How Wheat Went From Superfood To Liability

This latest from The Duck Dodgers is not a call to go back to eating Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts, Twinkies…or ordering up pizza and Subway on alternate days.

Rather, we aim to reveal what’s tantamount to a lost and forgotten history. There are two principle elements to it. First, it does not serve industry or institutions well to shed any light on how things used to be regarding wheat (and other grain) growing, harvesting, milling and food preparation practices—and especially, how they were observed to promote rather than compromise health, back then. Second, some good narratives—The paleo Diet and derivatives being most prominent—have over simplified and conflated things.

So enjoy the rich history of wheat as a one-time acknowledged superfood—one now rendered a liability and misrepresented in the whole by means and memes of good sounding—but easy to understand “evolutionary” narratives. Narratives that, nonetheless, appear on close critical examination, to be false.

[This post and underlying series have been incorporated into another so as to expand upon many common things. See below.]


  1. Tim Steele on August 26, 2015 at 12:31

    Great writing, Duck(s)!

    Back in my “bready” days, I used to make homemade bread with enriched white flour. It made beautiful loaves. I tried making some with whole wheat once, and it turned out dry and crumbly and it looked just terrible…nothing like the Wonder bread I was trying to copy.

    I found a couple of flours that seem to fit the bill of “whole, unfortified” flour.

    King Arthur

    Bob’s Red Mill

    Both are organic and un-enriched as far as I can tell. Can’t wait to try these out. I guess I never did go completely bread free during the heyday, I’ve been eating rye and pumpernickel all along. I have no reason to think I have a problem with gluten, but I do think that giving up white bread and white flour containing products was certainly a help in turning my health around.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 26, 2015 at 16:02

      There are some ancestral options these days too, for those who are interested. For instance, New England happens to have a long tradition of slow turning stone-milled grains—dating back to colonial times.

      The Littleton Grist Mill was established in 1798, in Littleton, New Hampshire and was restored a few years ago. You can order their flours by mail-order.

      In Skowhegan, Maine, there’s the Somerset Grist Mill. Not only do they do mail-order, but you can find their products in some North Atlantic Whole Foods stores, and NYC Greenmarkets.

      In Rhode Island, there’s Gray’s Grist Mill, one of the oldest continuously operating grist mills in the country—dating back to before 1700.

      I also found this list of New England grist mills.

      If you take the time to look, you’ll find a few of these traditional grist mills scattered around the country and quite often some local bakeries will even make an effort to source flour from these mills.

      One way to encourage such a practice is to print out and hand this article to your local baker. :)

    • John on August 26, 2015 at 14:58

      Wonder bread, and 99% of the breads in the American bread aisles for that matter, is not really representative of what bread should be.

      I dated a girl from Romania, and I was confused when she said we don’t have bread in our stores. I did not understand, and told her about how huge the bread aisle was. She replied “no, thats all flavorless cake. None of it is bread.” I understood what she meant when I spent some time in Romania, and went to the various food stores. Every loaf there looks like some variation of what you’d imagine finding at a restaurant. I never saw a loaf of wonderbread’esque wheat product.

      I had never before considered our bread to be anything but real bread – the stuff I grew up with (even the whole wheat “Nature’s Own” loaves my dad bought). I now wonder how the hell we ever accepted it as the standard.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 04:59

      Hey Tim!

      As we’ve been researching wheat we found that even the idea of always eating “fresh” is a pipe dream. Many cultures harvested grains and kept them for months before processing. And some were also known to process their grains and then store them for long periods.

      For instance, with all the talk of the supposed health benefits of freshly ground flour, the Hunza were known to store ground flour in large chests. This should have caused rancidity for their whole wheat flour, but they did it anyhow.

      There’s also a study showing that Vitamin E, which is believed to go rancid quickly, can stay largely intact for year.

      Of course, this makes sense since our ancestors could not harvest grains at all times of the year. It would be like suggesting that a squirrel can only survive on fresh acorns. :)

      So, it’s difficult to get so obsessed about the freshness of flour when we see some of the healthiest cultures not being overly concerned about it. Obviously if it smells rancid don’t use it!

    • Tim Steele on August 26, 2015 at 18:28

      Hey, Duck – What are your thoughts about sourcing whole wheat berries and grinding your own flour? I’m remembering reading that whole wheat flour goes rancid, one of the reasons for the heavy processing.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 07:25

      “Obviously if it smells rancid don’t use it!”

      No, silly. You use it to create something new, and call it a delicacy. :)

  2. tw on August 26, 2015 at 12:36

    I have found this series to be well presented, balanced and frankly very interesting.

    I gave up bread as an experiment a couple years ago and noticed small but important improvements in areas that could not be explained by placebo alone. Certainly not after this amount of time.

    The challenge as you allude to is the fact that the confounding features of wheat today seem to be virtually universal in North America making it a potentially wise choice to avoid it.

    with a broad array of available nutrition in an on demand fashion, the requirement for the amounts of wheat of the past seems less plausible and necessary today. The fact that agribusiness exploits certain characteristics of wheat (hunger inducing in particular and seemingly addictive qualities the other) to sell more product seems highly problematic and manipulative. That is, there is wheat in so many different things where its presence is clearly unnecessary.

    One minor quibble: when you describe non celiac gluten sensitivity, is the use of the word popular deliberate or perhaps a less optimal way of describing it?

    • Duck Dodgers on August 26, 2015 at 14:17

      “is the use of the word popular deliberate or perhaps a less optimal way of describing it?”

      A little of both. I suspect a lot of people are finding that they do poorly on industrial fortified wheat, and perhaps erroneously believe that they have non celiac gluten sensitivity. In reality, it may very well be that the mandated enrichments and various additives are disrupting their gut flora and exacerbating inflammation, which may result in trouble metabolizing gluten.

      There are anecdotes of people going to non-fortified countries and being inexplicably able to eat the wheat there without symptoms. We also found blogs where families claimed that milling their own wheat and tolerating it much better. In our own n=1s we found that we weren’t sensitive to gluten, even though we once thought we were.

      This all implies that wheat itself is not the problem in non-celiacs who are sensitive to wheat. Rather, there appears to be a problem with the industrial treatment and fortification of wheat.

      In that regard, gluten-free diets have become “popular,” though the blame on gluten itself may be misguided.


    • marie on August 26, 2015 at 19:56

      Could the suspected inflammation and gut flora disruption from fortified, over-processed white flour also be why more genetic celiacs are expressing the disease? (Celiac incidence has risen significantly in last 50 years).

      Also, I’ve been celiac since childhood but I do find I can tolerate a larger “dose” in Greece than in the States. For example, a piece of spanakopita won’t produce agony overnight there the way it does here. The overall state of the gut would influence tight junctions etc allowing more or less of the large gliadin segments through?

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 05:05

      Yes, marie! We’ve had a similar thought. Although, the very high prevalence of celiac in Italy may be a bit more difficult to explain, since they don’t fortify their flour. For Italy, it might be due to increased use of antibiotics and iron-rich formulas combined with the fact that pasta isn’t fermented, which would otherwise help reduce the level of offending wheat toxins. But, I believe you’re on the right track.

    • FrenchFry on August 27, 2015 at 05:26


      When did the number of celiac affected people increase in Italy ? What statistics did you check ? I am asking because pasta at every meal was not really a traditional thing until around WWII, as far as I could read somewhere (could have been on this blog, he!).

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 07:53


      I have not looked into Italian celiac trends. Our research was mainly focussed on non-celiac healthy individuals. It was the New Yorker article that mentions how non-celiac gluten sensitivity was rare before 1950.

      Another article, Unraveling The Gluten-Free Trend points out that many non-celiacs who avoid gluten are doing it because it’s become “trendy” not because they need to do so. As Alessio Fasano, M.D., director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment said in that article, “the vast majority of individuals on gluten-free diets have no business being gluten-free, because, for them, there is no medical necessity.”

      As best as I can tell, “gluten sensitivity” is just a bogus term for a messed-up gut. And we see gluten avoidance is more “popular” in fortified countries.

      But as to Italy, keep in mind that Italy has become very adept at diagnosing celiac in recent years. I believe they test everyone at an early age. Whereas in the US, most people are not tested. So, it might be misleading to look at the official trends and read too much into them. I really don’t know.

      But, I also saw that earlier comment about how pasta was not the everyday norm before WWII. That might explain any rises in celiac too, but I’ve not had time to look into it.

      On the other hand, pasta and unleavened preparation may just be a distraction. The Hunza ate chapati, which is unleavened and doesn’t appear to have any fermentation, as far as I can tell.

      The main point here is that scientists once claimed that gluten was the most nutritious compound in wheat, before wheat became adulterated and purified. Increased awareness of celiac disease may simply be confounding any apparent absolute rises in celiac for all we know. It’s complicated.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 07:56

      “But as to Italy, keep in mind that Italy has become very adept at diagnosing celiac in recent years. I believe they test everyone at an early age. Whereas in the US, most people are not tested. So, it might be misleading to look at the official trends and read too much into them. I really don’t know.”

      A critical point that can not be over-emphasized. So often, alarm over increasing trends of (x) is really explained by better diagnoses, collection of data, etc.

    • gabkad on August 27, 2015 at 14:39

      Right on Duckie. Same with the doctor in the Netherlands who put kids on the banana diet. Kids used to die. That’s all. But in the absence of reliable birth control, giving birth to many children was the norm. And if a couple of them died, well, that’s how things would go. Kids died of measles and diphtheria and whooping cough too. And polio. And who knows what all else.

      In Northern Italy which consists to a huge extent of Germanic background due to what all happened at the end of the Roman Empire, people eat polenta and rice. Pasta was not the big thing. This is recent because of the mechanization and industrialization involved in making dried pasta.

      Southern Italians are different. The migration of people from various places where wheat was a staple…. blah blah and blah.

      Okay, so Fasano has been following first degree relatives of Coeliac patients who also have the genetic susceptibility to develop Coeliac. He’s got a couple of women in their 70s who had the genes but only developed coeliac in ‘old age’ due to? He doesn’t know. Infection? Antibiotics? (gut microbiome change).

      So Coeliac does not necessarily begin in childhood. The severe form does but other people develop it later in life and don’t really notice any significant symptoms….. until blood tests reveal that absorption of minerals and vitamins is compromised.

      I’m the contra part of the team because historically Coeliac existed and kids died due to failure to thrive. Women who developed it a bit later were unable to bear children. And elderly became disabled. In them days there was no fortified wheat flour. And in those days there wasn’t industrial bread.

      And I do agree that a lot of people are jumping onto the bandwagon of gluten free because it’s trendy. But these people are a relatively small percent of the population. The Whole Foods crowd. People who have more money than sense. After all who would opt for rice bread when they can digest wheat?

    • Jesrad on August 28, 2015 at 03:53

      I’m french, living in France, and I get the same symptoms from eating wheat.

      To detail: a few years ago I set out to test Dr Davis’ claims about modern wheat being an irritant promoting auto-immune disease and inflammation, as opposed to its einkorn ancestor.

      I grabbed a bag of organic, stone-milled complete einkorn flour and started experimenting at n=1, and my results were those expected from Dr Davis’ book. Using modern flour and einkorn flour to make breads and pizza crust, and eating them for a couple days at 2 weeks seperate intervals with no grain consumption in between, it appeared clearly that einkorn did not cause the acid reflux, slight knee pain, very “creative” dreams and mouth sores that the modern wheat gave me.

      Was it gluten specifically ? Or was it the lectins, phytates, or any other in the now “usual suspects” gang of -ins pointed at by Paleo ? I don’t know and don’t care much. I just know that I can’t eat wheat safely, and that rice or ancestral, stone-milled grains might replace it.

    • FrenchFry on August 28, 2015 at 04:54

      Salut Jesrad,

      Quand tu dis “einkorn” tu veux dire “petit épeautre” ?
      Je ne me connaissais pas de problèmes particuliers avec le blé moderne, mais je dois avouer que quand j’ai arrêté d’en manger, c’est comme si mon cerveau était “sorti de l’eau”. Avec le recul, je peux expliquer la chose de manière multi-factorielle, je n’ai pas fait d’expérience systématique comme toi.

      Ceci dit, même si j’en mange depuis quelques mois, ce n’est pas devenu un truc quotidien. J’ai appris entre temps à faire la cuisine avec autre chose que pâtes, farine et friture …

    • gp on August 31, 2015 at 12:10

      Italy doesn’t mandate fortification however we have a good amount of fortified items; breakfast cereals for instance are fortified just the same as in the US, chocolate powders and various products (alike cereals bars) promoted as “healthy foods” are often fortified, multivitamins consumption has also increased significantly.

    • Jesrad on September 1, 2015 at 03:50

      FrenchFry: Oui, c’est bien du petit épeautre que je parle. On en trouve par correspondance en sacs de 5kg ou plus, à peu près toujours labellisés Bio.

      “Sorti de l’eau”, j’aime bien le terme, c’est aussi comme ça que je l’ai vécu. Avoir à nouveau une excellente mémoire et pouvoir se ‘repasser le film’ des dernières heures voire des dernières journées juste en le voulant… Arriver à suivre plusieurs actions en même temps… Pouvoir rester concentré pendant des heures sans fatigue, sans saturer…

      En fin de compte j’ai abandonné les recettes à base d’épeautre: les nouilles de riz remplacent tout ça avantageusement et pour bien moins cher.

  3. Resurgent on August 26, 2015 at 14:07

    This article, among many others, is why Richard’s website is the cutting edge of nutrition research.

    Well done – Duck(s)

  4. Colombo on August 26, 2015 at 16:58

    I’m nine months on my paleo-ish journey. I gave up bread and croissants from the start, although I can remember five times I didn’t resist.

    I used to feel bad about wheat. Anger, sadness, hate, treasoned. About three months ago I decided I would never feel bad about bread. I just won’t eat it until I’ve reached my weight goal, but I will never hate wheat again, nor have contempt for those who eat it or sell it.

    Life is too sort to be an asshole.

    I’m still worried about the fact that most animals are fed this seeds. I still believe it would be better, at least for cows and sheeps, to eat the plant, not so much the seed. But then again, this dietary change in livestock will inevtiably produce a lower demand for veterniarians, who will be forced to either sweep the strees or become people doctors. And I want clean streets and less people doctors all across the board, so I guess it is better to have sickly animals than having experts pestering people about what they should do.

    I have no basis for my belief that animals should eat better. Call it intuition. But I believe omnivores like pigs and chicken should eat of everything, specially bugs. Why not grow mealworms and feed that to hens, instead of that stupid extrussion with colorants so that the yolk doesn’t sohw that sickly pale shade? I bet pigs like beetles. Why not feed beetles to pigs? What would be the taste of a tigernut fed bacon?

    And if the capitalistic production system is so efficient, why not feed expensive food like some fruits to some animals, and create high-end meat and milk? And how can we talk about another success of free-market capitalism, with all these subsidies!

  5. John H on August 26, 2015 at 17:04

    This may seem a bit off-topic, but I think it’s related to the whole Iron thing. Around here, I’ve heard tigernuts being touted as a superfood. I just bought (and greatly enjoyed) a bottle of tigernut horchata, but was surprised to have the bottle say “iron” in a featured way. A few web pages I found say that tigernuts are very high in iron. I’m wondering if this makes you cautious, or whether the concern about the fortified iron is different from naturally-occurring iron?

