Grains. That stuff our government recommends we eat 6-11 servings of per day: bread, pasta, cereal, rice, flour, crackers, muffins, oatmeal, corn (yes, corn is a grain not a vegetable). Try to think of a standard American meal which doesn’t include some form of grains–it ain’t easy. Everywhere we look it’s grains, grains, mother fucking grains. Without a doubt, no other food group permeates our society quite like grains. What I’m about to tell you may come as a disturbing surprise: this dietary “staple” may in fact be doing us much more harm than good. Before we dive into the problems with consuming mass quantities of grain-derived foods, let’s review what grains actually are and where they come from.
At the most basic level, grains are really just the seeds from a variety of different grasses known as cereals. Some examples of such grasses include wheat, oats, rye, barley, millet, and corn. These seeds are then taken and ground up by a mill into a fine, powdered substance (flour). This flour can be processed in a plethora of ways to generate your favorite grain products.
You may have also heard of the distinction made between refined and whole grains, with the latter being “healthier.” I remember for the longest time my only conception of the difference between the two was that whole grains are darker and refined grains were whiter. Like you might guess, the difference between the two types is based on how the seeds are processed. If you look over on the left, you’ll see a diagram of a kernel. It has three parts: 1) the bran – the outer, protective layer of the seed 2) the endosperm – the source of starch and 3) the germ – the reproductive part of the seed. Refined grain flour lacks the germ and bran, leaving just the starchy endosperm, while whole grain flour retains all parts of the seed. Now that our biology lesson is over, let’s see why they might be wreaking havoc on your health.
A fact that is crucial to understand but one that many people don’t seem to know, is that the presence of grains in the human diet is a relatively new thing. Consider that homo sapiens have been around for about 500,000 years. The inclusion of wheat and other cereal products into the human diet began with the advent of agriculture in Egypt about 10,000 years ago. Therefore, for the majority of human history, we have never eaten grains. Why is this a problem? Humans have evolved and adapted by developing enzymes, proteins, and hormones that dealt with what foods the environment could provide. Remember, grains were not part of this environment. We have now thrown ourselves a huge curveball with the sudden introduction of grains. Since evolution moves ever so slowly (our genes have changed by about 0.2% in the last 40,000 years), we have not had time to catch up to the modern grain-based cuisine. The result? Archaeologists have shown that not only have we gotten shorter and more fragile since the dawn of agriculture, and our brains have also shrunk in size. The sad and honest truth is that we have become weak, sickly versions of our ancestors.
So theory aside, why are grains unhealthy? There are really just 2 fundamental reasons.
1) Grains are pure carbohydrates.
This is far and above the most important reason to avoid grains. If you read our post on choosing your mode, then you know that carbohydrates in the diet get converted to glucose during digestion. Glucose then stimulates the release of insulin, one of the most potent fat storing hormones. So when you chow down on a loaf of bread, you tell your body to stop burning fat and to start storing it. If we are eating 6-11 servings of grains a day like the government recommends, then you can be sure that your body is continuously in a fat storing mode. Unless you’re planning to crank out back-to-back marathons every weekend, then grains really have no place in your diet.
2) Grains contain toxic anti-nutrients.
Remember grains are seeds that come from plants. These seeds are trying to survive, and therefore have devised mechanisms to evade fuckers like humans from digesting them. The seed’s plan is to get swallowed, but avoid getting crushed by digestive enzymes so it can be pooped out unscathed, landing in a nice shitty pile of fertilizer. There are a couple components of these seeds that can be harmful to humans.
Gluten: Ahhh gluten, the queen of rising dough. While this gummy, gooey substance has the power to make you orgasm mid-cinnamon roll, it can be very detrimental to your health. Celiac’s disease, or gluten intolerance, is a disorder caused by an immune reaction to a a gluten-containing protein known as a gliadin. Our bodies are actually unable to properly digest this protein and so our immune system is brought on board to try to take it down. This tends to result in severe stomach discomfort and diarrhea, among other issues. Nobody wants diarrhea. While you might think that only people with Celiac’s would have problems with gluten, there is actually a range of gluten sensitivity. Some speculate that as many as 1 in 3 show some kind of reaction to gluten. Also, keep in mind that the word gluten literally means “glue” in Latin.
Lectins and Phytates: While gluten might be the godfather of grain goblins, these guys aren’t friends either. Lectins are proteins that can bind to your intestinal lining and damage its cells. If you have too much lectin you can even get food poisoning. Phytates, or phytic acid, are anti-nutrients. What the hell are anti-nutrients you might ask? They basically bind certain minerals and other nutrients in your digestive tract and prevent you from absorbing them. So any nutrients you might have gotten from eating whole grains can be nullified by phytates. This makes the entire argument for eating whole grain products invalid.
What does this all add up to? Cut out all the grains. They are at best a minimally nutritious way to tell your body to store fat, and at worst a poison to your digestive system. Let’s keep in mind what conditions the human body was molded under. Just like diesel was found to be harmful to certain models of cars, grains are quickly being realized as the improper fuel for humans.
Say NO to grains.