Tag Archives: food

What’s missing from the Paleo diet? (and EVERY popular diet, for that matter!)

Paleo explained in a graphic

Why do so many people, including ‘experts’ hate on the Paleo diet?  From people like Christina Warinner in her viral TedX speech (excellent rebuttal here from Robb Wolf to the chop-shop speech given by Warriner at TedX) to poorly researched books like “Paleo fantasy” by Marlene Zuk (Incredible rebuttal to Zuk’s idiotic book here by Mark Sisson).  Heck, even major news outlets like US News run an absolutely abhorrent yearly piece ranking the best and worst diets for our health each year.  The paleo diet comes in DEAD LAST every year, ranked way lower than SLIM FAST (click here to read a fantastic rebuttal to the drivel that US News puts out about diets every year)!  That’s just laughable.  And even more laughable is that the ‘experts’ who rank these diets are the very nutritionists and dietitians who are supposedly advising America to better health through diet.  Yikes…

Look at the graphic above.  The paleo diet is all about eating REAL, FRESH, UNPROCESSED, PERISHABLE, NUTRIENT-DENSE foods.  How this diet is ranked behind some of the other diets like Slimfast on that US News list is absolutely beyond me!

The Paleo diet has its short-comings, which I’ll get to shortly, but I want to be clear about my stance on it:  I have eaten paleo/primal on and off (mostly on) for about 4 years now.  I have intimate experience with this diet, and have helped many of my friends and family adopt some version of the paleo diet into their lives with incredible results.

What led me to the paleo diet?  

 

I was in my mid-thirties and suffering from what many other people my age suffer from: slowing metabolism, weight gain, constant exhaustion (which fueled a hefty caffeine addiction), frequent sinus infections, joint pains, allergies galore (which led to a dependency on Afrin, breathe right strips, nasonex, and insert 50 other commonly used nasal allergy sprays), mood swings, food cravings (read SUGAR), and a nasty case of GERD (Gastro-Esophegeal Reflux “Disease” – think heartburn on steroids…like you feel as if you’re having a heart attack).

I had been to a nutritionist.  She joked that my cholesterol was so low that I was either dead or in the best shape on earth.  Well, I was neither.  In fact, I would argue that I was closer to death and, had I continued taking her advice and my gastroenterologist’s advice, I would have had a very bad health outcome by now.  They told me that I should eat lots of heart healthy grains, avoid all acidic foods like coffee, tea, tomatoes, alcohol, and citrus fruits, and to take acid blockers like Prevacid and Prilosec.  Following their advice gave me temporary respite from the GERD, but the minute I stopped taking the Prevacid, it came back with a vengeance even though I continued to eat the diet they recommended for me.  So, what gives??  Was I supposed to just take these pills for the rest of my life to feel like I’m not being stabbed in the chest after every meal?  Big Pharma sure wants me to think so…

My health issues not only remained, but significantly worsened until 2009 when I had heard of the Paleo diet.  At first I brushed it off as idiocy just based on its name (which doesn’t do it any justice, imo).  But after hearing a few of my crossfit brethren rave about it I decided to do some research.  I ended up buying Robb Wolf’s “The Paleo Solution” and I read it cover to cover within 4 days (I’m a slow reader).  It’s a really easy read, very entertaining and very informative.  I highly recommend this book as a starting point to learn about the paleo diet and how it can help you reverse chronic illness, lose weight, and regain energy.  Based on this book, I gave paleo a try.  I then discovered other amazing paleo resources like Mark’s Daily Apple and Everyday Paleo.

The results:

