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Two questions: the consequences of going gluten free and about grains in general

by (15400)
Updated about 5 hours ago
Created June 06, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Forgive me - I know it is not a very "intelligent" question, but it bugs me and I just want to know what people think.

QUESTION #1

When I got gravely ill, I went gluten-free (my doctor told me so). This was probably the best advice any doctor has ever given me, considering the fact that gluten was slowly killing me. I really thought I was dying and nobody could find anything wrong with me.

However, as soon as I started a gluten free diet, I no longer could tolerate milk, then soy and legumes, then other grains, then nuts, and a whole bunch of foods. Then I ended up having a gastric erosion. Later I found out that many people experience the same. As soon as they start eating gluten free, they develop all kinds of secondary food intolerances. WHY?

And please do not tell me that I should have some gluten on a regular basis - consuming gluten makes me feel like I am dying. I would rather be all food intolerant than feel like that.

QUESTION #2

Please don't kill me, because what I am about to say is very anti-Paleo.

True hunter-gatherers do not consume any grains, and we know that. But there are more cultures on earth that do consume grains. In fact, some of them are very healthy and robust. This has been documented by Weston Price and many others.

Hence my question: MAYBE, just MAYBE there is something about grains (minimally processed, of course) that our bodies need? Maybe it is not vitamins and macronutrients, but some enzymes or amino acids or something that cannot be found in other foods but our bodies desperately need? Could it be?

Same goes for white potatoes.

Maybe we are simplifying the matter by just stating that vegetables are more nutritionally dense. Yes, they are. But maybe there are some mysterious elements yet to be discovered that makes grains an important part of our diet?

I am not talking processed food, additives and preservatives - those are nasty carcinogenic substances. However, raw unprocessed organic grains... Could it be another reason why they are almost every culture's staples?


CLARIFICATION: I am against eating grains and white potatoes. This is my personal belief and I stick by it. I am not looking for any excuses to try grains - I am not eating them, period.

The reason why I am asking this question is simple: I am not convinced that people during Paleolithic times did not consume grains.

I am 100% sure that coke cannot be good for you, because it is not found in nature, but grains are abundant in nature on every single continent. They are like seeds. So, logically, if they are organic, and close to a wild variety - my guess is that Paleo people threw them into cooking as well.

Or maybe they made flour out of some beans/seeds and a very primitive bread. I don't think they ate a lot of them and I also think they were a seasonal item - they did not plant, harvest or store them, but I am sure they consumed some of them. They ate EVERYTHING they found.

Peace. ???

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8014 · June 07, 2012 at 3:29 PM

@MBP: Excellent points about the CULTURE around food and eating! Here, food is our reward, our friend, our lover, our entertainment, our numbing drug of choice. It's becoming that way in other parts of the world as they adopt our foods and lifestyles, but in many places it's still just sustenance.

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418 · June 07, 2012 at 3:09 PM

One of the ways gluten does its damage is by causing leaky gut. It was just disguised by the grater overall pain caused by gluten. Now that you've removed the gluten, you're left with its ravages - the residual gut problems.

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383 · June 07, 2012 at 8:46 AM

I thought of Kurt Harris re question 2 as well, regarding the "Many Venomed Earth" discussion on Melissa's site - there are no magical foods, and among whole foods there are no devils in disguise, just biomes and circumstances.

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15400 · June 07, 2012 at 3:38 AM

By the way, I am gluten intolerant myself and almost died from it so I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. If I was asked at a gun point to consume gluten I would say: just shoot me.

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15400 · June 07, 2012 at 3:36 AM

Thank you for your very detailed answer. India is not the healthiest country in the world - that's for sure. Maybe the fact that many people in India are vegetarians have something to do with it. I am talking Northeast Asian countries like Japan and Korea. They have the smallest obesity rates among other countries, yet they are based on rice, tofu, fermented vegetables. French and Italians consume more gluten than many other countries combined, yet... they are relatively healthy. You have very valid reasons, don't get me wrong. I am just looking for some kind of explanation.

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15400 · June 07, 2012 at 2:44 AM

Just wanted to share something that worked for me - digestive enzymes - I have tried Digest by Enzymedica (Melissa recommends Digest Gold). They are like a life saver!!!

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1196 · June 06, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Oh, and I've been paleo for 15 months - healing isn't done yet. I heard 3 years, too.

