If you are new to the concept that grains (wheat, oats, rice, corn, etc…) may be detrimental to your health, I would encourage you to start first by reading My Journey.
Feel free to look around, contact me, and leave comments below.
If you are new to the concept that grains (wheat, oats, rice, corn, etc…) may be detrimental to your health, I would encourage you to start first by reading My Journey.
Feel free to look around, contact me, and leave comments below.
For the last few years, the HCG Diet for weight loss has been a big rage. Eve medical doctors are jumping aboard. I know a local cardiologist who started offering it as a weight-loss tool for his patients and the package included the real HCG medication, follow-ups, councelling, etc… And he is getting some really good results!
For those not familiar with the HCG Diet, here are the basics:
Some people report loosing 10-30lbs in the first month or so. This got me thinking that this is darn similar to what patients report on a gluten/grain-free diet. Add to that a comment made by Dr. Willam Davis, author of “Wheat Belly”, in his book:
…the initial pace of weight loss [on a gluten-free diet] can be shocking, equaling what you might achieve with an outright fast.
The HCG Diet is not quite a fast nor starvation, but close to it. But I think the key is that many versions of the HCG Diet encourage cutting out or limiting bread and other grains. Afterall, there is no way to stick to a 500KCal diet and still have any appreciable amount of grains!
This may explain why some people do so well on HCG Diet and others don’t. The key may be one ingredients: grains!
Personally, I think taking HCG as part of the Diet is more a placebo affect then anything else – the power of suggestion to keep people from feeling excessively hungry or tired on such low caloric intake.
Could there be more to it? I don’t know, maybe. But for me, and many other no-grain converts, we are spared the costly injections and starvations while still acheiving outstanding weight loss.
Please let us know your experience.
Its been about 2 months now since I have seen any additional weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, loosing 30lbs is nothing to be sad about. But I could stand to loose another 30 or so. I have been trying to sort out the many factors could be putting a wrench in my weight-loss machinery.
I have narrowed my list to the following suspects in order of likelihood:
I do not believe there is enough added stress in my life to justify the lack of weight loss. I was under much more stress back in July-August. Its possible it is a different type of stress however. Who knows?
The 3rd and 4th item are possible – BUT I believe they are a side-effect of the first. Over the last 2 months I have noticed myself craving more sugary and richer foods, such as M&Ms. My meals have otherwise have stayed pretty much the same although I have noticed a harder time resisting grains. Suspect Number 1: Autumn.
I love the Fall season: Halloween, Thanksgiving, changing of the leaves, cooler air (I was born end of August if that has anything to do with it). I have had several patients these last 2 weeks come in complaining of either weight gain or trouble loosing weight. It can’t just be a coincidence? I did some searching and found this article:
Does the cold weather make it harder to get in shape? by Chrisitian Finn
He makes several points in the article that seemed interesting and quite feesible in that colder temperatures cause:
Although I think they are all relevant, I think the big one here is the last one – our friend Serotonin, aka the “feel good hormone” (though not techincally a hormone).
On my Weight Loss page, 5-HTP is recommended as a supplement to keep cravings for grains at bay for new converts. It works by being converted from 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan (5-HTP) to 5-Hydroxy-Tyrptamine (5-HT which is the chemical name for Serotonin). Other websites I have come across suggest that the increase in night-hours causes an increase in Melatonin, which is synthesized from Serotonin so the body may “steal” Serotonin to make Melatonin. Some of the above effects may also be caused by increased Melatonin.
Another proposed explanation is dropping Vitamin D levels. I don’t buy into this one as much because the end of summer should theoretically mark the highest Vitamin D levels of the year because of accumulation over the summer. Synthesis of Vitamin D by sunlight on the skin makes other metabolites in addition to Vitamin D which may be important as well. It is more feasible that it is not the dropping level, but the decreasing synthesis of Vitamin D that may contribute to the over-all problem.
I have a friend, Marv, who is a savvy entrepreneur. He started his career in the computer field, then real estate, and now health care. Anybody who has not been in stasis for the last 2 decades knows what happened to the Internet and the Housing markets. The two main bubbles that burst in recent memory are the Dot-com bubble and the Realestate/banking bubble. I strongly believe we are in the middle of another huge bubble: Healthcare.
