There is a lot of hype around grains. And it’s really just that: hype. We’ve been told for decades that grains, especially whole grains, provide necessary fiber, nutrients, and should be a big part of a healthy diet. In fact, when you say the phrase “whole grains” to most people, the word that likely comes to their mind is “healthy.”
I’m going to tell you why that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Let’s start with a little explanation of the makeup of grains. Grains can’t defend themselves against predators (not like a stalk of wheat can run away from us when we decide to eat it). So in order to defend themselves, they developed mechanisms- non-digestable proteins- to allow them to pass un-harmed through the intestines of animals and emerge as fertilizer on the other end. Think about it: no grain or seed wants to be digested… this would defeat it’s purpose. Unfortunately, these defense mechanisms are good for the grains, and bad for those injesting them. Grains contain defense mechanism toxins that:
- damage the lining of the gut
- bind essential minerals making them unavailable to the body
- inhibit digestion and absorption of essential nutrients, including protein
There are three components of grains that make them poisonous to us: lectins, gluten, and phytate. Let’s look at them a little more closely:
Lectins are bad. Really bad. They bind to the intestinal lining, bind to insulin receptors, and contribute to leptin resistance. Leptin resistance contributes to the worsening of metabolic syndrome independent of obesity. Not good news. Lectins are not broken down in the digestive process and when they bind to receptors in the intestine, they and other food particles leach into your bloodstream. I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about the idea of undigested food in my bloodstream. The body views these lectins (and the food they tote along with them) as a threat and it initiates an immune response, which can explain why grains have such high allergy creating potential.
What’s worse than lectins? Gluten. Gluten is comprised of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. Gluten ravages the guts and health of Celiacs, people who are completely intolerant of any gluten. It’s scary stuff. Also scary is the study that showed 29% of non-celiac people tested positive for anti-gliadin IgA in their stool. Anti-gliadin IgA is an antibody produced in our gut; it hangs out there until the body releases it to ward off gliadin. This means that the only reason that anti-gliadin IgA would end up in your stool is because your body saw gluten as a threat. If gluten posed no threat, the anti-gliadin IgA would remain in your gut lining.
In short, gluten damages the gut and makes it leaky. Researchers now believe that leaky gut is one of the major predisposing factors to obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune disease. The latest research shows that 1 in 3 Americans are gluten intolerant, and 8 out of 10 have the genes that genes that predispose them to developing gluten intolerance. We are a nation where the number one source of calories is refined flour. No wonder we are in the midst of a health catastrophe.
Phytates are a major problem as well. Phytates make minerals bio-unavailable, so all those vitamins and minerals in those “healthy whole grains” aren’t being absorbed by the body, let alone the other vitamins and minerals from otherwise healthy foods. Some of the phytate can be reduced by preparing grains according to traditional methods, like fermenting and sprouting, and while these methods may reduce the phytic acid levels of grains, they do not remove the gluten.
Is there a reason for anyone with access to fruit, vegetables, and meat to eat grains for nutrition? Absolutely not. Are grains a major contributor to the epidemics of insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, and obesity? You betcha. The corresponding rates of weight gain and disease with grain consumption over the last century are more than enough to convince me. Need more? Consider this: when ground into flour, the surface area of a grain is increased to 10,000 times the surface area of the grain itself. The resulting high-starch food is biologically similar to pure table sugar. Even worse (is that possible?) is that flour is often mixed with sugar to create recipes that are akin to a diabetic coma.
Grains are not healthy, and they are toxic to the body. They increase your risk of cancer (especially pancreatic, colon, stomach and lymphoma). They contribute to allergies, infertility, diabetes, obesity. They play a major role arthritis and autoimmune diseases. They have been linked to autism, depression, and anxiety. Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains (unless you are gluten intolerant, the occasional pizza and beer night is good for the soul, even if it’s hell on your gut).
Do you want to lose weight, sleep better, feel more energetic, have clear skin? Give it a try. Give it 30 days. 60 days. 90 days. You might just discover (like I did) that you look and feel better than you ever have and you just don’t even want grains anymore.
Sources, and additional reading:
Your Leaky Gut May Be Caused By Excessive Grain Consumption
Why Grains are Unhealthy
9 Steps to Perfect Health – #1: Don’t Eat Toxins
The Dietary Intake of Wheat and Other Cereal Grains and their Role in Inflammation
How Grains are Killing You Slowly