The Grain Industry vs. The Wisdom of Crowds

      116 Comments on The Grain Industry vs. The Wisdom of Crowds

Last night Chareva and I watched two episodes of the National Geographic series EAT: The Story of Food.  One was on sugar, the other on wheat.  If you’re looking for information on the health effects, look elsewhere.  The episodes were mostly about how these foods changed societies – and how much we love them!  The only warning about sugar was that it might cause diabetes, and the episode on wheat may as well have been written by the grain industry, with sections on The Miracle of Bread (the staff of life!) and The Magic of Beer.

I’ve mentioned in several posts that I’m a grammar grump, so I suppose this description in our on-screen cable guide should have served as fair warning that I wouldn’t like the episode on wheat:

My own grammar went immediately downhill when I read that one.  Good thing the girls weren’t in the room.  The expletives were out of my mouth before I checked the whereabouts of young ears.

I was hoping, of course, that the episode on wheat would be another example of the Wisdom of Crowds overwhelming the official dietary view of wheat as a health food.  Oh well.  I guess the crowd hasn’t crowded its way into the production offices at National Geographic just yet.

Nonetheless, it’s obvious the grain industry has seen the writing on the wall and is now fighting a defensive battle.  A reader alerted me to an article in the U.K. Daily Mail with the headline Wheat-free diet could be WORSE for your health, new report warns.  Take a look:

Stick-thin celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Victoria Beckham, and Gwyneth Paltrow rave about their healthy ‘wheat-free’ lifestyles. 

Note to journalists:  if you want to scare people away from grain-free diets, it’s not an effective strategy to refer to grain-free celebrities as “stick-thin.”  There are millions of people out there who look nothing like a stick and would like to give it a shot.

Devotees claim going gluten-free can alleviate everything from tiredness and bloating to spotty skin and hair loss.

I’m a fan of wheat-free diets, but trust me on this:  if you’re bald, giving up wheat won’t resurrect your hair follicles.  Best you can do is compensate by growing a beard that some readers like and some readers don’t.

But wheat-free diets ‘lighten the wallet and not the waistline’, according to a scientific report due to be published later this month.

The report comes as a poll by Weetabix found 32 per cent of British people avoid wheat because fad diets like the Paleo Diets and Wheat Belly diet warn against gluten.

There’s that Wisdom of Crowds effect that has them scared witless.  Paleo?  Wheat Belly?  Has either ever been given a stamp of approval by the official experts?  Hardly.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  And yet both are catching on for the simple reason that people are telling each other how much better they feel after giving up the grains.

In a report due to be published by Warwick University, experts will argue that there is little evidence behind the claims made by popular wheat-free diets.

Good luck with that argument, you wild ‘n’ crazy experts.  Because here’s the cold, hard truth:  when people ditch wheat and find relief from arthritis, gastric reflux, asthma, psoriasis, etc., etc., they tend not to give a rat’s ass what the (ahem) experts say.

Dr Robert Lillywhite, senior research fellow at Warwick Crop Centre, said: ‘The scientific evidence behind many of the most popular wheat free diets is surprisingly thin. It may perhaps be the case that most will only lighten your wallet, rather than provide longer-tern health benefits, by encouraging you to switch from low cost cupboard staples to specialist foods intended for those who genuinely need to avoid gluten.

Yeah, yeah, yeah … only 1% of the population has celiac disease, blah-blah-blah.  I don’t have celiac disease either – I had the lab test run out of curiosity, since wheat was causing me problems.  Those problems went away when I ditched the wheat (although the baldness stubbornly refused reverse itself).  Thanks to the Wisdom of Crowds, people are learning that you don’t have to be officially diagnosed with celiac disease to be damaged by wheat.

‘We are delighted that Weetabix are investing in a review of the science in this area but of course we won’t be able to comment further on this work until the research is complete.’

Weetabix … you mean the people who make these?

Yeah, I’m sure that will be an objective review.

A quarter of people under 34 said they buy less cereal and bread because of the latest diet craze.  This could be why 90 per cent of British people eat less than half of the recommended 30g of fibre a day.

Eating the recommended amount of fibre can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and some cancers, and can also improve digestive health, doctors advise.

Claire Canty, Senior Brand Manager at Weetabix said: ‘The research highlights the misconceptions about whole wheat and how people might be mistakenly avoiding it.

No, I’m pretty sure people are avoiding it on purpose.

‘Whole wheat has been shown to be important to gastrointestinal health, thanks to its high fibre content and range of micronutrients.’

Riiiiiight.  Gotta eat your wheat if you want a healthy digestive system.  That explains all the people in health forums online sharing stories of how adding wheat to their diets caused all kinds of nagging health issues to go away.

Go ahead, Weetabix spokespeople and other eat-your-grains types.  Find those stories online.  Send us links to all those “wheat saved my life!” posts on social media.

