Sugar is the most addictive drug of our time!
Wow… that “news” headline sure caught our eye.
It’s become apparent that there’s money to be made by demonizing single nutrients or particular foods.
We long said that excluding – or including – a single substance is not a sane way to improve your health.
The latest demonized product is gluten, a natural protein found in wheat and other grains. The subsequent “gluten-free” craze has created a $10 BILLION industry of gluten-free food products. Everything from bread, cakes, cookies – and even beer and donuts – is being touted as gluten-free!
But, is gluten really the demon that causes disease? Does going “gluten-free” mean you’ll automatically lose weight, shrink your “wheat belly” or prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Or is this glomming on to the “Paleo” craze that maintains today’s grains are adulterated so we’re not meant to be eating them.
According to Dr. David Perlmutter, a neurologist, all carbohydrates, including whole grains and fruit, cause dementia, decreased libido, depression, chronic headaches, anxiety, epilepsy, and ADHD! His recommendation: a high fat diet of 75% fat, 20%protein, and only 5% carbs. This works out to about 50- 80 grams of carbs daily, which is only about one serving of fruit.
Perlmutter does stress your fats should be “good fats like olive oil, avocado, wild fish, organic nuts and nutrient-dense vegetables.”
Back to gluten.
There’s no question that people with celiac disease must avoid all gluten. According to Celiac Central, a website devoted to helping people with celiac live healthier lives, Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food.
What this means is that the body is essentially attacking itself every time a person with celiac consumes gluten. However, it’s estimated that celiac disease affects only about 1% of the U.S. population.
So, should all people go gluten-free, as Dr. Perlmutter would advise? Demonizing gluten and advising avoiding all grains that contain gluten is similar to how fat was demonized in the ‘80s.
The thinking back then was that since fat contains twice as many calories as carbohydrate and protein, (9 grams vs. 4 grams), then avoiding all fat would solve the fat problem. This “solution” launched a plethora of products labeled “fat-free” – even cookies, cake, candy, ice cream, cheese, muffins and pastries. To preserve the texture and taste, manufacturers added extra sugar and hydrogenated fat.
Experts now link the fat-free phenomenon to the increase in obesity.
Happily we’ve advanced. Fat is no longer a four-letter word. “Good fats” from olives, seeds, nuts, avocado and fatty fish have health benefits including lowering your “bad” cholesterol, vitamin and mineral absorption and transport. And, frankly, food tastes dull without fat.
Foods containing gluten are not equal either.
Gluten-containing foods like whole wheat berries, or oatmeal, kamut and faro are nutritious foods. They’re chewy, they’re satisfying, they feed your brain (your brain’s first choice of fuel), and they’re great for people who want to lose weight.
They are full of fiber and a myriad of antioxidant and phytochemicals. Some of the world’s healthiest people enjoy plant-based diets.
There may be 5-10% of people who are gluten sensitive – and may have digestive as well as cognitive issues from gluten. Check out www.celiac.com to see a comprehensive list of foods that contain gluten:
If you think you’re gluten sensitive, you may want to try an elimination diet – but be scientific about it. You can’t do gluten-free casually and expect a real result. That means no special occasions and no dining out without total assurance from the kitchen that your food contains nothing with gluten in it. Consult your doctor and registered dietitian for help and guidance.
To learn more about the science or lack thereof for recommending that all people avoid gluten, read Dr. James Hamblin, writing for The Atlantic. He wisely says that when a person advocates radical change on the order of eliminating one of the three macronutrient groups from our diets, the burden of proof should be enormous.
The evidence is overwhelming – eat whole foods, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, prepared in a healthful manner, in portions that are appropriate for you.
That’s the type of eating plan prescribed by eDiets. Fill out our free diet profile and get started today.
Meanwhile, here are a few more scares that did not come with much meat to their claims.
Eggs are bad for your heart! In fact, eggs are the jewels of the nutrition world. Each egg contains complete nutrition, and latest research shows that although egg yolks are high in dietary cholesterol, they don't influence your body to raise your "bad" LDL cholesterol. However, don't fry them in saturated fat or worse, trans fat (butter, margarine) since there's evidence that diets high in saturated or trans fat raises your bad cholesterol.
Alcohol is bad for your health! In fact, some alcohol can reduce your risk for hypertension, and can lower risk for heart disease. Although experts advise if you don't drink, don't start just as a preventative. But if you do drink, keep it in moderation. For men, that means a limit of two drinks a day; for women, just one. By drink, we mean 6 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of spirits.
More protein is better! In fact, eating "more" protein in addition to your usual calories will just make you gain weight. However, eating fewer refined carbohydrates and more calories from (protein-rich) nuts and legumes is a proven way to improve your health and maintain a healthy weight. Check out eDiets' Glycemic Impact Diet Plan for great recipes and easy-to-love menus.
Susan Burke March is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, who as chief nutritionist for eDiets promotes the dietary health and wellbeing of consumers worldwide.