Raw or Rocket Fuel? Take Your Pick…

Now that winter is here, I am making more than ever my batches of dehydrated crackers. My favorite recipe is for my Rosemary Crackers (which are universally loved), for which I use sprouted flax seeds and sprouted almonds. It’s important to sprout raw nuts and seeds by soaking them first. Nature’s defense mechanism includes nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances — enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (also known as tannins), and goitrogens. All these are removed automatically by nature: when it rains, the nut or seed gets wet and can then germinate to produce a plant. When we soak our nuts and seeds, we are mimicking nature.

But I make sure that I don’t use just any almonds. Unfortunately, truly raw almonds are becoming harder and harder to find. In fact, I have found only one store in all of New York City that sells really raw almonds (I won’t keep it a secret).

Here is the back story on almonds. In 2007, the state of California’s Almond Board (most of the U.S. almonds come from California), in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, proposed an industry-wide “mandatory sterilization” rule for almonds, even those grown organically. This edict was passed down because there had been some salmonella outbreaks in the years 2001 and 2004 in which 33 people fell ill (but none died).

The Almond Board declared various methods of pasteurization to be adequate: oil roasting, dry roasting, blanching, steam processing, irradiation (now no longer used) and, rather mystifyingly, the use of propylene oxide (PPO). There are problems with each of those processes: the first three cook the almonds, causing a reduction of nutrient content. Steaming them, at first blush, sounds like the most innocuous. But heat oxidizes the omega-3 fatty acids in almonds, potentially turning them rotten and creating free radicals which are suspected of playing a role in the development of a host of degenerative medical problems, including cancer.

It is the last method, the PPO, that is the most concerning, as the Environmental Protection Agency has classified the substance as a class B2 carcinogen. PPO is an extremely volatile liquid, previously utilized as a racing fuel, but now banned by motorcycle and car racing associations as being too dangerous; it is still used in the making of polyurethane plastics as well as fuel-air bombs.

Given the choice of treating their almonds with steam or PPO, farmers are invariably choosing the PPO, as cost has  become a significant factor. Steam treatments are running up to $2.5 million a year, whereas PPO stands closer to $500,000. Over 68 percent of almonds grown in the U.S. are treated with PPO.

Every health food store that I have been to in New York and New Jersey claims to sell raw almonds. They can make that claim because there is no labeling requirement. You can’t know if the “raw” almonds have been steamed, or treated with a known carcinogen. But, IF the almonds are U.S. grown almonds, it will be one or the other.

The only way to avoid this quagmire is to find imported almonds. The Spanish and Italian raw almonds are still really raw. And these are the ones that I use in my delicious Rosemary Crackers. The store in New York City that carries really raw almonds is Integral Yoga on West 13th St. They also make their own almond butter from the Italian almonds. Much yummier than eating rocket fuel!

And why I am making my own crackers  (instead of eating bread):


I gave up eating wheat about ten years ago. Yep: that means no bread, no pasta, no cupcakes. I made this decision after being convinced that continuing to eat wheat products was likely going to give me a host of medical problems.

Wheat is the third most prolific cereal grass on the planet, and considered to be the most important, after rice and corn. It is widely accepted as a means of curbing world hunger. The Food & Agricultural Organization (the United Nation’s arm for defeating hunger) uses a picture of wheat as its official symbol, with the motto “Fiat Panis,” translated to: “Let there be bread.”

Sayer Ji, who writes on his website GreenMedInfo.com, has been studying wheat extensively, and has recently written a document that is available as a free download: The Dark Side of Wheat. He has made some startling propositions about the serious adverse health impact of our cultural obsession and consumption of wheat. There are over 200 adverse health effects linked to wheat consumption, as detailed on the GreenMedInfo wheat toxicity database. Most of the diseases of affluence–type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer–can be linked to a grain-based diet, including secondary hidden sources of grain consumption in grain-fed fish, poultry, meat and milk products.

According to Russell Blaylock, who has been advocating the elimination all grains from one’s diet for many years, many neurological conditions can be attributed to eating grains: memory loss, confusion, ataxia (loss of balance), peripheral neuropathy, seizures, insomnia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. More specifically, gluten sensitivity is associated with common health problems: migraine headache, esophageal reflux, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, muscle spasms, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, nerve pain, headaches. Other diseases associated with grain eating are: osteoporosis, lymphoma of the small bowel, and other autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (hypothyroidism), and perhaps even dementia.

Neurologist and author David Perlmutter calls the consequence of eating grains “grain brain,” and has written a book by that name.

Nathan Daley, in his article, A Gluten for Punishment: the Whole Grain Assault on Health, reports that toxic effects of grain came to modern attention in the 1940’s, when Dutch physician Willem Karel Dicke connected Celiac Disease to wheat as a result of the Dutch famine of 1944. Wheat was scarce, and those suffering from the disease seemed to dramatically improve. (Reminiscent of the time when the Israeli physicians went on strike and mortality dropped.)

