Dangerous Grains: a review

Review fully completed July 26, 2013 🙂

Dangerous Grains by Dr. James Braly and Ron Hoggan, MA

Cover of "Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Ce...

Cover via Amazon

Book description from Amazon.com
Dangerous Grains turns the U.S. Food Guide Pyramid upside down by exposing the myriad health risks posed by gluten grains (wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and triticale). The authors, leading experts in the field of food allergies, and celiac disease, present compelling evidence that our grain-centered diet is to blame for a host of chronic illnesses. Largely misunderstood and frequently misdiagnosed, these disorders can be prevented and reversed by the useful program outlined in this important new book.

About the Author
James Braly, M.D. is regarded as a leading authority on gluten sensitivity and food allergies. During his 20 years of clinical and research experience, he helped develop, implement, and popularize food allergy testing and celiac disease screening with physicians throughout the US. Dr. Braly retired from clinical practice in 1994 and now lectures and consults throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. He also is the senior editor of the online newsletter, Dr. Braly’s Food Allergy in the News and the quarterly nutritional and herbal newsletter for independent pharmacists, Herbal Pharm Newsletter. Dr. Braly is himself gluten sensitive. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ron Hoggan, M.A. was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1994. His subsequent research on the disease and gluten grains has been published in numerous newsletters, websites, and journals and is widely recognized within the celiac community. Mr. Hoggan lectures extensively on the topic of gluten sensitivity to both the scientific and celiac communities. He lives in Alberta, Canada.

I’ve only just begun this book and unless something drastically changes, I’m going to have to write my review in several separate posts, but don’t despair–I’ll update this post to hold the entire review. I just pray it isn’t so long that no one will want to read it.

I read the Forward, Preface & Introduction and got 5ive pages of notes! Hence, the belief I need to split up the review to put it into acceptable reading segments. Happy learning!

Review of the Forward, Preface, & Introduction 🙂

In the Forward Dr. Jonathan Wright remarked, “Over the last 2-3 decades, at an accelerating pace, researchers have demonstrated that the offending proteins in wheat, rye, barley (gluten, gliadin & glutenins) can cause symptoms and sometimes entire diseases…. Remember, gluten sensitivity includes but is not limited to celiac disease. Unfortunately, medicine as conventionally practiced today, doesn’t accept the research-documented fact yet that [of gluten, gliadin, glutenins sensitivities] are often “basic” or “root” sensitivities, which can lead to the development of many other allergies and sensitivities like cancer, neurological disease, chronic pain syndromes, psychiatry and other brain disorders even though it was first found to be the case by conventional practitioners years ago.”

Did you understand that last paragraph? It took me reading it several times to sink in 🙂 Bottom line, most doctors aren’t up on the latest developments. Even though this book was written in 2002, I find it funny that some doctors (mine included) don’t believe that wheat/gluten is dangerous (10 years later) because they’re too busy to keep up on new research and when they do, I’m sure gluten sensitivity is at the bottom of their reading pile because they don’t recognize that gluten sensitivity has anything to do with anything–when the opposite research-documentedly true.Like documentedly? That’s my new word. Feel free to use it 🙂

I cannot remember how many books I’ve read lately that all pretty much say the same thing–that wheat, rye, barley are highly responsible for a great majority of our chronic illnesses. Doctors see I’m tired and test my thyroid and put me on drugs. She also sees that I have trouble with constipation and sends me to a gastroenterologist and he takes blood to test for celiac disease and says I don’t have a gluten problem when my test comes back negative. He, at least, suggested I stay away from milk and dairy.

I am so glad I’ve come across this Dangerous Grains. I’m thinking that the longer I eat wheat/gluten free, the better I’ll feel. I already have less gas, bloating, body pain, mental fog, depression, tension than I did even 6 months ago. I’m hooked, especially when I see my husband who has fought his increasing waistline for the last 30 years, losing weight and his diabetic blood glucose numbers are down almost to the non-type 2-diabetic range!

Okay, back to reviewing the book. Dr. Wright (we’re still in the Forward) seems to agree with Dr. Wangen (I still want to go to Seattle, WA to be treated by him) in his book, Healthier without Wheat, that our ancestors “ate absolutely no grains at all! Agriculture and grain-eating have been around for 1/2 percent or less of the history of humanity.” He states that “this isn’t just a theory. Archeologists and other researchers have found that gluten-grain eating originated in the Middle East and spread westward to the Mediterranean basin and on into Europe”.

Dr. Wright again agrees with Dr. Wangen that additional testing needs to be done for those with undiagnosed gluten sensitive patients. Since 1980, if Dr. Wright sees a patient with any of the 383 autoimmune diseases like lupus or adrenal problems, etc., he tests tissue transglutaminase (tTG), endomysial antibiodies (EMA), antiglandin antibodies (AGA) and IgA & IgG antibodies. (Thought I’d impress you with this un-pronouncable tests. No, really I listed them because he seems to test for more things than Dr. Wangen does at his clinic.

