Thursday, November 14, 2013

America's War on Wheat

America's War on Wheat   
By Dr. Kyle Christensen

Let me share with you what is going on using an analogy. Acorns.
Many tribes of Native Americans survived and prospered by eating acorns. Wait a second! Don't they know that acorns are loaded with tannic acid?  If you eat acorns, the tannic acid will literally tan (by tightening and closing up) the digestive tract and could kill you!
Oh yes, it seems that the Native Americans did know that.  That is why they would mash, then rinse, and rinse again (7 times mashing and rinsing the acorn meal) in order to wash out the tannic acid resulting in a healthy and nutritious food. Acorn are ONLY harmful if they are NOT prepared properly.   

If someone ate acorn meal that was not prepared correctly - the tannic acid wasn't all washed out - they would get sick.  Suppose a neighboring tribe decided that they would start eating acorn meal that was washed only once or twice (and by so doing could eat acorn cakes the same day). Sickness and digestive complaint would surface. The heralded cry the acorns are unhealthy and not fit for human use would be heard. Does this mean that acorns are unhealthy? Well, yes they are if they are not properly prepared. Could eating acorn meal improperly prepared cause lasting damage - even malnutrition by not absorbing the other nutritious food that you are eating? Yes.

Tribal councils could be held, and tannic acid could be proven without a doubt, to damage health. Can anyone effectively argue that improperly prepared acorns are a problem?

Likewise, the alarm has been sounded against wheat, grains and the chemical constituent - Gluten. America's war on wheat, or more specifically gluten, is a pretty typical knee jerk reaction to the issue.  There is a problem with gluten and yes gluten (principally from the wheat in our diet) can and is having a devastating effect on the health on many people.  Gluten Intolerance, Celiac Disease, Crohn's Disease and just about every other variety of digestive problem can find the wheat and gluten we are consuming to be a factor.  Gluten has also been implicated in a myriad of other health problems. Is there any reasonable argument that gluten can cause problems? Not really. From my research the damning evidence against gluten is pretty clear.

As a result, there is an outpouring of warnings and condemnation of grains.  Grains have been so vilified by "experts," that it is a wonder we all weren't killed from them thousands of years ago. Every modern and degenerative disease and condition has been attributed to grains by these Anti-Wheat Warriors. 
[Ever try having a calm or rational discussion about the issue with one of them? Any suggestion that wheat is misunderstood is akin to trying to give their sweet child a lethal dose of hemlock!]
To date, I have not been able to find anyone beating the drum on the Anti- Grain Bandwagon to acknowledge that preparation and processing may be a factor in our gluten problem.  It is more politically correct to blame the grain than the commercial enterprises that are profiting from all of this. 

It is not fair or reasonable to blame everything from Diabetes to Alzheimers to Heart Disease on the consumption of grains, when a hundred years ago to thousands of years ago people were eating grains and wheat without these problems.  The grain/gluten issue only began in earnest to raise it's monstrous head when the rapid rise yeast was introduced in 1984.  The quick rising yeast shortened dramatically the rising time of breads, which interrupted the breads ability to breakdown and neutralized the anti-nutrients (such as phytic acid, gluten, etc.)  You see, wheat is like the acorn, perfectly fine when prepared with wisdom.  This is where sourdough comes in.

Understand that gluten is only one component of a "Perfect Storm," namely gluten in combination with gut flora imbalances and environmental toxins. Gluten alone cannot be the culprit because the majority of people who eat wheat and gluten handle it just fine. But when the digestive tract does not have the proper ratio and amount of "good bacteria" combined with an overload of environmental toxins that produce a cumulative effect and stresses our immune, nervous and digestive systems. Did you know that there are over 80,000 unnatural and harmful chemical just in the air we breathe, not to mention the food additives, chemicals in our water and household chemicals? This continual exposure to low-level toxicity, I believe, is another reason we suffer from so many health problems. This continual toxic stress is one of the contributing factors to chronic tiredness and fatigue.

Once the body is injured by this perfect storm, you will require healing.  This can take months and years depending on your digestive system, your toxic load and willing you are to correct your diet. Do we ever recommend going back to a diet of improperly prepared grains - of course not - would the Native American go back to serving improperly prepared acorn mash?

This is why we teach how to make sourdough breads.  It is how it has always been done resulting in the healthy nourishing staff of life that generations thrived on.  The sourdough process breaks down and inactivates the gluten and it's harmful consequences.
Understand that once your digestive tract has been compromised, you cannot just switch to sourdough.  You've got to heal your gut - we can help you with that - and yes even those diagnosed with Crohn's Disease can recover if they are willing to make the necessary changes.

So blaming the wheat is like blaming the acorn. Yes gluten causes problems, but so does tannic acid. Can you heal your gut and go back to eating raw acorns without incurring the wrath of the digestive gods? - Not likely. So too, with wheat - heal the gut and then you can introduce correctly prepared wheat. I see this happening time and time again. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.


Dr. Kyle Christensen
14 November 2013

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