Give us this day our daily inflammation
March 18, 2013 6:07 PM   Subscribe

The Dietary Intake of Wheat and other Cereal Grains and Their Role in Inflammation (full text PDF at site)
Wheat is one of the most consumed cereal grains worldwide and makes up a substantial part of the human diet. Although government-supported dietary guidelines in Europe and the U.S.A advise individuals to eat adequate amounts of (whole) grain products per day, cereal grains contain “anti-nutrients,” such as wheat gluten and wheat lectin, that in humans can elicit dysfunction and disease. In this review we discuss evidence from in vitro, in vivo and human intervention studies that describe how the consumption of wheat, but also other cereal grains, can contribute to the manifestation of chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases by increasing intestinal permeability and initiating a pro-inflammatory immune response.
-- de Punder, Karin.; Pruimboom, Leo. 2013. Nutrients no. 5, 771-787.
posted by seanmpuckett (114 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is completely anecdotal but when I cut wheat out my life changed for the better in a number of ways. I only wish I had known to do this 15 or 20 years ago.
posted by natteringnabob at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey look, one study said a thing that's kind of controversial. Let me just whip out this research survey and...
posted by TheNewWazoo at 6:26 PM on March 18, 2013


This abstract is misleading.

If you read the article they do consistently and repeatedly note that the evidence for their claims is weak and inconclusive.

Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?
posted by PJLandis at 6:31 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Conclusion: Until now, human epidemiological and intervention studies investigating the health effects of whole grain intake were confounded by other dietary and lifestyle factors and, therefore, well-designed intervention studies investigating the effects of cereal grains and their individual components on intestinal permeability and inflammation are warranted.

Translation: we have a hypothesis, but there really isn't any solid evidence to support it, so we recommend that someone do some solid research to see if our hypothesis holds any water for actual human beings.
posted by googly at 6:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

Exercise?
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 6:35 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


There isn't really anything in this that I'd call controversial and I'm one of the biggest "our magic elimination diet will cure all humanity's woes" skeptic on the Earth. There are a couple phenomenon that are sort of unique to Celiac Disease that make it an auto-immune disease and not just an allergy but basically, yeah, screwing around with things to which you will mount an IgE response is generally a recipe for a sucky day.

The problem with the paper in my mind is, as PJLandis mentions, they use loaded terms like "anti-nutrient" or mention there are 50 potential immunogenic epitopes on gliadin (which may sound like a lot to the layman but, really, not so much) which makes things sound more dire than they are likely to be for those of us who don't have an immune issue with wheat.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:41 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

Exercise?


It does stimulate the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines associated with many medical and psychiatric disorders, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, cancer, autoimmune diseases, schizophrenia and depression.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that if I cut out everything the media had whipped people into a panic over, I'd starve to death in a week.
posted by DU at 6:51 PM on March 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

In the ancestral eating community, this is used to describe substances that either directly inhibit absorption of beneficial substances, or that cause some sort of inflammation.
posted by padraigin at 7:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

The thing Spock had to put back in the refrigerator of the Enterprise to keep it from blowing up at the end of that one movie.
posted by The World Famous at 7:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


This is completely anecdotal but when I cut wheat out I felt exactly the same.
posted by escabeche at 7:05 PM on March 18, 2013 [33 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

Pretty sure it's a Cool Ranch Doritos Taco.
posted by escabeche at 7:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [75 favorites]


An anti-nutrient is something that inhibits the digestion/absorption of nutrients, like phytic acid, which interferes with the absorption of zinc, iron, and other minerals.
posted by clockzero at 7:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


When do I get my replicator. 3D printer? Yawn. Print me some broccoli that tastes like In-n-Out French fries.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that if I cut out everything the media had whipped people into a panic over, I'd starve to death in a week.

This is actually my theory on how most fad diets temporarily work. All it is the imposition of difficult to meet consumption constraints resulting in temporary calorie restriction. In a couple of weeks once you figure out how to get the amount of calories your body wants the diet then fails.
posted by srboisvert at 7:15 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


What I like about wacky fringe theories like this: when I'm buying that box of extra gluten at the store to supplement my weekly bread baking, I feel like that much more of a rebel.
posted by gimonca at 7:18 PM on March 18, 2013 [23 favorites]


Other interesting anti-nutrients include calcium, coffee, and spinach.
posted by benzenedream at 7:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Gluten is horrible, the anti gluten thing is going to be beyond huge, you ain't seen nothing yet. I love wheat to a fault, probably about to eat a bowl of frosted mini wheats any minute now... But I have no doubt it heavily promotes inflammation in huge numbers of people and shit is about to get real in terms of trying to control health care costs and realizing our crappy staples are contributing to our most expensive looming health crises.
posted by lordaych at 7:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?
In the ancestral eating community...
What the hell is the "ancestral eating community"? Is that like the hipster way to say "paleo dieters"?

(Wait... the even more hipster way to say "paleo dieters"?)
posted by edheil at 7:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [31 favorites]


I have developed all these weird sub-theories now about all the food fad theories. Like, there's the whole thing about corn syrup affecting people differently than regular sugar--now I'm starting to ponder whether there are REASONS why we no longer process gluten that are not yet understood, whether other additives to food are affecting our ability to process natural food components, or something. Whether ordinary store bought milk is somehow so fucked up beyond recognition that it's no longer "food" even for people who should otherwise be able to handle natural dairy products.

