December 28, 2011
Podcast # 176 from https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2011/12/the-shocking-truth-about-wheat/
Introduction: In this podcast, the shocking truth about wheat with Dr. William Davis. Also: fiber and fat, ankle weights for cycling and running, the Ben Greenfield food pyramid, l-arginine for performance, juicing, shin pain, Achilles’ tendinitis, joint pain, and simethicone.
Brock: Hello, everybody! Welcome to the BenGreenfieldFitness.com podcast. We’re back once again in that weird space between Christmas and New Year’s. And how’s it going Ben?
Ben: It’s going well. Merry belated Christmas, Brock!
Brock: Thank you very much, you too and Happy Early New Years.
Ben: That’s right. For folks listening in to this podcast, of course this is the New Years episode. By the time this podcast is released, we’ll be just a couple days out from 2012. So, it’s an exciting New Year coming up. And Brock, anything in the realm of fitness or nutrition that you got for Christmas that you’d like to tell everybody about, any new toys?
Brock: I’m so well outfitted. And most of my family is so, I don’t want to say clueless, but they really don’t understand. So, I ended up getting a lot of gift cards. And I am really pleased that I got a couple of really good gift cards that I can go out and spend most of them on Roctane for my races. Those things are expensive!
Ben: That’s a good sport though. It’s one that I recommend you that’s a little spendy.
Brock: Yeah. How about you?
Ben: I also didn’t get much. But I did get a gift card for swim outlet. And so, I went and bought myself some of those fancy fulcrums that basically attach to your forearms and keep you in a high elbow position while you are swimming. I don’t currently use them. I haven’t used them. I really don’t recommend them to my athletes or in my athlete’s workout simply because I’m not too familiar with them. But they are interesting. I’m going to try them out. I’ll experiment with them a little bit and see if they’d be something useful for me and the folks I coach. So, I picked up some of those. I picked up some new fins. So, those should arrive soon and should inspire my winter swimming workouts.
Ben: What do you think? Should we jump into this week’s special announcements?
Brock: Let’s do it.
Ben: Alright folks, so for the special announcements this week. First of all, mark your calendars for Wednesday, January 11th at six pm pacific time. I’m going to be doing a live seminar. The purpose of this live seminar is to go over a brand new triathlon training program that I’m releasing on January 12th literally just a few hours after this seminar. You can come to me with your questions about that program which is called tri-ripped and anything that you want to know about what it is, what’s included in it, who should be using it, what level it’s designed for, what distance is it designed for. Anything that you want to know, you can come attend that seminar for free. And we will be live. I will stay as long as necessary to answer all your questions. And that again is on Wednesday, January 11th at six pm pacific time. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes to this podcast episode, episode number 176 at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And by the way, in today’s podcast episode fantastic interview with Dr. William Davis about wheat and the shocking truth about wheat. So, stay tuned after the Q and A to listen in to that. And that leads me into the last thing I wanted to mention.
Brock: Yeah. This is the last time this is going to happen.
Ben: Yeah, probably. Yes, because we are going to start this in 2012. We are going to experiment with it and see how you like it. The majority of the folks who responded to last week’s question about whether or not you wanted to see the podcast split into two shorter episodes or yes, we would like to see a podcast devoted to Q and A. And then a separate podcast devoted to that week’s featured topic resulting in two podcasts during the week from BenGreenfieldFitness.com about 40 to 60 minutes each. Now, that is something that we will try out during early 2012. We’ll listen to your feedback, your comments. And if you like it, we’ll stay with that. And if not, we’ll go back to the mondo podcast format. But either way, be prepared for that beginning in 2012.
Brock: I think I only saw one person comment that they enjoyed the really long format and that was because they were doing really long workouts. And it sort of suited the workout length. But thank you for all your feedback everybody. It was great to get a lot of e-mails and comments on the blog.
Brock: So, Ben keeps a long list of stuff going on at www.Twitter.com/BenGreenfield. And what did you have this week that you want to talk about Ben?
Ben: Just a few things Brock. First of all, rest periods between sets. Folks who’ve listened to this podcast for a long period of time know that it is pet peeves to see folks reading magazines, books, and talking on their phones in the gym because typically you can be doing something during your rest period between a weight training set that is a little bit more productive than that when it comes to either calorie burning or fitness or working a different muscle group. A study came out in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that looked at rest intervals. And even though the study was actually investigating rest intervals in trained menus and creatine supplementation that was actually a little bit more interested in creatine. I was interested in the fact that they actually had two different groups. One group that was using two minute rest intervals between their sets and one group that was decreasing the amount of time that they rested between sets by 15 seconds each week until they got down to the point where they’re only resting 30 seconds between sets. And, what they found was no significant difference in training response and maximum strength between the two groups. Meaning that you can get away with resting 90 seconds left if you’re currently resting two minutes and still get just as much fitness response during your workouts. And that’s why I’m a huge fan. For example, my wife and I were working out last night. And what we would do is between each strength training set that we did together, we would choose a core exercise or a cardio exercise and perform that while our muscles were recovering from the strength training set that we did. And so, you are basically doing something the entire time that you are at the gym. This works very well. And this research shows that it’s not going to hold you back much.
Brock: Okay. I actually have one quick question just because last night I was doing one of the workouts that you gave me. And it actually said in the instructions, you instructed me not to super set them and to actually make sure to take 90 seconds between each one of the sets. It was a plyometric workout. So, how is that different?
Ben: Ah, yes. Power is different from strength. So, the issue with plyometric workouts is that is the one instance where I do recommend rest. And the reason for that is it’s very easy to injure yourself. And it’s very easy to limit the amount of power that you are able to produce when you’re doing a plyometric workout. And being a workout, it involves down ding, hopping, and jumping, extremely fast movements. You want to be able to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible and perform those movements as quickly as possible. So, yes thank you for bringing that up. I’m actually glad you brought that up because that shouldn’t be glossed over. If the goal of the workout is power or plyometrics, then rest periods actually are useful for both injury prevention as well as ensuring that you are able to produce the movement as quickly as possible.
Brock: Gotcha. Cool!
Ben: The next interesting thing that they came across was the fact that the more endurance training you does, the worst your resistance training results can be. And this was actually a meta-analysis meaning a study of a whole bunch of studies that examined the effects of aerobic and resistance exercise when the two are performed simultaneously. That means when you are pursuing an endurance training program at the same time that you are performing a resistance training program. And what a co relational analysis found when you looked at all of these different studies was that there really was a negative relationship between the amount of endurance training that you do and the amount of muscle size, your muscle strength, your muscle power that you are able to build. Now, this doesn’t mean that endurance athletes should completely avoid strength training or strength athlete should completely avoid endurance training. But what it does mean is for example, if your goal is to put on as much size as possible, say to get as muscular as possible, or your goal is to develop as much power and strength as you can possibly build to completely max out that energy system. Then you don’t do yourself any favors by doing things like going on long runs, doing long bike rides, doing any type of endurance training. There really is, when you look at all of the studies, a pretty negative relationship between the two. So, when you’re really focusing on the high end of resistance training, you want to really limit the amount of aerobic training that you do. And at the same time, if you’re doing heavy resistance training three, four or five times a week and it’s starting to take up a large amount of your training protocol, you’re probably not doing yourself much favor from an endurance training perspective.
Brock: That makes sense.
Ben: Yeah. It is kind of common sense. But at the same time, it’s nice to know that that study show that you can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to resistance and endurance.
Brock: And I do love cake.
Ben: Yes. Exercise helps you make bone cells instead of fat cells. This one was interesting that a listener actually alerted me to. It was research that appeared in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology which we can affectionately shorten to the FASEB journal. It basically was titled endurance exercise training promotes medullary hematopoiesis. And essentially what that means is that when you do endurance exercise, it can affect your stem cells. And stem cells are the type of cells that can go on to become other types of cells. In this case, they looked at stem cells that could go on to become either fat cells or bone cells. And endurance exercise triggered the stem cells to become bone cells. And that is because bone cells mean that you are able to improve your blood production which is where a great amount of blood cell production takes place is in your bone cells. And that means, you got a higher oxygen carrying capacity. And you are able to engage in endurance exercise more efficiently. So, it’s interesting that there is that cellular response. And I just thought it was very interesting to someone who is geek out like me that you can differentiate the type of cell that a stem cell becomes based on the type of exercise that you’re engaging in. So, you got another reason to make sure that you have some form of aerobic training in your protocol.
