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What was grain's plan for survival?

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  • What was grain's plan for survival?

    So I read in the book that grains developed certain defense mechanisms to avoid being eaten. OK, so their idea was to subtly poison us, and hope that we'd figure it out 10,000 years later? It seems that a more direct approach would be more effective.

    Also, why do vegetables not mind being eaten?
    "Don't go in there, General, it's a trap! That's a grain chamber. It makes people like you into people like me."

  • #2
    This is what I have come to understand (I could be wrong< I have been wrong before!)

    I think it is that grains have developed defenses to avoid being digested. The husk and phytic acid (phytate) seem to be the issue.

    From wiki:
    "Phytate is not digestible to humans or nonruminant animals, however, so it is not a source of either inositol or phosphate if eaten directly. Moreover, it chelates and thus makes unabsorbable certain important minor minerals such as zinc and iron, and to a lesser extent, also macro minerals such as calcium and magnesium."

    There has been discussion of the phytates even removing nutrients from other foods and passing them through the intestines without absorbtion (possible cause for anemia?).

    Basically seeds have developed so they can be eaten and pass through the digestive track (without losing nutrients) and then excreted with the ability to germinate.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Bob

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    • #3
      Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
      So I read in the book that grains developed certain defense mechanisms to avoid being eaten. OK, so their idea was to subtly poison us, and hope that we'd figure it out 10,000 years later? It seems that a more direct approach would be more effective.

      Also, why do vegetables not mind being eaten?
      Yeah, I have been thinking this all the time. I think it's so stupid to say that "grains don't want to be eaten"
      Like anyone would feel bad 2 hours later after eating grains and automatically think "it must be the grains!"
      well then

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      • #4
        Veggies have plenty of toxins as well. Eat some raw kale and see how you feel afterwards.
        “The whole concept of a macronutrient, like that of a calorie, is determining our language game in such a way that the conversation is not making sense." - Dr. Kurt Harris

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        • #5
          Grains do need special preparation to be digested...
          Their outer coatings are in place for protection so that when they are eaten they can pass through the digestive tract, then sprout where they land.

          Many vegetables are harvested and eaten by humans in an immature state(prior to flowering). But as long as some were left to do their thing this wasn't an issue.
          Most fruits (both sweet and non-sweet) have the seeds discarded instead of ingested (by humans at least)... this works for the plant I suppose.
          Others that have edible seeds generally have developed a symbiotic relationship of sorts where the seeds are dispersed via the eaters shedding them in there defecation once they leave the immediate area.

          Gadsie... some people really do get sick after eating grain products. Seriously. If you don't that's cool... But it doesn't make other people stupid.


          Originally posted by Chaohinon View Post
          Veggies have plenty of toxins as well. Eat some raw kale and see how you feel afterwards.
          Interesting... I used to eat big raw kale salads regularly. Never bothered me a bit, I loved them. I can't anymore due to a medical issue that I need to follow a low oxalate diet for, but kale never made me sick or feel unwell when I could eat it.
          Last edited by cori93437; 08-26-2012, 09:20 PM.
          “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
          ~Friedrich Nietzsche
          And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.

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          • #6
            As stated above, grain's plan is to be eaten whole and pooped out somewhere else. Not digested, for the most part. Granted, some animals have broken the code (rodents, for example) and beaten the plant's plan. But not this human. I eat grains and fart, get gut and joint pain, etc. A little rice does seem to be okay on occasion.
            Crohn's, doing SCD

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PrimalHunter View Post
              So I read in the book that grains developed certain defense mechanisms to avoid being eaten. OK, so their idea was to subtly poison us, and hope that we'd figure it out 10,000 years later? It seems that a more direct approach would be more effective.
              It begins to look as if there is more give-and-take in nature than the current model of evolutionary biology has assumed. Interestingly, that kind of thinking arose back in the Age of Empire and that's possibly why competition was assumed to be as important as it was.