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 05:09

      Although the iron-inhibiting tannins are removed with horchata, there’s no need to worry about iron in plant-based foods. Intestinal absorption is roughly 15-20% for heme iron and 1-8% for non-heme iron, when those foods are eaten alone.

      As you combine foods with iron absorption enhancers, or iron absorption inhibitors, the equation changes. Supposedly you won’t absorb more than 2mg of heme in one meal, making a single serving of meat alone rather safe.

      Non-heme absorption is poor but there is apparently no limit to the amount of non-heme you can absorb if eaten in large quantities and alongside absorption enhancers.

      Eating meat, refined oils, ascorbic acid, or HFCS is believed to significantly increase your absorption of non-heme iron. While eating polyphenols (found in chocolate/tea/tiger nuts), dairy/calcium, eggs, phytates will decrease your absorption of non-heme iron.

  6. Colombo on August 26, 2015 at 17:43

    So, according to Hippocrates, bread prepared differently produces different effects on different people.

    In the case of a relative (almost seventy years old), certain kinds of cheap bread, poorly baked, tend to raise her weight and give her digestion troubles. Whereas other kinds of bread (more fermented, better baking) tend to stabilize her intestine and lower her weight. I don’t know why she insists on eating the cheap bread that gives her headaches, nausea and digestion issues. A milder flavor? A softer texture? A cheaper price? In her youth, acidic bread was said to be eaten only by poor people (o_O) and dissolve the bones (!!!O_O!!!)

    She also insists on super-low calorie diets, low-fat, and when she diets she is angry, without energy, and often winds up binging. After many decades of misinformation, she cannot find her way out of the fraud.

    Also, she is convinced that she can’t digest butter or full falt milk or semi-skimmed milk, even though she has no problem with olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, avocados, bacon, shrimp, nuts or lamb. She also claims that she must not eat salt, because sodium raises blood pressure, and then she drinks sugary things and products with MSG added, but it’s ok because the label reads “low salt”…

    So many lies.

    Anyway, What kind of bread is good for weight managment?

    Is there any bread recipe to cure the misinformation malady?

    I think I’ll have to dig on the old Hippocrates tomes.

    Thanks for this excellent post.

  7. Bret on August 26, 2015 at 20:55

    That’s a pretty elaborate explanation. I think the transition (of partial public perception) can easily be explained by the intertwining of low carb resurgence and mass conflation of whole & refined grains. All topped off with a NYT best seller.

    Unlike Mr. Cordain, William Davis seems to be a decent enough human being — with a somewhat jolly and humble demeanor, to boot. But even when I was a brainwashed VLC acolyte, I could tell he was full of shit in that stupid book. It was written more like an advertisement than an objective/open-minded exhibition of facts. He wrote about wheat as if it was the sole, singular cause of endless ailments…a preposterous notion from the very get go, even disregarding its glaring lack of substantiation.

    • FrenchFry on August 27, 2015 at 02:22

      I vaguely remember the wheat belly blog a few years ago. There was what looked like some wheat and carb gestapo. I did not post much, maybe 2 messages at the most. One was about eating bananas and how ridiculous it was for wheat belly followers to freak about eating a banana. I got a reply which in retrospect I should have saved as it was clear that the whole wheat belly low carb dogma made tons of people develop an eating disorder. I did not want to debate with these people after that … (I never read the book by the way).

      I did go through a wheat free period because at the time, the “primal” assessment of grains seemed to make sense. But even then, I stopped giving credence to Sisson as he appeared to me to be yet another salesman using his website / forums as a way to gather customers for his products. So I put him in the same bad as the others.

      Clearly, I can’t remember any of these self-proclaimed nutrition experts delivering their message without selling shit. That aspect should trigger alarms in any newbie interested in nutrition.

      But it was a good journey through this rabbit hole for I learned a shit load. I just came back full circle a year ago when I realized that I like food too much to stick to swallowing baloney from these gurus :D

    • Bret on August 27, 2015 at 04:00

      Eating disorder is a pretty spot on description. Personally I’m not much bothered by the sales angle per se — but in Wheat Belly the overt hyperbolic dogma promulgation in what was being presented as a scholarly book by a concerned professional tipped the scales of disgust for me.

      I’ve soured quite a bit on Mark Sisson lately too. I used to regard him as fairly open minded (and to his credit, he is relative to Jimmy Moore et al), but bow he seems like a snake oil salesman as well. That Kresser podcast Richard linked in the Cordain/carb post discussed how ridiculously ignorant paleo gurus are of gene expression, and Sisson was the first person I thought of when hearing that segment, with all his barefoot this and ketosis that.

    • FrenchFry on August 27, 2015 at 05:12

      You see Bret, the thing that bugs me in all this is that the solution to most of health related problems among westerners has been know for like ever: eat good natural foods, move a lot, have fun outdoors and sleep like a baby. This simple prescription will solve a lot of shit, not all but a lot! However, this will never sell. Take the “primal” narrative: in essence, it can be summarized as what I said above. However, this is not what we see. Instead, we have a sleek money machine with the appearance of an open forum and blog that needs to maintain itself every goddamn week with new articles and whatnot wrapped up in a routine format: Friday success story, Sunday’s week-end link love, Monday’s Dear Mark, etc. So the guy and his team have to keep on adding new “episodes” when all that was needed is one message (cf. start of my post). Meanwhile, what do we see ? New products, new book editions, new freebies, new “primal certification”, new “primal retreat”, etc, etc. There is even this annoying popup window these days (I just checked the current website format).
      I also see this: I use a browser addon called ghostery. When I go check Sisson’s main webpage, ghostery reports to me that it blocked behind-my-back connections to 13 trackers, 13! (for comparison, Richard’s FTA website reported only 5 trackers but the adblock addon tells me that 10 adsites were blocked … In the case of Richard, I know perfectly well that he is very opened to this as he explained numerous times why he is doing this so fair enough).

      Anyways, if the guy was so open-minded, he would completely disown his past beliefs (carb curve, ketosis, high fat shit) but he does not.

      OK, I am spending too much time describing what every one should know.


    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 06:56

      I think Sisson gets some dispensation, at least from me. Sure, this is his business, but keep in mind he’s always been in the fitness and supplement business. Seen from that angle, his “Primal” brand is him moving where the science as he understands it, leads him. He has changed the formulations of his products many times, most recently of the probiotic to incorporate spore formers.

      He’s also embraced higher carb, and his forum was the mainstay for the potato hack. He embraced resistant starch in large part over what was going on here. He’s updated and tweaked his many “definitive guides” numerous times.

      I’m loath to talk about what I discuss with Mark privately but I can tell you that he read this post and was very impressed with it.

      Mark is squarely one of the good guys. Far too proud to ever thumb his nose at the direction the science appears to be moving into. But, he’s very careful about diving into and embracing new stuff. Understandable. Let guys like me take the pounding when we’re wrong.

      Finally, and I know this for a fact. There is a reason he created the “Primal” brand instead of just going with Paleo (x). It gives him headroom to define his own narrative, not fight with a rigid Paleo one.

    • spanish caravan on August 27, 2015 at 21:43

      My understanding is that Paul’s wife is Chinese, not Korean. PHD is largely a diet designed to counter the adverse health effects of VLCing; Paul actually VLCed for a long time — 3 years if I’m not mistaken — and probably ended up with some, serious permanent immune deficiency which he’s still in the process of figuring out (I think he needs some help on this score). He recognizes that VLCing is a form of starvation that induces nutritional deficiency, so he went full hog redressing it with “nourishing” amounts of fat, “minimal” levels of carbs, and micronutrients (lots of supplements). PHD is really a “turn off all VLC ill-health effects” diet. But it’s still premised on LCing as a means of appetite, and by extension, weight control. Am I wrong?

      The missing piece is FR and caloric density. People are always puzzled when I ask them to compare boiled potatoes with potato chips. You can’t be addicted to boiled potatoes (some LCers will say yes, but ignore for now). 1 serving of boiled potatoes is 144 calories, 33 grams of carbs and zero fat and 3g of protein. It’s 92% carbs, 7% protein, 0% fat. Caloric density of 1.0 (remember water has CD = 0).

      Compare that to Ruffles Sour Cream & Onion Potato Chips, one of the best-selling U.S. brands. 1 serving = 11 chips, 160 calories, 15g carbs, 10g fat, 2g protein = 60% fat, 35% carbs, 5% protein. Caloric density of 5.7, one of the highest among all snacks (candy bars usually around ~4.5).

      Boiled potatoes are basically a lump of carbs at 92%. Potato chips have less absolute carbs (33 vs. 15 grams) but more fat. Why does potato chips have high CD? It’s the fat. In fact, you can’t have high caloric density without significant fat content. You can’t raise CD high enough to make the food hyperpalatable. Then throw in salt (sodium = 140mg), umami (MSG), and sugar just enough to melt in your mouth (from the starch only); the overwhelming sugary taste will turn off FR, hence make it salty but faintly sweet with umami mixed in. The same rationale why a can of coke is all candy water (sugar) but has 45mg of sodium. There’re other tricks like make the chips crunchy, giving the impression of disappearing in your mouth (vanishing CD) to trick the brain into thinking you didn’t actually eat anything.

      Examine the 3 most addictive fast food kinds: pizza (Papa John’s pepperoni 14″), cheeseburger (Big Mac), and fried chicken (KFC original chicken thighs). Their caloric densities are uncannily around ~2.6. Why? First, you have to eat these as a meal. You need some volume. So they have to be lower than snacks like chocolates (4.6) and chips (5.5). But they compete with one another for market share. This shows that CD is a variable in itself which appeals to the human brain and signals palatability. In other words, it’s the fat (8.8 cal / g), not carbs (3.8 cal/g), for crying out loud. Fat has 2.3x the caloric density of carbs; now we know why we fry things in oil for palatability. Potatoes sliced thin and fried in oil is basically potato chips, the singular junk food most responsible for obesity, according to the NE Journal of Medicine.

      It’s evolution, stupid. As we evolved and became bipedal, our entrails became smaller as we stopped eating like gorillas and chimps and stopped fermenting what we ate forever. No need for a large gut the size of most herbivores. PHD is good at explaining this. We discovered fire, made tools, learned to throw things like rocks, spears, missiles, and other implements of destruction at our prey and one another. Simultaneously, our lower jaw became smaller, our brains got bigger and our senses were heightened so we could distinguish sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami. Bitter and sour probably to throw out spoiled, poisonous, and unripe foods that are dangerous — they act as negative food rewards. But positive food rewards come from sweet, salty, umami and fat. Fat in itself, with its high caloric density, is essential in evolution, as we can eat less but exert the same amount of energy. That’s why high caloric processed foods by definition have significant fat content. Why do you think our brain responds so excitedly to such calorically- dense processed foods? You can eat half the amount of fat as carbs and run the same distance. Fat is addictive, not carbs.

    • Colombo on August 27, 2015 at 08:11

      Well, everybody sells something.
      It can be a very simple sale, or a complex, multifaceted, protracted sell.
      The more complex the sell, the more belief the customers have to develop. And more belief means a bigger disillusion in the future.

      But although a good bread can be a very good food, anyone who is 100 pounds overweight after years of eating bread, will lose many of those extra pounds by avoiding bread for a few weeks.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 08:47

      On the other hand, it’s possible to lose considerable amounts of weight eating whole grains, fibers and iron chelating plants. Lots of different ways to lose weight.

      William Banting may have founded the low carb movement in the mid 1800s—just as wheat was becoming a liability—but even Banting’s doctor didn’t believe that low carb was necessary for everyone. Dr. William Harvey stressed that Banting could have lost weight if he exercised more and ate less refined foods. Banting had an affinity for refined foods/sugar.

      On corpulence in relation to disease, by William Harvey, 1872

      (p.137) We may see the proof of this, in the fact that Mr. Banting became fatter as long as he lived what is called “low,” i.e., when he ate principally bread and potatoes, with the addition of large quantities of beer, milk, and sugar; whilst, when he lived “well,” i.e., principally on meat, he became thinner…

      (p.145) …In many villages the inhabitants live chiefly on potatoes and cider, and only eat meat occasionally in the course of the year, and yet in spite of this plentiful supply of “the means of respiration,” we seldom meet a “Banting figure” amongst them. It can easily, therefore, be understood why medical men have always earnestly recommended all corpulent people to take much exercise, to sleep little, and to undertake some mechanical labour.

      It may interest you to hear that the numerous corpulent persons who yearly visit Carlsbad, Marienbad, Kissingen, and other similar places, even now minutely follow the rules which were established by Hippocrates more than 2000 year ago for the cure of his fellow-creatures who then suffered from similar complaints…

      …It is true that poor Mr. Banting derived no benefit from his rowing: indeed, whilst taking that exercise, he became still more corpulent, but you must remember that his appetite then increased to a fabulous extent, and you know with what kind of nourishment he satisfied it.

      Hmm… I think Taubes may have forgotten to mention that little tidbit. :)

    • FrenchFry on August 27, 2015 at 08:57


      I am not saying Mark Sisson is a bad guy (and actually, a typo slipped in my comment above, I meant “same baG”), I am just saying he is a salesman. I take no advice from a salesman …

      I understand what you’re saying and that you and him are good buddies. All this is fair enough, but what had started as a dietary advice and could have remained simple turned into a “soap opera” sold to people who desperately need some health improvements. The narrative created under the Primal brand is then heavily being marketed under the disguise of the “wisdom of crowds”. I won’t have a part in it. That’s all there is. I don’t need to brand a simple prescription for health that everybody already knows. But more power to Mark Sisson, he seems to believe in his narrative (I would call it a shtick but that’s my opinion only) and people buy it, all good for him.
      At least, he does not look like Jimmy Moore who can’t possibly be credible …

    • John on August 27, 2015 at 09:47

      The other thing people always seem to forget about Banting is that his diet didn’t allow butter, pork, or salmon, and he was drinking between 3-7 glasses of wine a day, 1 glass of which might have been substituted for grog (made from vodka, gin or whiskey, if I remember correctly.)

    • gabkad on August 27, 2015 at 14:56

      Same with Jaminet and his retreats. Only for people with $$$$$$$. They can afford local they don’t have to go on retreat. And if they are screwed up gutwise and whatnot, then they are stupid people with $$$$$$$$. Why doesn’t Jaminet do the Christian thing and promote PHD for the poor people? They need it more. But, oh, …….nevermind.

    • spanish caravan on August 27, 2015 at 15:49

      Paul isn’t exactly making a killing with his retreat. It pays some bills but it’s chickenfeed compared to what he could be making if he went full hog. My problem with PHD is that Paul’s stuck in some wayward spot in his health journey, where he opines there is an optimal level of carbs. Not so. If you eliminate food reward elements, you can eat 90% carbs with no effect on weight or appetite. But then we have to understand food reward correctly; Guyenet introduced only 30% of what passes for FR. There is a quite a bit of complexity and caloric density is at the heart of the proposition. Once you correctly understand FR, the obsession with carbs will disappear. He’s done the right thing by focusing on calories not grams of carbs, which most LCers don’t realize have half the calories of fat. That’s why they carb count. Some of these idiots actually there are more carbs than fat in fried chicken, cheeseburgers and potato chips. Alas, it takes too much thinking, some recalculations, and redacting your prior proclamations, which will ultimately undermine credibility. Saying mea culpa just isn’t optional when you have skin in the game.

