Is gluten bad for everyone? Should allll of us go on an elimination diet meal plan that’s grain-free for good? Should everyone ditch whole wheat and switch to baking with einkorn, or just use only freshly ground, soaked whole wheat as long as you don’t have Celiac?
Those aren’t even the right questions to ask.
We can’t just say, “What’s healthier, whole wheat or a gluten-free diet?” Because my body is not your body (in case you haven’t noticed).
People have been quick to throw gluten in particular under the bus in the past decade, and other grains have been dragged along.
Grains, even wheat, aren’t genetically modified, although they’re often thrown into the “no-GMO” camp.
But are they still bad for everyone?
Why Grains Could Still be Healthy For You
Here’s the thing – yes, grains and especially gluten can be inflammatory. They cause gut problems for many people. But not everyone does well on a grain-free diet like GAPS.
In the field of health and wellness, a new surge is happening, and it’s exciting.
It’s a real focus on the individual and working to achieve better health through very personal testing and treatments/diets/supplements – to give people what their body actually needs instead of prescribing a “one size fits all” regimen that sounds a lot more like conventional medicine than natural health.
People are testing their blood, their poop, their breath and more, then working with practitioners to develop customized healing protocols and diets that fit their body’s actual needs. For example:
- I know someone who used coconut oil for everything, only to find out that coconut oil was not digested well for that particular person’s genetics.
- Another friend’s testing showed that he does great with gluten, but can’t tolerate potatoes.
- I just heard a story about a disadvantage of a gluten-free diet (or any elimination diet) – that a sibling of a highly allergic child developed allergies, and the theory was that it was because the house was free of the allergens! That doc suggested making sure kids are exposed to all foods, even potential allergens, in small amounts regularly, which reflects what Catherine Clinton, ND shared in this fascinating interview about when to introduce solids for babies.
- Around here, I’m embarking on some personalized testing myself, looking at all 3 of those areas above – and yes, don’t worry, I’ll keep you all updated about what I find and how I deal with it! 😉 (No photos of poop tests though, promise.)
Just yesterday I got a question from a reader about last week’s interview with an Einkorn farmer:
So if there’s a wheat allergy that results in asthma, since Einkorn is different from modern wheat, what are the chances of reaction?
What if wheat products cause migraines? Is there hope that Einkorn will be handled or should I just keep my family off
gluten grains to avoid the reactions?
Dr. David Perlmutter and Tom O’Bryan apparently say no gut can properly handle gluten… but what do you think?
I think…it depends.
I was on the bandwagon of “all gluten is probably bad for humans,” but yet I didn’t 100% cut it out of our lives. Its’ difficult, and I think deep down, I didn’t believe it could be true that it was inherently evil. I’m even more intrigued by my friend’s test results that gluten is just fine for him (sourdough is best though, which brings us back to traditional foods and preparation being foundational).
We haven’t seen uber-conclusive evidence in anyone in our family that gluten is a problem, but I was fascinated reading every word of Mary’s recent post on why her family is gluten-free (and it does come down to individuality).
Bio-Individuality: The New Face of Natural Health
I was already hearing rumbles about bio-individuality being truly the new face of health (holistic health that I trust, not modern conventional medicine – YET), and I was excited. It felt right and resonated with my belief in God and how uniquely He created each of us.
When this post allll about bio-individuality came into my email, I knew I wanted to interview the author and share with you all, especially as I dive into the Grinding Challenge and talk more about grains. I know some of you might think, “Hey wait, Katie, I thought your husband was gluten-intolerant? Don’t you guys lean more toward grain-free elimination meal plans? What’s with this grain milling thing?”
My explanation is simply that I don’t believe there is a “one size fits all” diet for everyone, and I was super curious to dive (again) into some foods like Einkorn, an ancient grain, and sourdough preparations – especially gluten-free sourdough, which I have never tried before! So…in typical KS style, off I went, “all in” on testing everything and sharing the results with you all!
Confession: Here’s what I stink at, though – noticing things. I have a terrible time correlating certain foods with behaviors or physical health in any of my family members, including myself. The fact that a reaction can take a few days to show up means that without recording a food-mood-poop journal and/or a strict elimination diet or food rotation diet, it’s almost impossible to see trends.
Guess what I typed up on our 20-hour drive to Florida and printed? We’ll see how well I can keep up on my food-mood-poop… 😉
Today though, I’m very honored to host Christa Orecchio, a clinical and holistic nutritionist and founder of The Whole Journey.
She believes in food as medicine and is all about addressing root problems of disease and pain. She says, “If you have a rock in your shoe, is it better to take off your shoe and remove the rock, or take painkillers to mask the discomfort?” Through her work as a nutritionist she has reached thousands through the Gut Thrive in 5 online healing program, her candida cleanse, and multiple books and TV shows – and what makes her different than many nutritionists is that Christa doesn’t focus only on food, but on the whole person’s journey, right down to relationships, spirituality, creativity and emotions.
The most important fact to share right now as we speak is that Christa’s latest book, How to Conceive Naturally and Have a Healthy Pregnancy after 30 has really come to life – her new addition is a beautiful baby boy and still very much in the newborn phase, so I’m honored beyond belief that she agreed to chat with us today…
Video Interview: Christa Orecchio on Bio-Individuality
Grab the Audio Only:
Click here to download the mp3 version of the interview (to take with you) or just listen to it now without taking the resources on your device for video.
