Arvind Ashok: Fitness & Nutrition Simplified

Rice > Wheat. Seriously!

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With all this talk about the right things to eat, what’s best for the body in the long run, how to approach sus­tain­able weight loss etc. on my blog, I get a repeated ques­tion from clients and read­ers — Why do you pre­scribe rice in your diet plan and ask me to refrain from my oh-so-nutritious whole wheat bread? Well, let me explain my stance, and you can make up your own mind after that.

Hello, brown bread

This weird brown lump is bread!?

My first intro­duc­tion  to “healthy” foods was back when I was 11. I am sit­ting down for break­fast, and there’s a oddly-coloured lump of bread. It might be nor­mal today, but after years of see­ing white-coloured bread, brown bread looked very alien. I inquire about this new thing, and my dad pro­claims that this is way health­ier. Listed some of the same rea­sons we list today — more nutri­ents, whole grain, less processed etc. So, I ate it, and it tasted awful, when com­pared to the oh-so-delicious reg­u­lar bread. But as any 11-year old would do, I piled on the jam, and every­thing was fine. And ever since then, con­tin­u­ing into my gym, I was indoc­tri­nated into “Wheat is bet­ter than rice”. Am sure you have a sim­i­lar story!

Is wheat nutri­tion­ally superior?

We are wheat and whole-grain crazy today. Let’s just look at whether that’s a good place to be or not. Let’s start by com­par­ing rice and wheat, nutri­tion­ally. The data is from Wikipedia,

Energy in kJ and not calo­ries — for­got to men­tion that. Thanks to Raj for point­ing it out.

Looks to be a no-contest, huh!? Wheat is nutri­tion­ally supe­rior. Maybe my dad was right all along.….…..  Not so fast. What about ‘em anti-nutrients?

Anti-nutrients — blow­ing up your small intestine

Anti-nutrients? Does that even exist? Or are you clutch­ing at straws? Is this like that anti-matter thing that every­one says exists but we cant see?!
Oh no, anti-nutrients def­i­nitely exist. Accord­ing to Wikipedia, they are nat­ural (or syn­thetic, but we dont care about this yet) com­pounds that inter­fere with the absorp­tion of nutri­ents. But before we talk about them, let’s talk about evo­lu­tion. All liv­ing organ­isms want to repro­duce, and spread their seed, so to speak. They do not want to be eaten, coz that kinda puts a wrench in the works. So, they develop sur­vival and defense mech­a­nisms. Chameleons can cam­ou­flage them­selves, zebras have stripes, pos­sums play dead, skunks spray a foul smell, height­ened senses to detect preda­tors — just to name a few. Plants are more pas­sive but retain the same goal — they do not want to be eaten. A rose bush has prick­les (thorns) to pre­vent being eaten.
Bro, you going any­where with this (while tap­ping your watch vigourously)
Almost there. Take fruits — mon­keys eat the deli­cious fruit and spit/poop out the seed. Which is exactly what the tree wants! The tree gives the ani­mal some­thing (nutri­tion), in return for the ani­mal spread­ing its seed (which is ined­i­ble, espe­cially com­pared to the fruit). And finally, we come to grains. Grains are the seed! Why would the plant design its seed to be con­sumed? It would cease to exist, right? Seeds have their own defense mech­a­nism (Did you know apple seeds con­tain cyanide?), and thus we arrive at anti-nutrients in grains. Almost all grains have their fair share of anti-nutrients, but we are here to talk about wheat, and the infa­mous gluten!
Uhhh, so, is this all coz that Djokovic dude went on a gluten-free diet? Is that seri­ously what all this fuss is about?!

Yes — Djokovic went gluten-free, and it is no coin­ci­dence that he is feel­ing sharper and fit­ter. But just like I told you about one fat guy los­ing weight by eat­ing Sub­way not being enough evi­dence, nei­ther is Djokovic! Let’s see this gluten thing in detail. Coz, like I said already, wheat is high in gluten.

How Does Gluten Affect People

The core of the post, and why I think you should reduce/avoid wheat. It all has to do with diges­tion, and the gut.