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1196 · June 06, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Kelly, that image is wonderful! I actually understand in a real way - as opposed to almost understanding the science-speak explanation but forgetting it immediately I stop concentrating. Thanks!!

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3772 · June 06, 2012 at 8:32 PM

And another thing to consider is the relationship these people have to food. Food is not entertainment, in these cultures. There are likely set mealtimes, with very little snacking (at least for adults). Portions are not likely to be huge. They may even observe fasting periods. Gluttony is strongly looked down upon. *What* traditional cultures eat is only part of why they do well on a particular diet that includes grains--*how* they eat also plays a huge role.

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3772 · June 06, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Another thing to consider is that since these cultures aren't eating refined grains, they're also eating smaller quantities of grain, period. I'm reminded of Olive Garden's "Endless Pasta Bowl," which attracts customers because some people can eat *mountains* of pasta before hitting satiety (I was one). But no restaurant is going to make money offering the "Endless Millet Bowl." Ditto with brown rice, barley, or quinoa. Even white rice sates faster than the refined flours that dominate Western/-ized diets.

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11557 · June 06, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Yeah, I think my BF's GI doc said it would take up to 3 years for complete healing.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 6:10 PM

No, I don't eat grains and I AM NOT GOING TO EAT GRAINS. I just want to know the mechanics of it. I have a suspicion there is something we are missing about those grains.

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8014 · June 06, 2012 at 5:37 PM

@VB - if you're looking for permission to eat grains, just eat grains. We don't have to argue the health benefits or possible historical developments that led to grains displacing other foods. Give it a try. Maybe you'll feel better, maybe you won't. There's only one way to tell.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I know about pork (and they eat more pork than fish), but they still eat rice and sweet potato with every meal. They eat very little protein, by the way.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 4:34 PM

What if they just picked up the seeds, as they did with roots? They had some kind of bags made out of skins, I am sure. They probably did not eat that much, but I am sure they ate some.

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11048 · June 06, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Excellent metaphor, Kelly!

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3850 · June 06, 2012 at 4:16 PM

I'm on month 7 and I still have a good way to go. Some people say months, some years. I think it depends a lot on how strict you are and how badly you were damaged to begin with. Adding in some GAPS protocols help a lot. You might want to check out these threads too. http://paleohacks.com/questions/82385/how-long-did-it-take-you-to-heal-your-leaky-gut#axzz1x1upH1Dw http://paleohacks.com/questions/75484/when-is-leaky-gut-cured#axzz1x1upH1Dw http://paleohacks.com/questions/84401/anyone-cured-of-gluten-intolerance-or-improved-tolerance-to-gluten-after-how-lo#axzz1x1upH1Dw

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1001 · June 06, 2012 at 4:01 PM

True, Kim - but you have appreciated my irony cf CW, I hope

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Thanks, Kelly! How long do I have to wait till my arm/gut heals? It has been 10 months already. Great explanation though.

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715 · June 06, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Are they all that portable? To feed my family of 10, whole wheat bread for a year, I used to buy 400# of whole organic wheat at a time. It had to be kept cool and dry and for optimal health benefits I ground it as I needed it. Portable, no way. Ancient agrarians built grain silos. Grain was used in trade and even sacrificed to the cultures gods in some cases.

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3850 · June 06, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Nobody in Asia has ever died? No wonder they're so crowded.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:40 PM

True. But what if our Paleo ancestors ate some wild grains? Just like nuts?

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I know exactly what you are saying... but sometimes I doubt that this is the only reason. Thanks for your answer though!

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0 · June 06, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Okinawans also eat a LOT of fish, do a lot of walking, and a majority of them do hard labor

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3850 · June 06, 2012 at 3:37 PM

If you needed grains to survive, we would not have made it to the agricultural era.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Brown rice can only be stored for 6 months, it goes bad. Pumpkins, on the other hand, last for much longer. Beets and carrots can last for an entire year. Grains have never killed Japanese who live well in their 80s. The whole Asia thrives on rice. Nobody died yet.

