What's My Deal With Grains?

01 November 2011

The paleo diet, going grain or gluten-free, and using sprouted grains are diet and lifestyle changes many of us have been hearing about, but why? Is it another bandwagon? Another weight-loss scheme? Digestive issues led me to an elimination diet, and that is when I discovered that there is a whole group of people that have gone completely grain-free. But why would a person who doesn't know of any grain sensitivities give up grains all together? For their health.

Before mass grain production, grains were often left in the fields to sprout. Sprouting increases the vitamin content, and makes food much more digestible. Years ago, the common person did not have easy access to grains, and prior to the invention of the roller mill (1872), flour was a luxury that only the wealthy could afford.

Now, most of us have half of an isle in our grocery store devoted to breads. Within those bread bags are the phytic acid containing grains. Phytic acids are mineral blockers that prevent the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. Phytic acid is found in all grains, and as the outer coatings of nuts and seeds. Sprouting breaks down these phytic acids.

Phytic acids block much needed calcium which may become a risk factor for osteoperosis. Grains also cause insulin spikes. Insulin is the process of storing nutrients and processing glucose in the bloodstream. Our bodies cannot handle the large amount carbohydrates we consume; therefore, leading to higher risks and rates of diabetes.

As if phytic acids aren't bad enough, there are other culprits to decreasing health and increasing waist lines. The more talked about villain in this story is gluten. Gluten is a water soluble protein found in wheat, barley, rye and other carbohydrates. Gluten can and does break down microvilli in the small intestine.

Lectins also join in on the spiral downward. "Lectins are problematic because they are sticky molecules that can bind to the linings of human tissue, especially intestinal cells. In so doing, they disable cells in the GI tract, keeping them from repairing and rebuilding." (Source)

Just because we don't see any immediate consequences of mass grain consumption does not mean that there are no effects. Phytic acids, gluten and lectins have been linked with the following diseases:

- Syndrome X - PCOS is in this category, which can lead to hormone imbalance and infertility
- General lack of energy

So what does a person eat that isn't filling up on grains? Lots of protein, good fats like avocados, coconut oil, and animal fats (will write about fat soon), plenty of vegetables, and fruit. Our family does still eat grains, as you can see on my menu, but not every meal has to have a grain. It was an initial struggle for me to cut grains out of my diet, but the benefits were so many that it was worth it to stick it out. Within a week of going grain-free I noticed a spike in energy, less brain fog, much easier digestion, my skin cleared up, and weight-loss was the added bonus. I am now slowly working the grains out of my children's diets.

The road to good health is a journey. Do some more research. Would you think about doing a grain-free 30 day challenge, or challenging yourself to start pulling grains off the menu one meal at a time?


Jen said...

Fantastic article. Very well written and straight forward. Thanks for the reminders as well as new tidbits!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're back to blogging again! We have been making very similar changes as well. I've been using sprouted grains for the past 2 years, but more and more I'm weaning our family off of grains. Pretty sure we'll never be 100% grain free, but it's not a regular thing in our home anymore. :)

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