Daily Archives: July 6, 2012

Making Cauldron Candles

Cauldron Candles

Cauldron candles are simple to make, a lot of fun and they look great! It’s a wonderful way to recycle left over wax.
What you will need:

Clean Sand

A Box or Container

Heat Source

Cooking Pan

Oven Mitts

Small Cauldron or mayonnaise jar

Wax

Candle Wicking

Scissors

Coffee Can or Heat Proof Jar

 

For wax, you can use paraffin (found in the canning section of the grocery store), beeswax (can usually be obtained cheaply from people who sell their own honey), or even left over candles.
If you don’t have candle wicking, you can buy them at craft stores or do what I do – use small twine or get the wicks out of broken candles.

Directions

Prepare the mold:  If you are using a box, line it with a plastic bag to keep the moisture from destroying the shape. Moisten the sand with water so that it will keep its shape when pressed. If you have a small cauldron, press it tightly into the wet sand until it comes to the top. You don’t want the sand over the edge, just flush. Make sure that you have at least one inch of packed sand around the top so that it will hold its shape once the wax is poured in. Carefully remove the cauldron, trying to avoid loose sand particles from falling in.  If it doesn’t hold its shape, or you are not happy with the results, redo it! Depending on the size of the container, you can make as many candle molds as you have room. If you don’t have a small cauldron, use a small mayonnaise jar or other container that will give you the basic shape. You can even use your fist for a unique looking cauldron. Kids especially love to do this. You will however need to make legs for the cauldron. Simply use your little finger or a chopsticks and press into the bottom of the mold three times. Try to keep them at the same depth, and spaced evenly around the bottom, otherwise you end up with a lopsided cauldron!
Prepare the wax:  Put the wax into the coffee can or the heatproof container into a pan of water; bring to a boil on the stove. Caution – NEVER leave melting wax unattended and if there are children involved in candle making, always supervise them! Hot wax is highly flammable and can burn skin – so be extremely careful.
If you wish to make black cauldrons, add left over black candles or wax to can. If you don’t have any, you can add black crayon pieces until you are happy with the color. Of course, if you want a different color, use the appropriate wax or crayon.
Prepare the wick:  While the wax is melting, add the wicks to the molds. Press the wicking directly into the sand at the center of the mold. You will need to drape the top of the wick over a pencil or meat skewer that is placed over the top of the mold – preferably resting on the top of the box, to keep the wick from falling into to wax once it is poured.
Pouring the wax: When the wax is completely melted, put your oven mitts on, lift the can from the water and slowly pour the wax into the molds. You don’t want the wax to cool too slowly or it may crack, so don’t put them outside or in the refrigerator to speed the process.
Finishing the candles:  Once the wax has hardened, you can just scoop the candles out of the sand.  Trim off any wick that is sticking out of the bottom with scissors and brush off any excess sand.

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Candles As Tools of Magick

CANDLES AS TOOLS OF MAGICK

Select four candles in colors representing the four elements.  Try using red for

Fire, green for Earth, blue for Water and yellow for Air. Anoint the candles

with oil.  Decide on your goal or request and which candle is best for

represents the need.  (ie money, business, material objects, grounding matters

would be Earth.  Matters of sex, breaking habits, purification, protection,

strength would be Fire.  Matters of love, psychic awareness, healing,

friendships, beauty, spirituality, meditation would be Water.  Matters of

movement, travel, communication, teachings would be Air.)  Place three candles

in a triangle and put the assigned candle in the center.

Meditate on your desire as you light all four candles.  Visualize the outcome,

concentrating carefully on that which you wish to happen. Let all candles burn

go out by themselves.

For best results, do this candle burning during the hour of the day that will

aide you and during the correct Moon phases.  The Waning Moon is good for

banishing, the Waxing will help things grow.

Above all use extreme care when doing ANY form of Magick that entails the use of Fire.