  • Weight: I lost 27 pounds of excess fat within about 4-6 months.  Without counting calories.  I ate to my heart’s content in each meal.
  • GERD: Completely eliminated, and did so without the use of antacids, and I ate citrus, cooked tomatoes, and drank tea to my heart’s content (all supposed “no-no’s” when you have GERD)
  • Allergies: Almost completely eliminated.  And by implementing the diet, I figured out that Dairy was one of the main culprits of allergies and inflammation for me.  GOT MILK?  NOT.
  • Chronic Fatigue: The diet didn’t fully end the fatigue but helped it enough that I no longer needed coffee and caffeine (which led me to the discovery that I had sensitivities to coffee and caffeine).
  • Frequent sinus infections: Frequency was greatly reduced, and my immune function improved.  Apparently grains and dairy were 2 major culprits of low immunity and inflammation for me (as well as millions of people who don’t realize it).
  • Blood lipid profile: Unfortunately, I didn’t have a blood test done before I started eating paleo, so I have nothing to compare my results to, but a recent blood lipid profile showed absolutely no issues with my cholesterol, and showed excellent ratios b/w HDL:TC, HDL:TRIG, and low triglycerides.  This is despite me regularly eating organic uncured nitrate free bacon, and pastured organic eggs constantly (no, not egg whites…FULL eggs with the yellow, which is the most nutritious part of the egg!  It drives me crazy to see people ordering egg-white omelets at a restaurant thinking they are doing something good for their health!).
  • Joint Pain: Reduced…although not fully (I have a major sports injury in my left knee that involved a permanent metal plate and screws). 
  • Fitness: My endurance improved, my strength improved, and I was easily able to do rigorous crossfit or muay thai workouts.  The low carb diet worked just fine for me.
  • Food cravings: This was the one area that I was not able to conquer with paleo alone.

Now, how can a diet that is capable of results like mine be so adamantly panned by the talking heads out there?  You see, I am a walking, living, breathing testimonial for the paleo diet.  And I am not the only one.  Click here to see just ONE resource for thousands of testimonials like mine.  To my readers that have experience with the paleo diet (good or bad) I would love to read about your story in the comments section below!

Aside from the thousands of testimonials and case studies, and despite what its detractors say, The Paleo diet does have sound science behind it as well (just scroll to the bottom of the page I just linked to and see the 8 randomized control studies on the paleo diet).

But the title of this article is “What’s missing from the paleo diet?”…so I’m sure you weren’t expecting to read a love-fest about it!  Despite it’s proven superiority to the standard American debacle…err…diet, the paleo diet does fall short in one area.  But, in fairness, so does just about EVERY single diet out there including vegetarianism, veganism, Ornish and Essylstyn’s plant-based diets, etc:

 

The concept of bio-chemical individuality

 

Have you ever noticed that one person will thrive on a specific diet, while another person will see no change and yet another person’s health will worsen with the same diet?  Why is that?  I have met people who have tried the paleo diet and gained weight!  I have personally met vegans who have eaten that way for 20 years and they look and feel amazing.  Then I’ve spoken to other vegans who report terrible, life-threatening experiences with veganism (from malnutrition).  How can that be?

The answer is this: There is no one-size-fits-all-cookie-cutter diet out there.  Every single one of us is, metabolically speaking,  as individual on the inside as we are in our outward appearance.  Every single one of us has unique genetic nutrient needs, deficiencies, abundances, metabolic rates, stress levels, and genetic ability to cope with internal and external stressors.  So, a diet that makes one person feel incredible because it happens to offer the perfect nutrition for his or her situation might be exactly the opposite of what another person needs to thrive.  

 

Truly, one man’s food is another man’s poison.

 

This is not a new concept.  It’s just a vastly under-reported and under-appreciated one.  The understanding of bio-chemical individuality started with the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who set out to travel the world and to study native cultures that remained untouched by western nutritional concepts or industrialization.  What he found was astounding.  In these cultures, he observed that:

  1.  They had almost NO incidence of the diseases that plague westerners today such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, etc.
  2. They had very little obesity.
  3. Their bodies were lean and strong, like Olympic athletes, despite the fact that they didn’t train like them.
  4. Most importantly, they all consumed vastly different diets based on the geographically available foods in their area.

 The last point, #4, is extremely important.  Eskimos evolved over thousands of years in Alaska eating whale and seal blubber, caribou, and kelp.  They ate lots of animal flesh and saturated fat and very little in the way of vegetation simply because that was what was available to them.  Evolution (natural selection) allowed for the Eskimos who adapted well to a diet such as this to thrive and procreate, whilst Eskimos who failed to adapt and thrive on this diet simply died out.  Click here to read a fascinating piece in discovery magazine about the paradox of the Eskimo diet.