    • gabkad on August 27, 2015 at 16:25

      Spanish, agreed that Paul is stuck. But he’s promoting his health retreats biggie time on his blog with all the participant feedback. So it might be ‘chickenfeed’ today but maybe not tomorrow. It’s the start of his business plan. Watch and wait.

      Sooner or later all of these people have ‘skin in the game’. Even Guyenet. Maybe eventually he’ll team up with someone and do ‘retreats’ too.

      But the problem is the vast majority of Americans (and we are mostly discussing the Americans here) is the poor and uneducated are the ones with dietary issues. If Jaminet didn’t make such a big deal about his religion then fine. He’s only helping those who can ‘afford’ him. That sticks in my craw as being hypocritical. Maybe I’m being a stickler.

    • tw on August 27, 2015 at 16:42

      All of the info used for their book (and retreat approach) is available FREE on their site.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 17:31


      When I finally report on my ongoing experience with whole grains from a variety of sources, it’s going to largely be in some way about FR.

      You know how carbs are supposed to just make you eat more carbs?

      What if I told you that whole grains make me eat small meals and I get the satiation signal very early on and almost always leave food on the plate and I sleep well?

      By contrast, two weeks in a row we’ve had gusts and have gone up to a particular place with a prime rib special, easily 12 oz+, and maybe the best tasting ever. So, I ate it both times, along w mashed taters and some bread, and both times, after an initial comatose sleep of two hours, wake up with massive heartburn, have to kill it with baking soda, then have to pee a million times, etc. etc.

      Otherwise, that never happens, not even close.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 18:11

      “Maybe I’m being a stickler.”

      I was going to say stinker. ;)

    • gabkad on August 27, 2015 at 18:58

      Well, yeah. Adzuki beans have that effect.

    • gabkad on August 27, 2015 at 19:02

      tw, fair enough. But the book and material is very complex for people who are not exactly university educated. There needs to be ‘simple and good’. The food culture among multigenerational under funded lives has come and gone. And Jaminet’s preferences are for various Korean type foods because of his wife. But there’s alternatives and easy to make. I want to see a ‘cheap, nutritious menu’. And he doesn’t ‘do’ beans, for example. Nothing the heck wrong with beans. Bazillion people eat beans.

    • Bret on August 27, 2015 at 21:27

      “Only for people with $$$$$$$. … Why doesn’t Jaminet do the Christian thing and promote PHD for the poor people?”

      gabkad, you sound like a spoiled little shit. Do you have any idea what the PHD retreats cost the Jaminets? Did it ever cross your mind that they have expenses in their lives, just like you do, and that it’s reasonable for them to expect to be paid for the work they do, just like you expect pay at your job?

      If you want to be disgusted with a paleo diet guru, then find a hole in their supposed principles. It’s not hard to do. But spare me the wealth envy sob story.

      How about this… You can righteously demand that the Jaminets to offer retreats below cost to poor people when you agree to work full time at your job for $2 an hour. That would be the decent Christian thing to do, instead of demanding that much bigger salary that you are actually paid. Right?

    • spanish caravan on August 27, 2015 at 23:40

      Sorry, became long-winded. But if anyone doubts the allure of Food Reward and just how powerful a concept Caloric Density is, do a simple experiment. Eat 1 serving, a plateful, of boiled potatoes. You’ll be full. Satiety off the scale. Then have a bite of Snickers, a chocolate bar with peanuts, added sugar/salt and hydrogenated oil (CD=4.5). Or have a spoonful of Skippy’s peanut butter (CD=6.5). Peanut butter that is all natural, like the ones you can grind yourself from WholeFoods, doesn’t have added FR items; they’re too bland, not enough fat, too little sugar/salt, and lack artificial ingredients that resemble umami, not hyperpalatable by any stretch of the imagination. But Snickers and Skippy’s are because they have maxed out on FR ingredients. Skippy’s is 75% fat; Snickers = 45%. Your appetite will be reset to a clean slate and you’re ready to tear apart your fridge for another go round. Leptin dysregulation? Carb addiction? Behaving like a carbosaurus? Metabolically deranged? Nah, these are all aftereffects of overeating calorically-dense, processed foods. They’re parallel developments, not causative factors. The first mover in all this is hyperpalatability. In other words, it’s the Food Reward, dummy.

    • FrenchFry on August 28, 2015 at 00:52

      Good stuff Spanish, I tend to agree with the principle of food reward. That’s the reason why there is always room for a dessert like ice-cream, even though you stuffed yourself with much less palatable foods such as boiled spuds. You could swear you wouldn’t eat more but comes the ice-cream and bang! magic happens, there’s a little extra room in your stomach …

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 03:25

      Bret> take a few slow deep breaths. You entirely missed my point. Not for the first time. But that’s okay. Just keep frothing at the mouth.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 03:28

      Spanish: Shou-Ching was born in Korea to Chinese parents, grew up in Korea,

      Fair enough.

    • Bret on August 28, 2015 at 05:35

      Feel free to explain your point, gabkad. I’m all ears. If a point had been at all apprent the first time around, I wouldn’t have called you out for whining about the price of the retreats like a child.

      And, I shall take as many short, halted breaths and foam at the mouth for as long as I damn well please!

    • Tim on August 28, 2015 at 05:37

      gabkad, then can you explain in simple and easy to understand terms what your point was?

      I must be one of the people you referred to in one of your comments.
      “But the book and material is very complex for people who are not exactly university educated”.

      For a simpleton like me, you sound like you have a lot of wealth envy. You seem to like to tell people how they should spend their time and money.

      Here’s an idea. Since you seem to know so much about everything and are all concerned about helping poor people, why don’t you create a simple and good web site that explains things in terms that poor and uneducated people can understand. Then write a book and give it to everyone for free. Then put on a retreat for the poor and uneducated who might not be able to read or have access to a computer. You’ll probably need to hire some people to implement it all so you’ll also have an opportunity to pay them all a good living wage with plenty of benefits. I’m sure you are smart enough to figure out how to do it all and still make it affordable for the poor and uneducated.

      Then I can do the really hard task of commenting about how wrong you are how greedy you are becoming.

      I don’t know what life journey brings you to want to disparge someone like Paul Jaminet but I guess you’ve had things happen to you that woud explain it. I guess my life journey compells me to not let comments like yours stand uncontested. Paul Jaminet has not received a nickle from me but all of his FREE infomation on his website has given me priceless information that I have implemented into my life. He seems like he is a very kind, gracious and generous gentleman. If I were to become a Christian, I’d use him as a role model. He even is influencing this comment. I want to call you some nasty names but instead I feel that I want to be more like Jaminet so I will hold back and consider that you must have reasons for your comments.

      Have a nice life.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2015 at 06:01

      Let me see if I can help.

      Because I know Gabs quite well for a number of years now and have chatted with her on the phone a few times, I know what an an irreverent, potty mouthed little ass she is, just like me.

      So, I took her thing to be a tongue in cheek, pointing out irony deal. Basically poking fun of religious hypocrisy and piety, whatever.

      Paul is a PhD physicist who sometimes quotes Bible verses as literal truths. I like Paul and he’s a very gracious man and I can look past the cognitive dissonance, but it’s very difficult. Perhaps moreso for Gabriella.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 08:15

      Thanks Richard. You understand. It’s not the cost of the retreats and whatnot. It’s not even the retreats. It’s the imbalance of it all. It’s the focus on a certain demographic who can afford a diet that most of humanity could never afford. Why does a person need to take bucketloads of supplements if the Diet is Perfect? You’d assume that a perfect diet would supply the nutrition a body needs. Even vitamin D can be obtained by eating the whole fish.

      Paul selectively excludes fundamental food sources that have kept humans alive, healthy and breeding. Pulses, wheat, corn, etc. I am not going to make a comprehensive list here. The concept of resistant starch has not seemed to penetrate the Perfect Health Diet.

      Basically ‘perfect’ is only for a certain demographic. I don’t have a problem with elitism. I have a problem with someone who promotes themselves as a Christian. As a Christian, he has an obligation to help those who are less fortunate than himself. Otherwise, he’s not a real Christian he’s just capitalizing on self identifying as one. Sort of like how American presidents seem to be a situation where they have to attend church.

      Now I would love to see a Perfect Health diet for someone who is on a limited income. There’s the challenge.

    • Christine on August 28, 2015 at 08:58

      Gee, I thought her points were pretty clear.

      If the diet is perfect, why are supplements necessary seems pretty obvious to me. That the diet/supplements and books are out of reach of most people’s budgets, ditto. This isn’t whining, it’s a slice of reality.

      Full disclosure – I know gabkad too. RN’s right, she’s irreverent as hell and calls a spade a spade. I also know that she’s done more good than the Jaminets ever will with no fanfare and hasn’t taken a cent of financial reward for it either.

      You guys might want to back off on the insults and ask yourselves why a bit of criticism of your hero is so hard for you to swallow.

    • tw on August 28, 2015 at 10:28

      I understand what you are saying. On the other hand when a guy makes it potentially too simple, like Davis perhaps, there is equal criticism.

      i think food has always been relatively expensive. Only mass produced manufactured foods gave us all the illusion of cheap “nutrition”.

    • Christine on August 28, 2015 at 10:50

      Agreed tw. I’m inclined to look even deeper than that. I think it’s that we’ve been sold into to believing that even as grown-ups we must have free time and toys to play with that has led us to want our food cheap and quick.

      Nourishing food takes time and work. We need to grow up and stop expecting to be fed, or told what to eat by the experts. This is a society based on learned helplessness, no less so among those who can afford to follow health gurus advice than those who know no better than to trust “Big Food”.

    • FrenchFry on August 28, 2015 at 12:25

      Thank you, amen to that!

    • spanish caravan on August 28, 2015 at 12:52

      If Shou-Ching is from Korea then I can’t see how Paul does away with legumes. Koreans eat that fermented bean paste dish just about every meal, either as soup or stew. I can’t imagine Shou-Ching’s having had much input in this. She seems to be involved nominally to lend credibility. Having said that, I’m sure you agree Paul’s done a lot of good. If perchance he finds out that his own diet does people more harm than good, he could be counted on to come clean and fess up, unlike some diet gurus that have decided to lay low or lie about their health problems. And Paul’s income from the retreat probably doesn’t exceed his affiliate revenue from Amazon. He’s a house dad with free time and the retreat is a social thing for him and his buddies. And, yes, Paul needs more carbs in his diet, not least because grains and legumes are cheap vs. meats, fish and coconut oil but they also take less time to prepare and cook. But I’ve always regarded his diet as a “reset diet,” like escaping the horreurs of the VLC dungeon by eating enough carbs while still gorging on fat. A one-time, non-recurring diet rather than one of perpetual maintenance. His was always a work in progress, even though he calls it PHD.

    • FrenchFry on August 28, 2015 at 13:57

      Haha, yeah he should slightly rename it to Perfectible Health Diet :D

    • spanish caravan on August 28, 2015 at 14:31

      That’s right, FrenchFry. I actually love Paul and his wife and think he is one guy in Paleosphere (if he so defines his diet as part of that trendy genre) with integrity. For example, no one in Paleosphere would have broached the sialic acid in redmeat and its harmful effects on Hashimoto’s. Paul did and he did so as soon as he saw the evidence. There’s much to admire about the guy. But for his diet being perfect? Well, as Paul would say, you try to reach perfection asymptotically. Truth is not absolute and doesn’t quite exist in pure form. You arrive at it by comparison, by proving its superiority to competing ideas. So it will always be a work in process; no such thing as a finished product when searching for truths. Last I head he called his book “solid.” “Perfect” was to buy a crib without financing. Amen.

    • Bret on August 28, 2015 at 15:10

      “You guys might want to back off on the insults and ask yourselves why a bit of criticism of your hero is so hard for you to swallow.”

      Sure thing, Christine. And you might want to lick the rim of unwiped diarrhea crust off of my moderately hairy sphincter. Then explain to me how either of my comments led you to believe Paul Jaminet is my hero.

      Not that I owe you the explanation, but I don’t have any exceptional admiration of Paul. I respect him for his research efforts and presentation thereof, but there are also things I disagree with him on.

      The reason I let gab have it (and partially prompted Richard to step in and save her, since it was obvious she made a fool of herself) is that I have no patience with wealth envy whatsoever. If she thinks the retreats are overpriced, she can choose not to pay for them. Poof…problem solved.

      If you are convinced gab was making some kind of cute, ironic point (sorry, I still don’t see it…I see spoiled communist chickenshit whining), then your interpretation is duly noted.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 16:53

      Missed the point again Bret.

    • Bret on August 28, 2015 at 17:24

      Means a lot coming from you, gabkad, being the recipient of all this ridicule.

      Yawn. Bored with you now. Bye.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2015 at 21:09

      That’s a really cool rantish honesty whirl on Jaminet and I could not do better.

      Yea, I adore the guy too, and may be live long and prosper, and the wife unit too.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 28, 2015 at 21:21

      “prompted Richard to step in and save her, ”

      Uh, Bret. I’d prefer to do this in person but I guess that’s not possible.

      I respect you on many levels and I so appreciate your many contributions here, and you are of the very special tribe that can do both diet and politics and that never escapes my notice.

      But you are being very unreasonably unkind to a dear friend of mine and I will not have it, because she doesn’t deserve it and she’s a dear friend for many of the same reasons I respect you.

      If you insist on drivig a wedge, guess how it goes.

    • Bret on August 28, 2015 at 21:54

      Whoa now. Not trying to drive a wedge by a long shot…just calling the situation as I saw it.

      That being said, I ended up being a lot nastier than I originally intended, to both gab & Christine. It’s all in good fun to me typically, but not if it is hurting anyone’s feelings, and I mean that.

      So ladies,

    • Bret on August 28, 2015 at 21:57

      (hit post by accident)

      So ladies, I apologize for going way over the top.

      And now I am going to disappear for a while and cool my head. Cheers all. :-)

    • Tim on August 29, 2015 at 07:41


      Thanks for explaining your point in more detail.
      Your idea of a Perfect Health diet for someone on a limited income is something that I’ve been experimenting with personally this year. I have been eating pretty well on about $4/day. If I go gung ho on a super fiber supplement shake I can still stay below $6/day. My goal is to come up with a nutritious eating plan that only costs less than a latte grande per day. I think food stamps max out at a little over $6/day. If you have any interest in such a project, I’d love to get some of your ideas as far as some of the best foods for nutrition/dollar. The problem is that it’s a little subjective as to what criteria one should use as a “Perfect Health Diet”.

    • gabkad on August 29, 2015 at 10:32

      Good questions and this is going to be a bit of a long answer. Understandably, this is also a work in progress. I do eat some beans and corn tortillas which are not PHD. It was Spanish who wrote that both Paul and his wife have illnesses (Hashimoto’s which I know about and Paul had some sort of infection as well) the focus of his quest was to provide himself with a non-inflammatory health promoting diet. But that is specific for his medical health.

