While Popular, Whole Grains Have A Disturbing Side Effect
Whole grains are the single largest food energy source in the world. Wheat, corn and rice are the most commonly consumed varieties of grains. Other grains like rye, oats, barley, millet and sorghum are consumed in smaller quantities.
Although widely consumed, there is growing controversy surrounding the health effects of grains. There is one school of thought that believes grains are a vital component of a healthy, balanced diet, while there is another that believes they are harmful.
Pasta, breads, tortillas, oatmeal, breakfast cereals and muesli are examples of foods made from grains. Pastries, cookies and other junk foods are also made of grains. Additionally, grain-based products are used as ingredients in various processed foods. For instance, high-fructose corn syrup is made from corn and used to sweeten a variety of products.
The Elimination of Whole Grains and Other Grains From the Paleo Diet
Done correctly, the paleo diet can lead to reduced belly fat, weight loss and significant improvements in overall health. However, grains are shunned on principle in the paleo diet because of certain major problems with this food group. For example, grains contain high contents of simple carbohydrates and considerable amounts of anti-nutrients.
Grains are simple carbohydrates that rapidly break down into sugar. This causes the blood sugar and insulin levels to spike. High levels of insulin prevent the body from burning fat as they cause the body to concentrate on converting the extra glucose in the bloodstream into energy. The rest is stored as fat. Consuming simple carbohydrates on a consistent basis will lead to chronically high levels of blood sugar. This could result in pre-diabetic symptoms and obesity problems.
Besides the high carbohydrate content, there is a significant amount of anti-nutrients in whole grains that could negatively impact your digestion. These anti-nutrients are:
These are essentially a salty product from phytic acid and a major source of energy storage in plants. Unlike plants, however, human beings do not have the ability to digest phytates. Additionally, phytates bind to magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc and cause those minerals to become unavailable by eliminating them from the body. Therefore, even if the grains have high contents of vitamins and minerals, your body is unable to process them because they are eliminated from your system.
These sticky anti-nutrients have contents of protein. They can be found in a variety of plant species and their purpose is to discourage predators from consuming the plants in which they are present. It is difficult to completely avoid lectin; however, large consumption could cause compromised intestinal bacteria, intestinal damage and leptin resistance, which is a pre-diabetic condition. Grains belong to the food group that contains the highest quantity of lectins. Therefore, it is vital to stay away from them and consume other nutrient-dense foods that have lower levels of lectin.
This is arguably the worst offender of the three anti-nutrients. It is a protein to which many individuals are allergic and there is a wide range of issues that can be caused by it. These include bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Celiac Disease is the severe version of this disorder.
Genetic Alteration and Excessive Input Farming
The 20th century has ushered in an era in food technology, which brought with it a level of “advancement” that has proven to be a health detriment. In previous decades, technological advances in milling destroyed wheat and voided it of its nutritional value. More recently, radical farming techniques have modified the structure of the plant itself. There is also the issue of using harmful chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
To be successful on the paleo diet, it is important to avoid the use of grains in general and whole grains in particular.