Sourced from: Infinite Health Blog, by Dr. Davis,
originally posted on the Wheat Belly Blog: 2013-02-06
Heart healthy whole
grains and the new agenda for the Wheat Lobby
This recent Six
Servings post from our nice
friends at the Wheat Lobby prompted me to make this counterpost.
Their post begins with:
According to the American Heart Association, the
best way to keep your heart in peak form is by eating well and maintaining a
healthy lifestyle. Whole grains are a cornerstone of a heart-healthy diet
and consuming them has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease
by keeping blood pressure, cholesterol – and even weight – in check. Because
of these benefits, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends making at
least half your grains whole grains. By following this simple recommendation,
you will be well on your way to giving your heart a little more love.
I’d like to contribute my thoughts to this
grain-based love fest.
Now, when we’re talking about heart disease,
we’re talking about a topic I know something about. Having practiced
cardiology essentially 7 days a week, 50 weeks a year for the
last 23 years, having been involved in the care of tens of thousands
of people with a wide variety of heart conditions, having performed 5000
heart catheterizations, thousands of coronary angioplasties,
directional/rotational/translumiminal-extraction/excimer laser angioplasties,
stent implantations, intracoronary ultrasounds, treated thousands of heart
attacks and cardiac arrests, performed tens of thousands of stress tests
in various forms, echocardiograms, and participated in research in heart
disease, I think about heart disease, I talk about heart disease, I write
about heart disease . . . so, let’s talk about heart disease,
specifically coronary heart disease and coronary atherosclerosis, the
conditions that lead to heart attack and the “need” for
procedures like heart catheterizations, angioplasty, stent implantation,
and bypass surgery.
As followers of the Wheat Belly discussion already
know, data like the Physicians Health Study and the Nurses Health Study and
the 12 other studies often cited that “prove” that whole grains
are heart healthy actually do no such thing. They only
demonstrate that, if white processed flour products are replaced with whole
grains, there are indeed health benefits, including a reduced risk for
cardiovascular disease. But they do not demonstrate that whole
grains improve health over no grains. So let’s ask: What
happens when non-wheat/grain consuming people consume “healthy whole
grains” on factors relevant to heart health:
—Increased levels of de novo
lipogenesis–The human liver is an efficient “machine”
for converting dietary carbohydrates, such as the amylopectin A and
amylose of wheat, to triglyceride-containing particles released into the
bloodstream or stored in the liver. Eat more wheat and particles like very
low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), signaled by increased triglycerides on a
lipid panel, increase. Some remain in the liver, also; if enough are
retained over time, “fatty liver” develops. High triglyceride
s also result in increased degradation of HDL particles: low HDL cholesterol,
another cardiovascular risk.
—Increased small LDL particles–The increased
availability of VLDL particles in the bloodstream from grain consumption
triggers a series of blood events that result in the formation of explosive
quantities of small LDL particles. Typical small LDL of a non-grain consumer:
0 nmol/L small LDL particles. Typical small LDL of a whole
grain-consumer: 600-1800 nmol/L–yes, explosive. Small LDL
particles are not only more inflammatory, poorly recognized by the human
liver, preferentially taken up by inflammatory white blood cells
(macrophages) residing in the walls of atherosclerotic plaque, but they
are also uncommonly long-lasting, typically lasting 7-10 or more days,
compared to the 24 or so hours of large LDL particles. Small LDL particles
are perfectly crafted to create coronary heart disease. One wheat
indulgence = increased risk for heart disease for 7-10 days.
—Increased fasting glucose and HbA1c–Eat foods
that raise blood sugar and blood sugar goes up. I recognize how obvious
that sounds–what knucklehead could not see this?–but
that basic truth escapes people like the Wheat Lobby and their friends at
places like the American Diabetes Association. High blood sugar after eating
is reflected in the HbA1c value. Repetitive high blood sugar creates
resistance to insulin and damage to pancreatic beta cells that produce
insulin–fasting blood sugar goes up, pancreatic beta cell function
becomes impaired, blood sugars go up farther . . . diabetes.
Now that people are, to a greater and greater degree, heeding advice to
consume more “healthy whole grains,” they are experiencing the
worst epidemic of diabetes ever witnessed in the history of man on earth.
—Increased visceral fat accumulation–As
increased glucose/insulin does its work, the trigger for fat accumulation in
visceral fat stores proceeds and fat collects around the abdominal organs
(and heart), signaled on the surface by a protuberant abdomen,
“muffin top,” “love handles,” etc. The more
visceral fat, the greater the cardiovascular risk, as much as 2-4 fold
greater. Also, recall that visceral fat is also inflammatory fat,
reflected in inflammatory measures like higher c-reactive protein.
—Impaired nutrient absorption–Grain consumers
due to exposure to phytates, lectins, and wheat gliadin, have reduced
absorption of magnesium, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and
other nutrients which can add up to increased cardiovascular risk.
—Increased dental disease–The increased
dental caries (cavities), gingivitis, dental plaque, tooth loss, and
dental/facial deformities of wheat/grain consumption are increasingly
being recognized as cardiovascular risk factors. Note that, even 100,000
years ago, before the availability of tooth brushes, toothpaste, dental
floss, fluoridated water, and dentists, dental decay was uncommon,
affecting less than 1% of teeth, compared to the 16-50% of teeth
affected in wheat/grain consumers before vigorous dental hygiene
became the norm.
Those are the biggest reasons why “healthy whole
grains” are most definitely not heart healthy if your
comparison group are non wheat/grain consumers.
The people in the Wheat Lobby are not entirely stupid.
They fell into this nutritional trap, just as most people did, lulled by the
flawed logic of nutrition and the flawed construction of epidemiologic
observations. I believe that, more recently, they have smartened up.
Rather than admit their logical errors–which would be disastrous for
their industry!–they have chosen a second best: draw attention away
from wheat and shine the spotlight on other grains such as quinoa and
buckwheat. (Their current post features a recipe for Quinoa, Sweet Pepper,
and Fig Salad–no wheat.)
Anyway, celebrate American Heart Month and
. . .
eat no “healthy whole grains”!