Why Eating Grains Can Drive Obesity, Heart Disease, Autoimmune Issues, And More - Transcript

Narrator: Coming up on this episode of the Doctor's Pharmacy, Dr. Mark Hyman: We're going to talk about why grains are such a controversial food, how to look at the pros and cons of whether or not they should be in your diet and which grains are actually probably okay to eat. Welcome to Doctor's Farms. I'm Dr. Mark Hyman, and that's farm a place for conversation that matter. If you're confused about whether you feed eat grains or not, you're going to love this podcast. It's one of our new series called Health Bites, little Bites of Health Information. It takes small steps daily that can make big differences over time, your health. So let's get into the grain conversation. For so many years, we've been told by experts to eat a lot of grains. In fact, the infamous 1992 food pyramid told us in no uncertain terms to eat six to 11 servings of bread, rice, cereal, and pasta every day. Okay, that's crazy. And we now know that's crazy. And when you see that pyramid and the data was introduced and the increase in obesity since then, it's just a total correlation right now. Causation correlation, you could argue, but essentially the truth is over the last, how many years is that now? 30 years. That's a lot of time. 30 years. We've basically been following that instructions and eating a lot of grains. And that's why 75% of America is overweight and 42% is obese, and 93.2% are metabolic and healthy, which means they have some degree of insulin resistance. Prediabetes are on their way. Now the Bible says we should be eating bread, right? Staph of life and all that sounds great. Makes sense, but that's a different kind of bread, right? The STA of life, the wheat that was used in biblical times was very different. I went to Sarah Iria or ka, we like to say it in Greece, which is one of the blue zones, and I got to eat an ancient bread. They're called Zaya Wheat. Zaya. Wheat was eaten by Alexander the great super high in protein, very low gluten, very nutrient dense. And that was what fueled a lot of his campaign. So we are say bread, but we're not eating anything like the bread that our ancestors ate. And one of the messages that we're getting is to eat a lot of grains, eat whole grains, and in fact it has been taken up by the food industry in a great way in marketing ways that are pretty pernicious. And basically we've got phrased like whole weeded goodness that it must be a healthy choice, but it's nuts. When you look at actually what they do, they basically put a whole grain sprinkles of some fiber in some processed food and they call that a healthy food. It's absolutely crazy. We'll go into some of the studies on that and the research on that. So as much as anything else, grains made America, I mean it's even in our national anthem, right? Whatever the Amber Fields of grain or something like that of wheat. And that was a very different kind of wheat. Now we huge amounts of acres that are dedicated to wheat and corn and barley, sorghum, and we promote so much rain, we export a lot of the rest of the world. Grain-based foods are the number one source of calories. The American diet and the grains that go into these foods, which are highly processed foods we call ultra processed foods. Weed, corn and so forth are crops that are highly subsidized by the federal government. Billions of dollars. The taxpayer's dollars are devoted to keeping us on a green based diet with things like bread, rice, pasta, cereals, cookies, cake, pizza, oatmeal, cracker, as you name it. Now many of these crops like corn and so forth, are fed to livestock. So it's not only are they feeding us, but they're also feeding the cows and the chickens and all the other animals that we raise. And our Americans are getting grains indirectly too, from all the grain fed beef, chicken, and dairy we consume, the average American consumes about 133 pounds of flour every year. Now, it used to be 146.8 pounds in 1995, but 133 pounds from the USDA data is a lot of flour. And by the way, that's about a third of a pound per person per day. Some has had a lot more, and that doesn't include all the other grains and all the other potatoes and all those starches and sugars, which is about 152 pounds a year. So I wrote a book called Food, what the heck should I eat? Because people are so confused about what to eat, and even me, I get confused because it's researchers all over the place, and I talk about in the book food, what the heck should I eat? That whole grains can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and it's okay to eat them. But I talk about what and how and why right now they taste pretty good. But the toxic amounts we eat, the pharmacologic doses we eat are huge drivers of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia in most grains we eat are not like whole grains, right? We're not eating wheat berries, we're eating