William Davis's Blog
July 20, 2016
The next Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox Challenge is scheduled to start Monday, July 25th, 2016!
Join the thousands of people who are losing weight and regaining health by following the Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox. Join us if you desire support through the sometimes unpleasant process of wheat/grain detoxification and withdrawal, or if you previously followed the program but have lapsed and want to get back on board as confidently as possible.
To join the Detox Challenge:
Get the book. And read it. Detox Challenge participants should be informed and active in order to get the most out of the challenge and private Facebook group.
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/wheatbelly10daygraindet...
Come join the Private Facebook Group.
Head back to the Private Facebook Group starting July 24th (the day before the official start of the Challenge) and onwards for tips, video, and discussions to help you get through your detox and reprogram your body for rapid weight loss. Dr. Davis will be posting video instructions and answers to your questions.
The post The next Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox Challenge starts July 25th! appeared first on Dr. William Davis.
July 19, 2016
A condition called cerebellar ataxia is one manifestation of wheat’s effect on the human brain. This illness usually affects adults, average age of onset 48 years, though children can be affected, too. Symptoms consist of incoordination, falling, and incontinence.
The typical situation involves a man or woman in their late 40s or early 50s who begins to experience difficulty walking a straight line, or feels like they are drifting to one side as they walk. Frequent stumbling when there is no obstacle in the way is common. This is due to degeneration of the cerebellum (visible on an MRI or CT scan of the brain), the part of the brain responsible for coordination and other basic nervous system functions. Eventually, nervous system degeneration leads to impaired control over bladder and bowel function and the sufferer begins to wet him- or herself, i.e., urinary incontinence, and eventually develop bowel incontinence. The sufferer also loses the capacity to walk safely and is confined to a walker, then a wheelchair, typically requiring institutionalization to have others manage day-to-day bodily functions.
There’s more to the effect of wheat on the human brain. Other phenomena include:
Seizures–-especially temporal-lobe seizures
Myelitis–inflammation of the lining of the spinal cord
Psychiatric disease–depression, changes in personality, even psychosis or paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations
Gait disorders–i.e., difficulty walking
Impaired reflexes, e.g, in the ankles
Gluten encephalopathy–dementia from wheat. The UK and US groups have described this condition.
Because brain tissue has limited capacity for healing and regeneration, symptoms of cerebellar ataxia and other forms of wheat-induced neurological degeneration usually improve slowly with meticulous elimination of wheat and other gluten sources. But think about it: we are talking about degeneration of the nervous system due to the foods that every “official” source of nutritional advice agrees should dominate your diet. If or when you develop grain-induced neurological conditions such as cerebellar ataxia or adult-onset seizures, most neurologists–as are most other physicians–are typically useless in drawing cause-effect connections between a component of diet and a health condition, in this case a chronic, debilitating, and eventually fatal disease from wheat and related grains.
Perhaps you’d like a diaper with that croissant?
July 16, 2016
Colleen shared photos of the progress she has made living the Wheat Belly lifestyle. I share her story because it makes so many of the essential points that we talk about in living the Wheat Belly lifestyle: the reversal of body-wide inflammation, the agony of re-exposure, the need to manage net carbs and use safe natural sweeteners, and the need to not count calories. Colleen also learned that, despite choosing more organic, whole foods on this lifestyle, it is not more expensive, and that exercise is not an effective means of controlling weight.
“Today is a day of celebration for me. July 14, 2015 was the day I decided to join the Wheat Belly family after I saw a post of yours on my Aunt Pat’s Facebook page. A year has passed. I am celebrating a 49 pound weight loss. I am celebrating with about 8″ off my hips and 7” off my waist. I am celebrating with healthier skin, less headaches, less aches and pains, and the inflammation that was in my feet is gone. I generally do feel a lot better. I move a lot better. I am forever grateful to Wheat Belly.
“A couple things I just wanted to touch on…
“During the past year, I only ate wheat once and I won’t make that mistake again. First off, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. Plus the inflammation and the aches and pains in my joints were ridiculous. Giving up wheat and grains was easy for me, but I do still struggle with the sugars. I found xylitol to be my savior. I know I could have lost more weight if I could have eliminated the sugars entirely. But, all in all, 49 pounds pleases me and is a good start. This year I am in the process of conquering my sugar addiction. I know this is what is putting me over my carb intake and has slowed (but not stopped) my progress. Even though the weight loss has slowed, I have still lost inches.
