By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
November 12, 2012
- Is HFCS and just plain corn syrup the same thing?
- Does corn have gluten?
- Where to find alternative grains
I love getting reader feedback and questions about the topics in Advanced Natural Wellness. Not only is it nice to know you are reading the material… but the questions tell me that you are putting these recommendations to the test, as well.
Of course, I can’t answer each one personally, or give very specific medical advice. But I can address some of the more general questions – especially ones that I receive from numerous readers – here.
In today’s issue, I want to clear up some confusion about wheat and sugar. And also, to point you in the right direction to find some of the grain alternatives I’ve suggested.
I know changing your diet can be challenging. Especially when it means wading through the list of ingredients of everything you buy at the store. Or replacing favorite foods with options that are both healthy and tasty.
Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and Corn Syrup the same thing?
The FDA recently ruled against the corn industry, saying they were not able to re-name high-fructose corn syrup corn sugar, because sugar is granulated and HFSC is only available in liquid form.
But what about corn syrup?
Corn syrup is generally used for baking, and is all glucose, compared to HFCS, which is a combination of fructose and glucose. It isn’t as sweet as HFCS, and it’s used more as a thickener that’s sweet, rather than purely as a sweetener. While the same cautions about HFCS don’t exactly apply to corn syrup, since it doesn’t contain fructose, I still believe there are healthier alternatives, such as brown rice syrup, agave nectar, light molasses, and even honey.
Do corn products, such as corn flour and corn meal, contain gluten?
Although corn is technically a grain, it’s not one of the grains that has gluten. Those are: wheat, barley, kamut, spelt and rye. And if you have celiac disease, corn is generally considered safe.
That said, there is something called corn gluten meal, which is used as an animal feed and an herbicide. But you shouldn’t find that listed in the ingredients of your food.
Now, while corn may be an acceptable substitute for wheat, I still recommend eliminating corn products from your diet. This is because so much corn is being grown from genetically modified seeds.
Recently, a farmer wrote in and took offense at my stand on GMO foods, and argued that he is able to use less pesticides on his crops. While I can understand that it seems like a wise trade-off, my recommendation is based on the research.
There are two studies in particular that deeply disturb me about GMO foods.
One showed significant organ damage to animals fed GMO corn and soy, and another showed that rats become sterile within three generations of being fed GMO food. So my recommendation remains the same… avoid GMO food as much as possible. We don’t know enough about their impact on health, and what we do know, isn’t good.
What about Kamut ™ and Ezekiel Bread ™… are these good wheat alternatives?
Both of these are brands that make various health claims, or are differentiating themselves from traditional wheat in some way, so it’s understandably confusing. But neither are wheat-free.
While Kamut ™ claims to be a more ancient form of wheat, it is wheat nonetheless. So it’s not a wheat-free alternative, and it isn’t appropriate for people with celiac disease or wheat sensitivities as it is not gluten-free.
There has been controversy around exactly where the grain comes from, and whether it is indeed healthier than “regular” wheat. However, it is grown organically, and does appear to be healthier in some ways. So if you are going to eat wheat, it may be a healthier choice for you to consider.
And Ezekiel Bread ™ distinguishes itself by using what it calls “live grain” in its products. They don’t use HFCS, there is no trans fat or saturated fat, and it is low on the glycemic index, so it may be a better choice for diabetics and others who want to include bread in their diet but need to make a healthier choice. Also, the company does make some products that are gluten-free, wheat-free and yeast-free.
To make wheat-free shopping easier, here are some of the ingredients you’ll find that let you know wheat is included: Bran, Bread Crumbs, Bulgur, Cereal Extract, Couscous, Cracker Meal, Durum, Durum Flour, Enriched Flour, Farina, Gluten, Graham Flour, High Gluten Flour, High Protein Flour, Kamut, Seitan, Semolina, Soft Wheat Flour, Spelt, Vital Gluten, Wheat (bran, germ, gluten, malt, starch), Whole Wheat Flour.
And here are a few that sometimes mean wheat is included: Gelatinized starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch, modified starch, natural flavoring, soy sauce, starch, vegetable gum, vegetable starch.
When you really start to read the labels of the products in the supermarket, you can’t help but notice how confusing it can be to make the right choices for you! So please, keep your questions coming, and I’ll do my best to continue pointing you in healthier directions.
Where can I find grain alternatives in ready-to-eat forms?
This is where the real challenge comes in when you’ve chosen to eat against the grain, so to speak. While gluten-free options are becoming more common, eating wheat-free can be a challenge. This is where the internet can come in handy.
There is practically no specialty diet or interest in the world now that can’t be satisfied by online shopping. For example, the website http://www.glutensolutions.com/ carries a huge selection of just about every type of gluten-free product you could want, along with soy-free, nut-free and dairy-free sections as well. And http://www.glutenfree.com/ also has a wide selection.
Then there is http://www.versagrain.com/, which includes a “where to buy” section on each type of grain. So, if you want to try a specific type of grain discussed in my article, What to Eat Instead of Wheat, for example, you can start here and make your way to someplace local or online to make your purchase. This site is also chock full of recipes, so if cooking or baking is your thing (or someone is kind enough to be cooking and baking for you!), check this site out for sure.
Granted, it’s just not as simple or convenient to eat differently as it is to maintain a mainstream diet. But I figure it’s balanced out by the fact that it is much easier and more convenient to be healthy. And then, I’m really okay with the extra effort it takes to stay that way. I am guessing that same mindset might work for you, too.