While eliminating wheat from your diet is an excellent and necessary step for improving health, it may not be alone sufficient, especially in those with serious health challenges.
According to a series of articles on the website Green Med Info, there are other foods in the Western diet that have properties similar to wheat, because they contain "chitin binding lectins", which are similar to wheat lectin (WGA).
Chitins are long polymers of n-acetyl-glucosamine, the primary binding target of wheat lectin. Wheat lectin and chitin-binding lectin are therefore functionally identical. Chitin-binding lectin containing foods include:
Additionally, sprouted grains, which are typically considered to be healthful fare can also be problematic for a couple of different reasons. Not only do sprouted whole wheat contain the highest amounts of wheat lectin, sprouted grains also contain benzoxazinoids (BAs)—a surprisingly toxic component!
Even a modest reduction in consumption of these types of carbohydrate-rich foods may promote loss of deep belly fat. This could help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease, as excess visceral fat (intra-abdominal fat) raises the risk of these diseases.
According to Eurekalert:
"... [S]ubjects who consumed [a] moderately carb-restricted diet had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those who ate the standard diet ... [S]ubjects on both diets lost weight. However, the moderately carb-restricted diet promoted a 4 percent greater loss of total body fat".
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Yesterday, I discussed how wheat can deteriorate your mental health, and I mentioned that even sprouted wheat can contribute to poor health. I'll delve into this a bit more in just a moment, but first, let's review the health effects of some other non-wheat grains. As it turns out, wheat is not the only grain that can wreak havoc on your health.
If you have celiac disease (gluten intolerance), it's absolutely imperative to avoid all kinds of gluten—primarily wheat. But did you know that other non-wheat grains, and even some vegetables, such as tomato, may be problematic as well? Yes, there are a number of other foods with very similar properties to wheat! The following foods contain "chitin binding lectins", which are similar to wheat lectin (WGA):
"Chitins" are long polymers of n-acetyl-glucosamine, the primary binding target of wheat lectin. Wheat lectin and "chitin-binding lectin" are therefore functionally identical. This is probably news to most people, and could be an important tidbit for anyone struggling with celiac disease, or any other gastrointestinal issues.
About 85 percent of the people in the population have insulin resistance, and eating any grains, even healthy organic unprocessed ones can be a problem. How do you know if you have insulin resistance?
There are two ways.
You can measure your fasting insulin level. It should be under 3. It is relatively inexpensive and I believe most people should have it done The higher it is, the worse your insulin resistance. If you want to forgo the hassle of a blood test then you can use clinical conditions as a gauge. If you have any of the following four conditions you most likely have insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
I have explained this information for many years, but now we have new scientific research documenting that grains have other problems that are appear to be unrelated to insulin resistance, and I will review them below.
The sprouts of grains such as wheat, maize, and rye are increasingly being consumed as health foods, and are also used for the production of dietary supplements. However, sprouted wheat actually contains the highest amounts of wheat lectin (WGA)—which is responsible for many of wheat's ill health effects! And that's not all. These sprouts (wheat, maize and rye) also contain benzoxazinoids (BAs). Benzoxazinoids are part of the plants' defense system against pests, and are actually toxic components...
A study from 2007, published in the journal Cancer Letters, investigated the mutagenic activities of the two most abundant BA's in these sprouted grains. Both types of BA were found be mutagens, meaning capable of altering genetic material, and both were also found to be aneugenic, meaning they affect cell division and lead to aneuploidy, an incorrect number of chromosomes.
"This is an interesting observation as it is assumed that aneuploidy is a key event in cancer induction and at present no other aneugenic plant-derived substances of dietary relevance are known," the authors wrote.
Now, I think it may be risky to claim that sprouted grains are outright toxic when ingested. That's probably not exactly the case. There may be mitigating factors involved, as there often are when you're dealing with a whole food.
That said, bread (grain) consumption in general has been shown to increase your risk of cancer… For example, an Italian study published in 2007 found "a significant direct trend in risk" between bread consumption and renal cell carcinoma. Compared to those with the lowest consumption, those with the highest bread consumption nearly doubled their risk of this type of kidney cancer.