By contrast, Aboriginal cultures that lived in a vastly different geography and climate thrived on insects, beetles, grubs, berries, kangaroo, and wallaby.  They also ate much more vegetation and fruits than the Eskimos, yet they also thrived until western civilization introduced them to McDonald’s 😉 .

mcdonaldsThe Swiss people thrived for many years on whole rye bread, large quantities of high fat cream cheese, cream, and raw goat’s milk, some wine, and small amounts of meat.  They enjoyed robust health even in glacial winters on a diet that is vastly different from the other cultures.

The African Masai thrived for thousands of years on a diet that consisted of wild meat, milk, and blood extracted from cattle!  They exhibited extraordinary physical and mental development.

Now, ask yourself this question: After adapting over thousands of years to these geographically and climate-dictated diets, what would the health outcomes be if we were to switch diets among them?  For instance, what if we had the Aboriginals eat the Eskimo diet and the Eskimos eat the Aboriginal diet?  Again, these are people who have evolved and adapted to a specific way of eating over thousands of years.  This is one of those times in your life were you just need to apply some logic and the correct conclusion will come to you.  We can see what the switch over to a western diet is doing to them: making them very sick!

Other pioneers in the concept of biochemical individuality and eating according to your genetic predispositions are Dr. George Watson who wrote “Nutrition and your mind”, Dr. William Kelly, Rudolf Wiley, PhD and author of “Biobalance”, and of course, the man who put these ideas together and created what is now called “Metabolic Typing, William Wolcott (author of “The Metabolic Typing Diet”, a must-read for anyone interested in this stuff).  MT book

Metabolic Typing

 

OK.  So now we understand that adaptation and natural selection over thousands of years has made us all genetically predisposed to thrive via eating a certain way.  So, all we have to do to eat right for ourselves is trace back our lineage as far back as we can go…maybe back to our great grandparents and mimic what they ate, right?  Not so fast!  I wish it were that easy, but our ability to transport ourselves from one geography and climate to many other vastly different geographies and climates started back way further than you or I can possibly trace our lineage.  And once humans were able to travel by horse, boat, car, and plane, things got a little wacky.  People from different cultures and background started mixing with other very different cultures and backgrounds.  For me personally, I know that my mother had ties in Egypt, Morocco, and Israel, while my father had ties in France and Poland…and who knows where their lineage traces back to?  So, how should I eat?  Should I try to mimic an ancient middle eastern diet, or a traditional old school east European diet?  Or neither?  Or a little of both?  We have become such mutts at this point, that it’s really a pointless exercise that will leave you more frustrated than satisfied.  

Enter Metabolic Typing,  an assessment developed and refined over the last 30+ years by William Wolcott and which answers these questions.  It may sound unbelievable, but with a relatively short online assessment of your physical traits, metabolic traits, and psychological/neurotransmitter traits, Wolcott found a way to accurately uncover your individual metabolic type.  Wolcott’s work was based on the following principle: 

When you eat the wrong foods, the wrong macro-nutrient ratios (protein:carbs:fat), and the wrong micro-nutrient ratios (think nutrients, supplements) for your specific metabolism, that leads to imbalances in the body, and metabolic dysfunction.  You become less efficient at metabolizing protein, fat, and carbs.  This leads to all sorts of sub-clinical health problems, like the chronic symptoms I described myself as having above (fatigue, headaches, indigestion, hypoglycemia, constipation, rashes/hives, and pain/inflammation, and malnutrition).  If intervention by eating for your individual metabolism is not achieved, these conditions eventually manifest as chronic degenerative conditions such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, colitis, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, or auto-immune conditions.  

 

Or to put it in plain English, eating the wrong way for your metabolic type will make you sick, and eating correctly for your metabolic type brings balance and optimal function back to your body!  Think of metabolic typing as a highly individualized paleo diet based on your specific physical, metabolic, and psychological needs.  Why do I say that?  Because metabolic typing has many similarities to paleo eating.  Regardless of what the assessment tells you that your metabolic type is, Metabolic Typing diets: 

  • Shun processed foods and promote eating only fresh, organic, grass-fed, wild-caught, pasture raised, nutrient-dense, perishable foods.  
  • Shun all added sugars and artificial sweeteners. 
  • Advise to consume only raw, organic, grass-fed dairy products (similar to primal)
  • Advise you to eat only sprouted nuts, seeds, and legumes when possible (similar to primal)

There is one major difference in metabolic typing diets and paleo, and that is that it allows for some organic sprouted ancient grain consumption IF your body does well while eating them, although it warns not to overdo it. After all, if you are someone who can eat clean, sprouted grains without incidence (no weight gain, no negative changes in blood lipids or levels of inflammatory markers, and no digestive or inflammatory symptoms), then why shouldn’t you eat grains in a limited fashion?  Simply because humans didn’t consume grains prior to 10,000 years ago?  Again that is a very cookie cutter approach to an individualized diet plan.  And, as someone who wants to help make the world a healthier place, I am personally more concerned with doing what is right for my clients and not trying to stuff them into a specific diet plan that works for me but may not be ideal for them.