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1001 · June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Rice is reasonably well tolerated, compared to other grains. The Japanese were even healthier before their diet became more westernised. The Okinawans are better renowned for health and longevity, and Okinawa has been referred to as the "nation of pork"! (Er, they eat rice, too - but I hardly see it as the prime contributor)

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4413 · June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM

you you very likely did have it and just not know. Kinda doubt with what you describe that you couldn't not, have leaky gut.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:28 PM

What if it is NOT just calorie density and storability? What if they have some enzymes? You can store roots as well. Beets last all winter and even longer.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:26 PM

But I never had it prior to going gluten free. So going gluten free makes people develop a leaky gut?

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2861 · June 06, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I think you see grains being staples because of the cheap calorie density and because of storability. I suspect that grains are more problematic on bare sustenance level diets where they displace most other food sources where it is more important to get enough calories to stay alive first and worry about micronutrients later. Other than particular sensitivities, I am not convinced that in a modern well-fed individual that natural grains themselves are much of a problem as long as overall nutrition is adequate.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Thank you for your answers. 1. I am already doing it, but... before going gluten-free I could literally eat bricks. Nothing ever bothered me in terms of GI symptoms.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:22 PM

What about Japanese people? They are very healthy and they live on rice.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:22 PM

@ Gurlz - every agricultural culture's staple. And most cultures are agricultural - yes, it is a recent development but an inevitable one.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:20 PM

I actually had three questions, but I "reduced them" to two.

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1001 · June 06, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Would have been good if you posted the questions separately - just sayin

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418 · June 06, 2012 at 2:40 PM

"every culture's staple?" You don't mean this, right? I mean, we know you know better, anthropologically. ;) This false premise is a problem and is perhaps the source of your question?

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9 Answers

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3850 · June 06, 2012 at 3:51 PM

I think with the leaky gut/food sensitivities, you have to think of it from an inflammation standpoint. Inflammation is one way your body defends itself from attacks.

To use a simplified metaphor, think of your instestines as your arm, and gluten as coarse sandpaper. If you continually rub sandpaper over your arm, eventually your skin will callous over as a defense against the abrasion and you will no longer feel pain from it. This callous also indcidentally protects your skin from other irritants. Now, if you stop rubbing the sandpaper over your arm, eventually you will start to heal and the callous will peel off exposing new skin. Then all of a sudden, you notice that scrapes from a thorny bush, or brushing against a brick building hurt. Did these things somehow get more damaging? No, you just didn't notice them because your body was in a continual state of defense. Once the skin on your arm completely heals, those minor irritants probably won't bother you so much, but until then you are particularly vulnerable.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Thanks, Kelly! How long do I have to wait till my arm/gut heals? It has been 10 months already. Great explanation though.

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11048 · June 06, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Excellent metaphor, Kelly!

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1196 · June 06, 2012 at 10:17 PM

Kelly, that image is wonderful! I actually understand in a real way - as opposed to almost understanding the science-speak explanation but forgetting it immediately I stop concentrating. Thanks!!

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15400 · June 07, 2012 at 2:44 AM

Just wanted to share something that worked for me - digestive enzymes - I have tried Digest by Enzymedica (Melissa recommends Digest Gold). They are like a life saver!!!

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e
3850 · June 06, 2012 at 4:16 PM

I'm on month 7 and I still have a good way to go. Some people say months, some years. I think it depends a lot on how strict you are and how badly you were damaged to begin with. Adding in some GAPS protocols help a lot. You might want to check out these threads too. http://paleohacks.com/questions/82385/how-long-did-it-take-you-to-heal-your-leaky-gut#axzz1x1upH1Dw http://paleohacks.com/questions/75484/when-is-leaky-gut-cured#axzz1x1upH1Dw http://paleohacks.com/questions/84401/anyone-cured-of-gluten-intolerance-or-improved-tolerance-to-gluten-after-how-lo#axzz1x1upH1Dw

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11557 · June 06, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Yeah, I think my BF's GI doc said it would take up to 3 years for complete healing.

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1196 · June 06, 2012 at 10:18 PM

Oh, and I've been paleo for 15 months - healing isn't done yet. I heard 3 years, too.

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6229 · June 06, 2012 at 9:24 PM

STORY: My husband when we first started Paleo had an autoimmune celiac-like response to gluten. He also had GI responses to soy, nightshades, and even more normal foods like veggies because his gut was damaged and needed to heal. If you follow GAPS - I don't believe in the enemas or everything but most of Dr. Natasha's explanation is good. You have to heal the gut and immune system or you could potentially respond to anything!