      I’ve been toying with a $50/week grocery shopping. I find I can’t consistently make it work on much less than that, on average. So far this week it’s $52. (I still need to buy a bag of onions!) But there’s several ziplocs of cooked food gone into the freezer.

      I cook on the week-end and get most of the stuff done in a few hours. This way stuff doesn’t end up going bad in the bottom of the fridge. Some week-ends this takes longer and some week-ends not.

      Richard and Tim with their gigantic contribution in regards to sources of resistant starch and varying dietary fibres have made a huge impact on what I cook. I didn’t think, historically, that my choices were bad, but now they are most certainly better. I don’t use purified fibres because my goal is to just eat real food. Right now focused on seasonal vegetables like kohlrabi leaves and bulbs, celeriac, celery, parsley roots, beets (+ especially the leaves), red chard, collard greens….etc. Some vegetables are great candidates for cooking and freezing. Some not. I’ve been using the Nutribullet to make vegetable puree soups as well recently. That came out surprisingly well with kohlrabi (which has never been a favourite but I may start to change my mind.)

      From a nutrient point of view, I average things out over 1 week and do not focus on daily intake except for fibre. That’s got to be daily.

    • tw on August 29, 2015 at 13:00

      I just wanted to interject from a slightly different perspective on Jaminets work.

      I used his book as a rough template for my eating strategy during chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s last year. It was not way outside what I was already doing but I found it helpful. That is especially considering all the charlatans on the inter webs.

      This resulted in stable weight and no problems eating at all. A relatively rapid recovery with no (additional) adverse health impacts.

      I ignored the supplement section entirely and continue to.

      Interestingly: Not eating wheat (bread in Canada) in this instance proved (or should I say appeared to be) unexpectedly helpful in a number of ways.

    • spanish caravan on August 29, 2015 at 14:11

      @tw, PHD is a robust diet. I can’t see anyone going wrong with PHD or developing health problems. When recovering from blood cancer, I can see how PHD can be helpful (can’t say the same for the LC/VLC variety). But for long-term maintenance, I would think you would need a diet rich in fiber and resistant starch. It’s not so much that animal products are harmful or cause cancer but when you increase the proportion of protein and fat, you tend to crowd out fiber and RS. It’s just math. But more true for non-blood cancers than something like lymphoma.

    • gabkad on August 29, 2015 at 14:19

      Same tw: Canada bread, pasta etc: For whatever reason, and this is why I asked Duckie about exorphins, consuming wheat and barley has the same effect on my guts as taking codeine. Everything stops. Amazing amount of bloating (waist will increase by more than 4 inches) and in the morning after ‘sleeping it off’, I’d be walking and farting from bedroom to kitchen like my late Uncle Louis playing the tuba in the Santa Claus parade. And this was not a few toots. This was at least a 30 second almost continuous marching ‘music’.

      Then, no wheat, no farts. Sure, a bit of a fart before pooping but no magnificent acoustics. There must be something ‘off’ when this happens. Even beans don’t make me fart. I’ve become a fartless wonder despite consuming loads of cooked vegetables.

      Wheat slows down the transit time as if I’ve taken Tylenol 3s. This can’t possibly be a good thing.

      However, saying all this, I am willing to guinea pig myself and try wheat berries. I did cook them in the past but did not isolate them as a grain food product. Now I will be able to isolate them because the only grains I eat are rice and corn. I know how they don’t affect me.

      Beer and ale makes me fart like crazy too and if I don’t pay attention, eventually cause gastritis, so I don’t drink the stuff. Haven’t had a brew for more than 10 years now.

    • spanish caravan on August 29, 2015 at 14:47

      @gab, I’m probably spending less than 50 bux on food. Most of my meals these days are based on beans and lentils. Make soup with Basmatti rice, 3 different varieties of legumes, add some herbs, ACV, and a tbsp of palm oil (optional). I cook the legumes in a huge pot but store them in plastic containers in the freezer and bring them out when they’re ready to be eaten. Switch once more and refreeze them to max out the RS3 effect (probably necessary). Black-eyed peas, chickpeas, beluga lentils, the Indian variety, mung beans, white beans, etc.

      All my snacks are microwaved green plantains and boiled, frozen & then thawed (or microwaved) potatoes and yuca (cassava). The satiety is incredible. These are all low in caloric density (~1.0) so you really can’t eat them that much.

      Here’s a working hypothesis: the satiety you feel from LCing comes from the protein-fat combination. It isn’t really satiety as much as nausea induced by protein. In fact, animal products tend to have high protein content when they accompany fat. Legumes (and to some extent tubers), however, have lower proportions of protein when they come attached with carbs. So the satiety is not nausea-inducing but is really the feeling of being full; you’ve eaten sufficient volume of low calorically dense (1.0) foods. So you’re naturally full. Unless you have a spoonful of Skippy’s peanut butter and kickstart Food Reward; then you’re ready to start all over again.

    • gabkad on August 29, 2015 at 17:11

      Yes Spanish, I’m trending towards your diet. Lower in fat, adequate protein, lots of fibre. Not quite though because I add meat but not much. And fish on the week-ends. Or shellfish. Lots and lots of vegetables and some pulses added in. Last week I soaked adzuki beans for 36 hours and then cooked. Containerized them. This week it was black eye peas. The orange lentils are great in soup because they entirely fall apart and add texture and a bit of flavour..

      Some weeks what I do is make a pot of medium grain rice (no iron added)…. then make some banchans (like burdock root, spinach), cooked other green vegetables….. I’ll have about 6 things in containers. When I come home in the evening, it’s mix and match time. Same with soup. I’ll add stuff to broth, different things.

      About twice per year I’ll buy a chicken. And twice a year it is a disappointing adventure. I prefer fish and seafood. More flavour and variety. I buy all sorts of weird fish, not farmed salmon. And duck eggs for breakfast. Was making them souflee style but now doing the Gordon Ramsey thing. On tortillas. With hot sauce. Or fresh East African style carrot pickle.

      Dumplings are the killer. I have a bag of frozen Russian beef and pork dumplings. I caved in and put a few in the soup. Very addictive. Chewy. They do have an effect on bowel movement despite the huge amounts of cooked veggies. The day after I eat a few dumplings in soup but maintain my usual quantities of cooked vegetables, I have no urge to go to the toilet. Warm water instillation doesn’t stimulate movement. I have to wait two days for a BM to want to happen. Sometimes three days. Then it seems the exophin effect of the wheat wears off and I’m good to go. Good thing for all the veggies and pulses or I’d have to do manual extraction. Ugly stuff.

      We just need a diet called ‘The Whatever that Works for You Diet’.

    • tw on August 29, 2015 at 17:17

      I found the moderate carbohydrate approach useful. When one is on cortico steroids appetite and blood sugars skyrocket. Therefore appetite (and blood sugar) management becomes critical. Steroids like dexamethasone, which is taken for nausea around treatments, increases appetite like eating bread.

      I tried some resistant starch and found that cooked and cooled potatoes, yams and sweet potatoes worked very well. Especially stacked with butter and sour cream (and cheese).

      My demand for high fat dairy during the treatment period has never been higher. Can’t explain that but that’s what happened.

      The moderate carbohydrate, and exclusions of PhD were in my opinion, the ticket. At least in my circumstance.

    • Tim on August 31, 2015 at 08:46


      My diet is a work in progress also. I have found three stores, Aldi’s, Sprouts, and the Buford Farmer’s Market that allows me to eat “nutritious” foods for very little. I just try to stick with their weekly specials. Here are most of the things I eat.

      Potatoes, $3.95/10 lbs Aldi’s. Sometimes cheaper
      Lentils, $.99/lb. Aldi’s. Makes 2.5 lbs cooked
      Chicken, $1.89/lb Sprouts, skinless boneless thighs
      Avocado, $.49-.79 each, Aldi’s
      eggs, $1.49-$2.59/dozen, Aldi’s
      Broccoli, $.99/lb, Sprouts, crowns
      Cabbage, $.50/lb, Aldi’s or Sprouts
      Onions, $.50-.79/lb, Sprouts
      85% dark chocolate, $1.99/ 4.4oz Aldi’s,

      I fill in with with whatever other fruits and vegetables are on special every week. This week I got Cauliflower for $.49/lb at Sprouts. I got a watermelon for $1.98 that yielded 9 lbs. Apples are usually $.99/lb and sometimes they have some crazy specials on some fruits at $.49/lb.

      5 days/week I supplement my normal breakfast of two eggs and banana with a fiber smoothy that I mix up with my NutriBullet. Usually its a banana $.39/lb Aldi’s, chia seeds, flax seeds, cocoa nibs, psyllium husks, potato starch, sunflower seeds, carrot, frozen cranberries, and blueberries and strawberries when they are cheap.

      I stock up on the seeds when they go on sale at Sprouts. I got chia seeds for $2.99/lb, flax seeds for $1.19/lb, sunflower seeds for $1.99/lb. Cocoa nibs are from the Farmers Market for $5.99/lb.

      This week at the Farmer’s Market I got nice big chicken drumsticks for $.59/lb. and beef heart for $1.09/lb, chicken hearts for $.99/lb.

      When I analyze everything, (I use as my nutrient/diet analyzer, free) I find that all the nutrients are complete and high except it’s usually a little low on vitamin D, E and calcium. I pulverize egg shells(free) in my NutriBullet to take care of the calcium and add it to my smoothie, I’ve been taking cod liver oil in the winter to get the vitamin D up and I get extra vitamin E with more sunflower seeds in my smoothie or add almonds when they are on sale.

      I sometimes make some rice which is really dirt cheap at the farmer’s market, .$89/lb dry parboiled with no added iron.

      It averages out to around $4-5/day. I usually cook the lentils, potatoes and meat and vegetables on Sunday and just reheat in the microwave.

      I do heavy weight training and usually do a post workout supplement of whey protein, $5.99/lb Sprouts special last week, and honey,(I stocked up on some great raw, unfiltered honey that Sprouts was running at half price a few months ago.)

      It comes out to around 300 grams carbs, of those it’s around 50g fiber and then whatever amount of resistant starch there is. I get around 130 g of protein. I find that I can tweek my weight by just adjusting my calories with more or less potatoes or lentils or cutting out the fiber shake a few days. It seems like it takes around 2400 calories to keep my weigh stable. Eating 2400 calories of this type of food is very filling.

      When I want to lose a pound a week, I just tweek things for two days to only get 1600 calories for those two days. 1600 calories with this kind of food is filling and I don’t feel like I’m dieting at all but the weight comes off. Or I just skip breakfast and lunch for a day or two. But then that feels like a diet so I’d rather just keep my eating patterns intact and just adjust some of the amounts instead.

      Also, when I was doing low carb my blood glucose in the morning was always right around 100. Now it’s between 85-90. I’ve monitored my blood sugar after some meals and it seems like the lentils really keep the glucose spikes down even when I eat potatoes and rice. I had tried just potatoes for a few days but my blood glucose really spiked and I didn’t feel right. For me the retrograded potatoes and the parboiled rice didn’t have much reduction in blood glucose spikes so that’s why I eat lentils with them.

      Sorry for the lengthy comment but wanted to share some of my findings.

    • gabkad on August 31, 2015 at 13:39

      Tim, so your version of PHD also includes pulses. I’ve cooked Adzuki beans (expensive for dried beans), black eye peas, chickpeas and decorticated lentils (the orange ones). I eat corn tortillas as well, which is not PHD. But I don’t have the same sort of health problems that Paul has.

      That’s interesting about pulverising egg shells. Do you bake them first or just pulverize fresh? I eat duck eggs but your idea sounds good.

      What I do is make stock from beef ribs or pork stuff and the vegetables from the stock, I puree so I have soup like that. During the winter I make a stew from pork side belly and sauerkraut. Add some 30% sour cream and it’s heaven.

      For protein I buy fish. Usually eat fresh fish on the week-ends as protein source. All sorts of different types of fish like brown croaker, grey sole…. I don’t like farmed salmon, for example. But will buy Mediterranean sea bass and bream (imported from Greece). Also Pomfret and Pomano. Both good eating fish. I don’t do anything special with whole fish, just salt and bake.

      Your beef heart thing is interesting. I watched a video on fast frying thin slices but haven’t done it yet. I make ‘dirty rice’ with chicken hearts, gizzards and liver. Louisiana style.

      I think the biggest problem with living healthy on a budget is it takes work. A person needs to know how to cook and a lot of people on limited income do not. The YWCA in downtown Toronto has a teaching kitchen. (I know the people who are involved with this project. But the problem is groceries in downtown are expensive.)

      I do not live on a limited income. I am doing this as a learning exercise and if at some point in time, what I am learning can be useful, that’s a good thing.

      You are working out and need a lot more calories. I’ve lowered the fat content of the diet because the high fat Paleo was not working out well. I have not replaced the fats with high carbs like rice, but instead with root vegetables like kohlrabi, parsley root, carrots… etc. And increased consumption of green leaves like red chard, collards, beet leaves. Some rice, some potatoes. I have amaranth which I have not tried to cook yet. Buckwheat, oat groats, and am willing to try wheat berries again. I do not like quinoa. There’s some in the cupboard but it’s unappealing. Various gluten free noodle things like Korean sweet potato noodles and whatnot are in the cupboard for whenever…. brown rice pasta, combo gluten free pasta…. stuff like that… not using them up at any rate.

      My daughter talked me into getting the Nutribullet, but using it for raw stuff like spinach doesn’t agree with me. Plus using the Nutribullet for raw vegetables means buying lots of raw veg and keeping it raw until used. Can’t be bothered. Vegetables keep better if cooked. So I’m using them to make cooked vegetable soup purees instead.

      I cook kill for a Weiner Schnitzel today. ;) Haven’t had one for more than 10 years……..

    • Tim on August 31, 2015 at 19:26


      For the eggshells, I dry them out in a 200 degree oven to make sure that nothing is going to grow on them. Do a Google search and you find many people doing it and even some scientific papers on using egg shells for calcium fortification.

      I like using the Nutribullet to pulverize the flax seeds and chia seeds in my smoothies. Whole seeds can be stored longer and then they get ground up right before I eat them. I was amazed how well they get ground up in there with everything else.

      It sounds like you cook up some interesting dishes. I guess I have simple tastes and I really keep cooking to a minimum. I boil potatoes, boil lentils and broil chicken and maybe steam vegetables.

      I’m also making my own sauerkraut. It’s amazing how easy it is.

      Jicama is a good fiber food that I eat sometimes. My farmers market sells it for $.99/lb.

      I also like rutabagers and can get them at Krogers for $.99/lb.

      I became obsessed with working out a cheap nutrition eating plan last year when I saw news reports saying that it was impossible to eat well on food stamps. I remember reading an article where they said that they needed to eat chicken necks in order to get enough cheap protein. They said that people would need to eat cat food. But I find that pet food is actually very expensive food.
      A lot of canned pet food works out to be over $2/lb. I can get nice boneless chicken breasts for that. Making my own raw cat food and dog food is also interesting to me. I bought an old cast iron meat grinder and might try some things out but I need to do more research before doing it. I don’t want to make any mistakes with my cat and dog.