Gluten dam­ages your gut lining

Your Gastro-Intestinal (GI) track is the part of your body that absorbs nutri­ents from food. It does by using tiny hairs called villi — the pointy things in the image below, from this arti­cle from T-Nation, about gluten. This is how your gas­troin­testi­nal track should be

From T-Nation

But this is how it ends up being,

From T-Nation

You are always hun­gry, coz you are not get­ting enough nutri­ents out of the food you are eating.
By basi­cally rup­tur­ing your GI tract, it allows par­ti­cles to sneak into your blood stream. This sets off your immune sys­tem, which goes to destroy these alien par­ti­cles. It leads to
  • a leaky gut
  • your body turn­ing on itself, via mol­e­c­u­lar mim­icry — these alien bod­ies into the blood stream have a sim­i­lar pat­tern to reg­u­lar tis­sue. When your immune sys­tem attacks it, it could poten­tially lead to attack­ing healthy tis­sue later.
  • It can poten­tially lead to autoim­mune dis­or­ders as well.

So what if I have a leaky gut, and it leads to these autoim­mune responses?

From Robb Wolf’s awe­some book — The Paleo Solu­tion,
  • Infer­til­ity
  • Type I diabetes
  • Mul­ti­ple sclerosis
  • Rheuma­toid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Vitiligo
  • Nar­colepsy
  • Autism
  • Depres­sion
  • Huntington’s
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lym­phoma
  • Hypothy­roidism
  • Pory­phyria

But I don’t have any of these diseases

Almost every­one is sen­si­tive to gluten though. While only 1% of peo­ple are diag­nosed with celiac dis­ease, The degree of how bad gluten sen­si­tiv­ity affects a per­son depends on the indi­vid­ual. Think of peo­ple you know who’ve had trou­ble con­ceiv­ing a kid, or had their gall blad­der removed, or suf­fer from diges­tion issues, or depres­sion — they get treated for the symp­tom, rather than the cause. Like­wise, there are could be cer­tain symp­toms you are suf­fer­ing from. For example,

  • If you have trou­ble poo-ing, or say you’ve had diar­rhea, or any diges­tive issues
  • If you suf­fer from chronic fatigue — when you have to sneak in that nap with­out which you can­not function
  • If you suf­fer from Depres­sion, schiz­o­phre­nia — or plain fog­gi­ness in the head
  • From Charles Poliquin’s site, “The gliadin in wheat gluten causes crossover acti­va­tion and again leads to decreased cor­tex and mid­brain acti­va­tion, lead­ing to even­tual neu­rode­gen­er­a­tive dis­eases.“
    Another arti­cle, about inflam­ma­tion, from his site “We’re also find­ing that a lot of inflam­ma­tion can be traced to the con­sump­tion of wheat, corn and soy and pos­si­bly dairy. Gluten is a major prob­lem, because gluten con­tains a pro­tein to which 1 in 100 peo­ple are out­right aller­gic, and for which about 40 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion show anti­bod­ies.”

It could be coz of gluten sensitivity!

Stephan Guyenet, at Whole Health Source, con­ducted an awe­some sur­vey — where a bunch of peo­ple tried out a gluten-free diet, and reported back with answers to sev­eral ques­tions, like “Did you note a weight change at the end of gluten free Jan­u­ary?” and “did you have a prob­lem with tiredness/lethargy? If so, did your symp­toms change dur­ing the month of Jan­u­ary?”.  It is a very quick read, with sim­ple graphs. I highly rec­om­mend that you check it out.

Yay, or Nay

Dude, am quit­ting your blog. I can­not deal with “no wheat”

Please don’t! While I cer­tainly do believe you will do bet­ter with­out wheat, the point of a sus­tain­able lifestyle hinges on it being sus­tain­able. So, if wheat is some­thing that can­not be removed, here are a few things you can do

Am game. I will give it a go

That’s awe­some! Good for you. Avoid wheat for 30 days, and rein­tro­duce it after. See how you feel. You might have with­drawal symp­toms though!
With­drawal symp­toms!? What? It is not like am giv­ing up heroin
Actu­ally, it is. Grains acti­vate the same recep­tors in your brain as opi­ates. No won­der we want to cling to our bagels eh! Rein­forces your want to give it up, doesn’t it? Update: You should check out Raj’s awe­some ques­tions, and my sub­se­quent reply (in the com­ments sec­tion) for more on this topic!

Rice over wheat — you *$*@#&*% south Indians”

Ah c’mon! I love (present tense) my wheat as well. But it con­flicts with my goals, and my health. From choco­late crois­sants, to donuts, to brown­ies — there’s just so many things to miss out on. But miss­ing out on them on a reg­u­lar basis = much bet­ter health. And it also means when you occa­sion­ally indulge, every few weeks, it makes it even better!