Now after nearly after 1 year of Paleo he can consume all nightshades, raw dairy, and CROSS_contaminated gluten! His gut healed! We did a LOT of probiotics - dairy and fermented veggies, refrigerated probiotic pills, etc.

My mother used to cheat occasionally with gluten. This is in spite of the fact her mother DIED from autoimmune ulcerative colitis. My mother used to have eczema and cold triggered hives (urticaria) that disappeared with Paleo.

Then I last heard from Mom, "Oh, I can't digest wheat anymore - I tried a piece of bread and I got bad stomach upset." I told her, "You NEVER could digest it." Your body was too inflamed in the past for you to notice it.

Take the analogy of boiling a frog SLOWLY. The frog (you) may not notice the water slowly heating (that is slow inflammation that people are trying to adapt to from constant gluten and gut irritants). But when you cool down the inflammation to near 0, and suddenly you get inflamed from gluten that would make things very hot!

Let's say the most people on SAD are inflamed level from level 7-10 (with 10 being highest). On Paleo let's say you're inflamed 0-5. Well you're going to notice inflammation a lot more easily when you go from 1 to 7 when you eat wheat after Paleo then when you are chronically inflamed and go from inflammation 7 to inflammation level 9!

As for Asians and grains ...

Dr. Peter Attia and Mark Sisson have written well: http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/how-do-some-cultures-stay-lean-while-still-consuming-high-amounts-of-carbohydrates

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-asian-paradox-how-can-asians-eat-so-much-rice-and-not-gain-weight/

If rice is so benign for Asians why do we have Asians going rice- free and having great results! http://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-primal-comeback/

I've seen rice bellies in parts of India and other Asian countries just as well as wheat bellies. They have hypertension and have diabetes, and/or pre-diabetes.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57398765-10391704/eating-white-rice-daily-ups-diabetes-risk-study-shows/

There are some healthy Indians .. BUT...

India has skyrocketing diabetes/metabolic, autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc.. Most of it is under-diagnosed just like gluten intolerance and celiac. Doctors will just blame IBS type syndrome on bad food, water, and/or parasites which is confusing because some symptoms are similar! If 90% celiacs aren't diagnosed in America what do you think that number is in India - 99.9%??!

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article24750.ece

Almost half Indians (50%) have poor lipid profiles - triglycerides, HDL, LDL. Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu have the worst (note 2 out of the 3, other then Tamil Nadu are heavy wheat eaters). 22 year medical student had heart attack.

Indian cardiologist says he's had 30-40% increase in heart patients aged below 40 in just the last few years! http://indianherald.com.au/featured/smoking-hastens-cardiac-problems/1680/

India has 1 billion people+ but look how few athletes they have produced per capita compared to other Asian (primarily omnivorous countries like China & Japan). The Indian Army is composed from 10-15% Sikh religion (Sikh officers are 20%) - a reform Protestant version of Hinduism but Sikh's are omnivorous and can eat any meat - including beef. Yet Sikhs are less than 2% of the entire Indian population! What percentage vegetarian or vegan warriors or people in defense are you going to find worldwide??!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikh

In Gujarat, most are vegetarian Hindu and they have among the poorest nutrition and fitness. The average height of many Gujarati woman approaches under 5 feet and tend to be emaciated looking or overweight/obese- suggesting nutrition deficiencies from grains blocking minerals like magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, etc. FYI I've known groups of strict lifelong vegetarians carrying the burden of modern disease - cancer, autoimmune, heart disease etc - almost everything on the symptoms of gluten intolerance below.

In some cultures food is so important they would rather die then change their diet - or they will change when they are in such excruciating pain that when offered the knowledge that contradicts their belief system they may change aspects (may not all) of their diet.

A great number of Bollywood actors/actresses and nearly all (perhaps all) of the beauty pageant (Miss Universe, Miss World) winners are omnivore (often Muslim/Christian) and are either from the Punjab area or Bengal, with some South Indians. Although you can look good on the outside and still be inflamed on the inside. Some people have delayed effects of a poor diet - in the 20's and 30's but then it catches up!

In some Indian villages they use sugar as a filler so you cannot taste the food - all you taste is sugar so 1 bowl of "tomato soup," tastes like sugar soup. They deep fry in vegetable oils and often there 3 meals consist of deep-fried wheat. They don't eat enough non-starchy vegetables - they tend to be very grain-based.