    • gabkad on September 1, 2015 at 07:37

      Tim there are recipes for cat food. The two things cats have to get is taurine and calcium in much higher quantities than dogs. Not sure but for us taurine is not an essential amino acid. It is for cats.

      I looked into feeding the cats home made and opted out. I buy them carb free canned food and sprinkle a little bit of Wellness kibble on top. Seems to be fine.

      It’s probably easier to make home made dog food.

    • Pamela on September 4, 2015 at 13:38

      It’s not Marks website that’s the problem, it’s the forum. What a hot mess that’s become. I feel sorry for anyone new to this trying to navigate through the misinformation found within the post of it’s subscribers.

      Conversely, can’t tell you enough how much I enjoy your blog Richard. This is my first comment, but suffice it to say, having been guided here by tatertot a while ago, I’ve been an avid reader.

  8. Palva on August 27, 2015 at 04:36

    So slowly, inexorably, the one principle that always seems to come out on top is; eat real foods, whole and preferably unprocessed. Who figured the same would apply for wheat?

    The problem with wheat however is usually the heavy amount of processing it goes through makes it a highly processed food in most cases. It’s much easier to eat unprocessed foods as beans, fruits, tubers and eggs.

    The problem with industries and governments is very clear: whole foods can be mass produced at much lower efficiency and consumers want cheap addictive garbage. Unilever has no interest in selling whole foods, they prefer spoon feeding people chemically processed soups e.g. margarine.

    Regardless, excellent article. The paleo narrative seems out of date. The real bottom line is eat real foods, not frankenfoods. Humans thrive on a wide range of different real foods, but always seem to falter on processed crap.

  9. chris d on August 27, 2015 at 06:56

    Thank you Richard and Duck Dodgers for the posts on wheat. Low carb paleo initially restored my health but as time went on LC started to fail me and it made no sense that human health depended on restricting dietary staples with obsessive compulsion. As far as I can tell, all successful diets have 3 things in common, no refined sugar, no PUFA vegetable oils, no refined and adulterated grains. Avoiding wheat is a red herring as virtually all wheat products are highly refined and have added sugar and vegetable oils. Cheers!

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 08:28

      Yes, that is the precise commonality between all successful diets.

      I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but the French appear to be able to eat a good amount of white flour without too many severe issues because A) they do not allow adulterations in their traditional breads, and B) they make up for the lost nutrients and phytonutrients with other real foods.

      For instance, paradoxically a chocolate croissant (made with unfortified French flour) is probably not all that different from plain whole wheat—chocolate is rich in the very micronutrients that are refined out of wheat and it contains a vast amount of phenolics. It’s just trading in wheat germ/bran for cacao. You could sprinkle raw hemp seeds on your baguette and achieve a similar composition.

      I only point this out in case anyone wants to fully enjoy a chocolate croissant or baguette and not feel guilty about it. We don’t need to be orthorexic to enjoy a variety of real foods. But, of course, in the US, UK and Canada it needs to be organic/unfortified flour since fortification is the norm in those countries.

      • Duck Dodgers on October 3, 2015 at 10:34

        Sadly, I discovered that even organic white flour in the UK has to be fortified, according to the following regulations:

        Real Bread Campaign: Flour fortification: Current Situation

        …all wheat flour (including stoneground, organically produced and imported) made available in Britain, with the following exceptions:

        • Calcium carbonate does not have to be added to wholemeal flour; self-raising flour which has a calcium content of not less than 0.2 per cent; and wheat malt flour.
        • If the miller can prove that the level of iron, thiamin or nicotinic acid/nicotinamide present in flour meets the minimum level prescribed by the regulations for that nutrient, then fortification with that nutrient is not required.
        • Flour that has been imported from an EEA or EU member state in which it was lawfully produced and sold or
        • Flour that has been imported via an EEA or EU member state in which it was in free circulation and lawfully sold

        Wholemeal flour should not be fortified due to the fact that it should be exempt thanks to sufficient nutrient levels.

        However, if one is to get technical, according to Wikipedia, in the United Kingdom, whole-wheat (“wholemeal”) flour is more commonly made from hard white spring wheat, rather than traditional red wheat as in the United States. The difference is that soft white wheat has a lower gluten content and also lacks the tannins and phenolic acid that red wheat contain, causing white whole wheat to appear and taste more like refined red wheat; it is whitish in color and does not taste bitter.

        I’ve seen papers suggest that the slightly bitter taste that is common in whole grains may help signal satiety more quickly. In other words, it’s possible people enjoy eating more white bread because the bitter taste signals are refined out.

    • Chris D on August 27, 2015 at 22:22

      I found a bag of organic, unfortified, non bleached white flour at my upscale supermarket. It’s a nice pale cream color like coconut flour but otherwise smells and feels like white flour. Either there is a loop hole on the mandatory fortification or the feds are not enforcing it. Regardless it’s now fermenting on top of my fridge for a traditional slow ferment to be made into bread tomorrow. It will be smeared with some pastured butter or sopping up some beef drippings. Maybe some dark chocolate after. Now that’s living with no guilt.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 05:16

      Chris D, we alluded to this in the article. “Organic” flour is typically not fortified. Enjoy.

    • Tracy on August 28, 2015 at 07:55

      Having recently discovered Flint Owl Bakery in the UK, after 4 years avoiding wheat, their organic, stoneground, long fermented yeast free breads and amazing chocky croissants give me no problems whatsoever.

      • Chris D on October 2, 2015 at 23:14

        Following up here on the organic white wheat (non fortified) experiment. I made one loaf of bread, one pizza, then used it to make one apple pie and one pumpkin pie. Usually wheat products are completely non-satiating to me at best. I can put away 8 slices of pizza and not feel satisfied at all. The organic white was different, even though all the products I made were delicious, eating them made me feel full. Each time I consumed them, I became completely sated to the point where I could not even think about eating more food without feeling ill. I don’t think they are magical in their nutrients, but as a source of starch the organic wheat breaks the monotony of rice, beans and potatoes. Thanks!

  10. FrenchFry on August 27, 2015 at 08:46

    You should also mention that the “pain au chocolat” is traditionally reasonable in size (not jumbo XXXL version, even though you may find those today in some places), and the chocolate bar in it is dark. After my childhood, they started to add 2 bars, and now I think you can find some with 1/3 of it being pure chocolate! Anyway, it is still a kid’s favorite and I see no reason not to give mine a pain au chocolat from time to time :)

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 09:06

      Great points, FrenchFry. I’m still impressed that a French child’s traditional breakfast included bread, hot chocolate, with croissants, pain aux raisins or pain au chocolat on the weekends.

      Dark chocolate was natural fortification. Seems like they had it figured out.

    • FrenchFry on August 27, 2015 at 09:14

      Hehe, you gotta enjoy life man! Sunday mornings are perfect for that. If not, what are they for ?? Ah yeah, the mass … :D

  11. Waltermcc on August 27, 2015 at 08:57

    In reference to the Industrial Revolution, the marketing of Crisco / margarine would also have been tough without the chemical plant.

    Growing up in the 50s and 60s, that wonderful white bread simply served as a carrier for animal fat (butter, ham, cheese, cream cheese, braunschweiger, bacon, etc.). I have always thought that all that animal fat could have served as some protection against the harmful effects of industrial grade wheat.

    As we all know, the government alternative, reducing that fat and consuming even more wheat and sugar, was such a great “scientific” experiment (and still ongoing).

    After reading a Davis article years ago, I went to his blog and was sorry to see a repeat of the government’s animal fat scaremongering. All he had to do is report on observations with his patients when they eliminated or greatly reduced grain and sugar consumption and restored a healthy amount of animal fat. He could have theorized about any number of things, but instead went with scaremongering (damn).

    I think many of his followers / patients were destroyed growing up with little animal fat. Some of the physical transformations on his blog are significant, to put it mildly. However, they could have been helped without the demonizing.

    Without painting himself into a corner, Davis still could have sold a ton of books and showed up on PBS.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 12:03

      Really great comment, Walter. I think we came from similar dispositions.

      Neither side of my family feared animal protein or fat, my mom’s side being avid hunters and river, stream and lake fishermen, and my dad’s being German immigrants who loved their preservation of meats.

      I think I faired well. …Until I got to be 25-30, living on my own, and far removed from the stuff I grew up with.

      Yep, your point is well taken. The bad stuff (enriched grains) wasn’t as much of a problem when it delivered so much good stuff. The problem arises when the good stuff is pushed out, and the vacuum is filled with yet more of the bad stuff.

      Nice job, meng.

  12. John on August 27, 2015 at 10:08

    While this is certainly an interesting history of opinions on whole wheat, I still don’t think this offers much (if any) proof that whole grains are a superfood, or that refined grains are problematic if they aren’t adulterated with a toxin (like iron, or alum, or chlorine).

    My biggest problem is that, while you were dismissive of the trials I mentioned conducted in humans that held other aspect of diet constant to attempt to isolate the effects of whole vs. refined grains, you claim that McCarrison’s rat experiments “confirmed the health-promoting effects of whole wheat as well as the degenerative effects of white flour.”

    The rat’s diets were full of confounders. The rats eating the whole wheat bread were also eating fresh butter, sprouted pulse, fresh raw carrots and cabbage, unboiled whole milk, a weekly ration of meat and bones, and water. The rat’s eating white bread were also eating margarine, sweetened tea, boiled vegetables, and tinned meats and jams of the cheaper sort.
    So even if you think rat research is more applicable to humans than research done in humans, shouldn’t the other aspects of diet been standardized?

    • Tim Steele on August 27, 2015 at 21:50

      I can live with that! Wheat should be a damn fine food. Now, how to take advantage of wheat in a world that has totally destroyed it with overprocessing.

      I found some organic wheat berries on Amazon and a grain grinder. This should be the best of the best in terms of wheat, right?

      Wheat Grinder–$50
      Organic wheat–25 lbs/$35

      I’m interested in the best quality food at this point. I think I could easily go the rest of my life without wheat, especially as in Wonder Bread made with conventionally raised, Roundup sprayed wheat.

      I’m giving this a go here shortly. Not saying that you need to be all scared of any other type of wheat product, but I’m curious what a guy can do with real wheat and a hand-grinder.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 11:04

      I hardly think thousands of years of civilizations thriving on grains is a “history of opinions.” If you think that Western civilizations hobbled into modernity, I think you are missing a great deal of history.

      The 1865 edition of The New American Encyclopaedia states, “Of all substances derived from the vegetable kingdom, wheat is the one which by common consent of civilized nations is best adapted in man for perfect nutrition.” That suggests that wheat’s superfood status was not relegated to an isolated list of opinions, as you’ve implied. Rather, it shows that wheat was well studied and considered to be the de facto superfood for generations. You may disagree with that history, but that’s how wheat was once viewed by everyone—it was not a controversial statement at the time.

      The point about McCarrison is that he did experiments on rats which showed that the remarkable health of the Hunza was due to their diet and not their genes.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 11:47

      ” I still don’t think…”

      John, please know that I, and I hope I’m speaking for a shit-load of others, don’t give a shit what you “think.”

      Who the fuck cares what a random john thinks? People can just go try for themselves, and decide from there.

      You are welcome to wave your two little hands in the interim all you want. You will stop few from trying it for themselves. BWAahahahahhaha, sucker.

    • Tim Steele on August 27, 2015 at 15:10

      I don’t know that anyone here is presenting whole grain as a super-food, just a food. But wheat should in itself be capable of sustaining human life very well, all on its own, just like a potato.

      A long-term diet of just wheat would certainly lead to poor health eventually, as sailors found early on. We need more foods for long-term health.

      I fell completely for the paleo narrative that wheat, with its zonulin and gluten was “bad food” and that only birds should be eating grain. But as Duck points out, bread has a long, long history of being “good food”. Our demand for pretty white bread turned it bad, and it was not the wheat’s fault.

      Superfood? Nah. But I’m not sure that’s even a real term.

    • Tim Steele on August 27, 2015 at 15:13

      lol, I just remembered the title of this blog post is “How Wheat went from Superfood to Liability”.

      I think that is meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 15:47

      Actually, it’s not meant to be tongue-in-cheek. While I agree the word “superfood” is a silly term, the point of the article is just that wheat was considered to be the de facto superfood of Western civilization, whether we like it or not. Since then, wheat has most certainly become a liability.

      We can argue that the early scientists were wrong, but that’s just what they said in the literature they left us. Bread was said to cure and prevent diseases, and have magical properties. That’s generally the attributes people use to describe a superfood. And those qualities of bread weren’t even considered controversial.

      Furthermore, I don’t believe there are any superfoods that you can live off of exclusively. Reishi, chaga, garlic, goji, caco, etc… They are all “superfoods” that are just incorporated into various diets. Nobody ever eats a superfood exclusively. And many superfoods require very specific preparations (heating, extraction, etc) to release their magical properties.

      Also, I think everyone already knows that man cannot live by bread alone. It says so right in the bible (Matthew 4:4). :)


    • Tim Steele on August 27, 2015 at 17:00

      Yeah, the term “superfood” kind of threw me there. I tend to think of reserving that term for something like Dr Oz’s Raspberry Ketones. Just a sales pitch.

      Can a man live on bread alone? We know that we can survive a long time on potatoes, what about bread? Is wheat a “whole” enough food to sustain life indefinitely?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 27, 2015 at 17:17

      More contextual, Tim. If you keep it in mind as you read, realizing these people had never seen a supermarket or anything of the sort, they were almost humbled to tears at what a bounty it was, and so easy and efficient compared with the alternatives of the day.

      Imagine the joy of a food that gives you a pretty good shot at having a few kids, seeing them grow up, and then having grandkids.

      In a sense, that’s the biggest story of civilization. The joy of experiencing the joy of your progeny, and wheat hands down did that.

    • Tim Steele on August 27, 2015 at 18:47

      Ironic, then that now eating wheat is likely to lead to obesity and worse health. I can’t blame the wheat, just the food manufacturers.

      I’ve had this same uncomfortable conversation many times over the years, trying to convince someone that wheat is “bad.” They would always counter with, “but we’ve been eating bread forever.

      99% of wheat products at Safeway are just crap.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 19:30

      Nope. You can’t live on bread alone. Everyone knows that. Nor can you live on reishi or chaga alone. Makes no difference. Potato is a more of a sustainable food, but even when the potato was available, everyone seemed to believe that wheat had something magical to it. Potatoes were initially reserved for cattle because the early potatoes tasted pretty awful. Anyhow, the ancients believed that wheat gave us something more than just nourishment.

      According to Wikipedia, the Macmillan Dictionary defines ‘superfood’ as a food that is considered to be very good for your health and that may even help some medical conditions. Wheat bread certainly fit that definition when Carl von Linné wrote about bread 250 years ago.

      However, Wikipedia also mentions that the word “superfood” is a bogus term. Both points of view have validity.

    • Jane Karlsson on August 28, 2015 at 01:50

      Grains do not have fat soluble vitamins except E, or vitamin C. Potatoes have everything. The people McCarrison studied had excellent health on their whole grain diet as long as they had enough milk and veggies, which would have supplied the missing vitamins.

      But it might be possible to live on sprouted grains, because when they sprout they do produce small amounts of those vitamins. Sprouts have always been regarded as a superfood I think.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 03:54

      Duckie, what about exorphins? Bread has it. Spuds don’t. A person could hoover an entire baguette without problem but eating that many calories of plain potatoes…meh.