Because on a n=1 level, I really am not great when I eat grains and very much dairy. I would pass it off as a placebo effect thing if there weren't very real changes in my body composition and mood and skin condition. Even if I stick to very close-to-nature home made whole grain things I'm not great.
posted by padraigin at 7:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


What the hell is the "ancestral eating community"? Is that like the hipster way to say "paleo dieters"?

It is, sorry. I didn't want to drill it down any further to "paleo" or "primal" because there's more than just those camps. It does sound insanely stupid though, but please know that I meant well :)
posted by padraigin at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


But does it also have a meaning in the reality-based community?
posted by elephantday at 7:34 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've mentioned this before. Studies consistently show an inflammation response to wheat, in people with Celiac Disease.

But for the rest of us--no response.

In normal controls, [Cytokine messenger RNA (mRNA) expression] levels were usually below the quantitative limit, even after in vitro gluten stimulation.

(Now back to my bagel).
posted by eye of newt at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2013 [24 favorites]


Yes, it does. A perfectly sensible meaning whatever way one chooses to eat.
posted by padraigin at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2013


I live with a celiac sufferer, who was not diagnosed when we married, and who was so miserable before he eliminated wheat that he was basically a different (horribly depressed, overweight, in constant pain) person. It was a startling change when he did, and he's had no desire to go back because he suffered too much to want to do that ever again.

Of course, that's his body, and who knows how typical his reactions are? There's lots of similar anecdata out there but I would never assume that we understand the cause completely. The GF/fad/Paleo thing is a bit of a problem, in that it makes it easy for people to disbelieve his allergies are real and roll their eyes at him. But they can go eff themselves, I was there and it was not fun. And having other people disbelieve your allergies (especially doctors who cannot find a way to test/prove/treat it other than steroids or NSAIDS or what have you) is unfortunately really common too. I sometimes think allergies/autoimmune diseases might be now what depression used to be; disbelieved, understudied, but much more common than you'd think. I would not be entirely surprised if grains turned out to be more problematic than we knew. There is no rule that says if something is edible to us that it's good for our imperfectly evolved, possibly environmentally polluted bodies, after all.

I don't know if this study is a good one, but if it leads to more good information, I am for it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:43 PM on March 18, 2013 [11 favorites]



In the ancestral eating community...

What the hell is the "ancestral eating community"? Is that like the hipster way to say "paleo dieters"?


It's better than the Ancestor eating community... My Grandmother made a hell of a pot roast, but man, I'm gonna miss her.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2013 [18 favorites]


Beer is my anti-nutrient.
posted by goethean at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

Well...there are antivitamins...left-handed versions of the molecules. ..they usually have the opposite effect of the vitamin but can also have other side effects as well. (Not sure if all vitamins have an anti-)
For example, those rat/mouse bait traps contain: yummy whole grain wheat, anti-vitamin K (you need vitamin K for blood clotting), powdered glass, and dessicant. The rat or mouse bleeds to death internally and then dries out and doesn't smell (as bad)
So, you see, wheat is totally bad for you.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:03 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've recently switched to the Chaos Magick diet. This one is easy and works well, after you have properly prepared for it. The tricky part is inventing a sigil that represents beneficial nutrients. Once you have that, you just have to forget its meaning yet inscribe it on every Big Mac you eat.

As an added bonus, you can fly up to the astral plane and listen to the Buddha tell dirty jokes. Then you can go visit the Akashic Records and read all of the Satanic Verses, not just the few that The Prophet ultimately thought better of retelling (strangely, they appear to be in the form of Garfield comic strips).
posted by b1tr0t at 8:04 PM on March 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

They're easy to identify because they have a goatee. Check out the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of Slim Goodbody, Season 2.
posted by sourwookie at 8:06 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Food faddism is an ongoing thing in the US. For any given foodstuff, you can find (or could at one time) someone who says that it's the key to good health, and someone else who says it's dreadful poison which will kill you stone dead. (Am I the only one old enough to remember when blackstrap molasses was the key to good health?)

For many people adopting a limited diet is about gaining a feeling of control over their lives when they feel otherwise helpless.

For others it's an expression of elitism. "I'm too cool to eat ordinary food."

There are people who do have a problem with gluten, no doubt about it. But I bet that there are ten people who swear by a gluten-free diet for every one who actually needs to do that. The others are posturing IMHO.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:07 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


So what am I supposed to eat in place of wheat and the rest of the cereal grains?
posted by inparticularity at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2013


I've recently switched to the Chaos Magick diet.

In case you didn't see it, the Moose Cleanse. Discussed earlier on the blue.
posted by tychotesla at 8:14 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


So what am I supposed to eat in place of wheat and the rest of the cereal grains?

The current fad "too cool for school" grain is Quinoa.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:19 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, I guess that it's nice that we've determined the nutritional bogeyman of the 2010s so early on...
posted by schmod at 8:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blah blah blah blah.....intestinal permeability....blah blah blah....

Holy crap. That sounds like a nightmare.
posted by Skygazer at 8:21 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've gone mostly paleo since I started CrossFit--I've lost weight, and haven't had heartburn for months. Wheat, rice, bean, dairy consumption way down. I don't really miss it, and feel kinda crappy when I eat a bunch of bread or other grains.

