I’ve heard this advice countless times, as I’ll bet you have, too. I’ve also witnessed many people try it (though certainly not on my advice), only to experience modest (if any) benefits that quickly come a halt. And, of course, this advice makes no sense.
“White,” of course, refers primarily to refined grain products such as breads, rolls, and bagels made with white flour, as well as sucrose table sugar. Non-white primarily refers to whole grains that are darker based on the commonly held misconception that whole grains are not just better for you, but healthy. (I’ve discussed this logical fallacy many times in my Wheat Belly books. In a nutshell, if we replace something bad–white flour products–with something less bad–whole grains–and there is an apparent health benefit, and there is: less heart disease, less diabetes, less colon cancer, then the common conclusion is that including plenty of the less harmful foods must therefore be good. This ignores the logic and the science demonstrating that removing both white and whole grain products is not only healthier, but reverses numerous health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes/reduce HbA1c, can induce remission in rheumatoid arthritis, reverses cerebellar ataxia, just to name a few examples.) It might also refer to brown sugar, i.e., sugar with molasses that is still, for all practical purposes, sugar.
Non-white grains still retain all the health destructive properties of gliadin-derived opioid peptides that drive appetite and impair emotion and brain function; the intestinal toxicity of wheat germ agglutinin; the iron-, zinc-, calcium-, and magnesium-binding effect of phytates that yield common mineral deficiencies; amylopectin A that sends blood sugar sky-high; and a multitude of proteins, such as alpha-amylase inhibitors and thioreductases that trigger allergic responses—they all remain present whether white or brown/whole grain. White flour products have less fiber and B vitamins but still contain all problematic components. And brown sugar, while it contains non-heme iron and other nutrients from molasses, still rots teeth, contributes to weight gain and diabetes, and adds to risk for cancer, heart disease, and dementia just like white sugar.
And, if you avoid all things white, what about:
- Eggs that should be eaten ad libitum (as much as you want, as often as you want) because they are rich in fats and nutrients such as vitamin D and carotenoids such as zeaxanthin.
- Cauliflower--Cauliflower is our go-to replacement for excessively starchy foods like potatoes, a wonderful and healthy way to recreate mashed potatoes, for instance, or a stir-fry replacing rice with riced cauliflower.
- Yogurt–Dairy has its problems, such as the immunogenicity of the casein beta A1 or the insulin-provoking effect of whey. But yogurt, i.e., lactate fermented milk/cream, has reduced lactose content, contains denatured (partially broken down) casein, and introduces probiotic microoganisms such as Lactobacillus. Yogurt is the least problematic form of dairy, especially when full-fat and allowed to fully ferment. Avoid white and you avoid the most benign, health-providing form of dairy.
- Zoodles–i.e., spiral-cut zucchini that we use to replace grain-based pasta. Yes, zucchini has a green outer skin, but the pulp is all white. Despite defying this no-white advice, it is wonderfully healthy, as are other vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, and radishes.
- Mushrooms–Such as white button mushrooms. Mushrooms are little powerhouses of nutrients and it would be silly and unproductive to avoid them, not to mention they introduce wonderfully earthy flavors into salads and cooking.
- Garlic–I believe we can all agree that, not only does garlic make almost everything taste more flavorful, but it also provides a wide range of healthy nutrients such as sulfur compounds that have been associated with reduced cancer risk and prebiotic fibers that cultivate healthy bowel flora.
You get the idea. Avoiding white foods is silly, unnecessary, and ineffective. It actually deprives you of many healthy nutrient sources. Avoiding white foods also continues to expose you to the harmful effects of whole grains. Eat white, eat brown, eat purple, eat red and orange—but ignore nonsensical advice that just sounds clever.