Always think: what is the goal, here?  The paleo diet is a wonderful, fantastic diet that has helped me and many people I know tremendously.  But to follow it so rigidly without acknowledging that everyone is different is a mistake.  Some people might do very well on more carbs than others.  Some people might do well with much less meat than others.  Some people, like myself, have a metabolic type that thrives when we eat 70% fat and protein in each meal, with only 30% of our meal consisting of carbs derived from non-starchy vegetables.  Others might get deathly ill following my metabolic type diet.  Do you see where I am going here?  This is the reason you see one person thrive on a diet, another person feel no change, and a third person actually get sicker on that same diet.

But don’t let this change your opinion on the paleo diet being a terrific diet!  Again, in fairness to paleo, every other diet out there misses the mark on this as well! 

By the way, back to my food cravings:  once I tweaked the macro and micro-nutrient ratios of my paleo diet to my metabolic type, I was finally able to rid myself of the intense sugar cravings that plagued me for years!  This is because once I tweaked my diet to reflect the correct macro and micro-nutrient ratios that are best suited to my body, my body started getting the exact nutrition that it needs for energy.  So, I feel less sugar cravings, and I only get them when I eat a meal that had out of balance macro-nutrients (i.e. too many carbs and not enough fat/protein).  

Metabolic typing has been an amazing journey of self-discovery for me.  It taught me how listen to my body after my meals and how to adjust my macro-nutrient ratios accordingly.  It taught me how to become an expert at ME!

Watch this short, 8-minute video that does a great job of explaining the concept of Metabolic Typing: 

 

In my practice, I approach diet in 2 ways: 

 

  1. Find out how to eat right for your Metabolic Type: I recommend that every client do the metabolic typing assessment to find their individual metabolic type.  The assessment is the most complete dietary program I have ever seen.  It includes a wealth of reading material and a very educational and entertaining video series that teaches them exactly how to eat, shop, and cook for their specific metabolic type.  It also teaches you very easy ways to break down your ideal macro-nutrient intake (protein:fat:carbs) for each meal without needing to use food scales or portion control.  
  2. Find out what foods cause inflammation in your body: I also recommend that every client has a food sensitivity panel done to assess what foods and food additives are problematic for them and cause inflammation in their bodies.  They then remove the reactive foods from the metabolic typing diet to decrease the stress on their bodies.  

 

The Metabolic typing assessment is done online by following this link.  The test costs $189 and, in my opinion, is worth EVERY penny.  Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with the Metabolic Typing test and I have no financial connection to them.  I make nothing from your $189.  

Of course, dietary changes are just one part of getting healthy.  Aside from Metabolic Typing, I use functional lab testing to help clients uncover as many hidden internal stressors on their body as possible.  A diet that is not right for your metabolic type is only one of them.   I teach them how to assess and optimize adrenal function, hormonal balance, digestion, immune function, neurotransmitter balance, and how to reduce or eliminate emotional and environmental exposure to stress.  It is this holistic approach that has healed me more than any diet alone can do and it has improved the health of thousands of people as well.  

I hope that you found this article informative, and I hope that you take the first step of your journey and do a metabolic typing assessment online.  Please let me know if you do in the comments section below!  Thanks for reading!

Rick 

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness, FDN Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

Email: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

 

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

 

The role of psychology in our food choices.

pain-pleasure

Why do we do what we do, eat what we eat, say what we say, and think what we think? What drives our behavior?  What is the ultimate determining factor of success, health, and happiness?

Several years back, I attended a Tony Robbins “unleash the power within” seminar. It was a powerful experience that delved into human nature and the core answers to those questions. It is the answers to those questions and, perhaps more importantly, our use of the knowledge gleaned from those answers, that ultimately gives us the wisdom to change our destiny.