    • Jane Karlsson on August 28, 2015 at 04:28

      “So even if you think rat research is more applicable to humans than research done in humans, shouldn’t the other aspects of diet been standardized?”

      McCarrison’s experiments showed that rat research WAS applicable to humans. The Hunza diet produced excellent health in both humans and rats, and the British diet produced awful health, in both.

      The experiments you linked only showed that adjusting to whole food after a diet of refined food takes time, and that humans can increase mineral absorption if they are fed mineral depleted food. You have interpreted these findings to mean that mineral depleted food is superior. Colpo makes the same mistake.

      If your food contains an abundance of nutrients, normally you will not have to absorb all of them. Then in an emergency you can increase absorption, and have everything you need for tissue repair and stress resistance.

      Nowadays people think low stress resistance and chronic inflammation due to poor tissue repair are normal, but they aren’t.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 05:20

      gabkad, no idea. I imagine the gut flora take care of exorphins in a healthy individual. The article was mainly that people used to regard gluten as one of the most important nutrients. I assume that means they realized through experimentation that they felt better while consuming more gluten. Whether they were wrong or not wasn’t really for me to judge.

      When I first reintroduced wheat, I didn’t feel that great initially. Some fogginess and minor joint pains. After 3 weeks or so, I felt terrific. I think the gut flora are playing a big role here.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 20:55

      Gemma, as we mentioned in the article, the Hunza are covered in detail in “The Wheel of Health,” by Guy Wrench. And lots of content in that book came from McCarrison’s Cantor Lectures.

      According to Guy Wrench…

      The Wheel of Health,” by Guy Wrench (1938)

      The Hunza grow their own wheat, but some, as has been said, they get by barter from the Nagiris. They grind it between stones and make their unleavened chapattis from the fresh flour, or they take the grain to the mills, where it is made into flour and stored in large chests.

      I would also point out that Dr. Weston A. Price found that the isolated Swiss (Loetschental Valley) in such good health would share a single hand mill and oven which made their bread not entirely fresh. Price wrote:

      Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Dr. Weston A. Price (1938)

      “Only whole rye flour is available. Each household takes turns in using the community bake-oven, which is shown in Fig. 2. A month’s supply of whole-rye bread is baked at one time for a given family.”

      Keep in mind that even a squirrel will not hesitate to eat old and decaying acorns throughout the long, cold winter. It’s often not possible to always eat fresh foods.

    • Gemma on August 28, 2015 at 07:50


      Do you know if Hunza used only stone mills to grind their grains? Do you think it matters, also regarding the longer storage? Because it is often mentioned here: use fresh flour, but was it you who said Hunza stored it?

    • Jane Karlsson on August 28, 2015 at 08:37

      Hi Gemma
      Yes I expect it was only stone mills. They wouldn’t have had any other kind I suppose. Yes I do think it matters, because roller mills are made of steel (I think) and get hot.

      Yes, they did store it. Not all of it. But clearly they thought storing it was OK.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 12:24

      Duckie, I mean addiction to bread. Some people are addicted. They can’t just eat what they need. Bread as comfort food.

      Not saying eating bread is bad.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 13:46

      I dunno Gab. Are they addicted to whole wheat? Or can’t stop eating white bread. I find white bread less satiating. Whole wheat is maybe too satiating for me. But that’s just me. It feels like white bread lacks the compounds or signals that make you stop eating, or perhaps your body keeps craving bread until you eat those compounds.

      I tend to think that it may have helped us, evolution-wise, to be somewhat addicted to wheat. Didn’t hurt us until we refined it and fortified it.

    • FrenchFry on August 28, 2015 at 14:05

      As a French raised on baguettes, I can confirm some of this: it’s like, you go to the bakery early in the morning, just smelling the air inside the bakery, and you are probably having an insulin spike :D You buy the baguette and go back home. Something happened you haven’t even noticed while on the way home: half of the baguette is gone! You frown at this a little but then, you feel a few bread crumbs at the corner your mouth and start to grin … damn refined wheat! You quickly forget it and have breakfast anyway :) 2 hours later, you are hungry again …

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 14:29

      baguettes. That’s the addiction.

      And quite frankly, the previous comment was not about me. However, there’s a French boulangerie not far from here. They make small baguettes that are coated in poppy seeds. These seeds don’t fall off. I bought one of their baguettes a couple of months ago and tore it up and ate it in the car. No poppy seeds on the seat after I got out. I have no idea how they manage to get them to stick so well but if there wouldn’t be poppy seeds I would not bother to buy it. Since then I’ve had another one………….. chewy and delicious. I thinnk I’m a poppy seed addict. Have been since childhood.

      My grandmother used to make egg noodles, cook them and then we put a mixture of crushed poppy seeds and icing sugar on the noodles (noodles had fat on them too)……. die and go to heaven. First course was romano bean soup with smoked meat/smoked sausage.

      There’s all sorts of ways to make poppy seeds part of something delicious. So in my case, it’s more the poppy seeds than the bread.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 14:54

      Frenchfry: seriously? LOL! Totally. My father would pick me up late in the evening after I was stuck studying at the library when I was in university. We’d stop at the bakery on the way home. Well man, the heel of that loaf was bread was totally gone by the time we arrived home. The best part of a loaf of bread.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 29, 2015 at 05:28

      Also, there’s a study showing that Vitamin E in bread, which is believed to go rancid quickly, can stay largely intact for a year.

      Interestingly the study points out that sourdough fermentation itself will result in a “20-60% reduction in the content of tocopherols and tocotrienols.”

      The Hunza didn’t ferment their bread. Chapatti is unleavened. On the other hand, I think most people probably have an easier time digesting a sourdough. And a sourdough can have a wonderful complexity if done correctly.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 20:37

      Jane, roller mills were typically made of cast iron, until recently. And of course, iron filings from cast iron rollers are known to contaminate flour.

    • Richard Nikoley on August 29, 2015 at 07:00

      On this whole fresh issue, I’ve taken to buying Mostly Beckmann’s, sliced, in its various whole grain and multi-grain and seed forms, mostly sourdough, and I keep them in the freezer.

      Takes but a few mintutes for a slice or two to thaw. And, if I want it toasted, I do it right on the gas stove top, just like a tortilla.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 29, 2015 at 08:29

      I’m no expert on this subject but I also hear through the grapevine that toasting should result in an increase in RS3 as moisture is driven out, and dextrins are formed when heat is applied to the bread. Mmm…

    • Duck Dodgers on August 29, 2015 at 13:31

      Gab, so yes, a white flour baguette is addictive. But, I was looking up ‘whole grains and satiation’ today, and noticed that there’s a fair amount of research on this. For instance:

      Whole Grains and Health: Perspective for Asian Indians (2009)

      “Several factors may explain the influence of whole grains
      on body-weight regulation. The high volume, low-energy
      density and the relatively lower palatability of whole grain
      foods may promote satiation. Additionally, whole grains
      may enhance satiety for up to several hours following a
      meal. Grains rich in viscous soluble fibre (for example, oats
      and barley) tend to increase intraluminal viscosity, prolong
      gastric emptying time, and slow nutrient absorption in the
      small intestine.

      So, the research seems to suggest that fiber and the “lower palatability” of whole grains promotes satiation. I’m not sure you find people eating whole wheat uncontrollably. It just doesn’t have that highly addictive cake-like taste.

      Whole wheat has slightly bitter tannins or something that hits your tongue that seems to send a satiation signal. (I think Richard also recently remarked somewhere that he felt satiated more quickly when eating whole wheat).

      Ever notice that you can eat a whole bag of M&Ms, no problem, while only one or two bites of dark chocolate is satiating? I find it really tough to eat a lot of those bitter phytochemicals. I suspect there are some satiating/bitter phytochemicals that are getting refined out in white flour, that prevent the satiation effect that is common with whole grains.

      Likewise, I have a hunch that American chocolate companies have figured out how to remove that slightly bitter satiating taste you find in real dark chocolate. That would also explain why American chocolate doesn’t taste like real chocolate—it’s probably engineered so that you can’t stop eating it.

      If whole wheat is addictive, it’s perhaps that you might choose to keep incorporating it into each meal—which may not have been such a bad thing considering it was said to have promoted health and contributed to the rise of civilization. Perhaps white flour is just an unbalanced force of addiction without the satiation effect.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 29, 2015 at 14:20

      …And if ~95% of all flour sold is white flour, then that alone implies that white flour is considerably more addictive than whole wheat flour. :)

    • Duck Dodgers on August 30, 2015 at 05:41

      Didn’t try Wasa. We ate Leksans, and they mention sourdough on their website.

    • gabkad on August 29, 2015 at 17:23

      Duckie this would have sourdough rye. This stuff keeps. It won’t go mouldy because it’s too acidic. And when it dries up, ‘we’ (Yes, even me) put it in soup along with beans, sauerkruat, smoked meat and what vegetables are left. I call it ‘war soup’ but other people call it ‘soup for the hungover’. Tastes great! Tangy and flavoursome.

      The peoples who traditionally made sourdough rye would use it later when it would dry out in soups and stews. Nothing was wasted.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 29, 2015 at 17:36

      Is it like Swedish style knäckebröd (rye crisp bread)? I bought some last month. Feels like wood and tastes like cardboard if you eat it plain, but add some cream cheese and a few toppings and it tastes so good my fussy kid will even ask for more.

    • Tim Steele on August 29, 2015 at 22:08

      People wisely purchase whole wheat products when they are thrust in their face with a ‘healthy, whole grain!’ label, but these same people are still probably eating 95% of their wheat as ‘refined, white,’ don’t you suppose?

      The bread eaten as sandwich bread is just a small portion of the wheat consumed. Donuts, bagels, pasta, breading, cookies, etc…

    • gabkad on August 30, 2015 at 01:21

      Duck, Wasa Swedish crisp bread is made in different ‘flavours’ these days. The original is sourdough.

    • gabkad on August 30, 2015 at 10:27

      Wasa was named after the Swedish royal fambly. That’s why it’s got the yellow crown above the name on the label. Seems making these 100% rye flatbreads was traditional Swedish peasant food. Kept them alive during the winter.

      Probably buy whichever brand has sourdough on the label. Although it really makes me wonder how they manage to truly sourdough the product when they have industrialized production. We need to see the YouTube video on ‘how it’s made’, if it exists.

      The canned soup company, whose name escapes me just now, that make various organic soups, has video on how the lentil vegetable soup is made. Just like mama makes it except in big. (mama is me of course.) And of course, I never put it in cans. It was really cool to see that video because they make the soup correctly as homemade. Everything out there isn’t entirely hopeless.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 30, 2015 at 15:32

      Well, the Hunza’s chapatti was unleavened, so I kinda doubt sourdough is all that crucial.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 30, 2015 at 16:12

      Yep, just checked. Rye breads were always sourdough, as sourdough was the original leavening (later came barm yeasts, from beer, and then bakers yeasts). But, the original crisp breads were just rye, salt and water and were unleavened (no sourdough).

      According to Wikipedia, it’s the more modern variations of crisp bread that have started to incorporate sourdough as a nod to the original leavened rye breads. But, crispbread avoids decay because it has no moisture (hence the wood-like texture).

      So, chapatis and crispbread were unleavened (i.e. no sourdough) while, breads would have been traditionally leavened with sourdough.


    • gabkad on August 30, 2015 at 16:52

      Unleavened breads like chapatti and other rotis don’t keep. They are totally stale by next day. The thing with sourdough (real stuff) is it doesn’t get mouldy easily, don’t get stale fast, and can be saved for future consumption.

      I think the Ethopians do the same thing with their injera which is sourdough teff and oftentimes these days, barley. Dry it and use it rehydrated when necessary.

    • gabkad on August 30, 2015 at 16:59

      Probably rye breads are preferentially sourdoughed because they are low gluten. The bacterial fermentation of whatever gluten is present helps to somehow create a more gel like consistency of the dough. Sort of like injera which when made with 100% teff also contains no gluten. Even so 100% ryes are crumbly compared to wheat breads.

      I’ve bought little loaves of 100% rye that looked more like regular bread as opposed to heavy stuff.

      The interesting thing about the traditional German sourdough breads, whether all rye or part rye is they take a long time to colour up in the toaster.

      Wonderbread has so much sugar it takes very little time to get toasty coloured. (Yes, I bought a loaf last year out of curiosity. Never tried it before.)

    • Duck Dodgers on August 30, 2015 at 17:56

      “Probably rye breads are preferentially sourdoughed because they are low gluten”

      Yep, nice one, gab. You really know your stuff. :)

      Wikipedia: Sourdough: History

      Bread made from 100 percent rye flour, which is very popular in the northern half of Europe, is usually leavened with sourdough. Baker’s yeast is not useful as a leavening agent for rye bread, as rye does not contain enough gluten. The structure of rye bread is based primarily on the starch in the flour, as well as other carbohydrates known as pentosans; however, rye amylase is active at substantially higher temperatures than wheat amylase, causing the structure of the bread to disintegrate as the starches are broken down during cooking. The lowered pH of a sourdough starter, therefore, inactivates the amylases when heat cannot, allowing the carbohydrates in the bread to gel and set properly. In the southern part of Europe, where baguette and even panettone were originally made with wheat flour and rye flour, sourdough has become less common in recent times; it has been replaced by the faster-growing baker’s yeast, sometimes supplemented with longer fermentation rests to allow for some bacterial activity to build flavor.

  13. Rob2 on August 27, 2015 at 15:24

    I noticed some time back that most commercial bread, at least here in Australia, contains soy flour. I am not sure that was an ingredient in earlier days and it may have some bearing on the health of consumers. I just don’t know.
    I have been eating sourdough whole grain artisan bread without gastric problems as an N=1 and as far as I can ascertain there is no soy flour in it. Any thoughts?

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 16:57

      Nice sleuthing, Rob.

      Refined oils, like those from soy that are high in linoleic acid (LA)—a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid—have been linked to obesity.

      We’ve been surmising that this may be related to the iron hypothesis we discussed in a previous article. Should you happen to have a diet high in refined oils, it might just make you absorb lots of iron, which in excess seems to have negative oxidative effects on organs and tissues. More research is needed.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 27, 2015 at 16:59

      Whoops, I see you said soy flour, not soy oil. I’m not certain if soy flour would have the same effect as soy oil. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe soy flour was ever really used traditionally. Haven’t looked into it much.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 12:38

      Duckie, in the book Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, he describes that bread being given to the labourers and wanderers by the monasteries contained ground up pea flour. This made me wonder, why?

      One thing though, when wheat flour is mixed with the flour from pulses, insects don’t grow in it. Weevils, cereal moths, and such critters are repulsed by the natural pesticide in pulses. I don’t know if this was the case because, in those days wheat and etc. needed to be stored so if it were mixed up with dried peas, maybe it prevented insects from eating the wheat. Or barley.

      And people drank ale too. Lots of ale. Low alcohol content but safe to drink when water was dubious.

    • Gemma on August 28, 2015 at 12:44

      Interesting, Gab.

