Last night, I cracked open my copy of Wheat Belly by next Tuesday’s Underground Wellness Radio guest Dr. William Davis. I’ll admit that after reading hundreds of health-related books, I’m becoming quite the book snob. If the author can’t get my attention within the first ten pages, I’m done. Moving on!
Wheat Belly had me hooked from page one. This guy can write! The information is scientifically backed, written in plain English, and absolutely spot-on. I even let out a giggle here and there. Can’t wait for our interview!
You know a book is good when you’re carrying it around the house with you – which is exactly what I was doing around dinner time. While cooking up a lamb burger (no bun), I recommended Dr. Davis’s book to my very fitness-minded roommate Jennifer. She and I have talked about the evils of grains several times before. Despite our discussions, she’s still not sold.
It’s cool. She’ll come around. 🙂
To her credit, my roomy brandished what I consider to be the most powerful dogma-defeating weaponry in the entire arsenal: logic.
When confronted with the erroneous misgivings of saturated fat and cholesterol by Real Food skeptics, I routinely respond by wondering aloud how an old school food (or nutrient) can cause brand new diseases. To her credit, Jennifer threw that very same logic right back at me. She wondered how grains – which have been around for at least ten thousand years – can all of a sudden cause so many health problems.
How can something that The Bible refers to as The Staff of Life be the source of so much modern illness? Didn’t God nourish the Israelites with the bread (manna) from Heaven? Well, according to gluten expert Dr. Thomas O’Bryan, seven out of ten people are sensitive to gluten, the toxic protein found in most grains! Were the Israelites somehow exempt from gluten’s wrath? Or was the all-knowing God just a little behind on his research?
The truth is that we are not eating the same grains that Moses may have snacked on as he hiked up Mount Sinai. In fact, we’re not even eating the same grains our grandparents ate! In just a mere 50 years, grains – wheat, in particular – have become a mutant species crafted by the hands of human intervention in the name of increased crop yields, resistance to drought, disease, and heat, as well as an end to world hunger – all of which are honorable causes and tremendous scientific achievements. However, the accelerated evolution of wheat through hybridization – a feat that would make Gregor Mendel proud – has been to the detriment of human health.
To understand how wheat has gone from a comparatively innocent wild grass to what the New England Journal of Medicine recently declared the cause of 55 diseases, we have to go back.
Last month (I’m way behind), my main man Scott Kustes of Naked Food Cooking stopped by the UW Kitchen to show us how we can satisfy our chocolate cravings semi-healthy style with this flourless chocolate cake.
To be totally honest, I thought I was gonna hate this one since it had coffee in it. Coffee disgusts me. Yuck!
But I totally dug it!
It’s reeeeally simple with just a handful of ingredients. And it’s quite tasty, especially the ganache!
Scott put together the directions for you. Here they go!
Try it out and let us know how it turned out.
Stay tuned. Scott and I also made some delicious Pork Belly with Pineapple Salsa. I’ll get it edited and uploaded some time next week.
Click HERE to learn more about Scott’s online cooking course!
NOTE: If you have not read yesterday’s blog, this one will likely go over your head. Check it out and come on back!
So now that we’ve met the players in this game, let’s discuss how we can keep them from screwing up team chemistry and resulting in autoimmunity.
Once considered quackery, the role of the gut mucosa, or intestinal barrier, has over the years become a more established factor in triggering autoimmunity. As you learned yesterday, when your gut is inflamed with big holes punched in it (intestinal hyperpermeability), undigested food particles and other not-so-nice stuff can make their way into the circulation (your bloodstream) and trigger an immune response.
But what happens when your immune system gets a little trigger-happy? What happens when that undigested rib-eye steak molecule you’ve been fighting off for years starts to look a lot like your thyroid, or your pancreas, or your adrenal glands?
In a case of mistaken identity, your immune system begins attacking tissues, organ, and glands. It can even attack hormones like estrogen, leaving you infertile. No bueno. This process is called molecular mimicry, confusing one molecule with another.
Environmental toxins, called haptens, can also trigger autoimmune reactions. Haptens include inorganic compounds like the formaldehyde coming out of your carpet, chemicals in your water, as well as heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium.
Here’s where glutathione comes in. As I explained in last week’s Underground Antioxidant blog, one of glutathione’s primary roles is detoxification. It acts like sticky paper grabbing onto toxins and carrying them out of the body for you. In other words, when rogue chemicals and bad guys come into your body, glutathione takes the hit for you, allowing the immune system to rest.
However, when glutathione levels are depleted due to aging, toxicity, stress, and poor diet, YOU take the hit. And you take it right in the immune system! When environmental toxins enter the body with your glutathione defenses down, big bad TH-17 is upregulated, contributing to autoimmune flare-ups.
If you recall, the activity of the TH-17 system determines the severity of the autoimmune flare-up. If you are currently dealing with autoimmunity, or would like to avoid it altogether, downregulating TH-17 by way of maximizing glutathione levels is certainly in your best interest.
Note: If you are a practitioner and suspect toxicity is playing a role in your patient’s or client’s autoimmune condition, you may want to think twice about using heavy detox protocols (like chelation) without increasing glutathione levels first. Heavy metal chelation can be devastating to anyone with autoimmunity if glutathione is not there to take the hit.
Let’s get back to the TH-1 and TH-2 balancing act. Autoimmune conditions typically (but not always) show dominance in one system over the other. The role of the T-regulatory cells is to reduce this polarity. When there is a downregulation of these T-regulatory cells, TH-1 and TH-2 go off kilter, thus triggering the faulty immune process.
“99.99% of our genes were formed before the development of agriculture.” – Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, MD, Medical Anthropologist
It’s really that simple. There is zero human dietary requirement for grains. Most (if not all) people would be better off without them. It was their introduction into the human diet by way of the Agricultural Revolution that shifted us away from the healthful animal-based diet that we survived and thrived on for 99.99% of our history. With this change came reductions in stature and brain size, chronic degenerative diseases, and much longer work days. Many anthropologists agree that the advent of agriculture was one of the worst events in human history. Despite the evidence of such agriculturally-induced human decline, we continue to perpetuate this event with our USDA dietary recommendations and our errant fears of animal fats.
Let’s set aside the whole “are grains fit for human consumption?” debate and just focus on the nuts and bolts of what they do within the human body. First of all, grains are living organisms. And like all living organisms, they have defense mechanisms to discourage predators from eating them. One such mechanism is called phytic acid, which binds to the important minerals in the grain such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. So even though the label on the loaf of bread says that it is loaded with these minerals, you’re not really absorbing them. In addition, phytic acid can leach minerals from your body, causing mineral deficiencies. Not good.
You can eliminate or significantly reduce the phytic acid by way of soaking, sprouting, or fermenting the grain. This is cool and all, but it doesn’t take care of the fact that grains are 70-80% starch, which eventually converts to sugar and cranks up your blood glucose and insulin. Last night, I read in Primal Body-Primal Mind that one bagel or two slices of bread contain 5 times more sugar than your bloodstream requires. Any sugar that your bloodstream does not need gets stored away as either glycogen or fat. Imagine how much fat you store when you’re eating multiple servings of the stuff because the USDA told you to. You can’t burn fat when your pancreas is always cranking out insulin to counter your almost hourly grain binges!