From Eat, Sleep, Fast
The logic behind avoiding grains in a paleo diet not only rests on the fact that we have only been consuming these foods for 10,000 years, a blink of an eye in our evolution. But also in the health harming effects these little buggers can have. Let this point be very clear to you, nothing likes to be eaten! Where as animals can run away from their predators, plants cannot, therefore they require other defense mechanism so that their whole species does not get wiped out. Lets take a look at some of those defenses that protect the grain, but harm the consumer (you).
- Gluten -You have more than likely seen products in the grocery store that proclaim “gluten-free!” If your like the average person you probably had no clue what this meant, all you knew was you weren’t going to be eating it. So what is gluten? Why should you avoid it? Gluten is a protein found in mostly all grain (wheat, rye, spelt, barley, oats etc) that your body does not obtain the ability to digest. Your body does not use protein, it uses the building blocks that constitute them, amino acids. Gluten is a defense mechanism in that it cannot be digested, and it irritates the gut lining (think poison ivy) causing a problem known as “leaky gut” or increased intestinal permeability. If your gut lining is irritated, large undigested proteins can slip through into the blood stream. Why is this a problem? Becuase like I mentioned before, your body doesn’t use proteins, it uses amino acids. Protein has to be broken down into amino acids and absorbed for the body to use. When these intact proteins get into our blood stream, the immune system will mount an attack to the foreign substance and create anti-bodies so that if anything similar comes through again your body is ready. The problem lies when these foreign proteins (anything protein you eat) resemble that of protein tissue that make up your body. If this happens, those anti-bodies begin attacking yourself, this is known as “molecular mimicry.” Now we have an auto-immune condition. Increased gut permeability or “leaky gut” has been implicated as one of the main causes for every auto-immune condition, including: Multiple Sclerosis, Insulin-dependent Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hypothyroidism and Asthma. It should also be noted that just because you do not have any auto-immune conditions, doesn’t mean this isn’t effecting you. More than half of all celiacs (gluten-intolerance) have latent (present but not visible) symptoms. With an irritated gut it will make it harder too absorb nutrients, and break down food in general. Are you one of those people that just can’t digest meat, especially red meat? Get all the gut irritants out of your diet, allow your gut to heal and I will almost guarantee this issue will go away. The pH of your stomach could also be low due to the stress of latent irritation and the fact you could be low on zinc and B6 (not absorbing nutrients properly, remember?).
- Lectins -“Think of a lectin as a protein containing a key that fits a certain type of lock. This lock is a specific type of carbohydrate. All life forms, plant and animal, insect and fungus have cell membranes that contain carbohydrates that sit within and project from the membrane. If a lectin with the right key comes in contact with one of these ‘locks’ on the gut wall or artery or gland or organ it ‘opens the lock’, that is disrupts the membrane and damages the cell and may initiate a cascade of immune and autoimmune events leading to cell death.”
- Enzyme Blockers -These toxins are found in grains, beans and potatoes. Their function is to delay the onset of germination until favourable conditions arise. Unfortunately they also block protein-digesting enzymes such as pepsin, trypsin and cymotrypsin.
- Fiber? -Ever heard of broccoli, cauliflower, kale or spinach? In fact I cannot find one shred of evidence why fiber is essential for health. Check out this nutritional table at Living Paleo to see just how nutritionally inadequate grains are compared to fruits & vegetables.
- Phytic Acid – Also known as “phytates” are little buggers that bind to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc etc. They won’t allow you to absorb what little nutrients grains have in the first place, and they can rob your body of them as well.
- Fatty Acid Profile – Grains are predominantly omega-6 and very little omega-3. The problem with this is that omega-6 tend to be pro-inflammatory and omega-3’s anti-inflammatory. Too much omega 6 in the diet will encourage inflammation in the body. If that doesn’t sound good, its because it isn’t good. Inflammation is the route cause of almost all disease. Adjusting you 6s & 3s can have an enormous effect on your health and well-being.
- Insulin management -Whether your goal is to lose a few pounds or just be healthier in general, controlling insulin should be your main priority. Insulin is a hormone released in response to elevated blood sugar. The best way to elevated your blood sugar is by consuming carbohydrates. There are no “simple” or “complex” carbs, they are both just sugar and enter the blood stream at a rapid pace. Grains being almost entirely carbohydrate (sugar), would be a poor choice to consume if you want to control insulin. Why is this such a big deal? Insulin control what your body does with incoming nutrients. If their is room you will store some of those amino acids & glucose in the muscle tissue or liver, if not they will be readily shipped to the fat tissue for storage. Insulin is a storage hormone. When insulin is high, nothing gets out of the cells. You can’t burn fat when it can’t get out of the cells.
If you shouldn’t eat grains, should you be eating meat and other animal products that are fed grain?
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