Why You Should Go Grain-free Part 1
1. If you can get it from grain, you can get it elsewhere.
The big heroes of most grains’ nutrient profile are dietary fiber and B vitamins. Take heed, every grain is different and different grains offer different nutrient profiles. Yet, one thing remains constant: if you can find the nutrient in grain, you can find the nutrient in better quantities in other foods. For example, 100 grams of whole wheat flour contains 44 mcg of folate; however, a 100-gram portion of lamb liver will give you 400 mcg of folate and a 100-gram portion of yardlong beans will give you a whopping 658 mcg per 100-gram portion. Similarly with the B Vitamins niacin and thiamin, while a 100-gram whole wheat flour contains 30% of the RDA for niacin and 32% of the RDA for thiamin, you can find these nutrients in higher quantities in other foods – namely flaxseeds and sesame seeds. Whole grains are often touted as health foods for their fiber content, but you can find dietary fiber in better quantities in other, more nutrient-dense foods. For example: 100 grams of cooked brown rice offers up 1.8 grams of dietary fiber; by contrast, a 100-gram serving of cooked collard greens offers 2.8 grams; 100 grams of raw fireweed contains a whopping 11 grams of dietary fiber and even green peas contain about 5 grams of fiber per serving.
2. Grains aren’t good for your gut.
Intestinal health is critical to your overall health. If you’re gut isn’t healthy, you can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. If you can’t absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, your body is malnourished and is more prone to disease. Grains are associated with a condition called leaky gut syndrome. Tiny particles of grains, when ingested, can slip through the intestinal walls causing an immune response. With your immune system excessively taxed by constantly attacking these out-of-place particles of grain, it cannot effectively fight against true threats like pathogens.
3. You’re probably gluten-intolerant.
If you’re white, there’s a good chance that you’re gluten-intolerant to some degree. Current research estimates that about 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease, an auto-immune condition related to the ingestion of gluten-containing grains like wheat and barley; however, some researchers on celiac disease and gluten intolerance estimate that 30% to 40% of people of European descent are gluten-intolerant to some degree. That’s a lot of people who are regularly consuming a food that makes them sick.
4. Grains cause inflammation.
Due to a high starch content, grains are inflammatory foods. The more refined the grain, the more inflammatory it is. For example, unbleached white flour is more inflammatory than whole grain flour; however, whole grains are still moderately inflammatory foods and certainly more inflammatory than other foods like fresh vegetables and wholesome fats. Chronic inflammation is linked to a myriad of degenerative, modern diseases including arthritis, allergies, asthma, cardiovascular disease, bone loss, emotional imbalance and even cancer. Unbleached white flour earns an inflammation factor of -421 or strongly inflammatory on NutritionData.com while whole wheat flour earns an inflammation factor of -247 or moderately inflammatory. Similarly, whole cooked millet earns an inflammation factor of -150 and cooked brown rice earns an inflammation factor of -143 – also moderately inflammatory.
5. Grains are fairly new on the scene.
While still a traditional food, grains are, nonetheless, the new kids on the block. Prior to the advent of agriculture, humans relied on hunting and gathering for their foods. They foraged for wild greens, berries, fruits and other plants. They hunted wild animals. They fished for wild fish. They didn’t plant a garden, or grow any amber waves of grain or, for that matter, drink dairy from domesticated animals since there simply wasn’t any domesticated animals. Humans survived like this from the development of the appearance of the first homo sapiens sapiens about 47,000 years ago to the advent of agriculture some 10 – 12,000 years ago. So, for the better part of human existence grains did not comprise any notable portion of the human diet. In essence, what has become the bulk of our modern diet was missing from the diet of our prehistoric ancestors.