These days, it seems like every thing you read and every diet you hear about tells us to limit carbs and opt for gluten-free (albeit healthy) options that are whole grain–based whenever possible. We know how detrimental gluten can be to our bodies—it can cause headaches, bloating and fatigue—but avoiding in its entirety is hard yet not impossible. In fact, it’s been reported that the gluten-free industry now rakes in an estimated $16 billion per year.
In the midst of this whole “gluten-free is the way to go” frenzy that erupted over the last few years, wheat, as a whole, according to certified ayurvedic practitioner and author of Eat Wheat, Dr. John Douillard, needs to be re-evaluated because it’s often seen as “the villian.”
“Wheat was found guilty without a fair trial and there are risks when we just blindly take a food that people have eaten for 3.5 million years and remove it from our diets,” Douillard says. While he doesn’t discount that going gluten-free is the right path for some to take, all of us don’t need to practice omission.
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“People with celiac disease should avoid gluten, there’s no doubt about that,” Douillard says. “But for the greater majority of people, the anti-gluten frenzy has gone too far and needs to dial it back.”
In fact, wheat has its benefits, which are often over looked. He says that wheat can actually help to lower the risk of diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. “The real problem is that processed foods have changed our digestive systems,” Douillard says. “That’s why people often feel bad when they eat wheat. But taking foods out of the diet won’t fix what processed foods have done to your system. That just kicks the problem down the road, leaving people at risk for more serious health concerns later on.”
So if more and more of us should actually be incorporating whole, healthy grains into our diet, what can we do to improve digestive healthy? Doulliard says that it can get complicated, but these simple suggestions can you put on right path.
• Eat more fiber. “Aim for 50 grams of fiber in your diet each day. Make half your plate green vegetables, one-fourth starch and another one-fourth protein. Increase the amount of beans you eat. Of course, beans can be difficult for some people to digest, but one easily digestible bean is the split yellow mung bean. As your digestion improves, you can re-introduce other beans.”
• Drink water between meals. “When people are dehydrated, the signals to the brain often get translated as hunger signals. So people scarf down an unhealthy snack when they should be reaching for a glass of water. A good guideline is 16 ounces, 30 minutes before each meal.”
• Don’t overeat. “Perhaps it can be traced back to our mothers telling us to eat every bite, but people have a tendency to eat until their plates are empty rather than stopping when they’re full. It’s better to stop even before you’re full. About three-fourths full is the way to go.”
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