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Candle Colors and What To Use Them For

CANDLE COLORS AND WHAT TO USE THEM FOR

BLACK:
Meditation rituals
Hexwork
Uncrossing rituals
Spells to banish evil entities and negative forces
Protection
Repelling negativity
Binding
Shapeshifting

BLUE:
Magick that involves honor
Loyalty
Peace
Tranquility
Truth
Wisdom
Protection during sleep
Astral projection
To induce prophetic dreams
Good fortune
Opening blocked communication
Spiritual inspiration
Calm 
Reassurance
Gently moving
Element of water
Creativity

BROWN:
Locate lost objects
Improve powers of concentration and telepathy
Protection of familiars and household pets
Influence friendships
Special favors

GOLD:
Attract the power of the cosmic influences
Rituals to honor solar deities
Wealth
The God
Promote winning
Safety and power of the male
Happiness
Playful humor

GRAY:
Spells to neutralize negative influences

GREEN:
Fertility
Success
Good luck
Prosperity
Money
Rejuvenation
Ambition
Rituals to counteract greed and jealousy
Earth Mother
Physical healing
Monetary success
Abundance
Tree and plant magick
Growth
Element of Earth
Personal goals

ORANGE:
Spells to stimulate energy
Business goals
Property deals
Ambition
Career goals
General success
Justice
Legal matters
Selling
Action

PINK:
Love
Friendship
Romantic love
Planetary good will
Healing of emotions
Peace
Affection
Romance
Partnerships of emotional maturity
Caring 
Nurturing

PURPLE:
Psychic manifestations
Healing
Power
Success
Independence
Household protection
Influencing people in high places
Third eye
Psychic ability
Spiritual power
Self assurance
Hidden knowledge

RED:
Fertility rites
Aphrodisiacs
Sexual passion
Love
Health
Physical strength
Revenge
Anger
Willpower
Courage
Magnetism
Energy
Element of Fire
Career goals
Fast action
Lust
Blood of the Moon
Vibrancy
Driving force
Survival

SILVER:
Remove negativity
Encourage stability
Attract the influences of the Goddess
Telepathy
Clairvoyance
Clairaudience
Psychometry
Intuition
Dreams
Astral energies
Female power
Communication 
The Goddess

WHITE:
Consecration rituals
Meditation
Divination
Exorcism
Healing
Clairvoyance
Truth
Peace
Spiritual strength
Lunar energy
Spirituality
The Goddess
Higher self
Purity
Virginity
Substitute for any other color

YELLOW:
Confidence
Attraction
Charm 
Persuasion
The Sun
Intelligence
Accelerated learning
Memory
Logical imagination
Breaking mental blocks
Selling yourself
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Candle Colors and What They Mean

CANDLE COLORS AND WHAT THEY MEAN

White:
A balance of all colors; Spiritual enlightenment, cleansing, clairvoyance, healing, truth seeking; Rituals involving lunar energy. May be substituted for any color candle.

Yellow:
Activity, Creativity, unity; brings power of concentration and imagination to a ritual;  use in rituals where you wish to gain anothers confidence or persuade someone, or in rituals that require solar energy.

Gold:
Fosters understanding and attracts the powers of cosmic influences; beneficial in rituals intended to bring about fast luck or money, or in rituals needing solar energy.

Pink:
Promotes romance, friendship; standard color for rituals to draw affections; a color of femininity, honor, service, brings friendly, lively conversation to the dinner table.

Red:
Health, passion, love, fertility, strength, courage, will power; increases magnetism in rituals; draws Aries and Scorpio energy.

Silver:
Removes negativity and encourages stability; helps develop psychic abilities; attracts the influence of the Mother Goddess.

Purple:
Power, success, idealism, psychic manifestations; ideals for rituals to secure ambitions, independence, financial rewards, or to make contact with the spiritual other world;  increases Neptune energy.

Magenta:
Combination of red and violet that oscillates on a high frequency; energizes rituals where immediate action and high levels of power or spiritual healing are required.

Brown:
Earthly, balanced color; for rituals of material increase; eliminates indecisiveness; improves powers of concentration, study, telepathy; increases financial success; locates objects that have been lost.