In the seminar I learned that there are 2 things that drive human behavior at all times:

1) Seeking pleasure
2) Avoidance of pain

That’s it. It’s that simple. And one or both of those can be used to understand our motivations behind literally everything that we do, think, or say. Further, seeking pleasure and avoidance of pain are what have shaped literally every single decision of our lives and ultimately are responsible for how our lives look today.  Are you currently a happy or depressed person?  Fat or skinny?  Healthy or unhealthy?  Rich, poor, or just getting by?  Do you self-sabotage your financial situation, career, health goals, or relationships?  If you trace your steps backwards, you can attribute each one of these outcomes to one or several choices you have made that put you in your current position, and those choices were driven by your either seeking pleasure, avoidance of pain, or both simultaneously.

When we act selflessly, are we really acting selflessly?  Is that even possible?  I say no, it is not.

When we sacrifice for others, our motivations for doing so can ALWAYS ultimately be traced back to 2 things: 1) Sacrificing for others makes us feel good about ourselves, or 2) The pain of feeling like a bad person when we don’t sacrifice for others is too unbearable.

Let’s take giving charity as an example – when we donate to a charity, we are doing a wonderful thing by helping other people in need.  But why do we do it?  If it made you feel absolutely horrible about yourself and you believed that giving charity makes you a bad person, would you still give charity?  Probably not.  The reason why people give charity is because it makes them feel good to do it.  We believe that helping others makes us a good person and that gives us pleasure.  For some people it also makes them feel important and invaluable to others which gives them pleasure.  Others give to charity for the obvious tax breaks they receive for giving.  For some, the thought of not helping people in need while they have the means to do so goes against what they believe makes them a good person.  If that is a core belief for them, then not giving charity will cause great emotional pain.  

So, how can we apply this knowledge to make our lives better and to live a happier existence?  If we can understand what motivates our behaviors, we can begin to change them.

I believe that when it comes to our health, we focus way too much on seeking short-term pleasure, and not enough on avoiding long-term pain.

We regularly indulge in foods like alcohol, iced cream, cookies, cake, soda, candy, gluten, popcorn, GMOs, breaded foods fried in vegetable oils, and synthetic food additives.  We do this because, let’s face it, they are freaking delicious and it gives us tremendous short-term pleasure to eat them.  There is also a significant emotional attachment associated with these foods.  They remind us of our childhood, our parents, cultural traditions, etc.  Eating them brings us back to the good old days of our childhood and makes us feel good emotionally, if only for a fleeting time.  It is that intense short-term pleasure that drives us to eat foods that are literally slowly killing us!

But what if we were able to change our focus with regards to these foods?  What if we train ourselves to focus more on the long-term pain associated with regular consumption of these foods instead of focusing on the short-term, fleeting pleasure we get from eating them?  We would have to use a method that can bring all of the potentially intense future pain that is associated with eating these foods and bring it into the present moment.  And we need to make that pain feel palpable and intense enough so that it is far greater than the short-term pleasure that our brains are looking forward to by ingesting these foods in the moment.

One way to do this is by using the “Dickens Process” (another Tony Robbins exercise.  I thank my close friend Erik Nissani, an emerging life coach, for reminding me about this powerful technique a few weeks back).  If we envision ourselves in the future and imagine what our lives will be like 5, 10, 20, and 30 years from now if we keep regularly eating these foods, we might be able to force a paradigm shift in our relationship to the food choices available to us.

Here is how to use the Dickens Process for dietary choices: each time you feel like you are about to reach for foods that you know are bad for you, ask yourself the following series of questions:

  • If I keep eating this way 5 years into the future: Will I be fat or thin?  What will that do for my self-confidence? How will I feel about myself?  Good or bad?  Will I be happier, or sad?  What kind of example will I be setting for my children?
  • If I keep eating this way 10 years into the future: Will I become one of the many Americans that have type 2 diabetes, having to inject myself with insulin before each meal?  How would that make me feel?  Will I start to develop other conditions or diseases related to unhealthy eating such as heart disease, fatty liver disease, or even cancer?  How will I feel when my doctor orders me to take a boatload of prescription drugs like statins, or drugs to lower blood pressure, or for arthritis for the remainder of my life?  What will the side effects of these drugs do to me?
  • If I keep eating this way 20 years into the future: Will I be younger or older than my true age?  Will I be able to play actively with my kids?  Will I be able to exercise or go on vacations and enjoy myself given all of the complications of the diseases and conditions associated with regularly eating these foods for years?  Will I be happy or sad?  Will I have regret if I am diagnosed with a horrible illness that I probably could have prevented by not eating these foods?
  • If I keep eating this way 30 years into the future: Will I have significantly shortened my life as a result of caving into the short-term pleasure associated with eating these foods?  Will I live to see my grandchildren?  Will I die of a painful disease like cancer?

