Avoiding Grains Part 1

By Paleo
In Learn About Paleo
Aug 28th, 2010


As humans, we didn’t adapt to eat grains, we also didn’t adapt to consume dairy and processed sugars. However looking at our diet they are one of the most consumed foods, with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and meat being far less consumed; and these are the foods which we have been evolved to eat and should be eating. Grains are so cheap to make and are sold in bulk to many billions of people and incidentally, the average person worldwide has become fatter and un-healthier since their overrated introduction to society.

Although grains contain protein, carbohydrates and some vitamins and minerals, which will on the outside, make grains seem like a brilliant food source, grains also contain what are called antinutrients, lectins and gluten, all which have negative traits.

Antinutrients are pretty much how the word sounds, ANTI nutrients. The main antinutrient found in grains is called Phytates, which bind to vitamins, minerals and enzymes to make them unavailable to the body. The main minerals Phytates target include calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, which interestingly are also the main minerals found in grains itself, preventing full absorption of the nutrients present along with taking them out of the body to later cause, with consistent consumption of grains, possible nutrient deficiency in those areas and/or more.

Phytates will also attack enzymes which are needed for digestion and other bodily functions and will assist in inhibiting protein digestion.

Antinutrients are also found in legumes, nuts and seeds, and even eggs contain an antinutrient called avidin; however you’d need to consume a drastically high amount of raw eggs to get enough avidin to start causing negative effects on the body. Nuts and seeds are a food source that are good for us, as they contain good traces of fatty acids and protein, so we don’t want to stop eating them because they contain antinutrients; what we can do to reduce the amount of antinutrients is to soak them in water, this is quite beneficial as this process will not only reduce the antinutrients, but will also improve the nut/seeds digestibility, so we end up getting more of the good stuff! If you don’t have the chance to soak your nuts, just be moderate in the amount that you eat.

The process of soaking grains and legumes is used a lot in traditional societies and cultures, and is one reason why those people don’t seem to obtain the same health problems as in the Eastern culture.

Traditional Indian, African, Ethiopian and Latin American cultures prepare their food with great care by sprouting (consistent soaking until a sprouted stem appears), soaking (in water or sour milk) and/or fermenting their legumes, grains and nuts before eating. They will soak these foods for several days or sometimes up to weeks before they are prepared into a meal, this process dramatically reduces antinutrients and leaves them containing more nutritional value, however there will always still be some antinutrients left in the grain, and there are also other factors of grains we need to take into consideration that cause negative effects in the body, such as lectins and gluten.

Lectins and gluten are both types of protein and can be categorised in the same family. However each has its own dangers.

It’s important to know that lectins (which are also found in legumes, peanuts and soy beans) are resistant to cooking and our digestive enzymes, so it’s a hard task to try and stop them from doing their nasty work in the body. Lectins have been linked to inflammatory problems as well as digestive diseases; leaky gut syndrome becoming one of the larger problems in society at the moment, which is then linked to autoimmune diseases (in which the body attacks itself). The reason lectins have such an intense effect on our digestive system and cause leaky gut syndrome is because lectins dramatically damage the gut defenses (as well as going on beyond the gut to damage joints and our skin complexion) called microvilli which line the small intestine and help to digest and transport food particles into the blood stream and the lymph system. When leaky gut syndrome has set in, the damage done to the microvilli has become excessive and has made the absorption of fats, vitamins and minerals extremely hard to digest.

Most people have heard of celiac disease; celiac disease is when a person has gluten intolerance. Although not everyone gets celiac, it’s important to note that across all species of animals tested (including humans), grains have shown to cause gut irritation. It’s also important to note that you may think that the grains you are consuming are doing you little damage, despite the somewhat in-depth information provided above, but the negative side-effects/allergic reaction of grains aren’t always something you will notice quickly, the damage done from grains is a slow process that is generally only found out about when it’s all too late. The majority of celiac disease suffers will only find out about their allergy once they have become noticeably sick and decide to get tested.

5 Responses to “Avoiding Grains Part 1”

  1. Ray Burton says:

    Great stuff. Went plant based a year ago and added oatmeal back in a couple weeks ago. Found myself getting soft so started looking into the grains issue. Thanks.

  2. Aaron says:

    All foods have their pluses and minuses.

    Meat also has its dangers, especially when overcooked (99% of people overcook their meat, including paleo)

    Nuts have missing protein profile and almost all of them are acidic (except for almonds which are alkaline but need to be soaked and dried to activate enzyms)

    so basically no food is perfect 😉

  3. Ashley says:

    Thank you for this article, I would like to feature it on my blog. :)

    On top of the said reasons, I choose not to eat grains because of the effect they have on me and I can feel it’s wrath every time.
    Silly me I ate rice today for no good reason than to cause myself pain.. Ugh :S Not good, and I’m really disappointed in my self.

  4. Ellie says:

    Biblically, grains are noted for consumption for some truly long living folks. Mark 2:23-26 addresses the disciples eating of grain through David and priests consuming bread. My note is not intended to be antagonistic at all. I’m just researching health and am always concerned with a full elimination of an entire food group (s).
    Where can I go to review the studies for your article?

    • Paleo says:

      Few things you could look into..

      Grains where prepared significantly different thousands of years ago. They where not processed the way they are today.
      Additionally, in early civilization, skeletons have shown to suddenly have faced problems, growth problems and weakness, the only link that can be found to date is the harvesting of grain around the same time.

      Eating grains does not make people die instantly, if it did, symptoms would be clearly regonised. However it is the slow impact on the body gluten and other aspects of grains that begin causing long term problems.

      Also, important to know that diet is not the only thing you should look at when wanting to be healthy. Lifestyle is a significant part of good health. Being happy in your environment having proper sleep, etc. Many people can eat terrible food and live an otherwise healthy life. The reason is because there is more to health than diet, but simply because one person can eat grain for 90years and have perfect health, does not mean grains are healthy and do not cause damage.

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