In case you don’t have time to watch the whole interview (although we kept it under 20 minutes), here are some notes to help you find the section you want (and to get an overview without watching at all):
We’ve had a number of years of various diets having their heyday – “everyone should do low carb” “anyone with gut issues should do GAPS” “gluten is bad for everyone” “let’s all go Paleo” and more – and now the health niche seems to be leaning toward this concept of “bio-individuality.” How do you see this term as being defined?
- 2:05 – We are all our own and unique individuals. History, stress levels, bio-chemistry, age, all of these things, and so many more, are taken into consideration for what works for the individual at this point and time in their life.
You’ve always been a holistic practitioner appreciating the whole body’s contribution to both disease and vibrant health – and in fact Gut Thrive in 5 is one program where I first noticed the idea of separating people based on testing into different groups with differing food recommendations for each group. (Gut Thrive has four different groups and different food recommendations for each group. Here’s our initial experience with it.) Have you seen a shift in your own practice in any way over your career when it comes to bio-individuality, and why or why not?
- 3:43 – Yes. “Teach a man how to fish, don’t give a man a fish.” Meal planning alone is not enough to really help with bio-individuality.
- “We understand our own bodies better than anyone.”
- 4:33 – What constitution were you born with? There are many types that Christa explains here.
- 4:55 – Here are the two key questions about an individuals relationship with food that Christa always asks when determining bio-individuality. “How did you eat as a child?” “What was the dinner table like?” – Was it a positive environment for you? The answer to this questions can tell a lot about the individual.
- 5:24 – Programs, such as Gut Thrive in 5, that have been created to help individuals to achieve a certain goal. You will also find a great definition of what Gut Thrive in 5 is/does.
Is having a busy and slightly crazy, despite our best intentions, dinner experience for our children going to negatively impact them? (6:52)
- 7:27 – Try implementing a moment of mindfulness or a family discussion question. This will encourage you to eat in a calm state and think about what you are actually eating.
- 7:54 – If you are a fast eater you need to listen here. Christa explains why it is so important to slow down.
Parasympathetic and Sympathetic States. There is a need to be more calm when we eat. I found a correlation here on why prayer before a meal is so helpful for a family and calming them prior to eating their meal. (8:22)
- 8:58 – Digestion and enzymes will be better when you eat from a calm state.
What would be the benefits for human-beings if medicine could focus more on bio-individuality on a greater scale? (9:40)
- 9:51 – “We would have a more pro-active health care based system versus a dis-ease management system.”
- 10:32 – Ever wonder what your blood type is? Christa wants to encourage you to find out now.
- 11:24 – Is a Paleo only diet the only way to eat? Once your body is healed there is nothing wrong with adding in gluten-free whole grains, but it should still be remembered to do everything in moderation.
- 12:02 – Christa explains how she first came to know and understand listening to her body was through a cookbook. She used it to heal her body and learn how foods affected her emotions.
- 12:18 – “It was amazing to me how food could not only change our mental emotional state but our relationship with ourselves and our relationship to life.”
What challenges do practitioners, nutritionists, naturopaths, face when trying to apply bio-individuality to their patients?(12:42)
- 13:00 – Everyone wants everything to do be done for them and they generally want it right away. You need to be willing to slow down and learn about your body.
- 13:18 – Christa would like to encourage you again to slow down -here’s a way for when you are traveling – to be mindful of what you are eating and how.
- 13:39 – Ever heard of a food mood journal? Should you try a food mood journal?
What about practical application? We love the idea of figuring out what foods and supplements are perfect for our body at this moment through testing. But maybe people aren’t quite ready to spend money and work with a practitioner. Are there ways that we can kind of apply this idea to figure out what helps and harms us just at home? (14:43)
- 15:00 – Yes! Try The Self-Healing Cookbook by Christina Turner. This shows why we develop a craving for a certain food.
- 15:58 – The easiest application is one you can do yourself at home. Start by asking yourself “What do I want to eat and why?” then note how those foods made you feel. Simply pay attention.
Can You Pay Attention to Your Body?
It sounds both simple and terrifyingly difficult at the same time to me – what do you think? Do you have what it takes to become your own practitioner and notice how foods make you feel or make your children feel?
I’m excited to explore all this and more as we continue our Grinding Grains Challenge and see what happens with Einkorn, gluten-free sourdough and more!
More Grain Grinding Challenge Series Posts
The Grinding Challenge Series is getting me to use my Mockmill grain mill! Here’s what we’re covering:
- Intro to the challenge and a video of setting up the Mockmill for the first time
- How to Translate Whole Wheat Recipe to Einkorn (and an interview with an einkorn farmer)
- Bio-Individuality – why it’s both the new face of health and the genesis of this whole project
- How to Translate Baking Recipes to Weights
- Why Baking with Weights is the Best for Kids
- Testing Pizza Dough with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free (whole grain and not-whole-grain)
- Interview with a Master Gluten-free Baker
- Testing Tortillas with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free
- Why Mill Your Own Gluten-free Grains?
- How to Make a Gluten-free Sourdough Starter
- Whole Grain, Gum-Free Gluten-free Flour Blend (& a bit on whether xanthan gum is bad for you)
- Interview with a Grain Milling Expert
- The Official Kitchen Stewardship® Mockmill Review
Recipes We’ve Worked on in the Series:
- Spelt Banana Muffins
- Einkorn Applesauce Muffins (with peanut butter variation)
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-free Tortillas
- Whole Wheat Pizza
- Crispy Crust Gluten-Free Pizza (amazing!)
- Einkorn Pizza Dough
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts (no gum!)
- How to Make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a grain mill or couldn’t imagine yourself grinding grain yourself, I’ll be sure to address when any of these CAN’T be done with commercial flour. Usually recipes are very compatible!