You can’t, because they don’t exist (other than any planted by the grain industry, of course).  But there are plenty of compelling stories being shared by people who gave up grains.

I’ll recount one of those in my next post – a story from one of Chareva’s relatives whose health was saved by the Wisdom of Crowds.

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116 thoughts on “The Grain Industry vs. The Wisdom of Crowds

  1. KevinF

    Yes this year National Geo has had this food obsession thing, so I’ve been avoiding their magazines. Skimming through them at the store, can quickly perceive there is some ulterior motive going on there.

    Since I never see this elsewhere I’ll give one of my grain-free improvements — I no longer get ocular migraines (a spell of having vision disrupted for a half hour or so by weird floating shapes and auras), which afflicted me regularly from childhood til I quit eating grains 2 1/2 yrs ago.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I met a guy whose wife stopped having migraines (probably a different variety) when she gave up grains — which she tried on advice from a friend of a friend, not from a doctor.

      Reply
      1. Firebird

        A friend of mine is a nutritionist here in NJ with a client who lives in Quebec. She has switched to LCHF and reports fewer migraines with reduced durations.

        Reply
          1. Firebird

            He did tell me that the medications they were prescribing for her migraines were outrageous. Going LCHF has also reduced the amount of loonies and toonies she has to shell out for that Rx. She barely uses it.

            Reply
          2. Galina L.

            I initially started to use a LC diet as a migraines prevention, and to my amazement a whole long list of health conditions disappeared or got way better. I don’t need asthma inhalers any longer, my allergy on cats got milder, urinary tract infections stopped abruptly, together with yeast infections and seasonal flues. Hot flashes somehow stopped. My whole life improved in quality, and I even look better now than 7 years ago, before I started the diet, but there is a side effect – I turned into a LC zealot.

            Reply
            1. Nate

              Yeah that’s a very dangerous side effect. As a fellow zealot, my shoulder is always sore from my wife punching me there to shut up about LCHF….

    2. JohnL

      Nice that the diet fixed your ocular migraines as well, I don’t see much on them so I thought I would share my experience.

      I have gotten ocular migraines (without the migraine , but they are still called that) about every other month since I was about 30. They did not change in frequency at all when I went paleo 4 years ago. However they do go away if I take an aspirin every day.
      My wife’s latest research into Magnesium, from Dr. Atkins, of the low carb fame, seems to indicate that Magnesium may have the same benefits as aspirin without side effects.
      Giving it a go, time will yield results, one way or another.

      Reply
      1. Brenda Huff

        The last ocular migraine I had was at least 5 months ago. I take magnesium and a low-dose aspirin each day. I have experimented with stopping the aspirin and/or the magnesium, and the ocular migraines came back occasionally.

        Reply
          1. Alexandra M

            “Dr Robert Lillywhite, senior research fellow at Warwick Crop Centre, said: ‘The scientific evidence behind many of the most popular wheat free diets is surprisingly thin. It may perhaps be the case that most will only lighten your wallet, rather than provide longer-tern health benefits…”

            Is that “longer-tern” their typo?

            Reply
  2. Sandi

    Nice read Tom, I don’t have an opinion about your beard though, that’s your business, and Chareva’s of course ;p

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      The beard is mostly an indulgence for the girls, who asked me to grow it long. I may have a TV interview coming up in January. If so, the beard goes away.

      Reply
      1. Firebird

        I recently did some shopping at a local Amish Farmer’s Market and could swear I saw you moonlighting at the meat counter. 😉

        Reply
  3. tw

    I love how they always start with: fad diet, to discredit whatever they dislike.

    The big question is: is wheat a NECeSSARY dietary component? Since the answer is no, wtf is their point?

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Well, they hope that by tossing out words like “fad” and “stick-thin,” they can scare people into not really thinking about it.

      Reply
    2. Alex

      Is chocolate necessary? Is white tequila necessary? There are pleasures in life to be had. Keep things in moderation and don’t blow it out of proportion. Even wheat in moderation is ok.

      Reply
      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        That depends on the person’s ability to handle it. Dr. Davis has written about patients who suffered bouts of arthritis, GERD, etc., after deciding one little bite of a bagel couldn’t do any harm.

        Reply
      2. tw

        Is anyone militant about the necessity chocolate or white tequila?

        That we are told repeatedly by media shills that we will be “unhealthy” without the grains is the “necessary” that I am highlighting.

        Promoting wheat as necessary is like telling everyone out there they are a loser if they don’t own an 8 track…. In 2014.

        Reply
  4. Tatertot

    Hey, Tom – You know I love my prebiotics. I was reading today about a very effective prebiotic called ‘arabanoxylan’ found in whole grains such as wheat. I think it was a mistake for ‘Paleo’ to completely miss the fermentable fiber/prebiotic aspect of food when banning whole food groups.