Brock: That’s really cool. I had no idea that you could actually influence stem cells to do one thing or the other. But that’s awesome.
Ben: You can. And it’s a whole field of research. And you can influence them negatively or positively. But it appears that endurance exercise affects them quite nicely. So, the next interesting thing was a study on melatonin. And it found that melatonin restored muscle regeneration and enhanced muscle function after they injured rats. So, what they did was they gave rats blunt skeletal muscle injuries. I have no clue why this wasn’t accepted for human research. But for some reason, it wasn’t. And then they gave them melatonin. And short story is that melatonin proved the muscle healing specifically by increasing the number of satellite cells which are the cells that can draw more healing elements to an injured area and also by reducing inflammation. Considering that sleep is one of the primary components of your melatonin regulation and production. It makes sense that if you are injured, you may want to think about skewing your day so that you are able to prioritized sleep. And that could actually help you to recover from an injury more quickly. Or as the logic follows since workouts are basically just mini-skeletal muscle injuries that you do to your body. It makes sense that when you are training that sleep is going to help you out. Or at least making sure that your melatonin isn’t unregulated is going to help you our quite a bit in your fitness response especially for heavily exercising individuals like an ironman triathlete. One of the best things you can do is not to short yourself on sleep or not throw off your shukey in rhythm so that your melatonin production gets out a whack.
Brock: Would there be any benefit to supplementing with melatonin?
Ben: There is a great possibility that that could be the case. I personally use melatonin not all the time because I don’t want to train my body to shut down its own endogenous production of melatonin. But I use the hammer REM caps which have, depending on how many you take, anywhere from three to nine grams of melatonin in them. And research has shown that as little as 0.3 grams is good for helping you to get to sleep a little bit faster. But I use those in cases where I am on a sleep cycle that I am not used to or I need to reset my sleep cycle where I know it’s going to be tough for me to get to sleep. And I’ll use those about 60 minutes before I hit the sack.
Ben: So, the last thing I wanted to bring up was that if you’re somebody who is used to eating breakfast, then not eating breakfast can really mess up your calorie consumption later on in the day. And this was a study in the Journal of Nutrition. And it looked at appetite, energy intake, and the metabolic and endocrine response to food or hormonal response to food. And what they found was that in people who were habitual breakfast eaters, when they had them skip breakfast, it really messed up fullness in appetite and hunger ratings for the rest of the day. And it actually caused them to end up eating more and engaging in a higher calorie intake later on in the day even though they skipped breakfast earlier. So, what this means is that if you are somebody, and I would certainly be one of those people who’s used to getting up in the morning and having just the same thing for breakfast everyday and close to the same time. Completely skipping breakfast can really throw off your day. And I find that it certainly does that for me. It was interesting for me to see research that shows that I’m not the only one out there. And they have noted that it’s not just in our heads. That it really does affect your hormonally when you are used to eating breakfast at a certain time. And you throw yourself off that balance. So, for me, a big part of my productivity is creating patterns in my life and developing my life and my systems around those patterns. And for me, breakfast is one of those patterns. And I know that when I skip breakfast, it does affect not only what I eat later on in the day but also the way I feel and the way I think. It’s interesting that this happens. It’s also interesting that it’s really only an issue at this point based on research and people who are used to habitually eating breakfast which suggest that I could wean myself off that potentially if I need to.
Brock: I don’t know why you’d need to though.
Ben: Right. But if it ever came to the point where I couldn’t eat the same thing for breakfast every morning, I don’t know maybe a nuclear holocaust or something like that.
Brock: The good old nuclear holocaust.
Ben: I’ve got bigger things to worry about than the lunch intake later on in the day. But it’s an interesting thing. If you are used to eating breakfast at a regular time, if you’ve got an important day, you’re trying to dial in your systems and what not, try and keep yourself on regular breakfast consumption on a regular time. It’s a dependable scenario for breakfast.
Brock: Right from that time that we were toddlers, as human beings we are so good at or so interested in routine that that doesn’t seem so surprising. If you break your routine in one way or the other, it is going to mess the rest of your day up in one way or another as well.
Listener Q and A:
Brock: Okay. We’ve got a great number of Q and A questions to go through before we get to that interview with Dr. Davis. So, let’s jump right in to our first one here which comes from Raminta.
Raminta asks: How does fiber help with losing fat? Is fiber that has been pureed equally effective as it is in its original form? For example – pureeing vegetables for soup as opposed to raw vegetables, or blending fruit into shakes?
Ben: Great question. Let’s start with the first part about fat. Fiber has a few ways that it could either decrease fat absorption or else help you to lose weight. What it does is that it slows down fat absorption that you experience from the foods that you eat because fiber envelopes the fat globule and makes it less likely to be absorbed. So, when you eat a high fiber diet, not only are you probably eating foods that have a lower fat content anyways like vegetables and fruits. But you are also enveloping the fats that you do eat. And I don’t want to give the impression here that I am saying that because fats are bad. But in folks who maybe aren’t eating the right type of fats or maybe over eating fats, certainly adding more fiber into the diet could help a little bit with decreasing the amount of fat that are absorbed. High fiber also expands inside the walls of your intestinal track. And that can help you to feel fuller much faster just because it can absorb water. So, that’s another way that it can be weight loss aide. At the same time, once you start to eat a large amount of fiber, you get abdominal cramps and gas and bloating. So, if you hear me say this and you all of a sudden rush out and start eating four or five salads a day and a few pieces of fruit, you need to know that especially adding fiber to your diet quickly results in even more diarrhea and gas. So, make sure if you’re inspired to step up fiber in your diet, do it slowly and just add gradually. So, you could start with something like the abs diet. I remember I used to preach this a lot to the folks I was working with at the gym because it’s easy to remember that one apple, one banana, and one salad a day. And if you are exercising and you’re spacing that fruit around your exercise sessions and throwing it in a salad, that’s a great place to start. So, as far as consuming that fiber in a different form than its raw form, blending it, pureeing it, juicing it, mashing it with a big hammer on your kitchen table, however you want to beat up your fruits and your vegetables.
Brock: You’ve been looking into my kitchen haven’t you?
Ben: There’s not a ton of research behind this really especially what a blender could do to fiber. But if you consider, when you chump down and let’s use an apple for example. Let’s say you eat an apple. At first, it gets in your molars and the amylases in your mouth that are going to start to predigest it. And then it hits your stomach acids. And then it hits more enzymes in your digestive track. It’s hard for me to imagine that a blender could do more damage to fiber than what your digestive system could do to it. But that needs to be differentiated with juicing which actually can remove the fiber because a lot of that fiber stays in the juicer. So, if you look at the loss of fiber, I mean again using an apple as an example. If you can see straight through a cup of apple juice, that’s pretty much got no measurable amount of fiber in it. And to make a regular cup of that apple juice, you need three to four apples depending on the size of the apple. And each of those apples is going to have around three to four grams of fiber. So, you are looking at 12 to 16 grams of fiber that could have been in that juice that are no longer in that juice which means that that juice is basically just sugar. So, that’s really where you need to be careful with this whole idea behind juicing a fruit is you do get a pretty big loss of fiber when you do that. And so, blending, pureeing, food processing, most of that you are going to retain pretty much all of the fiber except for the stuff that sticks to the outside of the blender. And when you juice, that’s not the case.
Brock: Okay. So, let’s go onto the next question from Christian.
Christian says: What are your thoughts on doing cycling and running drills with ankle weights on? Will this speed up skill acquisition and neuromuscular development?
Brock: And then he mentions that he is looking forward to the tri-ripped.
