Gluten and Grains

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Gluten and Grains

Postby susie » Thu Feb 14, 2008 5:34 pm

One topic that has repeatedly come up is just what is your stance on grains? Many of us who are gluten intolerant thought that you eschewed all grains. Then I read your blog and you mentioned eating rice and other non-gluten grains.

Can you please clarify this?
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Re: Gluten and Grains

Postby JeffN » Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:50 pm

susie wrote:One topic that has repeatedly come up is just what is your stance on grains? Many of us who are gluten intolerant thought that you eschewed all grains. Then I read your blog and you mentioned eating rice and other non-gluten grains.

Can you please clarify this?


Hi Susie

I addressed this issue in a recent newsletter and will again here, but please remember, this is my personal choice and not my recommendation for others. My personal preferences, likes, dislikes and sensitivities apply to me and shouldn't be taken as my recommendations.

I am more considered with people following the general guidelines and principles of the McDougall Program than worrying about what specific foods I eat, or my daily diet. Everyone has to find their own personal path within the context of the overriding guidelines and principles of the program.

For example, I personally do not eat Okra, but think Okra is a wonderful food. I just don't like it. :)

Gluten intolerance and sensitivity is rare and most people do just fine including grains in their diet. Dr Mcdougall's recent newsletter had an excellent feature story on grains and cereals, which I recommend everyone to read.

Having said all that, here is my response from the newsletter...

http://www.jeffnovick.com/content/view/447/349/

QUESTION: “On a similar note, I read a quote where in 1998 you said you were only able to get over your own allergies by removing grains entirely from your diet, and that you have also noticed this with others you worked with. I was wondering if you still feel this way about eating grains?”

Many people do suffer a variety of symptoms (i.e. allergies, Abdominal cramping/bloating, constipation, irritability, depression, fatigue, headaches, etc.) from a gluten intolerance to some grains. Often times, these people can reduce or eliminate many, if not all, of their problematic symptoms when they eliminate the gluten containing grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley from their diet. While the quote you are referring to is often blown out of proportion and taken out of context, I am one who finds that, for me personally, the less of these grains I consume, the better. And I am not alone.

According to results that came out about a year ago from Dr. Alessio Fasano's Celiac Disease Center at the University of Maryland, the incidence of formal gluten intolerance is estimated to be about 1 in 133 in America. Gluten intolerance though is estimated to be significantly under-diagnosed and the incidence is likely to be much higher. The 1 in 133 rate is for the formally diagnosed disease; there may be many others who have a milder form of intolerance and/or sensitivity, who have yet to be and may never be diagnosed.

As for me, I still do include some non-gluten containing "intact" whole grains in my diet on occasion, such as rice, corn, buckwheat (kasha), millet, and quinoa.


I hope that answers your question.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
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Postby susie » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:41 am

JeffN thank you so much for replying. I also have asthma, Graves Disease and osteoporosis and recently I have recovered from RSD, or now CRPS. It seems that gluten intolerance was the culprit and was undiagnosed for many years.

Now i am gluten free, I hope my low iron levels pick up as well.
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Postby susie » Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:12 pm

I have become convinced that I have to work out what foods suit me and what don't. Just because they are a healthy food doesn't automatically mean that it will work for me.

I failed miserably at ETL and yet there are others loving it. I was completely constipated and craving chocolates the whole six months of my trial. Now back with tubers and sometimes some rice, I feel so much better and calmer. I swear all those greens were just sitting in my stomach, tying it in knots.

Anyway I am making a list of foods that I know suit me and eating from that list. Jeff like uyou I cannot stand okra. Luckily for me, it isn't grown here at all. :lol:
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Postby groundhogg » Mon Feb 18, 2008 6:34 am

yeah, I know....me too.

I keep doing little personal trials (due to a lack of decent information on this... just feeling forced into experimenting on my own for the real answer... that is, if humans would be better off without grains or if grains are healthy in the diet-- although I've already seen that gluten grains can be really terrible for people) in attempting grain free... I crash, bigtime. I begin craving both grains and sweets, especially in combination. Then you think of some people claiming that grains are addictive... and you wonder... Okay... am I craving them because they are addictive, or am I craving them because my body needs something they have that I'm not getting (enough of?) otherwise? And I can't seem to find the answer.

I tried ETL too and had the same issues as you say.

But as to the okra... I've always liked it... when we were lving mostly off only what we could get ourselves... okra was a big hit... easy to grow, lots of the stuff, and easy to keep the seed...easy to use in recipes, etc. Between okra and collard greens... you can definitely avoid starvation, for sure!