“Secondly, I did find that eating the Wheat Belly lifestyle was NOT as expensive as people think. Yeah, sure, the initial buying of things like almond flour/meal, flax seed, nuts, etc. are a bit costly but they do last longer than you think. After that, I didn’t really see any big change in my grocery bill because I wasn’t buying cereals, breads, cookies, crackers and other processed food. My kids and I have had fun trying to recreate our favorite foods and stay within the parameters of the Wheat Belly lifestyle. It has become a game.
“The third thing I wanted to touch on was, prior to joining Wheat Belly, I counted calories. I would take in around 1,750 calories, which is what I was told to do to lose weight. I also would spend about 45 minutes to an hour doing cardio at the gym about 4 days a week. My weight didn’t budge. I did get more toned but other than that no weight loss. When I started Wheat Belly, I ditched the gym. For the heck of it, in the beginning, I still kept track of my calories which was within my normal calorie intake (which I know you say we don’t need to do). The difference: I was shedding the weight. So here I was NOT going to the gym and sticking within my normal calorie count and the weight fell off of me. This proves that it isn’t about the calories in versus calories burned that we have been taught. Because if that was the case, then I shouldn’t have been losing weight when I stopped going to the gym because that was 3200 calories a week I wasn’t burning off.
“And lastly, to anyone of your potential followers who is considering Wheat Belly, I started without having read the book. I would also say it took probably close to 3 months to be able to read labels correctly and learn what to stay away from: the things I wasn’t supposed to have. It takes time to get down all the rules and guidelines but it’s worth it. I found that adding a few new guidelines each week helped me remember them better.
“Thank you, Dr Davis, for sharing your wisdom with us all. Your blog has been fantastic. I love reading the success stories and I am glad to be a success story myself.”
Isn’t that great? Note that Colleen’s pre-Wheat Belly calorie intake was restrictive as part of her effort to lose weight. Once she was on the Wheat Belly lifestyle in which we do not limit calories, she likely reverted naturally to a reduced calorie intake without working to do so, since this lifestyle eliminates the abnormal appetite stimulation caused by gliadin protein-derived opioid peptides.
Of course, I would not suggest doing this on your own without the support of the discussions in the Wheat Belly books, despite Colleen’s success, as understanding the details surrounding this lifestyle will help ensure long-term success that only begins with wheat and grain elimination. Remember: after eliminating the cause of so many health problems–wheat and grains–we then address the several nutrient deficiencies that can persist, as well as some other common deficiencies unrelated to grain consumption such as iodine deficiency. We also work to cultivate healthy bowel flora, crucial to maintaining long-term health success. And, of course, having an arsenal of delicious grain-free, no-sugar-added foods for holidays, entertaining, and kids provided by the Wheat Belly cookbooks can help you stay on course.
Nonetheless, Colleen succeeded in a big way by piecing much of the Wheat Belly program herself and is on her way to slenderness and dramatically improved health.
July 12, 2016
Patty shared the Wheat Belly experiences of her husband and herself recently, an example of how metabolic measures evolve over time:
“My husband and I started Wheat Belly in early January. Jeff has lost 60 pounds and I have lost 33. We both have more energy and sleep better. Even more exciting, these are Jeff’s health stats from November:
Triglyceride 687 to 164
Total Cholesterol 229 to (108 with statins); went off statins, now 178
HDL Cholesterol holding at 36
LDL (calculated) 41 to 109
A1C 11.7 to 6.4 – off two out of 3 diabetes meds
Blood Pressure 130/82 to 130/70
“My arthritic knee is no longer bothering me. Just went on vacation and lots of walking, steep paths, and steps. No problem. Also I had surgery on my shoulder and I felt like I was stuck at about 85% recovery. A couple of weeks after starting Wheat Belly, I was noticing an improvement. Within a month I finally felt like I was at 100%.”
