Welcome to CHEESESLAVE Q & A!
Every Sunday, I answer your questions. I’ll answer as many questions as I can each week. If I didn’t answer your question this week, please check back next week.
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1. Question: What Is Your Opinion On Grains?
I’m trying to make sense of the conflicting info out there on grains. On one hand, you have the Wheat Belly (and the like) take on the issue: Wheat is no good. End of story. No matter how it is prepared. Same for other grains but they are especially hard-core on wheat. (And it is wheat that interests me most.)
On the other hand, you have the WAPF side of things: Properly prepared (fermented, soaked, sprouted), grains are good, maybe even necessary for optimal health (as demonstrated by the healthiest cultures he studied).
To further complicate things, the grains available to most of us have been modernized and would not necessarily work out the same through the traditional methods of preparation. On top of that, many of us have been so damaged by years of eating the party line, that we may never be whole again, despite our best efforts at complete healing.
Now, I want to believe the WAPF version. I want it for our budget and I want it for more variety in our diet. I’m willing to go through the effort of healing my family first through GAPS. I’m even willing to buy seed (it is available if you search) for the *not* modernized grains and grow it myself. I wouldn’t have acres of the stuff but enough that I could serve my family a little grain now and then, properly prepared of course. But, if Wheat Belly is correct, there’s no getting by the fact that wheat is wheat is wheat and it will continue to do its damage regardless of “proper preparation”.
But what about those cultures Dr. Weston Price found? If wheat is wheat is wheat, how were they so healthy & free of disease?
Now, I’m a fan of science. Love the stuff. But we all know that science is a fickle ol’ broad, forever changing her mind. Science never conclusively proves anything. However, it’s the best we have. Or is it? Proof, to me, is in the living flesh. Those peoples (from Dr. Weston A. Price’s book) that prepared those grains traditionally, along with eating the other good stuff most of us agree on, were living “proof”.
I keep going ’round and ’round in my mind with this stuff. There are too many if’s and but’s and I’m having a difficult time untangling this particular section of the mess. I’d appreciate hearing your — and anyone’s — thinking/reasoning on this.
Excellent question, Diane! This particular debate is one that I am very passionate about. I personally believe wholeheartedly that there is nothing wrong with eating properly prepared grains as part of a healthy diet.
Let me start by saying that I haven’t read Wheat Belly yet but it is on my reading list for the year. So I can’t really respond to the claims made in that book until I read it.
It seems that there are a lot of folks out there lately throwing the baby out with the bath water. Yes, it is true that a lot of us cannot eat grains for a period of time if we have a damaged gut. However, just avoiding grains is not the answer. Even Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, says that. She says that most of us should be able to eat properly prepared whole grains, as outlined by the Weston A. Price Foundation.
I make it a habit of talking to immigrants. I love to meet people from other countries and learn about how they grew up, what they ate, and what their health was like growing up. I’ll be in a taxi cab or on a street corner or sitting on a plane next to someone who grew up in a small village in Mexico or Hungary or India. They always have perfect facial structure, piano key teeth, never had a cavity and never had to wear braces. Most of them never had their wisdom teeth extracted and have all of their teeth. Often they will tell me that they never got sick when they were growing up — not even a cold. The women never had menstrual cramps or PMS in their home countries.
When I ask them what they ate, it’s always different, depending on which country they came from. But it’s always along the lines of Sally Fallon Morell’s book, Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. They always say they ate organ meats. I’ve never met an immigrant from a small village who said he or she did not eat organ meats. (This is my problem with many people’s interpretation with the WAPF diet. I find that many people who follow WAPF gloss over the organ meats and seafood when Dr. Price made it very clear that those were the most nutrient-dense foods that MUST be included in the diet. But that’s a different blog post.)
Immigrants also often say they ate raw dairy (I often hear the phrase, “Still warm from the cow” (or goat). They often say they ate chickens and eggs from their backyard chickens. They ate other animals, too, from rabbits to goats to lizards (my former housekeeper from Honduras spoke fondly of eating iguanas).
Another thing they all seemed to eat was fermented foods. I’ve never met an immigrant who didn’t eat fermented foods. My Slovakian nanny ate naturally-fermented sauerkraut. My former Russian nanny drank kefir and kombucha. My Honduran housekeeper ate cortido (their version of sauerkraut). All the recipes we know and love from Nourishing Traditions.
So you take all of these immigrants from around the world. All of them extremely healthy — even AFTER they moved to the United States and started eating our garbage foods.
I have not met a single one who said they did not eat grains. Not one.
My housekeeper from Honduras and my former nanny from Guatemala talked fondly about how their parents and grandparents used to soak the corn in the “cal” (lime water) for 1-2 weeks. And how they’d make masa and use it for tamales and corn tortillas. My former Russian nanny ate homemade sourdough rye bread almost daily growing up, with sour cream and salmon roe on it. I met two different people from India (one on a plane and one who cut my daughter’s hair once) who were raised as vegetarians. They’d occasionally eat chicken or fish but it was not very often since they were poor. They grew up eating rice, vegetables, beans, different kids of traditional breads, and lots of grass-fed dairy products and eggs. They had absolutely stunningly perfect teeth and bone structure and were vibrantly healthy.
Whether the people I meet ate corn or wheat or rice, they are all healthy. So how do you make sense of that?
To further complicate things, the grains available to most of us have been modernized and would not necessarily work out the same through the traditional methods of preparation.
I am very skeptical about this argument. Yes, I need to read the Wheat Belly book. However, it does not make sense to me that “modernized” grains should be problematic by default. Most of the produce we eat is from modernized and hybridized seeds. Look at all the new varieties of potatoes and tomatoes out there.
On top of that, many of us have been so damaged by years of eating the party line, that we may never be whole again, despite our best efforts at complete healing.
I have heard Dr. Natasha Campbell Mc-Bride say before that she truly believes that most people CAN heal and that there are very few diseases — if ANY — that we can’t heal. I’m paraphrasing her but she said that with great conviction (and the audience applauded).
I very strongly agree with her position. I myself was gluten-intolerant at age 25. I had pain so bad in my knees from arthritis that I would wake up at night, and it was spreading to my fingers and elbows. I had chronic sinus infections, had respiratory allergies, chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue, etc.
It took me two years to heal. The two most critical things I did were (1) avoiding gluten AND sugar — all forms except fruit and honey and (2) take massive doses of therapeutic-grade probiotics. I healed my gut and after those two years, I was able to eat anything again — including gluten and sugar — with no symptoms whatsoever.
It was important for me to avoid gluten and sugar for a period of time because my gut was so damaged that I could not digest these foods. Once my gut was healed and I had a normal balance of gut flora, I could eat these foods again with no problems.
But what about those cultures Dr. Weston Price found? If wheat is wheat is wheat, how were they so healthy & free of disease?
My position is this: Some people need to heal their gut and do the GAPS (grain-free) diet for a period of time. It shouldn’t take more than a few years for most people for the villi in the intestines to grow back. Most people should be able to eat properly prepared grains again after they heal their gut.
That said, I do not believe it is necessary to go off grains for life — in most cases. Dr. Campbell McBride says that 99% of people can overcome and reverse food allergies. So yes, there is that 1% of people who will need to stay off gluten and maybe even all grains forever. But it is a very small percentage.
I also want to say that while I respect the Paleo lifestyle, I really do not believe it is necessary to go to those extremes in order to be optimally healthy.
2. Question: Would Artisan Bread Dough Count The Same As Soaked Grains?
I’m curious about soaking grains. I have the popular Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, which has great and easy recipes for really wet dough made in a dough bucket. You take the dough out as you knead it (for up to 5 to 14 days, depending on the recipe) and the dough progressively becomes more sour and flavorful. Would an overnight/2 day rise in the refrig “count” as soaked grains? My NT soaked grain recipes all call for some yogurt or whey, so would I need to choose recipes with yogurt, or add some to the recipe? Also, what happens to the phytic acid during soaking?
I have three of the books from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day series.
I LOVE the whole concept of no-knead bread and have had fabulous results following their methods in my kitchen. I do not use commercial yeast, though, like they do. I like to use sourdough. Here’s my recipe for No-knead Sourdough Bread.
Sourdough is much more effective at reducing phytic acid than commercial yeast. Plus, why spend the extra money on commercial yeast when you can just keep a sourdough starter going? A sourdough starter will live for many years in your fridge with very infrequent feedings — it only then needs to be activated which takes up to 24 hours.
So, if you are using sourdough with the 5-minute-a-day protocol, I would say YES! It absolutely works to make the flour more digestible and nutritious. If for some reason you can’t use sourdough and need to use commercial yeast, I would use only sprouted flour.
