Grain-Free Diets

Dear Google,
I am a medical doctor, and I want to know …can you live without grains?

wpid-IMAG1311-1.jpgAbout one year ago, I started aggressively searching for ways to get my once or twice monthly bowel routine to step it up.  I really was just hoping one of those natural supplements would do it for me:  aloe vera, magnesium, milk thistle, chia seeds, Saccharomyces boulardi probiotic…but fate wanted me to work a little, no–a lot, harder than that.

I stumbled across unreasonable people declaring that I had to give up gluten and dairy.  Tried it.  No good for me; took care of my daughter’s problem.

Then I stumbled across loonies saying I needed to give up grains altogether.  No way.  A human being can’t live without grains.  It’s the bottom of the food pyramid.  The rock-bottom foundation.  My dad’s a farmer.  I can’t give up grains.

Not only  did I give up grains, I picked a crazy diet called GAPS to stick to for a year.  I wanted to give it all my effort and prove to myself that food really does not make a difference, so I could eat my cake and cookies in peace.

Since the word diet makes me cringe and want to eat more bad stuff, I prefer to call what I’m doing “nutritional intervention”–even “nutritional rehabilitation,” if you will.  Because really, that’s what it is.  Problem identified.  Intervention being undertaken.

Can a human being live without grains?

Yes.  Before agriculture, humans lived on hunting and gathering:  meats, fruits, and vegetables.  Seeds (grains) would have comprised exceptionally little of their diets.  Think wild grass weeds growing in the back field or along your favorite hiking trail.

Inuits (Eskimos) did great on a no-grain diet, before the violation of their food-culture with the American diet.

By the way, have you ever eaten wheat grains?  I grew up on a farm.  I have.  I scooped a small handful out of the grain truck, chewed a few bites, and called that good enough for me–running off to go grab a red popsicle from the deep freeze.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, you get from grains that you cannot obtain from another food source.  Let me repeat.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, you get from grains that you cannot obtain from another food source.

Why would anyone suggest cutting grains?

  • Anti-nutrients in grains prevent absorption of vital minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Carbohydrates in grains (and starches and sugars) raise glucose levels and therefore insulin levels.  The way America eats grains (and sugars and starches), insulin is high “all the time.”  Insulin’s job is to store fat for you.  Also, high levels of glucose and insulin are inflammatory.  When I say inflammatory, I want you to think of all kinds of things, like blocked heart arteries, dementia, and diabetes.
  • Lectins in grains are exceptionally difficult for our precious first barrier, the gastrointestinal tract.  They bind to our gut cells and can damage it, gaining access to our bloodstream to cause further distress in other cellular processes.
  • Gluten in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale are very difficult to digest, and even if you don’t have celiac disease, it’s estimated 7% of the population still reacts to gluten:  headaches, rashes, joint aches, and gastrointestinal effects.

Last Words

My blog is not about getting you to go grain-free.  In fact, my blog is only to encourage you.  Encourage you to seek ways to make food work for you and your family, not against you.  Grains can be troublesome to many people, and aside from gluten, maybe you’ve never heard that.  I didn’t even touch on gluten’s “morphine-type” effect, which some of us are likely very sensitive to (think carbohydrate cravings and morphine-type effect on bowels).

Food matters.  It’s not just about your weight, but I almost promise your weight will follow if you cut out all processed foods and eat only fruits/vegetables/meats.  It’s about how you and your loved ones feel.  Those crazy nagging health problems the doctor just ignores or can’t seem to help.  Our family changed our eating and ditched lots of those problems.

I’m still waiting for my wings so I can fly.  I’m thinking two years eating this way ought to about do it.  Watch for me flying in the sky over your area soon.  (My blog.  My humor.  Sorry.)

Post on SCD, GAPS, Paleo, Primal, and Whole 30 diets/nutritional intervention programs to follow soon.

18 thoughts on “Grain-Free Diets

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes, I have. For those who haven’t, although the title is catchy and perhaps “inflammatory”, the bottom line is still the same. Our diet should rest on whole foods, keeping reliance on grains low, especially wheat. There are inaccurate statements in his book here and there on various issues, but that doesn’t diminish the bottom line. What he touts will help many people. I am happy. What did you think? And by the way, thanks for the blog appearance opinion! I need an HTML coder!

      1. IrishMum

        I think he did a great job with the book, we were already grain free so it didn’t influence me that way, but confirmed some of my beliefs.

  1. Valerie

    Great post! I didn’t know any of this because, as you say, it’s on the food pyramid, so we must need it. 😉 When you say you were willing to try it for a year, and now you think two years “ought to about do it”, do you mean you will be re-introducing wheat into your diet again?
    Btw, look how your blog is looking!

  2. Jackie

    I was marveling at how flat my stomach was and wondering why. I don’t eat gluten anyway, but I realized I happened to go several days without grains. I don’t eat animals, animal products, or soy… so completely cutting out grains would really limit my options, but I just might do it. I’d probably eliminate all except my beloved quinoa.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yeah. That’d be getting marginal. POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, lest anyone is suspicious) bodies probably need all the nutrients they can get! BTW, Natasha Campbell-McBride feels POTS is a part of her GAPS-type patient. “”–it’s quite a ways down–somebody asks her a specific question about POTS. “Can you comment on the use of the GAPS diet for P.O.T.S. (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)?” I just know you’re always on the lookout for kicking this horrible thing. I’m not in any way saying I think it does or does not help. I’m clueless.

      1. Jackie

        Anything that has ever helped anyone with POTS, I am interested in so thank you! The latest thing on the forum I go to is a man who says his POTS is completely gone from juicing large amounts of plain old cabbage. He believes his issues stemmed from the gut and that is why it helps. It’d make sense GAPS would help in a similar way. 🙂

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Yeah. Interesting. She definitely recommends sauerkraut very strongly (among other things), almost adamantly. Cabbage harbors (naturally) beneficial bacteria, and thus why it ferments so well. So I guess ingesting huge amounts of fresh juiced cabbage would give you some of that, too. I don’t know if it’s helping me, but it’s yummy. Some people have problems with histamines in sauerkraut, but I haven’t found that for myself. I’m rambling–thinking out loud. Sorry.

      3. Jackie

        I happen to enjoy the rambling. 😊 I didn’t know cabbage has good bacteria. This guy juices one head of cabbage per day!

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Wow! Sounds like the Terry Wahl’s protocol with cabbage! LOL! That’s a good one to check out too! She was an MD with severe MS. Turned it around with “intensive nutrition”–tons of greens. Anyway, who knows! We won’t leave any cabbage unturned!

  3. Pingback: I Fell Off of the Wagon | the homeschooling doctor

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