Those that have raw dairy (or low temperature pasteurized dairy), and eat less or no wheat, and eat eggs are better off. Vegetarians could gain some benefit from Lacto-Ovo-Paleo but the sicker they are the more they have to benefit from including eating grass-fed ruminants and wild caught fish in their diet and eliminating gut irritants.

The obesity of cities like Baroda (Vadodara) India approaches Texas and there are heart centers/clinics on every block like Starbucks. (Everything is big in Texas - the SUVs, houses, and the people ...) LOL!

The highest rates of celiac are found in the areas with the greatest wheat consumption - Gujarat and Punjab - and they are not healing because so many foods including spices can be cross-contaminated.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11569725

Am J Gastroenterol. 2001 Sep;96(9):2804-5. Increasing incidence of celiac disease in India. Sood A, Midha V, Sood N, Kaushal V, Puri H.

Gujarati and Punjabi Indians who settled in England get 3 times more celiac then Europeans!

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/588631_3

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoimmune_disease

http://www.aarda.org/autoimmune_statistics.php Total Autoimmune disease has outpaced CANCER and HEART DISEASE in the numbers in the US.

All the below conditions/symptoms related to gluten intolerance are skyrocketing in India. Some of these conditions change over time in the same individual! Some of 300 symptoms associated with gluten intolerance and/or made worse by gluten- Sound familiar?

Weight loss/gain

Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion e.g. low iron/anemia, Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc etc..

GI, IBS, bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, acid reflex, fatty stool, nausea,vomiting, flatulence, celiac, Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, Lactose Intolerance

Joint pain, Osteoporosis/Osteopenia, Cramps, tingling and numbness

Depression, Headaches, Migraine, Fatigue, Schizophrenia, Mood Swings, Irritability, Brain fog, seizures, ataxia (clumsiness), MS

Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage, Slow infant and child growth

Eczema, Allergies, Hives (Urticaria), Psoriasis, Acne, Rosacea

Type 1 diabetes, Lupus, Alopecia (hair loss, balding)

Down, Turner, and Williams Syndrome

Decline in dental health, dental enamel irregularities

Thyroid disease (both hypo and hyper)

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15400 · June 07, 2012 at 3:36 AM

Thank you for your very detailed answer. India is not the healthiest country in the world - that's for sure. Maybe the fact that many people in India are vegetarians have something to do with it. I am talking Northeast Asian countries like Japan and Korea. They have the smallest obesity rates among other countries, yet they are based on rice, tofu, fermented vegetables. French and Italians consume more gluten than many other countries combined, yet... they are relatively healthy. You have very valid reasons, don't get me wrong. I am just looking for some kind of explanation.

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15400 · June 07, 2012 at 3:38 AM

By the way, I am gluten intolerant myself and almost died from it so I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT. If I was asked at a gun point to consume gluten I would say: just shoot me.

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1255 · June 06, 2012 at 3:22 PM

I can't do much with 1) unfortunately, but in answer to this part of your question 2),

Could it be another reason why they are almost every culture's staples?

I would say that grains become staples because they are slower to rot in storage than animal products or leaves, berries, and some tubers. They're available and portable, they don't kill you (immediately), so you start basing your cuisine around them.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Brown rice can only be stored for 6 months, it goes bad. Pumpkins, on the other hand, last for much longer. Beets and carrots can last for an entire year. Grains have never killed Japanese who live well in their 80s. The whole Asia thrives on rice. Nobody died yet.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 4:34 PM

What if they just picked up the seeds, as they did with roots? They had some kind of bags made out of skins, I am sure. They probably did not eat that much, but I am sure they ate some.

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3850 · June 06, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Nobody in Asia has ever died? No wonder they're so crowded.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 6:10 PM

No, I don't eat grains and I AM NOT GOING TO EAT GRAINS. I just want to know the mechanics of it. I have a suspicion there is something we are missing about those grains.

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8014 · June 06, 2012 at 5:37 PM

@VB - if you're looking for permission to eat grains, just eat grains. We don't have to argue the health benefits or possible historical developments that led to grains displacing other foods. Give it a try. Maybe you'll feel better, maybe you won't. There's only one way to tell.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I know exactly what you are saying... but sometimes I doubt that this is the only reason. Thanks for your answer though!