Isn’t that terrific? In addition to the weight loss, Patty has experienced reversal of inflammation: not just in her knee and shoulder, but also in her face that you can even see in her photos. Jeff likewise has lost the ruddy, red, swollen face of the inflamed wheat/grain consumer, now “deflated” with dramatic reversal of inflammation.
But the metabolic blood markers show transitional changes that you need to know about. If you don’t understand this, you can fall into the trap of having your doctor persuade you that you need a cholesterol drug or other nonsensical “treatment” when all you are seeing are values that are in transition. I’ve discussed this before, but it is such a common question that it is worth discussing again.
When people like Patty and Jeff begin the Wheat Belly lifestyle, weight loss ensues: 60 pounds over 6 months for Jeff, 33 pounds for Patty. While some of that weight was edema associated with grain-induced inflammation, the majority of it was fat, much of it inflammatory visceral fat. While you urinate the edema, where did the fat go? It does not just evaporate, of course, but is mobilized into the bloodstream as fatty acids and triglycerides. Many people thereby experience a transient increase in triglyceride levels in the blood—this is good, as it reflects the natural process of fat mobilization during weight loss. Jeff’s situation is a bit more complex, as the substantial visceral fat present (in his abdomen) at the start was releasing oodles of triglycerides into the bloodstream, accounting for the very high starting triglycerides, also made worse by his body’s high insulin/insulin resistance, as well as the drugs he was taking. This process subsides as his visceral fat shrinks, allowing triglyceride levels to drop. The triglyceride level remains high, however, because of his ongoing successful weight loss. Over another few months, Jeff will likely see triglyceride levels drop into the ideal range of 60 mg/dl or lower. So nobody should try to “treat” his highish triglycerides levels with a fibrate drug like Lopid or TriCor, or the ripoff prescription fish oil Lovaza.
HDL cholesterol (“good”: the higher, the better) drops precipitously with weight loss, also due to the same flood of fatty acids into the bloodstream that causes degradation and clearance of HDL particles. Levels even in the 20s can occur. But this is also transient. In Jeff, 6 months have allowed his HDL to rebound back to the starting level. Give it another year or two—HDL is slow to respond—and Jeff will likely enjoy HDL cholesterol values in the ideal range of 60 mg/dl or higher. High levels associated with astounding health, such as 70, 80, or 90 mg/dl are common with this lifestyle.
LDL cholesterol is the most confusing. As Patty notes in the values she shares, LDL cholesterol is not measured; it is calculated. The calculation is simple, but it is deeply flawed, based on crude assumptions in diet and lipoprotein (fat-carrying proteins in the bloodstream) composition that are inaccurate, unreliable, and made even less reliable by any lifestyle that modifies lipoprotein composition, especially reduction in carbohydrates. And, of course, the Wheat Belly lifestyle is about elimination of all wheat, grains, and sugars, while restricting carbohydrates, a lifestyle that dramatically alters lipoprotein composition. The Wheat Belly lifestyle, in effect, renders the equation to calculate LDL cholesterol INVALID—it is worthless. If your doctor tries to “treat” this value, it reflects gross ignorance of the science (or lack of) behind this value. The solution: do the gold standard test, an advanced lipoprotein analysis, such as an NMR Lipoprofile that 1) provides an LDL particle count and 2) reveals what proportion of total LDL particle count are the heart disease-causing small LDL particles. But, because of all the changes that lipoproteins and other markers are undergoing during profound weight loss, Jeff should not have this test performed until at least 4 weeks have passed after he has achieved a weight loss plateau. At that time, he is likely to see a dramatic reduction of total LDL particle number and total or near-total elimination of heart disease-associated small LDL particles.
Jeff has also enjoyed dramatic reduction of hemoglobin A1c, or HbA1c, the value that reflects blood sugar values over the preceding three months. He dropped from a flagrant and long-term health-destroying high diabetic range of 11.7% to a pre-diabetic range 6.4%. But HbA1c is also temporarily propped up by the fatty acids flooding his bloodstream. As with the other measures, when Jeff’s weight loss plateaus, HbA1c is likely to plummet even further. Given his extravagant response so far, he is likely to be a non-diabetic within a few more months, perhaps achieving an ideal HbA1c of 5.0% or less.