    While I am not a fan of wheat and flour of any type, I do think that some ‘grains’ should be included in a healthy diet. Oats, whole grain rye, corn, teff, quinoa, and buckwheat are a few I’ve been eating recently. Some of these grains, teff, for instance, are not even recognizable as grain and have a very healthy nutrition profile.

    I just reviewed a study on my blog today between a Western Diet, Arabinoxylan Diet, and Resistant Starch Diet (in pigs). The results were pretty impressive…check it out!

    Also, I do have to wonder about fermented grains, even wheat, made into bread. Properly fermented, and in a healthy gut, sourdough type breads may do way more good than harm.

    But white Wonder bread? Nope.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      After reading “Wheat Belly Total Health” and interviewing Dr. Davis on video, I’m leaning towards his view: properly prepared, some grains may not be particularly harmful. But there’s absolutely no biological need for any of them.

      Reply
  5. Lynda

    I love this from you

    “when people ditch wheat and find relief from arthritis, gastric reflux, asthma, psoriasis, etc., etc., they tend not to give a rat’s ass what the (ahem) experts say.”

    EXACTLY!!! For me it was mainly gastric reflux which was dreadful but pre-diabetes and general great health are also pretty good reasons too!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Arthritis in my surgically-repaired left shoulder, gastric reflux, psoriasis on the back of my head. All gone after ditching the wheat. When personal experience goes head-to-head with “experts say,” experience wins.

      Reply
  6. Cindy

    Yet another example of the grain industry funding “unbiased” research……

    And me – another example of a much healthier person after doing my own research and going grain free for the past 5 years. I’m still not dead.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      That’s why all these “Save the grains!” articles won’t save the grains. No “experts say” article will persuade someone who’s experienced the health benefits of ditching wheat to start eating it again.

      Reply
  7. Namu

    My consolation (or is it Schadenfreude ?) is that the people who concoct those programs first have to convince themselves, and thus will keep on suffering for their self-imposed beliefs.

    Reply
  8. robert

    Just recently a German manufacturer of “gluten-free”, “organic” baby-food had to issue a recall, due to contamination with “Tropane alkaloids”. These substances are pharmacologically active, which you certainly don’t want in baby food at all. BTW, it was “4-grain” gruel.

    Supposedly some weeds were growing on the fields alongside the grains and mixed their seeds into the harvest, which they later failed to remove.

    Apparently there are no inherently safe grains. They either are offensive themselves or something else comes along unbeknown.

    Here’s the article: http://goo.gl/jYDGEd [warning: google translate at work]

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Well, I look at it this way: maybe grains aren’t harmful to some people. But nobody needs them, either. So if in doubt, go without.

      Reply
  9. Nola Gibson

    I don’t know if you have heard of the Low FODMaP diet for IBS. A study was done by Monash University in Australia to find the food triggers for IBS and they have found that foods high in certain things are the cause in a very high percentage of cases. FODMap is an acronym for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols.
    Top item on the list of foods to cut out is, you guessed it, wheat. They have found that about 80% of people with IBS have had a lessening or total removal of their IBS symptoms (including me).

    Reply
  10. DebbieC.

    That grammar faux pas was cringe-worthy. Wasn’t anyone literate enough to catch such a typo? Or was it intented? I have two recent stories from friends who gave up wheat and experienced miracles, and from folks I’d never discussed diet with!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I see more and more “you’ve got to be kidding me!” grammar errors on TV and in newspapers and magazines these days. I guess the TV generation and/or the victims of the “whole language” approach to teaching English are now working in major media.

      Reply
      1. Chris Bennett

        This is often a problem on the online Daily Mail articles. I just thought it was reflecting the sad state of the UK education system with its modern group learning strategies rather than instructive teaching. The UK are now getting text books from Singapore! It used to be the other way around.
        Anybody can make a mistake with grammar, and mine is not perfect but where are the proof readers? How hard is it to double check work you release to the general public.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          That’s what blow my mind, the lack of proofreading. I saw an ad for sunglasses with the tagline “When Your Ready For The Look!” To go from the ad writer’s desk to print, at least a half-dozen people had to see it.

          Reply
  11. Erica

    WHen I gave up wheat, my dry, flaky skin disappeared. I had to bathe in oil or lotion after showering. My feet (esp my right foot) would get little water blisters (tiny) and then when that was gone, sheets of dry flaky skin would slough off. That went away. On Halloween, I indulged in wheat (cookies!) and in a week, I had two nasty cracks in my heels that took another 2 weeks to heal.

    Reply
      1. Erica

        Definitely, Tom! My Thanksgiving wasn’t low carb, but it was all gluten free.

        Galina, just eating low carb did nothing for my dry skin. It was giving up the wheat. Actually, I gave up all grains in May 2011, but I’ve been eating corn, rice, and oats the past year and my skin didn’t revert.

        Reply
        1. Galina L.

          I also don’t eat wheat, for my son eating a gluten-free diet is essential to avoid eczema, but he eats such grains as buckwheat and rice.