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715 · June 06, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Are they all that portable? To feed my family of 10, whole wheat bread for a year, I used to buy 400# of whole organic wheat at a time. It had to be kept cool and dry and for optimal health benefits I ground it as I needed it. Portable, no way. Ancient agrarians built grain silos. Grain was used in trade and even sacrificed to the cultures gods in some cases.

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20411 · June 06, 2012 at 6:20 PM

QUESTION #1

Proper gut function should allow you to tolerate many foods. The lack of tolerance to gluten indicates a compromised gut biome. It is not surprising that you discovered other food intolerances subsequent to gluten.

QUESTION #2

WAP's Swiss Alpiners had very good health on a hand made, fermented rye bread, goat milk, goat cheese and goat diet. Note the many things they did not eat - refined flour, sugar, HFCS, vegetable oils, transfats just to name a few. Also, no anti-biotics to mess with the gut biome.

This does not indicate that rye is a required nutrient. Please read (google) the post by Dr. Harris on "There are no magical foods". And, for what it's worth, I think white potatoes are pretty nutritious, although it is probably wise to follow traditional practices and peel them.

If we (hominids) survived 2.5 million years without consuming any significant amount of grains (and we did) and were in very good health (we were), then it stands to reason that we do not require cereal grains for good health. We should be able to get what we need by simply eating animals and plants like we have for 2.5 million years. Of course, we can still screw things up with our modern technology, such as antibiotics.

Edit:

I should also mention that just because we didn't eat something for most of our 2.5 million year history is not sufficient to condemn it, although perhaps it is enough to at least be suspicious. I shun wheat, not because of it's recent introduction into the diet. I shun it because there is good evidence that it causes inflammation, leaky gut and other gut disbiosis. And because I generally feel better without it (less back and joint pain as one example).

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383 · June 07, 2012 at 8:46 AM

I thought of Kurt Harris re question 2 as well, regarding the "Many Venomed Earth" discussion on Melissa's site - there are no magical foods, and among whole foods there are no devils in disguise, just biomes and circumstances.

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8014 · June 06, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Most likely the cultures eating those grains are eating them as part of a diet that does NOT turn them into Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, Pop Tarts, Doritos, and donuts. They're eating them in minimally processed form, along with other real foods - animal fats and proteins from animals eating species-appropriate diets. And very likely they don't have a long history of eating the absolutely wacky, insane garbage that passes for "food" in the modern U.S.

Chances are people in lesser-industrialized societies (and our neolithic ancestors) can tolerate grains better than most of us because their digestion and gut integrity are/were not subject to: antibiotics, Cesarian sections (babies get a good dose of their initial gut flora as they pass through the vaginal canal -- provided mom has a lot of good flora there), the levels of stress we're typically under, and all kinds of modern scents/soaps/chemicals for which the jury's still out on whether they might be damaging our insides, and if so, how much.

You're very right about the work of Weston Price. But the societies he looked at that were eating grains ate them in a completely different context from how we eat them today. (Not to mention the composition of the grains themselves, which we've selectively bred for higher gluten content and other aspects for supposed nutrition, cooking properties, and hardier storage. For more on that, check out Wheat Belly, which gets into the big differences between ancient varieties of wheat and their modern counterparts.)

ETA: And let's not forget about the genetic aspect here. What about the HLADQ issue with regard to wheat sensitivity? There does seem to be some genetic/ancestral influence on people's ability to tolerate wheat, with people from the Middle East/North Africa, where it was cultivated first and the most generations have had exposure to it, having less celiac and wheat sensitivity than other cultures. There might be a similar mechanism underlying Asians' ability to tolerate more rice (and not dairy, since they are traditionally not a dairying people), etc.

At this point, we're all mutts. Unless you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're pureblooded something or other, very few of us can be absolutely sure of our own long-term ancestral genetics. So most of us have all kinds of mixed up food tolerances, which, for better or worse, is why the best we can do is experiment and see what works.

But what I love about Price's work (and some of the researchers today as well) is that he showed people thriving on a variety of diets with very different macronutrient profiles and food staples. We know for sure there were no societies that were vegan by choice. But we do know some groups thrived on tropical fruits and lots of fish. Others thrived on milk, red meat, and blood. Others thrived on oats, cheese, and fermented dairy.

