5 Myths About Grains

April 5, 2012 at 17:50

Little Miss Sicky Poo

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There is a brilliant marketing campaign that has been going on in this country for quite a while that focuses on “Whole Grains”.   Every time I hear a commercial or read an article with this phrase coupled with “healthy diet” I want to jump out of my skin and scream “liar liar pants on fire!” There is so much mounting evidence that grains are one of the biggest underlying issues for our declining health as a nation.  But unfortunately many listen to conventional wisdom and suffer the consequences in the form of modern disease.

Common Myths About Grains:
The propaganda that abounds about grains has saturated our culture.  There are so many reasons for us to believe that we should be consuming copious amounts of grain in an effort to maintain good health.  After all, we are bombarded with these messages all the time.  Let’s examine a few of them:

  • Grains are the foundation of the Standard American Diet (SAD), so they must be good for you, right?
    I don’t know about you, but I don’t find the government to be the most trustworthy source.  This supposed “gold standard” for healthy eating promotes a diet that is low-fat, low calorie and consists almost entirely of carbohydrates.  There are so many things wrong with this picture I don’t even know where to start.  For one thing, low-fat can be a danger in itself because humans need fat to maintain proper brain function and in order to absorb nutrients from the food that they eat.  The human body cannot survive without it.  In contrast, the human body CAN survive and thrive without grains, however, the Standard American Diet places an emphasis on them.  When you eat grains (carbohydrates), they get converted into sugar in your bloodstream.  Carbohydrates = sugar.  High blood sugar is toxic so your body produces insulin to bring it down again.  The insulin removes the sugar from the blood and stores it in your cells as fat.  At the end of this process, you are left feeling hungry again because of the drop in insulin levels, creating a vicious cycle and a potential pattern of overeating.  My recommendation is to ignore the government’s recommendation.
  • You won’t get enough fiber without whole grains
    You know that commercial with the couple standing in the kitchen and the wife is trying to get her husband to eat a whole grain snack bar?  She says “You need the fiber” and he say “but fiber makes me sad”.  Well, that commercial makes me sad.  Because the truth is that any fiber that you need can be obtained from fruits and vegetables.  You don’t need fiber from whole grain.  Here’s the deal, insoluble fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system.  It helps relieve constipation and irregular stools.  The funny thing is, that eating whole grains causes intestinal and digestive stress such as IBS and colitis, so it would appear to me that perhaps you would be better off passing stool without it
  • Grains are necessary for a healthy diet
    Any study that you read that talks about the necessity of whole grains is comparing the health of whole grain eaters to refined grain eaters.  They are not talking about a comparison between whole grain eaters and people that abstain from grains all together.  Big difference!  The idea that grains are necessary for a healthy diet presumes that grains have vitamins and minerals that cannot be obtained from other sources.  But the truth is that grains cannot even come close to stacking up to the vitamin and mineral content of meat and vegetables.  Grains only became part of the human diet about 10,000 years ago which is a relatively short period of time when compared to the million plus years that humans have been on this planet.  Genetically modern humans are virtually the same as our ancestors.   There is evidence that the introduction of grains ushered in infectious disease, malnutrition and weakened teeth and bone structure.  I think this forms a compelling argument that not only are grains not necessary but they are detrimental to human health.  Personally, my health improved when I ditched grains and it keeps getting better every day.
  • Grains are rich in carbohydrates which the body requires for energy
    I’ve done strength training for most of my adult life so I’ve heard this a million times.  When I decided to go primal, I wondered how it would impact my work outs.  As I learned more about the primal diet, I was surprised to discover that carbohydrates are not the body’s preferred source of fuel.  It is actually fat or what is often referred to as keytones.  The body can and will, however, use carbohydrates as fuel if for instance, you’ve just eaten a big plate of pasta.  But this is done out of necessity and survival so that the body does not go into shock from the excess of sugar in the bloodstream.  When I made the switch, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had more energy during my workouts than when I was eating grains.  Here’s a great study that talks about the body’s use of fat for fuel.
  • Not all people are negatively impacted by eating grains
    I’ve heard a lot of people make this claim about themselves.  To those people, I say, go grain free for a month and tell me how you feel.  My husband begrudgingly came along for the grain free, primal ride with me when I first began this journey.  I told him, “Just do it for a month.  If you don’t like it then go back to eating the way you normally do.”  He dropped about 12 lbs. of fat in that month and noticed that he was not feeling shaky and nauseous between meals anymore.  He was no longer having issues with blood sugar and he felt like he had more sustained energy throughout the day.  So as the saying goes “you don’t know what you got until its gone.” Maybe you don’t realize that you could be feeling better or that you aren’t as healthy as you could be.  I agree that there are varying degrees of how people are affected, but I’m not sure that I believe that some people are simply impervious to the dangers of grains in their diet.

This is just a sampling of some of the propaganda that we are “fed” about whole grains and grains in general.  The fact of the matter is that these arguments just don’t hold water when you look at the evidence. Every person that I know that has ever made the decision to go grain free has watched their health issues diminish or disappear.  If seeing is believing and you’re on the fence, try it.  I bet you’ll be a believer!

 

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