white flour predominantly and even whole wheat flour. But the way we mill it and grind it, it's just so fine. Essentially it's like white flour, maybe a little bit better, has a few extra vitamins, a few extra minerals, a little extra fiber. But essentially its effect on your blood sugar is bad. In fact, the glycemic index of whole wheat flour is higher than table sugar, meaning it raises your blood sugar more than table sugar. If you look at most things that have whole wheat in them, you've got to read all the ingredients. It's not just the whole wheat. They can put whole wheat, but it can be filled with sugar and all kinds of stuff. So we're going to talk about why grains are such a controversial food, how to look at the pros and cons of whether or not they should be in your diet and which grains are actually probably okay to eat. So first thing you should know is this, and this is really important. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. There are essential fatty acids, right? The omega threes, and there are essential amino acids, which we need large doses from protein, but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. Even the National Academy of Sciences Diet Reference Index says there's no biological requirement for carbohydrates. Now, that's not to say they're not okay to eat. They're not good for us. I mean, vegetables are carbohydrates, broccoli, carbohydrate, there's carbohydrates and nuts. It's not that they're bad, but it depends on the type of carbohydrates. So first of all, there's a myth that we have to eat grains to be healthy. We do not need to eat them. Now you can eat them and we'll talk about how and why, but basically don't buy the propaganda that we need them. In fact, for most of human history, we haven't had grains until the agricultural revolution. 10,000 years ago, 12,000 years ago, we never had any grains. We never any beans. We basically were hunters and gatherers. Our bodies worked very well without them. And yes, there are plenty of vitamins, minerals, fiber, nutrients in whole grains, but you can get all that from other sources including vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and other foods that don't have the same baggage as grains. Now, there are some cases where patients and people can eat grains and be healthy, but I'm going to talk about how to be very careful of that. And particularly people who do not do well with them are people who have insulin resistance. Pre-diabetes, type two diabetes people are overweight, obese. Now, how many people is that? Well, one in two Americans is pre-diabetes or diabetes, 75% overweight, 93% are metabolic and healthy. So maybe 6% of the population can tolerate them and not get into trouble. I mean, that's not too good. So I think we'd be very smart about what we're doing and actually talk about what kind of grains, how we're eating them and how different grains affect us differently. Now, in terms of whole grains, that's just a bunch of bss. If you look at the marketing propaganda from the food industry, it's talking about whole grain flowers or we think where it's healthy, it's just a bunch of nonsense. For example, it want you to relabel carefully so you can tell whether what you're buying is actually truly healthy or not, or is just marketing hype. For example, you can get a whole grain cookie crisp cereal sounds great, whole grain cookie crisp cereal. Well, the cookie crisp doesn't sound healthy, but it's got 22 grams of sugar. How much is that? That's five teaspoons, five and a half teaspoons of sugar in your serving of cereal that you give your kid in the morning. Not a healthy food, right? Not a healthy food. Just because they put a few flakes of whole grain and flour doesn't make it healthy, right? Also, understand your body below the neck. Your body can't tell the difference between a bowl of corn flakes and a bowl of sugar. Sugar and flour are the same in the body. Actually, flour might be a little worse. It has only glucose, whereas sugar has fructose and glucose, which are different metabolism, but they're both bad. Basically eating two slices of whole wheat bread can raise your blood sugar more than having two tablespoons of table sugar. Think about that. So whenever you eat something containing whole wheat flour, you might as well be mainlining sugar unless certain caveats are taken into consideration, which we'll talk about in a minute. So also, you're not eating the same grains that we used to eat, right? We're not eating ancient grains, heirloom grains. We're eating these new hybrids that are developed. For example, like dwarf wheat. Dwarf wheat was a very important innovation in agriculture led to the Nobel Prize being awarded to the scientists who were able to hybridize not GMO, but hybridize wheat so that it was short and stubby, not tall and thin, and that it produced much more starch and much more drought resistant, much more resilient and could help feed