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