Let me start by examining what is meant by a ”bubble”. It is basically a set of conditions where prices become inflated beyond where they should, to an unsustainable pace or level. This happens for many reasons and there seems to be a common theme.
1. The Dot-com bubble of the 1990′s
The Internet was the next “big thing”. Anybody who was anybody was going to have a presence on the Web. Speculators and investors figured that wealth would be created simply by having a presence online. Millions and millions of dollars were poured into dot-com businesses such as pets.com with very unrealistic expectations. This bubble burst in mid-to-late 2000. Wealth vanished almost overnight.
2. The U.S. Realestate bubble ending 2008
Part of the American Dream is to own a home, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, access to easy (sometimes fraudulent) financing artificially inflated housing prices to un-affordable levels. My parent’s modest suburban home went from $35,000 in 1985 when they bought it to being worth over $180,000 in 2007/8 – and most of the gains occurred in that last decade. The bubble burst and my parent’s house is now worth only about $50,000.
3. The Healthcare bubble ending… soon?
It seems that everybody is trying to get a “piece of the action”. Medical and Pharmacy schools have been increasingly competetive – many students who would have gone into other fields are choosing healthcare instead. Nursing schools now have waiting lists 2-3+ years long! So many medically related jobs retraining programs are popping up overnight – from phlebotomists to x-ray technologists. Pharmacies and Home Care agencies are on every corner. We spend like there is no tomorrow. In 2009, Americans spent $2.5 trillion ($8,047 for every man, women, and child) on healthcare – thats about 17.3% of GDP! And its growing by about 7% per year. To give you a reference, in 1960 we only spent 5.2% of our GDP on healthcare. It is simply unsustainable. Its no longer a matter of “if” the bubble will burst, but “when”.
Why are we spending so much?
Its simple. No individual is paying – we all pay. Its called insurance. It spreads the costs out so that any given individual does not take a “hit” financially when he/she needs medical treatment. “Go ahead and run that [usually unecessary] test, doctor, I have insurance.” In other words, a patient does not hesitate to run that “just in case” test or get the over-priced brand-name drug or the futile surgery. Add that to the ever-increasing cost of new therapies and its a financial disaster waiting to happen. I am not against new therapies, but its very hard to swallow a $100,000 cancer therapy that extends survival by a single month, for example.
How is the Healthcare Bubble similar to others?
In all three bubbles, the real costs remained obscured or hidden. In the Dot-com bubble, start-ups had access to nearly limitless capital funding from investors blinded by their own optimism. In the Realestate bubble, people had access to financing that would have otherwise been out of their reach and was certainly more than they could afford. In the Healthcare bubble, health insurance coverage provides a “blank check” to healthcare consumers and a green light to spend as much as they want – much more than they would otherwise spend or afford. And heaven forbid that we let money get in the way of saving lives (I am being sarcastic to some degree).
How can patients protect themselves?
Knowing what you know now, would you go back and buy stock in pets.com in 1999? Or buy property in 2008? So the obvious answer is to stay the heck away from our current Healthcare (or rather Sick-care) system – far, far away. By this I mean make health, and not lack of disease, one of your top priorities.
You have a choice:
For me, it was trying over and over again in my struggle to lose weight until I finally found an answer (and was inspired to create this website). For others, it could be changing jobs to one that is healthier physically and emotionally. And for those who settle, there is always our current Healthcare system… until the bubble bursts of course.
My friend Marv was smart enough to exit his fields of investment before each one bust. For his sake, I hope he makes it safely out of this one.
This posting is in response to an excellent presentation by Dr. Mary Newport at a recent ICIM Conference I attended. Although this posting does not deal directly with being No-Grain, I am posting it for 2 reasons: 1) Alzheimer Disease is a terrible disorder and any chance of treatment is very important. 2) people on a No-Grain or Paleo way of eating usually eat a great deal of Coconut Oil.