the world, which all sounds great except for one thing. There's a starch that's produced there called Pectinate, which is a super starch. It's the worst. And it's basically the wheat we're eating today. Not only that, they spray it with glyphosate often at the end to desiccate it. So these are harvest and basically just bad news and the new hybrids have higher muscle gluten in them and more likely to cause autoimmune disease. So basically we want to be very careful. Now, heirloom strains like za wheat, like I was talking about, might be okay, or unformed wheat or other types of whole grains like Pharaoh, which have gluten might be okay, but there are more ancient grains that people are not consuming. And by the way, they're not eating. I said whole wheated berries, right? I used to make wheat berry something like we'd have wheat berries and salad. We'd cook 'em up and do that, but that's not that common. So we have so much flour. It's mostly dwarf wheat. It's mostly sprayed with glyphosate. It's super high glycemic index, high gluten antibodies, definitely not helpful. Definitely not helpful, and definitely not something you should be consuming. Even healthy grains may be problems if you over consume grains that are healthy grains, even if it's like amant or brown rice, right? When they turn into flour, they're basically pulverizing it and the surface area is much higher and it's quickly absorbed and it spikes your blood sugar. So even if it sounds like, oh, I'm having brown rice bread or something, it's actually maybe even worse. So make sure you, you're really smart about what you're reading. Look at the labels very carefully and look at where the food is on the label. If it's a, by the way, I think most people shouldn't eat food with labels. I mean, basically, if it's a can, it has sardines and olive oil, salt fine. But if it's has 45 ingredients, you should just not eat. Put it back. What about oatmeal? Oatmeal is such a health food, right? Beep. Not really. No. It actually raises your blood sugar. And most of the oatmeal we eat is actually pretty refined oatmeal. It's not steel cut oat, it's not whole oats. Those might be a little bit better, but when you eat oatmeal, it basically spiked your sugar. In one study they looked at kids who had oatmeal eggs or still CODOs, basically same calories, right? Same calories. And the kids were a little overweight and they basically said, okay, if you're hungry, just tell us to and you won't give you food. And when they looked and they put a catheter in their vein and basically tried their blood every hour and they ate, and the kids who ate oatmeal had 81% more food in the day because they were hungrier and their blood sugar spiked more, their insulin spiked more, they had more adrenaline, more cortisol, more stress hormones. So basically eating the oatmeal is stressful for the body and led to all these things that cause weight gain. So I'm not a big fan of starting to day with oatmeal. Now, depends if you have whole oats and you put nuts in there and fat and other things, it slows the absorption. It might be okay, but just your Quaker oats, definitely not. No. What about gluten? No. You all heard about gluten-free gluten's bad for you and this that, and generally it's pretty new in the human diet, especially the dwarf wheat, which I mentioned, which has much more glidden proteins that are much more inflammatory. Now, some people are fine if you're healthy, if you don't have a leaky gut. Not everybody's sensitive. About a third of the population has the gene for celiac. About 1% of the population has celiac. And by the way, there's been about a 400% true increase in celiac disease in 50 years because of the damage we've done to our gut. And part of that damage is from the new wheat and the gluten and the antibiotics and other things. But basically we have a society that is now rampant with gluten sensitivity, which probably affects up to 20% of the population, whereas true celiac is about 1%, but your body really doesn't know what to do with gluten, right? And celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, and it can cause over 50, maybe a hundred different diseases like type one diabetes, like rheumatoid arthritis, like osteoporosis, like colitis, like iron deficiency, anemia. I mean, the list goes on because of how it affects your gut. Now, a lot of us, I said, had this non celiac gluten sensitivity, and basically our body starts creating inflammation. And so we don't want that. And it's sometimes it's worth doing a trial of a gluten elimination diet basically to see how your body does. Do it for three weeks, see what happens, add gluten back, see what happens. You might be fine. For example, I don't have a reaction to gluten. I do to dairy, but I don't have a reaction to gluten. I've checked. I don't have antibodies. My gut was, okay, so basically I can eat gluten, but I don't eat that much of it because it's mostly