Indigo:
Color of inertia; stops situations or people; use in rituals that require a deep meditational state; or in rituals that demand Saturn energy.

Royal Blue:
Promotes laughter and joviality; color or loyalty; use to attract Jupiter energy, or whenever an influence needs to be increased.

Light Blue:
Spiritual color; helpful in devotional or inspirational meditations; brings peace and tranquillity to the home; radiates Aquarius energy; employ where a situation must be synthesized.

Blue:
Primary spiritual color; for rituals to obtain wisdom, harmony, inner light, or peace; confers truth and guidance.

Emerald Green:
Important component in Venusian rituals; attracts love, social delights, and fertility.

Dark Green:
Color of ambition, greed, and jealousy; counteracts these influences in a ritual.

Green:
Promotes prosperity, fertility, success; stimulates rituals for good luck, money, harmony, and rejuvenation.

Gray:
Neutral color useful when pondering complex issues during meditation; in magic, this color often sparks confusion; it also negates or neutralizes a negative influence.

Black:
Opens up the deeper levels of the unconscious; use in rituals to induce a deep meditational state, or to banish evil or negativity as in uncrossing rituals; attracts Saturn energy.

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Is Gluten Bad For You?

Is Gluten Bad For You?

Gluten-free diets are  being touted as the  solution to everything from digestive troubles to  excess fat. But before you  hop on the bandwagon, read this

By Karen Ansel, R.D., Women’s Health
Chelsea Clinton’s wedding got a lot of press play a few months ago for  the  gorgeous locale, the esteemed guests, and her beautiful dress. But  what also  took the cake in terms of media coverage was, well, the cake.  The gluten-free  cake.

Just 10 years ago, barely anyone knew what the word gluten meant, let  alone  gave any thought to avoiding it. But now gluten-free diet menus are all the  rage, and high-profile stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow,  Rachel Weisz, and  Victoria Beckham have been linked to the gluten-free  lifestyle, which is said  to contribute to increased energy, thinner  thighs, and reduced belly bloat.

What It Is, Exactly Gluten is a protein found in the  grains wheat, barley, and rye. Most of  us unknowingly love it, because gluten  gives our favorite foods that  special touch: It makes pizza dough stretchy,  gives bread its spongy  texture, and is used to thicken sauces and soups.

Gluten-free eating has a basis in science, and it does help a genuine  health  problem. To people with a chronic digestive disorder called  celiac disease,  gluten is truly evil: Their bodies regard even a tiny  crumb of it as a  malicious invader and mount an immune response, says  Alessio Fasano, M.D.,  medical director of the University of Maryland  Center for Celiac Research in  Baltimore. Problem is, this immune  reaction ends up damaging the small  intestine, which causes both great  gastrointestinal distress and nutritional  deficiencies. If untreated,  these responses can then lead to intestinal cancers  as well as  complications such as infertility and osteoporosis.

Experts once thought celiac disease was a rare disorder, believed to  affect  one in every 10,000 people. But an Archives of Internal Medicine  study in 2003  suggests that celiac disease is far more prevalent than  anyone had suspected,  affecting one in 133 Americans. With increased  testing and awareness, more  people realized why they felt sick after  eating a piece of bread, and food  companies discovered a new market.

Now another problem is emerging, and experts are referring to it as   nonceliac gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity can lead to similar  celiac  symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloating. But  unlike celiac,  sensitivity doesn’t damage the intestine. For years,  health professionals  didn’t believe nonceliac gluten sensitivity  existed, but experts are beginning  to acknowledge that it may affect as  many as 20 million Americans, says  Fasano.

The Health Hype Thanks to the increase in diagnosed  celiac and gluten sensitivity cases,  and the corresponding uptick in foods  marketed to sufferers,  “gluten-free diets have emerged from obscurity, and now  the pendulum has  swung completely in the other direction,” says Fasano. And  with this  popularity push, people have latched on to avoiding gluten as a  cure-all  for many conditions aside from celiac, including migraines,   fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. While some have found  relief, that  doesn’t mean a gluten free diet will work in all cases.

