Wheat, oats, corn, rice, and their relatives are the fossil fuels of the American Diet. Although you can consume grain-based foodstuffs derived from these grass seeds to power your physical activities, eating such processed foods comes at a very high price to your health and well-being. The internal combustion of grains to fuel your essential physiological processes is an inefficient and dirty business, one which pollutes the internal environment of your body as surely as the combustion of coal pollutes the air, water, and land in the external environment we all share.
What evidence substantiates these charges against grain-based foodstuffs, a “food group” that many honest corporations, truthful government agencies, and altruistic healthcare providers claim are good for human health? After all, throughout the last half of the 20th Century, these Good Samaritans bombarded us daily with exhortations to eat “heart-healthy grains”, the omnipotent dietary weapons against the ravages of heart disease. Their message reached a climax with the 1992 publication of the Holy Food Pyramid by the US Department of Agriculture, in which we were instructed to eat 7 to 11 servings of grains every day. Most Americans followed these recommendations carefully. For some reason, however, between 1961 and 2001, the rate of diabetes in the US increased by more than 1000% and the rate of obesity increased by nearly 300%. Pure coincidence? Right!
In the 21st Century, unfortunately, most Americans continue to eat as though they are following the guidelines of the Holy Pyramid. As a result, the rates of obesity and diabetes continue to climb in this country. However, fortunately for us, a new breed of nutritional researchers/writers has arisen to challenge the dietary dogma of the past. They question the truthfulness, healthfulness, and honesty of the dietary “authorities” in whom we placed our trust during the last half of the previous century. These new authors have exposed rampant dishonesty and enormous financial incentives behind the dietary advice handed down to us over the past six decades. They demand that dietary advice today be based upon an honest application of the scientific method, rather than upon the acquisition of power and profits by vested special-interest cartels. Perhaps above all, they challenge us to read and learn for ourselves, to question “authorities”, and especially, to abandon forever our roles as passive acceptors of whatever dietary propaganda the cartels attempt to drum into us.
Among many excellent contemporary researchers, two outstanding writers who focus upon the effects grain-based foods have upon our health are William Davis, MD and David Perlmutter, MD. Davis is the author of Wheat Belly and Wheat Belly Total Health, and Perlmutter is the author of Grain Brain and Brain Maker. Taken collectively, these four books provide a foundation upon which to understand several of the specific effects eating grains has upon our health.
In Wheat Belly Total Health, Davis identifies intrinsic substances in grains, especially in wheat-based foods, that have been shown by research to have a negative impact upon our health. Among these substances are Amylopectin A, alpha-amylase inhibitors, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), gluten, gliadin, and phytates.
Amylopectin A is a super-carbohydrate in wheat that causes a human’s blood sugar to skyrocket, which is a major reason why the glycemic index of wheat (72) is higher than white table sugar (59). When we eat wheat-based foodstuffs at two, three, or four meals each day, our blood sugar levels rise frequently and precipitously, leading to the secretion of insulin, the fat-storage hormone. Daily tides of insulin lead to the accumulation of excessive body fat and, sooner or later, to Type II diabetes. Therefore, Amylopectin A makes wheat a fossil fuel of the human diet.
Wheat germ agglutinin is a protein that cannot be broken down and assimilated successfully in the human digestive system. As a result, WGA accumulates in a putrefying, half-digested state in the small intestine, where it breaks down the cell lining. This is Leaky Gut Syndrome, a condition in which abnormal proteins, sugars, and other volatile substances from the GI tract leak into the bloodstream. Once foreign proteins break into our bloodstream, many extremely dangerous inflammatory conditions are possible, including the development of autoimmune diseases. In blood, rogue sugars and raw proteins combine to form abnormal molecules of which the human body cannot rid itself. These foreign substances, known as Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs), cause severe impairments by accumulating permanently as non-functional cellular debris in the brain, blood vessels, joints, and other vital organ systems. WGA is the same as heating your home by burning coal or wood in open pits in the basement. To state this another way, AGEs are the human equivalent of dioxin and creosote. WGA means wheat is a fossil fuel in the human diet.
In Grain Brain and Brain Maker, David Perlmutter documents several pathways by which the combustion of grains in the human body leads to severe neurological disorders, especially to dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. He challenges us to consider also the socioeconomic consequences if we Americans continue to follow the corrupt 20th Century advice to fuel our bodies primarily with grain-based foodstuffs. One of those consequences is that an increasing majority of us who are older citizens, who can be kept alive for decades by tubes and medicines, will become unable to recognize our family members or even to remember our own names. The enormous costs of intensive care to sustain us for 10 or 20 years will cause the current paper-mache “system” of American health insurance to go up in flames. In short, eating grains to fuel our brains makes no more economic, health, or environmental sense than using ethanol from corn to extend the era of gasoline-powered automobiles. In the first instance, we are practicing internal anti-environmentalism; in the second, external anti-environmentalism. These are two parts of the same crime against our planet, our species, and ourselves.
Okay, if grains are polluting the organ systems of our bodies and destroying the freedom of our good health, with what foods do we fuel the physical activities of our lives? Once again, we can turn to Davis, Perlmutter, and the many other honest nutritional writer/researchers of the 21st Century. Their books are replete with superb recipes and eating plans that present delicious, nutritious, non-grain, and environmentally responsible foods to replace the deceitful, polluting, disease-causing, grain-based, food facsimiles upon which 20th Century dietary advice was based. In a recent work published by Morgan James, I have attempted to summarize and simplify the pro-active dietary recommendations of these 21st Century nutritional patriots, which is why I have entitled this book American Diet Revolution!