Ben: Nice. So, first of all, tri-ripped does not involve any ankle weights. So, I have ankle weights before. And primarily, the two scenarios where I will use ankle weights is when I’m doing side lying leg raises, or any type of rehabilitative type of exercise or body weight strengthening exercise where I need just a little bit extra resistance. For example, I am currently working on strengthening my hip muscles. And one of the ways that I am doing that is I’m lying on my side and doing side lying leg raises. I can attach an ankle weight to my ankle to increase resistance of that side lying leg raise. That’s one example where I would use them. Another place I’d like to use ankle weights is on the stair master or the stair mill where you’re climbing up the stairs. You can hold a dumbbell on each hand, put ankle weights on each leg and because it’s a very simple motion. It’s a low impact motion. All you are doing is simulating. For example, if you are going to go on a hike, you’d be wearing a pair of heavy boots and be carrying a pack. So, again that’s just a great way to improve strength and increase the number of calories that you burn and get a nice training response. And then when we look at running and cycling, these are two situations where I don’t recommend using ankle weights. So, the reason that I don’t recommend them for cyclist is because if you look at the biomechanics of the pedal stroke, the entire front motion from top dead center all the way down to bottom dead center is a combination of the force that you’re producing with your muscles and the weight of your leg. So, by increasing the weight of your leg by attaching ankle weights, you are essentially making the entire downward force of the pedal stroke easier. So, whereas it is harder to pull up at the bottom of the pedal stroke, you are actually missing out on much of the contraction of the quadriceps and the cavs on the downward phase of the pedal stroke. You would be much better served by simply switching to a harder gear or pedaling harder if you want to improve your cycling fitness with the use of increased force. It just throws off your biomechanics too much. And when we talk about throwing off your biomechanics and we look at ankles weights with running. It’s even a bigger issue. So, not only when you wear ankle weights when you are running are you massively increasing the impact force of running. Running already creates impact forces in your feet and in your knees. They’re usually one and a half to three times your body weight. Your entire body weight multiply that by one and a half to three and that’s about how much force is produced in your feet and your knees when you’re running. You throw ankle weights on top of that. You are adding even more risk for injury. And you are also affecting the way that your food is going to hit the ground because ankle weights are going to affect your ankle mobility and the plains of motion that your ankle can move in. They’re also going to affect the natural rolling action of your foot underneath your body after it comes in contact with the ground. Now, I mentioned that I use ankle weights when I’m on the stair mill. That’s a very slow controlled movement that’s low impact. Running is much different than that. And I do not recommend that you wear ankle weights when you are running. I think that the risks far outweigh the benefits when it comes to something like that.
Brock: It almost sounds like if you put ankle weights on the bike you might have an unfair advantage during a race.
Ben: You are also increasing the weight of the bike and the rider. I think that probably you are still going to go slower and work harder. But ultimately, you are just training your body in a completely different way and unbalancing your muscle when you do it. So, I don’t recommend it. However, if you want to roll into your next cycling race wearing a set of ankle weights, knock yourself out. And let me know how that works out for you. I don’t think you’ll be at the front of the pack though.
Brock: We’ll see. I think I found my secret weapon.
Chuck says: Interesting discussion about the food pyramid of Dr. Weil (Episode #174). Maybe you could discuss what the Ben Greenfield food pyramid would look like?
Ben: I don’t like pyramids. Food pyramids basically structure your day right? You eat x amount of the bottom food and y amount of the middle foods and z amount of the top foods. And it’s usually more amounts from the bottom to the top based on the shape of the pyramid. The problem is that not only do different people need different amounts of food based on their activity levels, their genetics, their health history, etc. But it also introduces a great deal of inflexibility into a diet. And I’m not a huge fan of a food pyramid. I don’t think that I would have a food pyramid. I guess if I was forced to create one at the bottom of the food pyramid, at the bottom of the food pyramid I would have most likely an even combination of healthy fats and healthy proteins. So, you’ve got your coconut oils and your avocado and your olives and your olive oils, and those types of things on one half of the base of the food pyramid. And the other half of the base of the food pyramid, some of your healthy food proteins that are really high in omega three fatty acids like cold water fish, mackerel, and salmon and that type of thing. And also good grass fed saturated fat full beef and free range chicken and natural farm raised caged free eggs. That type of thing. And that would be along the bottom. One step up from that would be 2/3vegetables, 1/3 fruit, along those lines. One step up from that would be your healthier and safer starches. Your sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, I would throw soaked and rinsed kinwa, and amaranth and millet in there. Some of the soaked and sprouted grains and then we’ll get into this more on today’s episode but wheat probably being your lowest priority above all of those. And then one step up from that would be everything that’s left over. That would be your cheek foods, your condiments, and your herbs and your spices, so dark chocolate, garlic and ginger, and tea and coffee and all that jazz. So, I guess if I was forced to create a food pyramid, that’s what it would look like. I’m just picturing this in my head right now. And I’ve never really drawn this on a piece of paper. But that’s about what it would look like.
Brock: So, if you are not a fan of the pyramid scheme, what do you think of like even inCanadawe heard when Michelle Obama came out with my plate thing? How do feel about that?
Ben: It’s really an improvement over the food pyramid in terms of its simplicity. And it’s ability for someone to be able to look at and understand approximately the way that their diet should look. But unfortunately, the things that they put on the plate are really not much different from the food pyramid itself. There are big glasses of drinking your calories, and your milk, and juice and things like that up above the plate. And there are large amounts of grains and carbohydrate portions on the plate. And again, it’s a plate that’s fairly influenced by traditional Western diets that are fraught with issues when it comes to causing and promoting chronic disease.
Brock: And Chuck had a second part to his question. I don’t know if you want to comment. He ask about the bulletproof diet guidelines from the bulletproofexec.com .
Ben: It’s an interesting website. It’s kind of like you’ve got your paleo people on one side that are into mostly living the way that our ancestors would have lived and not exposing ourselves to things that we haven’t evolved to become efficient in processing or able to deal with. And then you’ve got on the other hand people who are called bio-hackers who will basically do things like attach electrodes to the outsides of their heads while their speaking, while they are working, while they’re sleeping to enhance brain wave frequency. And do things like spend millions of dollars on customized electrical set ups to hack their brain and get smarter. And usually these are people who are really into technology and statistics. And they’re basically trying to change their lives and make themselves smarter, make themselves stronger, etc, by using technology to do so. And so, it’s the complete opposite of the paleo idea. For example, one thing that you are going to find really popular among folks like this is sleep hacking which is basically using a polyphasic sleep. And we talked about this in the podcast I think about a year ago. And essentially what polyphasic sleep means is you try and get a way with sleeping anywhere from two to five hours a night by introducing a combination of electrical technology that puts you into a deeper state of sleep when you do sleep. And then the use of very short evenly spaced or regularly spaced naps throughout the day. And this is all based on the idea that they’ve done studies in theUSmilitary on this. And the Canadian marines up there, Brock, there have been studies on this. And they found that this polyphasic sleep can help you get away with sleeping less. The unfortunate thing that a lot of polyphasic folks don’t mention is after a while after spending a certain amount of time in that scenario of polyphasic sleep. You start to decline in your mental function and your physical function. And you start to experience many of the negative effects of sleep loss. So, something like polyphasic sleep and sleeping just a few hours a night or using some form of electricity to get yourself into a deep rapid eye movement sleep more quickly could ultimately result in several weeks or several months or possibly even several years down the road in some pretty serious sleep issues or sleep disorders. And it kind of makes sense because we as mammals have these Arcadian rhythms that are really important. The 24-hour sleep clock is something that people have always had. And it’s based off of specific light dark cycle. And it affects everything from your body temperature, your metabolism, to your brain wave activity to you hormone production, to your cellular regeneration and pretty much any biological activity you can think of. And it’s so hard wired into us that you can even take something like a totally blind subterranean mammal like a mole. And they’re still able to maintain these sleep clocks even in the absence of a light dark cycle. That’s how hard wired this Arcadian rhythm is in our bodies. For me, there’s a lot of hesitation to promote or encourage something like polyphasic sleep cycles. When it comes to my own performance and my recovery and all of the research that I’ve seen that shows that, especially for athletes, you’re really going to benefit from something like this, this seven to nine hours of sleep per night. And I think this whole idea behind bio-hacking and trying to squeeze every last ounce of benefit out of your body can have benefits short term in certain scenarios where you need to be high performing for short periods of time. I think ultimately, you can have some pretty deleterious effects. Now, the interesting thing is that if you look at the diet that Chuck mentioned, this bullet proof exec diet, it’s pretty solid. I liked what I saw. It’s pretty close to kind of like a combination of primal paleo diet. But it allows for some of the more modern foods in moderation. Essentially, it’s just like a bunch of different sliding scales. Like there’s a sliding scale for protein. And there’s a sliding scale for fat. And it just shows the better choices of one of the spectrum and the less good choices on the other end of the spectrum. And I’ve no problems with what I’ve saw on that website as far as diet goes. But in terms of anything else, I just think you need to be really careful in terms of playing around with your biology in that way. And I also think you need to consider the fact that there is a certain amount of beauty and happiness that comes with simplicity. And this leads into and then I’ll shut up because I know this is really long answer. But this leads into another thing that I’m personally working on right now. I can’t reveal too many details about it. But essentially what it comes down to is, I am developing a method to take the average Joe and turn them into a super human. Take somebody who is good and make them great. Take somebody who is maybe already a decent or gifted athlete and make them completely unstoppable. And one of the influencers of my entire philosophy as I create this project and design this system is that what I implement needs to be things that don’t interfere with our natural biology, our natural rhythms. And that also do not cause us to go way outside our way using million dollar electrical programs that we hook up to our minds while we’re sleeping. And that type of thing to actually accomplish what I am trying to accomplish. So, there needs to be a combination of simplicity and practicality combined with science. And I think that that’s very important when it comes to actually making something doable for someone. So, I know I kind of got into the abstract a little bit there. Podcast listeners, you will be the first people to know about this new project that I’m doing. It’ll probably be completed and ready to roll out by the end of 2012. But ultimately, I think that when you are trying to make yourself into a better person, there are a lot of things that you need to take into account. And that includes the way that your body was designed to work and the rhythms that your body was designed to work with.
