Updated: Oct 9, 2018
If you want to see a RAPID change in your waistline, and health - consider giving up grains! It's estimated that 50% of all human calories worldwide come from grains. Many people report adverse reactions to eating wheat and grains, but think giving them up entirely is too hard. If you have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, or an autoimmune condition of any kind, then you need to be very cautious with grains.
The main issues with grain products are that they raise blood sugar higher than table sugar itself, they are contaminated by pesticides, are Genetically Modified, highly addictive, are highly processed, and create increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut.) Here we will discuss only the blood sugar issues associated with grain products which alone are quite alarming.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a measurement of foods effect on a persons blood glucose levels after eating. Insulin is like a cellular gate keeper, and opens the door for glucose to get into the cells. When blood sugar goes sky high, Insulin is released at equally high levels. And what follows high blood sugar, is LOW blood sugar, which ignites the viscous cycle of intense cravings just hours after eating a high GI product.
This vicious blood sugar cycle leads to insulin resistance (a precurser to developing obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes) which means your cells cannot hear insulin knocking, and it's harder to drop blood sugar. This provokes a process called glycation by which sugar bonds with protein to form advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. AGEs have a fitting name, because they literally age and deteriorate us, and cause disease and destruction in the body.
Glycation from high blood sugar is one of the fundamental processes underlying diseases and rapid aging. Glycation can occur anywhere in the proteins (think human tissue) of the body. If glycation occurs in the tissues of the arteries, hypertension and rigid arteries result. If it occurs in the proteins and cartilage of the knees, hips etc, then over time it degrades and we develop arthritis.
Now that we understand the risks of high blood sugar, let's get back to grains. Grains are seeds of grasses. The glycemic index of two slices of whole grain bread is 72 and table sugar is 68. Bread raises blood sugar, higher than sugar itself. In the last year there has been huge education around the health risks associated with sugar. Here we have just said that bread is WORSE than sugar. (Please take a mental reminder here that we are only discussing the blood sugar ramifications of grains and haven't even addressed the inflammatory processes involved.)
On the glycemic index, very few foods are above 70. Some of the the foods that are above 70 are dates, figs, whole wheat, and non gluten grains like cornstarch, tapioca starch, rice flour, potato starch etc. You can see why gluten free diets made from these grains are hazardous to health, as they spike blood sugar too high. White bread or white flour is only slightly lower at a GI of 69, still greater than table sugar. It's not a gluten free diet that's causes problems it's a BAD gluten free diet that causes problems.
The effects on blood sugar of Wheat are compounded by the Gliadin peptides from gluten which act like opiates in the brain. The small peptides act like opiates and bind to opiate receptors in the brain to stimulate appetite. Not hunger, but rather an insatiable appetite where you can't think of anything else but getting your next high GI fix! While on the topic of wheat, it needs to be said that modern wheat is not the same wheat as the 1950's wheat. Modern wheat has been engineered to have a larger hull to create a greater harvest. Modern wheat has 42 chromosomes, ancient wheat only had 28.
Grains also increase the occurrence of small LDL (low-density lipoprotein) particles. One of the most current theories behind cardiovascular risk according to Dr William Davis a leading cardiologist and author of 'Wheat Belly', is an excess of glycoxidized LDL particles. He says 'They have a different shape, a different conformation. They’re much more adherent to connective tissue. They linger a lot longer in the bloodstream. A large, more benign LDL particle lasts about 24 hours in the bloodstream after it’s formed. Small LDL particles typically last a week, or even longer in some genetic variants. So small LDL lingers for extended periods. So, if I had two slices of whole wheat bread on Sunday, I’ve got small LDLs for at least a week. That is, cardiovascular risk for at least a week.'
Giving up Grains The above is just a small part of the reasons why you should consider going grain free for better vitality and longer lasting health. We promise it really isn't hard at all to give up grains, it simply means that you go back to what humans were designed to eat which was real, whole foods: animal proteins and fats, vegetables, nuts and fruit.
If you decide to give up grains, you will however need to prepare for a grain detox or withdrawal. When you stop eating Wheat, Barley and Rye, you experience a withdrawal from the gliadin-derived opiates which is similar to opiate withdrawal. Ditching these foods often leaves you with insatiable ravings, feeling fatigued, nauseated and experiencing low mood or mood swings. If this happens while you are intending to ditch grains, push through it as when you hit day 5, that's when the magic happens and you start to feel a huge improvement in energy. Plus it's very common to drop several kilos in the first week or two, simply from reduced inflammation. A diet without grains is one where your blood sugar remains stable, you don't have cravings, you lose weight, aches, brain fog and experience better energy.
What to watch out for:
Do it for at least 2 weeks. Choose a period where stress is low for greater success.
Increase water and salt when you give up grains as you will be losing both from your body at higher rates
Take a probiotic to help regulate a positive change in your gut bacteria. There will be gut distress as you kill off some of the pathogenic bugs that were thriving on grains.
If you are baking choose nut flours like almond or coconut flours instead of typical gluten free flours (listed above) which raise blood sugar higher than table sugar.
Eat more saturated fat to lower inflammation, increase healing, sooth cravings etc
You won't regret it!