              Plants do have what we'd have to see as defences against being over-consumed. And those seems to be pervasive. But they're not necessarily trying to play a zero-sum game. And this is why I'd prefer to say over-comsumed. Maybe an animal could browse on a plant and so much would be fine, but very much more would make it sick. And again, IIRC, there are plants that have a first crop of leaves that animals can safely eat, but that then put out a second lot that have what you might call "hands off", noli me tangere, chemicals in. Defenses can be quite subtle -- they might also involve such things as a plant calling a insect predator of a grub that feeds on it by releasing a chemical messenger. Interestingly, it's apparently been found that most of the trees of a certain species in a forest will release a defensive chemical against a particular pest, but a small minority won't. The implication here would seem to be not only that the trees are concerting what they do -- which, if true, blows current conceptions out of the water -- but also that while they're fighting back they're not trying to wipe the pest out. Typically, that's not what humans -- or modern humans at any rate -- would try to do.

              My understanding of phytates was that their function seemed to be to sequester minerals that would be needed by the germinating seed until the time was ripe for the seed to grow. This is why people traditionally pre-soaked their oats before making porridge -- so that the warm, damp conditions, would allow the enzyme phytase to break down the phytates and release the calcium, etc., that would otherwise be chelated. You can't do that with modern rolled oats, because they're pre-steamed and that kills the phytase.

              But I may be wrong about phytates, or maybe they have more than one function.

              Also, why do vegetables not mind being eaten?
              As others have said, it's the seed that needs most protection.

              And, again, there's a question of "how much?" here. It wouldn't be a problem for the plant if animals ate some of it, but "too much" would be a problem for the plant, and substances in it might guard against that.

              Humans get around that by food preparation techniques. The chief of those would be cooking:

              Amazon.com: Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human (9780465020416): Richard Wrangham: Books

              Many primitive peoples will eat some of their meat raw, either because they can't be bothered at the time to cook it or because they prefer it that way. But many plant foods require quite elaborate and lengthy preparation and cooking.



              As for wheat, the main problem with wheat would seem to be gluten. I don't know that it's ever been suggested that gluten has any kind of defensive role. I think it's more that it's simply difficult to break down and use -- and even more so when leaky gut comes into the picture. And leaky gut is more of a problem for us than for our immediate ancestors, owing to factors like antibiotic overuse.

              Dr. William Davis, thinks that modern breeding programmes, carried out over the past 30 years or so, aimed at increasing yield and reducing the wheat stem, have had the unforeseen side-effect of changing the structure of the gluten and making it even more problematic:

              Wheat Belly Blog | Lose the Wheat Lose the Weight

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              • #8
                Originally posted by cori93437 View Post
                Grains do need special preparation to be digested...
                Their outer coatings are in place for protection so that when they are eaten they can pass through the digestive tract, then sprout where they land.

                Many vegetables are harvested and eaten by humans in an immature state(prior to flowering). But as long as some were left to do their thing this wasn't an issue.
                Most fruits (both sweet and non-sweet) have the seeds discarded instead of ingested (by humans at least)... this works for the plant I suppose.
                Others that have edible seeds generally have developed a symbiotic relationship of sorts where the seeds are dispersed via the eaters shedding them in there defecation once they leave the immediate area.

                Gadsie... some people really do get sick after eating grain products. Seriously. If you don't that's cool... But it doesn't make other people stupid.




                Interesting... I used to eat big raw kale salads regularly. Never bothered me a bit, I loved them. I can't anymore due to a medical issue that I need to follow a low oxalate diet for, but kale never made me sick or feel unwell when I could eat it.
                I didn't call anyone stupid. I just think it doesn't really make sense for grains to "avoid being eaten" by causing digestive problems which don't occur directly. It would make much more sense to just have stings or something.
                well then

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Gadsie View Post
                  I didn't call anyone stupid. I just think it doesn't really make sense for grains to "avoid being eaten" by causing digestive problems which don't occur directly. It would make much more sense to just have stings or something.
                  The vast diversity of survival techniques among plants and animals is almost too much to comprehend. To pick one species and say it's particular defense mechanism doesn't make sense seems inappropriate. For example, should we criticize a snake for having fangs and venom when it might make more sense for it to have a thousand legs so it can run fast and escape?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gadsie View Post
                    I didn't call anyone stupid. I just think it doesn't really make sense for grains to "avoid being eaten" by causing digestive problems which don't occur directly. It would make much more sense to just have stings or something.
                    Right, but it's not that grains want to be left to themselves. It's advantageous for them to get eaten and pooped out somewhere a little further away--and for that, they need to stay undigested.