Brock: This new program is codenamed CaptainAmericaby the way.
Ben: It’s somewhat similar exactly. Go watch CaptainAmericaand that’s what I’m working on doing.
Brock: Okay. Our next question is a little bit more in depth and it comes from Eric.
Eric says: What is your opinion of l-arginine as a supplement? Googling around for information on Nitric Oxide supplements that might help Nitric Oxide production, I quickly found l-arginine, and specifically “ProArgi~9”. They make some pretty bold (and yet vague) claims about helping everything from heart disease to endurance performance. What a coincidence – if I can get a boost in performance and help with any potential heart disease down the road – sounds like a no-brainer. Do you know of any studies that focused specifically on the effects of l-arginine on performance?
Brock: And he goes into a little bit of background about himself. But I think that’s basically the question there.
Ben: Yeah. L-arginine is a fairly research supplement of late. It’s an essential amino acid. So first of all, know that if you are already taking an amino acid supplement, you probably got some l-arginine base covered. What it is is it’s a vasodilator. So, it increases the circumference of your blood vessels. And it does that by increasing the synthesis of nitric oxide which is like the active ingredient of Viagra which directs nitric oxide into one specific area of a man’s body. But l-arginine, it’s kind of got an issue. Even though it’s got a lot of research behind it that shows that it can work for a lot of different things. And I’ll get into that in a minute here. When you take it orally, it’s got a really poor uptake rate in your intestines. And it’s really excessively metabolizing your livers. So, when you are taking an l-arginine supplement, very little of it is making it into your muscles or any of the peripheral tissues around your muscles. And when you try to increase into a really high dose of l-arginine so you just get enough, you get gastric distress. And you can get diarrhea. And for that reason, for anybody who wants this nitric oxide blood vessel dilating sports performance benefit of increasing your nitric oxide production, I actually recommend something different. And if you look into arginine metabolism, you’ll understand why. So, when you consume arginine, it’s converted into a couple of different components but one specifically is called l-citroline. And l-citroline is basically converted back into l-arginine once it’s metabolized in the kidney. And then goes on to cause that nitric oxide production. It’s the main precursor for nitric oxide. And so for that reason, you can actually take l-citroline as a supplement. And you get a much higher uptake intestinally and lower metabolism by the liver and still get all the benefits of what l-arginine can give you because you’re not only looking better oxygen and better nutrient delivery when you are dilating a blood vessel to a muscle. There’s also research that shows that it may be able to accelerate immune cell proliferation and the rate of wound healing. It definitely has some sexual performance benefits and some quality of orgasm type of benefits. It has been shown in some studies to possibly have some anti-anxiety benefits. And as far as the heart disease issue, there was only one study I could find that looked at l-arginine heart disease. But it did show a decreased risk for atherothrombrosis when you actually were using a l-arginine type of supplement although, I couldn’t tell whether the l-arginine was administered orally or via some other way in that study. But it did help with decreasing risk of heart disease from that standpoint. So, the folks that make an l-citroline supplement that I know of and that I’ve personally used is Millennium Sports. They make one called the Citroval. And that one is decent. They also make another supplement called Nitroceps. Both of those are in pill form. And there are a couple of ways that you could use those. You could take them about 60 to 90 minutes prior to exercise. And you could also take them about 60 to 90 minutes prior to sexual activity. And in both of those situations, you will experience some benefit. So, it’s Nitroceps and Citroval. So, I’m writing a note to myself. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes. And those are made by company called Millennium Sports which is one company that I have investigated. Their stuff is certified good manufacturing practices. You’re not going to have to worry about having it laced with doping derivatives or anything like that which you do have to worry about with some of these companies that are producing sports performance aids like this. But that’s the deal with arginine.
Brock: Nice. Unfortunately, the Millennium Sports, I don’t think ships outside of the US. So, it’s sad for the rest of us.
Ben: Are you sure? Well, the company may not directly. But I know that like for example bodybuilding.com sells their stuff. And I’m pretty sure that that company ships internationally. So, you may not be able to get it directly through Millennium Sports. But you could probably get it through one of the resellers.
Brock: Good call. Okay. So, the next question comes from Ron.
Ron says: My wife and I just got a juicer after watching the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”. My wife is mainly interested in the “Reboot” program the subjects in the movie are doing. As an ultra runner (training for a 100 mile) and endurance athlete, I am curious how I can use this tool to increase my fitness nutrition. Do you have any suggestions on certain juice recipes or combinations to try or anything about nutrient timing as well?
Ben: You know, I didn’t make it too far into that movie because this guy was eating a really unhealthy diet and was getting obese and really unhealthy. And that was why it was called “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, it’s documentary. And then he switched to basically just drinking juice. He didn’t really compare the juicing diet to maybe just a little bit normal diet that didn’t involve completely pulverizing every food that you eat. And that’s where I kind of have an issue. I’ve mentioned this a few times in the past. I’m not a big fan of any diet that has you eating one type of food group or food in one representation and then tells you not to eat anything else. And you’re going to be able to get a lot of nutrients and a lot of the calories and everything that you need from juicing. It’s just that you miss out on chewing your food and enjoying a lot of the things that you could be enjoying. With juicing, I don’t recommend fruit juicing much at all to anybody that I work with. And the reason for that is something that we’ve gone over before. You simply get a very large dose of sugar, very high glycemic index food all thrown into your system at one period of time. But if you are juicing vegetables, you could certainly get quite a bit of benefit especially when you’re doing something like combining those vegetables with different herbs or supplements that can have a really high nutrient type of effect. Now, I personally don’t own a juicer and don’t do much juicing. So, I do not want to frame myself as some type of juicing expert. But you can certainly get benefits from juicing certain types of foods. For example, I was researching juicing a couple of months ago and came across a recipe. And it kind of has like a cleansing effect on your body and is really great for your liver. So, if you’ve been consuming a lot of pharmaceuticals or coming off high alcohol intake and you want to flush that from your body, this juicing recipe involved juicing a bunch of cucumbers. And cucumbers are like a liver cleansing type of vegetable. And you’d juice I think four or five cucumbers. And that was mixed with garlic and ginger root and a little bit of kai and pepper. A little bit of stevia for sweetness. And then some omega three oils consumed with a little bit of extra virgin coconut oil to add in some healthy fats. And you take a recipe like that. And it’s going to have some direct healing or detoxifying types of benefits because let’s face it food is medicine. And it can have medicinal properties. I don’t want to get too far out in left field here with this stuff because I know detoxifying is a term that gets thrown around a lot. I’m writing an article on it right now for BenGreenfieldFitness.com. And you just may need to wait for that article to get out for me to get more into that. But ultimately, what I’m getting here is there are some situations where juicing can have benefit. I don’t recommend that you include it as kind of like the only way that you’re getting your calories in your diet. But if you are going to juice, try vegetable juicing more than fruit juicing for those blood sugar reasons. And if you need juicing recipes, I’m sure that there are books out there that are just chalk full of juicing recipes. One that I know of is from somebody I’ve interviewed before who seemed on top of things when it comes to juicing and that was the juice lady. And I think that’s juicelady.com or thejuicelady.com.
Brock: Cool. Our next three questions, I’m going to think of them as our pain trio. We’ve got three questions that revolve around pain. So, our first pain question comes from Tony.
Tony says: I have a question regarding shin pain. I run about 20-25 miles a week and when I run I feel fine, but afterwards my shins are very tender to the touch. I’m wondering what I can do to alleviate the pain.