I’m going to be teaching a free webinar in the next couple weeks about the differences between sprouting, soaking and sourdough. If you want to get an email letting you know when the free webinar is, please sign up for my newsletter to be notified:
I’m also teaching a brand new online cooking class which starts February 15th: Healthy Whole Grains. It’s only $149 (normally $199) through February 14th. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a discount coupon for an additional $50 off and you can get in for only $99.
3. Question: More Information On Fertility Herbs / Thoughts On Clomid?
I’ve read some of your posts on fertility herbs, etc. I was wondering if you could list or do a post on everything you are doing! Are you drinking herbal infusions every day? Maca every day? What else?
Also, what are your thoughts on Clomid?
I’m also trying to get pregnant and I’m 41. I’ve been working with a chiropractor and have been taking lots of supplements. I’m now on some progesterone, and I’ve just added herbal infusions. I’m tempted to take Clomid which is what my doctor suggested, but I’m not sure if that’s the right path. I also try to follow a WAPF diet, but organ meats are problematic.
I’ve been so lazy with my supplements lately! I am taking maca and the herbal infusions (oatstraw and nettles). And I’m taking the fermented cod liver oil and butter oil blend. However, this past week I’ve fallen off the wagon and haven’t been taking my supplements. Thanks for the reminder!
I’m also using progesterone cream. I don’t need a lot. I took the recommended amount last month and got a mild yeast infection. But I notice that if I don’t take it before bed, I wake up in the night. So I need to use just a little bit every night before bed (during the second half of my cycle anyway).
I am also taking lots of minerals including a multi-mineral supplement and extra zinc and magnesium.
That said, I really think what is helping my hormones the MOST is just eating a lot. I am following Matt Stone’s “High Everything Diet”. See my response below to Question # 4.
I don’t trust Clomid or any fertility drugs. I don’t know much about them but I have read that there is a risk of cancer. Of course, I”m suspicious of all drugs. Maybe we can get people who know more to leave some comments below.
Check out this article about getting pregnant over 40 by herbalist, Susun Weed.
Why do you say organ meats are problematic? They are critical! You should be eating 2-3 ounces of liver once or twice a week. If you can’t stand eating liver, try liverwurst. I love liverwurst sandwiches with butter — or liverwurst on crackers and will happily eat it 2 or 3 times a week for lunch. It’s really good! Or you can take dessicated liver — you can find it on my resources page.
4. Question: Suggestions On Increasing Body Temperature?
I am cold all the time. I am usually the only cold one in the room. I generally eat a traditional diet, but am wondering if you have heard of any specific nutritional deficiencies or foods that I might eat to help with body temperature.
Low body temperature is a classic sign of low thyroid function.
Have you had your thyroid checked? You can order a hormone panel online at Canary Club.
Another really easy way to tell if your thyroid is not functioning properly is to take your temperature every day. You can either check your basal body temperature before you get out of bed, or you can do like I do and take 3 samples throughout the day according to Dr. Rind’s website. I do it Dr. Rind’s way and take the average of the 3 temps each day.
My temperature has been chronically low for years. But it’s come up a lot, especially in the past six months or so. I also have ups and downs, which is a sign of adrenal exhaustion. However, it is getting a lot better.
I’m now ranging between 98.0 to 98.2 on most days, although it’s still pretty jaggy and I have some ups as high as 98.7 and some downs as low as 97.8.
I’ve noticed the most significant increase in body temperature in the past 3-4 months. It was 3-4 months ago that I increased how much I was eating by about DOUBLE. I used to only eat twice a day, and my meals were pretty small. Now I’m eating 3 big meals, and I will sometimes also eat an afternoon snack and occasionally a bedtime snack. I’m also eating plenty of carbs. I eat eggs and whole wheat toast or eggs and whole wheat waffles for breakfast, usually a sandwich or leftovers for lunch, and dinner is usually meat or fish, whole grains and vegetables (often fermented vegetables). Snacks are usually fruit or cheese and crackers.
Oh and did I mention that I haven’t gained a pound? I guess my body really does need all this food! 🙂
I’m also sleeping a lot more and doing everything I can to reduce stress and get more sleep and relaxation. I am doing the kettlebells but only 3 times per week.
This is very much in line with what Matt Stone teaches at 180 Degree Health. His protocol is called the “High Everything Diet” or RRARF, which stands for Rehabilitative Rest & Aggressive Re-Feeding.
