Whole grains, organic grains, gluten-free grains . . . there’s so much talk about grains these days and whether they’re good for you or not.
I’m definitely in the camp of “grains are not good for you” when it comes to grains of all kinds.
(Note: quinoa is not a grain-it’s a seed and there’s enough debate around this darling of the gluten-free community and Paleo eaters that I’ll be writing a post on this topic in the very near future!)
I’ve spoken about grains and their damaging lectins many times before. I personally have stopped eating grains and I feel so much better than I did before. All of that bloating is now a thing of the past.
But no matter how many articles are written about the damaging effects of consuming grains, people will continue to argue that we need to eat them as part of a healthy diet.
The truth is, we do not need grains. Period.
Let’s take a look at one of the biggest arguments coming out of the “grains are good for you” camp:
We need to eat grains for their fiber.
It is true that we need fiber to help move things along in our bodies. But, it is also true that vegetables and fruits are a much better source of fiber than whole grains. When grains move through the body, they can damage the lining of your gut, creating tiny holes that allow toxins and undigested food particles to seep into parts of your body that they have no business in. This leads to inflammation in the body, allergies, and all kinds of problems.
Think about it. Do you really want little bits of twigs and sticks passing through the soft lining of your gut? Just envision one of those sharp pieces of popcorn that get stuck in your teeth making its way through your intestinal tract. Ouch.
Fruits and vegetables are a much more gentle way to get your fiber!
Now that I’ve debunked the fiber myth, let’s take a look at one of my main reasons for giving up grains:
Besides being a damaging source of roughage, grains also contain harmful and toxic anti-nutrients.
I’ve mentioned lectins already, but grains also contain a couple of other anti-nutrients called gluten and phytates. While lectins are responsible for leaky gut and inflammation in the body, gluten and phytates are pretty nasty too. gluten is a real troublemaker that can lead to thyroid issues, compromised vitamin D3 and calcium levels, and even bone defects. Phytates help to make minerals bio-unavailable so that you’re not actually getting all the goodness out of the nutrients you’re eating.
Not very nice stuff.
Now the question is, will one serving of couscous once in a while really hurt you? Is a whole grain sandwich really that bad?
You’re the only one who can answer that, by paying attention to how eating these things makes you feel, but I’m of the belief that if something is even a little bit bad for you then it should be removed from your diet.
To be honest with you, I don’t miss the pasta or the bread. It was tough at first, but after a couple of days, I started to feel so much better that it was downright easy to say no when the bread basket was being passed around. In my home, we eat a simple diet of veggies, fruits, meat, and eggs, and we’re just as happy and nourished as can be, even without the grains!
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While I would agree that you can easily live without grains, most people do not suffer any ill effects such as damage to the lining of the gut. You need special genetics for that to happen. Yes, quinoa is a seed but so is corn. The different is that corn is a seed of a grass plant and all seeds of the grass family are known as grains. Corn does not contain gluten, nor does rice. Oatmeal is another grain that is available gluten-free and it is a very good source of soluble fiber.
Reading up on phytates on Wikipedia says they are found in nuts, seeds and legumes. They include grains in the seed category and it seems the nuts have the most phytic acid. It suggests the level of phytic acid may be altered with cooking. In addition, the article on “antinutrients” on Wikipedia may prove interesting to you.