My journey with health ultimately started in two places: First, with my baby’s digestive issues from birth and second with my own health problems from, well, probably also birth.
I grew up with the food pyramid that touts grains as the most important food group, the one that should make up the largest portion of your diet, 6-11 portions a day. I grew up in the culture that has no problem meeting, or exceeding, that suggestion- but can’t manage to eat enough fruits and vegetables. My culture and diet has always been very grain, specifically wheat, heavy.
I cut out gluten as much as we can really afford to and, after a withdrawal period that was basically me being depressed and self-pitying at all the food I can’t have and how awful it is to not be able to eat gluten- I really don’t care much anymore. I know the restaurants to avoid (Italian is a big one), and when looking for food I generally just skip past the definitely gluten-laden and just look for the gluten-free. Spending a night of miserable pain just isn’t worth the taste of gluten. My partner’s having a rougher time adjusting to it than I am at this point.
Because most of the sweets I eat are gluten or wheat based, and because I’ve made a point of cutting down sugar, I’m also starting to lose the desire for sugar. Soda is the hardest thing to cut out completely, but it’s making me feel sick to drink now so I only get very small amounts at a time. A pretty big turn around in just a manner of months.
Coming from a culture that has such a wheat-heavy diet and finding out wheat damages your health, it’s not that huge a leap to go from gluten free to questioning why you need grains at all. A lot of gluten-free recipes use non-grain flours (almond, coconut, even cauliflower) or use flours that we can’t get on our budget (Sorghum, etc). The ones you reliably can get are rice based- but rice is controversial. Even before really looking into paleo or grain-free diets, I was starting to wonder why you actually need grains. Looking into the benefits of grains- I honestly can’t find a single one you can’t get elsewhere. Especially the way we eat grains nowadays, primarily white flour, with so much health benefits removed and then artificially added.
Now, this is true for everything- you can get the benefits of one food in others if you really want to and have the resources. People have cut out, meat, fruit, vegetables, and grains from their diets (not all at once!) and, when done smartly, didn’t suffer ill effects. Grains have been made convenient in this country, it’s easier to get the benefits from grains than it is to find them elsewhere. But I’m no longer interested in convenient- convenient screwed me over.
(I also want to take a moment to point out that I’m more okay with traditionally prepared grains and have started soaking nuts for similar reasons- the problem is that the grains readily available are NOT prepared that way and have anti-nutrients that hurt your health)
Since finding out that you can remineralize teeth, I’ve ended up down a rabbit hole that’s made me question pretty much all conventional health wisdom.
I’ve had a weird relationship with tooth health. Arguably I do everything wrong (brush once a day for far less than the required amount of time, no flossing, no mouthwash) and never have a problem with cavities. I have a really hard time bringing myself to force tooth brushing on our baby, who hates it, but everyone tells me I have to for their health. The only thing we’ve managed to use isn’t actually a tooth brush in the traditional sense, it has rounded rubber nibs instead and is closer to Ora Wellness’s toothbrushes than most commercial ones.
Recently, I stopped brushing my teeth with fluoride and instead got a clay-based toothpaste. My teeth have never felt cleaner. You know the phrase ‘dentist clean’ that some toothpastes bandy about- it’s like that, only you don’t have to get your teeth scraped by metal to achieve it. I still can’t stop rubbing my tongue over it, I keep tapping my teeth with my fingernail, and for the first time in my entire life I not only look forward to brushing my teeth, I have the desire to do it twice or more a day.
Combine this personal experience with reading about cultures that don’t brush their teeth AND don’t get tooth decay and the dangers of toothpaste, I’m starting to wonder if everything I’ve ever been taught about tooth health is a lie.