I am often asked what exactly is the problem with grains? This can be a hard one to answer as it all depends; Is it the high insulin response they produce? the high carbohydrate content? the anti-nutrients they contain? well really its all of them but its important that we have a general overview of each of these topics so you can make an informed decision about whether or not including grains in your diet is the right thing for you…..
Mainstream Advice – This is where the real problem starts, grains have only been part of our diet for the last 10,000 years which a fraction of our evolution. Plus grains 10,000 years ago where a lot different to the “Healthy Wholemeal” loaf you buy today in your local grocery store today. We are told to get 5+ servings of wholegrains per day in order to achieve optimum health – The Irony of this claim is that I challenge anyone to eat 5+ servings of wholegrains a day and maintain a healthy body weight or feel good without doing stupid amounts of cardio to burn off the extra carbohydrate intake.
Watch the video above for a little introduction into the whole topic, which is far better than I could every explain in writing.
High Insulin Response
Insulin is a storage hormone. It promotes your body to store either fat or muscle and by eating real food you will generate a moderate insulin response which keeps your body in a fat burning, muscle building mode. Whereas if you treat yourself to a healthy low fat sandwichfor lunch your Insulin levels shoot up and your body stores what you have just eaten. Now this isn’t such a problem if you have been on a long run or if your a manual laborer as the energy will go into your glycogen stores (muscle) and none will be stored as fat. Whereas if you have been sitting a desk all morning and have the grain based lunch it will be stored in the wrong places- Your Fat Cells…. So how should we eat?
In plain language, base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar.
Simple as that, if you follow those guidelines most the time your insulin response will be moderated and you will leave your body happy and healthy. Sadly though this prescription doesn’t include grains, pasta, potatoes or other starchy foods.
Unfortunately grains also have another dark side. They are filled with a substance called Phytates which bind to nutrients in your body especially things like; Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc in the digestive tract making the difficult/impossible to absorb, the irony comes with the least processed therefore “healthy” grains being the highest in Phytates.
Gluten. I am sure you have all heard of it with things like gluten free diets or gluten free cookies in health food shops. Well there is a reason for this in that many people simply don’t do well on bread as their guts hate gluten and give them a host of ugly symptoms when eating anything with gluten. Gluten is the protein in grains which mimics those found in viruses and bacteria triggering an immune response in the body. You don’t have to be experiencing bad symptoms to be gluten intolerant, things like joint pain, dermatitis, fatigue and acidity could all come down to the ingestion of a few slices of Whole-meal bread a day….
What To Do? I am not suggesting you go totally against the grain straight away but its worth considering that the healthy whole grains you have been eating could be the cause of some health problems. There are countless stories of people who have dropped their grain based diet and felt an improvement in energy, joint pain diminish and improved body composition…
Once you do this you can start introducing some unrefined grains back into the diet:
- Wild Rice
- Sprouted Bread
- Corn based Products
Either way its an informed decision for you to make or experiment with, but ultimately something well worth considering on the path to better health and fitness.