But that's just me.

My fiancee has gastrointestinal issues and needs whole grains and beans for her digestive system to work properly. So when I see her eating wheat berries, or brown rice, or black beans, I whisper enjoy your poison.
posted by oneironaut at 8:22 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


So what am I supposed to eat in place of wheat and the rest of the cereal grains?

Mackerel.
posted by oneironaut at 8:23 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


So what am I supposed to eat in place of wheat and the rest of the cereal grains?
posted by inparticularity at 8:11 PM on March 18 [+] [!]

Meats and vegetables that include the nutrients found in grains.
posted by padraigin at 8:27 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So what am I supposed to eat in place of wheat and the rest of the cereal grains?

For breakfast? Smoothies. I do vegan ones with almond milk and piles of fruit. Add some flax seeds and they are quite filling.
posted by mochapickle at 8:28 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everything doctors and scientists tell you is wrong, say fad dieters. Or, this is true, but scientists won't tell you. Or so I hear and read all the time now. So ... Let's quote one study, out of context, in an article few of us here are even remotely qualified to analyze and interpret, given that we haven't taken medical or dietary science courses. Discuss.
posted by raysmj at 8:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Meats and vegetables that include the nutrients found in grains.

But what about my sweet, sweet carbohydrates?

I'm fairly serious here, as my girlfriend has somewhat recently been diagnosed with celiacs, but I am a big carb eater. Mostly rice, not so much wheat though, so the transition is not too disruptive.
posted by inparticularity at 8:35 PM on March 18, 2013


oneironaut: "My fiancee has gastrointestinal issues and needs whole grains and beans for her digestive system to work properly. So when I see her eating wheat berries, or brown rice, or black beans, I whisper enjoy your poison."

What.
posted by schmod at 8:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's nothing particularly paleo about the concept of an anti-nutrient. As it is not usually in the interest of a plant to be delicious easily digestible snack*, plants contain compounds which appear to have evolved so that they make the plant more difficult for herbivores to digest. This Wikipedia article mentions inhibitors which interfere with digestive enzymes, and tannins, which as I understand are problematic for herbivores because they are big complex molecules that are hard to do anything useful with. Another simple anti-nutrient is silica in grass which grinds down the teeth of grazing animals.


* (except when want to hitch a ride somewhere, and offer up a delicious tidbit, in the hope of being shat out somewhere far away)
posted by compound eye at 8:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think we're going to discover that it's our gut bacteria that are most important, and that the human component of digestion doesn't count for a whole lot.

My guess is that a common processed food ingredient will turn out to be lethal to some of our essential gut flora.

I wager poopectomies are going to become a popular and effective cure for digestion diseases. Got gluten intolerance? Eat shit and thrive.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:00 PM on March 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm eating a big old helping of seitan just to spite everyone without a gluten intolerance who talks shit on gluten. Pure gluten! Delicious!
posted by Drinky Die at 9:08 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think we're going to discover that it's our gut bacteria that are most important, and that the human component of digestion doesn't count for a whole lot.

My guess is that a common processed food ingredient will turn out to be lethal to some of our essential gut flora.
Those two things can't both be true at the same time.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 PM on March 18, 2013


This is bullshit. Wheat & gluten is only harmful to the minority of people who have celiac disease or gluten allergy.
posted by mike3k at 9:38 PM on March 18, 2013


Plus, what the hell is an "anti-nutrient"?

If I remember my Flash Gordon correctly it's something you really don't want to get too close to a Positive-Nutrient. If they come into contact, the universe explodes.
posted by TDavis at 9:47 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's right everyone, the thing that's going to kill us all is the plant that was already on the planet when we all started attempting agriculture.

Let's not pay any attention to the one that we invented, and bred from some ancient grasses, which has now become something that makes us sick and makes our animals sick too, not to mention our entire economy. Hooray for corn! Boo wheat! Screw those crazy wheat-eating people! *sigh*
posted by trackofalljades at 10:07 PM on March 18, 2013


Eh, wheat went through a process of domestication that changed it too. Neither grain is any more natural than the other.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:17 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


So I'm just gonna go ahead and keep eating food, despite the cries of ENJOY YOUR FOODOCRACY, SHEEPLE!
posted by louche mustachio at 10:19 PM on March 18, 2013


The current fad "too cool for school" grain is Quinoa.

and it's not very sustainable.
posted by alex_skazat at 11:05 PM on March 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can pry my loaf of bread out of my cold, dead hands!
posted by deborah at 11:08 PM on March 18, 2013


"ancestral eating community"

Their big worry is kuru.
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 PM on March 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


I do vegan ones with almond milk and piles of fruit.

Of course, almond milk is probably more cytotoxic to a larger percentage of the population than wheat is, but I think this is more a matter of the flaw with the way the paper is being interpreted than anything being wrong with your breakfast.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:19 PM on March 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Everything doctors and scientists tell you is wrong, say fad dieters. Or, this is true, but scientists won't tell you. Or so I hear and read all the time now.

Given the results of the last 50 years, it's hard to conclude otherwise. "Lack of willpower" (or "moral failure") is not an explanation for behaviour that we readily accept when studying non-human animals. But with humans, for some reason, it's the default explanation, and it comes as often from doctors and scientists as anyone else.