I don't think there are any nutrients specific to grains that we can't find elsewhere. There are properties, for sure, that make eating certain grains fun, especially if we consider the gluteomorphin issue, and gluten grains activating the dopamine centers. But as for actual health benefits that couldn't be gotten from less problematic foods? Ya got me there. I don't know if there are any. I tend to doubt it, though.

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3772 · June 06, 2012 at 8:32 PM

And another thing to consider is the relationship these people have to food. Food is not entertainment, in these cultures. There are likely set mealtimes, with very little snacking (at least for adults). Portions are not likely to be huge. They may even observe fasting periods. Gluttony is strongly looked down upon. *What* traditional cultures eat is only part of why they do well on a particular diet that includes grains--*how* they eat also plays a huge role.

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3772 · June 06, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Another thing to consider is that since these cultures aren't eating refined grains, they're also eating smaller quantities of grain, period. I'm reminded of Olive Garden's "Endless Pasta Bowl," which attracts customers because some people can eat *mountains* of pasta before hitting satiety (I was one). But no restaurant is going to make money offering the "Endless Millet Bowl." Ditto with brown rice, barley, or quinoa. Even white rice sates faster than the refined flours that dominate Western/-ized diets.

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8014 · June 07, 2012 at 3:29 PM

@MBP: Excellent points about the CULTURE around food and eating! Here, food is our reward, our friend, our lover, our entertainment, our numbing drug of choice. It's becoming that way in other parts of the world as they adopt our foods and lifestyles, but in many places it's still just sustenance.

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418 · June 06, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Have you considered that you may have a leaky gut? Fixing it often helps with intolerances.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:26 PM

But I never had it prior to going gluten free. So going gluten free makes people develop a leaky gut?

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4413 · June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM

you you very likely did have it and just not know. Kinda doubt with what you describe that you couldn't not, have leaky gut.

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418 · June 07, 2012 at 3:09 PM

One of the ways gluten does its damage is by causing leaky gut. It was just disguised by the grater overall pain caused by gluten. Now that you've removed the gluten, you're left with its ravages - the residual gut problems.

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1001 · June 06, 2012 at 3:14 PM

2) Just think it's worth emphasising the evidence. When grain cultivation began - and perhaps the best documented was in Turkey around 10,000 years ago - our stature diminished about 4in.

Earliest evidence of diabetes and cancer was actually quite recent - around the same timing.

OK, this is correlation, not cause and effect, BUT there's plenty of more recent evidence to link grains with autoimmune disease in particular, and it gets harder and harder to argue against it. Rigid proof is difficult due to the logistics and ethics of conducting a double blind study with a large enough group.

I suppose one purpose of this site is mutual support for people willing to take a chance and see their health improve. Chance, but low risk.

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1001 · June 06, 2012 at 4:01 PM

True, Kim - but you have appreciated my irony cf CW, I hope

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0 · June 06, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Okinawans also eat a LOT of fish, do a lot of walking, and a majority of them do hard labor

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1001 · June 06, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Rice is reasonably well tolerated, compared to other grains. The Japanese were even healthier before their diet became more westernised. The Okinawans are better renowned for health and longevity, and Okinawa has been referred to as the "nation of pork"! (Er, they eat rice, too - but I hardly see it as the prime contributor)

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:22 PM

What about Japanese people? They are very healthy and they live on rice.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 4:36 PM

I know about pork (and they eat more pork than fish), but they still eat rice and sweet potato with every meal. They eat very little protein, by the way.

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968 · June 06, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Hello :)

1] maybe you had the other intolerances, but didn't notice as you were focused on the discomfort caused by the gluten? Or maybe the gluten "broke" your gut? You might find taking a liver tonic (liquid st mary's thistle or others) and eating foods rich in sulphur help over time (garlic, onions, leeks, radishes, eggs, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower))

2] Maybe it's not the gluten per say that is the problem, but what it is combined with it/or how it is prepared?

Just a thought, but good question.

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15400 · June 06, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Thank you for your answers. 1. I am already doing it, but... before going gluten-free I could literally eat bricks. Nothing ever bothered me in terms of GI symptoms.

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2024 · June 06, 2012 at 9:45 PM

I'm an undermethylator of folate (and probably b12 too), and I really think that for me anyway, the sudden absence of b vitamins was problematic when I first gave up wheat. Everything is so heavily fortified, and I still struggle to get in enough thiamine.

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