So, Dr. Wright suggests that if anyone suspects that gluten grains may be contributing to their symptoms or illnesses, check with a health-care provider skilled & knowledgeable in both nutritional medicine and allergies. I love this, he NAMES places we can go to obtain an “Angie’s List” for doctors!

Such practitioners are very likely to be members of:

The American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) – (800) 532-3688 – http://www.acam.org
The American Association of Neuropathic Physicians (AANP) – http://www.naturopathic.org
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) – (316) 684-5500 – http://www.aaem.com – not sure this link is all that helpful.

Yeah, now we’ve gotten to the PREFACE & Introduction 🙂

Mr. Ron Hogan, MA (co-author of this book) is a celiac and after eliminating grains, he realized how uncomfortable and chronically ill he had been for most of his life. He has learned that multiple, chronic, medical conditions that often do not respond to conventional treatments are characteristic of gluten-sensitive and food-allergic individuals.

The authors state, “gluten grains and dairy products contain morphine-like substances that affect behavior, cause learning difficulties, change emotions and moods and cause or worsen neurological diseases AND are the most common foods in our diet. These food-derived drugs even alter how our immune system works and, as a consequence, dramatically increase our risk of developing many different kinds of cancer…. If your immune system is identifying and abnormally reacting to any of the proteins found in gluten, this food poses a potential threat to your health”.

Research into human genes now (remember written in 2002) reveals that non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or immune reactions to gluten, may affect as many as 90 million Americans…. Gluten sensitivity is more common than celiac disease, yet it is sought and diagnosed even less frequently than celiac disease which is rare.

The net result of this alarming rate of undiagnosed celiac disease and gluten sensitivity people is that a large population that is chronically ill and is unresponsive to conventional therapies often desperately jumping from one doctor to another without relief.

The END — of the Introduction

Unfortunately, like with any edge-of-your-seat book, we have to stop sometime…
I will return soon to continue.
Until then, Happy July 4th 🙂


Chapters 1-6

The author, James Braly, states in the first chapter, “…gluten grains,…lack many of the nutrients we need.”

Braly also purports that since the introduction of grains into our diet, our brains are smaller, bones weaker and our stature shorter. This first chapter is about natural selection of the human race and grains. He gives reasons for our ancestors becoming agrarian, discusses genetics, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity symptoms that don’t show up until later in life; after child-bearing years so our “species” can continue. If grains/gluten were really toxic to our bodies, we humans wouldn’t live long enough to reproduce.

“Some individuals produce a liver enzyme capable of digesting gluten, many do not. For the many who lack these digestive enzymes, grains need much more processing than the foods that are common to a hunter-gatherer’s diet.”

Wait a minute. I remember being told that red meat is difficult to digest. I guess it’s the Chick-fil-A cows telling us this!

“Dairy and gluten-grain products combine to make up the top six foods we now eat. Yet, cows’ milk and wheat are two of the most commonly reported allergens in the world. With individuals genetically predisposed to food allergies and gluten sensitivities, eating these same non-ancestral, genetically incompatible foods in large quantities day in and day out, is it any wonder that so many people suffer from chronic food sensitivities?”

It seems I stopped here to look up my medicines to see if they are gluten free. Braly told a story about a man who was told to eat gluten-free and he got better for a little while, but then his health started deteriorating rapidly. It took quite a while but a doctor finally figured out that he was being glutened by his medicines. Seven out of the 11 drugs he was taking contained gluten! So, obviously I wanted to see if I might be glutened by my drugs, vitamins or supplements.

I found two web sites that list medicines and supplements (some) that are gluten free unless otherwise stated. Out of all my drugs, vitamins and supplements I found most in these two lists, but still had to do a Google search for a couple generics to see if they are gluten free. Here are the two web sites:



“Gluten grains are a leading cause of many ailments. Avoiding gluten prevents and often reverses these diseases.

Should you passively wait for the signs and symptoms to arrive before taking action?”

Braly now posits 15 questions for us to ask ourselves; now rather than later. The questions range from: Is anyone in your family diagnosed with celiac or gluten-sensitivity? anyone have type 1 diabetes? thyroid disease? eating habits? do you get bloated? severe cramping? have anxiety or depression? problems sleeping? and on….

Dangerous Grains seems to leave no stone unturned. In his questioning of family illness and eating/sleeping habits, Braly seems to say that just about all of us would fit into having possible gluten-sensitivity.

My husband keeps telling me that gluten isn’t the big, horrible scourge these doctors portray–BUT–what if it is? He’s losing weight without trying, his blood glucose numbers are down near non-diabetic numbers. Seems to me, he’s benefiting from not eating gluten.

