Are Grains Bad for You?
Are grains bad for us? Well, yes and no.
Maybe you’ve gone grain free or are considering going grain free. You might have friends or family members who are going grain free, but you don’t understand why they’d want to cut such a big food group out of their diet.
You’ve probably heard of the paleo, primal, Whole 30, or Keto diets and you might know already that they each require a grain-free lifestyle.
But, what’s the big deal about grains?
The simple answer? Humans weren’t made to easily digest grains. Did you know that grains have only been a part of the human diet for about 10000 years? That’s not a very long time in the course of human evolution.
However, if you are a follower of a traditional, Weston A. Price diet, like myself, you know there are ways to prepare grains that make them easier to digest. While I believe in properly preparing grains before consumption, I still limit my intake of grains for many reasons.
10 Reasons To Go Grain Free
Eating Grains Makes it Harder to Lose Weight (and Easier to Gain Weight)
Are you struggling to lose weight while on a diet that is heavy in whole grains? Try eliminating grains from your diet.
See, when we eat grains our bodies turn them into glucose. That’s okay if you need quick energy to perform an athletic feat, for example. But otherwise, the excess glucose is stored as fat.
Grains Are Lower in Fiber Than Fruits and Vegetables
You might think we need grains in order to get our daily dose of fiber. The truth is fruits and veggies have more fiber than whole grains.
We could all use more leafy green in our diet. Try replacing a serving of grains each day with a serving of vegetables (in addition to the veggies you already eat, of course.)
Today’s Wheat is Different from Ancient Wheat
I’m sure you know someone who is gluten intolerant. If not, well . . . Hi! I’m Allison and I’m gluten-intolerant. But, I can eat foods made of spelt or einkorn flour with no issues.
Why do so many people struggle to digest gluten? There are a host of reasons, including a lack of beneficial gut bacteria, but another reason is that today’s wheat hybrids are harder to digest than ancient wheat.
The wheat we have today is not the staff of life that Jesus and his 12 best buds ate just 2000 years ago. Find out more about that here.
Grains Don’t Want To Be Eaten
It’s true. They are self-protective little buggers. Grains contain a substance call phytic acid. Phytic acid binds with nutrients in our digestive system and holds them hostage, disallowing these important nutrients from being absorbed by the body.
Of course, soaking, sprouting, and souring can help reduce the amount of phytic acid in grains, but those methods are time consuming and aren’t often used in modern kitchens.
(Find out more about how to cook grains properly.)
Grains Fill You Up But Leave You Wanting More
While adding a side of grains can help to fill hungry tummies on a tight budget, grains (and carbs in general) are used or stored more rapidly by the body than proteins or fats. This means eating cereal or toast for breakfast can leave you hungry sooner than a breakfast of bacon and eggs. If you want your meals to have staying power eat more fat and protein.
In addition, some people (myself included) find that eating grains leaves them craving more grains. If I go without grains for a week my cravings for grain and for sugar cease. When I do eat grains, it never fails to switch on my craving for sweets and more grains.
Grains Replace More Nutrient Dense Foods
If you eat grains as a snack, you’re missing an opportunity to nourish your body with more nutrient-dense foods such as raw milk, cheese, vegetables, fats, or meats.
Any time you choose grains – especially those not served with a healthy saturated or monounsaturated fat – you’re settling for a less nutrient dense option. When you do eat grains, be sure that they are served with fat, which makes them easier to digest.
Grains Are Ruining Our Rich Soils
Modern grains are often grown as mono-crops and are not properly rotated in order to preserve soil quality. While this keeps grains at an economical price, we eventually pay for it when farmers must add synthetic fertilizers to the soil in order to grow new crops.
The mass production of grains is depleting our soils. The mass production of grains occurs because of our mass consumption of grains.
Grains Taste Awful
Let’s get honest for a moment. Have you ever eaten plain oatmeal? I’ve tried and it’s just not good.
Now, I certainly don’t mind adding a heap of butter to my toast or a pile of lovely cream cheese to my bagel. The problem I have is how much sugar we have to add to most grains in order to choke them down.
I don’t want oatmeal without sweetener. I prefer my cereal to be at least lightly sweetened, as well. And pancakes without syrup? No thanks! Grains are often a conduit for added refined sugar in our diet.
Eating Grains Isn’t Necessary For Optimal Health
Although the government’s daily food recommendations would have us believe exactly the opposite, grains are not a necessary part of the diet in order to achieve and maintain optimal health. In some cases, they can diminish your wellness.
It’s much more important to include nutrient dense foods such as meat, vegetables, fruits, and saturated fats in your diet if you want to achieve better health.
Properly Prepared Grains Are Difficult to Find and Time Consuming to Do Yourself
Now, it’s true that eating properly prepared grains makes them more digestible and allows for the nutrients contained within the grain to be more available. However, it is hard to find properly soaked, sprouted, or soured grains in a grocery store.
I have found some acceptable sprouted grain products at my local health food store, but soaked and properly soured grains are much harder to come by. Properly preparing grains yourself is time consuming (although worth it!) and many of us simply don’t have the time to spare. In that case it’s easier to simply go without grains.
If you’re interested in properly preparing wheat at home, check out my tutorials on how to make a sourdough starter and how to sprout wheat at home.