Prepared for the Peak for April 17, 2012

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Prepared for the Peak for April 17, 2012


    What's Wrong With Wheat? • Big Picture • Financial • Practical Preparation • Environmental News • Health


My apologies for missing last week. One of my clients had their annual major announcement and I was busy supporting them (the announcement was the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize Recipients; it you'd like to be inspired by people protecting the environment, definitely go check out this year's winners).

This week I'm going to talk about about wheat. There are several problems with wheat, starting with the antinutrients like phytate and polyphenolics it contains. These prevent the human digestive system from fully taking up the actual nutrients contained in wheat. Wheat also contains gluten, a particularly hard-to-digest protein. I'll address each of those topics in the future but for today I'm going to continue to look at wheat and how it relates to sugar.

I'll start with my proposition then I'll prove it: wheat — and all grains — are actually sugar. If you've wondered why eating pasta, morning cereal and bread is fattening, now you know.

We often say that wheat in particular is a "whole grain" or if we are feeling particularly scientific-y we might say it is a "complex carbohydrate." Marketers in particular like to stamp "heart healthy whole grains" wherever they can get away with it. Calling them "whole grains" reminds us of "wholesome." However, grains are not even close to being wholesome or heart healthy. They are, in fact, contributing to the obesity epidemic, which is being closely followed by the diabetes disaster that is just beginning to unfold.

Bear with me as I get scientific-y here. This will let you daydream fondly back to your high school biology class. You know you want to ;-).

60% to 75% of cereal grains are made of starch, by weight (much of the rest is protein). Starch is a polymer of glucose. A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units that happen to be connected by covalent bonds. We aren't interested in the covalent bonds so much. We want to know about those structural units.

Some of these structural units are in the form of resistant starch, from which we can't get energy because we can't digest them. But most starch in wheat — 95% — is in a form that we can digest.

Here is a picture of the glucose molecule:

Here is one of the components of starch, amylose, showing just a few repeating structural units:

If you look closely, you'll see that amylose is, in fact, repeating units of glucose. And glucose is most certainly a type of sugar. From my last missive, you know how bad sugar is for humans when ingested in even moderate doses. Between the sugar we eat from desserts or supposedly "healthy" low-fat yogurts and the morning cereals and pasta we eat, we are eating waaaaaay too much sugar.

At one point during my research I read an article in which the author said something that has stuck with me since. He pointed out that we should properly be looking at this:

and mentally translating it to this:

Same thing with pizza, morning cereal and bread! Call wheat whatever you'd like — "whole grains," "complex carboydrates," or bran flakes, but don't be fooled: you are eating sugar and your body doesn't need it. We'll discuss the "glucose paradigm" in the future. If you are in this paradigm, you'll think that glucose in these quantities is required by the human body — but that's not true at all. (Athletes might operate well with some extra glucose but for the rest of us it's highly unnecessary.)

I've cut out almost all wheat from my diet because my research has convinced me that there is no such thing as "heart healthy grains" — grains are sugar and eating too much sugar, which I have been doing for decades, causes all sorts of problems, from obesity to, very possibly, early dementia. (For more on that, see the article in the resources below.)

The crazy thing is that the American Diabetic Association still encourages diabetics to eat grains. They are under the mistaken impression that grains are required. It's true that some of the nutrients contained in grains are required, but they are available from many, many other foods that don't have the drawbacks eating bowls and slices (in the case of pizza and bread) of sugar do.

Eating grains forces a diabetic's insulin to spike which in turn means they have a harder time managing it. Whole wheat bread has a glycemic index higher than table sugar. Why not just cut out the grains and make life simpler and healthier? We've been eating grains for only 10,000 years, our bodies are not well adapted to them, and their drawbacks far outweigh their benefits.

Of course, this presents some interesting issues when it comes to stocking a pantry. I'll get to that, too.

Here are some additional resources to learn more:

Big Picture

The World is Finite, Isn't It? | Life Itself, Apr. 6, 2012

Let’s Hear It for Higher Gasoline Prices | EcoWatch, Apr. 9, 2012

Volatile Oil Prices: The Geopolitics of Speculation: Oil-price makers and takers | Global Research, Apr. 15, 2012

Spring-infused Hope and taking the Transition Challenge | Transition US, Apr. 15, 2012

25 Signs That Middle Class Families Have Been Targeted For Extinction | The Economic Collapse, Apr. 16, 2012


Be Wary of Balance Sheet Risk | Chris Martenson, Apr. 13, 2012

Is Another Banking Crisis Staring America in the Face? | Daily Finance, Apr. 14, 2012

Why the Eurozone Crisis Is Getting Worse | Slate, Apr. 15, 2012

When Does This Travesty of a Mockery of a Sham Finally End? | Of Two Minds, Apr. 15, 2012

Practical Preparation

String and Twine | Preparedness Advice Blog, Apr. 15, 2012

Instant Survival Tip: Beach Well | The Survival Mom, Apr. 15, 2012

From Rainwater to Drinking Water, by Former Echo Trooper | Survival Blog, Apr. 16, 2012

Preserve It Naturally | Preparedness Advice Blog, Apr. 17, 2012

Environmental News

Climate Change Effects on Long-Term Plant Growth in Arizona | Environmental News Network, Apr. 12, 2012

Climate Change Effects on Long-Term Plant Growth in Arizona | Environmental News Network, Apr. 12, 2012

Fungal disease threat seen increasing | Environmental News Network, Apr. 15, 2012

The Glaciers are Still Shrinking – and Rapidly | Climate Desk, Apr. 16, 2012


Paleo Diet Risk Assessment | Robb Wolf, Apr. 16, 2012

Can Managed Care benefit from the Paleo Diet?

Dear Mark: Vegetarian-Fed, BCAAs, and Bland Grass-Fed Beef | Mark's Daily Apple, Apr. 16, 2012


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