No one wants to become sick.  No one wants heart disease or cancer.  The problem is that when we are healthy, we don’t think about the possibility of getting sick.  We just like to enjoy ourselves and not think about that stuff.  We only think about disease once it is too late…after we have been diagnosed with something terrible.  I am not saying that I believe we should live our lives in fear!  I am simply saying that we should not live a life of ignorance.  Regularly eating foods that are bad for your health will eventually cause your downfall.

If we are able to consistently focus on the long-term pain rather than the short-term pleasure that is associated with regularly eating these foods, I think the decision of whether to put that morsel into our mouth or not becomes an easy one.

Furthermore, we can make this exercise infinitely more powerful if we can find different ways to gain intense short-term pleasure, other than eating that food.  Here are some ideas:

  • Find a way to celebrate small victories.  Each time you choose to avoid eating food that is bad for your health, pat yourself on the back.  Imagine how that choice is contributing to your long-term health.  Get creative!
  • Think of the positive example that you are setting for your children.  Childhood obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are skyrocketing!  By your refusal to eat that bad food, you are leading the way for your children and teaching them how to build and maintain their own health!  We all focus so much of our attention on teaching our children manners, or the importance of school and getting good grades.  But when it comes to nutrition and disease prevention, Americans fall way short on educating their children.  With each decision not to eat the bad foods, you literally help shape the future health of your child!
  • Picture yourself as an example of vibrant health 5, 10, 20, and 30 years into your future as a result of minding your health now by using a preventative mindset in your dietary choices.

Psychology is an important part of why we reach for the foods that we eat.  The more I learn, the more I understand that without understanding and changing the psychological motivations behind our food choices, the chances for the success of any healthy eating plan are slim.  We need to change our relationship with food.  One place to start is to focus on the pleasure-pain principle.

I hope that this gives everyone who reads it something to think about, and I welcome comments in the section provided below.  Thanks for reading!  

Rick Gold

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.
Website: www.GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Book a consult: http://www.snapappointments.com/listing/38C

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/GoldFunctionalWellness

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

e: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

Is that bread REALLY gluten-free? Perhaps not!

gluten_free_foodsMost people, including doctors, nutritionists, and dietitians, will tell you that only the following grains have gluten in them:

  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Spelt

This is simply not correct.  Let’s get this out-of-the-way right off the bat: ALL GRAINS CONTAIN GLUTEN.  Even Corn.  Even Rice.  Huh?  Scratching your head a little bit yet?  Keep reading:

What is Gluten? 

Grains are seeds that come from grass.  For example wheat grass sprouts wheat seeds (don’t worry, wheat grass itself without the seeds does not contain gluten.  Only the seeds do).  The purpose of a seed is to propagate the species (i.e. to start a new plant).  Gluten is a protein that is found in the seed of every single grain and it is used to feed the germ of the seed so that it sprouts a new grain or blade of grass.  Without gluten, EVERY grain would become extinct because they would not be able to propagate.  That includes ALL of the well-known “gluten-free” grains such as rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, etc.

So if you are being told that the only gluten containing foods are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt you are being (most likely unknowingly) misled.  Here is the truth: There are thousands of different gluten proteins, most of which have never even been studied yet to see if they can be attributed to health risks such as gut irritation, inflammation in the body, and autoimmune diseases.   The specific gluten protein that is in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt is called gliadin.  If you have celiac disease or even a slight intolerance to gliadin, you definitely need to eliminate any and all foods that have even a hint of gliadin in them.  Fortunately, this means getting rid of most of the food that makes people fat (bread, pasta, cereal, croissants, pizza, cake, cookies, etc) as well as just about every processed food on the shelves in your grocery store.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac is an autoimmune disease of the small intestine.  There are an estimated 3 million people suffering from celiac disease in the United States (including undiagnosed).  In celiac, the gliadin protein is actually causing the immune system to attack the tissues in your body.  It is a genetic inability to digest gliadin properly (tTG is used by the body to digest gliadin in a non-celiac individual.  In celiac, tissue transglutaminase (tTG) reacts with gliadin to produce antibodies called anti-tTGA which triggers inflammation of the gut.  Once this happens chain reactions cause damage to the small intestine.  The breakdown of gut function cascades into other serious health conditions.