I'm a healthy weight, and while I eat a lot of vegetables and grains (including wheat) only in moderation, I don't really have a dog in the diet wars. I just eat lots of real, unprocessed food, and that seems to work for me. Still, doctors and scientists have been driving nutrition policy for decades, and the results haven't been good. It's nice to see people asking why.
posted by smorange at 11:22 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, domestic wheat is super artificial. It's a genetic layering of three different closely-related wild grains. It's hexaploid, for God's sake. A total genomic freak. Nothing natural about it.
posted by Scientist at 11:27 PM on March 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Evolutionary Psychiatry is probably the best blog to follow for these kinds of discussions. She links to peer-reviewed studies and notes where the evidence is weak. But she's a believer in wheat inflammation is linked to depression and weight gain (for some people), and I tentatively am too.
posted by subdee at 11:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my opinion, if basing your survival strategy on eating cereal grains was, in reality, negatively affecting a large percentage of humans, I doubt that humankind would be overpopulating the world so well. At the very least, the hunter/gatherer lifestyle would have done much better overall. If cereal grains were really that bad, survival of the fittest would have bitch slapped our inflamed ancestors.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:29 PM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


@Foam Pants, one of the claims of the paleo people is that wheat inflammation/Celliac disease is more common in people from Central Asia, i.e. the Land of Nomadic Pastoralists. There are groups of people who didn't eat a lot of wheat until like a hundred years ago - not everything is Farmers vs. Hunter Gatherers. A hundred years isn't long enough for genetic arguments to come into play.
posted by subdee at 11:36 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my opinion, if basing your survival strategy on eating cereal grains was, in reality, negatively affecting a large percentage of humans, I doubt that humankind would be overpopulating the world so well.

Or it could be that being inflamed is better than being starved. Not that I buy the anti-gluten stuff, but there are a lot of complex questions around human nutrition at any point in history.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:38 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I didn't realize that Metafilter was all Central Asians.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:40 PM on March 18, 2013


>But what about my sweet, sweet carbohydrates?

For the most part, I don't eat grains, and I rarely eat wheat, oatmeal, rye, barley, or millet. You can laugh at the whole anti-nutrient/incestral health community (I know I do), but I feel better since I dropped gluten-containing grains from my diet. It's probably been a long time coming, seeing as I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thirteen years ago (and depending on who you read, Hashimoto's may or may not be aggravated by autoimmune inflammation blah blah blah).

When I do eat carbs, I usually eat rice, potatoes, or (occasionally) corn (tortillas, polenta, cornbread). I make a pretty good all-corn cornbread. Note that I like my cornbread on the not-so-sweet side, so if you're used to Jiffy, it might come as a shock to the system.

Sweet potatoes are also great. So are plantains, especially fried in coconut oil or bacon grease. Bananas are a fruit that is also starchy, so bonus! And starchy squashes -- butternut, pumpkin -- can be pretty satisfying. On Saturday we have buckwheat pancakes.

On the rare occasion I still crave pasta, I'll either go for rice noodles (when I'm eating Occidental fare) or quinoa pasta. That said, I don't eat a lot of quinoa because of reasons. (I honestly don't feel it's worth the hassle.)

This is assuming you need carbs at dinner/lunch/breakfast. I don't tend to eat a carb-heavy breakfast during the work week; some eggs and a glass of raw whole milk keeps my appetite under control until lunch and my energy levels up. At lunch I may or may not eat rice with my meal. At dinner I may or may not make a potato or cornbread. We eat a lot of veggies and a sufficient amount of protein and animal or coconut fat. It definitely keeps us full.

Bread and pasta are delicious, and I would never deny that. I've recently given spelt a whirl and found it didn't block me up the way wheat does, but given the great results I've had by eliminating most gluten-containing grains (oatmeal, though gluten-free, shreds my digestion -- go figure), I'm not really keen on adding back in what I'm not missing. It takes a while to get over the lack of bread with dinner, but once you did you don't miss it. As I said to my husband the other night over a dinner where we decided to indulge in some dinner rolls, the memory of bread is almost always better than the actual experience.

Except croissants.

Those fuckers are delicious.
posted by offalark at 11:46 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bah. And by Occidental I meant Oriental...apologies, it's late, and I'm not as clever at quarter to midnight as I thunk I are.
posted by offalark at 11:52 PM on March 18, 2013


"Oriental," seriously?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:06 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


smorange : Doctors have been driving nutrition information; what's been driving nutrition policy has been a mix of farm subsidies, advertising, and industrial chemistry.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:10 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Perhaps it is selfish of me, but as somebody who legitimately suffers from a gluten allergy, to the point that it actually causes my digestive system to bleed, I am all for all these lunatics who have whipped themselves into a frenzy about gluten. I can get gluten free pizza anywhere! All my grocery stories carry gluten free bread! Brownies!

Admittedly, they typically taste like a space alien had heard of bread but never tasted it and was trying to replicate what they think it must have tasted like. But it's better than nothing, and for a long time I had nothing. Viva la food panics!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:12 AM on March 19, 2013 [15 favorites]


Admittedly, they typically taste like a space alien had heard of bread but never tasted it and was trying to replicate what they think it must have tasted like.

After losing the presidential election, Romney was quite successful at his new venture, Mitt's Muffins.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:01 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


At what age do the effects of a grain diet start making life miserable? Because if it is after you have bred, nature does not give a shit.