But I'm not interested in comparing what someone LIKES, so much... not their personal TASTE in food preferences, but, rather, what experiences shaped their belief system... what foods are good for us, what ones are bad for us... what combination of personal experience and study/ research or even opportunities for observation led to their current eating choices.

If (the big IF) someone's personal eating choices vary from their recommendations to others... there must be a reason for that... I'm just curious.

This is why I gave up the vegan radio show I did for two or three years... not that I'm anti-vegan...but, rather, I'm hesitant to be publicly backing up a diet that normally includes massive amounts of gluten... because of my own experience with gluten... I just can't be there pretending I don't think it could affect others... yet, I also do not have any authority to say... oh yeah... be vegan and be gluten free too, fearing that could be unnecessarily restrictive... so I found myself in a bind in which I didn't know WHAT to say, so, I just signed off!!! :P
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Postby JeffN » Mon Feb 18, 2008 10:05 am

groundhogg wrote:I keep doing little personal trials (due to a lack of decent information on this... just feeling forced into experimenting on my own for the real answer... that is, if humans would be better off without grains or if grains are healthy in the diet-- although I've already seen that gluten grains can be really terrible for people)


Clearly, humans would be much better off if they eliminated all the refined and processed grains they consume. In the USA, these foods account for over 90% of the carbohydrates Americans consume. That is a travesty. Not only does refining and processing lower their nutritional value, they also are often loaded with fat, hydrogenated fats, trans fats, refined sugars and salt before they are sold

However, grains have been part of the human diet for a very long time and not only have we adapted quite well, many studies have shown the benefit of whole grains in reducing the incidence of many diseases and also in contributing to reduced mortality.

groundhogg wrote: But I'm not interested in comparing what someone LIKES, so much... not their personal TASTE in food preferences, but, rather, what experiences shaped their belief system... what foods are good for us, what ones are bad for us... what combination of personal experience and study/ research or even opportunities for observation led to their current eating choices.

If (the big IF) someone's personal eating choices vary from their recommendations to others... there must be a reason for that... I'm just curious.


A persons belief system may not always jive with their reality. Many people beleive they are allergic to certain foods or react to certain foods, but when put in a double blind placebo controlled study, they show no reactions to these same foods, or the ability to tell when they are fed them. But, I will leave those discussions to someone like Dr Lisle. :)

In addition, food addictions is a very controversial topic, but again, may apply to a subgroup (if it does) of the population and not the main group just as in alcoholism and drug addiction, and if so, should be dealt with by those affected.

Personal choices can never always equal professional recommendations if someone deals with individuals and health and medical situations. Personal choices have to be customized to the individual but usually within the context of the more macro guidelines.

If we look at all the long lived populations we find many common denominators in regard to their diet. These are important to know. But, when we take out the "fine tooth comb" and look very closely at each specific population and compare it to another one, we find some differences. While the specifics may be important to one individual population (for whatever reason), it may have no relevance to another one, but they are both equally long lived and healthy.

There are so many variables that influence someone's personal choices that there can be no one sweeping generalization for everyone. When working with individuals, you have to deal with individual specifics. However, when working with public health, you have to deal more with broad strokes.

There is no conflict. It is two separate situations. The apparent conflict may be in the belief that there is one single answer for everyone that applies in both the general and the individual specific situation.

groundhogg wrote:This is why I gave up the vegan radio show I did for two or three years... not that I'm anti-vegan...but, rather, I'm hesitant to be publicly backing up a diet that normally includes massive amounts of gluten... because of my own experience with gluten... I just can't be there pretending I don't think it could affect others... yet, I also do not have any authority to say... oh yeah... be vegan and be gluten free too, fearing that could be unnecessarily restrictive... so I found myself in a bind in which I didn't know WHAT to say, so, I just signed off!!! :P


I appreciate your experience.

As I mentioned, there is a huge difference between giving general health recommendations and in working with individuals who have specific medical and/or health issues. The format of a radio show just does not lend itself to working with specific individual cases. That is why these forums are also great, and can do a lot of good, but they also can not replace individual attention which is sometimes needed.

BTW, I do not see the vegan diet as including "massive" amounts of gluten. Gluten containing grains are only a small part of the "massive" amount of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes out there available to anyone who wants to be follow a vegan diet. When I have a patient who is gluten intolerant, we only have to make a minor change in their diet from what would have been my regular recommendations. And, there are many gluten free, whole grain substitutes, for the typical gluten containing whole grain products, which makes it even easier today then ever before.

Thanks for the discussion. If i can be of more specific help to you, let me know.

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