On to rice then

Most of the tox­ins in white rice is in the bran — that’s why white rice is bet­ter than brown rice as well. Cook­ing white rice ren­ders it toxin free. So, while it is not a good source of nutri­ents, it doesn’t do any harm.
Sweeeeeeeet, so I can eat a kilo of rice a day?
The best source of carbs are starchy veg­eta­bles. Rice is a great source of quick carbs. And like I already men­tioned, cooked white rice does not do any­thing “bad” for you, but at the same time is not a great source of nutri­ents. Eat rice as a filler. A quick 4-step checklist
  1. Did I eat enough vegetables?
  2. Did I eat enough protein?
  3. Did I eat enough starches?
  4. Did I cook in coconut oil (or but­ter or ghee)

If you answered yes to all, then eat rice. That’s what I mean as a filler. Tra­di­tion­ally, rice (and grains) forms a sta­ple — the cen­ter of atten­tion. And that is a problem.

While you’re at it, can you talk about lentils, pulses, and legumes? Do they also have anti-nutrients?

Sim­i­lar deal. Stick around for another post! But basic idea remains the same — they do con­tain anti-nutrients, but prop­erly prepar­ing them, and eat­ing them in rea­son­able quan­ti­ties, and not as a replace­ment of grains. In fact, con­sum­ing them in rea­son­able quan­ti­ties is totally fine, and the next ver­sion of the nutri­tion tem­plate will reflect that.

A note about other grains, and pseudo-grains

From oats, bar­ley etc. to quinoa, buck­wheat, and the rest. Apart from rice, buck­wheat is the other grain that can be rec­om­mended. I will put up a recipe for buck­wheat pan­cakes, over at Eat Real Food soon. The rest of them con­tain one anti-nutrient or the other. If any of the prob­lems men­tioned here, from sim­ple to severe, match some of yours, and you’ve already given up wheat — well, you could try cut­ting out all grains, and see if it does some­thing for the bet­ter. Worth a shot!

To sum­ma­rize

  • Humans are not adapted to eat­ing grains
  • Grains con­tain anti-nutrients And wheat has the worst of them — gluten.
  • Gluten sen­si­tiv­ity and intol­er­ance leads to leaky gut, inflam­ma­tion, autoim­mune dis­or­ders — a myr­iad of issues!
  • If you are going to avoid, or reduce con­sump­tion, of a grain — it should be wheat. And if you are going to eat a grain — it should be rice.
  • Grains being sta­ple = undernourished.
  • Your pri­mary source of carbs = starchy veggies.
  • Eat veg­gies, starchy veg­gies, pro­tein, and add some grain. not the other way around
  • Prop­erly pre­pare grains, if you are gonna eat them. To reduce the anti-nutrients in grains, you can employ sev­eral meth­ods, like soak­ing, fer­ment­ing etc. — check out this post from Whole Health Source, and this one from the Weston A Price foundation.
  • Don’t eat any­thing that is “gluten-free” and expect it to be healthy. The gluten-free food indus­try removes gluten, but adds in other stuff, which will end up mak­ing you fat and dia­betic.
  • Post-workout meal tip: 1 cup Rice + paneer/chicken tikka = awesome!

Share this post please! And give it a try! What do you have to lose by giv­ing your­self a shot at get­ting health­ier? If you still are not con­vinced, let’s talk. Make your argu­ment — that’s what the com­ments are for.

  • Smita

    Great post Arvind, thank you!

  • Vas­anti

    I really like your writ­ing Arvind! Am not too fussed about either rice or wheat, but I do like my rotis(phulkas) and sabji as opposed to bread and its vari­a­tions. Is that a no-no then? :-(

  • Swar­brat

    Awe­some blog you should write on … u ll get rewarded for this m sure!!

  • Karthik Pad­man­ab­han

    Ok. So Gluten is not that butt muscle. ;-)

    Oh Damn. Now, I got to deal with telling my wife — all that I’ve been telling her all along is wrong, and that she’s right and… Wait. Maybe i’ll tell her that i miss her orig­i­nal food­style.. what­ever. Back to good ol’ rice. Thanks :-)

  • Lavanya

    Rice > Wheat I get, but White rice > Brown rice? Seriously?

  • arv43

    Thanks Smita, appre­ci­ate the feedback.

  • arv43

    Thanks! The no-no is your call. If you like where your diet is, or if you turn into an ogre when you dont get your rotis, do eat them. But if you have cer­tain symp­toms — men­tal or phys­i­cal — which could be gluten-related, you could try to lay off and see how you feel. It is your call — my main point here was to stop the “I want to be healthy. I am gonna eat wheat over rice”.

