Grains are totally unnecessary. What, did I really just say that? Why, yes I did.
We’ve heard all too often that we “need” whole grains in our diet. The truth is, that’s a flat out lie! Whole grains contain minimal nutrients and plenty of anti-nutrients… sounds unnecessary to me! Grains are one of the biggest causes of systemic inflammation, causing digestion issues and chronic pain. Do I even need to mention that grains make you fat? They also are no friend to our blood sugar levels and insulin production, you might as well just eat sugar straight. Just because oatmeal tastes disgusting doesn’t mean you are benefiting from it.
Let’s break this down a little, shall we?
Grains include wheat, corn, rice, pasta, which, yes, means bread, pasta, crackers, snack foods, cookies, cakes, candies, and other types of processed, packaged, frozen, and fresh-baked goods.
I’m sure there’s something on that list that you think you could never give up. I get it! I’m going to get to the “how you can” at the end, after I finish the “why you should.”
It’s no secret that sugar is unhealthy for us, but just as a quick sugar spike is pro-inflammatory and compromises immune function, a steady insulin trip from regular meals high in complex carbohydrates is also stressful and health compromising.
Grains contain lectins, which are natural plant toxins that can damage the delicate lining of the small intestine, allowing undigested foreign protein particles to enter the bloodstream and trigger an autoimmune response. This condition is commonly known as "leaky gut syndrome."
Gluten, found mainly in wheat, is a highly allergenic type of lectin. I’m sure that you know someone who has celiac disease, or maybe you have it yourself. Gluten causes a mild to severe inflammatory response in the body, depending on the individual, compromising digestive and immune function. For me personally, it’s pretty mild. I can have a piece of bread when I feel it is totally worth it without feeling like death or anything, but I definitely feel sub-par. I feel the insulin spike and soon after feel starving and want to eat everything in sight. For Chris, it’s a bit more, he will always feel inflamed the next day and his old back injury will flare up and he’ll act like an old man all day. Someone with celiac disease will have a much more severe and immediate reaction.
Also in grains are phytates, whcih bind with nutrients in the digestive tract in a manner similar to that of fiber. While phytates offer some nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation, excess consumption of phytates can lead to nutrient deficiency. This is common when following a grain-based diet.
Today's wheat crop has been genetically modified to be more drought resistant and deliver more harvest per acre. The gliadin protein in this genetically modified wheat has addictive, appetite-stimulating properties, and can also trigger digestive disturbances. This isn’t surprising information to me considering what I said above about my body’s reaction to eating gluten. Many processed foods which you wouldn’t suspect, add in wheat for the addictive properties. I looked on the back of a Pringles package and guess what they had added - you guessed it, wheat!
So by the information above, I hope you understand why grains aren’t a necessary part of a human’s diet and why it is so beneficial to avoid them. I totally understand the hesitation to ditch the grains, though. I was right there with you. Growing up in an Italian family meant lots of pasta and bread, and I sure loved it! Here’s what’s helped me:
Cutting it out cold turkey for a pre-determined amount of time. If you have an end date in sight, it may not seem as bad. Try 30 days. I’m not going to lie, if you ate as many grains and sugars as I did before cutting them cold turkey, you will probably feel a little hangover-ish for a few days. But it won’t last forever and you’ll soon be feeling amazing and won’t be missing them so much!
Realizing that grains themselves don’t actually have much flavor. Honestly, when I really thought about what gave the best taste in my spaghetti and meatballs, it was the sauce, the spices and the meatballs, not the noodles. Create a gourmet grass-fed burger with all the fixins, sans bun, you probably won’t even miss it!
Build up your protein and fat more. As long as you’re getting good quality meat, you don’t need to be afraid of the fat. Getting 85% lean ground beef or skin-on chicken thighs are pretty great options, contain more nutrients, and will keep you more satiated!
Find recipes you love! Find what you love, stick to it, and eat lots of it! Don’t worry about eating too much, your body will adjust and your hunger signals will start working properly.
In conclusion, I highly recommend ditching the grains. I promise it’s not as bad as you think. It is an adjustment, but once you adjust, you’ll feel better for it!
If you want to take control of your health, but think you need some extra support and guidance, book a consultation call with me!