Ben: So, it’s shin splints. Whenever somebody asks me about alleviating pains, it’s like you always want to look at why the pain is being caused before you just cover it up. In the case of shin splints, usually it’s an issue with calf ankle or foot mobility. And so, what I would first do is I would look into your shoes. What type of shoes you are wearing, have a physical therapist watch you run or get a run gated analysis. And make sure that the type of shoes that you are wearing and the insoles that you have in those shoes are fit to your running style and your body because that can significantly affect your foot and your ankle mechanics. So, look at that. And then also, look at the flexibility and also the amount of tissue adhesions in your lower limb. I would be foam rolling your lower calf. And you can certainly see a bunch of different foam rolling exercises over at the Ben Greenfield fitness YouTube Chanel at youtube.com/bengreenfieldfitness. Just type in foam roll and it’ll bring up a bunch of different lower leg foam rolling exercises with me demonstrating them. I’d also be doing stretching for the calf, wall stretch where you’re putting your toes up against the wall and leaning into the wall. A belt stretch where you’re lying on your back and using a belt literally wrapped around the front of your foot to kind of pull your foot down towards your shin to improve your foot mobility. Pushing against the wall and putting your calf out behind you and stretching your calf that way. A lot of different calf exercises that you can do to improve the flexibility in your calf because tight calves are usually what are going to cause shin splints. The other thing that you can do and this is a big part of the marathon dominator program, we’ve got a bunch of exercises in there to get rid of shin splints. And you can check that out at marathondominator.com. But you lean with your back against the wall with your legs straight, just lift your toes one after the other up towards your shins as you’re tapping your feet in reverse. So just your heels are on the ground and you’re just bringing your toes up. And if you’re doing this right, you’re going to feel the muscle in the front of your legs start to really fatigued. So, those are some ways that you can work on what’s causing those shin splints. But as far as getting rid of it, basically you want to stop running, stop the strain because you’ve essentially got a lot of inflammation in that joint that runs along between your tibia and your fibula. And you’d want to allow that inflammation to subside while you are resting and avoiding impact based activities. You can apply ice or cold therapy if it’s in the really early stages because that’s going to reduce some of the pain and the inflammation. You can apply topical anti-inflammatory like magnesium oil or arnica based topical anti-inflammatory. Tromil is one example of one of those. And then once you’re actually ready to return to activity, you want to mobilize those tissues a little bit with heat. So, you could apply like a heat pad or a topical heat type of lotion to your lower leg to help the blood vessels to dilate and increase the rate of blood flow to those tissues. It cannot help with healing. But it can help you not to feel those shin splints when you start running. The other thing you can do is you can warm up before a run by riding a stationary bicycle or by riding a bicycle for a little while to warm up. And then start everything really slowly. Don’t start in hard. Finally, one thing to look into or two things actually that come to mind to look into would be taping. You can do what’s called kinesthetic taping or physical therapy taping. And what this does is it helps to allow the shin to have pressure taken off of the muscle attachments that run up and down the shin. So, you can get taped by a physical therapist. Rock tape at rocktape.com, they sell tape and teach you how to tape yourself. So, that’s another good one to look into. And then also look into some sports massage specifically avoiding anywhere that causes a lot of pain along the muscles in the front of your leg. But focusing on some of the muscle compartments especially around the calf and the Achilles can help again with the front of the leg if you have some directed sports massage technique on the calves. So, those are some of the things I would look into when it comes to shin splints. And you should definitely be able to get back into running gradually once you get rid of pain.
Brock: Alright. So, moving around the other side of the leg from the shin to the Achilles tendon.
Samantha says: I get Achilles tendonitis on and off, year-in year-out. How can I avoid it in the future? What exercises can strengthen this area? I’m from theUKso a lot of the products/supplements you suggest are not available.
Ben: First of all, pretty much most of the stuff I recommend can be shipped to the UK. For example, if you’ve got pacifically fitness at pacificfit.net, all that stuff ships to the UK. But let’s focus on your question about Achilles tendonitis which is your swelling and your redness and your pain and your tenderness on the lower part of your calf that can really develop specifically after running up hills especially. Typically, similar to shin splints that can be an issue with your foot wear or your orthotics so it’s the same as what I would’ve recommended for shin splints. I won’t repeat what I said there. Weak calf muscles can really be an issue as well. So, make sure that you are strengthening your calf muscles. And typically, I don’t recommend calf razes for strengthening your calf muscles as much as I recommend full body lower body strength training type of activities like squats and single leg squats, dead lifts, and single leg dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, and single leg Romanian dead lifts. And you can look up any of those over at my YouTube channel and see videos of them. But essentially, lower leg strength training can really help with the strength of your calves and a lot of the weak muscles that are going to cause over use of the Achilles tendon because that’s what Achilles tendonitis is. It’s an overuse injury. If you do when you’re not running, when you’re at your job maybe, or in other situations wear high heels, that’s something that you’re going to want to avoid too because that shortens your tendon and your calf muscles. And when you do that and then you go exercise and run in flat running shoes, that tendon gets stretched beyond its normal range which puts a strain on the tendon and causes tendonitis. If you’ve got Achilles tendonitis already, there are a bunch of physical therapy modalities you can do and traditional modalities you can use ice compression, ultrasound, and the type of things that you would experience in physical therapy. But really if I could tell you, the number one thing that I’ve seen nip Achilles tendon in the bud almost immediately is acupuncture. So, if you’ve already got Achilles tendonitis and you want to get rid of it and then focus on calf strengthening, get rid of it with acupuncture. Start strengthening your calf. Make sure that you are in the right shoes, the right orthodox, not wearing high heels. And then you should be able to get back into activity without that rearing its ugly head every time you start running.
Brock: Alright. Episode three of the pain trilogy here comes from Shane.
Shane says: I just completed my first Ironman 70.3 and wanted to say thanks to you. All your great advice definitely helped me get through the race. My question is about how to prepare for the physical stress and fatigue of longer races. During my recent Ironman 70.3 I felt great until the second half of the run when the joints in my knees and feet started to hurt. I had plenty of gas left in the tank and my muscles felt fine and the only thing that held me back was the joint pain. How can I prepare my body to cope with this better? My training consisted of lots of high intensity interval work as well as a longer ride (60 miles) or run (6-8 miles) each week.
Ben: The first thing that I would recommend is the simple obvious solution. And that is making sure your training on a surface that is similar to the surface that you will be competing on. So, if you are going to be competing on concrete or asphalt, don’t do all your running on trails. And if you’re going to be running on trails, then make sure that you’re not doing all your running on concrete or asphalt because that could be issue. You’re just using joints in a very different manner when you’re training than when you’re actually in your event. So, that’s kind of the simple obvious solution. But if you look at this from a deeper issue, synovial fluid, the lubricating fluid of your joints, and the overall health of your joints can be heavily influenced by things like pharmaceuticals and your diet and supplements that you take and nutritional deficiencies. So, what I would look into first of all is making sure that your levels of natural anti-inflammatory fats that you take in, your omega three fatty acid intake is really high. I’d be eating a lot of those Mediterranean fats that I mentioned earlier on this podcast episode. Avocadoes, and olive oil and cold water fish and hopefully taking a fish oil supplement as well. I would also look into natural anti-inflammatory herbs, garlic, ginger, turmeric, curries, and things of that nature. And I personally really highly recommend a supplement called Capraflex for those types of issues. I’ll write a note to myself to put a link to that in the show notes. But basically, Capraflex is a mix of glucosamine and chondroitin which can assist with joint pain. But I really don’t see them work very well unless they’re combined with a bunch of anti-inflammatory herbs which I just mentioned. And Capraflex is kind of a combination of both of those. So, I would look into stepping up your omega three fatty acid intake including like a full spectrum of a joint support supplement like Capraflex in your diet, training on the same type of surfaces that you’re going to be racing on. And then finally, make sure that you are actually tapered for your race. There should be a significant decrease in activity to allow your joints to heal and your body to rest and recover and be ready for the pounding that you’re going to experience during the race. And a lot of times, that joint pain and muscle pain and injury that occurs during an event are due to an inadequate taper. So, for something like a half iron man, usually it’s about ten to 14 days out that you’re beginning a significant change in your levels of activity to allow your body to rest and recover and prepare for that event.
Brock: Good advice! Alright, that concludes the pain segments. Now, we are into our final question actually. And our final question comes from Skip. And Skip has a very particular medical case here. But maybe you can address the question for everybody and then more specifically for him.