      I looked up how Hunza gring their flour and make bread, and it says:

      “Of cereal foods the Hunza prefer wheat, which they themselves grow and which they also get by barter from the Nagiris. Sometimes chick pea is ground up with the wheat, sometimes beans, barley, and peas are ground together. From the wheat-flour they make their bread or chapattis.”

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 14:16

      Gemma, maybe this is how the Hunza manage to store their flour for so long without it getting eaten up by pests.

      The roti/atta flour that is imported to Canada from India (as if we don’t grow enough wheat here… she shakes her head in dismay) is mixed with soybean flour.

    • Harriet on August 28, 2015 at 18:40

      Just for general information. I’ve tried making bread with lupin flour (lupins are a legume) and used too great a proportion of lupin – it made it very crumbly and unsatisfying to eat. The local research here indicated that bread containing lupin flour was more satiating and lead to weight loss. Satiating or unsatisfying? Certainly my home made bread was nowhere near as palatable as the store bought stuff.

  14. Rob2 on August 27, 2015 at 17:43

    Thanks Duck, I knew about soy oil, it seems to be ubiquitous in foodstuffs now unfortunately. I have discovered that soy flour is classified as a bread “improver” that has a bleaching effect on wheat flout and also adds to the softness and bulk which allows for more water in the dough. What else it may be doing to the health of those who eat it is a question worth asking.

  15. Chris B on August 27, 2015 at 22:59

    I just found a local bakery that makes wonderful breads with non-enriched whole grain flours. This is the ingredient list for their version of Ezekiel bread: sprouted wheat flour, sprouted spelt flour, wheat berries, water, honey, pearl barley, millet, EV olive oil, pinto beans, kidney beans, northern beans, green lentils, walnuts, sea salt, yeast.
    And so now, after what I am learning here on this blog over the last couple of years and 20 Shekels Bakery, this former paleotard is back eating wheat AND beans all in one delicious slice. (Or maybe two …)
    Oh, and they also make an absolutely incredible sprouted wheat loaf with bits of good dark chocolate and whole blackberries or raspberries too. Didn’t someone mention “pain du chocolat”? (grin)

  16. sassysquatch on August 28, 2015 at 04:13

    Even though the term ‘super food’ is kicked around a lot – my vote for the closest thing to it would be Tiger Nuts. A food introduced to me on this blog………I now eat the shit out of them!
    And they move the shit out of me!

  17. Anand Srivastava on August 28, 2015 at 04:49

    I just have one doubt. The bread tastes really good and has a great smell when it is baking, for the artisan varieties. Could the accolades that the older people gave it related to that.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 05:24

      I don’t think the fact that baked bread’s olfactory attractant is a part of our love affair with bread is a negative. There’s probably a good reason why we like the smell. If anything, we could say our brains are attuned to it for a good reason. But, I think von Linné, Hodgkin and others would disagree that smell was the only attribute. Wheat was the most studied plant and there was no disagreement at the time over its health properties.

  18. Rabbit on August 28, 2015 at 06:52

    Anyone here have any idea why I get supremely angry and irritable when I get spiked with wheat. I bloat with most flours I’ve tried and it happens within about 30 minutes but only wheat makes me want to scream and hit people.
    I don’t eat wheat but live in a house with someone who does and there only needs to be flour in the air or a stray breadcrumb and I feel like Hulking out.
    I’ve been tested for coeliac many times but it’s always negative. I have down bad things to myself by paleo’ing art de vany style and losing 3 1/2 stone in 3 1/2 weeks. Felt great initial but kept losing weight and couldn’t stop until I added carbs back and even then it took 2 to 3 months to start gaining weight back though felt better immediately. Then had a few courses of antibiotics which started a slide into cfs- like symptoms. Now 7 years later still unwell. Doh.
    But main point being does anyone know whaybwould cause such an extreme reaction to such small amounts.

    • spanish caravan on August 28, 2015 at 12:19

      Have a problem articulating your “unwellness” after having VLCed, huh? Join the club. If you’ve actually been diagnosed with CFS, which is considered rheumatic autoimmunity, you probably have some degree of intestinal permeability. So you could be reacting to gluten. Some Celiacs react to the smell of gluten in certain shampoo brands. Make sure your diagnosis is from a board-certified rheumatologist, not some naturopath or someone in alternative medicine. Some of these guys will go out of business if they couldn’t diagnose every other person they see with CFS, candida, SIBO or Lyme Disease. There are no antibodies for CFS so the chance of that diagnosis being wrong, even by a rheumy, is considerable. Irritability, brain fogs, panic attacks and mood swings are some subset symptoms of CFS. CFS supposedly responds well to LDN. I might consider that if it really bothers you.

    • gabkad on August 28, 2015 at 15:16

      spanish, ‘they’ said I had CFS. Bunch of specialists including rheumatologist, neurologist and ‘ist and ‘ist…… It was inadequate thyroid dosage. Now I’m back to Energizer Bunny status.

    • Harriet on August 28, 2015 at 18:54

      We have to be careful about generalisations about CFS and all the related conditions. It is easy to get simplistic especially when we find something that works (for a time) for us. I worked professionally with dozens (100+?) patients and would urge caution. While we could get 80% of them back to 90%+ improvement over two years there would be ongoing issues, relapses and some who wouldn’t make it – some we didn’t understand, some who had additional issues. Before going down LDN track I would recommend looking at managing cortisol/DHEA levels focussing on meditation and self management before supplements. Then I would look at amino acids and thyroid. Some find thyroid supplementation necessary, some find it useful despite not having official hypothyroidism – it helps stabilise them and holds them giving them a better quality of life and the ability to think and improve their self care.

      But overall – don’t get simplistic.

    • spanish caravan on August 28, 2015 at 19:08

      Right but how you know for sure it’s thyroid- related? Other hormonal issues respond to T3 meds. Only when you have + Hashimoto’s abs and/or definitely not euthyroid can you be sure. There are now functional docs who claim TSH doesn’t matter. Add hypothyroidism to Candida, SIBO, Lyme, CFS/FM. The playbook of alternative medicine gets thicker each year.

    • Rabbit on August 29, 2015 at 06:44

      Well I don’t want to fill the comments with my cfs thingy because it takes up enough of my life as is but a few quick comments.
      Looked into the gut as I felt the problem laid there due to it all starting with the antibiotics which caused nausea, diarrhea/constipation, whiting out. Got a ubiome which showed a lack of diversity but nothing nasty on the bacterial front but it was wrecked. Went through the Dr BG stuff and other gut protocols but nothing happened apart from bad ibs. I’ve heard that I most likely have reduced intestinal permeability
      Thyroid levels always within the nhs’ rather large ranges. I had low body temp but reset it by taking niacinamide, aspirin and a b-complex with coffee and using the hot baths to force the temperature up and keep it up. I found the idea of resetting the body’s temperature control systems (steve richfield) feasible so I used hot baths but I must just have been ready because it happened within 2 weeks and now I have perfect temperature cycles everyday. Would this even be possible with thyroid issues?
      The only theory/protocol that jibes with what I’m experiencing is the Martin Pall no/onoo theory and the protocols to go with it. I took a tablet of methylfolate and my brain went dead and I had to lock myself away in a dark room. Thought the world was ending and I heard him talk about why that might be and it kinda made sense so I’ll give the protocol a try.
      The depressing thing is I live in the uk and the nhs appears to be a factory for destroying the souls of doctors and they all are next to useless when they are not ignoring my questions or being rude to me. On my 6th doctor as I try to find someone sympathetic who doesn’t want to put me on ssri’s, lower my blood pressure and give me drugs to control cholesterol. Can’t work so can’t afford any kind of specialist whoever that might be.
      It all gets very complicated.

    • Rabbit on August 29, 2015 at 06:59

      I’m just reminded of how I found my way back to this blog. I had a test result showing iron to be bottom of the range, ferritin just off the top of the range and a transferrin saturation index of 71% which seemed high but doctors weren’t concerned – this with elevated liver enzymes. So I was looking around for answers and came across the recent posts on iron and then bloodletting. That is something I could do with advice on.

    • spanish caravan on August 29, 2015 at 12:41

      Very interesting, Rabbit. You know you’re going down a bottomless rabbit hole if you try something like No/Onoo. This has to be a diagnosis of elimination, excluding what’s not likely and what’s still possible. But if you didn’t see any specialist, who gave you the diagnosis of CFS? Was it an alternative junkie or a conventional doc who went through a checklist and did her best to distinguish your illness from FM and other recognized autoimmune conditions, which could nonetheless not apply. If you’ve solved your temp issue, I tend to think thyroid is not related but you can’t be certain. Rabbit, you can contact me at There’re some questions I want to ask you since this seems like no joke.

    • Adrian on August 29, 2015 at 15:36
    • Steve on August 30, 2015 at 17:50

      Rabbit – PhoenixRising (dot) me
      is a wonderful support forum for people with M.E. (Cfids). I hope this comment is permitted here, but I think the forum there might be right on target for you.

    • Rabbit on August 31, 2015 at 02:44

      One thing was true above. Saturation index of 71%. Got everything else wrong. Iron Is high. Transferrin is low. If anybody was scratching their heads.

  19. Craig on August 28, 2015 at 07:03

    Any thoughts on Ezekiel bread (made from whole, sprouted grains and some legumes)?

    I’ve seen a few articles and anecdotal reports which leave me to wonder if wheat has a somewhat unique effect (relative to other carbs) in terms of skewing the LDL profile toward smaller, and therefore more atherogenic particles. I’ve seen, even on Dr. McDougall’s site, certain individuals who can tolerate high carb diets quite well, unless it contains wheat, which tends to adversely affect their LDL. Have the Ducks looked into this? Is it dependent on the amount of processing of the wheat?

    • Duck Dodgers on August 28, 2015 at 21:31

      First of all, I would point out that this article is a history lesson—not a scientific investigation into how good or bad wheat is. Furthermore, this article should not be construed as medical advice or nutritional advice. It’s just a historical summary on how wheat was once regarded.

      The only thing I can say is that unless those anecdotes are coming from unfortified countries and from eating unadulterated flours, I would imagine it would be hard to know if the problem was actually wheat or the adulterations. I’d also imagine there is a difference between consuming whole wheat and white bread.

      In terms of history, doctors were said to have observed a considerable rise in arteriosclerosis after 1880. Among other things—like increased access to refined sugars, whiter flours, and many changes in milling/baking practices—it also coincides with the historical reduction in bloodletting. Wheat itself seems an unlikely culprit if the arteriosclerosis epidemic was said to have begun around 1880. But that’s just a historical perspective.

      So, I really can’t comment on that beyond telling you what the history books say.

    • OldTech on August 29, 2015 at 15:38

      It would be interesting to look at the organic and whole grains movement of the ’50s and beyond if any population statistics can be found.

      My parents adopted that diet in the mid ’50s. All our flour was stone ground from our own wheat and we had no white flour or sugar in the house. For sweeteners we used raw honey, raw sugar, and fresh, caned, frozen, or dried fruit. Our vegetables were mostly from our large organic garden. And our meat was from our own free ranged cattle, turkeys and chickens.

  20. Colombo on August 29, 2015 at 09:35

    Off topic.

    “France Declares All New Rooftops Must Be Topped With Plants Or Solar Panels”

    This is a poorly written, unreferenced article fro April 8, 2015.

    The worst part is this:
    “France is definitely on the right track, but it should be a mandate that all new buildings being built in North America, and even worldwide, adopt this amazing idea to reap all of the potential benefits.”

    What the fuck is wrong with people?

    Should a Government treat wheat as they treat hemp?

    Why ecologists don’t realize how much harm they cause by promoting this behaviour of forcing people with laws to live the ecologist’ way?

    In France there is a somewhat strong movement to ban vaccines. That is, to have the government ban vaccines. What authority has any government to ban any technology?

    And why do the anti-ecologist and capitalist and libertarian journalists want to force vaccinations to all people (we’ll see this happening even more clearly when they try to push a Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s vaccine)? Don’t the realize the harm they cause bringing politics into the table?

  21. Adrian on August 29, 2015 at 15:27

    For a different and might I suggest possibly a balancing look at the subject:

  22. Adrian on August 29, 2015 at 01:41
    ATI Increased to Make Wheat Resistant to Pests
    More than fifty years ago, plant breeders began to screen wheat varieties for resistance to pests. Breeding ultimately resulted in enhanced pest resistance that resulted from increased production of ATI in wheat kernels. Modern wheat flour contains modest changes in gluten and other components over the last century with the singular exception of ATI, which has increased about 50 fold. It is also interesting that ATI is a major wheat allergen. This suggests that celiac starts as an allergy to ATI present in wheat flour.

  23. Amy on August 29, 2015 at 07:47

    So I’ve been salivating over those pics Richard posted the other day of all the good stuff on artisan bread.

    So yesterday I bought some good bread at a “Green Fair” outside of Whole Foods, and concocted the BEST PBJ EVER.

    Except it wasn’t a PBJ, it was a CBJ (coconut butter and jelly sandwich).

    Coconut butter can be found on Amazon, brand Nature’s Way.

    Nectar of the doGs.

    Which, I got the attention of all doGs in my orbit as soon as I opened the jar of this stuff. It’s that good.

    Just in case anyone’s interested in trying.

    Worth noting is that I did not gain a single pound from the bread or have a coronary from omega-6 poisoning. So there’s that.

  24. Bioking on August 30, 2015 at 02:33

    I saw the iron hypothesis on your site first Richard. Now it’s fucking every fucking where! You are a thought leader.

    Iron funks with your appetite dude.

    • gabkad on August 30, 2015 at 10:22

      Richard knows how to stay ahead of the curve. Sort of like those surfer dudes in Hawaii.

    • Tim Steele on August 30, 2015 at 12:49

      Of course, most will get it wrong:

      High iron intake may increase appetite, disease risk

      Great headline! But…

      “Here’s one more reason to cut down on the amount of red meat you eat.”

      “In people, high iron, even in the high-normal range, has been implicated as a contributing factor to many diseases, including diabetes, fatty liver disease and Alzheimer’s, so this is yet another reason not to eat so much red meat because the iron in red meat is more readily absorbed than iron from plants.”

    • Duck Dodgers on August 30, 2015 at 15:28

      Yep. That’s Don McClain who’s really been digging into iron. He’s got a trial going on right now where he’s seeing if phlebotomy reverses diabetes. Should be interesting to keep an eye on that one.

  25. wilberfan on August 30, 2015 at 12:52

    At the risk of public humiliation, could I get a tl;dr on this post?

    • Tim Steele on August 30, 2015 at 17:26

      I’ll try…

      At one time, not all that long ago, wheat was revered as one of the healthiest foods on Earth, being credited even for helping humans conquer the world and thrive.

      What changed? Mostly, the way wheat is processed. Wheat was once ground whole and contained lots of wheaty goodness. Now, the grain is separated into bran, germ, and endosperm, bleached, and then enriched with iron and other “nutrients” to replace what was taken out in the processing. Additionally, modern breeds of wheat grown in nutrient poor soil are not nearly as nutritious as wheat of yore.

      Some people are truly gluten intolerant (celiacs) and others may be intolerant, though not full celiac. The latter may just be a case of modern, dyspeptic gut syndrome.

      Takeaway: Wheat, per se, is not the culprit to modern health woes, but modern, processed wheat may be a huge factor. If you are avoiding wheat, just for avoiding wheat’s sake, it might be OK for you to indulge.

