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Is Wheat Bad for You?

Majid Ali, M.D.

The October 2011 issue of Life Extension magazine carried an article entitled "Wheat: The Unhealthy Whole Grain." On the first page the author writes: "I am going to argue that the problem with the diet and health of most Americans is wheat—or what we are being sold that is wheat." I read the article and wondered what might have been the clinical experience of the writer to come to that conclusion

My grandfather lived to 101 or possibly 102. He lived on wheat and rice. My grandmother was almost 100 years old. Her diet was the same. My father worked until a day before his dealth in nineties. He ate wheat nearly every single day of his life. My mind drifted to my extended family in Pakistan with many individuals living into nineties and more. Everyone ate bread or other wheat products every day. They lived long productive lives. The same holds for my older brothers and sisters in their seventies and eighties.

Who do I believe? The writer of the article in Life Extension or my elders? Read more on the subject at:  The Science of Nutrition

I looked at the bibliography of the article in Life Extension magazine. A few citations referred to glycemic index and glycemic loads of grains. The remaining articles were about insulin, glycated sugars, insulin-modifying hormones (insulin-conserving adiponectin and insulin-wasting resistin, leptin, tumor necrosis factor and others). The word wheat did not appear in the citations. The author did not present any personal data to support any of his points. I searched the article for any indications of the author’s patients speaking through the pages that might enlighten anyone. There were none. What does anyone make of such an article? I leave that to your imagination.

Nutrition Information Is Contradictory?

Information about nutrition is so confusing and contradictory. I hear this lament nearly every working day. My advice: Focus more on the background of the author and less on what is being written. I asked four experienced physicians at the Institute of Integrative Medicine if they ate wheat products daily or nearly every day. Their answer: daily.

I read the article searching for the following words: gut fermentation, increased bowel permeability (leaky gut state), excessive production of mycotoxins, reduced gastric tone (with symptoms of gastroesophagreal reflux or gastritis, impairment of mitochondrial ATP generation, and impeded oxygen signaling. I was not surprised to find any reference of any of them. These are the elements that create wheat intolerance in my patients. I discussed these subjects at length in Integrative Clinical Nutrition, the fifth volume of my 12-volume textbook entitled "The principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine." I also posted several articles on these subjects at www.majidali.com and www.wiki-medical.org.

Here is some astonishing text from the article: "But you could remove wheat and an entire domino effect of changes develop: less triggering of blood sugar rises, no exorphines to drive the impulse to consume more, no initiation of the glucose-insulin cycle of appetite....Diabetes can become nondiabetes., prediabetes can become nonprediabetes." I asked my associate physician nutritionists to read the text. After they finished, I asked if they had ever seen that happen from the exclusion of wheat alone. They had not. Next I asked them to guess what percent of diabetics could lose diabetes by merely excluding wheat. None, was their answer with knowing smiles. I have good reasons why I only accept my patients as m true teachers.

Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free Diet

I prescribe a six-week trial of gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free diet for nearly all my patients with chronic inflammatory and bowel disorders. My purpose is to empirically address the following issues: gut fermentation, increased bowel permeability (leaky gut state), excessive production of mycotoxins, reduced gastric tone with symptoms of gastroesophagreal reflux (GERD) or gastritis, impairment of mitochondrial ATP generation, and impeded oxygen signaling. In most cases, the trial yields clinical benefits that enhance the value of other components of my integrative protocol. When my patients get better, complete exclusion is not necessary for nearly all of them.

Grain Rotation Is Always Good

We now witness a frightening increase in the incidence of the problems of excessive gut fermentation, leaky gut state, mold allergy and mycotoxicosis (systemic toxicity of mold toxins)t, and impaired mitochondrial ATP generation. To prevent diseases caused by these states, it is prudent to consider grain rotation, preferring uncommonly eaten grains, such as amaranth, quinoa, barley, wild rice, millet, and others (see my book "The Butterfly and Life Span Nutrition for details). In this broader context, reducing the frequency of wheat intake is desirable. But wheat exclusion alone will not cure diabetes. Please be a scientist, try it, and find the truth for yourself. My patients have taught me that the benefits of excluding wheat by itself are limited and temporary.

I close this article by re-stating what I wrote earlier. My advice to people who find nutrition information confusing and contradictory is: First, focus on the background and motives of the writer, searching for clues about what the patients speaking through the pages tell—assuming the writer does actually care for the sick—and only then on what is being written. There is very little difference of significance in the advice of practitioners who actually practice nutritional medicine.

List Of Tutorials

* The Science of Nutrition

* Clinical Nutrition

Oxygen, Energy, and Nutrition

* Seven Principles of Nutritional Medicine

Science Has Not Failed Medicine, Medicine Has Failed Science

* Is Wheat Bad for You?

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