Chapter four goes into all the possible tests for gluten sensitivity. My own doctor has done many of them, and they are either negative or normal. So, he doesn’t believe I have a gluten problem. Tell that to my body that handles stress and anxiety better and more clearly!

Braly suggests tests for genetic markers, small intestine biopsy, gluten challenge, sugar-absorption test for leaky gut, blood testing for antibodies. Oh my favorite test–rectal challenge! It involves a gluten slurry, and you don’t drink it–oh my!!!

Once you’ve been diagnosed as gluten sensitive, Dr. Braly suggests counseling. “Dietary exclusion of gluten not only involves battling the physical and psychological facets of this experience, but also requires coming to terms with the socially excluding nature of this diet.

He also suggests joining a celiac support group, bone density testing, glucose-tolerance and liver-function testing. He even has some nutrition cautions: desensitization theraphy (like being desensitized for environmental allergies), making sure you are totally gluten free and not getting “glutened” in small doses like in your soy sauce, medicines, twizzlers or Rice Krispies–yep, the blue box is a no-no. Kellogg’s now has a gluten-free YELLOW box of brown rice Rice Krispies.

Braly also warns against eating fried foods. Apparently, oil heated over and over again converts to pro-inflammatory cancer-causing substances. He suggests we include a liberal amount of omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids every day. Omega 3s are fish, flax and walnut oils. Omega 9s are found in extra virgin olive oil and Omega 6s have a limited intake from vegetable and seed oils. He also suggests we broaden our meat intake to include Bambi, buffalo, rabbit, duck, goose, pheasant, quail–oh, and don’t forget–we must eat the animal’s organs (liver, heart, pancreas and bone marrow weekly–count me OUT!

Braly is a spoil-sport. He doesn’t want us eating the same foods every day, says we’ll develop sensitivities to these new foods. I’ve heard this before. I believe I asked a nutritionist about that and so have conflicting opinions. I personally change up my most favorite grains like rice, oats, and whatever is in Sunshine Crunchy Vanilla cereal. It’s hard enough to eat gluten free without making it harder by worrying about becoming sensitive to the new stuff. I’ll take my chances. Unless, of course, Braly wants to hire a live-in cook for me–OH YEAH 🙂

Supplements are Braly’s next topic. He named magnesium, calcium, selenium, potassium, B-vitamins, possibly iron, and vitamins A, E & D.

Next, Braly discusses hidden hazards like sharing your toaster with a gluten-eater, don’t share the same butter or peanut butter container, bulk bins are not gluten-friendly because some people use the same scoop in several different bins. Oh, my head is swimming!

Please forgive how long its been before I’ve finished this review. Frankly, I forgot I hadn’t finished. There isn’t much more because Braly gets technical 😦

Chapter 7 discusses cancer. I’m not touching that with a 10-foot pole.

Chapter 8 discusses our autoimmune system.

Chapter 9 – Osteoporosis – bone density, and chromium deficiency – Vit. D. Hope you are taking Vit D already.

Chapter 10 – Brain disorders. Now anyone with depression, autism…this is the chapter for them. Braly says “disturbances of mood have long been recognized in celiac patients….One report indicates that 63% of celiac children present with aggressive, bullying, angry or irritable behavior.”
Depression has been claimed as the most common symptom of celiac disease…a gluten-free diet often improves psychological well-being.” It sure has for me! Braly also discusses gluten as it relates to attention deficit disorder, learning problems, alcoholism, schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism and multiple sclerosis. You’ll have to get the book to learn how gluten affects each of these disorders. His explanations go way outside the scope of this blog.

Oops, Chapter 10 is gluten & bowel diseases. Wait a minute. I just covered Chapter 10. Maybe it’s Chapter 11. I have no idea because I no longer have the book.  We’ll just continue as if we’re talking about Chapter 11 – gluten & Bowel Diseases.

“A majority of 85 million IBS sufferers are condemned to a life of discomfort as a result of the narrow, outdated definition of gluten sensitivity by doctors. Braly recommends IgG & IgA anti-gliadin and EMA or tTG antibody screening of all patients with IBS. (Please, if you have this test, make sure you eat gluten before-hand or the test will be negative!)

Next Chapter (whatever the number!) is about Research Theories and Treatments. If you really want to know this information, you’re going to have to buy the book. Personally, I got my copy at the library. Why pay for a book when you can just read it for free from your local library. I’m afraid libraries are going to go the same way LP records did (dinosaurs) as e-books become more and more prevalent. My own library is no longer open on Fridays or Sundays. Oops–I’ve definitely gotten off topic.

This is the end of my book review. Hope it was helpful. 🙂


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