And then there’s the idea that a gluten-free existence is the ticket to   speedy weight loss. But, says Mark DeMeo, M.D., director of  gastroenterology  and nutrition at the Adult Celiac Disease Program at  Rush University Medical  Center in Chicago, “there’s nothing magical  about a gluten-free diet that’s  going to help you lose weight.” What’s  really at work: Gluten-free dining can  seriously limit the number of  foods you can eat. With fewer choices, you’re a  lot less likely to  overeat, says Shelley Case, R.D., author of Gluten-Free  Diet: A  Comprehensive Resource Guide and a medical advisory board member  for the  Celiac Disease Foundation.

But it can backfire too, because gluten-free doesn’t mean fat-free or  calorie-free.

“Without gluten to bind food together, food manufacturers often use more  fat  and sugar to make the product more palatable,” says Case. Consider  pretzels: A  serving of regular pretzels has about 110 calories and just  one gram of fat.  Swap them for gluten-free pretzels and you could get  140 caloriesand six grams  of fat.

Should You Go Gluten-Free? If you have celiac disease or  gluten sensitivity, the answer is easy:  Yes, you have to. But  if you just want  to give the diet a spin, know this: It’s a giant pain  in the butt. Giving up  gluten may sound as basic as cutting out bread or  eating less pasta, but this  isn’t just another version of the low-carb  craze. Because gluten makes foods  thick and tasty, it is added to  everything from salad dressing to soy sauce to  seasonings.

Besides the hassle, you can end up with serious nutritional  deficiencies.  “Gluten-free doesn’t necessarily equal healthy, especially  when people yank  vitamin-enriched and wholegrain foods from their diets  and replace them with  gluten free brownies,” says Case. In fact,  research suggests that those who  forgo gluten may be more likely to miss  out on important nutrients such as  iron, B vitamins, and fiber.

This is where careful meal planning comes in, which may explain why some   people feel so good when they go G-free: They’re eating real food  instead of  ultraprocessed packaged fare. “If you skip the gluten-free  goodies and focus on  fruits, vegetables, lean protein, dairy, and gluten  free grains like amaranth  and quinoa, this can be a very healthy way of  eating,” says Marlisa Brown,  R.D., author of Gluten-Free, Hassle Free. “But you can’t just wing  it.”

Six Signs of Gluten Sensitivity More than 2.5 million  people may have celiac disease, yet only an  estimated 150,000 have been  diagnosed. That’s because people can be  asymptomatic for years, and the  symptoms of celiac disease can also  overlap with other medical problems, so it  often confuses both patients  and doctors alike. That said, if you think you  might have a problem,  don’t ax gluten from your diet before being screened by a  specialist. If  you go off gluten entirely before having a test done, your  results may  come back negative even if you have the disease.

Celiac disease has hundreds of recognized symptoms, according to the  Celiac  Sprue Association, a nonprofit for those with the disease. Here  are some common  problems:

• Chronic diarrhea or constipation
• Abdominal pain and bloating
• Unexplained weight loss
• Anemia
• Fatigue
• Infertility

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6 Reasons to Go Wheat-Free (At Least For a Bit)

6 Reasons to Go Wheat-Free (At Least For a Bit)

By Sara Novak, Planet Green

Food trends come and go. One moment we’re shunning fats and the next we’re drinking flax oil down by the spoonful. One moment carbs are low fat and the next we’re removing the bun from our burger. It’s rather hard to keep up. But then there are some diets that seem to have a little more traction, and more importantly, have motivations beyond just weight loss.

Just today a Facebook friend proclaimed that she had gone wheat-free for a month and had never felt better. Last week in a yoga class the girl one mat over explained that since giving up gluten she felt the weight of depression lift. While there have yet to be enough studies to back up such claims, holistic practitioners say it’s a diet that’s working in a big way.

Why are we giving up wheat? What are the benefits?

1. Celiac Disease

This is by far the most studied reaction to wheat. Wheat has gluten in it and those with Celiac Disease have a severe intolerance to gluten. Much of the early popularity stemmed from doctors beginning to diagnose Celiac Disease, an illness that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients in the body. Celiac Disease affects 1 out of 133 people and even still 97 percent of people with Celiac Disease go undiagnosed, according to Eco Salon.

2. Tiredness or Feeling Groggy

Many people give up wheat because they think it makes them feel tired. Many alternative health practitioners believe that wheat can create an imbalance in the minerals of the body which can create a deficiency of magnesium that results in tiredness.

3. Cave Men Didn’t Eat It

We didn’t always have wheat and that may point to why intolerance is so widespread.

“You have to remember that Stone Age man didn’t eat wheat,” Dr Nick Avery, a former GP who now runs the Centre for the Study of Complementary Medicine and is the consultant for Boots on homeopathy told The Independent. “It was introduced only 10,000 years ago with the cultivation of crops. Which is relatively recent compared to the diet of millions of years ago, for which our bodies are better adapted – nuts, berries, fruits. We overdose on wheat and end up eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner – toast, sandwiches, a pizza. It’s too much.”

4. Weight Loss

You knew I would include this one and I’ll tell you why. Wheat can cause fluid retention in the body which results in weight gain. By giving up wheat, you’re able to reduce puffiness and lose a few pounds, nothing too drastic. Other weight loss may come from having a smaller range of foods that you can eat.

5. Avoid Bleach and Preservatives

If it’s processed, often times wheat is refined with bleach, preservatives, conditioners, and a host of other additives. Even when wheat says that it’s “whole” it’s often processed, with many nutrients and fiber especially, stripped away.

6. Depression

Depression can be triggered by wheat intolerance. Lucretius said, “One man’s food is another man’s poison.” Mark Hyman, MD of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, said this to Elle Magazine:

The culprit and cure for most psychiatric disorders lies in the gut, Hyman says. Allergies and toxins in food, the environment, and drugs damage it, causing it to become inflamed and to “leak,” allowing undigested food and bacteria to slip into our bloodstreams. This leads to autoimmune disorders, malnutrition, and brain damage. To heal, he recommends taking supplements, discontinuing nonessential drugs, and embarking on an abstemious diet often called the gluten-free, casein-free diet (or GFCF), which eliminates all foods containing wheat or dairy

Maybe going wheat-free isn’t for you but making dietary changes can have a big impact on the way you feel from day to day.

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Common Ground: The Most Practical Meat to Eat

Common Ground: The Most Practical Meat to Eat

by Eric Steinman

Ground meat has gotten a bad rap of late, and deservedly so. With reports about “pink slime” dominating the headlines, along with the various pathogen outbreaks from ground beef contaminations, and the fact that a single pound of conventional ground meat is barely traceable back to its source (likely originating from 100+ animals spread over six different states), there is substantial reason to avoid the stuff (even if you are not a vegetarian or vegan). However, for the intrepid meat eater who is not deterred by such findings, ground meat is one of the most inexpensive, flexible, and a more ecologically wise choice than those more pricey cuts of meat.

This is at least the opinion of Brian Halweil, the editor of Edible East End and publisher of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn (and a colleague of mine) along with Danielle Nierenberg, the director of Nourishing the Planet. Both co-authored a recent New York Times opinion piece on the subject of ground meat being the “kindest cut” of meat available. The logic behind this argument is, once an animal is butchered and the popular cuts like steaks, chops and roasts are utilized, the rest of the meat is ground — 26 percent of a hog, 38 percent of a beef cow, 41 percent of dairy cows and 46 percent of lambs (science has yet to figure out how to breed a cow that is comprised of only filet mignon). Because such a high percentage of what is left over can only be ground for consumption, eating ground meat becomes a more cost efficient and practical way to consume the whole animal. As the article states, “In the same way that nose-to-tail butchery can save a household money, buying ground meat can encourage small-scale, diversified livestock farming, since it helps supplement income from the pricier cuts.”

But what about all of the pathogens, pink slime, and health risks that are associated with ground meat? Well, if you purchase and consume conventional feedlot ground meat, you are taking your chances and decidedly contributing to all of the problems that go hand-in-hand with feedlots, the mistreatment of animals, etc. However if you purchase grass-fed, local, and/or organic meat from a small (or environmentally and ethically responsible) producer, you are more likely to be consuming a safer and higher quality product (albeit a bit more expensive one as well). Still, eating meat is not for everyone (nor should it be) and the production, and harvesting of animals remains the most energy- and resource-intensive ingredient in our national diet. So if you have to have that meat fix, you are better off not paying top dollar for some top round trucked in from who knows where, and instead, source out some ethically- and environmentally-raised ground meat that utilizes the entirety of the animal.

If you are not a vegan or vegetarian and actually have a taste for meat (and are not boiling mad at this point) do you think you could be convinced to drop the steak and go ground? Is the low cost nature of ground meat unappealing to you?

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7 Negative Effects of Refined Flour

7 Negative Effects of Refined Flour

By Catherine Guthrie, Experience Life

Flour is hard to sidestep come mealtime. Breakfast brims with toast, bagels, cereal, pancakes. Lunch is built around sandwiches, wraps, pasta, pizza. And dinner may come with its very own breadbasket.

Flours are produced by crushing grains into fine powders. And those powders form the basis not just for breads and buns, but for a huge variety of processed foods, from cereals, crackers and pizza dough to cookies, cakes and ice cream cones. As a result, the average American now eats 10 servings of refined grains each day.

As our national appetite for flour has inched up, so has the incidence of diet-related ills, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Coincidence? Many nutrition experts don’t think so. When they weigh the evidence linking food choices and disease, they see the white, dusty fingerprints of flour everywhere.

“Now that trans fats are largely out of the food supply,” says David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital Boston, “refined carbohydrates, including refined grain products, are the single most harmful influence in the American diet today.”

Flour started out as an ingenious fix to a vexing problem. Grass seeds were plentiful, but the tough outer shell (the husk) made the seeds difficult to chew and digest. Early humans outsmarted the seeds by grinding them between stones, crushing the outer layers to get at the goodness inside. The result — a coarse powder — was the first whole-grain flour.

The downside was spoilage. Crushing the germ released its oils, which quickly turned rancid when exposed to air. With the advent of industrial milling in the late 1800s, machines began filtering out the germ and pulverized the remaining endosperm into a fine, white powder that lasted on the shelf for months. And so all-purpose white flour was born — along with a host of health problems.

Beneath their rigid architecture, whole-kernel grains conceal an array of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. But when machines pulverize kernels into flour, even whole-grain flour, what’s left behind is a starchy powder capable of wreaking havoc on the body.

The White Menace

Flour, as opposed to whole-kernel grains, is easy to overconsume  because  most flour-based foods require little chewing and go down rather  quickly. “It  is so much easier to overconsume any food where the work  of chewing or  digesting or separating fiber from starch has been done  for us,” says  functional nutritionist Julie Starkel, MS, MBA, RD.

Overconsuming flour can lead to a number of problems in the body,  including:

Blood-Sugar Blues. Smashing a whole-kernel grain to   smithereens means it digests faster. Rapid-fire digestion causes blood  sugar to  spike, which causes a rise in insulin. The result? Not only are  you hungry two  hours later, but you are also paving the way for insulin  resistance and  diabetes. “The difference between a whole-kernel grain  and a processed grain  all boils down to the glycemic index, which is how  quickly the body turns food  into fuel, or glucose,” says Gerard Mullin,  MD, FACN, director of integrative  gastroenterology nutrition at Johns  Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md., and  coauthor of The  Inside Tract: Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health (Rodale,  2011). Foods made with wheat flour are particularly damaging. A  carbohydrate in  wheat, called amylopectin A, is more easily converted  to blood sugar than just  about any other carbohydrate. Two slices of  bread made with whole-wheat flour  raise blood sugar higher than six  teaspoons of table sugar and higher than many  candy bars.

“If we were evil scientists and we said, ‘Let’s make the most perfect   poison,’ it would be wheat,” says preventive cardiologist William  Davis, MD.  (For more on why Davis advises against  eating any kind of  wheat —  including even whole-kernel grains — check out his book, Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find Your Path  Back to Health (Rodale, 2011).)

Inflammation. A diet high in grains stokes inflammation.   When blood sugar spikes, glucose builds up  in the blood like so many   standby passengers on a flight. When glucose loiters  in the blood, it   gets into trouble by attaching itself to nearby proteins. The  result is a   chemical reaction called glycation, a pro-inflammatory process  that   plays a role in a host of inflammatory diseases — everything from    cataracts to arthritis to heart disease.

Food Cravings. Over the past 50 years, the amber  waves of  grain our grandparents enjoyed have been replaced with modern,  high-yield dwarf  strains of wheat that produce more seeds and grow  faster. The result is a  dietary wild card, says Davis: “Agricultural  geneticists never asked if these  new strains of wheat were suitable for  human consumption. Their safety has  never been tested.” One of the  biggest changes in modern wheat is that it  contains a modified form of  gliadin, a protein found in wheat gluten. Gliadin  unleashes a feel-good  effect in the brain by morphing into a substance that  crosses the  blood-brain barrier and binds onto the brain’s opiate receptors.   “Gliadin is a very mind-active compound that increases people’s  appetites,”  says Davis. “People on average eat 400 more calories a day  when eating wheat,  thanks to the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin.”

Metabolic Slowdown. Research shows that the body may  shift  nutrients into fat storage and away from muscle burning in the  presence of  high-glycemic-index foods. In 2004, Ludwig and his  colleagues at Harvard  conducted a study, published in the journal Lancet,  in which they fed  rats diets with identical nutrients, except for the  type of starch. By the end  of the study, rats in both groups weighed  roughly the same, but those eating a  high-glycemic diet had 71 percent  more fat than the low-glycemic-index  group.

GI Disorders. Studies show that the lectins in  grains  inflame the lining of the gut and create fissures between cells.  Also, when  whole-kernel grains are refined, 80 percent of the fiber is  lost, and gut  health suffers. “Without the fiber, you end up with  rapid-release carbs in  these grains, which is a bad thing for the gut,”  says Kathie Swift, MS, RD,  coauthor (with Mullin) of The Inside Tract. Plus, fiber helps sweep the  gut of debris and supports the body’s  critically important elimination and  detoxification processes, which  also play a role in keeping high cholesterol  and inflammation at bay.

Food Allergies/Intolerances. Wheat, in particular,  is one  of the biggest dietary triggers of food allergies and  intolerances. While the  exact reason is unclear, many experts blame the  higher gluten content of modern  wheat varieties. A type of protein found  in many grains, including wheat,  gluten gives dough elasticity,  trapping air bubbles and creating a soft  texture. Because soft is  considered desirable, wheat today is bred to have more  gluten than ever  before.

Acid-Alkaline Imbalance. The  body has an elaborate  system of checks and balances to keep its pH  level at a steady 7.4. A  diet  high in acidic foods, such as grains,  forces the body to pull  calcium from the  bones to keep things on an  even keel. When researchers  looked at how the diets  of more than 500  women affected their bone  density, they found that a diet  high in  refined grains, among other  nutrient-poor foods, was linked to bone   loss. A highly acidic diet also  chips away at our cellular vitality  and immunity in ways that can  make  us vulnerable to chronic disease. “Grains  are the only plant  foods that  generate acidic byproducts,” says Davis. “Wheat,  in  particular, is among  the most potent sources of sulfuric acid, a  powerful  substance that  quickly overcomes the neutralizing effects of  alkaline  bases.”

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