If I ever find the genie in the bottle I will wish that happiness retroactively become the number one factor in humanity's evolutionary fitness.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 1:22 AM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


padraigin: "In the ancestral eating community …"
… the foods are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the grains, which provide B vitamins and dietary fibre; and the nuts, which provide protein and fat-soluble vitamins.

These are their stories…
posted by Pinback at 2:18 AM on March 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod: "
Admittedly, they typically taste like a space alien had heard of bread but never tasted it and was trying to replicate what they think it must have tasted like
"
how do the machines know what Tasty Wheat tasted like? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tasty Wheat tasted like actually tasted like oatmeal, or tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn't figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.
also, I swear I made the same kuru joke that klangklangston did almost 4 hours before he did, but the comment isn't there and I want my meaningless internet points.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:50 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: Our crappy staples are contributing to our most expensive looming
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:07 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Still, doctors and scientists have been driving nutrition policy for decades, and the results haven't been good. It's nice to see people asking why.

So why do I see the constant cherry picking of studies, and links at FB from Paleo people to isolated studies? Because it confirms what these folks already thinking to be true, or what people in their community believe to be true, so then it's OK. You still need experts to tell those outside the community, I guess, to try to convince others. But I see right through it, sorry.
posted by raysmj at 4:44 AM on March 19, 2013


Thinking of switching to quinoa? You might want to think again.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:13 AM on March 19, 2013


I am an obesity researcher. I don't focus on diet so much, mainly on energy expenditure. But I can at least say a few things here. Wheat? We've only been eating that for what, 10k years? Sure, lets blame that for all of the ills that suddenly became a global problem in the last 20. Makes total sense, rather than, say, blaming the increasingly artificial food-like products we are being served. Most of the products people are eating now are overly processed, synthesized from god knows what, and a huge percentage of it is based on corn and petrochemicals. But wheat, THAT is the real bogeyman.

Main impression I get from the research and the meetings and etc. is that inflammation is due to dietary excess, period, perhaps exacerbated by specific dietary components (likely interacting with many, many other environmental components too), but too much food is bad for you, period, even if all of it is fruits or fresh wild-caught fish or manna from heaven. The uptick in celiac disease? If you ask me it's directly correlated to the uptick in allergies. You notice how many more kids have severe allergies these days? It may be chemical exposure (although this idea is not looking very solid any more, as allergies are rising in agricultural communities with fewer chemicals and more chances to play in the dirt); it may be pollution; it may be diet; it may be a biological reaction to overcrowding as our population closes in on 7.5 billion. If we figure this out it will help a lot of people. But my money is on food, period. The way we treat food as a chemistry problem, how we can make this taste like that by chlorinating and additives and processing, to save a dollar a pound, load it with cheap sweetener to make up for the poor quality, pump it full of sugar to make the dough rise faster and save 10 minutes in the production line. This is the issue we need to address first. We don't eat food any more. And what we do eat, we overeat.

Unless the study focuses on people fed specific combinations of locally-grown, minimally-processed, heirloom varieties of grain and veg plus supplements of grass-fed or wild-caught protein sources, all in limited portions, and STILL finds association between diet components and disease, I will not believe that anything we have eaten for thousands of years is the issue here.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:16 AM on March 19, 2013 [32 favorites]


Fad diets blah blah blah. Anecdotes, etc. YMMV but......

2 things happened to me when I cut way, way back on carbs: 1.) The eczema problem I had on my hands for 30 years went away. It's been about a year and a half and there is nothing lurking between my fingers. It is completely disappeared-- something no amount of prescription creams could accomplish. 2.) The extreme stomach pain I had when I drank black coffee, too many vegetables, or apples on an empty stomach, is gone. I have black coffee for breakfast every morning with no gastric distress-- I would have never believed that was possible.

For whatever reason, a low carb diet has done nothing but good things for me. It may not be for everyone, it may not even be a healthy diet, but clearing up my stomach problems and my skin has been a small miracle and I will never willing go back.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:29 AM on March 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Caution live frogs, I know that in my husband's family, food allergies go back at least three generations, the oldest sufferer being a farmer who got sick from eggs even though the chickens were his own. Reportedly he just put up with it for a long time. Lots of allergies show up later in life, after people have had time to have kids, which as someone else pointed out, means they wouldn't necessarily get "bred out" if us. Can we say for sure there's an uptick, or are we just recognizing it when we didn't before?
posted by emjaybee at 5:37 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


kinnakeet: "Thinking of switching to quinoa? You might want to think again."

That's highly debatable.

Generally speaking, poor people are usually better off when huge amounts of cash are being poured into their economy, particularly when they (the farmers) are the ones producing the most desirable goods.

Yes, this causes inflation and some other negative side-effects (the quinoa craze probably slightly hurts Bolivia's urban poor, for instance), but a country generally has many more options to help its poorer residents when there's money flowing in.
posted by schmod at 6:38 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Unless the study focuses on people fed specific combinations of locally-grown, minimally-processed, heirloom varieties of grain and veg plus supplements of grass-fed or wild-caught protein sources, all in limited portions, and STILL finds association between diet components and disease, I will not believe that anything we have eaten for thousands of years is the issue here.