                    I get what you meant by the original statement--Hurting your attacker after it's killed you is not a good way to stay alive! : )

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sjmc View Post
                      Right, but it's not that grains want to be left to themselves. It's advantageous for them to get eaten and pooped out somewhere a little further away--and for that, they need to stay undigested.
                      "It's advantageous for them to get eaten and pooped out somewhere a little further away"

                      Is it?

                      Is that how cereals generally re-seed -- by the agency of animals -- as opposed to dropping on the ground? Are you sure?

                      "for that, they need to stay undigested."

                      Where's the advantage to the animal then? There has to be some mutuality. If an animal eats a tomato, and gets nutrition from the fruit, but passes the seeds out in its stools, both the plant and the animal get benefit out of that "transaction". It's mutually beneficial.

                      But you just painted a scenario where the animal eats the seed but doesn't digest it. Where's the mutuality? Why would the animal expend energy doing that?

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                      • #12
                        OK so they fall on the ground, I actually don't know man. Then the point of causing digestive distress is to take one for the team? Give the impression "don't eat my kinfolk"? Or maybe there is more to the grain plant than just the indigestible seed?

                        I honestly didn't know if I was spewing falsities or if I was right. You caught me = D

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                        • #13
                          My guess would be: They mostly rely on wind to disperse the seeds throughout their surroundings. Being eaten by an animal plays a lesser role, but it does still play role. And there the mechanism would be similar to all the other plants that rely on this - digesting some of the nutrients, like the protein, is fine, digesting the seeds is a no-no. Plants that allowed this died out. (I believe Grains technically have fruits too, rather than seeds).

                          But: Humans process Grains, mechanically destroy them to a point where the stuff making sure they weren't being digested - and animals would never absorb - are being digested. So they are not poisoning animals on purpose or whatever, it's the processing that leads to it.

                          If you would grind up tomato or appleseeds, it would probably be bad news too, but we just don't do that.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by sjmc View Post
                            OK so they fall on the ground, I actually don't know man.
                            AFAIK, yes.

                            But cultivated wheat stays in the ear. Current thinking, as I understand it, is that that's an accidental effect of gathering grain and carrying it around: what falls out the ear more easily by that very fact is less likely to get gathered. The effect gets multiplied over generations.

                            It seems that botanically, cereal grains are classed as fruits -- I'm not a botanist, and I'm relying on Wikipedia (always risky) here:

                            Cereals are grasses (members of the monocot family Poaceae, also known as Gramineae)[1] cultivated for the edible components of their grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran.
                            But I guess if you can't easily separate the fruit and the seed then, classification be damned, that's not driving the bus.

                            Then the point of causing digestive distress is to take one for the team? Give the impression "don't eat my kinfolk"? Or maybe there is more to the grain plant than just the indigestible seed?
                            I don't know. The plant doesn't seem to gain anything by having seeds eaten (except ones that can be passed through its gut). But I guess it has plenty and can stand some not germinating.

                            A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

                            6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

                            7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

                            8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.

                            Is it the chemical defences of the plant that cause us the most problems or is it the gluten (and the glycemic load)?

                            It's interesting stuff at any rate.

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                            • #15
                              Where I live there aren't a lot of naturally occurring seed crops, but there are lots of piles of bear scat and coyote poop just FULL of seeds. Manzanita, cherry and lots of other things. I haven't bent down to seriously investigate to see if there is any chia or other smaller seeds that didn't come as fruit like manzanita and cherry.

                              Annual grasses with seeds disperse so many seeds that they can afford to lose a huge number of them. They may also employ more than one single way of propagating their species. Anyone who has ever had bermuda grass knows a plant that propagates itself through multiple channels. This isn't even a trait reserved for annuals, perennials will do the same. Many seeds can lie dormant in the ground for decades. Lots of stuff in my area doesn't grow at all until there's a wildfire. Plants do a lot of really odd stuff.
                              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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