“But Dr Z, isn’t coconut oil filled with bad saturated fats?” This is a question I get a quite often so I decided to start by getting it out of the way. I do not believe that saturated fats are harmful to human health, and there is reason to believe that coconut oil in particular has many health properties.
I will attempt to summarize Dr Newport’s presentation. First an intro on Alzheimer Disease (AD) – it is a progressive decline in mental functioning due to brain damage caused by an excessive buildup of amyloid plaques inside brain cells. For reasons just recently uncovered (and not yet fully accepted by main stream medicine), patients with AD have brain cells that stop making and responding to insulin. Recently a new term was coined for this called “Type 3 diabetes” (a Time article helps explain this a little).
Glucose is the brain’s main and preferred source of energy. In a pinch, brain cells can convert to using ketones as a backup energy source – but the switching process takes a bit of time. The diagram I included (which I borrow from Dr Newport’s PowerPoint presentation) shows energy metabolism in the brain. Glucose enters using an insulin-dependent transporter called GLUT3. Ketones (BHB and AcAc in the diagram) enter through channels that do not require insulin and go right into the Kreb’s Cycle to make energy for the brain cell.
So what does this go to do with Coconut Oil? About 60% of coconut oil is made up of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). The liver converts MCTs into ketones which then the brain can use as a constant supply of energy instead of glucose.
What really fascinated me was the case presentation of her husband – a man in his 50′s who had developed advanced AD and was barely functional. After treatment with MCTs (mostly from coconut oil), there was a dramatic improvement. No medication currently on the market can actually improve AD.
For more detail and to get a copy of Dr Newport’s book, “Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?” and much more information, please visit her website:
Dr Newport is also collecting case reports from family and friends.
In this post, I share my vision of trying to feed a No-Grain world.
First off: I’m a doctor, not a civilizations planner. So forgive me if I don’t get all the details correct. I write this post in response to all the times I have heard the phrase “but we won’t be able to feed everybody in the world”. We are humans and darn it we are smarter than that.
Every time I hear a discussion about eating organic, or more recently Paleo, the “expert” always throws in the phrase I mention above in some way or fashion. Its as if it is a catch phrase for the big industrial farmers (aka “Big Farma”).
I want to spend a minute talking about eating organic. Although going No-Grain does not necessarily mean going fully organic, it sure helps! Big Farma wants us to believe that Organic Farming cannot feed the world. One of the best essays I have seen in response to this bogus argument was written by Christos Vasilikiotis, Ph.D at UC Berkley (link). His conclusion:
Conversion to small organic farms therefore, would lead to sizeable increases of food production worldwide. Only organic methods can help small family farms survive, increase farm productivity, repair decades of environmental damage and knit communities into smaller, more sustainable distribution networks — all leading to improved food security around the world.
I want to take this one step farther. Grain grown organically is still grain and still presents a health hazard to some (if not many or even all) humans. Eating No-Grain or Paleo mean a bigger reliance on fresh vegetables and fruits, and more animal products. Factory Farms are not health and are certainly not sustainable.
So how do we feed a “Converted” world?
Step 1: End the current huge subsidies to farmers
Before you grab your pitchforks, I want farmers to know that I have much appreciation for them. What started out as a great government program to help protect farmers has turned to a huge, $20-billion a year disaster. In the 1930s, the government stabilized crop prices by buying and storing when there was excess then releasing and selling when there was a shortage. Over the years, the program mutated to pay farmers directly no matter what and way too much of it ends up in the hands of Big Farma. Most (~65%) of the $20-billion a year goes to grains – corn, rice, and wheat! No wonder its so hard to avoid them! And no wonder why junk food is dirt-cheap, and real food more costly!!!
We could use that money to invest in Steps 2 and 3 and the whole world would be better off.
Step 2: Build a large number of Vertical Farms
I first learned of the concept on a Science Channel show or something. I found the concept very intriguing. It immediately caught my attention as a possible solution to the world’s food supply problem.
The concept is simple: grow whatever you want, indoors, year-round, right where humans live.
Food can be grown reliably and sustainable. There are so many other advantages and so few disadvantages. You can read more about it here. I am not saying that Vertical Farms should replace all farming, I think there is a place for both.
