NUTRITION 8th February 2017

Bye Bye Gluten-Free: Were we wrong about grains?


Food allergies? Blame gluten. Brain fog? Gluten. Fatigued? Of course, gluten. Or maybe not? What if gluten isn’t the enemy, and what if it is possible to have your cake and eat it too? Now one doctor believes you can.

Dr. John Douillard, author of the recently published book Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet, believes the glorious crusade against grains and gluten was, and still is, misdirected. Rather, it is a congested lymphatic system that is making us sick, not the grains we eat.

‘Over time, the lymphatic system, which drains waste from every cell in the body, can become congested, leading to intolerances that we have blamed on foods like wheat, dairy, and others.’

To preface, the lymphatic system is your body’s defense mechanism against infections and bacteria. It is a network of vessels shuttling toxins from your tissues into the organs of the lymphatic system, where white blood cells destroy them.

When the system is under attack, things go awry. But Dr. Douillard cautions us away from blaming gluten, and instead, consider the quality and production of the food we are eating.

It is not necessarily that we are insensitive to gluten, but rather, our digestive system, has been compromised through a modern diet of processed foods and pesticides, which damage our intestinal wall; leaking toxins into the lymphatic system, something it was not built to handle. Consequently, an inflammatory response kicks in, and symptoms from bloating, to headaches and IBS surface.

And for those who report a marked reduction in their symptoms after eliminating gluten, the doctor offers a rebuttal: ‘it’s not the avoidance of gluten or wheat in general that did this. Nor is eliminating it going to address the root cause which is a compromised digestive system, in need of a reboot’.  In other words, the root cause is a digestive system weakened from years of attack.

If grains and gluten are good, then when is it safe to eat them?  

During the winter, says Dr. Douillard, who offers evidence that grains were in fact consumed by our ancestors millions of years ago, citing the ice-age as a reason mankind was forced to look for food sources beyond ‘tropical rainforests and grassland savannas’. This explains why grains are typically harvested in the fall, in time for the winter, a point Dr. Douillard is only too keen to emphasize:

‘Eating wheat, a grain designed by nature to be eaten in the fall to help prepare for winter, was simply never meant to be eaten 3 times a day for 12 months of the year, every year, for a lifetime’.

It should also be noted that modern methods of wheat production have depleted the crop, rendering it less nutritious than the kind our forebears enjoyed. Ancient wheat was found to have abundantly higher levels of antioxidants compared to modern wheat according to studies.

What do you think? Do you intend to take the plunge back into bread? If yes, be sure to buy fresh and eat according to the season. But first start by eliminating foods laden with the preservatives and pesticides that are damaging your gut health.

As always, pushing for health.