  • arv43

    Yes, same prin­ci­ple. In brown rice, you have the husk/bran — which con­tains phy­tates. From Mark Sis­son,
    Phy­tates are a prob­lem, too, because they make min­er­als bio-unavailable, thus ren­der­ing null and void the last, remain­ing argu­ment for
    cereal grain con­sump­tion. So, white rice > brown rice. Cool?

  • arv43

    Yes, same prin­ci­ple. In brown rice, you have the husk/bran — which con­tains phy­tates. From Mark Sis­son,
    Phy­tates are a prob­lem, too, because they make min­er­als bio-unavailable, thus ren­der­ing null and void the last, remain­ing argu­ment for
    cereal grain con­sump­tion. So, white rice > brown rice. Cool?

  • arv43

    Hahaha. Nice one.

    Well, that’s the thing with nutri­tion. Rapid changes and dis­cov­er­ies are being made today, and there’s a whole bunch of research flow­ing. My goal is to ensure me and my read­ers keep up with it, and to rec­tify cer­tain lifestyle changes that can have a large impact on our lives!

  • awry­mag

    Hey Arvind, Hilar­i­ous and enter­tain­ing post as usual. I’m always fas­ci­nated to read a dif­fer­ent approach to nutri­tion than the one I am used to. May not be giv­ing up all grains (as a vegan I think I might starve) but will start avoid­ing wheat and see what happens…

  • Raj Gan­path

    Yo! Amaz­ing post! Long post but no short way to explain the concept.

    So heres a ques­tion for you about the addic­tive nature of grains. How rel­e­vant is this to rice?

    And another ques­tions… how rel­e­vant is this to food in gen­eral? Arent we wired to crave food and, espe­cially, energy dense food? It makes evo­lu­tion­ary sense to crave some­thing that has a lot to offer ‘cos the crav­ing  (+ hunger) will drive an organ­ism to con­sume copi­ous amounts of energy which results in bet­ter lep­tin sig­nalling which in turn dic­tates the over­all well-being of the organ­ism which results in bet­ter repro­duc­tive capa­bil­ity etc etc. Thoughts?

    One small note — in the nutri­tional info sec­tion, the calo­ries are in kJ (as opposed to kcal). So if any­one goes ‘wtf! 100 g of rice has 1500 cals’.

  • arv43

    Thanks Jane! Ha, yeah — being vegan and avoid­ing grains is cer­tainly a problem :)

    There’s a book by Bren­dan Bra­zier, for­mer Iron­man com­peti­tor, who is vegan (even while com­pet­ing). It is called “The Thrive Diet”. It is a book you could find use­ful, espe­cially since per­for­mance on the field is impor­tant to you, and not just health.