In addition, Vertical Farms will allow us to free up land for Step 3.
Step 3: Use reclaimed land for raising free-range animals
Over the years, I have run across so many wonderful ideas of how to raise animals that is healthy and sustainable. There is only one problem: it often needs a lot more land then the current Factory Farms. That is why I think Step 2 is so important. We need more land to grow animals in a healthy environment without taking up more wild areas.
In terms of actually raising animals, the concept I am most familiar with is Rotational Grazing, but I find Multi-species Rotation to be more interesting and potentially better.
Jacoby Creek Land Trust seems to have a great summary article about different grazing methods.
So there you have it. If one day I went from Doctor Z to Emperor Z, there would be no question about what I would do about the food supply.
Warning: Side effects may include
So you’ve done your due diligence and are ready to become a No-Grain convert. Or perhaps you have already made the conversion but you want to let your doctor know. Great! ”Where do I start?”, you ask.
First off, there are a few important reasons why you should tell your doctor about going No-Grain, or if you’re taking any “alternative” treatment for that matter:
How will your doctor react? It depends. I have seen 4 common reactions to news of alternative therapies:
How do you approach your doctor?
Are you familiar with the saying “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission”? Sometimes that’s how it has to be with your doctor when it comes to trying something they have not had experience with (which is most alternative therapies including going No-Grain). If you are in good health then this approach might work for you. Proceed with caution with that natural supplement or conversion to No-Grain. Then tell your doctor: “I have been doing/taking __________, do you have any problems with this?”
If you are not so bold, or you have health problems, then you need to use a different strategy. For sake of simplicity, lets assume you are seeing your doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis and you want to go No-Grain to improve your health and try to cut back some of your medications. Modify the steps in my Weight Loss page to plan your course. On your next doctor visit, tell him/her something along these lines:
Doctor, I have heard from many people that cutting out gluten and other grains from my diet can really help with my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Is it OK with you if I give it a try and see for myself. If it works out, I am hoping we can cut back some of my medications.
A mistake many patients make is asking their doctor “what is your opinion about _________ ?” They are asking their doctor for an opinion in a matter they probably know little about. Its like asking a dentist about foot fungus! Of course the doctor is probably not going to give you permission this way and his opinion is going to be neutral at best.
I found that most doctors respond favorably to these approaches. Let us know how it works out for you or what you have tried and how that turned out. Feel free to leave comments.
You know that scene from “Braveheart” where Mel Gibson is rallying up the troops:
They can take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!
Yeah, well replace the last word “freedom” with “bread” and you’ve got a line my wife would probably use. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife, but she is a grain-o-holic.
Going No-Grain solo can be challenging. Convincing family to be No-Grain Converts can be even more challenging. By family, I am mostly referring to spouse/significant other – but children, parents, and siblings all fit this criteria as well. There are a few ways others can be approach to show them the light.
OK, lets say you decided to go No-Grain - congratulations. You are skeptical at first, of course, and you go through about 2 weeks of Gain-Withdrawal, but once you get past that you feel great. So far, so good. Now its time to tell your significant other that its time for them to get their act together and get on board. The first reaction is to beg, plead, scream, or yell at them. You have no idea why they won’t listen to you. You get frustrated and storm off. This probably happens several more times before you wave the white flag and give up – your family member is hopeless. You’ve forgotten the addictive powers of grains.
Another approach is more indirect. Go No-Grain, get past the grain-withdrawal, then use every opportunity to show off your new-found energy and brag about the weight that has come off. Rub it in their face, show them what they’re really missing. This may serve to make them so envious that they cave-in and join you, or it could backfire and lead to a bigger rift between you.
The best approach is patience and subtlety. Announce to your family that you’re going No-Grain (for which their response will either be horrified or a polite “that’s nice, honey”). Make a brief proposal to your family on how you came to see the light and how you plan to go about it. Then don’t bring it up again. Let the results speak for themselves. When they are ready to make the change, they will approach you for more information (don’t forget to tell them about this site!).
