Whole Grains Reduce Diabetes Risk by 34%

Whole Grains Reduce Diabetes Risk by 34%

In This Article

Fixing Your Digestion

I understand! Wheat and grains bloat you, and cause brain fog, heart palpitations, hives, and weight gain. Why would you eat grains when they make you feel terrible?

Until you fix your digestion, I don’t think you should be eating wheat or any other food that causes problems.

Many Americans take the easy route and turn to eating only low-carb, grain-free, easy-to-digest foods. They lose weight, get energy from their fats instead of their carbs, no more bloat — and all is well!

Emerging science continues to suggest, however, that avoiding whole grains in the long term may be problematic. Most recently, The Journal of Nutrition published a study in September of 2018 that caught my attention.

The uniquely large study followed 55,000 middle-aged men and women for 15 years. When the study was initiated in the 1990s, the participants filled out forms detailing their daily eating habits. Researchers used this information to establish the total whole grain intake per day.

The study participants were classified into four groups based on the number of whole grains they ate each day.

Researchers found that those who included the most whole grains in their diets had the lowest risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Men who ate the most whole grains reduced their risk of diabetes by 34%, and women who ate the most whole grains reduced their risk by 22%. (1)

The study shared that those who were consuming the highest amounts of whole grains were eating at least 50 grams of whole grains per day — one bowl of oatmeal and one slice of rye bread daily.

This is only one of many studies that link a diet that includes whole grains to better health. More and more, science is recommending to not avoid whole grains unless you must for digestive reasons. Here is a quick sampling of that science:

  • Reduce risk of heart disease (2,3)
  • Reduced risk of diabetes (2,3)
  • More Killer T cells for immune health (2,3)
  • More beneficial bacteria in the gut (2,3)
  • Less bad bacteria in the gut (2,3)
  • Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (4,5)
  • Lower cholesterol (2,3)
  • Lower mercury levels in the blood (2,3)

Learn more in my book on this topic, Eat Wheat.

Whole Grains Matter

In the Danish study, the researchers noted that if American whole grain consumers were broken into four groups, they would fall into the lower whole-grain consumption group who had the highest risk of type 2 diabetes. (1)

In America, whole wheat bread is almost always combined with some typed of refined and/or enriched wheat or grain — simply not the whole grain. Here are the ingredients in one of America’s top-selling healthier organic whole wheat bread:

“Organic whole wheat flour, water, organic cracked wheat, organic brown sugar, organic wheat gluten, organic wheat bran, yeast, organic high oleic sunflower and/or safflower oil, sea salt, organic vinegar, organic oat flour, organic molasses, cultured organic wheat starch, organic barley malt, ascorbic acid, natural enzymes.”

While the ingredients here are most recognizable and are actually way better than most of the commercial whole wheat bread on the market, all that is needed to make bread is whole wheat, salt, water, and sometimes a starter.

The sugar, oils used as preservatives, extra starch, extra gluten, vinegar, barley malt, and enzymes are all used to make the bread taste sweeter or to extend its shelf life.

But remember, if your bread doesn’t go bad after sitting on the counter for a couple of days, your gut microbes — who run the show — won’t eat it either!

Sadly, whole wheat is not whole wheat. To make the whole wheat most of us consume, the germ, endosperm, and bran are first separated out. Then, to make whole wheat, they are all re-introduced — sort of.

The FDA requires only 51% of the original whole grain kernel (by weight) to be present in a final whole wheat product. 

Where did the other 49% of the grain go? Much of the fiber, nutrients and volatile oils are often missing. Suffice to say that whole wheat flour, organic or not, is not the same as eating whole grain. (6)

This may explain why, in European whole grain studies, the reduced risk of many health concerns from ingesting whole grains is not reproducible here in the US.

My Advice

Sourcing real whole grains is critical and, according to this study, it doesn’t matter the kind of whole-grain cereal that was consumed — just that it was truly whole grain.

Many of us have digestive troubles that account for many of the food intolerances we are forced to endure. Major factors against us are processed and refined foods, and non-organic foods — pesticides kill the microbes on the foods that help us digest.

We are left with a need to reset the digestive and detox systems of the body that have been broken down over the many years of consuming unhealthy and sometimes indigestible foods.

I developed the 2-week Colorado Cleanse in the early 2000s for this purpose exactly. Detoxifying the body is a good idea, but only if the digestive system and its ability to properly detox have been reset.

Doing a cleanse without resetting digestive function first is like moving toxins from one fat cell to another. The body’s ability to actually detox and fully remove the toxins is completely dependent on the efficiency of the digestive system.

The Colorado Cleanse resets and boosts digestive strength and detox function first. Then, using time-tested, gentle, and effective Ayurvedic detox techniques, we flush the accumulated toxins hiding in the gut, brain, and fatty sites of the body.

Learn more about the Colorado Cleanse and join us each spring and fall for our group Colorado Cleanse where I guide hundreds of cleansers through the 14-day detox with daily emails, video guides, an online forum, live Q&A calls, and more.

15 percent off cleanses


  1. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/148/9/1434/5054990?redirectedFrom=fulltext
  2. https://lifespa.com/dangers-gluten-free-diet/
  3. https://lifespa.com/landmark-harvard-study-finds-gluten-free-diet-bad-heart/
  4. https://lifespa.com/the-mind-diet-foods-for-thought/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25681666
  6. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/whole-grain-foods-not-always-healthful/

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Dr. John

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