          Reply
          1. Boundless

            > … but he eats such grains as buckwheat and rice.

            Rice is a problem, and one that is not improving.

            Entirely apart from being high glycemic (rice flour might as well be sugar), rice contains wheat germ agglutinin (a nasty lectin first found in wheat). Rice can also be GMO, including expression of Bt and being glyphosate resistant, both suspect as gut biome antagonists if not other problems.

            But the big recent news is that many rices have sky high levels of arsenic (As) contamination (natural inorganic As in the soil, not pesticide residue). Rice is a big uptaker of As, alas.

            Some California wild brown has 250 ppb As levels that are 160% of the Chinese standard, and I only mention the PRC standard because they at least have a standard, even if lax. The FDA does not (for rice, the FDA std for juice is 10 ppb). The FDA doesn’t yet know quite what to say.

            Consumers Union isn’t waiting, and is cautioning parents to severely limit rice served to children.

            Organic might avoid the Bt, RoundUp, and applied toxins including As, but won’t help with the inorganic As, WGA, and of course, the net carbs.

            In the Wheat Belly world, rice has gone from “limited” to “less than 1/4 cup” “occasional”.

            Reply
            1. Galina L.

              My 22 yo son lives in another city by himself now, and I am pleasantly surprised already he is not interested in a junk food. While rice is not a perfect food, it doesn’t cause any undesirable symptoms for him, unlike wheat products and beer. Often “good enough” is enough, especially from a practical perspective.

    1. Galina L.

      It was an eczema, one of many autoimmune conditions. I think everyone who has allergies should be eating at least a gluten-free diet, if it doesn’t help, a low-carbohydrate one.

      Reply
      1. Galina L.

        My comment was the reply to Erica about her skin condition which disappeared after giving-up gluten. My eczema doesn’t bother me too since I a started LC diet.

        Reply
      1. Galina L.

        It depends . I didn’t notice skin reaction from dairy foods, many people complain that dairy gives them a sinus congestion.
        The standard set of problematic foods for allergies – citruses, strawberries, spicy and hot foods, chocolate, cacao, smoked meat and fish, tomato-based souses, alcohol, especially red whine. We , me and my son, found out that the consumption of wheat makes us react more strongly on allergens. There are individual differences. I still can’t eat spicy foods and citruses, but he can. I can spend unlimited time now in a house with cats, before my limit was 2 hours.

        Reply
  12. Stephen

    Tom,

    Wheat didn’t save my life, nor improve my health. But I eat a pound of bread a day, plus noodles and tortillas, and I continue to lose weight. There’s plenty of people who lose weight on a low-fat diet. I don’t restrict calories, and I scarf down whole loaves of bread in one sitting. The body can’t turn carbs into fat (de novo lipogenesis is slow), but it will immediately store dietary fat eaten with carbs.

    The low-fat diet (< 10% calories from fat) works well for many people, but isn't very fun. I don't mind it, because I like to eat massive amount of carbs without worrying about "burning it off" or anything. My health is fantastic, and my biking performance continues to improve (all my Strava times are getting better).

    I'll go back to a normal 30% fat diet, with plenty of saturated fat, once I hit my goal weight of 72kg (5kg to go). I've lost 27kg so far, sometimes eating saturated fat, but never counting calories, and always eating ad libitum.

    I don't bother with the "healthy whole grains", and usually eat refined flour breads and noodles. I get plenty of fibre from fruit and vegetables.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      There are also people out there who smoke cigarettes and live to be 90. That doesn’t mean smoking is harmless. If the people who are drawn to a low-carb diet because of issues with weight and/or blood sugar consumed your diet, it would be a disaster. So enjoy your bread, but please don’t think your ability to pound down entire loaves of the stuff without getting fat or sick proves anything about the health effects of wheat for rest of us.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          As I explained in the follow-up section of the Fat Head Director’s Cut version, I didn’t know how harmful modern wheat is when I made the original. I now view wheat and sugar as equally damaging.

          Reply
      1. Dr. Laura

        That reminds me of the patient who claimed she felt fantastic and was in perfect health, while consuming 5 diet sodas a day. She didn’t want to hear how damaging that was to her internal organs. This was a week before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (which turned out to be fatal in her case).

        Reply
      2. Raynote

        Could it be a matter of age as well?
        I mean, maybe Stephen is in his twenties or thirties and his body tolerates harmful stuff (so he sees these things as not harmful at all), but it can only last for so long. And when the fifties or sixties arrive then you see the damage… The body can’t take it anymore and protests violently with all sorts of ailments (mainly chronic) occurring suddenly.
        For some people, it may take longer but in my opinion it always happens, sooner or later!
        Well, maybe that’s a very simplistic view of things on my part…

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Sure, damage accumulates over time and may not be noticeable for years. But it could simply be that Stephen’s digestive system can handle the stuff and always will. Like I said, some people can smoke cigarettes and never develop a lung disease.