flour, right? I don't eat the wheat bears, but there are other grains. Now, one of the problems is that Dr. Alessio Fasano at Harvard, the world expert in celiac and gluten, basically talks about how everybody, Wes gluten has some little damage to their gut because gluten increases something called zonulin. Zonulin is a protein that puts in our bodies, which actually causes damage toward our gut lining, creates a leaky gut. Little tight junctions, which are like Legos that are stuck together, come apart. It's only one cell thick between you and a sewer. And then you end up flooding your body with all these foreign proteins and antibodies, I mean foreign proteins, and also bacterial toxins and proteins that are really quite that. And so basically 60 to 70% of our immune system is right under our gut. So a lot of our inflammatory diseases are caused by gut. I mean, I was reading about insomnia recently that there's been a big correlation between dysbiosis and balances in the gut, flora, leaky gut, and sleep disorder. So even sleep, for example, may be a factor. Now when we have these leaky gut food particles, antigens, microbes leak, leak through our protective lining, they activate our gut immune system, and that creates systemic inflammation they can cause. Well, obesity, heart disease, cancer, dementia, diabetes, but also obviously allergies, skin disorders, asthma, and autoimmune diseases. So I think everybody with gluten has some degree of leaky gut, but some people can manage it and can tolerate it, other people. And so I think we have to really take stock of the fact that gluten and celiac is a real problem. And if you don't look for it, you don't find it. I started a company, founded a co-founded a company called function health.com, where we do full celiac testing. Often your doctor won't order it and they won't do the right one. So you can go to function health do com and learn more. So now, by the way, isn't necessarily healthy either. Gluten-free cake cookies is still cake and cookies. So remember we had Fat-free yogurt, well, fat-free yogurt, your yogurt plate fat-free yogurt has more sugar per ounce than a can of soda. Doesn't make it healthy. Remember what we call 'em? Snackwell cookies, fat free. But fall is sugar. Doesn't mean they're healthy. So just because it says gluten-free doesn't mean it's healthy. I saw a package of potato chips the other day that had gluten-free on the cover, right? Coca-Cola is, it doesn't mean it's healthy. So the word gluten-free doesn't mean anything. It just means that the gluten's not there. And that's fine if you're celiac, but it doesn't mean it's a health food. And usually it's replaced with something more harmful in terms of maybe other refined grains that are more glycemic in nature, out of additives, tons of sugar, high glycemic flour, refined oils. So just remember, Luten free cookie, still a cookie. And by the way, not all grains are bad in food. What the heck should I talk about? The ones that I'm concerned about, like oatmeal, corn, wheat, and yes, gluten's a real issue for people. Other forms of grains are not so problematic. So for example, quinoa is a South American grain that's very, very helpful, that actually has a lot of protein in it has good amino acids in it. It's problematic as we're taking the food from the indigenous people in South America, which is their staple now, they can't even afford it. So that's a whole nother problem. Even other grains, for example, like Himalayan tar buckwheat, which is from the Himalaya, is super dense in nutrients. 1 32 phytochemicals, lots of protein, lots of fiber, lots of magnesium, lots of minerals. That can be fine. So I want to make pancakes from Himalayan Bucky flour, but we don't want to eat all the traditional grains we're eating that are in Twinkies and cookies. Pizza not good. Also, you can start to make other things, like I make the buckwheat pancakes, which are actually quite good. You can make buckwheat bread. And by the way, Bucky's not even a grain. So it was a flour. What about bread? Do we have to give up bread? Well, no, not necessarily. There's lots of bread made with the whole kernel grains, not just the flour or no flour. You can make it with nuts and seeds. Rye bread bring up, rye can be healthy. That's gluten for many people, but it can be problematic, but actually is super helpful in many ways. And in Germany, I went to visit a friend once and they had a meat slicer in their house. And I'm like, what's that for? What? They have an a deli to slice the whatever, the meats, and they're like, oh, that's the cut of bread. I'm like, what do you mean? Yeah, we can't cut it with a knife. It's too dense. So literally this fresh bread comes out, and basically my rule for bread is if you can stand on it and it doesn't squish, you can probably eat it. So basically, if it's made from whole kernels and it's made from nuts and seeds, other types of flour, it can be actually fine. I