  • Aaron Houss­ian

    There is so much hap­pen­ing about how what you eat (espe­cially wheat and dairy) can affect your health, the way you think, etc.We are prepar­ing to do the GAPS (Gut and Psy­chol­ogy Syn­drome) diet in our house for our old­est who is autis­tic. We’ve been gluten-free in our all of this year, though when out of the house I’m known to eat bar­ley or rye.I just received an inter­est­ing email from my dad which I’ll paste below form a Dr. Mark Hyman on how what you eat can directly affect your mind.—pasted—AN YOUR BODY AFFECT YOUR MIND?By mak­ing dif­fer­ent food and lifestyle choices, can you rid your­self of depres­sion, boost your mood or even improve more seri­ous con­di­tions such as ADHD, autism and more?In my expe­ri­ence, the answer is YES and I’ll show you pre­cisely how in just a second.But first, let me tell you about one of my patients, Sarah.She’s a very vibrant, smart young woman of 18 who had just fin­ished high school with hon­ors and was admit­ted to a top university.Even more excit­ing, her pas­sion for the­ater and act­ing had recently landed her the lead role in a real movie.The future ahead of her was bright and full of possibilities.So why had Sarah’s dis­traught mother brought her to see me?Well, over the pre­vi­ous few weeks, she had sunk into a debil­i­tat­ing depression.It had got­ten so bad that she wouldn’t go out, didn’t respond to friends’ calls, and couldn’t even get out of bed to watch tele­vi­sion — which is pretty bad for a teenager!Sarah couldn’t con­cen­trate or read. Worse, she couldn’t learn the lines for her movie, which was the oppor­tu­nity of a life­time, and was to be shot in just a few short weeks.There was every rea­son that Sarah should have been at the high­est moment in her life. Every­thing was going right.Everything — except that she found her­self in a debil­i­tat­ing depres­sion, unable to cope with life’s sim­plest tasks, like get­ting out of bed and get­ting dressed.The psy­chi­a­trist focused on her men­tal state, but I know that the body is con­nected to the mind, just as the mind is con­nected to the body.What was happening?Her mother had already taken her to a child and ado­les­cent behav­ioral psy­chi­a­trist, who con­firmed the depression.His solution?To start get­ting out and walk­ing for five min­utes a day — and then return the fol­low­ing week to con­sider options such as anti­de­pres­sant medication.But the movie was to be shot in two weeks and Sarah was about to leave for col­lege in three weeks.Desperate, her mother brought her to me.I look at depres­sion a lit­tle dif­fer­ently than other doctors.You see, in med­i­cine we are trained to see cer­tain prob­lems as “psy­cho­so­matic” — that is, prob­lems that are “all in your head.”It means that your mind can affect your body.These prob­lems include irri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome (IBS), mus­cle aches and pains, headaches, and pre­men­strual syn­drome (PMS). They have no phys­i­cal basis or proof that we can see on an x-ray or other screen­ing test.Unfortunately, this is often because we don’t under­stand the more-subtle under­ly­ing imbal­ances that actu­ally cause these problems.However, I believe that there is an unex­plored area of heal­ing and medicine.I call it “somato-psychic med­i­cine.” That is, that your body can affect your mind.And in Sarah’s case, this was the problem.The psy­chi­a­trist focused on her men­tal state, but I know that the body is con­nected to the mind, just as the mind is con­nected to the body.I asked myself if Sarah’s apa­thy, depres­sion, and fatigue had some­thing to do with what was hap­pen­ing in her body.First, I looked for clues.I am a med­ical detec­tive, search­ing always for pat­terns and con­nec­tions and links between symp­toms and the answers hid­den within the WHOLE story of a person’s life.So I didn’t just ask Sarah about her men­tal symp­toms — I wanted to know everything.And I uncov­ered a lot.I learned that she had had low-grade aller­gies and sinus con­ges­tion for years.Over the last few years, she had wors­en­ing IBS with bloat­ing and con­sti­pa­tion, and her peri­ods were ter­ri­ble, pre­ceded by very bad PMS with fluid reten­tion, sugar crav­ings, salt crav­ings, headaches and irritability.She had devel­oped severe mus­cle pains and aches, headaches, poor mem­ory and con­cen­tra­tion, and insomnia.She was cold all the time, felt short of breath, anx­ious, and just gen­er­ally miserable.A few months before, Sarah had tried to lose about 15 pounds she had gained by eat­ing very well and exer­cis­ing reg­u­larly. But she was very dis­cour­aged because all her efforts led to no weight loss.Clearly, some­thing was wrong.To con­firm my thoughts, I ran some tests for nutri­tional defi­cien­cies and imbal­ances in her diges­tive, immune, and hor­monal systems.That’s because I no longer treat “dis­eases” like IBS, PMS, depres­sion, and headaches. Instead, I try to under­stand the under­ly­ing imbal­ances that lead to the symp­toms, which are only clues to some­thing deeper.So what did I find with Sarah?I found that she had a vit­a­min D defi­ciency, which can cause thy­roid prob­lems, depres­sion, and mus­cle pains. And she had a mag­ne­sium defi­ciency, which can lead to mus­cle pain, headaches, con­sti­pa­tion, fatigue, and insomnia.She also had an omega-3 fat defi­ciency — some­thing well known to be asso­ci­ated with depression.Her thy­roid wasn’t func­tion­ing prop­erly, which is why she had so many symp­toms like