Jun 242012

This is a handout that I wrote in 2010 for a lecture I gave at a local gym. This lecture was also covered by an article in the local paper, the Paradise Post, by Bonnie Sitter, “Ten Healthy Foods that could lengthen your life”, March 2010. (But sorry, it is not available online.) I now also give to to many patients as a general guide to start using dietary therapy for health.

Top Ten Superfoods for Longevity: A Medicinal Food Approach

Addendum for recipes are not provided here since I don’t have rights to publish recipes from references. However, the recipe references are in the handout and most could be found online.
There are a few recipes I have adapted or obtained from classes, and I will eventually post them online. But for now, please feel free to email me at info@heavenly-herbs.com if you would like them.
(References also are to a few of the good books on dietary therapy, for those really interested in healing with diet.)

Dec 072011

Wheat Belly
By William Davis, M.D.
Rodale, Inc., 292 pp., $25.99

Published August, 2011

This book should convince us all to eliminate wheat from our diet. It is an UNHEALTHY WHOLE GRAIN! Although the author is guilty of a little hyperbole here and there, the cardiologist author makes an excellent case that consumption of wheat is the main cause of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. Hyberbole aside, the author presents scientific data explaining his thesis along with case histories and other anecdotal evidence explaining how many health conditions are resolved once wheat consumption is halted.

Modern wheat is a result of hybridization that occurred starting in the 1940’s. By 1980, all world production was using the new high-yield strains. It is a “Faustian bargain” of “trading abundance for health”.1 Modern strains of wheat have a higher quantity of genes, “purposeful modifications” to “confer baking and aesthetic characteristics of flour”, resulting in more gluten proteins.2 Additionally, there are many other nongluten proteins and enzymes, which can potentially cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma and skin rashes.3 Note that since 2003, international guidelines have been developed to subject this type of gene modification to food safety testing. As the author frankly writes, our modern wheat “made its way into the human food supply with nary a question surrounding its suitability for human consumption”!4

Conventional wisdom, as taught by the American Diabetes Association, dieticians and the USDA tells us to eat whole grains and complex carbohydrates instead of “simple carbohydrates in the form of candy and soft drinks”, but whole wheat is as bad or worse, than those! Wheat has a severe effect on our blood glucose levels. This modified complex carbohydrate is mainly composed of an enzyme that is rapidly converted to glucose, which results in increasing blood sugar rapidly.5 The author tells us “whole wheat bread increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose”6, or “wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate, from beans to candy bars”7 as posed in an inquiring statement on the book’s back jacket “Did you know that eating two slices of whole wheat bread can increase blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of pure sugar can?” (emphasis mine)

The traditional gauge on how the body responds to eating carbohydrates is called the ‘Glycemic Index’ (GI). It is a measure of how the blood sugar rises after eating carbs, and “few foods have as high a GI as foods made from wheat8. This high rise in blood sugar results in rapid weight gain, (the author’s term of) ‘Wheat Belly’ and obesity. This weight gain tends to be primarily around the abdomen, resulting in visceral fat. Visceral fat cells cause an inflammatory reaction in our bodies. This inflammatory cascade leads to wide array of health problems, especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease. (It is worth noting that in Chinese Medicine, it has long been said that grains cause inflammation also.) Besides inflammation, a process called glycation also occurs.9 Glycation especially damages the cartilage in joints but also causes many health conditions associated with diabetes, or in effect, aging. There is a way to measure the level of glycation in the body. It is by a simple blood test used to measure how well the blood glucose has been controlled in the past two to three months (all diabetics should already be familiar with it): Hemoglobin A1C or HbA1C. The higher your HbA1C, the more glycation is occurring to damage your body (see ‘accelerated aging’ list in summary below) – this is then basically a way to measure of how fast you are aging.10

A summary of the consequences of inflammation and glycation resulting from the consumption of wheat:
• Accelerated aging – cataracts, wrinkles, kidney disease, dementia, arthritis, atherosclerosis11
• Diabetes – both Type 1 (especially associated with Celiac Disease) and Type 2 – insulin resistance12
• Cardiovascular disease – hypertension from excess visceral fat, ‘high cholesterol’ (hyperlipidemia), atherosclerosis13
• Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis – destruction of bone and cartilage tissue14
• Rheumatoid arthritis – aggravation of joint inflammation in this autoimmune disorder (i.e., probably not causative of onset of disease)15
• Skin diseases – acne, eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, oral ulcers and many others16
• Gastrointestinal diseases – IBS, acid reflex17 (causative effect not proven in research, but anecdotal evidence suggests possibly curative for some)
• Asthma – exacerbation of symptoms18 (anecdotal evidence also)
• (Last but not least) Celiac Disease – an autoimmune reaction from eating gluten that causes intestinal damage and a very wide range of health conditions

Another important concept to understand is that the gluten in wheat also has an addictive effect! This occurs because gluten is broken down by the digestive process into certain amino acids that cross the blood-brain barrier. These cause the release of ‘exogenous morphine-like compounds’, called exorphins, in the brain. Because of this additive effect, consuming wheat makes us crave it more, therefore it is a appetite stimulant! Note that other grains that do not contain gluten do not have these same neurological effects of addictive behavior or appetite stimulation.