have recipes in my book, food of what the heck should I cook for non flour breads? And they can be quite delicious. And how often should you eat whole grains? And by the way, when you're eating gains only whole grains, right? Get away from flour, whole grains. So brown rice, quinoa, black rice. Stay away from flowers, but eat whole grains, right? Brown rice, black rice, red rice, quinoa, other grains can be fine. Pharaoh barley if you want, if you're not gluten sensitive. And even himay tar buckwheat, it's not something you eat as a whole grain, but that flour is okay because it doesn't have a high glycemic load and you mix it with eggs and other things that can be great. So you shouldn't be eating a lot, particularly if you're diabetic, pre-diabetic and some resistant overweight, you probably want to cut them out for a while until you're healthy, and then you can add 'em back. Probably half a cup a day is fine. I think that's okay if it's whole grain, probably once a day. So what are the things that I talk about? And it can be, again, not the main dish, right? In some countries, they do eat a lot of grains in China. Oh, they eat rice and they're thin, they're in India, they rattle rice. Well, I just came back from Nepal and they were eating a lot of rice, white rice, but these guys were literally carrying 70, 80 pounds on their back up and down the Himalayan mountains all day long. So they needed the energy. But if you're not doing that, I would stick away from a lot of grains. Buckwheat, the Himalayan tar Buckwheat's, my favorite. You can go to big bold health.com and learn more about that whole kernel rye. You're not gluten sensitive. Quinoa. Also, it's not a grain. It's actually a pseudo grain. Black rice, red rice, sorghum, taf, millet, amreth, all can be great. What about white rice? White rice is something that a lot of cultures eat. Now, white rice doesn't always have to be that. There's a research that's been done on white rice that if you cool it and then you reheat it, not too hot, but just if you basic cook it and even potatoes and then put it in the fridge, let it get cold, and then reheat it gently. It actually causes something to be produced called resistant starch, which helps resist the digestion of it. It's lower glycemic, it actually can help with your microbiome. It's a prebiotic and maybe even improved metabolism, so you can use that. So what grains should I avoid if I might be gluten sensitive? Well, all the gluten containing grains, wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kame, Pharaoh, bulgar, oats, semolina, couscous, any refined grains, all these you want to avoid. And I think grains can be part of a healthful diet, but only if you're metabolically healthy and only for eating the right grains and only if they're whole grains. So in general, we need to recognize grains for what they are. They're recreational treat, not a staple. And occasional indulgence is fine. Not everyday thing for me, I'm not a fan of most grains. It's fine to include them small amounts of your diet, but only if they're whole grains, only if they're organic, only if they're gluten-free. By the way, if you're not gluten sensitive, you may be able to tolerate a little the healthier gluten grains. But for most people, they're problematic. And if you're wondering, who should not be eating them? Well, if you have type two diabetes or high blood sugar, pre-diabetes, if you have weight issues, cravings, if you have food sensitivities, digestive issues, autoimmune diseases, if you feel bloated after you eat, our blood tests show you have high levels of inflammation, markers probably not great to eat a lot of grains at all, and sometimes there's a period of time getting off them can be very helpful. I wrote a book called The 10 Day Detox Diet. It talks about a nation diet, how to take stuff out and reintroduce stuff or do another podcast on that, but it's basically the principles. So grains are not all they cracked up to be. Whole grains can be fine, but the right ones and make sure you listen to your body and see what happens when you eat them and how you feel when you get off them and reintroduce them. So that's the best test. Anyway, that's it for today's Health Bite. I hope you enjoyed this podcast. If you love to share your friends and family, tell us how you do with grains and what you've learned about including ones in your diet that work for you or how you problems with them, we'd love to know and we'll see you next time on the Doctor's Pharmacy. Narrator: Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week's episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you're looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you're looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org and search their find a practitioner database. It's important that you have someone in your corner who's trained, who's a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.