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Against The Grain: 10 Reasons to Give Up Grains

Imagine a world where heart disease, diabetes, autoimmunity and other modern diseases are rare or don’t exist at all. Imagine we are naturally lean and fit and we are fertile throughout our childbearing years. We sleep peacefully and deeply. We age gracefully without degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis.

 

This sounds like pure fantasy today, however, anthropological evidence suggests that this is exactly how human beings lived for the vast majority of our evolutionary history. Today, most people accept diseases like obesity, diabetes, infertility, and Alzheimers as normal. They may be common, but they are anything but normal. What on Earth has caused this?

 

In a word? The modern lifestyle. And though there are several aspects of our current lifestyle that contribute to disease, the widespread consumption of food toxins is by far the greatest offender. Specifically, the following four dietary toxins are to blame:

▪   Cereal grains (especially refined flour)

▪   Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)

▪   Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup)

▪   Processed soy (soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)

 

Now I have to admit, I love a big fluffy piece of bread as much as the next person so I will reveal to you 10 reasons that helped me in my decision to give up grains.

 1.    If you can get it from grain, you can get it elsewhere.

The big heroes of most grains nutrient profile are dietary fiber and B vitamins.   The truth is if you can find the nutrient in grain, you can find it in better quantities in other foods for example:

100 grams of whole-wheat flour – 44mcg of folate

100 grams of lamb liver will give you 400mcg of folate

100 grams of yardlong beans will give you a whopping 658mcg of folate!!

Whole grains are often praised as health foods for their fiber content but you can find dietary fiber in better quantities in other, more nutrient dense foods.

100 grams of cooked brown rice has 1.8 grams of dietary fiber

100 grams of cooked collard greens has 2.8 grams of dietary fiber

Green peas contain about 5 grams of fiber per serving.

2.   Grains are not good for your gut. (or your brain)

Intestinal health is critical to your overall health. If your gut isn’t healthy, you can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat.  If your intestines can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, your body is malnourished and is more prone to disease.

There is a very strong connection between the gut and the brain, healthy gut=healthy brain.

Grains are associated with a condition called leaky gut syndrome.  Tiny particles of grains, when ingested, can slip through the intestinal walls causing an immune response.  This causes your immune system to be excessively taxed by constantly attacking these out of place particles of grain. It can lead to autoimmune disorders, allergies and generally wreaks havoc in the body.

3.  You’re probably gluten-intolerant.

Current research estimates that about 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, an auto-immune condition related to the ingestion of gluten containing grains like wheat and barley, however some researchers on celiac disease and gluten intolerance estimate that 30% to 40% of people of European descent are gluten intolerant to some degree. That’s a lot of people who are regularly consuming a food that makes them sick.

 4.  Grains cause inflammation

(You can check inflammatory markers on www.nutritiondata.com)

Grains are inflammatory foods.  The more refined the grain, the more inflammatory it is.  Chronic inflammation is linked to a myriad of degenerative, modern diseases including arthritis, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, bone loss, emotional imbalance and even Cancer.

 

5.  Grains are fairly new on the scene

While still a traditional food, grains are the new kids on the block.  Prior to the advent of agriculture, humans relied on hunting and gathering for their foods. They gathered wild greens, berries, fruits and other plants. They hunted, and fished. So for the better part of human existence grains did not comprise any portion of the human diet.

 6. Grains aren’t good for your joints.

Due to their inflammatory nature, grains are linked to joint pain and arthritis.

Synovial tissue in the joints and grains are chemically similar, your body has difficulty differentiating between the two.

So, when your immune cells get all hot and bothered by inflammation caused by grain and begin to attack it as a foreign invader, they also begin to attack the soft tissue in your joints. That leads to pain and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and more inflammation.

Just let me add here that my joints in my thumbs were swollen and very painful 6 months ago when I was still eating grains, and now are back to normal. My knees really hurt.  When I squatted down it hurt to stand up. Now, no grains, no pain!

 7.  Poorly prepared grains prevent mineral absorption.

When grains are properly soaked and fermented, well at least there is a shot at neutralizing the phytates and making the nutrients in grains more absorbable, but most often they are improperly prepared.

 8.  Grains are bad for your teeth.

Due to those high levels of phytates in grain, grain is linked to dental decay.  Some anthropologists use the presence of tooth decay as an indicator of an agricultural society. Our pre-agricultural ancestors records indicate very little to no tooth decay. I don’t know about you, but I can very happily skip the dental work thank you.

9.  Grains aren’t good for your skin either.

Grains have a very high carbohydrate content and while they may be complex they are still broken down into sugars.  This causes elevated insulin levels that lead to a cascading hormonal response and these hormones activate the sebum-producing glands in your skin, encouraging them to produce more oil.

This insulin response is also linked with the increased production of keratinocytes, which also contribute to acne.

We all want beautiful skin, no?

10. Eating grain makes you crave grain.

Grains break down into sugar, they create a rise in insulin levels when those levels fall, you crave more grains and the vicious cycle continues…unless of course you stop it ;)

 

Of course if you’re not ready to give up grains in their entirety, take care to make sure you eat the best quality grains prepared for optimal nourishment. Choose organic grains and make sure you eat them sprouted, soaked or fermented.

I have a better idea, go on a grain free trial with me for the month of January! See what happens.

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Celia Cohen
    December 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm ·

    im in joy!!!!!!!!

    • Joy Harari
      December 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm ·

      Awesome Celia! You are giving yourself a gift!

  2. December 6, 2012 at 11:22 am ·

    I think I’d follow you anywhere, Joy. : )

    • Joy Harari
      December 6, 2012 at 6:51 pm ·

      Yes! My first Participant! love you! You won’t be sorry!!