Just because something bad is reduced or eliminated in cigarettes, it should not logically follow that cigarettes must now be good, right? Low-tar, filtered cigarettes may be less harmful than full-tar, unfiltered cigarettes, but still contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, and cadmium, as well as nicotine, naphthalene, arsenic, formaldehyde, ammonia and other toxic compounds. Low- or no-tar does NOT mean healthy. This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how many people—physicians and dietitians included—fall for such flawed logic when applied to nutrition.
We saw this play out in yet another flawed analysis released from the U.K. this week with media headlines proclaiming “Whole grains lengthen life” and the like. This was not a new study, but a re-analysis of prior studies (a “meta-analysis”). In each and every study included in this analysis, increasing consumption of whole grains (usually in quartiles or quintiles of whole grain intake) was compared to consumption of white flour products, and there are indeed benefits (not due to B vitamins nor cellulose fiber, but due to the arabinoxylan and amylose prebiotic fiber content): longer life, less type 2 diabetes, less cardiovascular disease, less weight gain (not weight LOSS)—that is all true.
In other words, if we conducted a study that compared increasing reliance on low-tar filtered cigarettes with smoking full-tar unfiltered cigarettes and demonstrated, say, a 27% reduction in lung cancer and heart disease, and people lived 2 years longer than full-tar smokers, should we therefore conclude that smoking low-tar filtered cigarettes is therefore the key to health and longevity? Of course not, but you can begin to appreciate the flawed house of cards that nutritional thinking follows.
Such epidemiological analyses included in this meta-analysis can therefore not be used to conclude that whole grains are good for you: they are LESS BAD. The full implications of this do not become apparent, however, unless we compare whole grain consumption with NO grain consumption. Such studies have indeed been conducted and demonstrate dramatic reductions in type 2 diabetes and blood sugar, reversal/remission of rheumatoid arthritis and some other autoimmune conditions, reversal of irritable bowel syndrome, reversal of temporal lobe seizures, reversal of cerebellar ataxia, reduction or elimination of small LDL particles that lead to heart disease, reduction in paranoia and auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia, reduction in behavioral outbursts in kids with attention deficit disorder and autistic spectrum disorder, etc.
Remember, wheat and related grains, whole or white, still contain:
- Gliadin (and related proteins, such as zein in corn)–that trigger appetite via gliadin-derived opiate peptides and initiate the process of autoimmunity via intestinal “leak”
- Phytates — that disturb digestion and block iron and zinc absorption by 90%.This is why grain consuming societies experience so much iron deficiency anemia, impaired immunity, and skin rashes.
- Lectins — such as wheat germ agglutinin, grain proteins that exert disruptive effects in the gastrointesinal tract and gain access to the bloodstream, where it yields potent inflammatory effects.
- D-amino acids — Humans, as well as other mammals, have the digestive apparatus to break proteins down in to L-amino acids. But many of the amino acids in grains are the mirror image D-versions. The implications of this peculiar clash between incompatible species–non-ruminant humans and the seeds of grasses–are just starting to be appreciated.
- Amylopectin A — The carbohydrate of grains that is responsible for its extravagant potential to raise blood sugar higher ounce for ounce, than table sugar.
Keep this simple principle in mind—that less bad does not necessarily mean good—and you will see through numerous blunders made in nutrition. “The Mediterranean diet is the ideal diet,” for example, is yet another mistake in that there is simply no logical way to reach that conclusion, only that the Mediterranean style of eating is less harmful than, say, the average American diet.
And anyway, if the millions of people who have enjoyed extravagant weight loss and reversal of health conditions on the Wheat Belly wheat/grain-free lifestyle were to go back to consuming grains, even 100% whole grains, we would re-exposure reactions on a grand scale with weight gain, diarrhea, abdominal distress, recurrence of all symptoms previously relieved with grain elimination such as migraine headaches, acid reflux, rashes, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune conditions.
Stay wheat/grain-free and maintain your extraordinary level of health and control over weight, regardless of the sloppy thinking of nutritional “authorities.”