The Myth of Whole Grain Goodness

This article was originally published as my Holistic Outlook column in The Times Herald Record.

I’ve previously debunked the myth of calorie-juggling and the mistaken notion that fats make us fat and sick. Today, let’s explore the myth that whole grains are essential to a healthy diet.

Not only is it untrue, but also it does a large number of people a great deal of harm. Those “healthy” whole grains make a lot of us ache-y, bloated, tired and fat, and perpetuate both hunger and cravings — so you are more likely to gobble ever more cookies, crackers, bread or pasta.

Every food has proteins, and when we react to a food, it is almost always to the proteins in it. Gluten is the protein in wheat, oats, rye, spelt and barley. One-third of the population has a genetic sensitivity to gluten, but recent research shows that even in people who are not gluten-sensitive, gluten causes inflammation: in the gut, the brain and throughout the body.

We’ve been told that increasing whole grains will improve our health, but, for most, taking them out does more good. My clients are amazed at the improvements they feel when they eliminate gluten, often within days. And those improvements continue to accrue for two years, as the body continues to heal.

Gluten lite?

People often ask if cutting back on gluten has the same benefits as eliminating it. Unfortunately, no. Glue-y gluten “sticks” in the system for about 10 days each time you ingest it. If you have gluten once a week, your system never gets to heal.

Secondly, gluten has addictive biochemical effects, so each time you eat some, your cravings resurface and you struggle to resist eating more and more. Conversely, once you eliminate it completely, cravings diminish, and willpower isn’t an issue.

The great masquerader

Gluten is a “hidden” food sensitivity, because response is not immediate and dramatic, but delayed and cumulative. Historically, gluten was associated with gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation/diarrhea, and the infamous “wheat belly.” But now we know only a minority of people suffer from gut issues. Most experience other symptoms as diverse as skin rashes, painful joints, asthma, chronic sinusitis, anemia, osteoporosis or anxiety. If you’re wondering if you might be one of the many who feel better gluten-free, I encourage you to experiment and find out for yourself.

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