The New York University Langone Medical Center recently reported that 74 percent of Americans experience some form of digestive distress, a quarter are obese and more than 100 million U.S. adults are pre-diabetic and don’t know it. While many blame such problems on eating wheat, some food scientists disagree, including those citing two major studies by Harvard researchers; following more than 100,000 people for 25 years, they concluded that those eating the most wheat compared to low-gluten folks had a 13 percent lower diabetes risk and no greater risk of heart disease.
While the standard American diet, which includes highly processed wheat, is likely responsible for many of these health concerns, plenty of science links a diet rich in whole grains, including whole wheat, to weight loss, better digestion and lower blood sugar. The Mediterranean Diet, replete with whole grains and wheat, is still revered as one of the healthiest-known diets. Centenarians that live in the famed “blue zones”, recognized for their longevity-enhancing environment and lifestyles, eat a non-processed, whole-food diet rich in whole grains and wheat.
Many Americans that are gluten-sensitive today digested wheat fine when they were young. At some point, our ability to digest foods that are a bit harder to digest, like wheat and dairy, became compromised. It’s possible to reboot.
Delete Processed Foods
The first step toward reestablishing digestive strength is avoiding all processed foods. A study in the journal Diabetes Care linked a processed food diet to a 141 percent increase in belly fat, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. It further showed that a diet of whole grains, including wheat, reduced the risk of these health concerns by 38 percent.
Monitor these ingredients to achieve a healthier diet.
• Avoid all added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Allow nothing more than six grams of naturally occurring sugar per serving.
• Avoid fried foods and baked goods made with refined cooking oils used to preserve them like bread, muffins, cookies, energy bars, most packaged foods and chips.
• Eat bread that’s only made of organic whole wheat, salt water and starter.
Restore Liver and Gallbladder Function
Highly processed vegetable oils are used as preservatives in most packaged foods, including bread. Processing these oils renders them indigestible. Linked to congestion of the liver and gallbladder, they disable liver bile so it can’t break down either good or bad fats, also making it insufficient to buffer stomach acids. Without adequate bile production to neutralize stomach acid, the stomach won’t produce the needed acid to digest proteins like gluten and the casein in dairy. This malady has effected a huge spike in gallbladder surgeries and epidemic levels of obesity, high blood sugar and food intolerances.
To boost bile flow, enjoy these foods daily:
• Eat one red beet and one apple a day—either raw, cooked, juiced or blended. Add celery and make a bile-flow smoothie.
• Consume one teaspoon of both coconut oil and high-quality olive oil per day.
• Eat more artichokes, bitter roots and leafy greens.
• Drink fennel and fenugreek tea with meals.
Strengthen Stomach Fire
Instead of taking digestive enzymes or a hydrochloric acid-based stomach acid pill, stimulate the stomach to make its own acid and the small intestine and pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. This is best done regularly with the following five spices:
♦ Use ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom and fennel.
Studies published in journals such as Molecular Nutrition & Food Research and the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggest that when these five spices are used together—as a supplement, in cooking or to flavor food—they act as a total upper digestive reset. These five-star spices:
• Stimulate digestion
• Increase bile flow, pancreatic and small intestine enzyme activity, and fat and sugar metabolism
• Decrease H. pylori, an opportunistic acid-producing microbe, from adhering to the stomach
• Decrease gas and bloating
• Support optimal weight, microbiology health, growth of good gut bacteria and elimination
• Act as powerful free-radical scavengers
Following these simple steps of nutrition will set gluten sufferers on the right path to retraining the body to digest and enjoy wheat again.
John Douillard, a Boulder, CO, doctor of chiropractic and creator of the wellness website LifeSpa.com, is the former director of player development and nutrition advisor to the New Jersey Nets NBA team. He is author of the book Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back into Your Diet. Learn more at EatWheatBook.com.