Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Against the Grain…

I really feel for the average consumer when they are bombarded with mixed messages about what is healthy for them. I also believe most people who are overweight and trying to lose weight are not ‘slack’ or ‘lazy’. I know this because I see these people sweating it out at the gym on a cold, dark July morning or pacing the pavements. So why are they over weight? They work out and get plenty of activity, they watch what they eat. They even adhere to the expert nutritional guidance administered from associations such as the Heart Association and the Diabetes Association. Unfortunately, such advice is often outdated, not for them, or, in some cases, just plain wrong.

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Everyone I speak to about their health knows sugar is bad for you. They also know that processed foods and most take away foods are bad. They also know they should be eating more vegies, salads and fruits. I will not insult your intelligence by reciting this ‘party line’ information. What I will tell you is that some of the so called ‘healthy food’ is making you sick and even killing thousands.

The Good Oil

Don’t put oil in your petrol tank! Why? It is not designed for it. So why put foods in your body that your body is not designed to eat? Ask your vet what your dog or cat should eat. He or she should say that animals need to eat what they find in the wild (hunting and gathering etc.). Humans are the same. For 3-5 million years we evolved to become the dominant species on earth by doing just that, hunting and gathering. We NEVER ate from a ‘pasta plant’, a ‘bread tree’, nor did we hunt down and kill a bowl of wheat. So why should grains make up so much of our diet (6-11 serves a day according to the associations mentioned earlier.)

The Fad Grain Diet

There are people who will say that ‘we have eaten grains for thousands of years’. Yes we have, but even 10,000 years is still less than 1% of our evolution. Grains are a very new addition to our diets. In my opinion, grains are a ‘fad’ food. It really makes me wonder how people can say that cutting grain from your diet is a ‘fad’ diet??? It is in fact the total opposite.

Whole Grain?

There is simply no such thing as ‘whole’ grain bread, pasta or breakfast cereal. These foods are all processed in some way. Most are rolled, toasted, baked etc. Don’t kid yourself and say ‘it’s healthy because it’s brown bread’. It’s still just flour! I dare you to go to a paddock of wheat and eat the ‘whole grain’. I think you would chip a tooth!

The Science

Repeatedly, scientific literature supports the consumption of whole foods such as vegies, fruits, salads, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, legumes etc. No one dies of a bread deficiency. We do not need flour in our diets. They are dead foods that contribute nothing more than empty calories and soaring obesity (and all its related conditions such as cancer and heart disease.). Compared head to head in the scientific literature, low carbohydrates do much better that high carbohydrate diets.

Kangaroo cuts

The Energy Myth

Firstly, you don’t give up on carbohydrates when you give up grains. You will get your carbs from vegies, salads, nuts, legumes and fruits. Have you heard that you need ‘carbohydrates for energy’, and therefore pasta will give you that energy? Most people I know feel like sleeping after eating a big bowl of pasta. Most of us are already carrying too much ‘energy’ in the form of fat. If you restrict carbohydrate intake by eliminating grains and sugars, your body will begin to burn fat. This can be measured as when you burn fat; ketones are eliminated in your urine. I have even heard some colleges say this is a bad thing!!! I ask you as someone I am sure has common sense: How can burning fat be a bad thing??? Isn’t that the idea? Remember, ketones are being produced by everyone, all the time anyway. All we are doing is accelerating the fat loss. This occurs when you cut flour foods from your diet.

Sugar is bad, right?

Did you know that every carbohydrate you eat turns into sugar in your body? Don’t panic because most of the foods I recommend are low in carbohydrates and bursting with nutrients. However, if you do eat grains, begin to worry as grains are a concentrated form of carbohydrates not encountered by humans naturally. All of the rich carbohydrates are converted into sugar in your body. Would you eat 37 teaspoons of sugar for dinner? No? In fact, you already have if you have eaten a moderate serving of 200 grams of pasta. 200 grams of pasta = 37 teaspoons of sugar. Are you still wondering why so many Australians are becoming obese and diabetic?

The Fibre Myth

Who has also heard that we need ‘flour’ foods (bread, pasta etc.) for fibre? Now just imagine if you stop eating flour and swap it with loads of vegies, fruits, salads etc. This will provide you with more fibre than you could ever dream of.

The Nutrient Bounty

When you flick flour and consume more fresh whole foods, your nutrient level will be far higher than ever. Fresh is best, not toasted, rolled, packaged, processed grains.

If I can’t eat flour foods, what can I eat?

I have had countless patients say this to me over the years. It is like I have taken away their reason for living! What you can eat is what your body has evolved to eat. You are a hunter and gatherer. Eat vegies, nuts, seeds, fruits, legumes, meats, eggs, fish etc. The message is quite simple; if you are in a supermarket and you are reading a label on food, the chances are you shouldn’t be eating that food!

Can I eat flour in ‘moderation’?

This is one of my pet hates. Let me make this clear; moderate eating leads to moderate health. Aim for optimal health and total wellness. Don’t be sucked into the ‘I only eat this occasionally’ syndrome. Aim higher, you deserve the best.

By contributing author Stephen Eddey M.H.Sc.; B.H.Sc(Comp.Med); Dip.App.Sc.(Nat.); Ass.Dip.App.Sc(Chem.); Cert.I.V. Director A.T.M.S.

Stephen is Principal and Director of Health Schools Australia, one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious Natural Medicine Colleges.

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