          Reply
        2. Stephen

          I’m 50 years old (born in 1964), but I ride my fixie with the hipsters downtown, and the roadies on their club riders. We rode 100km today, with a few hard sprint efforts. I rode in jeans and a t-shirt, and got a 6th overall out of 2000 riders!

          http://www.strava.com/athletes/5327226

          I have a good metabolism and am naturally thin. I only got obese by eating massive amounts of fast food every night (could not break the addiction).

          Reply
    2. Bret

      A pound of bread a day? Have you had your blood sugar checked recently, Stephen?

      I would be very interested in seeing your post-prandial glucose after eating “whole loaves of bread in one sitting.” Especially white bread in the context of a low-fat diet.

      You may not be fat, but that does not guarantee you are healthy.

      Reply
    3. Mike G

      Stephen,

      De novo lipogenesis (DLP) may be slow in your liver and adipose tissue, but that does not mean it’s slow in everyone. The key enzymes involved are ACC (acetyl-CoA carboxylase) and FAS (fatty acid synthase). If the genes for these enzymes are highly expressed, then DLP will be not be slow – not by a long shot. If you give an enzyme its substrate, it will make the product – that’s what enzymes do. In the liver, FAS expression is transcriptionally regulated. Guess what turns it on? That’s right – it’s insulin. So for most of us, when glucose levels go up, our livers can crank up the DLP machinery with very little trouble. Apparently you can get away with it. Most of us cannot.

      Reply
  13. Walter Bushell

    How can, how can the PTB suggest that grains are necessary as humans lived for most of our existence without them, except perhaps in vanishingly small amounts?

    Reply
    1. Stephen

      They’re definitely not necessary, but they’re cheap and people assumed they’re benign. I have no idea how or when man started cooking starches, but it must have really helped our odds for survival.

      Nowadays, starches are convenient and cheap. We’ve evolved with amylase genes to orally digest starch, and a taste for sugar, so these foods can’t be too bad for us. And meats and fats taste great too, so I’m pretty sure we’re supposed to eat them. (Of course, food manufacturers know how to hijack our senses and make us overeat junk, so all bets are off on processed foods.)

      Reply
      1. Tom Naughton Post author

        We have amylase genes because tubers were part of the human diet going back hundreds of thousand of years. But as Denise Minger pointed out in her book, some people are high amylase producers and others are low amylase producers. When the low amylase producers eat starch, they get a much more dramatic and longer-lasting spike in blood sugar than the high amylase producers. And as I pointed out in a recent post, paleo tubers such as tiger nuts were (and still are) very high in fat and fiber, which slows down the release of glucose into the bloodstream. A tiger nut is not the metabolic equivalent of a white potato that’s nearly devoid of both fat and fiber.

        Our taste for sweet (not necessarily a taste for sugar) guided us to eat fruit when it was in season — and in most of the world, those fruits were tough and fibrous and nowhere near as chock-full of fructose as the stuff that’s been bred into existence today. It’s a bit of leap to assume that since we like the taste of sweet, that means refined sugar is okay.

        As for wheat … did you read Wheat Belly, or even the reviews? Today’s wheat is a frankencrop created in labs in the 1970s. It’s not the wheat of Biblical times or even your great-grandfather’s time. The gluten portion of today’s semi-dwarf wheat contains sequences of amino acids that never existed in nature, and which our bodies are therefore prone to treat as foreign invaders. The incidence of celiac disease has gone up by 400% since the 1950s (and that’s going by antibodies in blood samples, not the number of cases diagnosed), most likely because of the changes in the gluten. Given that people can suffer from all kinds of wheat-induced ailments without developing celiac disease (which is a severe condition), I hardly see today’s wheat as something that’s okay in moderation.

        I’ll give an up-close-and-personal example: if my daughter Sara eats bread, pasta, pizza crust, a burrito wrapper, etc., she almost always ends up with red patches on her arms she calls “da bumps.” So for her, the reaction is external and therefore obvious. Lots of people (including her) may have negative reactions internally that aren’t so obvious. But clearly for her, wheat is NOT okay in moderation.

        Reply
        1. Stephen

          Thanks for the description of the “foreign protein in wheat” problem. I can see how the new high-yield strains might produce more allergies. Still, I’m surprised they didn’t notice, or test for, the higher (5%) allergy rates.

          Yes, I’ve heard that food allergies are a serious problem with kids these days, and the experts aren’t certain why they’re suddenly so prevalent.

          Sorry for my over-simplification of diet and health. What works for me is pretty meaningless to anyone else.

          Reply
          1. Tom Naughton Post author

            No apologies necessary. Dr. Davis has a theory on all those food allergies among kids, and it makes sense to me: today’s frankenwheat is much more efficient at damaging the tight junctions in the colon, which in turn allows partially-digested food particles direct access to the bloodstream. So kids (and adults) get allergic reactions to foods that wouldn’t otherwise be a problem.

