more than the ability to feed ourselves sick. We’re fatter now than at any time in history…and yet we’re also at our most nutritionally deficient.

There’s little question that Frankenfoods have become a major driving force behind this diabesity epidemic. So do we really need more of them?

Couched in those terms, this technology doesn’t give me new hope. It just gives me something new to worry about.

“Modulation of starch digestion for slow glucose release through “toggling” of activities of mucosal a-glucosidases.” J Biol Chem. 2012 Sep 14;287(38):31929-38.