Another new concept discussed in this book that is “beginning to gain ground in the medical community” is that diabetes is a disease of ‘carbohydrate intolerance’19. Research has shown repeatedly, in both humans and animals, that sharply reducing carbohydrates “reverses insulin resistance, … and visceral fat” (emphasis mine).20 The author summarizes this by saying:

    “Virtual elimination of carbohydrates, including the ‘dominant’ carbohydrate of ‘healthy’ diets, wheat, not only improves blood sugar control, but can erase the need for insulin and diabetes medications in adult (Type 2) diabetics – otherwise known as a cure”.21

Now that it is more clear why the consumption of wheat is not healthy and that consumption of it causes a ‘wheat belly’, it can be recognized that elimination of eating it is the key to weight loss and will also help a myriad of health problems. Weight loss is immediate once wheat is removed from the diet, especially when it is not replaced with other carbohydrates! But be aware to not replace wheat with other carbohydrates including gluten-free substitutes though, since they are made from various starches that are just more high glycemic index carbs.

Where to go from here?
Wheat elimination may initially seem to be burdensome, but as the author comments, and I concur, it does makes life easier in the long run22. As someone who eliminated wheat over 3 years ago for my own health challenges (I am far from being a purist – I still eat wheat very occasionally), I can attest to the ease of which one can eliminate wheat when doing so helps one feel better, and having a ‘side effect’ of losing weight even without that being a top priority, and also being given the possibility to even reverse a health problem! When focused with this agenda, it is easier to narrow down your accepted food choices to wheat-free foods, and generally speaking, eliminate the types of processed foods that we shouldn’t be consuming much of anyhow!! But yes, it is a bit of a challenge initially, I admit. But again, eliminating wheat immediately helps one eliminate many poor food choices! When one goes out to eat – all those deep-fried, breaded entrees in both American and Chinese restaurants (from chicken-fried steak to sweet-and-sour pork), all the sandwiches made of bread and cured ‘lunchmeats’ (which also shouldn’t be consumed anyhow), and all the bread options for breakfast (bagels, pastries, ‘healthy’ muffins, etc.) aren’t even choices one desires any longer. And grocery shopping actually is easier also – heading only to the aisles on the sides of the market – purchasing meats and fish, dairy and produce.

To eat healthy consuming primarily whole, unprocessed foods, whether one follows the advice here and eliminates wheat or not, one must mainly prepare and cook foods at home anyhow. One way I recommend to incorporate more vegetables into the diet is to do stir-frys using olive oil. One can use Asian-based spices like ginger, seaweeds or tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) and rice wine, and/or typical garlic, onions, peppers (spicy or bell, or both) and mushrooms as a base. The next step is to use dark, green leafy veggies such as spinach, chard, kale, mustard greens or bok choy. From there, add the vegetables and spices you like. Add green beans, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, etc., etc. in any combination you prefer. One can make it more Italian flavored by using oregano, rosemary and basil, for example. Adding raw seeds and nuts gives one even more options: sunflower, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds, or slivered almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc. In winter, many options for vegetable-based soups are possible also. In warmer months or climates, one can make all kinds of veggie-based salads. (Raw veggies and salad greens have the general energetic property of being cold as taught in Chinese Medicine, and are therefore generally better suited for consumption in the hot seasons, like summer.) And egg scrambles or omelets are another great way to incorporate vegetables in your diet. Additionally, keep in mind that we now have access to foods from all different cultures, even if one lives where ethnic foods are not available, every food item imaginable is now available via the internet to give one even more possibilities to eat healthy if one opens their mind to it! Of course, snacking foods without wheat still abound: healthy chips or veggies and dips, cheese and wheat-free crackers, tempeh or tofu options, etc. – just eat them in moderation. Note also that one will get plenty of fiber eating a diet rich in vegetables and nuts also.23

SUMMARY – WHAT TO EAT (as outlined by Dr. Davis)

1. Consume unlimited quantities of:

√ Vegetables (except high-carb ones like potatoes and corn)
√ Raw nuts
√ Use oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil
√ Small amounts of animal proteins, preferably grass-fed (and avoid cured meats entirely)24
√ Eat dairy items such as eggs and cheese (fermentation slows glycemic response compared to unfermented dairy)

2. Consume limited quantities of:

• Dairy products as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt and butter (since these tend to increase the release of insulin)
• Soy, limited quantities and preferably fermented (since all soy is possibly genetically modified)
• Fruit, limited quantities

Dr. Davis ends his book with a few yummy-sounding recipes (including desserts) such as: Hot Coconut Flaxseed Cereal, Flaxseed Wrap, Crab Cakes, Wheat-Free Pizza (with a cauliflower-based “dough”), and Carrot Cake (uses coconut flour).