            Reply
          2. Boundless

            re: I can see how the new high-yield strains might produce more allergies. Still, I’m surprised they didn’t notice, or test for, the higher (5%) allergy rates.

            Since when are new hybrids (or even GMOs) ever tested for even short term food safety (and if they were, in the context of what diet)? I suspect they only tested for protein content, ability to make bread, and morphology (it had to sort of look like wheat in the field).

            Semi-dwarf hybrid wheat, more accurately called mutant runt goat grass, dates to Borlaug around 1960, and became pandemic by the mid 1980s. Its rise tracks perfectly with the rise of chronic non-infectious diseases (but so does the rise of several other things, including HFCS, PUFA grain oils, low fat mania, etc).

            Calling it a frankengrain is not a metaphor. Everything except gene splicing was done to it: radio-mutagenesis, chemo-mutagenesis, crossing with non-food species (goatgrass), embryo rescue, accelerated seasons, etc. Wheat geneticists are experimenting with crossing it with goat grass again.

            Got a mystery ailment?
            Stop eating alleged foods with mystery genetics for a while and see what happens.

            And going back to heirlooms is no answer, as Otzi the Iceman tells us (bad teeth, heart disease).
            Eat authentic neolithic grains: get authentic neolithic ailments.

            Reply
    2. Elenor

      If you read Nina Teicholz’s “The Big Fat Surprise” — great book, a rollicking adventure story (no, really!) — you’ll learn that the doctor who was designing the nutrient system to be used for the precursor program to AFDC (Aid to Familys with Dependent Children) (and Tom, I spelled ‘families’ that way JUST for you! Happy T-giving!) turned in a reasonable, balanced, healthy plan — veg and meat, very little grains…. And when it came back from the PTB, it was unrecognizable — and she was told that they could NOT recommend the healthy diet she had outlined, because it wasn’t cheap enough for these forced-charity programs; so they had to lower the meat and veg and massively raise the “heart-healthy-grains” — so the folks getting the charity could afford what they were being told to eat… (Or was it: they would think they should eat what they could afford… {sigh})

      Reply
  14. Chuck

    I used to have headaches all the time too. I think mine were called cluster headaches. They would usually be dull but were on the right side if my head and concentrated behind my right eye. Sometimes they would be strong enough that it would make my right eye squint and tear up. After going wheat and sugar free they went away. Another thing that I recently noticed is my feet. I’ve been buying arch supports for my shoes since I was 20 (I’m 36 now) because being on my feet for long periods, especially just standing, killed my feet. The arch supports helped relieve some discomfort. I’ve been noticing that I haven’t been noticing my feet anymore (Does that make sense?). In May or June I had bought a pair of those cheap Mr. Rogers type of shoes for everyday. They are about as close to being barefoot as you can get without being barefoot, and about a month ago I got a new pair of work shoes and decided to skip the arch supports in them, no problems yet. I know the relief is not from weight loss, because when I lost a bunch of weight before using the traditional way, starving and exercising yourself to death, I was lighter than I am now and my feet still hurt.

    Has anybody else noticed after being wheat and sugar free, that when you do taste it, it tastes funny? On occasion someone at work will bring in cupcakes, and I do eat one sometimes, but not every time. When I do the cake that is made with wheat flour is tasteless and flat to me, and the sugary frosting leaves a horrible aftertaste in my mouth that I can’t get rid of for a while. Everyone is sucking them down saying things like “OMG these are sooo good.”, and I’m over here like “Meh, they’re ok.”, and they all look at me like I’m a weirdo because I’m not injecting them into my veins like heroin, LOL. I do bake treats occasionally but I use nut and gluten free flours along with stevia sweeteners. Wednesday we had a pot luck at work. All I ate was some ham and bacon wrapped weenies that someone had brought. Sadly they were drowned in sugar. I did have a small bowl of baked beans too, they were candied also. I brought a no-bake pumpkin pie with a coconut flour crust (YUM) that I came up with myself (I will share the recipe if anyone is interested, super quick and easy). It filled a 9×13 cake pan, and I’m happy to say that there were only three pieces left at the end of the night. Only a couple close friends knew that it was sugar free, gluten free and loaded with fat. I had people telling me how great it was and some wanted to know what was in it.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Chareva and I have both noticed that today’s wheat products have a bit of a strange taste … vaguely rubbery.

      Reply
      1. Galina L.

        I bake a sourdough rye bread for my husband because he insists on eating bread. I don’t eat it daily, but I have a slice once in 4-5 days when I bake a fresh loaf. It does me nothing wrong,unlike a wheat, but I stay away from consuming grains as a staple food because I think it is better to be on a safe side , an it is not easy to fit bread in a low-carbohydrate diet which improved my health so much.
        After I had to have a wheat bread last time for a politeness reason, one of hand joints was swollen and painful for several weeks. I can’t risk adding rheumatoid arthritis to my other allergies.

