For the majority of the history of mankind, grains were not cultivated or consumed in any appreciable amount. Most humans lived as hunter-gatherers.
Once civilization developed several thousand years ago and people moved closer together, the need to hunt and gather dissipated.
Many health experts believe that humans are ill adapted to grain consumption, because grains in the total scope of history have only recently been introduced into the food supply. And, unfortunately, yet now comprise a high percentage of daily caloric intake in nearly every culture around the world.
The cultivation of grains enabled civilization to thrive.
With a plentiful source of calories, humans could live in close quarters in a single location. Instead of having to devote the majority of human resources to hunting and gathering for food, labor could specialize and society could advance.
However, the cultivation of grains as focal point of nutrition has resulted in a rapid decline in human health.
The advent of civilization paralleled a reduction in average human life span, as well as a reduction in body and brain size, increases in infant mortality and infectious diseases, and the occurrence of previously unknown conditions such as osteoporosis, bone mineral disorders, and malnutrition.
In recent decades, industrialized food processing has brought escalating rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer that are strongly associated with a grain-based diet.
Grains are a cheap source of calories.
Grains are a cheap source of calories that are easily converted into glucose. If you pay close attention, they are either in or mostly comprise a great majority of our foods today.
Our bodies have not adapted to these foods as they have been only recently (relatively) introduced into the human diet.
Grains contain anti-nutrients: Lectins, Gluten, and Phytates, that cause mild to severe health disturbances when consumed, including adverse digestive, immune, and inflammatory reactions.
Lectins can cause autoimmune attacks.
Lectins are a type of protein that can bind to cell membranes. They are sugar-binding and become the “glyco” portion of glycoconjugates on the membranes.
Lectins offer a way for molecules to stick together without getting the immune system involved, which can influence cell-cell interaction.
While some lectins have health benefits, toxic lectins are the main dietary concern due to their contribution to leaky gut syndrome, whereby the intestinal walls become compromised and allow these toxic lectins, undigested waste products, to enter the bloodstream.
These lectins infiltrate healthy cells throughout the body through molecular mimicry, resulting in potential autoimmune attacks according to one’s individual vulnerabilities. These issues could manifest not only as digestive problems, but also thyroid problems, nervous system problems, and liver problems.
Health conditions initiated by leaky gut are often addressed in isolation with prescription drugs, which lessen the immediate discomfort but compromise long-term health without addressing the cause.
Gluten creates an inflammatory response in almost everyone.
Gluten is a particularly offensive form of lectin found in wheat and flour products, and elicits a mild to severe inflammatory response in nearly everyone. The best we can expect from gluten is tolerance – not an acceptable place, in my opinion.
Phytates act like fiber in the body, binding to minerals and eliminating them from the digestive tract. While moderate phytate consumption offers health benefits, excessive phytate intake, as is common with a grain-based diet or even the Paleo diet, can lead to mineral deficiencies and hindered vitamin D absorption.
Each day without grains is one day closer to health. Tweet Quote
Your best bet is to avoid grains.
There is little argument that grains should be avoided or at least severely limited from everyone’s daily food intake. With that stated, it is easier said than done because of the highly addictive capacity of grains.
My advice is to work on elimination one day at a time. Begin with elimination one day each week. Over time, progress to two days weekly and so on. Each day without grains is one day closer to health.
You might also enjoy: The Ultimate Guide to Low-Carb Diets, Backed by Science