In summary, to be very clear, consistent elevated blood sugar levels caused by the consumption of any processed foods such as sodas, candy and other sugar-loaded simple carbohydrates, including complex carbohydrates like other whole grains, will also cause the list of health problems shown here to be caused by wheat due to the same result of inflammation, glycation and visceral fat. Clearly, a diet needs to consist of a very low amount of these ‘food’ items. But the main point here is that we have been convinced that eating a certain whole grain is healthy, when in fact, it is definitely NOT! Additionally, “remember that the need for ‘healthy whole grains’ is pure fiction” and “forget everything you learned about ‘healthy whole grains’”!25 These statements are both strong and succinct, yet still strange to some even given the information here – so read the book to get more of the details, and maybe you will realize that this MD knows what he is talking about, and eventually, the ADA and dieticians will too!

My original blog posting about this book
Wheat Belly: Book Excerpt
1p. 226.
2p. 38.
3p. 40.
4p. 30.
5p. 32.
6p. 32-33.
7p. 35.
8p. 63.
9p. 125.
10p. 145.
11p. 139, 145.
12p. 95-115.
13p. 146-158.
14p. 125, 127.
15p. 128.
16p 183-184.
17p. 92-3.
18p. 9.
19p. 111.
22p. 199.
23p. 195.
24Consumption of animal proteins also results in glycation, especially from fried and cured meats.
25p. 192.

Oct 142011

Rebecca Katz is the author of the cookbook The Cancer Fighting Kitchen and is a senior chef of Commonweal Cancer Help Program in Marin County, California. The Commonweal Program is the epitome of teaching people to use Integrative Medicine to treat cancer. This cookbook is full of good, healthy, fun and EASY recipes and useful for anybody who KNOWS they should eat healthy but aren’t sure where to start!

Oct 062011

Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD, was published in 2011. This book tells more of the story as to why wheat is a grain that should be consumed rarely, if at all. This book especially shows how wheat consumption leads to a a ‘wheat belly’ – visceral fat accumulation – and hence to the rise in diabetes since it affects our blood sugar levels almost as bad as plain table sugar (this includes ‘whole grain’ bread)!

Life Extension Foundation magazine article: Wheat – the Unhealthy Whole Grain

If you have arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or simply want to lose weight: READ THIS BOOK so you understand why the inflammatory cascade that wheat causes has helped lead us to an epidemic level of obesity, many inflammatory conditions and even auto-immune disease!

Aug 242011

Wish I had written this book – it is all that I hope to educate patient about living a long, healthy life!!

Everyone should read this book, whether one has already had cancer, been recently diagnosed or would like to prevent cancer: Anti-cancer, by David Servan-Schreiber. Originally published in the US in 2009, a new revision is available as of January 2011. Here is an interview of the author in Lotus Guide, published Spring 2011:
Lotus Guide interview of Dr. David Servan-Schreiber

Summary of this book (in Lotus Guide article, but not online):
1. Eating less sugar, which feeds cancer growth and inflammation. Refined sugar is abundant in desserts, soft drinks (one can of Coke contains 12 coffee-size packs of sugar…), sauces (ketchup, ready-made salad dressing, etc.). Eating less white flour which is equivalent to sugar as far as the body is concerned (white bread, bagels, muffins, etc.), and reducing pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (red meats, dairy, corn, sunflower, soybean and safflower oils, and transfats).
2. Adding anticancer foods: including in our diet every day, three times a day, foods that help fight cancer, such as anticancer herbs and spices (green tea, thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, sage, turmeric, ginger), omega-3-rich foods (salmon, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, green vegetables), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), garlic, onions and leeks, red berries for dessert, dark chocolate (more than 70% cacao), and even a little bit of red wine.
3. Engaging in physical activity: it doesn’t have to be marathon training, not even jogging. Just rapid walking 30 minutes six times a week already dramatically reduces the chances of a relapse after breast cancer treatment. And physical activity has been found to help survival with many different types of cancer.
4. Managing our response to stress: we can’t avoid stress in our life, but we can learn to respond differently than with clenched teeth, stone-hard back muscles, and pressure in our chest. Basic breathing techniques that have been around as part of oriental mental and physical hygiene techniques for thousands of years (yoga, Chi Gong, mindfulness meditation) can transform our response to stress and strengthen our resistance to disease.
5. Cleaning up our immediate environment: indoor pollutants, scratched Teflon pans, perchololrethylene of dry-cleaning, PVCs and bisphenol A from liquids in contact with hard plastics, radiomagnetic fields of prolonged cell phone exposures are the leading and most easily controlled causes.

Anti-Cancer Book website

Posted this on 8/29/11 and just learned today that Dr. Servan-Schreiber passed away on 7/24/11. May he RIP and may the knowledge he shared in his books help many, many people!