Our Educational Content is Not Meant or Intended for Medical Advice or Treatment
Recently I received a question from someone who asked me why they eat pasta and pizza without noticeable issues while they’re in Europe but have unpleasant after-effects eating grain-based meals when they’re in the US.
The answer may surprise you.
First, let’s take a look at what happens when you consume grain-based meals in the US instead of Europe.
In this article:
- The unpleasant difference
- Why fortified grains are a problem
- Healthy pasta alternatives
- Healthy pizza alternatives
- Refrain from grains
The Unpleasant Difference
People who’ve eaten meals of pasta and pizza in Europe often notice an unpleasant difference when they eat the same foods here in the US.
They feel bloated and heavy after eating a pasta or pizza meal in the US; whereas, in Europe, they don’t suffer the same effects.
Though you may believe this means eating grains in Europe is healthy, there’s a catch.
Ideally you wouldn’t be consuming bread, pasta, cereal, pizza and the like - no matter where you are. Especially if you’re on the keto diet because eating these high carbohydrate foods will bump you out of ketosis, the normal process that happens when your body doesn't have enough carbs to burn for energy. Instead, it burns fat and makes substances called ketones, which it can use for fuel.
Ketosis is the basis for a ketogenic diet. When your body adapts to burning fat and ketones for fuel, you’ll lose weight, increase your energy, and experience heightened mental clarity. Thus, when you eat grain-based foods that are high in carbohydrates, you deprive yourself of the benefits of ketosis.
But if you do decide to eat grain products, the reason you have problems immediately after eating them in the US (or in Canada or Great Britain, for that matter) is that they’re fortified with iron and B vitamins. And that’s an issue.
Why Fortified Grains Are A Problem
Why are fortified grains a problem?
Let’s take a look.
Iron accumulates in the body. Your body can eliminate only a tiny amount of iron each day; so, if you’re consuming a fairly high amount of grains, iron can build up and cause health problems because it tends to be attracted to damaged areas in the body.
For example, let’s say you’ve suffered leisons in your artery walls from the high insulin that your body produces in response to all the grain products you eat. Iron will tend to accumulate at the arterial wound sites. It’s very oxidative and will tend to effectively rust, damaging your cells and tissues, leading to aging and possibly cancer from DNA damage.
Iron also tends to accumulate in your colon and can disrupt your friendly gut bacteria, which is why you may feel heaviness in your gut after eating a grain food product in the US.
B Vitamins contained in the fortification tend to be genetically modified (GMO), especially B2 and B12.
GMO stands for genetically modified organism, and refers to plants and animals whose genetic material has been changed in ways that do not occur naturally. There is science-based evidence that GMOs can be harmful to your health, which is why I don’t recommend them.
The manufacturer or Cheerios and Grape Nuts just switched these two popular products to non-GMO grains. As a result, they’re no longer fortifying the grains they’re made out of. However, it’s still impossible to know if these products are truly free from genetically modified organisms. Why?
Because even if they’re making the B vitamins from yeast, the sugar that’s added to the yeast to start the process is made from corn that’s almost certainly genetically modified.
As well, the herbicide glyphsosate that’s used extensively on GMO crops can create problems in the digestive tract, along with creating other health issues. This is another reason why I don’t recommend consuming grains - or, for that matter, any food product that’s fortified.
So what’s the solution if you still want to enjoy pasta and pizza dishes?
Healthy Pasta Alternatives
Try using zucchini noodles, called zoodles, in place of grain-based pasta. Zoodles are keto-friendly and won’t give you digestive troubles like regular pasta can.
Here’s a simple recipe for Zucchini Spaghetti you can make.
- 3 organic zucchinis
- I jar tomato sauce with little to no sugar.
- I jar tomato sauce with little to no sugar.
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms, or desired amount to taste
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup black olives
- Chili flakes
- Parmesan cheese
Simmer the tomato sauce, and stir in mushrooms, garlic, and black olives.
While simmering the sauce, sautee the ground beef until well cooked. Add it to the sauce and stir to combine all ingredients.
Cut off the ends of the zucchini then use a vegetable peeler to shave small pieces of the zucchini. These are your noodles.
Put zucchini noodles on a plate, top with sauce, chili flakes, and Parmesan, and serve.
And then go here for more delicious recipes.
Healthy Pizza Alternatives
I developed a delicious pizza crust using cauliflower. I know, it sounds a little odd, but trust me - it’s delicious. You can get the recipe here. Then, top it with healthy ingredients like grass-fed meat, organic cheese and vegetables, low-sugar tomato sauce, or even pesto in place of the tomato sauce. If you go with pesto, try pairing it with feta cheese and vegetables for a change of taste from the traditional tomato sauce base.
Or try this recipe for my Famous Healthy Pizza:
- 2 cups finely grated cauliflower
- 2 cups shaved mozzarella cheese, plus extra for topping (I use a pre-shaved organic brand.)
- 2 large eggs
- Tomato sauce
- Pizza toppings of your choice (I like mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, and fresh basil.)
- Cheese grater
- Parchment paper (or baking sheet)
- Round pizza pan with a lip
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F. Cut parchment paper to match the size and shape of your pizza pan. Using parchment paper is the best way to prevent your crust from sticking to the baking surface.
- Finely grate your cauliflower and remove any large chunks. You want a fine, uniform texture like rice.
- Mix together cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, and two eggs until well-combined. At this point, it may not look like it could possibly turn into pizza crust, but it will bake to a thin, crunchy, flexible crust–just watch!
- Place the cauliflower mixture at the center of the parchment paper on the pizza pan. Spread the mixture thinly but evenly throughout up to the edges of the pan.
- Bake crust at 450°F for 15 minutes.
- Assemble the rest of your toppings. Place a small dollop of tomato sauce–start with less than you think you’ll need–at the center of your crust and spread it out nearly to the edge. Be conservative with the sauce–putting too much sauce was one of my mistakes when I was perfecting this recipe!
- Top the food with cheese, followed by other toppings of your choice, like fresh tomatoes, spinach, fresh herbs, zucchini, artichoke hearts, and other types of fresh veggies. I add whole, fresh basil leaves, slices of organic tomato, a few grams of mushroom, and sometimes, thinly sliced pepperoni.
- Return it to the oven and bake until the cheese is evenly melted and just beginning to turn golden on the surface.
You won’t even miss the doughy pastry crust.
Whether You’re In The US Or Europe, Refrain From Grains
Though you may feel fine after you eat grain-based food in Europe, they still can cause long-term damage to your body. Their carbohydrate content raises your blood sugar and thus your insulin too. Over time, you become susceptible to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, both of which are forms of pre-diabetes. If left unaddressed, they can result in full-blown type 2 diabetes.
A diet high in grain products also raises your risk for atheriosclerosis and its potential for heart attacks and strokes.
Instead, replace grain products with healthy, keto-friendly alternatives that will help keep you in ketosis so you gain the benefits of a ketogenic diet.
You’ll lose weight, feel more energetic, and regain your mental clarity. Doesn’t sound like a high price to pay for ditching pizza and pasta, does it?
Up Next: -
- Can I Eat Pasta on Keto?
- Low Card Diets Will Shorten Your Lifespan
- The Toxic Effects of Iron in Fortified Pasta, Bread and Cereals
Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.