The title says it all. I feel somewhat stumped. Looked through the pop down info with interest but I still don't know what to say to her. I know that eliminating grains (5 weeks now) has been what my body has needed for years. I feel it!
If someone can provide an intelligent response to this, it would be much appreciated.
Just because people are thin does not mean that they are healthy!
Yeah, there are plenty of people who eat mostly grains but are nevertheless perfectly slim and healthy. In fact, I was one of those people a long time ago. There's a mountain of common-sense counter-evidence against the claim that eating a lot of grain necessarily makes you fat. That's what those people are bringing up.
So what's the problem? You tell them that grains are fattening because they promote fat storage or whatever? And then they counter that they know plenty of people who are slim and healthy "despite" eating a lot of grain? Well, they have a point I guess.
Or do they? For somebody overweight or obese, making a no-grains rule and slimming down as a result is a completely different animal than somebody already slim and healthy making that rule. The no-grains rule doesn't necessarily apply to somebody who's clearly doing fine on grains... that is if we're only talking about losing weight. If you don't need to lose weight, of course you don't need any rules for doing so.
You say to your overweight friend, "Hey, why not quit grains and see whether you lose weight?" And then they respond, "But but BUT... there are plenty of grain-eaters who are healthy and slim!" Well, who cares? Yes, there are plenty of grain-eaters like that, BUT THEY AREN'T ONE OF THEM! It's not a hard-and-fast rule that eating grains makes you fat, and I don't think anybody suggested that anyway. All we know is that that rule has been extremely helpful for losing weight for many people.
Either way, I wouldn't be surprised if the no-grain rule only works by accident. If you advise somebody fat to stop eating grains, there are thousands upon thousands of crap products that are now off-limits. Most processed food includes grains in at least some sort of form. And the worst industrial imitations do too: Industrial pastries, cake, pie, pizza, etc. Quitting grains means eating less processed food and more meat, fish, dairy, veggies, fruit, etc. No wonder it works!
This is the same reason why the raw food diet works wonders for many people. If you make it a rule to never eat anything cooked, what junk food or industrial whatever do you have left on the menu? Nothing really. All you got is fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, etc. Somebody switching from the SAD to that is gonna make a miraculous transition, even if it might be very suboptimal in comparison to a paleo or traditional eating routine.
See what I'm saying? Stare those people in the face and ask whether they're preparing traditional rice, pasta, bread, or whatever from scratch and along with other traditional ingredients, or if their grain-happy diet is a mix of bread from some grocery store, cake on their friends' and family's birthday parties, pizza from the local food court, pastries in individual plastic wraps from the local convenience store, etc. Maybe... just MAYBE... the people who do well on grains are those who eat REAL grains, avoid the junk food to a greater extent than normal people, and perhaps exercise every once in a while.
But then you would have to change your whole argument, wouldn't you? Why exactly put so much faith in this grain-are-evil philosophy anyway, if it seems like some random dude you know is poking holes in it in a casual bar-room conversation? The fact is this there are plenty of people who do fine on grains, but those are the people who eat REAL bread, REAL rice, REAL pasta, etc... not the people who stuff their faces with individually-wrapped pastries and fake-tasting cake.
If this rule really does work by accident in that way, that explains why the no-grains rule works so beautifully for fat people even though you can easily point to many people who do fine on grains and aren't fat or anything. The ones who are doing badly are the ones who need to stop eating all that industrial crap, which the no-grains rule usually takes out with a glancing shot. And those who are already doing well even though they eat grains already avoid that industrial crap pretty well. Get a SAD-eater to go raw, and there will be a revolution. Get me to do the same, and I'll do worse.
Just look at the people that you see when you walk around. They aren't slim.
It really strikes me when I am just a the store or the mall or something. People are fat. Nearly everyone I see is carrying easily an extra 10-20 pounds.
Watch an old movie like Jaws which was filmed in 1975. People aren't fat. That movie was filmed over a long period of time and the people on the beach in those scenes were random locals who were extras. There are a couple of overweight people but almost all of them are slim and a lot more fit-looking.
Something really bad happened to public health over the past 40 years.
It's not their size that matters. It's health and longevity. If they are eating toxic grains, such as gluten, they are slowly poisoning themselves. It won't show up in a lab test as grain toxicity. But, it will show up as Crohns, IBS, vitamin and mineral malabsorption, thyroid problems, cancer, heart problems, etc. Just ask me. I lost my mother in February at age 58. She was as thin as a rail her entire life, her diet was very grain and sugar heavy, though. Too many people are attracted to the physical aspects, when we should be concerned with the internal and our health.
Gary Taubes likes to compare insulin insensitivity & obesity to lung cancer: only ten percent of smokers get it. Similarly, only a fraction of the population will become obese from eating grains. So, if you can do it, then that's great, but if you're already gaining unwanted weight, then that's the canary in the coal mine (a metaphor from chris kresser), and you should probably lay off of the grains. Also, since one's metabolism can break down slowly, those who seem able to tolerate grains now, might find that their tolerance attenuates over time.
Its true, some people eat grain and are skinny. Some people also smoke 2 packs a day and don't have cancer. Others drink a bottle of vodka and a 6-pack every night and still have a functioning liver. Just because they haven't suffered ill effects YET doesn't mean they wont. Some people just take a little longer to suffer from their poor lifestyle choices.
I'd tell your friend to follow those same people for a couple of years and see how they do. I bet they aren't so skinny at 30.
We all have unique biochemistry and genotype so grain can manifest in different forms in different individuals. In some people, the symptoms/damage might appear as obesity, lethargy and depression. In others the symptoms might lead to acute anxiety, stress or hostility. The point is, grain/wheat creates an imbalance in all people that can manifest in different ways, at different times, in different people. The combination of environmental factors and foods that trigger autism in one family line might cause ADHD or celiac's disease in another.
Ask your friends to explain one reason why wheat is good for you?
The usual claim is because it is made of fiber and we need fiber to poop.
Not all fiber is alike.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water (water-soluble) and can be digested by 'good bacteria' in the colon and converted into essential vitamins like vitamin K. You get it from fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies also contain insoluble fiber - apple skins for instance.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve rather it soaks up water and can lead to constipation which can trigger inflammation/immune response and make you ill if consumed in excess. Wheat is 100% insoluble fiber.
The grain industry has established an entire food group based on fiber. Their claims about "fiber" in general are the driving force behind their marketing strategies. Why did they need to establish an entire food group based on something that we can easily obtain from the other food groups?
There are still a lot of long-lived populations who eat abundant grains. Just in the Blue Zone book, Ikaria, Okinawa, and the 7th Adventists. If your ancestral roots are in the Middle East, you have had twice as long to adapt to grains than if you were from, say, Finland. Yes, for me replacing those grains with various roots and animal fats works best, and no wheat, but just in my immediate family there was one daily pasta eater getting to 95, and another who was too poor to eat meat more than twice a year, getting to 94, and looking energetic until the end. In her case, grass fed eggs, grass fed milk, vegetables, wheat and corn (much more corn than wheat though) were the main staples for most of her life.
Which peoples? If they're talking about people in developing nations, then sure. They can eat grains and be slim. But many of the people in these populations also work very laborious jobs for 10 hours per day so they're obviously burning it off. This does not mean that they are healthier for it, by any means.