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Were We Ever Supposed To Eat Grains?

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Grains have been a staple in the American Diets for centuries.  In fact, one of the most commonly consumed foods involved in every meal is bread.

But if we have been eating it for so long, the question is, why should we stop? 

Well, the fact of the matter is, we really haven’t been eating grains for all that long in history.  Even though grain residue has been found on the teeth of our ancestors thousands of years ago (which is notably marked with a decrease in dental health), industrialization of grains is a relatively new concept.  Our ancestors use to soak, sprout, and ferment these grains and seeds before consumption (which activates enzymes to break down toxins – more on this below).  Nowadays, we have machines that separate and refine the grains, stripping important nutrients out and leaving us with individualized pieces of the grain anatomy (bran, endosperm, germ).  The bran and germ contain the highest levels of nutrients and fiber in the grain.

This is where it gets tricky, which is better for us whole grain or whole wheat?

Well, whole grain (entire grain) has more nutrients (B vitamins and fiber) and has a less dramatic “sugar spike” than whole wheat, since whole wheat is actually only the endosperm portion of the grain.

But this begs the question, if grain has beneficial nutrients, why would it not be good for us to eat? 

Glad you asked, grain-based diets have not been around long enough for our bodies to adapt to them.  As a protection mechanism, grains most plants contain toxic chemicals to deter predators from eating them and either the animal becomes tolerant or becomes sick.  Some humans have developed higher tolerances to consuming grains while others develop full-blown celiac disease.  Much of this can be blamed on Phytic Acid, let’s break this down chemically; phytic acid is basically constructed of an inositol with six phosphate groups attached.  This leaves the chemical highly (-) charged attributing to its chelative (or binding) properties.  Once in the body, Phytic Acid binds to just about anything it can, including important minerals, and takes them out of the body along with it.  Due to this, many people are nutrient deprived even if they think they are eating enough healthy foods.

In cases with cancer or other medical interventions, phytic acid can be helpful in ridding the body of toxic metals and contaminants.  But, can do the exact opposite when consumed in a regular diet.

Is that the only reason grains are harmful to us?

Unfortunately no.  Grains also contain glycoproteins called lectins that have been known to contain anti-nutritional properties.  It all comes down to our intestinal tract.  Dietary lectins, once in the gut, bind to surface glycans on the intestinal brush-border epithelial cells and cause damage to the base of the villi.  These microvilli are essential for nutrient absorption and if they are damaged, you guessed it; the body cannot absorb and utilize vital nutrients.  But that’s not all, lectins also alter the way our intestinal epithelial cells function and increase permeability (passage into blood circulation).  This increased permeability sets our body up for bacterial pathogens to enter our blood circulation and deposit in our joints and lymphatic vessels.  Leaving us vulnerable to developing inflammatory based arthritis and a host of other problematic conditions.

Summary:

If you are going to continue eating grains, try to switch to sprouted whole grains.  The sprouting process allows certain enzymes to break down a percentage of the toxins in the grains and also releases nutrients for easier absorption.  Ezekiel brand has a healthy line of sprouted grain products that can act as healthier choice.  But if you already have a number of gastrointestinal problems, cutting grains out completely may be beneficial.  Our ancestors consumed more tuber vegetables (potatoes, roots) as a main source of carbohydrates in their diet, which contain fewer toxins.

Grains are likely a major contributor for many of our dietary ailments, however; they are not the only factor in our out-of-control inflammatory reactions.  Check back periodically, as I will be addressing several other culprits of excessive inflammation that we can control in our lives.

I hope you enjoyed my first post and maybe took a piece of information away with you.  I decided to begin writing on health and wellness due to my growing concern and disappointment with misinformation passed around to the public.  We live in a time where the media tells us what is healthy, not our doctors, and I’ve come across too many misconceptions on how to be healthy.  Please feel free to request topics you may be interested in reading about!  I will continue to do my best to provide you with accurate information and various healthy topics.

Cheers Asheville!

 

References:

http://deflame.com/

http://www.nourishingdays.com/2010/09/what-is-phytic-acid/

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/07/grains-and-human-evolution.html

About Janeen Hulbert, DC

I recently moved to Asheville after graduating with my Doctorate in Chiropractic. I have a passionate interest in learning as much as I can about how the body works and improving quality of life. My practice, Balance Back Chiropractic, has just opened and incorporates gentle chiropractic adjustments (extremities too), myofascial technique (trigger point therapy), exercise rehabilitation, nutritional recommendations, and kinesiotaping (seen in Olympics). In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and exploring Asheville's many local businesses. Check out my website for additional blogs and articles or for upcoming events at the office (wellness classes). Cheers!

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