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Thread: A decent article in defense of grains.

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  1. #1
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    A decent article in defense of grains.

    Dear Mark Sisson: Where Paleo Recommendations Stand in Contradiction to Real World Observations | Exist Anew

    I believe I've also seen this fellow in a video arguing much the same thing. Apologies if this is old news; I only came across it recently.

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    Grains and fruit - the Nutrition Forum is becoming a freakin' granola bar.
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    Interesting. Just skimming it, it seems as though the guy is basically on the same page as Primal... if not down to the letter. He's arguing for an individual account for different types of grains (we do this ....wheat is the devil.... and rice is ok, and everywhere in between). And he takes a stance that WAPF (don't think he names them) traditional preparation makes them edible. Mark even did a post on eating oats via a WAPF method a couple years back so thats not really way out there. I really don't think this is too far off what we consider Primal. I mean I don't eat grains primarily cause all that traditional prep work is just far too time consuming and there is no real necessity to eating grains. As per his numero uno... (the ability to have well developed childeren).... you can achieve that quite well without grains. I would suggest that the reason we had trouble with that pre agriculture was malnutrition via low calorie and periods of starvation.

    Oh.... well here is Mark's response:

    “Arthur Haines, I do appreciate your intent in wanting to debate this, however, many of the commenters here have already addressed some of your points as well or better than I could. I have written so much on grains that I would normally be inclined to just send you 20-30 links, but I’ll cover a few key points here.

    This article was taken from a MDA post from a few years ago, one of many I have written clarifying my stance. This was a snap shot. I could have filled an entire book on the nuances of a (mostly wheat) grain-based diet, but Dr. Davis beat me to it! Also, can we agree that this is not a discussion about feeding the world? I get that there’s a problem and it needs to be addressed. But W/R/T the article on HuffPo, this is about feeding you and me the best possible choices if we are seeking optimal health.

    The fact that some of us can eat grains doesn’t mean we all should. Which is really my main point. IMO, the only reason to eat grains is because they are a cheap source of calories that easily converts to glucose (and eventually to stored fat). They are often inedible or poisonous in their unprocessed state and don’t particularly taste good by themselves unless you add yeast, sugar, butter, salt, jam, fruit, meat, etc. They are not a great source of any nutrition other than those cheap calories. Yes, if you are starving, grains in general can keep you alive. Surviving, but not thriving. Choosing to eat grains is not a “right or wrong” decision. I’ve often referred to a spectrum of “worst to best” grain choices, with wheat, barley, rye etc. on the bad end (with their concentration of prolamines) and wild or white rice on the other, fairly benign with its relative lack of antinutrient content. I stand by my assertion that a large majority of people would be well served by never eating wheat again. I’ve seen way too many testimonials from people who thought they could thrive with wheat in their diets, but then found their otherwise “fine” health improving noticeably upon removing the wheat (and usually many other related grains) and replacing with better foods.

    A few other points: I guess I should have been more specific throughout that piece when referencing fiber. My main issue here is with the belief that somehow we need a lot of insoluble fiber to move things through us. We don’t. I do, however, support the intake of soluble fiber from veggies and fruits as a means of staying regular – not because the physical structure sweeps us clean, but because those fibers feed healthy gut bacteria that make up a large part of a healthy stool. No need for grains at all if you get adequate veggies and a bit of fruit.
    True, some recent prior cultures have incorporated low-gluten grains into a diet that included meat, fish and fowl and it’s generally agreed that they produced healthy offspring. I think that’s more a factor of the relatively benign lectin-phytate-prolamine content and relatively low calorie contribution.

    Gluten is not the only problem in grains, it’s just the most obvious and most prevalent, especially in wheat. The prolamines in all grains can prove problematic for many people. I suspect we will see an increase in links between autoimmune conditions and grain intake in the coming years.

    As for the statement about humans not having had enough time to evolve to easily digest these plant storage proteins, nothing in the current literature convinces me that cereal grains were being processed to make bread much before 10,000 years ago, and in most of the world, even later than that. Some of the lit does mention “starch grains” found on grinding stones well before that, but starch doesn’t always equal grass seeds.

    I did say all grains are bad. I guess I could amend that to: most grains are antithetical to optimal health, a few not so much.”