From a story about grass fed beef on NPR:
And since grass-fed cattle are typically leaner, almost all cuts of grass-fed beef have less total fat than beef from corn-raised cattle. Of course, the breed of cattle leads to variation, too.
As another mammal and someone who has gone vegan for a week here and there, I fully believe that there is something in our diet that causes us to be unhealthy just as a cow doesn't fare to well when eating corn and candy instead of nutritious, natural, varietal vegetables out in the field while they run around.

I think it's a combination of diet, sun exposure, sedentary habits, and it has to have something to do with the sugar content. The last time I came off a vegan break I got a cold, and discovered to my amazement that the second ingredient in Campbell's Tomato Soup is sugar. It's like watered down ketchup.

Crazier theory: eating tons of things that immediately turn into basic building blocks for bacterial feeding frenzies is not a good way to maintain balance. But then I shuddered at the possibility that corporations are feeding my internal parasites to kill me and take my money away... which is a weird thought. In any case when I stop eating out of boxes and restaurants my body seems to know what to do with whatever I eat. When I start ripping open plastic bags inside of full-color marketing propaganda warfare munitions, I feel like shit.

Anyway, more studies, science! Figure this shit out. I don't care what you make my Reese's peanut butter cups out of. I just want to know that I can have some every once in a while that won't kill me.
posted by tripping daisy at 6:40 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod, as the parent of a kid with a severe peanut allergy, every time I walk past the entire aisle of gluten-free food in the grocery store, or see yet another restaurant happily advertising gluten-free options, I say a little athiest prayer that peanut-free will become the next big diet fad.

(Is this where I start the internet rumor that people who eat peanuts are slowly killing themselves with aflatoxin?)
posted by BlueJae at 6:51 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


BlueJae, find one weak study, post to Facebook, watch the ripples. Repeat, once a month...
posted by KaizenSoze at 7:00 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


And since grass-fed cattle are typically leaner, almost all cuts of grass-fed beef have less total fat than beef from corn-raised cattle. Of course, the breed of cattle leads to variation, too.

Having lived in two other countries and eaten the equivalent of battery farmed chickens there and here I can tell you that American chicken is significantly different from other countries' chicken. The amount of embedded visceral fat in American chicken is shocking. It's there in even the smallest chicken. I find it nearly impossible to dry out an American chicken which I could do with both Canadian and English chicken.
posted by srboisvert at 7:02 AM on March 19, 2013


Stopped eating bread at lunch about a year ago and noticed two things - no more indigestion in the afternoon and tons more energy/no napping.

I'm as big a skeptic as anyone, but there is so much anecdotal support for carbs having noxious side effects that at the very least it is worth a trial of reducing processed carbs and wheat for anyone who is even remotely suffering from symptoms that have a poorly defined treatment protocol.
posted by docpops at 7:23 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want my meaningless internet points.

You're thinking of somewhere else, maybe? There's no points on MetaFilter, just favorites and favorites always have meaning.
posted by Appropriate Username at 7:35 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Perfect Health Diet seems like a research-driven, less cult-ish take on the Paleo diet.
posted by mecran01 at 7:52 AM on March 19, 2013


Bunny Ultramod - I am really happy for you that the whole gluten panic is making your life easier. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to corn. Gluten panic is making my life harder, because the way people make stuff gluten free is...to add corn. (Or sometimes soy flour, which would be the OTHER thing I'm allergic to.)

Seitan, made from wheat gluten, is the only faux-meat this vegetarian can eat. I wake up in a cold sweat some nights, terrified that gluten panic will rise to the point where all wheat is banned and I'll be forced to buy wheat gluten that's been cut with baby powder in some seedy back alley in order to get my protein fix.
posted by rednikki at 7:57 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hesitate to join this thread given the amount of contempt being leveled at people without Celiac disease who need to avoid gluten. My husband's family has a long history of Celiac, going back far enough to a relative to died of starvation in the midst of plenty - apparently suffering from Celiac before there was a way to diagnose it. 25 years ago I watched my brother-in-law suffer from a mysterious malady for years before they finally tested him for Celiac after telling him it's extremely rare and highly unlikely you have it. Since then a number of other family members have been diagnosed including my son.

Being able to buy bread, pizza, pasta, etc has certainly made all of our lives much easier. It's hard to be a teenager on a very restricted diet and have a social life or participate in events like team dinners!

I stopped eating gluten initially out of a kind of solidarity with him - and stopped having migraines after more than 30 years of migraines every week or two that I hadn't been able to banish with drugs, tracking other triggers, biofeedback, anything. The only migraines I've had since then have been when I ate something with gluten. You bet I consider myself gluten intolerant and have no desire to ever eat it again.
posted by leslies at 8:09 AM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have been on a low carb diet for several weeks, which inadvertently made me gluten free as well. The bloating and stomach and intestinal discomfort I got after eating a wheat and gluten containing soup last week was bad enough to make me call my doctor to request celiac testing. I am curious to see what it turns up.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:15 AM on March 19, 2013


elsietheeel be sure to keep eating gluten if you're going to get tested for Celiac - you need to be producing the antibodies for the test to be meaningful.
posted by leslies at 8:25 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


leslies: Oh I know, and I'm going gluten crazy until I get my next blood draw. Pizza and bread and donuts and who knows what else.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:41 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's undoubtable that wheat consumption is a short term caloric benefit to billions of people.