Likewise, just as with HbA1c, blood pressure can be temporarily kept high by the flood of fatty acids. And, as weight plateaus, blood pressure will likewise drop into the ideal range of no higher than 120/80.
Compound the wonderful changes occurring with the added and substantial benefits of the entire collection of Wheat Belly Total Health and Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox strategies, and health and blood values will improve even further. Vitamin D restoration, iodine supplementation while aiming for ideal thyroid health, cultivation of healthy bowel flora and other Wheat Belly efforts will yield health at a level that Patty and Jeff may have previously thought were unachievable. And now they achieve such extraordinary levels of health without prescription drugs and despite the awful advice given by the healthcare system.
July 11, 2016
Here is an excerpt from chapter 1 of the Wheat Belly Total Health book, a discussion of the striking deterioration in health that developed in humans when we first made the dietary error of consuming grains, not recognizing a dietary expedient as a bad choice that resulted in long-term risk for chronic disease.
What happened to those first humans, hungry and desperate, who figured out how to make this one component of grasses—the seed—edible? Incredibly, anthropologists have known this for years. The first humans to consume the grassy food of the ibex and aurochs experienced explosive tooth decay, shrinkage of the maxillary bone and mandible resulting in tooth crowding, iron deficiency and scurvy, along with reduction of bone diameter and length resulting in as much as a loss of five inches in height for males, three inches in females (Roberts 2005; Cohen 2007; Cordain 1999).
The deterioration of dental health is especially interesting, as dental decay was uncommon prior to the consumption of the seeds of grasses, affecting less than 1% of all teeth recovered, despite the lack of toothbrushes, toothpaste, fluoridated water, dental floss, and dentists. Without any notion of dental hygiene aside from a twig to pick the fibers of wild boar from between the teeth, dental decay was simply not a problem that beset many members of our species prior to the consumption of grains. The notion of toothless savages is all wrong; they enjoyed sturdy, intact teeth for their entire lives. Only when humans began to resort to the seeds of grasses for calories did mouths of rotten and crooked teeth appear in children and adults, decay evident in 16-49% of all teeth recovered, along with evidence of tooth loss and abscess, making tooth decay as commonplace as bad hair among humans of the agricultural Neolithic age (Cohen 2007).
In short, consuming the seeds of grasses that began 10,000 years ago may have allowed us to survive another day, week, or month during times when foods we instinctively consumed over the preceding 2.5 million years fell into short supply. But this expedient represents a dietary pattern that comprises only 0.4%—less than one-half of 1%— of our time on earth. This change in dietary fortunes was accompanied by a substantial health price. From the standpoint of oral health, humans remained in the Dental Dark Ages from their first taste of porridge all the way up until recent times. History is rich with descriptions of toothaches, oral abscesses, stumbling and painful efforts to extract tainted teeth. Remember George Washington and his mouthful of wooden false teeth? It wasn’t until the twentieth century that modern dental hygiene was born and we finally managed to keep most of our teeth through adulthood.
Fast forward to the 21st century: Modern wheat now comprises 20% of all calories consumed by humans; the seeds of wheat, corn, and rice combined comprise 50% (World Health Organization). Yes, the seeds of grasses provide half of all human calories. We have become a grass seed-consuming species, a development enthusiastically applauded by agencies such as the USDA who advise us that increasing our consumption to 60% of calories or higher is a laudable dietary goal. It’s also a situation celebrated by all those people who trade grain on an international scale, since the seeds of grasses have the advantages of prolonged shelf life (months to years) that allow transoceanic shipment, ease of storage and extended shelf lives without refrigeration, and worldwide demand, all the traits desirable in a commoditized version of food, allowing such financial manipulations as buying and selling futures, hedges, and complex derivative instruments, the tools of mega-commerce. (Can’t do that with blueberries or Atlantic salmon.)
Examine the anatomy of a member of the species Homo sapiens and you cannot escape the conclusion that you are not a ruminant, have none of the adaptive digestive traits of such creatures, and can only consume the seeds of grasses—the food of desperation—by accepting compromises in health. But the seeds of grasses can be used to feed the masses cheaply, quickly, and on a massive scale, all while generating lots of profits for those who control the flow of these commoditized foods.
