Should we avoid eating grains and grain products? I believe we should avoid them and ignore current food guidelines.
Dr. William Davis is an American cardiologist who, following decades of clinical studies and observations has witnessed extraordinary results after putting his patients on a wheat free diet. His book ‘Wheat Belly’ makes a compelling case against wheat. Dr David Perlmutter, a practicing neurologist, is also an advocate of a ‘grain free’ diet in his book ‘Grain Brain’.
More and more chronic diseases are emerging, and more and more people are becoming acutely unwell in their old age, requiring medication for an increasing number of life threatening conditions. According to recent reports half of all Americans suffer some form of chronic condition. Many of these conditions are related to our increasing reliance upon grains. We eat grains for breakfast lunch and tea, in our tea breaks and in some cases it is put in our medications and personal care products.
The 14 chromosome wild wheat, Einkorn wheat, is vastly different to modern, 18-inch high, 42-chromosome wheat. The proteins of this ancient wheat are completely different, which make it slightly easier to digest. There is less gluten as well, often making it acceptable to gluten sensitive people but not those with celiac disorder. I say slightly easier to digest because humans are not equipped to eat grasses. We evolved without the necessary digestive apparatus to eat and digest grasses, which include seeds. Goats, cattle and sheep (ruminants) however have evolved to eat grasses, they have teeth that grow continuously – the silica in the cells of grasses wear them down – they have four stomach chambers: three fermentation chambers (rumen, reticulum and omasum), followed by one chamber (abomasum) that uses stomach acid for digestion and they have a unique micro biome specialised to digest them. We simply do not have the specific organs to deal with grasses, including their seeds, like wheat rye barley, oats and rice. For more ninety-nine per cent of our time as humans on earth, we did not eat grains.
Archaeologists can tell you when we started. They will point to a sudden occurrence of evidence of tooth decay, of abscesses and mal formation. They will point to a doubling of arthritis and they will observe humans became shorter. These conditions appeared when hunters became agriculturalists.
When humankind started to find hunting difficult, when the population reached a critical mass, they turned to growing their food. They started selectively bred their plants for pest resistance, saving the seed of those that grew well. In doing so they were selecting strains with the highest pest resistant compounds like phytates. We know now that phytates bind to certain dietary minerals including iron, zinc, manganese and to a lesser extent calcium, which will slow or hinder their absorption. This makes them what we might call an ‘antinutrient’.
All plants contain lectins, another plant protein and another plant defence mechanism. They occur in most plant foods, for example tomatoes, lentils, peas, grains and legumes. They bind together cell membranes and cannot be digested properly by humans. They also can be termed ‘antinutrients’ in that they change the balance of the gut microflora and contribute to ‘leaky gut’ by binding to receptor sites on the intestinal mucosal cells. This interfers with the absorption of nutrients across the intestinal wall. Wheat and grains are some of the plants highest in lectins. Dr Gundry has written extensively about lectins in his book, “The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in ‘Healthy’ Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain.” He claims a lectin known as wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), is actually one of the most efficient ways to induce heart disease in experimental animals and is far more of a concern than another lectin, gluten. Lectins will also cause harm through what is called ‘molecular mimicry’. For example, by mimicking proteins of the thyroid gland or of joint spaces, lectins can cause the body to attack the thyroid causing Hashimotos and will contribute to rheumatoid arthritis. These diseases start when lectins and lipopolysaccharides (LPSs), also known as endotoxins, penetrate the gut wall, which stimulates a very strong immune response.
Consuming wheat and grains is like sugars; they provoke the release of blood insulin, a process that stimulates accumulation of visceral fat. The cells of visceral fat produce leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full, however when someone becomes obese, the body’s cells develop resistance to leptin. Leptin receptors can’t bind with the hormone leptin to deliver that message of fullness to the brain. So the feeling of hunger persists and cycle of eating continues. So Gliadin proteins unique to wheat, increased through selective breeding and altered in amino acid structure from their non-genetically-altered predecessors, actually act as appetite stimulants.
Dr William Davis explains that an increase in visceral fat will cause an increase in the expression of aromatase. Aromatase is an enzyme that converts testosterone to oestrogen. This will cause impaired libido in males and females due to lower testosterone, higher oestrogen levels. It is likely to cause growth of breasts in both males and females. This means the development of man breasts in males and the increased breast cancer risk in females. Dr Davis goes on to explain that in addition to the visceral fat aromatase effect, the A5 pentapeptide derived from the gliadin protein of wheat stimulates pituitary gland to release of prolactin that causes growth of breast tissue. Other effects of over expression of aromatase is the amplification symptoms associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which include increased moustache hair, higher testosterone levels, higher blood insulin, blood sugar and infertility.
There are other reasons to avoid grains, in particular wheat. Amylopectin A is a super starch, found in high levels in the new and improved dwarf wheat. It is in such quantities that it will cause blood sugar levels to soar. It is “worse than table sugar,” Dr. Davis says.
When the proteins in wheat are digested, they are converted into shorter proteins, “polypeptides”, called “exorphins”. These proteins are similar to endorphins released after exercise. They bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, giving a ‘high’, and they are addictive. Dr Hyman, doctor and author of many books, explains how these wheat polypeptides, called ‘gluteomorphins’ are absorbed into the bloodstream and cross the blood brain barrier. This can lead to multiple problems including schizophrenia, but they also cause addictive eating behaviours like cravings and bingeing. As he points out, rarely do people binge on broccoli, but they do binge on biscuits and cakes. So it is not just the sugar.
“We’ve been eating wheat for a millennia.” I hear you say. “We’re told it’s good for us.” This is the message we’ve been given in different ways from a variety of sources for a long time. The ‘big’ food, ‘big pharma’ industries and following the industrialisation of agriculture, big agri-business employ what only be described as predatory practices, they control the messages, control the print media, they control the advertising and the content on television and radio and they have taken control of the health industry. Money controls the message we are given. In effect doctors are trained by the pharmaceutical industry, medical regulation is not as autonomous as one would believe. In England, the British Medical Journal published a report identifying many areas of influence and distortion by the pharmaceutical industry. The House of Commons health committee set up to report on the influence of the pharmaceutical industry described how the industry taints doctors. Their report found over half of all postgraduate medical education in the UK, and much education of nurses, is funded by the pharmaceutical industry.
An analysis of 29 studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2000 found that doctors who accept fees, meals and other perks from drug makers are more likely to prescribe their brand of drugs. This can negatively affect patients because the medicines promoted by drug makers are usually newer, more expensive and potentially less safe than older medicines.
Drugs that need to be taken over a long period, i.e. over the remaining period of an individual’s life like statins are the lifeblood to the industry. Drugs that heal, short-term drugs to rectify a condition, like an infection, attract less interest. There isn’t the volume or profit so less money is spent on research and development.
As discussed wheat and grains are going to support all types of chronic disorders ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, high blood sugar, blood pressure, high cholesterol, cataracts and kidney disease, lupus, migraine, dementia, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. By upsetting hormones grains will contribute to the development of polycystic ovaries, of infertility and many more conditions. No industry, whether it be the food industry, the pharmaceutical or agri-business is going to encourage the avoidance of grains to promote health and avoid chronic disease. It will be people on the ground who, when avoiding grains will begin to experience better health. It will these people that will slowly bring about change.
I urge you to consider a grain free diet for two months and see how you feel. Eat a variety of root vegetables, green leafy vegetables and of course, fruits and quality grass fed meats. I suggest seeking out organic foods where possible. The modern methods of farming many of todays foods unfortunately relies heavily on chemical use which is a whole new blog!