Whew, tough question. Gluten is the target of a lot of bad press lately, everyone from Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, Dr. Berg, Dr. Mercola, Dr Davis (author of The Wheat Belly) all the Paleo people proponents and, well, anyone that can make a buck by attaching themselves to an idea that becomes popular. Oh yeah, realistically, everyone out there blasting wheat and spewing nonsense about how wheat and gluten are bad for you or make you fat are in fact making a lot of money off their proclamations. Whether it is selling books, taking huge fees for speaking tours, selling ads on their TV shows or just plain selling supplements and other crap on their websites, they all are making money by proclaiming these half truths and in some cases out and out lies as loudly as they possibly can.
The very first accusation that we need to look at is the one that wheat makes people fat. The reasoning is simple, wheat flour consists of some protein and starch. Starch is just glucose molecules in long chains. Glucose is sugar, therefore eating wheat is like eating sugar. I don't want to write 6,000 words explaining the glucose, sucrose and fructose metabolism in the human body, you can view it here (The Bitter Truth) Dr. Lustig does a great job detailing the hepatic sugar metabolism, suffice it to say that glucose fuels the body and pretty much bypasses the body's system to turn excess other sugars into fat. Within reason, as always too much starch breaking down into glucose and although the body stores the majority of it as glycogen, however a tiny amount does go to fat. The video in fact shows that what is making Americans fat and sick is sugar. Not wheat. This is clearly evident if you look at the world. Not here, not where the average American gets 1.5 of every 10 calories consumed from fructose; but in countries like China. Well northern China, where wheat is the primary source of calories. The incidence of obesity in China is about 3%. Here in America, it's over 35%. Wheat doesn't make you fat. What makes Americans fat is all the crap they eat with their PROCESSED white flour products. Good whole grains are still the number one source of nutrition for 80% of the world. Only in countries that have adopted the American way of eating, the Standard American Diet, the SAD, full of sugar and processed foods do we find obesity. And sadly, it is growing in places like China, India and places that were traditionally a whole grain based diet. Everyone wants to be like the Americans, and of course the other thing is that high sugar foods are pretty addictive.
Lectins and phytates are bad. Yeah, this is true. Wheat, and all grains and legumes contain them. I went into a great deal of detail about how to make grains, nuts and legumes healthier with simple processes. (Healthier healthy food) was the first of the six articles, all are in mid May and contain lots of information and recipes that are easy to do to make these foods better because all the techniques destroy the lectins and phytates. These techniques were developed from thousands of years of trial and error by primal man and every one of them take time. In today's modern world, time is money and money rules over health of the consumer. That's the reason I teach healthy cooking to people, it's all about using those techniques to neutralize the toxic parts of the foods we eat and maximize the flavor and nutrition. The scary part is that even when they make white flour or white rice, they strip the nutrients but leave in the lectins and phytates. Neither of these things are in such quantities that they kill you, it is just something that is a long slow degenerative effect on your body's digestive system. Long slow deterioration. Come to think about it, that's what most of the chemical additives do to your body that are in our food supply. And yes, that's the reason I try to alert people to the condition of American food. (Chronic vs Acute toxin)
The human body evolved eating large amounts of meat. The difficult thing for most Americans to understand is that in the rest of the world, meat is not eaten every day. Yes, I know, that's heresy to those Paleo people that seem to want us to believe that caveman ate meat all the time. Not in any way true, humans didn't drop out of the trees and suddenly make spears and kill things. It took a few millennia. Humans can get along perfectly fine by getting all or nearly all of their protein needs by eating various plants. Without any meat, supplements are needed, but it still is possible. In fact, I have written about this very phenomena here before (No meat) and (Too much meat) too much meat is a problem here as well, and that one details what happens to the human body with a high meat diet. And there is also the problem with meat itself. In America meat is an industrialized protein product designed to make money. Meat is packed with antibiotics, chemicals designed to make the animals grow faster, fed foods that destroy the animals digestive, reproductive and central nervous system and packed with extremely dangerous and deadly antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. This week was just one of a multitude of recalls of meat for this specific problem. But meat is cheap. (Cheap Meat)
Some links to peruse if you feel like looking at some stuff written by scientists and not quacks or self professed gurus. For fun you can view my brother's stuff as well, he states right on his blog that the whole thing is about what he KNOWS, and you DON'T (The Brother Guru) But this other stuff is for real.
(Fermented bread and Celiacs) The NCBI doc on how fermenting wheat makes it palatable for Celiacs
(FAO charts grains, sugar, meat) This is the FAO of the UN, grains are the majority of calories in the world
(Wheat Production World) Where and how much wheat is grown and consumed
An dof course, please look at my blog entries in mid May for how to make healthy foods healthier by using the simple and basic techniques of soaking, steaming, sprouting and fermenting.