For me, it was the increased energy and 30lb weight-loss that “wowed” my family. I managed to convert my sister (though she is not fully committed yet, but its a start) and my mom is seriously considering the prospect. My wife still needs a little work. When she converts (not if, when) you’ll hear about it here.
Good luck and be sure to share your conversion story in the comments section.
I found this scientific article while I was trying to prove a point to another doctor. He and I were discussing some common themes seen in kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). One theme that I had seen and heard over and over were that they were very picky eaters and would only eat wheat-products (bread, pasta, cereal, etc..) and dairy. I heard from various sources that the proteins in these foods got converted to an opioid-like substances that partially explained not only the behavior seen in these patients, but also their addiction to these very foods. I decided to look through the scientific literature to see if there was any real evidence to back it up and found this excellent article:
Biochemical aspects in autism spectrum disorders: updating the opioid-excess theory and presenting new opportunities for biomedical intervention. Paul Shattock & Paul Whiteley. Expert Opin. Ther. Targets (2002) 6(2): (link)
When I read the introduction to the article, I knew this is what I was looking for:
Ben is three years old and until two weeks ago had never uttered a single word. Ben has autism. Following discussions with other parents, his mother decided to experiment by removing all gluten from Ben’s diet. Three days later, Ben started shouting; ‘I want bread. Give me bread.’ Was this pure coincidence? It could be, but similar coincidences have been reported tens of thousands of times worldwide.
The rest of the article discusses the diagnosis of ASD, current theories of cause, current treatments, and various “experimental” therapies that are being used and the concepts behind them. I was most intrigued by the similarity of long-term morphine use and patients with ASD:
The International College of Integrative Medicine (ICIM) is holding a conference this weekend in Dearborn, MI at the Dearborn Inn. I have been waiting for this event for months! As a write this post, I am preparing to leave for one of the pre-conference workshops (starts in 90min by my watch).
Their theme for the conference is “Treating the Impossible”
So what does ”Treating the Impossible” mean? By this I mean things that conventional medicine doesn’t have a good treatment for, or at least a satisfying treatment. An example of no good treatment is sarcoid: you might slow it down a bit with steroids, but it’s going to keep progressing. An example of no satisfying treatment is ulcerative colitis: steroids and medications can slow it down at significant cost to the rest of the body and removing the colon abates the symptoms, but at great cost. -Malcolm Sickels MD
In past conference such as this, almost every speaker mentions gluten as an insult to the body. However, there is going to be an expert on Celiac and Gluten giving a talk on Friday, Dr Tom O’Bryan. I do not recall hearing him speak before, but it should be good.
For those in the healthcare field, its not too late to join us! If you miss this one, there will be others.
Since I am sharing My Journey on this site, I thought it useful to post a graph of my weight loss and provide insight on what I have learned.
On March 1st, 2011 I tipped the scale at 267lbs. Enough was enough and I had another run at weight loss. I started with the usual – counting calories, doing exercise, taking some supplements. I lost some weight but I was miserable.
I dabbled with cutting out grains after about 2 weeks, but was not serious. Then I attended an Integrative Medicine conference at the beginning of April. I shared my sorrow with a Naturopath and she told me I needed to go strickly No-Grain – I would not be able to lose weight otherwise. I was skeptical at first, but I gave it a try for the 4 days I was there.
Label A on the graph was the big dip in my weight from the 4-5 days at the conference. I was hooked! I had a steady decline of about 1 pound per week for the next several months.
Then I hit Ramada – Label B. See my other blog post for more details. I dropped at a faster 2-3lbs/wk rate. I was thrilled! But, I also felt like I had lost some muscle mass due to the lower activity and starvation that goes along with fasting.
Label C is where am at the time of the writing of this post. I cheated – big time – on Eid Al-Fitr and gained back a few pounds. I am currently on a plateau, but I suspect it is just temporary since I am back to working out.
And if I don’t break the plateau? Well, I am at a much better weight then I was before and feel way better. I am down 30lbs and if I can keep it off, it will be quite an accomplishment.
Wish me luck.
Make sure to visit my Weight Loss page for more info.