Pasta and rice consumption increased the risk by almost 30 percent.
Although that study didn't specify the disease mechanism at play, it's a well-known fact that excessive grain consumption leads to insulin resistance—sooner or later—and that insulin resistance is the primary underlying factor of most chronic disease, including cancer. My feeling is that you start to dramatically increase your risk for cancer once your fasting blood sugar rises above 100. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of cancer. As for your insulin; your fasting insulin level should, ideally, be below 3, as mentioned earlier.
Aside from cancer, all those daily bowls of cereal and sandwiches also amount to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A study published just last year found that women who eat a lot of foods high in blood sugar-spiking carbohydrates, such as white bread and rice, double their risk of heart disease.
This is because, when you eat more carbohydrates than your body can use, the excess energy is converted to unhealthy fats by your liver which push your cholesterol ratios in the wrong direction. This process occurs to help your body maintain blood sugar control in the short-term, however it will likely increase triglyceride concentrations, which in turn increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. It's unfortunate that so many physicians are still clueless about insulin's influence on cancer and heart disease, but that doesn't mean you have to be!
If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or are overweight, you are best served by avoiding as many sugars and grains as possible, including:
Whole organic grains Sprouted grains Wheat Spelt Millet Amaranth Quinoa Barley Rye Rice/potatoes
This also includes all forms of fructose, from high fructose corn syrup, to honey and agave syrup. You may even need to be careful with fresh fruits if you have any of the health conditions just mentioned. As a standard recommendation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, for most people it would also be wise to limit your fructose from fruit to 15 grams or less, as you're virtually guaranteed to consume "hidden" sources of fructose if you drink beverages other than water, or eat processed food. For a quick reference list of some of the most common fruits and the amount of fructose they contain, please see this previous article.
Remember, the ONLY carbohydrates you really need are vegetable carbs. All sugar/fructose and all grains, including the "healthful" ones, will tend to raise your insulin levels, which is a detriment to your health…
Last, but certainly not least, avoiding grains is also one of the most effective ways to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. According to a new study, the results of which were presented at The Endocrine Society's 93rd Annual Meeting in Boston on June 12, even a modest reduction in carbohydrate-rich foods can promote loss of the deep belly fat (intra-abdominal fat) that's been linked to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. The study participants followed one of two diets for four months:
- "Standard" reduced-fat diet: 55 percent carbs / 27 percent fat / 18 percent protein
- Low glycemic reduced-carb diet: 43 percent carbs / 39 percent fat / 18 percent protein
"... [S]ubjects who consumed [a] moderately carb-restricted diet had 11 percent less deep abdominal fat than those who ate the standard diet ... [S]ubjects on both diets lost weight. However, the moderately carb-restricted diet promoted a 4 percent greater loss of total body fat."
Research has repeatedly shown that a low-carb diet beats low-fat. Eating fat does NOT make you fat. Carbohydrates from fructose and grains do!
One of the solutions to the out-of-control obesity problem is simply to eat LESS carbs in the form of grains and fructose, and MORE healthy fats. The ideal ratio between carbs, fats and protein depends on your nutritional type. We all need some fat, but some of us need upwards of 50 percent of our diet in the form of fat, while others need as little as 10 percent. The ideal ratio depends on your nutritional type, and if you're interested in losing weight or staying healthy, I highly recommend you find out yours, which, by the way, is now easier and less expensive than ever.
In fact, I now offer the entire nutritional typing program free of charge—so there's really no excuse for holding off any longer!
When you begin to include more fat in your diet, be sure to focus on healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, animal-based fats (grass-fed meats, omega-3, and raw dairy products), nuts and seeds, and avocados. Fats from highly refined sources, like vegetable oils and trans fats, should be avoided at all costs.
One of the best benefits of learning your nutritional type is that you don't have to worry about counting calories or fat grams. Instead you focus on eating the right proportion of carbs, fats and protein for your body. It's a much more natural, intuitive way of eating, and you'll know when you've found the right ratio for you because you'll feel simply wonderful, which is what HEALTH is really all about.