fatigue, depres­sion, con­sti­pa­tion, mus­cle pain, PMS, and prob­lems los­ing weight.She also had food sen­si­tiv­i­ties to gluten and dairy. These con­tributed to her IBS, aller­gies, and sinus congestion.So did I give her an antidepressant?No. Remem­ber, depres­sion is not a Prozac deficiency.But when the under­ly­ing imbal­ances in her immune, diges­tive, and hor­monal sys­tems were cor­rected and her nutri­tional sta­tus was built up, her body was able to recover.What did I do?I had Sarah improve the qual­ity of her diet and stop eat­ing the foods she was sen­si­tive to, like gluten, dairy, eggs, and yeast.I got her eat­ing real, whole foods, not junk, refined, and processed foods.I told her to have three reg­u­lar meals and at least one after­noon snack at about 3 or 4 pm.I encour­aged her to eat lots of veg­gies and pro­tein, such as chicken, salmon, hum­mus, and nuts, with every meal. I asked her to snack on nuts.Then I helped Sarah get her diges­tive tract back on track by giv­ing her a spe­cial antibi­otic to clear out the over­growth of bac­te­ria in her small intes­tine, which had caused the bloat­ing. She fol­lowed that with an anti­fun­gal drug to treat the yeast in her sys­tem (she had a fun­gal scalp infec­tion, too).Next, I started her on Armour Thy­roid med­ica­tion to improve her thyroid.And I gave Sarah some basic nutri­tional sup­port — a mul­ti­vi­t­a­min, cal­cium, mag­ne­sium, vit­a­min D, fish oil, aci­dophilus for her diges­tive tract, and herbs to help her PMS.I told her to start exer­cis­ing slowly, to get into a reg­u­lar rhythm of going to bed by 11 pm, and to get at least 8 hours of sleep. To ease her insom­nia, I had her take a relax­ing Epsom salt bath with laven­der before bed every night.I also asked her to see a phys­i­cal ther­a­pist and neu­ro­mus­cu­lar ther­a­pist to work on her neck and mus­cle pain.There’s no doubt about it. Sarah was on the accel­er­ated “get bet­ter right away” program!So how did she do?Well, in two weeks, she came back a dif­fer­ent person!She wasn’t tak­ing anti­de­pres­sants, yet she was hap­pier and more alive than she had been in more than a year.She lost 15 pounds in two weeks.Her energy, con­cen­tra­tion, and focus were fantastic.Her diges­tive prob­lems and mus­cle pain were gone.And she was sleep­ing very well.Renewed, Sarah learned all her lines, did her movie, and went off to col­lege vibrant and alive — quite remark­able con­sid­er­ing she was nearly in a cata­tonic depres­sion only a few weeks before!So what’s the secret to the astound­ingly fast improve­ment? Heck, even anti­de­pres­sants take six weeks to start working.It’s simple.Just by get­ting rid of the things that cause imbal­ances in core sys­tems (in this case, the immune, diges­tive, and hor­monal sys­tem), and by giv­ing the body things it needs to heal (like good food, vit­a­mins, min­er­als, omega-3 fats, and hor­mones when nec­es­sary), the body will repair and heal very quickly.This prin­ci­ple is sim­ple and cen­tral to the med­i­cine I prac­tice, which is called sys­tems med­i­cine or func­tional medicine.Are you depressed or have other men­tal health issues and look­ing to get better?Here are a few things to think about and explore.You still may need ther­apy or med­ica­tion, but don’t assume these will cure the prob­lem if you have any of these under­ly­ing issues:1. Do you have low thy­roid func­tion?§ Ask your doc­tor to check for the fol­low­ing blood tests: TSH, free T3, free T4, and thy­roid antibodies.2. Do you have a vit­a­min D defi­ciency?§ This is espe­cially likely if you’re depressed dur­ing win­ter. So have your doc­tor check for 25 OH vit­a­min D. Your level should be over 50. If it isn’t, take 2,000 IU of vit­a­min D3 a day.3. Do you have a folic acid or B12 defi­ciency?§ Ask your doc­tor to test your homo­cys­teine and methyl­malonic acid lev­els to check for those defi­cien­cies. And take an extra 800 mcg of folic acid and 1,000 mcg of B12.4. Do you have a defi­ciency of omega-3 fats?§ It’s likely — 99 per­cent of Amer­i­cans do. Eat more wild salmon and sar­dines and take 1 to 2 grams of fish oil a day.5. Do you have gluten aller­gies?§ Con­sider test­ing for gluten antibodies.6. Are bugs in your gut affect­ing your brain or immune sys­tem?§ If you have irri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome, sup­ple­ment with probiotics.Try tak­ing these steps and see if your health improves as Sarah’s did and you may find that your “men­tal ill­ness” wasn’t so men­tal at all and was really caused by nutri­tional issues.And remem­ber, you can both change your mind to change your body, but you can also change your body to change your mind!For more infor­ma­tion on how the body and mind are con­nected and for a com­plete sys­tem that will help you heal your brain by heal­ing your body first, see my book The Ultra­Mind Solution.Now I’d like to hear from you:Have you had any expe­ri­ences of cor­rect­ing a phys­i­cal prob­lem and notic­ing that your men­tal health changed as a side effect?Have you noticed that a change in the foods you eat or the sup­ple­ments you take chang­ing your atti­tude or mood?If you’ve gone to your doc­tor or psy­chi­a­trist for any men­tal health prob­lems, what was your expe­ri­ence? Did they look into nutri­tional issues at all or sim­ply rec­om­mend you take drugs?Have you noticed that dif­fer­ent foods affect your mood, and if so, how?Please let me know your thoughts by adding a com­ment below.To your good health,Mark Hyman, M.D.