Shown above in the photograph, by the way, is a human adult skull dating from around 100,000 years before present recovered from the Fertile Crescent in what is now modern Israel. Note the full mouth of straight, intact teeth. (I snapped the photograph of this skull housed in the London Museum of Natural History.)
July 8, 2016
Ever have a slice of monkey pie? No? Well, that’s good, because there is no such thing, at least not in our part of the world. And it would be weird if there was. It would be contrary to instinctive notions, eating a creature similar to humans. You wouldn’t eat human pie and, for similar reasons, you wouldn’t eat monkey pie.
Would you agree that every creature on earth, human and otherwise, follows an instinctive dietary program?
This toad is an insectivore, consuming flies and grasshoppers in order to survive. Nobody had to tell this toad that flies are delicious. Properly nourished, this toad can mate with other toads and deposit eggs on rocks in order to reproduce and make more toads.
What if you didn’t like the fact that this toad devoured creatures like grasshoppers and you forced it to eat nothing but spinach and kale? It would die within a few weeks, deprived of all the nutrients its body requires to survive.
How about a cat? Cats are obligate carnivores, consuming mice, birds, and other creatures, just as its close relative, wildcats, chase pigeons, squirrels, and deer fawns for food. You may have to encourage your cat to eat the synthetic kibble you put out in a bowl, but no encouragement or instruction is needed for it to chase down a mouse.
What if you didn’t like your cats carnivorous ambitions and you restricted its diet to only dandelion greens and cashews? You’d have a very hungry, upset cat, then a very dead cat.
Every creature therefore follows an adaptive dietary script written over millions of years of adaptation to life on this planet, following a way of eating that is programmed into physiology and determines nutrient needs. Toads eat insects because it needs the nutrients contained in insects and cannot get them from green plants. Cats like to eat mice because the flesh, liver, and intestines provide nutrients the cat’s body needs. Veer off this dietary script and health will suffer; it can even prove fatal.
What is the dietary script of Homo sapiens? The historical record is clear: humans are incredibly effective hunters, consuming the organs and flesh of land animals and, to a lesser degree in most cultures, freshwater and sea creatures. We are also gatherers of nuts, berries, and leaves. (Cooking also introduced dramatic changes in human anatomy and physiology, a practice not followed by any other species.) This was the dietary script we followed for the first 2,500,000 years of our time on earth, a script to which our physiology is programmed. We therefore need the vitamin B12 contained in liver, the zinc contained in flesh, the intestinal butyrate-yielding fibers in tubers and legumes, the vitamin C in liver, leaves, and fruit, the omega-3s EPA and DHA contained in the brains of land animals and the fat of fish.
Human-induced change in our instinctive dietary script occurred 10,000 years ago, the so-called Neolithic period in which agriculture and non-nomadic living appeared. Some dietary changes were benign, such as growing lettuce and radishes, closely mimicking the foods found in the wild. But two big disruptive dietary changes also emerged: consumption of the seeds of grasses, or “grains,” and the domestication of ruminants as beasts of burden and a source of food. The latter innovation–consuming the products of the mammary glands of domesticated ruminants–is not quite as drastic a departure as consuming the seeds of grasses, as humans are mammals, after all, suckling their mother’s milk for the first several years of life. So the products of mammary glands are not foreign to humans; the consumption of the products of non-human mammary glands is the point of difference.
