Here is an updated list of the Wheat Belly approach to healthy eating, adding basic strategies for recultivating a healthy intestinal microbiome.
A hundred thousand years ago, you’d have no doubt what and how to eat. You would wake up every morning, grab your spear, club, or axe and go kill something, wander and gather berries, nuts, or dig in the dirt for roots and tubers, or set traps for fish and reptiles. If you succeeded in the hunt, you would consume every organ that included thyroid, thymus, pancreas, stomach, liver, as well as meat. You’d drink water from streams and rivers and allow your skin surface to be exposed to sunlight. You would NOT shower with soap or shampoo, apply hand sanitizer, drink chlorinated water, consume foods laced with herbicides and pesticides or genetically-modified foods containing glyphosate or Bt toxin, or take antibiotics for a viral infection. You succeeded in diet without knowing anything about calories, fat grams, carbs, etc. but just following instinct and need.
While we’ve enjoyed many technological successes these past 100 years, we have also experienced what it means to be given awful dietary advice that ruins health and be subjected to healthcare-for-profit. While there is more to health than diet, just getting diet right is crucial. Let’s therefore consider some of the basic truths in diet that help you regain a toehold in health and weight. If you want to eat for health, not to satisfy some silly food pyramid or plate scheme crafted by commercial interests, then you should:
- Eat real, whole foods—Opt for an avocado or egg over protein powder or meal replacement shake or frozen dinner. A meal replacement shake is never an adequate replacement for the nutrient profile of real food.
- Never count calories—Of all things, the Biggest Loser TV show illustrated what happens when you restrict calories. Extreme exercise combined with limiting calories does indeed allow weight loss, even to extravagant degrees, in the beginning . . . only to be followed by regain of all the weight when your body adapts by reducing metabolic rate. Nearly all Biggest Loser successes regained all the weight they lost despite maintaining a calorie-restricted diet. Limiting calories is misery and is ineffective for long term weight loss success, while also yielding gallstones in many people due to gallbladder inactivity and bile stasis.
- Don’t limit fat—Just as a wild human enjoying a fresh kill does not say “Just give me some of the lean meat and throw out the fat,” so you should never buy lean meats, trim the fat off meats, or turn away butter, olive oil, the oil left after cooking bacon, or coconut oil. Yes, throw away the corn, cottonseed, and safflower oils that corrupt agencies have told you are preferable because they are unsaturated, but don’t limit fats and oils of the sorts that humans have consumed for millions of years and yielded virtually zero heart disease.
- Don’t sweat the protein—When you do not limit fats, protein intake is self-regulating. If you feel like having four eggs rather than three, go ahead. If you strength train and feel hungry for more steak, go ahead. Do not count protein grams but follow your appetite and instincts that become reliable without the distortions of wheat and grains. Occasional indulgences in higher protein intake also breaks ketosis and its harmful long-term effects such as kidney stones, osteoporosis, and diverticular disease that result from the dysbiosis of prolonged prebiotic fiber deprivation.
- Ignore diet advice from mainstream healthcare professionals—We have a peculiar situation in which the American Heart Association, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Diabetes Association and other agencies eagerly accept huge donations from Coca Cola, Pepsi, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Aventis, Merck, Kellogg’s, Kraft, General Mills and other commercial sources, making them willing to craft messages favorable to their donors. These interests in turn “educate” health professionals with messages such as “everything in moderation,” “move more, eat less,” and other ridiculous and ineffective messages. Their practices have made these agencies irrelevant and counter to your health interests. This also means that, if you saw it in a TV or magazine commercial, don’t buy it. Nobody is advertising eggs from pastured chickens or organic broccoli, so those are the sorts of foods you should choose.
- Eat no seeds of grasses—People are often shocked to hear that wheat and grains are the seeds of grasses. For the same reasons you cannot eat the grass clippings from mowing your lawn, you should not consume the seeds of grasses called wheat, corn, rye, barley, millet, sorghum, etc. as you are incapable of digesting the proteins they contain that thereby exert peculiar immune, gastrointestinal, and mind effects due to indigestible peptides.
- Eat nothing with added sugar—Which becomes easy once you have taste perception restored by banishing wheat and grains from your life. You begin to recognize that almonds are actually sweet, as are unsweetened yogurt and Brussel sprouts, while formerly tasty treats like milk chocolate become sickeningly sweet and inedible. There is no reason to add sugar or consume foods with added sugars. The sugar industry may have paid off doctors to conceal the dangers of sugar and divert public attention towards saturated fat, but you should not fall for such commercial shenanigans.
- Salt your food—People who are grain-free, as we are in the Wheat Belly lifestyle, need salt. By normalizing insulin blood levels and removing the sodium-retaining gliadin protein of wheat, we actually improve metabolic status by adding salt to our foods, not to mention foods taste better with salt.
- Limit dairy—Unlike the seeds of grasses (grains) that have no precedent in dietary consumption and are completely foreign to the human dietary experience, humans are mammals that survive on breast milk for the first two to four years (in primitive societies that follow instinct and not Nestle). But the amino acid sequence of casein protein in non-human breast milk are indeed an issue. We therefore limit dairy, choosing fermented forms such as cheese and yogurt that convert lactose to lactic acid and denature (break down) the immunogenic casein beta A1 prevalent in North America.
- Drink water—If you were a primitive human hunting for your next meal or digging in the dirt for roots and tubers, you’d stop for a water break at the river’s edge. You would not have access to fruit juices, soda, and the other ways that industry has corrupted beverages. Tea and coffee, being little more than water, are benign. But steer clear of orange juice, grape juice, soda—sugar-containing or aspartamed-up—and opt for the liquid that has sustained humans for millions of years: plain water.
- Eat fermented foods—Foraging for wild food means stumbling on foods that have naturally fermented, such as too-ripe fruit. Fermentation allows bacteria and fungi to grow on foods, species such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, and Leuconostoc that increase intestinal mucus production, convert prebiotic fibers to healthy metabolites like butyrate, and inhibit proliferation of pathogenic species. Veggies you ferment yourself, kefir, homemade yogurt, kimchi—there are hundreds of choices.
- Include prebiotic fiber-rich foods—Before supermarkets, before agriculture, you would forage in the forest, savannah, or jungle, digging with rock, bone fragment, or stick to uncover roots and tubers that kept you satiated until the next successful hunt. You’d also pick wild fruit when the season brought bounties of berries, apples, cherries and others. You also learned which green plants and mushrooms were safe to consume. All of this nourished the Prevotella and Spirochetes you harbored in your gut.
Beyond diet, recognize that modern life—NOT the diet—has created deficiencies of several nutrients such as iodine, magnesium, and vitamin D that, if not addressed, will limit health success. This is why the Wheat Belly lifestyle is based on eating healthily but goes further in addressing these common deficiencies. Also recognize that modern life has created a disastrous microbiome lacking beneficial species like Lactobacillus reuteri and Faecalibacterium prausnitizii while dominated by unhealthy Gram-negative anaerobes like Salmonella and Citrobacter.
I hope that this list illustrates just how far off-course the modern diet has wandered. Look around you and see the result: obesity, all-you-can-eat buffets, record-setting medical bills, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth in every third or fourth American, and healthcare fat cats profiting from the health and weight disaster. But you know better than that. Follow your instincts. There are no obese squirrels, possum, or lions, yet they don’t follow a food pyramid or plate, don’t have dietitians to guide them, don’t have a health insurance card to cover doctor visits.