Skip says: I have heard some people suggest using “GasEx” (active ingredient is simethicone) for gas issues during an Ironman. Is this generally a good solution for people? My case is different than most so more details are necessary – My large intestine was surgically removed due to severe ulcerative colitis and a “pouch” was created with the end of my small intestine. My “plumbing” is connected like everyone else but my capacity to store waste and gas is severely limited. Also, due to my altered plumbing, I cannot just pass gas like everyone else because I’ll lose more than just gas. Is simethicone a reasonable solution or do you have other suggestions? Does this chemical raise other issues or limit performance?
Ben: Don’t misconstrue this as medical advice please. But make sure you’re taking care of your digestive health especially ensuring that your reduced ability to digest food due to your change in plumbing is helped out with things like digestive enzymes and probiotics specifically. I would make sure that you’ve got stuff like that in your diet. I would also look into the possibility of taking a butane HCL type of supplement or some type of hydrochloric acid supplement to potentially assist with digestion as well. So, really take care of things from a digestive stand point. That being said, simethicone or the active ingredient in GasEx for gas issues during an ironman is something I would be careful with. Simethicone is an anti-foaming agent. So, what it does is it decreases the surface tension of gas bubbles. Meaning that you take all these tiny little bubbles or basically foam that’s building up in your stomach and you decrease the surface tension of all those little bubbles. And it makes them basically formed into one bigger bubble. Essentially, that gas is able to exit your body a lot more quickly when it’s one big bubble versus one as a bunch of little small foamy bubbles. And simethicone is fairly safe. There are not really many side effects with it. But of course, any time you are taking something like this and combining it with an activity in which you want to be able to really absorb nutrients really well. And make sure that that stuff is moving through your system okay. You should be aware that I did look into the effect of simethicone on gastric transit time and stomach emptying. And basically, it can increase what’s called your small intestinal transit time. So, it doesn’t have much effect on gastric emptying from your stomach. But there’s a pretty significant increase in small intestinal transit time. So usually, stuff should empty from your small intestine anywhere between 200 to 250 minutes. And that was increased by about 40 to 50 minutes in folks who are taking simethicone containing supplement. So, you are looking at foods basically moving through your small intestine much more slowly which could potentially lead to gastric distress especially considering that your plumbing is already changed up a little bit. So, I’d be careful with something like this. I would instead focus on making sure that you’re really digesting the foods that you do eat really well. Making sure that your stomach and your intestinal flora is built up with the use of probiotics and the inclusion of high probiotic containing foods like yogurt and kiefer and Kombucha and things of that nature. And then also, make sure that you’re using digestive enzymes before you eat and maybe even considering using digestive enzymes during the actual event itself. For example, taking a digestive enzyme supplement on each hour to help you with breaking down and digesting what you’re eating during that race a little bit more quickly. Again, I don’t want you to misconstrue this as medical advice. But those are just some thoughts that I have for you in this situation.
Brock: And Skip, I got to say like having an altered plumbing like that and still getting in there and doing Ironman, my hat is off to you. Good one.
Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Very cool to see folks going out and going way outside their comfort zone when it comes to doing something like an ironman even in the face of having the body altered in some ways. So, it’s very cool.
Brock: Alright folks. That’s the end of the listener questions for this week. And remember that we prioritize audio questions. So, if you want to make sure that you get on the show, you just need to Skype to pacificfit.net where there’s a phone number as well, right Ben?
Ben: There absolutely is. You can call toll free to 8772099439 and leave your question there. And remember please, go search BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Every single podcast is transcribed. There’s a huge very rich source of information on that site. It’s likely that your question may have been addressed before. So, search around on that site a little bit. Right there on the side bar is the search. And of course, all of the show notes for each podcast episode have all the links to everything that we talk about. So, head over and check those out as well prior to submitting your question.
Brock: Alright. And having said that, let’s hear about the shocking truth about wheat.
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield here. And way back in podcast episode number 60, I actually had a guest come on to talk about why healthy people have heart attacks. And much more when it comes to the real truth behind what goes on with your heart and heart health. The name of the book that we talked about back then was called “Track Your Plaque”. And it was written by an author named Doctor William Davis. And Dr. Davis is a preventive cardiologist. He has a very unique approach to cardiology. A very, what I would consider to be, a holistic approach. And perhaps one that sometimes flies in the face of what you tend to hear when it comes to heart health and how our diet especially affects our health and our heart. And as we’ll learn in today’s interview, our belly. Because Dr. Davis has recently come out with a brand new book called Wheat Belly. And I’m going to let him tell you more about that book and why he wrote it. But Dr. Davis, thank you for coming on the podcast today.
Dr. Davis: Oh, thank you Ben. Thanks for having me back.
Ben: So, this is probably kind of an involved question here but let’s just jump right in. Why did you write Wheat Belly?
Dr. Davis: Well, it’s a big problem in heart disease prevention. That’s what I do now. I spend much of my day just trying to identify the causes for heart disease and then show people how to correct them. Well, the number one cause for heart disease by a long stretch and you don’t hear much about this. But the number one cause for heart disease in the US today is something called small LDL particles. And these occur alongside high blood sugars. So, I wanted a way for my patients to deal with this very common pattern better. So, I use some simple logic. And these are all the people I meet with risk for heart disease. I use simple logic, Ben. And that is two slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar and thereby small LDL higher than nearly all other foods. Now, most of us are surprised by this. That we are told to eat healthier whole grains, foods that raise blood sugar higher than a snickers bar, higher than table sugar. Nonetheless, I use that simple observation. I ask my patients to remove all wheat. I wanted to see what the effect was on blood sugar and thereby small LDL. When they come back three or four or six months later and their blood sugars would be much lower, this measure of long term blood sugar behavior, hemoglobin A1C would e substantially lower. But they told me all the other things that start to happen like losing 30 pounds, losing three inches off their waist, and blood pressure’s dropping. And rheumatoid arthritis was improving to the point where they can stop two drugs. Depression was lifting. Legadema was disappearing. Acid reflux disappeared in nearly all. The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, cramps and diarrhea was disappearing or improving. The diarrhea and cramps of crone’s disease and also colitis improving substantially, sometimes even cured. In other words, I started to see this whole collection of common medical problems improving dramatically and often actually disappearing. This took me by surprise. At first, I just thought it was pure coincidence. But after it kept on happening over and over, I started to realize wow this is a consistent association. I then started to do it on purpose in everybody. And that’s when I saw many cases of incredible turnarounds in health and weight. So, I stumbled on this almost by accident.
Ben: So, do you think that all of this was due to the simple fact that eating something that has wheat in it generally means that you’re eating something that has carbohydrates in it. And it raises your blood sugar. Or is there more to it than that?
Dr. Davis: There’s a lot more to it than that. That’s a big part of it Ben. So, the carbohydrate you need to eat called amylopectin A which has a unique branching structure which makes the amylopectin A the carbohydrate of wheat highly digestible, highly susceptible to the enzyme amylase in our mouths and stomachs. And that explains why two slices of whole wheat bread raises blood sugar higher than table sugar. But there’s more. Wheat was changed. Somewhere in the 70’s, there was this very well funded push to create high yield strains of plants, wheat corn and soy principally. Well, wheat was a particular success from the view point of a geneticist in that. They converted wheat that you and I remember, four and a half to five foot tall amber wave of grain to a two foot tall high yield dwarf variant. So, wheat today is not the wheat you and I think of in pictures and memory. It’s a two-foot tall genetically modified, or I should say genetically altered. I couldn’t say modified because that tends to bring up all sorts of thoughts of genetic engineering and insertions of the genes. This predates genetic engineering. The techniques used to generate modern wheat were far less precise or far worse than genetic engineering. Ironically Ben, I am no defender of genetic engineering or genetic modification. But genetic modification is a substantial improvement over the techniques. The bizarre and crude techniques used to generate plants like modern semi-dwarf wheat. So, wheat was changed. One of the changes introduced into the wheat of the 1970’s that made it to your store shelves in the 80’s was a reconfiguration of a gliadin protein unique to wheat. They turned gliadin into a very powerful appetite stimulant. So, when wheat products hit your store shelves in the mid-80s, it was invented in the 70’s but there was gradual adoption by farmers nationwide. And by the mid-80s, virtually all of us were buying wheat products made from the semi-dwarf high yield variant created by geneticist. So, the gliadin protein in this new strain of wheat has the capacity to increase calorie consumption to 400 calories per day per person.