  • arv43

    Thanks for shar­ing Aaron!

  • arv43

    Thanks! Great ques­tions, took me a while to answer them. On a related note, I am begin­ning to see why read­ing com­ments of posts I like, after a few days of the first read, is extremely essen­tial! And thanks for point­ing out the kJ v calo­ries — updated it.

    Addic­tion and Rice: In wheat, we have the opi­oid pep­tides cross­ing the blood-brain bar­rier — which is why the addic­tion is pretty bad! But can def­i­nitely be over­come. Rice does not have this fea­ture, another rea­son why rice is markedly bet­ter. And this segues into your sec­ond ques­tion — about food in general.

    Addic­tion and Food: Food crav­ings come from the reward value asso­ci­ated with foods. Wheat, as I explained, has a high reward value asso­ci­ated with it. And most of the calorie-dense processed junk foods today have the same. You wanna get your fix, lit­er­ally. But they dont really have a lot to offer, nutrient-wise. Con­sum­ing copi­ous amounts of bad calo­ries even­tu­ally leads to impaired lep­tin sen­si­tiv­ity — a vicious cycle that involves you want­ing to eat more and more! The best resource on the inter­net for learn­ing more about food reward — Stephan Guyenet’s 8-part series —

  • Swarna Mani

    Excel­lent arti­cle. This is all so true…I just went of all grains except white rice for last 6 weeks and reap­ing a lot of ben­e­fits health wise already.…

  • arv43

    Thanks for the feed­back, Swarna!

  • Gaya

    Very inter­est­ing and infor­ma­tive Arvind!

  • Dhanya

    I always thought wheat is bet­ter than rice. And brown rice bet­ter than white rice. i have always felt eat­ing even a lit­tle rice makes me feel full and slug­gish while wheat feels light.

  • Dhanya

    So, rice > Wheat. Would you know which is the bet­ter way of cook­ing rice? There are dif­fer­ent schools of thought about one being bet­ter over the other. The 4 forms I know of are:

    1. Pres­sure cook­ing
    2. Cook­ing in a microwave
    3. Boil­ing rice in a ves­sel and remov­ing excess water ( claimed to be bet­ter by peo­ple as it removes excess starch)
    4. Fry the rice a lit­tle in 1 tsp of oil and add boil­ing water to it and cook for 15–20 mins so that the rice is cooked and the water is gone! 

  • arv43

    Thanks Gaya!

  • arv43

    Do what works for you. Now you know some of the intri­ca­cies behind what goes on — and make your own deci­sions based on it. Try rice-free for 30 days, see how you feel. Try gluten-free for 30 days, see how you feel. But you need to clean up other things, besides rice/wheat too — like oils etc. Min­i­mize the amount of crappy vari­ables, then rein­tro­duce one of those — go from there. Make sense?

  • arv43

    Pres­sure cook­ing is a great method — a lot of ben­e­fits, and pretty easy too. The best method of con­sum­ing and prepar­ing white rice is by fer­ment­ing it — what we do for mak­ing the idli/dosai dough. Pol­ished white rice has less of the anti-nutrient issue — so any form of cook­ing should be fine.
    Let me research more about best meth­ods to pre­pare grains, and pos­si­bly write a post on it. The links to Weston A Price and Whole Health Source do offer a bunch of methods.

  • Swathi Bhaskaran

    I have always hated chapatis/rotis, for which my mum chided me all the time, and now that I have this arti­cle as a proof, she thinks we are a crazy bunch. :D
    BRILLIANT post.

  • arv43

    Haha! Thanks!

  • Rahul

    Thanks for the infor­ma­tive post. Look­ing for­ward to the post on other grains — ragi, oats, etc

  • Vizeet

    Gr8 Post Arvind!!! I am among few who never faced any issue going gluten free. In-fact I always pre­ferred rice over wheat. For me rice has been more addic­tive then wheat. My diet is also low in legumes and I did had with­drawal effects with “tur daal” (A pulse).

  • arv43

    Thanks Rahul!

  • arv43

    Thanks Vizeet! That’s inter­est­ing — all of us do react dif­fer­ently, and yours is a great com­ment to reflect that.

