Is There a Grain of Truth in the Expression “Healthy Whole Grains”? — I’ve Learned the Answer is “No!”
You may have heard the news on wheat: It’s not as goof for us as we thought.
There are more and more people speaking out, including several authors like Dr. William Davis, the author of Wheat Belly—a book I highly recommend.
How can wheat be bad for us? It’s a diet staple for millions of people around the world.
Most Americans enjoy toast, bagels, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, or PopTarts for breakfast. Sometimes all of the above.
For lunch we whip up (or more likely order) sandwiches, burgers (with puffy wheat flour buns), tortilla wraps, burritos, etc. Maybe some cheese and crackers later for an afternoon snack.
For dinner, how about some pasta with garlic bread? Or pizza? Or hundreds of other wheat-based dishes?
And don’t forget the cakes and pies and cookies for dessert.
Like I said, wheat is everywhere.
Despite being cited as a healthy dietary staple that we NEED for our health, many researchers have found that wheat may actually be very UN-healthy. At least, not anymore. In fact, there may not be a grain of truth in the expression “healthy whole grains.”
Why Gluten Contains the Seeds of Destruction for Our Health
Wheat—plus all the other gluten-containing grains—may in fact be the proverbial seeds of destruction when it comes to our health.
Just before I got sick, I was planning to move downtown. I’d always lived out at the far southwest city limits of Austin, and when increasing traffic pushed the drive to downtown beyond the half-hour mark, I found myself skipping things I wanted to do just to avoid the drive. If I lived downtown, I wouldn’t have to miss the theater, art openings, book readings, or hiking around Town Lake (a dammed section of the Colorado River, which bisects the city into South and North Austin).
Mostly, I was looking forward to the food. Austin is home to some of the best Mexican food and barbeque restaurants on the planet, as well as dozens of great burger places. I would be living within walking or bicycling distance of some of the city’s best bakeries, pizzerias, taquerias, barbeque joints, and restaurants. And since walking would be faster than finding parking, I’d be burning off the calories, to boot! The banquet beckoned. When I finally got into my new apartment downtown, I tucked in.
My culinary extravaganza lasted one month.
Four weeks after moving downtown, I found out I would have to stop eating wheat if I wanted to heal my body’s autoimmune issues and chronic inflammation.
No more stops at the bakery for fresh croissants and cinnamon rolls. No more pizza. No burgers with buns. No homemade flour tortillas.
Ironic, don’t you think?
Weaning Myself From My Wheat Habit—In a Culture that Revolves Around Wheat
It took some time for reality to sink in.
Lingering in denial, I procrastinated on purchasing Wheat Belly, the book Naae, my nutritionist and acupuncturist, recommended that would supposedly explain why I needed to give up wheat.
I did compromise by doing some research online about wheat and inflammation—and I didn’t like what I read. So I stopped reading. Did I really want to know how damaging modern wheat is to our bodies?
To be honest, not really.
The reality was that I was facing a major lifestyle makeover. It wasn’t going to be just a simple adjustment to my diet. I was going to have to change how and where I ate, as well as what. Because it’s really, really tough to avoid wheat products in restaurant fare.
Sure, the “gluten-free” craze has swept the country and taken over an increasing percentage of shelf space, even in the big chain grocery stores. But gluten-free options (which use wheat substitutes like rice flour) are still extremely limited, and sometimes barely edible.
Once I started diving into the available research on the health impacts of gluten in wheat, and other grains, I discovered that there is a lot of information out there, but not in the mainstream media. Most of what I found was on so-called “alternative” blogs and websites.
Does that mean they are any less reputable a source for news and information?
Well, that depends. But when you consider that the mainstream media are dependent on advertising dollars from the food and agriculture companies that make their money producing this stuff, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
With any luck, it will make you question.
Unconventional Thinking on Wheat from Alternative Media Outlets
Another vocal contributor to the wheat debate is Sayer Ji—author, researcher, lecturer, and advisory board member of the National Health Federation. His organization, GreenMedInfo.com, has been doing research on the subject for twenty years now. He wrote something that has stayed with me—and greatly reduced my desire for this destructive food source.
He wrote: “The problem is implicit in the word gluten, which literally means ‘glue’ in Latin, and in words like pastry and pasta, which derive from wheatpaste, the original concoction of wheat flour and water, which made such good plaster in ancient times.
What gives gluten its adhesive and difficult-to-digest qualities are the high levels of disulfide bonds it contains.
The same sulfur-to-sulfur bonds are found in hair and vulcanized rubber products, which we all know are difficult to decompose and are responsible for the sulfurous odor they emit when burned.”2
Hmmmm? Pasta…paste. Gluten…glue. Vulconized rubber? Ugh. Pass the veggies, please, because I’ll pass on the bread, thank you very much.
Alternatives to Wheat Abound When You Know What and Where to Look
Okay, so wheat is out—along with other prolamine-rich grains like barley, rye, spelt, and in some cases oats. So are any grains safe for a health-conscious person trying to heal or prevent inflammatory disease?
Yes! We can safely eat brown rice, long-grain basmati rice, wild rice, quinoa (a super grain), and buckwheat (not really wheat).
If you are concerned about recent reports of mercury in rice, consider this: The rice that has been found with mercury has been grown in areas that once grew cotton and used mercury in the soil. This occurred primarily in the southeast. So as long as you avoid rice from Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, you should be safe.
My favorite long-grain basmati comes from a high-quality company from India. And it’s delicious.
This post is excerpted from my upcoming book, the Inflammation Elimination Diet: How I Changed My Diet and Changed My Health—From Sick and Tired to Healthy and Happy.
You can pre-order it now and save $5. To order, click the box on the right of this page.
Also read my review of Wheat Belly here.