The important question that needs to be researched further is this one: what has happened to the body after it has consumed wheat for 30 years? 50 years? 70 years? If you'd had those nutrients without the gluten and associated proteins, what would be different?

This survey is very exciting to me, because it validates that key question: are gluten-rich grains an appropriate carbohydrate staple when long-term health is considered? If nutritionally comparable alternatives to wheat are available, should we choose them instead?

That question, the doubting of wheat, has never really been allowed at the grown-up table before. And it's time to ask it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:48 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


One of my sisters (and another sister to a lesser degree) is allergic to gluten. My mom figured this out in the 70s, when all the doctors told her she was nuts.

So here's my little Republican mom, going to the hippie grocery store for rice flour and carob.

I ate normal-ish. They got special pancakes to use as bread, and a whole different set of pastas, etc. (I actually felt a bit left out. But I"m deaf in one ear, so it all works out.)

The youngest sister and I, who have no such food allergies, have to watch what we eat for fear of chubbing up. The gluten-intolerant sisters have no such problem. Funny, that.
posted by notsnot at 8:48 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The contempt is for the idea that if you stop eating pizza and average grocery store bread and rice mixes and box and crackers and such, all will get better. Few, if any, seriously look at freshly baked whole wheat bread, from quality sources, or brown rice, etc. You compare diets with those, rather than some general "wheat" product, I'll pay attention to what you're saying when you talk about 100 percent whole wheat or quality brown rice and such, while still discounting your completely anecdotal data about what this did for yourself. I don't know what you ate all the time! For heaven's sakes.
posted by raysmj at 10:43 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I mean the contempt is for the idea that it's either a no-wheat diet or the standard carb-intensive diet, rather than the optional and heavily doctor-and-dietician-recommended option of going with good quality whole grains. And, of course, not eating too much of it, etc., etc.
posted by raysmj at 10:49 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Flour-and-sugar skepticism isn't new: the first philosophic food writer ever, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, believed that white flour and sugar caused obesity. These ideas have been around for a long time.
posted by subdee at 12:05 PM on March 19, 2013


And the reason people cut things out of their diet rather than measure, weigh, and judge the merits of each item is that it's much easier.

Anyway my anecdote is that when I lived in England for a year - not a country that's well-known for healthy eating habits or slim people - I very easily lost 20 pounds without changing a single thing about my diet. There's just something about processed American food - even unprocessed but not "premium" quality American food - that's unwholesome.
posted by subdee at 12:14 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


"White flour" is not synonymous with "wheat," and any non-quacky doctor or dietician will tell you that eating white flour all the time isn't good for you. You're not being a rebel against The Medical/Scientific Establishment by being "skeptical" of white flour.
posted by raysmj at 1:03 PM on March 19, 2013


Diets are like religion, with some people, there's just no debating.

Some foods become demonized as the Root of All Evil and Obesity while other foods are elevated to Superfood (tm) status. Every year there's a new one added to the list that's supposed to save us from cancer or aging or heart disease.

And for a small amount of people, some foods are the root of all evil due to health issues (i'm lactose intolerant, milkshakes do awful, awful things to me).

From the conclusion of this article:
Until now, human epidemiological and intervention studies investigating the health effects of whole grain intake were confounded by other dietary and lifestyle factors and, therefore, well-designed intervention studies investigating the effects of cereal grains and their individual components on intestinal permeability and inflammation are warranted.

Someone enlighten me--does this mean the authors of the article are saying that that the effects of grain consumption have never been studied controlling for other dietary and lifestyle factors?
posted by inertia at 1:08 PM on March 19, 2013


rather than the optional and heavily doctor-and-dietician-recommended option of going with good quality whole grains. And, of course, not eating too much of it, etc., etc.

Or it's just easier to learn a set of recipes that you can make without having to interrogate the grocer about the quality and provenance of their bread, and count calories, and stop eating before you're full because it's so easy to eat too much bread and pasta.

If someone said they didn't eat bananas anymore, people wouldn't blink, but not eating bread is cause for contempt. I can imagine someone in China who said they didn't eat rice would get a lot of static from locals, or someone in Mexico trashing corn. Wheat is in a big way is what gives Anglo cultures their identity. But let's call out hegemonic cultural food preferences for what they are and stop eating them so much if they aren't actually great to eat all the time.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:14 PM on March 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


kinnakeet: "Thinking of switching to quinoa? You might want to think again."

I discovered quinoa back in the '90s. Fads come and go, but I still love it.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:27 PM on March 19, 2013



My Dad always says, "Science is right, today."

Food is such a weird thing in modern America. I can't believe I have to travel 8 miles out of my way just to buy groceries that are actual food (as opposed to weird food like substances stored in cardboard.)

I think that we're each different and that different diet work differently in each of us. After going through an elimination diet to explore the reasons for my horrible gut problems and rashes, I discovered that I have pretty severe reactions to wheat, peanuts, eggs and chocolate. Those were pretty much staples of my diet. And now they aren't.

It might be a different group of things for a different person. Husbunny doesn't seem to process fat all that well.

My philosophy is this. Eat high quality food, eat the foods you like, eat stuff that doesn't give you diarrhea. Every now and then, eat some garbage. Because you can't live in a bubble.