But it’s the consumption of the seeds of grasses that is the dietary innovation that has proven most disruptive, eating a food for which there is little human precedent nor adaptation. This explains why multiple components of grains are entirely or incompletely indigestible, such as the gliadin and glutenin proteins, wheat germ agglutinin, and D-amino acids. Indigestible or incompletely digestible components explain a lot of the adverse effects that grains have on humans. The impervious-to-digestion protein, wheat germ agglutinin, for example, goes in the mouth intact and comes out in the toilet with the same structure, untouched by human digestion. But, in its journey from mouth to anus, it exerts a variety of gastrointestinal toxic effects, not to mention inflammatory and endocrine disruptive effects from the small quantity that obtains entry into the bloodstream. The gliadin protein of wheat, rye, and barley, as well as the zein protein of corn, are only partially digestible, yielding peptide fragments that are both bowel toxic and brain toxic and account for gastrointestinal effects such as acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and mind effects such as food obsessions, appetite stimulation, mind “fog,” anger, impulsivity, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Of course, the consumption of grains, initially adopted in desperation by hungry humans, is now a cause for celebration by Big Food and agribusiness, aided and abetted by the USDA and other agencies, all of whom agree that, not only should the seeds of grasses be consumed, but they should be the dominant source of human calories. Factor in changes in grains, such as high-yield semi-dwarf wheat, some strains the product of chemical mutagenesis, others introduced via selective breeding for better pest resistance (yielding higher levels of wheat germ agglutinin and phytates), and you have a perfect storm of destructive health effects on humans.
Recognize this simple, logical fact—that the adoption of the seeds of grasses, grains, was a big mistake, regardless of what the nutritional authorities and commercial interests tell us—and you are given a ticket to extraordinary health. If someone tries to serve you a slice of monkey pie, turn it down. If someone tells you that grains are an essential part of the human diet, you will know better.
June 27, 2016
Here are two blueberry muffins. On the left is a conventional muffin weighing 131 grams. Because I purchased it in a bakery, no nutritional analysis was provided, but I estimated from similar blueberry muffins in which analyses are provided. Total carbs 63 grams, 3.1 grams fiber; net carbs = 59.9 grams.
On the right is a muffin I made from a Wheat Belly recipe using almond flour, coconut flour, coconut oil, eggs, and blueberries. (Yes, I browned it a few minutes too long.) I used the monkfruit/erythritol Wheat-Free Market Virtue sweetener, which yields no carbs for all practical purposes. Total carbs 121 grams, 70 grams fiber; net carbs = 51 grams in the entire batch that yielded 6 large muffins, or 8.5 grams net carbs per muffin, each weighing around 192 grams or nearly 50% heavier than the wheat flour muffin.
59.9 grams net carbs versus 8.5 grams net carbs. I did not taste the wheat flour muffin to avoid getting sick from a re-exposure reaction, but I did eat one Wheat Belly muffin and it was delicious. And, given its bulk, very filling.
If you were to test blood sugars 30 to 60 minutes after consuming each muffin (on separate days or separated by many hours) starting with, say, a fasting blood sugar of 90 mg/dl, a typical blood sugar after nearly 60 grams of net carbs from the conventional muffin would be in the 160-200 mg/dl range—horrible. If you were a pre-diabetic or diabetic, a typically blood sugar would be 200 to 300 mg/dl. (And muffins are typically not eaten in isolation, of course, but accompanied by other foods such as breakfast cereal, orange juice, jams, or fruit, making a further mess of blood sugars.)
Blood sugar in a non-diabetic after consuming the Wheat Belly muffin would likely be around 90 mg/dl or with a trivial rise of a few milligrams—essentially no change. Likewise, there would be a trivial or no rise in a diabetic.
Do you begin to appreciate the blood sugar implications of following the Wheat Belly lifestyle while not being deprived of something like a delicious blueberry muffin? And, of course, the Wheat Belly blueberry muffin contains no gliadin protein that initiates autoimmune diseases and yields appetite-stimulating opiate peptides, does not inflame the gastrointestinal tract with wheat germ agglutinin, does not come with all the other destructive health changes wrought by wheat flour. Eating the Wheat Belly way means having delicious foods that do not impair health, nor make you gain weight or send blood sugars sky-high.
June 23, 2016
We will be conducting a Wheat Belly Retreat at the beautiful Loew’s Ventana Resort in Tucson, Arizona from October 27th-30th, 2016.
We will discuss all things Wheat Belly from start to finish, host cooking demonstrations and fireside chats, all in an incredible and lush desert setting with hotel room and many meals provided. Dr. William Davis will personally host most of the retreat with additional sessions provided by several others, including head chef Ken Harvey who will provide cooking demonstrations that adhere to the Wheat Belly lifestyle. A private Facebook page will be created in the 4 weeks prior and after to facilitate discussion.
