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Posted: 3/28/2014 12:00:00 PM
Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2014-03-28
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index
of WB Blog articles.
A Step Beyond Wheat: Grain Bashing, It’s Easy
When I chose to pick on grains, I found it exceptionally
easy. There is no shortage of warts, scars, and defects in this class of plants
co-opted into the service of the human diet.
I chose to pick on wheat first, as it is the worst of
grains with more complex genetics and thereby a greater panel of unique
proteins; it is among the most changed by the efforts of geneticists and
agribusiness; and it plays such a dominant role in the human diet,
comprising 20% of all calories worldwide, as much as 50% or more of
calories for many people.
But just because other grains are not
wheat does not make them good. After all, all grains are the seeds
of grasses, grasses from the biological family Poaceae,
relatives of the Kentucky bluegrass or rye grass that grow in your back yard.
Let’s talk about corn. Just
as wheat consumption began around 10,000 years ago in the Fertile
Crescent when desperate humans wondered whether they could consume einkorn
wheat that grew wild, so did inhabitants of Mesoamerica (now Mexico) wonder
whether they could consume the teosinte grass that grew wild. Teosinte looks
like a grass, as the mutation of a large seed head — “cob” — had
not yet appeared. Domestication and cultivation of teosinte led to maize.
Over time, farmers chose plants with larger seeds and seed heads that
eventuated in something closer to the huge cob we all recognize today.
Corn has the advantage of being very prolific: high yields. As strains
with large seeds and cobs were chosen, yield in calories increased even
more. Today, corn exceeds even wheat in millions of acres planted worldwide.
Image courtesy Univ. Missouri
So what are the effects of consuming the
seeds of another grass, the seeds of the corn plant, on humans? Let me
list a few of the most prominent:
- Just as the gliadin protein of wheat, rye, and barley triggers
inflammatory reactions via several different mechanisms, so does the
zein protein in corn. For instance, gliadin protein exposure has
been associated with causing pancreatic beta cell autoimmunity,
i.e., type 1 diabetes in children. So has the zein protein of corn.
The zein protein can also recreate the response of celiac disease, though
not quite as powerfully, even though corn is included in most
“gluten-free” products. Corn can be gluten-free, but it is
not free of proteins that act just like gluten (gliadin) or cross-react
immunologically with it.
- While many of the proteins of the seeds of grasses are indigestible, there
is an exceptionally well digested component: amylopectin A.
This is the carbohydrate of grains that is responsible for sending blood
sugars sky-high. Problem: Most corn is not consumed as intact kernels, but
as ground corn flour or cornmeal, reducing size to granules and increasing
surface area for digestion exponentially. This is why, even though wheat
raises blood sugar to high levels, cornstarch raises blood sugar even
higher — the highest of any food. Modern corn strains are often chose
for their higher amylopectin content–“sweet
corn”–thereby containing higher levels of this blood sugar
- What happens when corn plays a dominant role in diet, as it does in parts
of South America and formerly did in the southern U.S. and Europe? People
develop the “4 D’s”: diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and
death, otherwise known as pellagra. Because corn products lack
niacin and the amino acid tryptophan, over-reliance on corn as a calorie
source makes people very ill.
- Corn has been genetically-modified, GM. Recall that modern wheat
is not the product of GM, but of methods that predate GM (though
not necessarily benign — remember mutagenesis?) 90% of corn
sold today is GM corn: glyphosate-resistant, Bt toxin inoculated,
or “stacked,” i.e., containing both. Emerging data suggest that
neither GM nor glyphosate nor Bt toxin ingested by humans are benign
and exert unanticipated effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer.
- Allergy — Seen in its most exaggerated form in people who work with corn
products, such as people who work in the pharmaceutical industry involved
in pill production, a process that often includes cornstarch. As many as
90% of these people, over time, develop corn allergies. As in wheat,
allergies are typically due to alpha amylase and trypsin inhibitors, as
well as other proteins, many of them changed via hybridizations and GM.
That’s just a sample — I could go on. The
point is that finding fault with the seeds of grasses is so darned easy.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a stalk of einkorn wheat or of
teosinte. The problems started 10,000 years ago —
0.4% of our time on earth as the Homo species —
when humans tried to consume something that never belonged in the human
diet in the first place, now made worse by the manipulations of agribusiness.
And, oh yes: We are told to eat
more of it by our own USDA and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.