        Reply
    2. SB

      That’s cool, yes I do notice the sugary taste of ketchup, bbq sauce, and other foods that I previous did not think were “sweet.” Share the recipe please? I made a baked pumpkin pie for thanksgiving (gluten, soy, nut, and dairy free) but wouldn’t mind a non-baked recipe.

      Reply
    3. JillOz

      I haven’t succeeded in going completely sugar-free. This post might just help do the trick!!

      Great post, thank you.

      Reply
  15. Bret

    I don’t know. Beer seems pretty magical to me.

    The grain industry should stop fretting. What’s a lack of willing customers when you are guaranteed dozens of millions of unwilling customers, a.k.a. tax payers?

    Of course, in reality they do have plenty to fear. Even the corrupt system of subsidies and food industry mob rule — militarized raids, Monsanto, and all — won’t make up for a massive sea change in consumer preference. Many comfortable cronies’ hearts will be broken as the industry necessarily reduces in size following its reduction in relevance.

    Reply
      1. Bret

        I’m not worried about our missing the action, which I suspect will occur in less than 10 years. I am concerned, however, about the extremes the federal government will likely go to in an attempt to help the industry preserve its profitability.

        I’m sure a favorable situation will ultimately prevail, but the interim fireworks could be interesting, to say the least.

        Reply
  16. Chris Bennett

    If you read the comments section of the Daily Mail’s article you will see the wisdom of the crowds effect at work. The top comment mentions wheat belly and most of the top comments disagree with the article.
    I personally see wheat/gluten as the number one evil. More than sugar and other refined carbs. When I started low carb in 2013 it was purely for digestive problems and I took a sort of primal blueprint approach but instead of following it 80/20 it was more like 5/2. 5 days eating low carb and 2 days eating anything. This approach seemed to help at first but as the year went on it helped less and less. So in 2014 I started with just one rule, no gluten or wheat. I did not think I had a problem with gluten in particular it was just a good place to start.
    Well the results for me were amazing. After just over a week my digestive problems vanished which were my main concern. Over the following month I noticed many other improvements. My energy shot through the roof, the warts I had being treating unsuccessfully went away, the pain I got everyday under my left rib went away and my hair and skin were visibly much better.
    For me finding wheat and gluten was my main problem made me go a bit mad with the sugar and carbs but I am now eating closer to a low carb diet again.
    My problem with articles like these is even though they have no effect on those of us who know the problems with grains they may stop some people from considering the benefits of giving up grains. The most common age for diagnosis of coeliac disease is now for people in their 40’s and 50’s and some people don’t even find it until later. So they may convince someone with actual coeliac disease to keep on eating grains.
    It was only after I completely gave up gluten that someone told me my aunt was diagnosed coeliac. I don’t really want to eat it again to get tested though.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m not sure which is worse, sugar or wheat. So I avoid them both. When I had digestive issues, arthritis, psoriasis, etc., I wasn’t eating sugar at all.

      Reply
      1. Bret

        I am making my way through Nutrition and Physical Degeneration for the first time, in which Weston Price contrasted two groups of people in each region he visited: those who had remained on their traditional diets and maintained their health, and those who had modernized and were riddled with tooth decay. Almost invariably, the two most consumed foods of the latter groups were (you guessed it) white flour and sugar.

        We may never know which is worse, but one thing is certain: they are both refined, mass-produced foods of civilization, and they are both strongly associated with poor health. I’ll pass on both as well.

        Reply
          1. Walter Bushell

            Socrates drank hemlock, and he became famous and the root of philosophy in the West. Confucius ate rice (arsenic) and became one of the roots of Chinese civilization.

            The China Study does support the contention that wheat is deadlier than rice. There could be a market for low arsenic rice.

            Reply
  17. Ulfric Douglas

    “… if you’re bald, giving up wheat won’t resurrect your hair follicles. Best you can do is compensate by growing a beard ”
    I resent that 🙁 / I represent that.
    It’s a lifestyle choice, I tell ya!
    Actually not bald, but a nasty flu/something three years ago caused horrible thinning of my luxurious Jesus-like locks. Bugger.

    Reply
      1. Galina L.

        There is a theory that some cases of baldness, especially among young males, are caused by immune system attacks on hear follicles. As a person susceptible to allergies, I can tell that after a flu an autoimmune system tries to get into an over-drive most of the time. Some people even report the onset of D1 after a very nasty flu. I am speculating that a long-lasting flu could overstimulate the immune response to a degree that it turned onto Jesus-like locks.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Unfortunately, I can’t recall if I had flu 20 years ago when the baldness began creeping up on me. I’ve read how inflammation could cause baldness, and my diet back then was certainly pro-inflammatory.

          Reply
  18. James

    Wheat isn’t at all much different than other grain sources. If you’re celiac it should definitely be avoided due to the fact that contains gluten. If bread causes you issues there’s a high possibility that you have gut bacteria that can’t handle certain carbohydrates found in grains. If you have been following a low carb diet you’re tolerance will be extremely low, generally.