Included will be discussions built around the Wheat Belly Total Health book that shows readers how to reverse numerous health conditions. We will also present the Wheat Belly 10-Day Grain Detox program to help any newcomers to this lifestyle get started as quickly and confidently as possible, or to jump-start your program if you have drifted off.
Nutrient deficiencies from wheat/grain consumption are common, especially deficiencies of positively-charged minerals magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc, due to the presence of phytates that block their absorption. But deficiency of vitamin B12 can also occur for other reasons unrelated to grain phytates and, if not corrected, can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and mental fogginess, as well as some real health problems.
Gastrointestinal absorption of vitamin B12 can be tenuous because it requires the participation of two factors/sites: so-called intrinsic factor produced by the parietal cells of the stomach to bind B12 from food or supplements and a healthy distal ileum (just before the colon) for absorption. Disruption of the health at either site will therefore impair vitamin B12 absorption and lead, over time, to deficiency. Wheat and grains can disrupt health at both sites.
Wheat germ agglutinin from wheat, rye, barley, and rice can block intrinsic factor, while gliadin from wheat and proteins from related grains (secalin in rye, hordein in barley) provokes formation of antibodies against both intrinsic factor and stomach parietal cells, leading to autoimmune destruction. People with Crohn’s disease are especially vulnerable to vitamin B12 deficiency, since the distal ileum is inflamed in this condition and may require months to years to recover the ability to absorb B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is suggested by symptoms such as impaired mental performance/clarity, deteriorating nervous system function, low energy, an enlarged liver, a cherry red tongue, and a specific form of anemia called macrocytic anemia due to abnormally enlarged red blood cells (signaled by a high mean corpuscular volume, or MCV, value on a CBC). You may recall that removing grains, restoring vitamin D, and cultivation of healthy bowel flora can reverse autoimmune inflammation. Unfortunately, some organs, such as the thyroid or the beta cells of the pancreas, are poor at recovering once autoimmune damage has been inflicted, and there is little hope of recovering organ function. The same can be true for autoimmune damage to the stomach’s parietal cells that produce intrinsic factor: remove the original cause of damage (gliadin and related proteins), but parietal cells may not recover. This means long-term dependence on vitamin B12 supplementation, with blood levels dropping when supplementation ceases.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is identified by measurement of cobalamin or holocobalamin on a blood test, as well as an increased level of methylmalonic acid that can detect milder degrees of deficiency. When restoring vitamin B12, aim to achieve cobalamin and holocobalamin levels in the upper half of the reference range, as levels in the lower half of cobalamin and holocobalamin levels can still be associated with persistent problems including neuropathy, impaired balance, and memory. For the majority, oral (or sublingual, i.e., beneath the tongue, if poor absorption is suspected) supplementation with higher doses in the 500 to 1000 mcg per day range get the job done; rarely are injectable forms required. Because vitamin B12 is most plentiful in animal products such as meat, liver, and eggs, vegans and vegetarians should consider lifelong B12 supplementation. The best form of B12 is methylcobalamin, rather than the more common cyanocobalamin, as the methyl- form is better absorbed and sidesteps the question of potential cyanide toxicity with the cyano-form.
You can also appreciate how deep the fictions surrounding “healthy whole grains” can be. We are told over and over again that whole grains are filled with fiber and B vitamins, but not told that numerous deficiencies can develop, including B12 deficiency, regardless of how much is added to grains to compensate. Notice that grains are the only foods that are “fortified” with B vitamins?
June 21, 2016
Here’s an excerpt from Wheat Belly Total Health about constipation. As uninteresting as it can seem at first glance, constipation can offer useful insights into diet and health, but not simple-minded insights like “get more fiber.”
A condition as pedestrian as constipation serves to perfectly illustrate many of the ways in which grains mess with normal body functions, as well as just how wrong conventional “solutions” can stray, Keystone Kops of health stumbling, fumbling, and bumping into each other, but never quite putting out the fire. Drop a rock from the top of a building and it predictably hits the ground—-not sometimes, not half the time, but every time. That’s how the bowels are programmed to work, as well: put food in the mouth, it should come out the other end, preferably that same day, certainly no later than tomorrow. People living primitive lives without grains, sugars, and soft drinks enjoy such predictable bowel behavior: Eat some turtle, fish, clams, mushrooms, coconut or mongongo nuts for breakfast, out it all comes that afternoon or evening, large, steamy, filled with undigested remains and prolific quantities of bacteria, no straining, laxatives, or stack of magazines required.