      Give wheat a try, if you like, but choose a whole-grain, organic type. Grind your own from whole wheat berries. Or, buy bread from a baker that mills their own heirloom varieties of wheat in traditional ways.

      Still too long to read?

      How about: Wheat=good (for most). Modern, processed wheat=bad (for all).

    • wilberfan on August 30, 2015 at 17:29

      Excellent. Exactly what I was hoping for… Thank you!

    • Duck Dodgers on August 30, 2015 at 18:58

      Great summary, Tim!

      The only thing I’d change in your summary is that there is no need to source heirloom varieties of wheat. As Dan Barber pointed out, the main downside with the modern hybrid wheat was that you could grow it in poor soil conditions, rendering it with poor nutrition and poor taste. Bu, there is nothing technically wrong with the modern varieties themselves.

      There are many new breeds of wheat that are really quite excellent. For instance, Glenn, Magog, Faller and Red Fife wheat varieties have recently become very popular by artisanal bakers. Glenn, developed in 2005, comes from North Dakota State University. Magog comes from Semican Atlantic Inc., Canada. Faller, was released in 2007, and is from the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment. Red Fife was released in 1860, and has had a resurgence in recent years and has even spawned a number of new varieties.

      And there are many, many others that are constantly being released and run through trials every year by modern breeders. Your local artisanal bakers will know more about these.

      There are really excellent new wheat varieties being grown these days, and I’ve not seen any convincing reason to be favoring heirloom varieties.

    • Adrian on August 31, 2015 at 02:07
      Wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors drive intestinal inflammation via activation of toll-like receptor 4.

      Importantly, ATIs are the primary resistance molecules of cereals to fend off pests and parasites such as the meal bug (Ryan, 1990; Cordain, 1999), and more recent breeding of high yielding and highly pest-resistant wheat (Ryan, 1990; Cordain, 1999; Sands et al., 2009) has led to a drastic increase of ATI content (Ryan, 1990). Our finding of ATI as a potent stimulator of TLR4 in the intestine might not only be relevant to celiac disease, but is likely to have implications for patients with so-called gluten sensitivity and possibly for patients with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and even nonintestinal inflammation. Patients with gluten sensitivity do not have celiac disease, but their symptoms improve on a gluten-free (i.e., cereal and therefore ATI free) diet, and several case reports documented that other intestinal inflammatory conditions improved on a gluten-free diet (Verdu et al., 2009; Biesiekierski et al., 2011). Moreover, members of the ATI family have been previously characterized as allergens in baker’s asthma and gastrointestinal hypersensitivity to wheat (Tatham and Shewry, 2008). It is therefore tempting to speculate that their ability to stimulate TLR4 contributes to their allergenicity, as has been shown recently for the main house dust mite allergen Der p2 (Trompette et al., 2009). In conclusion, we identify ATIs, nutritional proteins from wheat and related cereals, as activators of TLR4 and inducers of innate immune responses in vitro and in vivo, with broad implications not only for the onset and course of celiac disease, but also for other intestinal and possibly nonintestinal inflammatory diseases.

    • FrenchFry on August 31, 2015 at 03:06


      I’ve not seen any convincing reason to be favoring heirloom varieties

      There is a good reason: the taste. Spelt or durum have different tastes that regular wheat (more nutty flavor). I can really taste the difference between a spelt crêpe and a wheat based one. Organic whole spelt pasta is really nice. I sometimes get some from some Italian producer (biodynamic prod) and it beats regular pasta hands down.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 31, 2015 at 07:05


      My point (and Dan Barber’s) was that there are new breeds of wheat—that I listed, above—that are bred for both flavor and health, which are perfectly fine. Many of them are derived from heirloom varieties. There is no need for most people to avoid those newer breeds of wheat.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 31, 2015 at 08:13

      Actually, Faller in particular, and some others I mentioned were also bred to be a high-yielding wheats. Anyhow, I probably should have just quoted Dan Barber to explain the main point that we don’t need to be fearful of newly bred wheats.

      In Which Top Chefs Have Their Minds Blown by Scientists :

      Preserving the fast-eroding agricultural biodiversity of the past is critical, but insufficient. “We need something between Monsanto and heirlooms,” Barber declared. He imagines a revitalized seed-breeding sector that answers not just to huge agribusiness companies but also to evolving demands for better-tasting, healthier, and regionally grown food. “If we could talk to the people a hundred years ago who bred the heirloom tomato varieties we love,” he said, “they’d wonder, ‘Why all the effort to preserve these? Why not keep going, keep breeding new varieties?'”

      The research on ATIs is obviously worthy of more research, but I wouldn’t call it convincing, just yet. Plants have pesticides, and we are no strangers to ATIs. However, if your flora is compromised, it wouldn’t be all that surprising that you might be sensitive to natural pesticides. That doesn’t necessarily mean that ATIs are the cause of our modern dyspeptic guts.

      But, I find it strange that the ATI researchers use anecdotal evidence to support their hypothesis, but fail to acknowledge the anecdotally low levels of gluten sensitivity in unfortified countries, like France. France’s low level of anecdotal gluten sensitivity suggests that it’s the modern adulterations that are to blame for modern dyspeptic guts, since they do not allow adulterations, like fortification, in their flour.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 31, 2015 at 08:40

      I’d also point out that the whole reason some researchers are focussing on ATIs is because researchers aren’t even sure if “Non-celiac gluten sensitivity” actually exists. It appears to be a bogus disease, at least in the sense that gluten is probably not what’s responsible for the “so-called” sensitivity (their words, not mine). So, now researchers are looking for other possible causes for these so-called anecdotes, like ATIs, which have been around forever. (Instead, we simply hypothesized that fortification and other adulterations were actually to blame since you can find correlations between fortified and unfortified populations).

      Too many ATIs? I’m sure they are counterproductive for people with damaged gut flora. Makes sense. But unfortified countries—who don’t have to deal with the gut flora disruptions of ferrous sulfate and reduced iron in the gut—eat significant quantities of high-yielding wheats and don’t seem to be susceptible to the “so-called” gluten or ATI sensitivities.

      So, I think we need to acknowledge that the cause of “so-called” sensitivities are all speculative and confounding. And we also need to acknowledge that problems with the wheat supply began long before wheat was bred for high yields and pesticide resistance.

      Meanwhile, iron fortificants have been shown to be gut flora disruptors. It’s all worthy of more study, and if you have damaged gut flora, you may need to avoid natural pesticides. Healthy people appear to do OK on unadulterated modern breeds of wheats. But, then again, this is why we wrote the article—so that people can experiment and figure out what works for them.

  26. Gemma on August 30, 2015 at 23:07

    This study and an article appeared the other day:

    Where bread began: Ancient tools used to reconstruct — and taste — prehistoric cuisine

    “A group of intrepid Israeli researchers recently went back to the dawn of the Stone Age to make lunch. Using 12,500-year-old conical mortars carved into bedrock, they reconstructed how their ancient ancestors processed wild barley to produce groat meals, as well as a delicacy that might be termed ‘proto-pita’ — small loaves of coal-baked, unleavened bread. In so doing, they re-enacted a critical moment in the rise of civilization. ”

    Nice pics! It looks like work :-)

  27. Adrian on August 31, 2015 at 16:35

    I am not sure yet of the veracity of his comments in the interview at but Dr Tom Obryan states that French grains are much lower FODMAP than others and this leads to less gut symptoms but not necessarily to less inflammatory disease outcomes.
    Also, you might be interested in the book ‘Devil in the Milk. by Keith Woodford where he lays out the case for a direct relationship between A1 (beta-casein) milk production and consumption and the relative rates of early on set diabetes and heart disease prevalence across 17 developed countries. It would be interesting to cross correlate the A1 milk and the iron fortification studies.

    • Duck Dodgers on August 31, 2015 at 18:20

      If you have an inflamed gut, and/or poor gut flora, you will be sensitive to FODMAPs, but the idea that FODMAPs are a cause of food sensitivities is pretty ridiculous when you consider that FODMAPs are also key prebiotic fibers that feed our gut flora and help keep our colons healthy.

      Furthermore, barley was the original companion staple to wheat, and barley is very high in FODMAPs. Rye, a more recent staple, is also very high in FODMAPs.

      From antiquity right up until the Industrial Revolution, everybody in Western civilization ate a very high FODMAP diet. As we entered the Industrial Revolution, suddenly everybody got dyspepsia and many became sensitive to FODMAPs. Therefore, it’s unlikely that FODMAPs are causing problems. Rather, something else is causing people to be more sensitive to FODMAPs.

      I think for a theory to hold water, it needs to avoid blaming something that didn’t cause dyspepsia or wheat sensitivities in the past.

  28. Adrian on August 31, 2015 at 17:21
    Diabetologia. 1999 Mar;42(3):292-6.
    Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus and cow milk: casein variant consumption.
    Elliott RB1, Harris DP, Hill JP, Bibby NJ, Wasmuth HE.
    N Z Med J. 2003 Jan 24;116(1168):U295.
    Ischaemic heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, and cow milk A1 beta-casein.
    Laugesen M1, Elliott R.

  29. Adrian on August 31, 2015 at 17:25
    Med Hypotheses. 2001 Feb;56(2):262-72.
    beta-casein A1, ischaemic heart disease mortality, and other illnesses.
    McLachlan CN1.

  30. The healthiest bread? | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page on August 31, 2015 at 19:24

    […] […]

  31. Beatrix Willius on September 1, 2015 at 03:55

    Fascinating article. But I still don’t buy the flour fortification theory. Haven’t heard anything about flour fortification here in Europe. But is there really a difference to the health development in the US? No.

    • Duck Dodgers on September 1, 2015 at 10:01

      “But is there really a difference to the health development in the US? No.”

      Um, you’re joking, right?

      Americans ‘are sicker and die younger’ than people in other wealthy nations

      “The US has the highest obesity rate [of all wealthy nations] and, from age 20, one of the highest levels of type 2 diabetes. The death rate from heart disease is the second highest in the 17 countries. There is more lung disease and more deaths from it than in Europe and older people report more arthritis and other limitations on their activity than in Europe or Japan.”

      Perhaps you should travel to America to see just how bad it is. The average American looks quite pudgy these days.

    • Beatrix Willius on September 1, 2015 at 10:08

      I wasn’t joking. Americans are sicker than we are. But we are getting there. We are just a bit behind.

      A couple of years ago we did’t have people that were grossly obese. Now I’ve got a friend almost dying from heart attack at 38.

    • Peter on September 1, 2015 at 12:50

      Noone is saying that flour fortification is solely responsible for the health degradation of the western world. But maybe it’s a key driver.
      There are too many bad food choices, or types of “skitmat” as we say in Sweden, to be made each day that there’s not one single cause to explain it all.
      I live in a country where, to my knowledge, almost no flour is fortified. Yet we have one of the worlds highest rates of celiac disease. Funny though is that babies are traditionally fed with a gruel made of wheat and water. Industially made. With a whole host of nutrients added, including iron. With my new knowledge I will never feed a feauture offspring that crap.

      Richard: I highly recomend the mill (Fidibus 21?) in the picture above. Bought one a couple of months ago and I’ve been baking the best whole wheat bread since. Mixing in 20-30 % white organic flour is, in my opinion, a negligiable add on to get that extra oven spring. With a little planning I have a fresh sourdough loaf ready made in 36-48 hours, depending on the amount of acidity I want in the taste. Total active preptime is one hour at the most, with the bread being in the oven included. Well worth it.
      This last year I’ve made a complete transition of my diet. From being mostly lowcarb; eating heaps of meat and having sugar cravings every night to base my meals around potatoes, grains in various forms, vegetables and some fish or meat I have gained a calmness to my body. I have always been somewhat proud of being able to eat almost everything, anytime. Still think I can, but I just don’t feel like it, so I won’t.

    • gabkad on September 1, 2015 at 14:58

      Peter, historically, the northern Europeans made ‘bread’ from rye. First off the gluten in rye is different than wheat. Secondly, rye was sourdoughed and when done properly, there is gluten degradation through microbial action. So rye which contains about 10 grams of protein per 100 grams compared to wheat at 14 grams per 100 grams, once proper sourdoughing is done, the gluten ‘load’ is much reduced.

      White wheat bread using fast acting yeast has become much more common and popular in Scandinavia since World War 2. This means the gluten content is much higher than what the population was exposed to in the past.

    • Duck Dodgers on September 1, 2015 at 16:29

      Beatrix, fortification was just one piece of the metabolic puzzle. We explained all this in earlier posts. And we were not the first to recognize the correlation between fortification and metabolic issues. For instance, here is a study from last year that pointed out the same correlation.

      Excess vitamin intake: An unrecognized risk factor for obesity (2014)

      We disagreed with the researchers on the specific fortificant, but either way the correlation is there.


    • Peter on September 2, 2015 at 04:58

      Too right you are. But it’s not only that white flour is the major ingredient nowadays. If you look further down the list, in 99% of commercial bread, you ser that added wheat gluten is extremely common. And seed oils, and syrup. Everything to make a fast rising yeast bread contain moist and disguise the fact that it’s an inferior food.

  32. Richard Nikoley on September 1, 2015 at 13:04

    Tom Naughton has up a rebuttal post, pretty fair & balanced.

  33. jgfan on September 14, 2015 at 17:29

    “Hot pockets…”

  34. pzo on October 14, 2015 at 10:34

    Contrary to the citation, einkorn makes great bread. Whole Foods used to carry a loaf, but that bakery stopped making it. Really pissed me of, the bread was SO delicious.

    Some friends of mine started making einkorn bread in a regular bread maker. They love it and have never mentioned any issues.

    • Duck Dodgers on October 14, 2015 at 13:35

      While Einkhorn is certainly the least reactive wheat, I think the main point of the citation is that few early cultures ever preferred Einkhorn for their bread making. They almost always preferred the more reactive wheats. You just don’t see much gravitation towards Einkhorn in any major culture—it was a minor cereal from the beginning.

      It’s also worth pointing out that some ancient wheats are even more reactive than modern varieties.

      Having said that, people should obviously only eat whatever they can tolerate.

  35. Lala on November 25, 2015 at 21:45

    Excellent historical presentation! I have identified as non celiac gluten sensitive for a few years but am recently empowered by the knowledge that not all wheats/glutens are created equal! I learned that arsenic levels in rice are an unhealthy so therefore we’ve been eating an unhealthy amount of rice. Looking forward to experimenting with traditional preparations of tradition grains, including ancient forms of wheat. Thanks again, I’ve really enjoyed this very anthropological perspective.

  36. Alessio on December 30, 2015 at 00:41

    Whole wheat is such a great superfood that along with the advent of agriculture human beings shrank, the lifespan dropped and they faced a health disaster compared to hunter gatherers societies. Truly a worth food…grains contain all the key nutrients for human health, from AA to DHA to creatine, carnitine, taurine, B12, eme iron and key aminoacids in a truly bioavailable form…what ignorance!
    And history thaught from Greek warriors that ate meat instead of weak grain consumers civils, Mongolian populations that conquered the entire world eating meat and blood against cereal grains consumers, from the vegan grain based diet of world wars that led to a strinkingly spreading of rachitism etc…

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