RRARF – Rehabilitative Rest & Aggressive Re-Feeding, is a plan designed to achieve one primary goal above all others – raise that mitochondrial activity. It does this through a combination of lowering cortisol levels, restoring the health of the adrenal glands, raising the hormone leptin, increasing leptin sensitivity, topping off nutritional reserves, and flooding the body with a surplus of energy –- long known to raise body temperature, increase metabolic rate, increase lipolysis (using fat as fuel), etc.
You can peruse Matt’s site or buy one of his e-books. I’ve read a few of them and they are pretty good.
5. Question: Advice On Preventive Measures For Malaria In Regards To Liver Toxicity?
Hello from Central Africa!
We are working on a GAPS diet for healing this year even while overseas. For several years we have lived in a malaria — endemic region. I’ve asked numerous experts for advice on liver toxicity and most people haven’t a clue because they don’t have to deal with malaria.
Aside from all the preventative measures (that we DO take – bed nets, long sleeves, stay indoors, etc.), people here still get malaria, and children often die of it, even with treatment. Among our colleagues there are those who take prophylaxis (like 1 pill weekly) and those who take nothing regularly, get it and treat it as needed (like 5 pills per day for 4 days every 3 months). If you need treatment every 3 months it is more medicine overall. But there are always a few people who “just never get it” or get it only rarely, and there are a million theories about why.
So what I need to know is whether you think it is more toxic for our liver to take a small dose regularly? Or would the quarterly mega-dose of malaria treatment be less harmful in the long term? Other liver-support recommendations, aside from FCLO and milk thistle? I always feel sick using DEET or spraying insecticides. Colleagues have tried garlic, Neem leaf tea and papaya leaf tea and they seemed to work for a while and then not effectively.
Thanks for your thoughts!
That’s a great question. But unfortunately I have no idea. I would contact a doctor. Maybe a liver specialist. Or better yet, a naturopath who has exeprience in this arena.
The best liver support I know of is a daily coffee enema. You can google for instructions.
6. Question: Opinion On Calcium/Magnesium Dairy Debate?
Hi Ann Marie,
Firstly, thank you so much for your wonderful site. As someone who is interested in introducing raw dairy into my diet, I was wondering if you knew anything about the calcium/magnesium dairy debate. Some critics of dairy say that dairy throws off calcium and magnesium levels in the body due to a very high ratio of calcium to magnesium. I have heard elsewhere, however, that dairy might have a hormone that keeps these levels in balance, although I have never confirmed it in evidence. Do you have any insights into this debate?
Thank you so much for your time,
Most of us are deficient in magnesium. Those of us who eat lots of dairy are more deficient. This is because high levels of calcium actually block magnesium.
I personally believe that most people should supplement with magnesium. See my post: Are You Suffering From Magnesium Deficiency?
7. Question: Suggestions For 11-month Old With Severe Food Allergies?
Hello Ann Marie,
I have a friend who is having a rough time with her now 11-month-old. He has been breastfeeding exclusively and shows signs of severe food allergies as he has been reacting with moderate eczema to food that his mother is eating. A bit more history is that the mother has numerous health symptoms (not surprising) that would indicate leaky gut and more. She is not on a complete SAD but it not on a complete whole foods or traditional diet either.
Mom has tried feeding him pureed foods, but he has reacted either with projectile vomiting or rashes or both. She has finally gotten him to gum on pears in a mesh teether, and has recently turned to puffed brown rice cereals. I recommended that she stop the cereal due to its being a processed food and its very high glycemic load.
We were discussing what to do to help her son and while we came up with a few thoughts I wonder what you would recommend. I recommended high quality homemade gelatin and chicken broth.
Any thoughts you may have would be greatly appreciated!
The issue with rice is not the glycemic load but rather that babies do not produce enough of the enzyme, amylase, to digest grains until after they are a year old at the earliest.
Read more here on Food Renegade: Why Ditch the Infant Cereals?
Also, if he’s a GAPS baby, and he sounds like he is (the mom sounds like she could use GAPS as well), he will not be able digest rice (nor will she) as it is a complex carbohydrate. They need to heal their digestive tracts, and so really the best thing is to do the GAPS Diet, avoid all grains, starches and sugar for a period of time, and take strong probiotics and eat fermented foods.
Homemade chicken broth is definitely in order; it is one of the staple foods of the GAPS Diet.
For more information about the GAPS Diet, please read Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.
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Please submit your questions to questions AT cheeseslave DOT com. I’ll answer your questions every Sunday in the order I receive them.
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