In his monograph, Sayer Ji maintains that our modern belief that grains make for good food is simply not supported by the facts. Cereal grasses are within a family of plants that are monocotyledonous (one-leafed embryo). Yet, the plants that enabled our bodies to sustain life for millions of years before wheat appeared on the scene are dicotyledonous (two-leafed embryo). It was not until the end of the last Ice Age, 20,000 years ago, at the time of the emergence of civilization, that our human ancestors transitioned to a cereal grass-based diet. But 20,000 years is not enough time for our bodies’ digestive system to fully adapt to the consumption of grains. Even cows, who had a head-start of thousands of years, had to go through an evolution in order to be able to graze on monocotyledons. And, despite with their 4-chambered stomachs, cows that are fed only grains are prone to developing severe acidosis with subsequent liver abscesses and infections.

Sayer Ji begins his monograph with a discussion of celiac disease (CD). But, as he explains, this disease, characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms, malabsorption and malnourishment, and affecting 20-30% of the world’s population, is only the tip of the iceberg, and that, in fact, wheat affects anyone who eats it (not just those with CD) in a profoundly negative way.

Sayer Ji proposes that we begin to view the CD response to wheat not as an unhealthy response of the body to a healthy food, but rather, as a healthy response to an inherently unhealthy food.  He suggests that CD represents a reaction to an intolerance to wheat that we all share to varying degrees. The usual response of diarrhea that is seen in CD can then be seen as the body’s way of reducing the duration of toxic exposure, the body’s way of preventing absorption. With this thinking, we begin to conceptualize symptoms of CD as expressions of bodily intelligence rather than of deviance and ill health. And, further, those who suffer from their body’s wheat intolerance are actually luckier than the rest of us; not having immediate symptoms of the  inherent toxicity of wheat allows us to continue to eat it while not realizing that we are doing long-term damage to our bodies. The body reacts to wheat the same as it does to other highly allergenic or potentially toxic foods, e.g. dairy products, sugar: in its wisdom, the body has a reflexive formation of mucous following exposure of toxic substances. This mucous coats the offending substance, preventing its absorption and facilitating safe elimination via the gastrointestinal tract.

Kidney damage is at the top of the list of negative health consequences of wheat consumption. A study from the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy published in the International Journal of Cancer found that those who consumed the most bread had a 94% higher risk of developing kidney cancer compared to those who consumed the least bread.

The component of wheat that is the main culprit is wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). According to allergist David L.J. Freed, WGA is known to play a key role in kidney pathologies.

Wheat is used in a host of products other than foods. It’s used as an industrial adhesive (in paints, paper mache’ and book binding glue). The word gluten literally means “glue” in Latin. As children, we made glue from wheatpaste. It’s glue outside our bodies, and glue inside our bodies. In fact, we should think of people who eat wheat as “glue-eaters.”

Another toxic component of wheat includes opioid-like peptides. According to the biologists Greg Wadley & Angus Martin:

“Cereals have important qualities that differentiate them from most other drugs. They are a food source as well as a drug, and can be stored and transported easily. They are ingested in frequent small doses (not occasional large ones), and do not impede work performance in most people. A desire for the drug, even cravings or withdrawal, can be confused with hunger. These features make cereals the ideal facilitator of civilization (and may also have contributed to the long delay in recognizing their pharmacological properties).”

An interesting example of wheat’s addictive potential pertains to the Roman army. The Roman Empire was once known as the “Wheat Empire,” and soldiers were paid in wheat rations. According to Sayer Ji, Rome’s entire war machine, and its vast expansion, was predicated on the availability of wheat. Forts were actually granaries for stored wheat. Historians describe soldiers’ punishment included being deprived of wheat rations and being given barley instead. Wheat, then, was not only a food, and not only a drug, but a political tool as well.

It gets much worse when we buy our wheat in a box (called “breakfast cereal”). The ingredients of Shredded Wheat and Frosted Flakes include, among other things, processed sugar, genetically-modified canola oil, genetically modified milled corn, and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). BHT is used in both jet fuel and embalming fluid, and has a highly neurotoxic effect on the human body.

The results of a recent experiment is telling. Researchers at the University of Michigan divided rats into three groups: one group received cornflakes and water; a second group was given the cardboard box the cornflakes came in and water; the control group received rat chow and water.

The results were:

1. The rats in the control group eating rat food remained in good health throughout the experiment.

2. The rats consuming the box became lethargic and eventually succumbed to malnutrition.

3. The rats eating the cornflakes and water died even faster than the rats consuming the box. Before they died, they became schizophrenic, threw fits, bit each other and finally went into convulsions.

Organic cereals don’t fare any better, as they are manufactured the same way, using an ‘extrusion process’ which exposes the cereal grain proteins to high levels of heat and pressure, turning these proteins into foreign substances unrecognizable to the human digestive system.

To read more about this, go to: NaturalHealth365.com

Eliminating wheat, as well as the other grains that belong to the cereal grass family would seem to be a natural decision to make once one understands the adverse health consequences. It is easy to return to dicotyledons  (quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth), and eat primarily fruits, vegetables, and high-quality meats and fats, foods that are consistent with our biological needs. It is important to remember that wheat acts in our bodies more like a drug than a food, anesthetizing us to its ill effects.

Dare to be inspired

Watch the following video that I found on YouTube, about the improbable life, and the astonishing person of Richie Parker: