Keto and Low Carb Success

Inflammation and Grains

November 24, 2022 Miriam Hatoum Season 1 Episode 26
Keto and Low Carb Success
Inflammation and Grains
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 26: Inflammation and Grains

This week’s episode is about grains and inflammation. I would venture to say the worst part about the holiday season is not so much the overeating, but what is on the menu. Sure, you can be derailed with a weight gain, but more importantly, you are derailed because of how you feel. You might feel bloated, your joints might hurt or you might just feel a general malaise. These are more because of the foods we eat during the holiday season – the breads, crackers, cakes and cookies – than the quantity of food we eat. This episode will tell you how you can eat smarter – not less – during the upcoming holidays.

1:11.       Personal Story
3:00.       What is inflammation?
3:42.       Acute inflammation
4:31.       Chronic inflammation
5:23.       The inflammation-grains connection
7:00.        What are grains?
7:45.        Whole grains vs. refined grains
10:09.     General gut health
11:42.      What is leaky gut?
13:11.      Grainflammation
13:41.      The other side of the story
14:51.       Carbohydrates in grains, rice and legumes
17:10.       The bottom line
19:00.       What mistakes are we making and why?
21:16.       What is the cost of making these mistakes?
22:30.       This weeks actionable COACHING ADVICE
24:26.       This week's VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
25:20.       Episode 27, coming up

Book:  Breaking Free From Diet Prison
Course:  Breaking Free From Diet Prison
Instagram@Roadmap To Diet Success
Breaking Free Facebook Page
This week's VFO:  Five Steps out of Diet Prison and the Four Lists You Need
Access Transcript Here

BLOG:  Three Ways to Count Carbohydrates

John Hopkins Study:
Dennis Thompson Article:
Peter Osborne: Grainflammation
Columbia University Study
Dr. Armin Aldini

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 Episode #: 26.    Inflammation and Grains

 You’re Listening to the Roadmap to Diet Success, Episode #26, Inflammation and Grains.


 Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Breaking Free From Diet Prison, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 

 Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or services, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!

1:11       Personal Story

I have my own personal story of a battle with inflammation. I know for me that when I was strictly following a Keto diet – and I mean counting macros and everything – my inflammation was better under control. This was measured by various blood tests, including CRP, histamine, and homocysteine tests, the last one having to do with cardio-vascular disease. The more important measure to me is (and is) my joint stiffness and general overall feeling. As I am writing this, I have an upcoming appointment with a rheumatologist because I have suffered with eye inflammation since my cataract surgery last year. The surgeon is not sure there is research that says eye inflammation, which is known as uveitis, is related to systemic inflammation, but I am on a quest to find out. Also, as I am writing this, I am reconsidering a return to either Keto or Paleo, as these both were good routes for me, to fight inflammation. Boy, have I enjoyed my foray into breads, pasta, rice and legumes, which are beans, but maybe it is time to call it quits.

There are many reasons for inflammation but what you are eating can contribute to chronic inflammation in the body. There is a particularly strong link between inflammation, grains and sugar. In next week’s episode I investigate sugar, so for this episode I am going to concentrate on inflammation and grains. I also mention a lot of studies in this episode and the links will be in the show notes and transcript.

3:00    What is inflammation?

  • Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli such as 
    • pathogens 
    • damaged cells 
    • irritants 
  • It is a protective response involving 
    • immune cells
    • blood vessels 
    • molecular mediators such as histamine 
  • The function of inflammation is to 
    • eliminate the initial cause of cell injury 
    • clear out tissues that have been damaged from the original "insult" 
    • initiate tissue repair
  • There are two types of inflammation, acute and chronic.

3:42    Acute Inflammation

When an injury occurs, the cells of our immune system immediately travel to the site of injury or irritation and the inflammatory response begins. This is acute inflammation.

This includes widening of local blood vessels 

  • This allows fluid and immune cells into surrounding injured tissues
  • This causes
    • swelling 
    • redness
    • warmth 
    • pain at the site. 
  • This is where you see bruising.
  • We can see this acute inflammation at work or sometimes it is out of our sight, such as when 
    • bones are healing or
    • there has been internal damage from surgery. 
  • We want this inflammation because it is healing in nature.

4:31     Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation in the body is another animal and we do not want this type. 

  • This is the body's inflammatory response - from stress to the food we eat. 
  • It can eventually start to damage 
    • healthy cells
    • tissues 
    • organs
  • Over time, this can even lead to DNA damage, tissue death and internal scarring. 

Dr. Erin Michos from Johns Hopkins says, "... sustained low levels of inflammation irritate your blood vessels. Inflammation may promote the growth of plaques, loosen plaque in your arteries and trigger blood clots — the primary cause of heart attacks and strokes. We all should be making an effort to reduce chronic inflammation in our bodies." 

5:23     What is the inflammation and grains connection?

Modern life may actually be the main driver of gut inflammation. 

  • There is emerging evidence that the Standard American Diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and unhealthy fats, may initiate this process. 
  • In any case, staying away from an overabundance of grains and processed foods will help heal and maintain a healthy gut.

It is not my intention to demonize any particular food group. It really isn’t.

My goal is to share with you some of the information available to us so that we can make informed decisions in order to make changes in our eating style. Or to not make changes, or to spur us on to do further research to see what is the most current information. 

Current is the operative word here. More and more research shows that grains, rice and legumes are at the root of inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular diseases, skin conditions, autoimmune diseases and more.

Not every person will find this to be so, and more likely there is a spectrum of tolerance for grains either because of the person's general health or genetics. You have to make your own decisions. One size does not fit all, but it's important for you to have this side of the story.

7:00    What are Grains?

  • A grain is a small, hard, dry seed with or without an attached hull or fruit layer.
  •  It is harvested for human or animal consumption. 
  • Grains are members of the grass family and can be thin leaf or broad leaf.
  • Plants from the broadleaf family are called pseudo grains or pseudo cereals and are often safe for consumption even if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. 
  • Corn is a grain, not a vegetable. 
  • Rice and legumes are also under the grain umbrella. 

7:45    Whole Grains vs. Refined Grains

Whole grains are grains that have been minimally processed to still contain the bran, germ and endosperm, the three parts of a grain. 

  • The bran is the outer shell that provides a rich source of fiber, trace minerals, phytochemicals and B vitamins. 
  • The germ nourishes the grain and is packed with antioxidants, the B vitamins and vitamin E. It is also a source of heart healthy unsaturated fats.
  • When grains are refined to make white flour, the germ and bran portions are removed, leaving only the endosperm. The endosperm is the part of the grain which acts as a food store for the developing plant. It contains starch, protein and lipids and is the calorie-dense and carbohydrate portion of the grain.  
  • The process of making the refined grain removes the most nutrient-dense portions of the grain.

Refined grains come from the same plant as the whole grain but 

  • they are missing the germ, bran and all the nutrients that go along with them 
  • This processing was developed because then the product has a longer shelf life than whole grains because the oily germ, which tends to become rancid, is removed when the grain is refined. 

When purchasing any bread or cereal product be aware of this from Dennis Thompson:

"Terms like 'multigrain,' 'contains whole grains,' 'honey wheat' and '12-grain' can be used to hawk breads, cereals and crackers as healthier options even if the product mostly contains refined flour. If they say it contains whole grains, it really does have to contain some whole grains. They would get into trouble if they made a claim that was outright false. But it's totally permitted to say it contains whole grains even if it's mostly refined grains."

10:09  General Gut Health

 A study  from Columbia University Medical Center found that some people develop a systemic immune reaction and intestinal cell damage after eating wheat, even though tests have established that they do not have celiac disease. 

It is estimated that this condition may be more prevalent than celiac disease. Lead researcher, Dr. Armin Aledini, has been quoted as saying that the study did not confirm that gluten was the cause of this immune reaction and intestinal cell damage.

I mention this study because although the most conventional of doctors will not argue with celiac disease which can be tested and measured, there is still controversy over general gut health issues such as leaky gut. There is a lot of truth in what Hippocrates said which was, "All disease begins in the gut."

A very interesting article from Global Journal of Digestive Diseases carries the discussion further: "Despite the fact that Hippocrates was mistaken in proposing that all malady starts in your gut, proof shows that numerous constant metabolic ailments do. Your gut microbes and the uprightness of your gut lining firmly influence your wellbeing."

11:42    What is Leaky Gut?

Inside our bellies we have an extensive intestinal lining covering more than 4,000 square feet of surface area. When working properly, it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream.

  • An unhealthy gut lining may have large cracks or holes, allowing partially digested foods, toxins, and parasites to penetrate the tissues beneath it. 
  • This may trigger inflammation and changes to the gut flora, which are normal bacteria that could lead to problems within the digestive tracts and beyond.
  • Increased intestinal permeability plays a role in certain gastrointestinal conditions such as
    • celiac disease 
    • Crohn's disease
    • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The biggest question is whether or not a leaky gut may cause problems elsewhere in the body.

  • Some studies show that a leaky gut may be associated with autoimmune diseases such as
    • lupus
    • type 1 diabetes
    • multiple sclerosis, and 
      • some problems not classified as autoimmune such as
    • chronic fatigue syndrome
    • fibromyalgia
    • arthritis
    • allergies
    • acne
    • obesity 

13:16    Grainflammation

Dr. Peter Osborne has coined the term "Grainflammation" which is perfect for this topic. In that article he talks about vitamin and mineral deficiencies, altered intestinal bacteria, leaky gut and gastrointestinal damage and mechanisms of gluten-induced damage, even without celiac disease.

13:41   A word about the other side of the story

  • In reading about grains being good for us, a lot of the research behind that viewpoint is funded totally, or in part, by 
    • cereal companies
    • animal activist groups
    • religious groups 
    • strong agricultural and farming lobbies. 
  • That does not mean that the results of that research are falsely presented. 
  • It does mean that the research is highly biased. Remember confirmation bias from Episode 24? There are some serious repercussions with it.
  • Furthermore, these groups that are represented in government have powerful and deep pockets to move a lot of these findings into policies. 

The food pyramid was pushed through by lobbyists and politicians, not doctors and scientists. Calories had to be maximized for both cost and density and the answer to that was carbohydrates — mostly heavily refined into breads and cereals. 

14:51   Carbohydrates in Grains, Rice and Legumes

If you take all this research out of the picture along with any controversy that comes along with it, you would still do well to eliminate or limit your consumption of grains, legumes and rice to reduce, or eliminate, chronic inflammation in the body.

The sheer carbohydrate content of these foods will keep you in diet prison because you will have to be weighing, measuring and tracking your portions to make sure you remain within your daily allowance of carbohydrates (or calories).

  • One cup of rice contains 45 grams of carbohydrates.
  • One medium ear of corn contains 22 carbohydrates.
  • One cup of cereal, like (original) Cheerios, contains 20 carbohydrates.
  • One cup of cooked kidney beans contains 41 carbohydrates. 

If you are following a Keto plan, even if you are generously counting net carbs and not total carbs, even one of these foods will bring you over your daily allowance. 

If you are following a low carbohydrate plan you have a little more leeway, and if you are careful with portions and one of these foods no more than once or twice a day, you might be good to go, but you will have to be careful about everything else you may be eating that day. 

17:10   The Bottom Line

Grains should be limited for better health

Yes, limiting or eliminating them will put out the fires of inflammation and go a long way in healing your gut.

But as you can see from some of the carb counts of these foods, just cutting down will help you get out of diet prison and help you to get some footing with other eating styles. It is because when you eat in a way where the amount glucose produced by these foods does not constantly bathe your system, there will be less hunger and less triggers for cravings and urges to eat. 

Merely limiting, and not necessarily eliminating grains can be sustainable eating especially because you do not have to markedly change your family meals. 

If you come from a grain-heavy culture there are some great websites for you to get started to find ways to cook for your family with the flavors and foods to which they are accustomed. The links to a few of those websites are in the show notes and transcript for Episode 14, Cooking For the Family.

Unless you are strictly limiting your carbohydrate intake, you may add your familiar "starches," but as a side dish, not as the whole show. In my book and course, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, I do guide you to cooking for the family. 

Do whatever you can to reduce chronic inflammation in the body. Do take the time to learn about the connection between inflammation and grains. Even if you do not cut out grains, monitoring and limiting your intake will go a long way to give you better health.

19:00  What mistakes are we making and why?

·       We make the mistake of falling prey to the intentions of cereal companies and lobbyists because of all the commercials, advertisements and biased research. 

·       We make the mistake of not understanding the nature of manufactured grains and grain products. When something says “enriched” it means that the original goodness of the product has been taken out in the processing, and it has been chemically enriched to add nutrients back in. Advertising only focuses on “enriched” and not why the product needs enriching.

·       We make the mistake of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. What I mean by this is, carbohydrate count aside and if that is not an issue for you, all things being equal and healthy, you will not perish from eating natural whole grains, such as buckwheat, farro, barley and the like. We don’t have to fear grains. Just be mindful of the quality and quantity we consume.

·       We make the mistake of not truly listening to our body to feel when and where we have inflammation. There might be some threshold for you. For instance, a small amount of a whole grain at a meal might not make your joints hurt, but a bagel in the morning will. Is it the difference between a whole grain and a processed grain food or is it the timing or is it the frequency. 

·       We make the mistake of not understanding the full consequences of having grains as a regular part of all or some of our meals, especially with daily consumption. We don’t have this understanding because we think that stiff joints are a part of aging, or something like rosacea just happens to be the way our skin is. We don’t have the understanding because we think this is just the way things are for us at any particular point in our lives.

21:16    What is the cost of making these mistakes?

·       When we decide to cut out grains with an all or nothing diet, it oftentimes is a harbinger of an unsuccessful attempt at changing our eating style.

·       There are hundreds of thousands of people who are successful on something like Keto – I was one of them until I made a decision to carefully expand my eating – so I am not saying it cannot be done. However, the cost of making the decision to cut out all grains can be difficult, and there is often a rebound of being out of control and eating all the things. 

·       The deeper cost is what we may be doing to our bodies because of excess grain consumption, particularly processed grains. Our own personal world is not going to come crashing down because we had a bowl of cereal for breakfast or rice with our dinner. But it is important to acknowledge what grains can do to our body and we need to be our own detectives.


·       This week, even if you do not keep a food diary, jot down every time you have a grain as part of your meal or snack. 

·       Make a note in the evening, or the next day, whether you notice anything unusual in how you feel. It could be along any spectrum: 

o   Perhaps you had a slight unexplained headache

o   Maybe your hands felts stiff

o   Maybe you just felt off – not nauseous, but just not right

o   Perhaps you felt tired and in need of a nap or going to bed earlier

o   Did you notice a tiny grunt when you got up from a low chair?

o   Really play detective and pay attention. 

o   These things don’t necessarily happen after just one serving of grains so also take a more panoramic picture of how you feel during the week if you are consuming grains

·       Maybe you need a compare and contrast experience to really get to how you are feeling. 

o   No need to do Keto – allow yourself natural starches like potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables, but how about cutting out grains for a week? 

o   Do you feel better?

o   Less stiffness? 

o   Easier walking?

o   Remember what I said in an earlier episode: sometimes we are so used to feeling crummy that is our normal and we think we feel fine.

o   Try a week or two with no grains and see if you can shift your new normal.

o   When you add them back in, go for whole, cooked grains and limit your processed ones.

24:26 This week’s VFO (Valuable Free Offer) 

This week’s VFO is “Five Steps Out Of Diet Prison and the Four Lists You Need.” This booklet contains an extensive list of grains, rices, legumes, and for an upcoming episode, sugars. It also has the bare bones of my trademarked Transitions Program which you can use if you want to try to eat low carb or explore Keto, but mostly it walks you through cutting down or eliminating sugars and grains. It can be found at As always, the direct link is in the show notes and transcripts.

25:20  Next week’s episode

Next week’s episode is all about sugar. Yes, it tastes good, but there is a science behind why we crave it and cannot stop ourselves from eating it and overeating it. Are you addicted to sugar? Why do you crave it? How can you detox from wanting it so much? What role does sugar play in inflammation? Is sugar so bad? Where is it hiding? Do we have to be a super sleuth to make sure it never passes our lips? Oh, and just because we are exploring all things sugar, I will talk a little bit about blood sugar, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. I remember in the olden days, no one had diabetes – it was always “I have a touch of sugar in my blood.” Anyway, next week, all things sugar.

 So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Roadmap to Diet Success.

 And, if you like what you hear, please like and subscribe, and remember to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find the show. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to hear on the show. Better yet, join the group especially for my Roadmap to Diet Success listeners. You can also email me directly … I would especially like to hear about episode ideas you are interested in.

 Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time. 

John Hopkins Study:

 Dennis Thompson Article:

 Peter Osborne (Grainflammation):

 Columbia University Study:

 Dr. Armin Aldini:

 Global Journal of Digestive Diseases:

 Food Pyramid: