Every Friday, I’ll answer the best questions I received during the week. And since I got a grand total of two questions this week, they’re both getting answered.


“What do you think about bread? Udi’s bread, other gluten-free paleo breads, and regular bread?”


Disclaimer: I am not a gluten researcher, and only have a barely unique viewpoint on this topic. If you have celiac disease or feel sensitive to gluten, don’t eat regular bread duh.


Melissa McEwen has some of the easiest to read but scientifically accurate posts on the subject, like this one about wheat sensitivity in those without celiac disease. I’m not going to dissect studies at the moment, I’m just going to type some shit.

Did you know that different people can have wildly different gunk inside their intestines? And people can also produce different levels of digestive enzymes? Not very hard to believe. Then why, pray tell, do some elitist dummies look down at you for eating things that  they refuse to eat ? My ancestors started eating wheat about 8,500 years ago, while Brits got wheat about 5,000 years ago. I get no acute symptoms from eating bread, while a friend of mine gets a tummy ache every single time. Yet I am cognizant of the things wheat may be doing in my gut that impact my long-term health. I don’t want a leaky gut, I don’t want unwanted bacteria to flourish in my intestine, I don’t want to increase my odds of autoimmune disease.

So if something is bad for you, what’s a guy or gal to do? Well, you can totally avoid it. And that is a fine choice, since there are many other delicious foods to eat. Or if you have never had symptoms from eating wheat and don’t feel any different going gluten-free for a trial period, just don’t eat it very often. There are few axioms more true than  “the dose makes the poison” . While some people would have you believe that a single piece of bread will destroy your gut lining for several weeks, those people should read the methods sections in papers a little more closely. The majority of  guts are at least a little bit resilient , even while being not at all optimal.

Oh right, the original question…what’s good about bread? Well I’m glad you asked! Bread is a great vehicle for pastured butter. It also sops up juices, and makes for a great French Toast. I like veggies sauteed in butter or ghee, but I truly love a thick slab of butter on a piece of bread. Because of vague premonitions, I eat the veggies a few times a week and the bread very rarely. But the rarity just makes it that much nicer! And of course sourdough bread may lessen the toxin load of bread, and it’s also specially delicious. A whole-foods based diet with occasional bread is  miles away from a diet based on packaged foods  with scary ingredients, and if you occasionally make your own bread (gluten-y or paleo-y), all the better. I remember watching old cartoons when I was a kid, and the characters would eat simple and hearty meals of roasted meat, potatoes, a little homemade bread and home-churned butter, and veggie soup. That doesn’t seem to be a recipe for early death to me.


I guess this makes a statement, or something

In addition, I wholeheartedly support   “paleo frankenfoods”  for those that can eat them without getting gluttony (not gluteny). Whole9 wrote an article called “Sex With Your Pants On” about not eating such foods during a Whole30. Great, excellent, very very good. Whole30 is about strictness, makes for a great baseline, and reliably leads to weight loss. But for someone who has been experimenting with foods and nutrients for a while, sex with your pants on (aka paleo-izing pizza or dessert) is more like  sex with a condom . It’s not really that bad, and it can be decent for long term health. Maybe even better than celibacy! Most of my diet is comprised of whole foods, but I love food too much to not take advantage of deep dish pizza while in Chicago, or a gluten-free pizza of my own creation. Heck, I’m moderately lactose intolerant like many Indians, and I certainly never shy away from quality ice cream.


[quote type=”center”]Is it bad to get too many MRIs? It makes me nervous, but the doctor said it’s totally safe.[/quote]


Long story short, MRIs can be bad, but not because of radiation. The emissions from MRIs, unlike from CT or x-ray, are non-ionizing.  One minor thing: if you get too many contrast MRIs, then you might want to be careful due to kidney issues. But let me tell you the story of  thousands of unnamed Americans . They get an MRI, the MRI shows something moderately or just a little bit bad, and they have surgery. Something happens during the surgery (infection? surgical error?) or during recovery (car accident due to wonky arm? slipped on ice?) or during post-recovery (re-injured body part but worse? addicted to pain meds?). The number of people who fall into this category is very hard to calculate, because the numbers are not systematically collected. I’ve had bad stuff happen during surgery, so maybe I’m a bit biased, but oh well.

So what’s a person to do? Well, if the MRI is for an orthopedic reason, take a while to do the best darn physical therapy with the best darn diet you can do, and then consider having surgery only if you gave it your all. And if you’re a  scientifically curious sort , “your all” can mean more than just PT, it can mean therapies such as prolotherapy, acupuncture, trigger point injections, natural anti-inflammatories, and many more things that we’ll cover on PainDatabase.

I’ve had enough MRIs now (almost 20!) to also consider one last factor: I’m costing the medical system way too much money. I didn’t care about that kind of stuff before, but I do care a tiny bit now, even if the health care system in the US is kinda shitty. MRIs are important for the diagnosis of some problems (like wonky knees) but suck at explaining other problems (like low back pain).

Until next time! If you have any questions, please do submit them here. If I don’t get any questions, I might have to put up an alternate post next Friday. Like videotape myself rapping about chronic pain. “My name is Kamal and I’m here to SAY…chronic pain sucks in a major WAY!” And you don’t want that, trust me.

1 Comment

  1. I believe for me in the “rain barrel” concept as far as gluten is concerned. I had the blood test and the results were clear per my gastroenterologist: gluten is fine for me…but if I ate too much gluten then my IBS was worse and I bloated up nicely, looked 6 months pregnant as opposed to my usual 4 months pregnant. So I basically skipped gluten for a year and a half in “big time” ways, as in no foods that were wheat/rye/barley based, but if a purchased food had soy in it or food starch, then I ate it and had no perceivable symptoms. Now I am at the point where I can eat a small serving of wheat, and I mean small, and have no symptoms. And it is enough. I have lost my craving for chunky Italian bread, etc, but one piece of a scallion pancake is a nice treat when we eat out. I think in the beginning that my “rain barrel” was full; my gut could take very very little gluten, but it got a chance to rest and I am better for it. My first diagnosis from my rheumatologist was “leaky gut” and that makes sense to me; so funny to me that when I saw a gastroenterologist about my dead gall bladder that he had no idea what a leaky gut was.
    MRI’s are a chance for me to have a guilt free ativan experience. I have come to the point where I pretty much know that they will show tendonitis…basically I have tendonitis all over, but there is always the “flavor of the month” as in that particular area wherein the pain is so much worse with even visual signs of bulging tendons. And too often they show incidental findings that medical folk want to much about with and I choose to ignore.


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