Wow.  I have read and read in preparation to share these little tidbits on grains with you.  Yet, I am amazed at how difficult it is for me to comprehend the potential negative impact that grains can have.  If half of what I have taken notes on is true, we should ALL get grains out of our diets permanently.  The implications are wide-spread and long-reaching for our health.

  • Grains damage our gut lining. Gut lining?!  I know, I know this may seem like the world of enemas and colon cleanses. (Seriously, I used to work in a juice bar ages ago and the patrons would come in chatting it up about their coffee enemas.  Can you imagine?)  Anyways, our intestines (guts) are where the hard work of nutrient absorption is done.  They have been called our “second brain” because gut health is linked to many mental and mood disorders.  The more scientists study our intestines, the more they realize that their malfunction is the root of MANY of our health problems.  So, let’s not damage them, OK?
  • Grains have outer layers called phytates. Phytates are anti-nutrients that make any nutrients within the grain difficult to assimilate during digestion.  There is some debate about if phytates can be broken down when alternative preparations are used, such as soaking the grain before cooking it.  Suffice it to say, they are certainly not nature’s perfect food ready for consumption.
  • Grains also contain lectins. Lectins are proteins that cannot be broken down during digestion.  Instead, they pass through the intestinal wall into the body.  They mimic other proteins that form portions of the body.  Lectins can create confusion because your body will attack them as an invader and will also attack any similar protein tissue that it finds.  This begins an auto-immune response:  your body attacking itself because your immune system is incorrectly identifying what is foreign versus what is a normal part of your body.

On a personal note, my mother has Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  This is an auto-immune form of hypothyroidism.  So, to safeguard myself against an auto-immune response, it seems very wise to stay clear of grains. I don’t want to trigger auto-immunity.

How about you?  Do you have symptoms of mal-absorption?  Are you always hungry even though you are overweight?  Then, the phytates in grains might be doing you are disservice.  Do you have any form of auto-immune disease like Type I Diabetes, M.S., allergies, eczema, Hashimoto’s, etc.?  The lectins in grains might be doing you more harm than you ever realized.

Maybe you should give your system a break from grains to see how you feel.  I have done it and I have never felt better!

Sources: The Paleo Solution – Robb Wolf, The Paleo Diet – Loren Cordain, The Maker’s Diet – Jordan Rubin

(This post is part of The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/2011/02/monday-mania-2282011/)

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