The Most Dangerous Food

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This article originally appeared on Easy Health Options®.

What’s the most harmful food you can eat aside from sugar? A growing consensus points to grains. They endanger your waistline while threatening your heart and pancreas more than almost any other item you can eat.

Think about this: I didn’t give up grains and go on the paleo diet for my heart health. I did it in an effort to improve my memory and deal with digestive issues. But it resulted in heart benefits I didn’t expect.

As I was losing weight, enjoying clearer skin, experiencing less arthritis in my hands and losing about 20 pounds over the course of two years, my high blood pressure went away.

That’s right. It just went away — even though I had had high blood pressure ever since it was first measured back in high school.

Blood Pressure Issues

I’m sure the weight loss helped my blood pressure. But years ago, when I was at about the same weight I am at now, my blood pressure had remained stubbornly elevated.

I now blame my long-standing blood pressure problem on grains. I don’t know how else to explain why it is now gone.

About 20 years ago, when I was in my 30s, I was an addicted runner. I ran about 50 miles a week. I took part in marathons, triathlons, 10Ks and other road races. My weight seemed to be about as low as it could get and still be at a healthy level. (I weigh about 3 pounds less now.)

But my blood pressure was stuck at hypertension — no matter how much I exercised or tried to eat what I considered a healthy diet.

My doctor’s non-explanation explanation for my hypertension was that it was due to genetics. In his view, there was nothing that could be done for it except to take medication, which I did: ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta blockers.

Vanishing Problem

Well, the last time I went to a doctor for a checkup, she took my blood pressure and then matter-of-factly told me: “I guess your high blood pressure is gone.”

And I was taking exactly zero medication.

I periodically measure my blood pressure at home. She’s right. It’s vanished.

I still jog. But I do half as much running as I used to — maybe 2 or 3 miles a day at the most. I lift some weights three times a week, but keep it light to reduce my chances of injury. And I stretch.

And eat a paleo diet devoid of grains.

No wheat. No barley. No rye. No corn. No oats. No quinoa. A tiny bit of rice once in a while.

Eat As Much As You Want

I’ve always had a big appetite and a fast metabolism. But the paleo diet has allowed me to eat as much food as I want, whenever I want.

And I never gain a pound. I consume what some might consider frightening amounts of meat, fish, fruits and vegetables (emphasis on the fruits and vegetables). Snacks are generally nuts, fruits and dark chocolate with a little organic honey thrown in.

And grains are forbidden.

The Anti-Grain Movement

I’m not alone in my desertion of grains. An aversion to grains has gained traction among a wide variety of experts and proponents of the paleo diet.

Mark Sisson, who writes the blog, said: “Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations and obtaining cheap sugar calories, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains.”

As David Perlmutter, M.D., noted: “It may seem draconian, but the best recommendation I can make is to completely avoid grains.”

Perlmutter, whose book Grain Brain warns about the negative effects grains produce on your memory and learning abilities, said: “Most grain foods, whether we’re talking about quinoa, amaranth, the very popular grains of the day, the reality is they still are associated with a carbohydrate surge. They have a fairly high glycemic index, meaning that after 90 to 120 minutes, your blood sugar is going to go up, and that is detrimental to the brain.”

Your Belly Or Your Life

Cardiologist William Davis has focused most of his anti-grain writings on pointing out the problems with the wheat in our diets.

He has observed: “Over 80% of the people I meet today are pre-diabetic or diabetic. In an effort to reduce blood sugar, I asked patients to remove all wheat products from their diet based on the simple fact that, with few exceptions, foods made of wheat flour raise blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods.”

He also pointed out that whole grains cause just as many health problems as refined grains: “Yes… even whole grains (increase your blood sugar). More than table sugar, more than a Snickers bar. Organic, multigrain, sprouted — it makes no difference.”

There are a lot of reasons to give up grains. For me, the drop in my blood pressure offers constant reassurance that after a lifetime of searching for the right diet, I’m finally on the right track.

Personal Liberty

Margaret Cantwell

began her paleo diet in 2010 in an effort to lose weight. Since then, the diet has been instrumental in helping her overcome a number of other physical and emotional problems. Thanks to the benefits she has enjoyed from her paleo diet and lifestyle, she now spends most of her time researching health issues related to diet and exercise. Although she considers herself to be living proof of how well the paleo lifestyle works, her husband has resisted changing his food selections. They have one son who is now eating a paleo diet.

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