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    I agree with both the author of that article and Mark's response -- to a certain degree. They both make valid points, but I think Mark still errs on the side of going too far to one side of the spectrum. I think the author presents a more moderate argument. I am in favor of any argument that is objective, and the author takes an objective stance: Not all grains are created equal, which is why I shudder when I see people throw a blanket statement up about avoiding grains, as if all grains=wheat. Untrue.

    I think optimal nutrition is in its infancy and there's still a lot of speculation going on. I think we should learn from more than one source; we should definitely read everything that goes against our biases and assumptions, and then form our opinion, and ultimately our formula.
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    It's an academic response to an article meant for general consumption. I think Mark appreciates the nuance that Arthur mentions but he also (wisely) acknowledges that the probability of a Huffington Post reader soaking and fermenting heirloom grass seeds approaches zero so he chooses to speak in broad and familiar categories. In a nation where ~80% of grain is wheat and ~80% of wheat is refined flour it's probably a safe tack. Arthur is intelligent and earnest but an HP reader is not likely to finish or learn much from his post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by picklepete View Post
    It's an academic response to an article meant for general consumption. I think Mark appreciates the nuance that Arthur mentions but he also (wisely) acknowledges that the probability of a Huffington Post reader soaking and fermenting heirloom grass seeds approaches zero so he chooses to speak in broad and familiar categories. In a nation where ~80% of grain is wheat and ~80% of wheat is refined flour it's probably a safe tack. Arthur is intelligent and earnest but an HP reader is not likely to finish or learn much from his post.
    I think this is why nutrition should be discussed colloquially and not in extremes. I think simplifying without dogma and exclusions , and without describing extensive processes, e.g., soaking and fermenting, is really the best way to get the point of nutrition across. Not that I think most humans are incompetent and unable to grasp "advanced" nutrition, but I do think many humans are too preoccupied with life to really put sprouted grains and lectins at the forefront of their daily lives. I think Primal/Paleo is attractive to many people because it can be VERY simple: Meat and veggies, grab a banana now and then. Not much thought has to go into it. I get that. But many people are foodies and enjoy the nuances of recipes and nutrition, not to mention the sheer pleasures of eating it!
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    Quote Originally Posted by picklepete View Post
    It's an academic response to an article meant for general consumption. I think Mark appreciates the nuance that Arthur mentions but he also (wisely) acknowledges that the probability of a Huffington Post reader soaking and fermenting heirloom grass seeds approaches zero so he chooses to speak in broad and familiar categories. In a nation where ~80% of grain is wheat and ~80% of wheat is refined flour it's probably a safe tack. Arthur is intelligent and earnest but an HP reader is not likely to finish or learn much from his post.
    Agreed. I do think Mark has chosen a diet that can easily fit into our modern lifestyle, common food sources and general inability to cook. Certainly there can be other lifestyles in our country.

    We've all heard of foreign communities that eat in opposite ways and yet live a long healthy life and have well-formed children. Rarely do these articles or studies discuss the way they process their foods. Nor did the authors delve into epigenetic adaptations that probably accommodated their diet. It seems clear that our epigenetic adaptations have been pushed beyond the failure point.

    And Yes, it does mention WAPF. But WAPF did not gain nearly as many adherents. It does involve a deeper knowledge of nutrition and deeper practice of cooking.

    Based on faith in Mark, I have started with what I hope is safe. Now I'm starting to experiment with other methods, but carefully.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cryptocode View Post
    And Yes, it does mention WAPF. But WAPF did not gain nearly as many adherents. It does involve a deeper knowledge of nutrition and deeper practice of cooking.
    When I read Weston Price's book I was surprised at the lack of variety--each society ate 3 or 4 staples but they were selected very carefully to cover all the bases. Maybe it's human nature because SAD also uses 3-4 staples but they're demented and hollow.
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    This article claims that the purpose of traditional methods of grain preparation such as soaking, sprouting, and fermenting, is to activate an endogynous enzyme to deactivate phytic acid. To what extent does this work, and to what extent is it speculative?

    I have often seen claims that such methods of preparation for gluten grains result in gluten-safe products, but I have never seen any data.

    Has anyone every seen quantitative data on either of these?

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