  • bee

    i stopped gluten a year ago. no more joint pain after a hard taek­wondo kick­ing and jump­ing ses­sion. much higher energy, much bet­ter sleep. i used to be a bread snob, bak­ing gourmet whole-grain sour­dough ones at home. i was one of those “can’t live with­out bread” types. now, i won’t touch it ‘cos my life has improved so dra­mat­i­cally. no more sen­si­tive gums either ‘cos the lectins are not leach­ing min­er­als out of my bones and gums. 

    i was not aller­gic to gluten, but it cer­tainly was affect­ing me badly. 

  • arv43

    Thanks for shar­ing! I think a lot of peo­ple will see ben­e­fits, like you have and I have. A sus­tained period of being gluten-free, fol­lowed by a planned rein­tro­duc­tion might con­vince peo­ple to stay on the plan. Like you say — much higher energy, and bet­ter sleep — and this will go down once they eat gluten.

  • Abc
  • Pingback: The Truth Behind “Health Drinks” « Harder. Better. Faster. Stronger.()

  • praveen

    very infor­ma­tive post!!! Thanks for shar­ing coach.

  • Ran­dom

    Nice writ­ing man. I often go on ran­dom google, fact searches, and even more often .. I fail to read all the way through, I just skim, grab some facts to ease my curios­ity, and move on. But this had me learn­ing all sorts of things about the neg­a­tive effects of Wheat, and was inter­est­ing too! lol Thanks for writ­ing this dude.

  • arv43

    Thanks for the feed­back! Appre­ci­ate it. And glad you found this use­ful. Let me know if you got more ques­tions — most oth­ers have them as well in all prob­a­bil­ity. I will def­i­nitely try and help.

  • Pingback: Should I Eat This? Part 7: Grains | My Five Acres()

  • Ishita

    Ah! Hilar­i­ously thought pro­vok­ing :D
    Please make a post on Poly­cys­tic Ovar­ian Syn­drome soon.…

  • arv43

    Hey Ishita, thanks! Def­i­nitely, will work on a PCOS post

  • punam

    I am totally con­fused as to what is good and what is bad for each arti­cle has some­thing dif­fer­ent to say…I guess what our par­ents did was the best and must stick to that…but with the increas­ing amount of pes­ti­cides and chem­i­cals used I don’t know what should be eaten…and how far are the organic foods really organic..?

  • dr.arvind g

    hi arvind „actu­ally i am think­ing the same „as i read it in my med­i­cine book as wheat is dia­betic caus­ing food (David­son medicine) „

  • arv43

    Hi Punam,
    Unfor­tu­nately, there’s too many ‘experts’. I would stay away from main­stream media on this. It finally falls on you to make a deci­sion. Try some­thing out, see what works and what does not. And go from there.
    How far are organic foods really organic? Not sure, but there are bet­ter sources and worse sources. Look around, and you will find them.
    But look for the big­ger prob­lems (remove aller­gens like wheat or milk) before you look at other issues that are more out of your con­trol (who is really organic). Hope this helps. If you have any more ques­tions, do ask via email or here.

  • Sasi

    Oh Really? Thanks for the info.
    So much of hype about brown rice.
    Nice that I don’t like brown rice.

  • Deepa

    Okay, white rice is bet­ter than brown rice. But I thought brown rice has more fibre and that helps with the whole diges­tion bit?

  • Shiv­ram

    Infor­ma­tive arti­cle. Thanks. I have a ques­tion though. The gen­eral rule of thumb is that you need to con­sume X grams of pro­tein for a per­son who weighs X kilo­grams. If not through wheat/soy (Which is a good source for pro­tein), then what other “Body friendly” food can we eat to attain our daily dose.

    Also, does Whey Pro­tein sup­ple­ment con­tain gluten?

  • shiva

    Focus on adding mil­lets to the diet:)

  • arv43

    how would it do that?
    And why are you eat­ing brown rice for fibre?, instead of veg­eta­bles (for exam­ple) which have more fibre?

  • arv43

    The gen­eral rule of thumb you refer to is not really a gen­eral rule of thumb. It applies only to folks who are train­ing reg­u­larly at a high inten­sity, and not to the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.
    “If not through wheat or soy.…” — wheat is not a pro­tein source. Wheat is a grain and a car­bo­hy­drate. Soy is a source of pro­tein but a very poor source. Fer­mented soy is a good way to get some pro­tein in, but in lim­ited quan­ti­ties. So, regard­less of my arti­cle, your source of pro­tein should be some­thing else. Meat, eggs, whey pro­tein (if you are veg­e­tar­ian), dairy, hemp seeds (if you are veg­e­tar­ian) are sources of protein.

  • Shruti

    So by your evo­lu­tion logic all seeds should be bad eh? And what about sprouts?