Celiac disease is what made the gliadin protein in wheat so popular.  It was discovered in the 1940’s by a German doctor during World War II.  At that time there was a shortage of grain so grain was not available to most people in Germany.  There were kids in a hospital with Celiac disease and once the grain was removed from their diets their conditions improved, effectively going into remission.  When the war ended and grains were reintroduced into their diets, the kids became sick again.  The doctor noted this correlation and that marked the discovery of the relationship between gluten and Celiac.  That is why even still today, when people think of gluten, they think of wheat, barley, and rye.

What happens in my body if I have a sensitivity to gliadin?

Gluten sensitivity is very different from celiac disease.  It is not a genetic or autoimmune disorder.  However, gliadin sensitivity is also very dangerous and must be addressed.  It is estimated that millions of Americans have sensitivity to gliadin and are undiagnosed because the symptoms of gliadin sensitivity are so broad.  If you have a sensitivity to gliadin (or ANY gluten proteins, for that matter) it will cause inflammation in the small intestine and it will cause increased intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”.

What is leaky gut?

Without getting too technical, as I’d likely lose half of my audience, the role of your small intestine is to let nutrients through and into your bloodstream and to keep undigested food particles, toxins, bacteria, stool and any other substances that have no business being in your bloodstream out.  The nutrients pass through the gut barrier through “tight junctions” and into your bloodstream where they can be transported to the cells of your body and provide nutrition.  In a healthy gut, everything else passes through your small intestine and out through your stool.

Leaky gut is representative of those microscopic tight junctions widening just enough to let other substances besides nutrients into your bloodstream, such as undigested food particles, toxins, bacteria, feces, etc.  When this happens, your immune system goes into full-blown attack mode.  Picture a dozen fire trucks racing to put out a 4 alarm fire.  That is what happens in your body between your immune system and the foreign particles that are now in your blood stream.  Your body wants them destroyed and eliminated through your urine or feces.  The immune reaction causes widespread inflammation in your body and serious irritation to your gut lining.  Eventually, the small intestine loses its ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients (see blunted brush border and villous atrophy).  In addition, the systemic low-grade inflammation that occurs in the body and is associated with leaky gut can create a fertile environment for the growth of illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and a whole slew of autoimmune diseases (crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, MS, IBS, etc.).

There are many gut irritants that can cause leaky gut.  Gliadin is just one of them.  Others are:

  • Antibiotics (through your own use as well as ingesting meat and milk from animals treated with them).
  • Chemicals such as formaldehyde in our carpets and wood cabinets and from everyday household products.
  • Toxins.
  • Alcohol and drug consumption.
  • Other food sensitivities (soy, cow’s milk, eggs, corn food dyes, etc.)
  • Sugar consumption.
  • Hormonal imbalances.

How do I know if I have a sensitivity to gliadin?  

The best way to find out if you have any sensitivity to gliadin is to use the observation and elimination method:

  1. Spend a few days thinking of all of the symptoms that you may experience that gliadin intolerance is known to cause.  The list is extremely long and broad but it includes: Diarrhea and/or constipation, heartburn, stomach aches, bloating, flatulence, chronic fatigue, brain fog, headaches (including migraines), skin rashes, and/or eczema, and joint pain or stiffness.Again that’s only a partial list of the symptoms that gliadin intolerance can cause.
  2. Use a journal to write down all of the symptoms you feel on a regular basis.
  3. Eliminate all foods that contain gliadin from your diet for at least 2 weeks.
  4. Use the journal to note if any of your typically regular symptoms subside.  If even a few of the symptoms do subside, you very likely have a sensitivity to gliadin, and you should continue to eat gluten-free.

