As a holistic nutritionist every day I see clients who are trying to conceive a child, lose weight, or manage some pretty severe conditions like diabetes, cardiac issues, or autoimmune illness. It’s no surprise this would be the case since two thirds of the population of the US are overweight and just under 11% of the population have diabetes, (with 1 in 3 suffering from insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes) and this is expected to rise to 15% by 2015. If you think that is bad, although most of my clients are online via Skype, I do have several clients I see face to face in Qatar where the obesity rates on a population of 250,000 is over 50% and the diabetes rate is 17%.
I ask my clients to give me a health history on their first visit and a detailed food diary on their next visit of a week’s worth of consumption. Many of my “chronic dieters” and the clients suffering from health conditions believe they eat pretty healthy with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. The rest, of course run the gambit from a train wreck to one cheeseburger short of a heart attack but I expect this. It never shocks me. In all my years of being a healthy lifestyle and eco-wellness coach I notice my clients all have one thing in common-whether they come to me trying to figure out why they are still not “healthy” even after eating what the mainstream media and government tells them is healthy or whether they come to me as a “newbie” to nutrition- the mass consumption of grains.
“But I thought grains were healthy! You NEED them for fiber. They lower your cholesterol! ” Aren’t most of you saying this about now?. I thought this way before I started doing my own research. I have learned over years of that research and much trial and error that the health of “whole grains” are WAY over hyped. In fact, not to sound too conspiracy theorist or anything, I do believe the engineering of wheat done over the last several decades were meant to make us fat, sick and dependent on the “health care system”. But that’s just my thinking because, if it is not the case, why on earth would the government (and all the dieticians out there listening to the USDA recommendations to base our diets on whole grains) be shoving down our throats how healthy these grains are for our bodies?
To go forward you must go back. Let me take you back to the history of eating grains. Regular grain consumption only really began about 10,000 years ago when we shifted to a more agrarian (farming) society from a hunter/gatherer society. We settled down. Granted not in front of TiVo and Xbox, I mean we did still work hard, but before we settled down we did not eat grain on a regular basis, rather gathered a few wild grasses now and again. There is actual historical and scientific evidence that we don’t function well at all on grains. We were at our peak strength in our development, both mentally and physically as humans before we began regular grain consumption. Though we have built better mouse traps in the 10,000 years since we have started eating grains, since 1872, when the first roller mill was invented and our grain consumption skyrocketed, chronic diseases have been on an upward curve while fertility rates have plummeted. The more our grain consumption rose, the faster the fertility rates fell.
In the last 40 years, since the engineering of modern wheat, not only has chronic disease gone off the charts but relatively new illnesses and conditions have cropped up and experiences dramatic increases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, polymyositis, and many other conditions caused by chronic inflammation in the body. Even autism, which is not necessarily new has become much more prolific over the last 20 years. There are many factors that contribute to these conditions, of course. Powerful cocktails of chemicals, toxins, and bad science (and bad nutrition) have helped in creating a “sick” nation. Much of those cocktails did not surface surface though until about 30 years ago. Mass grain consumption has been going on much longer. To make matters worse, most of the grain consumption has been in the form of flour, not the actual grain.
So if we ate grains for 10,000 years, why has chronic disease spiked over the last 130 years? When our ancestors used to farm before roller mills were invented (and even worse, automated farm equipment making it really easy to gather mass amounts of grains really fast and grind it into a lot of flour), grains were allowed to sit in fields before harvesting and sprout. This released a lot of the phytic acid (more on this in the next few posts), an anti-nutrient responsible for the malabsorption of valuable nutrients, including calcium, in the gut. (Hello skyrocketing cases of osteoporosis!) That made them a lot more digestible. On top of that ancient grains weren’t genetic mutant cyborg grains hell bent on making us zombies dependent on pharmaceutical companies doling out meds that are engineered to make us even sicker. Hey, I didn’t make the rules.
So here’s where the hype begins:: Whole grains are a “health food”, because whole grains are high in fiber which slows digestion and when digestion is slowed there is less of a spike in blood sugar . On top of that whole grain foods are high in vitamins. You’ve been tricked!!!!!! It’s all a LIE!!! Yes, I am going to explain why.
A whole grain, the actual grain does, theoretically, when consumed WHOLE, cause less of a spike in blood sugar than eating a piece of bread. It might interest you to know, however, that whole wheat bread is only marginally better than white bread in insulin production with it’s 2 grams of fiber compared to white bread’s 1 gram or less. Let me put it in layman’s terms. If you were eating flour straight from the packet and you ate whole wheat flour, as compared to white flour, your insulin would still spike (albeit perhaps SLIGHTLY slower than the white) as if you were eating table sugar from the bowl. The sad fact that we often mix flour with copious amounts of sugar to create sweet treats (and even savory ones) creates the perfect storm for a diabetic coma.
Remember, a carbohydrate is either a starch, a fiber, or a sugar (or all three.) ALL of these components convert to glucose. Glucose is converted to glycogen which is burned as fuel. Any extra glucose not needed to replenish glycogen is stored as fat. In times of famine, back before we were farmers or before supermarkets stocked Twinkies, those fat stores could be accessed to produce said glycogen. The problem is, now, there isn’t any more famine so the grain we are eating now in copious amounts is converting to glucose which is going straight to our fat cells. Since we never have to access those fat cells to power our bodies yet we keep shoveling in more grains (and sugar) guess what happens?? We create inflammation in our bodies. We create an acid imbalance. We get fat, we lose our sensitivity to insulin, eventually we become insulin resistant, then obese, and, if we are lucky it stops there, but if not……we are on a train to Type II Diabetesville. Even our immune system comes under attack. What’s worse than that? Insulin is part of the biochemical dance our bodies do every day to keep ourselves alive and healthy. When insulin is out of whack, everything is out of whack. Hormonal balance is what keeps us being able to manage stress. Adrenal fatigue is rampant in our society. We even lose the ability to conceive children because insulin resistance is responsible for PCOS, lutenizing hormone deficiencies, and a cascade of other biochemical reactions that prevent conception.
Just so you get a clear picture of how mass consumption of grain has impacted our ability to procreate and live vibrant lives, the average sperm count in men has decreased 50%, according to research done by the University of Missouri, and impotence is on the rise. Women approaching or going through menopause are experiencing symptoms in greater numbers and intensity to that of our ancestors, all linked to mass and over consumption of grains. Yes, refined grains are EVIL. Whole grains may not be so great either.
Over the next few days we will be discussing exactly how grain affects our bodies when eaten and exploring alternatives to grain consumption and how to prepare grains properly when you decide to consume them. Yes, dear readers, I do try to go as grain-free as possible but I would be lying if I said grains never pass my lips. I will teach you all my secrets on being mostly free of grains without losing your mind.
Wishing you peace and balance,