Ben: You mean through the appetite stimulation?
Dr. Davis: Through appetite stimulation. And that’s when we saw this across the board increase in calorie consumption followed shortly thereafter by increase in weight followed then by the diabetes epidemic. So, the gliadin protein of wheat is crucial to understanding the bad effects of wheat. But that’s not all. There’s more to this. So, the increase consumption of wheat also encouraged around the same period in the 80s because of the low fat, eat more healthy whole grain movement. So, there was an increase in consumption. So, people gravitated to grains. We were told to eat more grains because they thought it was heart healthy. Plus, the grains themselves had an appetite stimulant in them. This is a certain recipe for disaster. And Ben, that’s what we have now. We have a disaster of weight gain, obesity, and diabetes on our scale never before witnessed in human history. Not all of it is due to wheat but a big part of it is.
Ben: Interesting. So, this is something that came up on this show, on the Ben Greenfield fitness podcast last week. But we were talking about food pyramid put out by someone who is considered to be a natural holistic physician, Dr. Andrew Weil. If you watch TV, you’ll also see Dr. Oz doing this. As well as most health professionals out there recommending “healthy whole grains” and pasta as the base of the food pyramid. And it is a very large part of the recommended for folks. Why are people still recommending this? Is it because what you’ve just told me as not common knowledge? Or what’s the reason that doctors don’t know this stuff?
Dr. Davis: That’s a big part of it Ben. That this notion that wheat has been changed substantially. That message is not gotten into the mainstream public. They don’t realize that wheat is a high yield two-foot tall plant that is nothing like the wheat of 40 or 50 years ago. I think they’ve all also fallen for the false logic of nutrition. This flawed sequence of logic. If I take something bad for you, white flour and replace it with something less bad for you, whole grains. And there’s an apparent health benefit. The conclusion reached by most nutritionist is well then a whole bunch of less bad thing is good for you. So, let me apply that flawed logic to another situation. If I tell you that unfiltered Marlboro cigarettes are bad for you and thatSalemfiltered cigarettes are less bad for you, by the kind of logic used by nutritionist, you and I should smoke a pack of Salem’s everyday. Well, that’s silly of course. But that is the kind of logic used in nutritional circles. And so, what if we ask instead, what’s the effect of no grains. And that’s where you see incredible changes in health by removing it entirely. Unfortunately, that flawed logic dominates nutritional thinking. Factor in that the wheat has changed. And that’s why we have this mess in our hands now. So, we’ve got to agitate the educators. And let them know that what they are telling… Ben, I’m impressed. I’ve had debates with faculty members on radio in nutrition, experts who represent Agri-business. At first I was a bit concerned because I thought they were going to hit me with some tough questions. Maybe I’ve overlooked something here. And in fact, the opposite happened. I was shocked at the level of unsophistication and outright ignorance of these issues. I had recently debated a Ph. D, a very high up executive scientist for Agri-business in Canada. And when I told him, he said I had no idea what I was talking about. But I said, well perhaps you need to be made aware that what you’re being sold as wheat today is a two-foot tall high yield variant craved by genetics research in the 1970s. That comment was followed by silence. And then he responded to me, well the farmers created that so they can seal with the fields. In other words, he had no knowledge whatsoever that wheat had undergone this incredible change. It was news to the expert. So, I feel it’s our job to educate the educators that what they’re telling people to eat isn’t what it appears to be.
Ben: So, you talked a little bit about the lesser of two evils and how wheat can still be an evil compared to white bread. Although, it maybe the lesser two evils. But is that true? If you had to choose between wheat bread and white bread, does it matter that much?
Dr. Davis: Not really. There is a benefit. There’s no question Ben that the literature that they’re right. That if we do replace white flour with whole grains or multigrains or whole wheat, there is a health benefit. There is less colon cancer, less heart disease, less heart attack, less diabetes. There’s no question that that is true.
Ben: Is this because of the extra fiber and nutrients?
Dr. Davis: It could be fiber. It could be B-vitamins. It could be phyto-nutrients like flavonoids. It could be the whole picture. But it’s that flawed logic once again. Should we embrace something as good if it’s been shown to be less bad? And I think that’s the mistake that’s being made here that we shouldn’t embrace something that’s being good just because it’s less harmful than something else. So, if I had a poison like strychnine and it’s 100 percent fatal and I’ve modified my strychnine, now it’s only 50 percent fatal, is that good? It’s less bad but it doesn’t make it good. That’s seems like overly simplistic logic. But it is the kind of logic used in nutritional circles. You see this by the way over and over again. Less bad must mean good. Less bad doesn’t always mean good. It just means less bad.
Ben: So, is there a time when we would be okay? Like you for example, do you ever eat wheat? Or do you just steer clear of it entirely? And the reason I ask that is because I know that wheat has this propensity to raise blood sugars. But for example, I know that when you’re exercising, that becomes less of an issue. You’ve just walked in from a run. And there’s the opportunity to have a piece of whole grain bread with some nut butter on it or something of that nature. Would that still be an issue or a time to avoid wheat? Or is there a time when wheat is okay?
Dr. Davis: I don’t think there’s a time when wheat is ever okay for anybody Ben. So, you’re right. There’s a blood sugar issue. That’s not an issue for everybody. It’s an issue for most people. If I have wheat, I have a gastrointestinal distress that lasts 48 hours. I start to salivate. I’m going to throw up. I can’t think straight. I can’t understand the papers I’m reading. I have peculiar dreams. In other words, yeah there’s a blood sugar issue but there’s many other effects here so that gliadin protein that stimulates appetite. So, if I had that exposure to gliadin protein, I’m going to increase I’m really hungry. It might benine o’clockat night after a full dinner. And I’ve got a graze and snack. I can’t stop. It’s a pretty common effect from gliadin protein and wheat. How about the lectins of wheat? So, there’s a group of compounds called lectins that nearly all plants have for their own protection. Well, wheat’s lectin called wheat germ gluten is very odd. It’s indigestible. And when you ingest it and it makes its way to your intestinal track. It has the unique capacity to unlock the normal intestinal barriers to unwanted foreign substances. So, you and I have intelligent intestinal linings. It decides what can make it through and what can’t make it through into your blood stream. With the lectin of wheat, wheat germ gluten stops and disables that capacity. And in effect, you have wide open excess of multiple foreign substances into your blood steam including bacterial byproducts in your small intestine coli. This is probably why people who consume wheat have more rheumatoid arthritis, multiple skin rashes, have more lupus, have more hashimoto’s thyroiditis, connected tissue diseases, polymyrheumatica, in other words, multiple inflammatory diseases. Some of them are quite severe. They are likely due to the lectins of wheat. So, I don’t think there’s a way to make wheat a benign thing even if indulgence, even if you’ve essentially disabled the whole blood sugar phenomenon.
Ben: So, what about if you’re eating the types of wheat that you would’ve been able to get your hands on say 100 years ago or 80 years ago, this four-foot tall wheat that hadn’t been modified in the way that you described.
Dr. Davis: Yeah. You bring an excellent point Ben. But I think about a lot. And I talk about a lot. That is, I think this is how I would look at it. Every step we go back in time to earlier forms of wheat, we get a more benign form of wheat. So, if we go back to the wheat of 1950, we have a much more benign four and a half foot tall type of plant. If we go back to the grains grown in 19th centuryUS andCanada such as red fife, I believe it’s even more benign and less fiddled with by humans. If we go back to the European middle ages, we have kamut. We have spelt. It’s even more benign. If we go back to the wheat of the bible, emmer wheat, that’s even more benign. If we go back all the way to the wheat that was gathered by hand in the Fertile Crescent that grew wild, ion corn wheat, that’s the most benign of all. Now, here we have to be careful though. If something is less bad for you, does it make it good? So, I think every time we go back then, we have a much more benign less harmful form of wheat. But at what point does it become harmless and good for us? I don’t think it ever does. I think we have to accept that it’s likely that form of wheat has problems for all humans who consume it but less bad the further back you go. So, here’s a rhetorical question. How good does something have to be before we embrace it as good? Does it have to be only 50 percent as harmful? Does it have to be 70 or 80 percent or even 100 percent less harmful before we embrace it as good? I think that if we were to do this with wheat, we’d find that even if we go all the way back to ion cord, it’s probably and I’m just estimating, 70 to 80 percent better than modern wheat. But it’s not entirely benign. We have this notion that when humans first adopted grains in to their diet and we know this from the fossil record and from the record of artifacts that humans who incorporate even wild ion cord and emmer wheat many thousands of years ago did suffer a down turn in health. They had more dental problems. They had bone problems. Perhaps, even more vascular disease and cancer. So, there was a down turn in health when humans incorporated grains. We also know that descriptions of celiac disease, the intestinal destruction from wheat, they backed to it as early as 100 AD. So, it’s not as if all the problems wheat is brand new. They’re not. Wheat has been a problem for humans for as long as we’ve consumed it. It’s just been amplified and exaggerated by the geneticist work in the last few years.