Beyond that I'm living day to day, waiting for the next scientific breakthrough.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:49 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or it's just easier to learn a set of recipes that you can make without having to interrogate the grocer about the quality and provenance of their bread:

It's not *that* hard, certainly not harder than keeping up with Paleo whatnot and which gluten-free blah-blah is better than another, or cutting out processed foods, etc.
posted by raysmj at 1:52 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bananas are one specific fruit, not an entire group of foodstuffs that people go around talking about as if it's the Great Satan, or posting to Facebook about with, "Ditch the Nana" graphics and the like. (Note that I didn't say "bread" anyway, but was very specific re wheat.)
posted by raysmj at 1:54 PM on March 19, 2013


It is a joke between us, schmod.
posted by oneironaut at 2:45 PM on March 19, 2013


Raysmj you seem awfully exercised about what other people eat, while making a lot of assumptions about exactly what people who don't eat wheat do eat. I think Ruthless Bunny has it right - we aren't all the same and we can't all tolerate the same foods.

I know multiple people who have life threatening reactions to various allergens but that doesn't mean I can't eat those foods or judge them from making a great deal of effort to avoid them. My son won't die instantly if he eats wheat although he'll certainly feel horrendous for many days and if he or anyone else with Celiac eats wheat they increase their likelihood of a host of life-threatening ailments enormously. Eating gluten does not bear the same consequences for me but it makes my life a lot more unpleasant as anyone who gets migraines will understand. Just because gluten free is popular does not mean that there's no reasonable basis behind it for many people who eat that way. Note these links take one to a set of articles looking at the latest research on Celiac and non-Celiac gluten intolerance.
posted by leslies at 3:11 PM on March 19, 2013


I have a problem with people spewing their diet talk on me without solicitation, primarily. And I have a problem with the mocking of science and rationality. I have a problem with ideological thinking and fundamentalism, for similar reasons.
posted by raysmj at 4:10 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a problem with people spewing their diet talk on me without solicitation, primarily. And I have a problem with the mocking of science and rationality. I have a problem with ideological thinking and fundamentalism, for similar reasons.

Some people choose to be vegans and vegetarians and have solid reasons to do so, some subset of vegans and vegetarians believe some kooky things about eating meat. But I'm going to choose to not be mad about that. So I choose the same for people who aren't eating wheat.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:28 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have a problem with people spewing their diet talk on me without solicitation, primarily. And I have a problem with the mocking of science and rationality. I have a problem with ideological thinking and fundamentalism, for similar reasons.


And to show how much you dislike other people talking to you about their diets, you...go find where people are talking about their diets and mock them? That seems like an odd way to go about things.
posted by protocoach at 4:32 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


My links are to summaries of peer reviewed research with direct links to the studies.
posted by leslies at 5:04 PM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's right everyone, the thing that's going to kill us all is the plant that was already on the planet when we all started attempting agriculture.

Let's not pay any attention to the one that we invented, and bred from some ancient grasses, which has now become something that makes us sick and makes our animals sick too, not to mention our entire economy. Hooray for corn! Boo wheat! Screw those crazy wheat-eating people! *sigh*


Right, it's simple: Plants that evolved in Northeast Africa and cultivated by ancient Europeans are natural and healthy, and plants that evolved in the Americas and cultivated by indigenous Americans are "invented" and make us sick.

Corn is bad and Wheat is good and this whole gluten-free thing is just propaganda in the ongoing corn/wheat wars.


These is the kind of hilarious conclusions drawn when people use vague ideas about "naturalness" to decide what's healthy, instead of actual science.
posted by delmoi at 5:50 PM on March 19, 2013


The more work you have to do to make something edible, the less good it is for you.
Also concentrations. 1 apple is good. 6 apples to make a glass of juice is not good.
posted by xjudson at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Salt. Never, ever have our guts had as much salt stuffed into them as we have now. That can't be good for our gut flora.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2013


delmoi - corn is demonstrably bad for cattle. They can't digest it well, they need to be pumped full of hormones to stay somewhat healthy, and it royally screws up their internal ecosystem. (Side note: Have you ever grabbed a handful of rumen from a grass-fed cow and examined the organisms living in there? I have!)

Corn is also something fairly new. It took forever to develop it as a food grain, and it was developed not because it is an awesome food source but because it was one of the only domesticatable grains in the Americas. (Read Guns, Germs and Steel for more on this if you're interested.)

But "European good, American bad" still isn't even that simple. Because what we eat today is not the corn domesticated by Native Americans. You can still buy products made with emmer wheat, but no one eats teosinte, and precious few eat ancestral maize. Corn has become a highly industrialized product. It's great, except when we try to feed it to animals that have no business eating it, and it's great, except when we plant thousands of acres of identical plants just to turn it into sugar syrup or fuel. If we just ate the stuff, straight up, it would probably be no big deal, but we keep chemicalizing and processing it and fattening our herbivores with it. And that's not even including the worries about genetically modifying corn strains, which has had the amazing side benefit of putting ancestral teosinte at risk of cross-pollination with corn, potentially endangering the source of one of humanity's more important food crops. Yay progress, eh?

Someone mentioned upthread that wheat is "unnatural" because it's hexaploid. For those of you not up on your plant biology, it's worth remembering that this is actually not an issue. We are animals, and we know that in animals, extra sets of chromosomes = bad, but plants seem to be just fine with duplicate sets. There are any number of wild, non-human-created triploid (or more) plants.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:15 AM on March 22, 2013


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