Live a modern life and have pancakes with maple syrup for breakfast instead. You’ll be lucky to pass that out by tomorrow or the next day. Or perhaps you will be constipated, not passing out your pancakes and syrup for days, passing it incompletely in hard, painful bits and pieces. In its most extreme forms, the remains of your pancakes can stay in the colon for weeks. The combined effects of impaired CCK [cholecystokinin] signaling, reduced bile release, insufficient pancreatic enzymes, and changes in bowel flora disrupt the orderly passage of digested foods. We therefore receive advice to include more fibers, especially insoluble cellulose—-wood-—fibers from grains, in our diet. We then convert our breakfasts to that of breakfast cereals or other grain-based foods rich in cellulose fibers and, lo and behold, it does work for some, as indigestible cellulose fibers, undigested by our own digestive apparatus as well as undigested by bowel flora, yields bulk that people mistake for a healthy bowel movement. Never mind that all the other disruptions of digestion, starting at the mouth on down, are not addressed by loading your diet up with wood fibers. What if sluggish bowel movements prove unresponsive to such wood fibers? That’s when healthcare comes to the rescue with laxatives in a variety of forms, some irritative (e.g., phenolphthalein, senna), some lubricating (dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate), some osmotic (e.g., polyethylene glycol as in MiraLAX), some no different than spraying you down with a hose (enemas).
Perhaps, as a grain consuming human, you develop iron deficiency from grain phytates, necessitating prescription iron tablets that cause constipation. Perhaps you also develop high blood pressure, thereby prescribed thiazide diuretics and beta blockers, both of which add to constipation. Autoimmune thyroid disruption can develop from prolamin proteins of grains that slows bowel function down. When joints hurt from grain consumption, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents are typically taken, also resulting in slowed stool passage. If emotionally depressed from grain consumption, antidepressants can be prescribed that slow normal bowel reflexes that maintain motility. Get more fiber, drink more fluids, take a laxative.
The longer stool-in-progress stays in the distal small intestine and colon, the longer it has to putrefy. Just as food sitting out in the open rots, so can stool sitting too long in the bacteria-rich environment of the intestinal tract. Slowed passage of putrefied stool has been linked to increased cancer risk, especially of the rectum. Over time, constipation and its accompanying added work of evacuation can lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures, prolapse of the uterus, vagina, and rectum, even bowel obstruction, a surgical emergency. Once again, the healthcare system, with its enthusiasm for procedures, has solutions for all of it. As banal, uninspiring, and ordinary as it is, constipation contains a world of important lessons to teach us about our relationship with the seeds of grasses. Yes, there is order and justice in the digestive world, but you won’t find it in that box of fiber-rich cereal.
Note that I barely make any mention of celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, as most of the gastrointestinal disruptions of grains are of neither variety. You can better appreciate just how much gastrointestinal distress and disruption is due to the various toxic components of grains. You can also appreciate why defenders of grains, such as the Whole Grain Council, try to minimize the problem by arguing that gluten is the only problem component in grains, a problem for a relative few. Nope: Grains are simply the innocent seeds of grasses, incompletely digestible just like the rest of grass plants, allowing persistence of toxins, intact and ready to block, irritate, and inflame the gastrointestinal tract of this species of primate, Homo sapiens, who never should have eaten the stuff in the first place. Insufficient bile and pancreatic enzymes, impaired digestion, gallstones, dysbiosis, effects coupled with intestinal inflammation—-the human gastrointestinal tract doesn’t stand a chance.
After a period of being free of grains, a re-exposure, inadvertent or intentional, can reactivate all of these intestinal phenomena. And it can do so with a vengeance, typically with intense symptoms of bloating, gas, diarrhea, as well as mind, emotional, joint, and inflammatory effects, that are worse upon re-exposure than they were during chronic grain consuming days, reflecting the partial (never complete) tolerance to their effects with frequent consumption.