Ben: So, what about when you soak or when you sprout nuts or grains or seeds or legumes and the idea that nature has set some of these things up so that there’s supposed to survive until the proper growing conditions are present. So, if you take them and you eat them before that point, they do have nutrition inhibitors and toxic substances and a lot of the stuff that you just talked about. But when you soak something like that and allow it to germinate, you can decrease the activity of some of these enzyme inhibitors and fitates, and etc. So, when it comes to something like that, if you were to eat soaked or sprouted wheat, would you say that in some situations especially in a situation where you were more insulin sensitive or more able to use sugar that wheat would be okay in a situation like that?
Dr. Davis: Well, we’re back at that issue Ben of it we make something less harmful. Let’s say 10 percent less harmful. Let’s say we soak our seeds and we reduce the lectin and fitate content by 10 percent or maybe even 20 percent. Is that good enough? Is it now good? I would suggest it’s not good. It’s just a bit less harmful. So, I can tell that when I see people do these kinds of things, soak their wheat or sprout it, or by the Ezekiel type reds. We see all the same stuff because I believe a lot of the adverse components of modern wheat. And by the way, all those products come from high yield semi-dwarf wheat. So, it’s not as if it’s coming from ancient forms of wheat. But they’re coming from the modern Agri-business generated forms of wheat. They still have lectins, substantial quantities of lectins. They still have the envelope pectin form of carbohydrate. They still have gluten. They still have gliadin. So, it’s not as if all the evil has been distilled out of the seed by any of these maneuvers. It’s still pretty much wheat.
Ben: So, is all hope lost? Is there a place where you can get these type of ancient grains, these ancient wheat?
Dr. Davis: You can. It’s kind of impractical. I think that’s going to be a conversation we all have to have in the coming few years. What happens when we can get access to say ion cord is it okay to have it once in a while? I think there are certain people who should never indulge in ion corn like the celiac people and the people who are exceptionally gluten sensitive. But there’s a lot of who maybe just have a carbohydrate issue or maybe some issues with lectin. See, one of the problems we have is an insufficient study made of exposure to ion corn and emmer. In other words, if the last large scale consumption of ion corn was 6000 years ago, we have no clinical data of course documenting what the biological and physiologic effects of its consumption was. So, I think that’s going to be something we have to entertain and discuss and explore as these kinds of foods become available.
Ben: But not everyone has access to gardens or community gardens there is to grow. But I was curious. I’d thought about maybe getting my hands on something like this to plant in my own backyard. I’d like to talk a little bit though about other alternatives or substitutions for people who want to cut wheat out entirely. Let’s say I want to make a cookie or in the holidays right now or just getting past them. How do I make a cookie without wheat? How do I make pizza without wheat? How do I maybe have some of these things that I’m used to having that contain wheat and still have them without quitting cold turkey or completely cutting those types of things out of my life.
Dr. Davis: Yeah, good point. I’m glad you bring that up because it brings up the whole notion of gluten free. So, we’re back again at that notion of there’s something is bad for you replaced with something less bad. Can we really say a whole bunch of less bad thing is good for you? It’s the same thing here. Manufacturers have replaced wheat and the gluten of wheat with other products notably always cornstarch, rice starch, tapio starch, and potato starch. So, those are the primary ingredients in foods like gluten-free, multi-grain bread or gluten-free pretzels or gluten-free pasta. Well, these foods raise blood sugar higher than even wheat. And so, high blood sugars set in motion a whole cascade of events. It causes heart disease, hypertension, and high blood pressure. It causes diabetes, cataract formation. And this is because the process of glycation, the glucose modification of protein when your blood glucose goes really high. So, the gluten-free world has made a big blunder. They thought they were doing something right by replacing wheat gluten. But they replaced it with highly digestible carbohydrates that have the unique capacity to raise blood sugars higher than even wheat. So, if you look at any table of glycemic index, you’ll see that a snickers bar is 41 and a milky way bar is 55 and sucrose or table sugar is 59 to 65, two slices of whole wheat bread is 72, and gluten-free breads are somewhere around 90 to 100.
Dr. Davis: So, they are the worst, at least from a blood- glucose standpoint. So, what I do is I spend a lot of my time in fact the last few days. I devoted much of my time to coming up with ways that you and I can have chocolate chip cookies and cheese cake and pumpkin pie and other fun foods to replace the unhealthy equivalents. I post a lot of those recipes by the way. There are about 37 recipes in the book, the Wheat Belly book. But I also post some of my new recipes on the blog that accompanies the book which is the wheat belly blog. I just put up my recipe for ginger bread cookies. And a week before that for raspberry chocolate cheese cake that has a nice layer of gnash chocolate inside.
Ben: You’re making me hungry now.
Dr. Davis: So, it’s not a diet of cardboard Ben or of just lettuce and greens. It’s a rich and varied diet of vegetables and nuts and meats and eggs and cheese and avocadoes and olives and olive oil and these healthy replacements for wheat and no gluten-free nonsense carbohydrates.
Ben: Alright. So, don’t rush off to the grocery store and just fill your grocery car full of gluten free foods because they’re not probably going to do your blood sugar much favors doing that right away.
Dr. Davis: Exactly right.
Ben: Okay. I got you. Well, that’s very cool. Obviously, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s in your book. So, for the listeners who are tuned in right now and want to find our more, I will put a link to Dr. Davis’ book, Wheat Belly over on the show notes for this podcast episode, episode number 176 from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I will also put a link to a previous episode that we did with Dr. Davis about cholesterol and plaque. It’s podcast number 60. So, there’s a lot of good information. And I would recommend that you go through this book Wheat Belly if you want to find more about this in detail. So, Dr. Davis, thank you so much for coming on the call today.
Dr. Davis: Oh, thank you Ben. It’s my pleasure.
Ben: Folks, I hope you enjoyed that interview with Dr. Davis. It gave me a lot to think about. I know. I am currently researching whether or not it actually even be feasible to do something like take a form of wheat that is more ancient and healthy form and do something like plant that in the backyard garden. I don’t know how to harvest wheat, how to thresh wheat, how to do anything like that. And it’s something that my wife who is a really good green thumb. Also it wasn’t too familiar with. So, there are maybe some solutions out there. But ultimately, the more that I study in here about situations like this, the more it looks like best case scenario is to continue to eat foods that are in their most recognizable form and to continue to avoid foods that have been modified for industrial convenience or for mass production. So again, if you want to read the book, go check it out in the show notes for this episode, episode number 176. So, Brock, that being said, you got any big plans coming up for the New Year?
Brock: Yeah. Actually, we talked about it last week. I asked you some specific questions about how to prepare for it. But in January on the seventh and eighth, I’m doing back to back marathons. I’m running a half marathon on Saturday and then a full marathon on Sunday. And I’m doing this actually in aid of and raising money for the leukemia and lymphoma society and through their team and training. And I’m actually collecting money as donations. And at this point, I’ve actually raised the amount of money that I needed to raise to put me into the next realm where up until this point I was 75 cents of every dollar that I’ve raised was going to the society. But now, it’s every cent that I raise that is actually going to the society. So, it’s fantastic to be at this point. If you feel like you want to do a donation, there’s still time to get tax receipts as well. And if you donate more than 20 dollars, you get tax receipts. You can go to bit.ly.goofybrock. I’ll put it in the show notes.
Ben: Very cool. I love it when folks are doing an event like this and doing it for a good cause especially since I’ll probably be drinking an entire bottle of champagne and lighting up fireworks the time that you’re competing for a greater cause.
Brock: You’ll be talking me down. I’ll be phoning you going oh my god, what have I done to myself.
Ben: Well, no matter how you celebrate the New Year, if you’re listening in, Happy New year! I’m looking forward to bringing you a lot of really great content in the coming year from bengreenfieldfitness.com. So, until next year, this is Ben and Brock signing out.
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