    The problem I see with people giving up “wheat” and feeling better are much like vegans giving up meat and feeling better. Was it really just the meat and dairy causing problems? possiblly,, but I would more likely contribute their benefits to consuming more unrefined grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables that have important fibre’s and phytronutrients that benefit health.

    When I read about people giving up “wheat”, it ususally consists of them giving up refined junk wheat foods like white bread, cookies, french toast, cakes, biscuits, hot dogs, pies, sausage rolls, pastries, muffins, pizza’s, donuts and raisin toast.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Giving up junk in general can definitely confuse the issue. But Dr. Davis had hundreds of patients who were told to make exactly one dietary change: stop eating wheat. In his book, he explains exactly how wheat (largely via the gliadin protein) causes so many health issues. So I don’t think it’s a matter of replacing bread with vegetables and deriving benefits from the vegetables.

      Reply
  19. Linda

    All this is very interesting and helps to reaffirm that I’m not crazy as the rest of my “carboholic” family thinks! Sadly, I indulged at Thanksgiving, and ate plenty of wheat- dressing, a roll, and the crust of pie, plus plenty of sugar. I am just now on Monday finally recovering from the pain! Unfortunately, I have some very real permanent damage to some joints after an ill-advised two month stint with statins before I did the research on my own. (When will I EVER learn not to trust what a doctor tells me???) But, after ditching all grains and going very low carb, the pain I had subsided and was entirely manageable. Only occasionally do I have a bout where I think I need some aspirin! But by two hours after the Thanksgiving meal, I was in REAL pain and really afraid to even walk around for fear of falling! An alarm bell finally went off in my brain and I went extremely low carb from Friday till now (late afternoon Monday.) Almost no carbs, plenty of fats, and definitely no grains at all, and tons of water. Today, I’m almost back to normal for me. I would love to talk to the generous people at Weetabix who so graciously funded that research! Jeesh! You’re right, Tom- a last ditch effort!

    Tom, if it’s all right with you, I would love to get Chuck’s recipe for the no-bake pumpkin pie with the coconut flour crust! May he post it on here, so everyone can see? I will definitely use that at Christmas and never say a word about how it was made, and see if the carboholics can tell the difference. Mostly, though I would love to have it for me. I often make frittatas, but would love to have a coconut crust recipe to make a quiche with.

    You mentioned having pizza with the wheat crust for your birthday, Tom. Obviously, you don’t have the horrible negative effects from wheat. I have been using the Older Brother’s Older Son’s Pizza dough recipe since it was posted, because I do love pizza and it fits the bill! I really love that recipe!

    Linda

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Sure, Chuck can post the recipe here.

      I eat pizza maybe twice per year now. Sometimes it causes a bit of pain in my formerly arthritic shoulder, sometimes not. Probably a matter of the dose.

      Reply
  20. B35X

    I sometimes wonder how kids at my school are able to consume the immense amount of sugar that they do with no noticeable side effects. A common sight I see is high schoolers walking in with 24oz Starbucks frappuccinos on a regular basis in the mornings. Not to deny that I haven’t had more than my fair share of them as well.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Youngsters can get away with a lot more sugar when they’re still growing and are insulin sensitive. But it doesn’t always last. At one of my high-school reunions, I noticed a couple the formerly-ripped jocks who used to live on ice cream and soda had gotten huge as adults.

      Reply
  21. Boundless

    More on food producers noticing demand change:
    ‘We’re seeing a widespread rejection of traditional foods and brands and it’s leading to a seismic shift in some categories’
    http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/Silverwood-partners-on-natural-organic-Annie-s-Suja-KRAVE

    By “traditional”, of course, they mean latter 20th century crap that used to sell big, and make people big and sick.

    I’m not sure why “Annie-s” is in the URL for that article. The article does not mention Annie’s, which until recently was an independent organic brand. It was acquired this year by General Mills, who are apparently trying to buy some cred with thoughtful eaters. The move is more likely to result in corruption and destruction of the brand.

    Reply
    1. Walter Bushell

      Ah, yes the classic business school move. Buy a company with a good reputation and cheapen the product and collect the difference until people catch wise. Most likely it takes a long time for people to realize the product is not what they were used to.

      And you have another brand in your arsenal and some people will like it.

      Reply
  22. vtw

    So happy to discover this site! I’ve been eating low carb with no grains for about a year with all the health benefits (the people on this site) one can expect. Fast forward to the holidays (Thanksgiving in particular) and I decide because I’ve been so good all year I can indulge a little bit. Wrong! The ailments I totally forgot about like arthritis,headaches,acid reflux all reintroduced themselves to me and that environment inside of me I made so happy this last year was at war! Anyways Christmas will bring another test but this time I’ll be ready with my knowledge of failure which is really the best way to learn.

    Reply

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