If you would like a more formal method of testing for gliadin sensitivity there are several lab tests that I have access to:

  1. You can run a mucosal barrier function screen (saliva) which will indicate whether you have elevated antibodies to one or all of the 5 generally recognized allergen proteins: gliadin, corn, cow’s milk, soy, and eggs.  This is a useful screen because although it doesn’t 100% narrow down WHICH dietary protein it is that you are reactive to, it can show if your immune system is in high gear and fighting something off as well as whether or not you may have leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability), gut dysbiosis (an imbalance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut), and an overgrowth of yeast in your body.  This is an excellent first step in assessing overall gut function.
  2. You can run a gluten intolerance/celiac screening (blood) which will tell you with a high probability of accuracy whether or not you have elevated antibodies against gliadin.

There are some drawbacks to the testing though, as ALL gluten sensitivity tests screen ONLY for gliadin and no other gluten proteins.  Remember, EVERY grain has gluten.  Gliadin is only ONE gluten protein that has been studied.  The rest of them have yet to be studied and may or may not cause gut irritation.

If you have even the slightest sensitivity to gliadin, I strongly recommend that you not only eat gluten-free, but GRAIN-FREE.  This will ensure that you truly steer clear of ALL gluten, help your small intestine heal, and decrease the inflammation in your body.  

I hope that this helps clear up some of the misinformation out there about gluten.

For more information on the available gliadin tests you can schedule a free 20 minute consultation with me by clicking here.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave questions or comments.

Rick

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness Practitioner

Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

Follow me on Twitter: @RickGoldFWP

e: Rick@GoldFunctionalWellness.com

Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted.  The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author.  Rick is not a doctor, nutritionist, or dietician and he does not claim to diagnose, treat, or cure disease.

More BS about diets being fed to the general public (and I’m calling it out).

Here is a link to an article that I just read about the mediterranean diet and it has me seething.  It is astounding how piss poor the quality of this journalism is.  And to make matters worse, the person who wrote this is a registered dietician (tsk, tsk).

I don’t know where to start:

  • How about with the Ancel Keys “7 country study” that she uses as the basis for why she recommends eating a Mediterranean diet.  Anyone who is plugged into nutritional science knows by now that this study has been completely invalidated and discredited.  Keys was a fraud.  The study initially included 22 countries but when he kept all of the countries studied on his chart there was absolutely zero statistical evidence to indicate a connection or causal relationship between saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease.  There were countries plotted on his chart that had high saturated fat and cholesterol intake yet they also had very low incidence of heart disease.  There were countries that had low intake of saturated fat and cholesterol that had very high incidences of heart disease.  So what did keys do?  He simply threw out 15 of the countries that wrecked his hypothesis, kept the 7 that did, and the us government based their entire food pyramid and “healthy eating” strategy on fraudulent science.  And that still haunts Americans to this day.  The fact that this dietician does not know this is concerning.
  • Regarding the actual Mediterranean diet, I will agree that it is healthier than a standard American diet.  In fact, if you look at most of the studies done on the Mediterranean diet, you will find that the health benefits that it purports come from studies that pit it against the standard American diet, which includes McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, chick fil-a, Dairy Queen, KFC, and loads of cotton candy.  I could eat solely DIRT and be healthier than I would be eating the standard American diet.  So yes, bravo Mediterranean diet, you eclipse the SAD in health benefits.
  • The reason why this dietician thinks that the low carb diets which eliminate sugar and grains are not backed by science is because there has yet to be a popular study that puts the 2 diets against each other.  I’d be VERY curious to see the results of a study like that one.
  • And she claims there is no science behind low carb dieting? She she learn to use google.  Enter “ketogenic diet studies” and see what she finds.
  • She suggests eating refined grains and throwing some arugula on your pizza.  Uhh, lady I hate to break it to you but: if you throw a vegetable on a pile of shit, you’ll end up eating vegetables on a pile of shit.  Refined flour wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels and is one of the main culprits in obesity and inflammation.

Just goes to show you that having a “license” doesn’t mean you have any idea whatsoever about what you are doing.  Whenever your read or watch the news or editorial articles like this one, you really need to put your thinking caps on, or you can and will get taken for a ride.  It’s unfortunate, but true.

That is all for today guys.

Thanks,

Rick Gold.