Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
3 Aug

Are Traditionally Prepared Grains Healthy?

sourdoughstarter“People from Africa, Asia, and Latin America eat lots of grains and manage to stay skinny, so what’s the deal?”

You know this line of questioning. We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably all pondered it. It may have even stumped a few of you, left you stuttering and stammering for a quick explanation. But by the time you think of a reply (if you even have one), the moment has passed and they have “won” the argument. A briefly open mind was now closed.

But let’s be honest: it’s a valid question, and a tough one at that. We can’t just avoid the tough questions. So let’s take this head on.

Like always, the answer is multifaceted. Health is not reliant on a single feature. It’s not just diet, it’s exercise, stress, sleep, family, community, genetics, infectious burden. Within diet, it’s not just what is eaten, but also what isn’t eaten. It’s how food is prepared, whether it’s cooked or eaten raw. Find me a culture who thrived on grains as a staple food, and I’ll find you a culture who came up with some elaborate preparation method to mitigate the antinutrients and enhance the nutrient bioavailability of those grains. Find me a culture whose health thrived on toxin-rich grains as a staple without mitigating said toxins, and I’ll be waiting a long time (and observing the United States through smug Primal shades while I wait).

In today’s post, I’m going to explore the primary reason for why so many traditional cultures who ate grains managed to stay thin and relatively free of degenerative diseases: traditional grain preparation, including soaking, sprouting, and fermentation. If you’re familiar with the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s stance on grains, you’re probably aware of these preparation methods. Each step alters the nutritional experience of the grain to varying degrees, making it more digestible, less toxic, and tastier. I for one am not willing to go through hoops to make grass babies go down easier, but the process is nonetheless extremely interesting. And in the future, if any of my readers want to give grains a shot, at least they’ll do it right, or as right as it can get. As I always say, the only reason to make grains any part of your diet is as a cheap source of calories that converts to glucose very quickly.

You know how cool parents will drink or smoke with their teens to teach them mature consumption of potentially illicit substances before they learn to do it all wrong it in the wild world? This post is kinda like that.

Let’s first do a quick rundown of what exactly we’re trying to avoid, deactivate, or mitigate. We gotta know what we’re up against.

Phytic acid: Phytic acid is the main storage form of phosphorus in grains. That’s awesome for the grain, which needs phosphorus, but there’s a catch. Phytate also binds to many minerals, including zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron, to name several. And, since non-ruminants don’t possess phytase, which digests phytate and releases the bound minerals for easy absorption, eating large quantities of phytate-containing foods results in mineral deficiencies for meat-eating apes. These deficiencies, taken to an extreme, can manifest as tooth decay, which might explain why early grain eating populations had worse teeth than the hunter-gatherers who preceded them.

Enzyme inhibitors: Grains are seeds that require certain wet, nutrient rich conditions for proper growth. Spontaneous germination is counterproductive (you don’t want your children settling down in an area with high crime and high unemployment, do you?), so enzyme inhibitors prevent it. When moisture abounds (like, when soaking grains), the inhibitors are deactivated and sprouting occurs. So why should we care? Certain other enzyme inhibitors also inhibit our ability digest the grains. If you’re relying on grains as a dietary staple, you can’t afford not to wring every last drop of nutrition out of them.

Lectins: I covered lectins fairly comprehensively in a previous post, so I’ll keep it brief. Lectins are nature’s pesticides, protecting the tiny grain from predation. They can perforate the intestinal lining, disrupt our immune systems, and there’s even evidence that they bind to leptin receptors in the hypothalamus (potentially triggering leptin resistance).

Gluten: You know this guy. Found in wheat, rye, and barley, he’s a real bastard of a protein – and possibly not just to celiacs. There’s some evidence that true fermentation can break down gluten, but not all of it. Some Italian researchers used a unique blend of bacterial species to break down 99% of the gluten in sourdough bread, but it was under strict, extremely contrived laboratory conditions. More on that later.

So, how do traditional cultures take care of the aforementioned?

Soaking and Sprouting

I’ve written about soaking nuts and seeds before, and soaking grains is the same idea. The grains are covered with water, placed in a preferably warm place, and soaked for between 12 and 24 hours. There’s not much more to it than that. After soaking, you drain them, rinse them, and let the grains sit out for a couple days. To get grains to sprout, rinse and drain them a couple times each day until sprouts emerge.

Effect on phytate: If the grain contains phytase, some of the mineral-binding phytic acid will be deactivated, but not much. And if the grain has been heat-treated, which destroys phytase, or it contains very little phytase to begin with, the phytic acid will remain completely intact. Overall, neither soaking nor sprouting deactivates a significant amount of phytate.

Effect on enzyme inhibitors: Well, since the seed has been placed in a wet medium and allowed to sprout, the enzyme inhibitors are obviously mostly deactivated. Digestion is much improved (cooking will improve it further).

Effect on lectins: The evidence is mixed, and it seems to depend on the grain. Sprouted wheat, for example, is extremely high in WGA, the infamous wheat lectin. As the wheat grain germinates, the WGA is retained in the sprout and is dispersed throughout the finished plant. In other grains, sprouting seems more beneficial, but there’s always some residual lectins that may need further processing to deactivate.

Effect on gluten: Sprouting reduces gluten to some extent, but not by very much. Don’t count on it. A little bit goes a long way.

Fermentation

After soaking and grinding, grains are traditionally mixed with a starter culture or allowed to wild ferment. Starter cultures often include whey, kefir, yogurt, or left over fermentation medium from the previous batch. Wild fermentation occurs when the grain mixture employs bacteria already present on the grains, or picks up wild yeasts and bacteria from the environment. Both methods are far more effective than just soaking and sprouting at deactivating antinutrients and improving digestibility. Plus, fermentation lends interesting flavors to and enhances the shelf-life of the resultant food (which was extremely valuable in the days before refrigeration and canning).

Effect on phytate: Remember phytase? It’s the enzyme that deactivates phytate, and it really gets cooking during fermentation. In grains that contain high amounts of phytase, like wheat, rye, and buckwheat (technically a pseudo-cereal, but close enough), a day of fermentation deactivates most of the phytate. To degrade the phytate in low-phytase grains, however, the fermentation time must be extended. Adding small amounts of phytase-containing grain to the mix will also speed up the process. Increasing the temperature also improves phytate breakdown. In millet, a low-phytase grain, it took 72 hours to completely degrade the phytate. In wheat, it took ten hours to reach a maximum of 88.8% phytate reduction using a specific bacterial strain. Other strains resulted in reductions of between 28% and 86% (with most reaching above 80%). Standard quick rise baker’s yeast only reduced 16% of phytate (that’s what 99% of wheat eaters are eating nowadays, remember!). Ten hours may not always be enough, however – another fermentation study found that at 48 hours, phytate in wheat was still degrading.

Effect on enzyme inhibitors: Fermentation also significantly reduces enzyme inhibitor activity. A few examples would be prudent, since fermentation has different effects on different enzyme inhibitors in different grains. In 24 hour traditional sorghum fermentation, both trypsin inhibitor and amylase inhibitor (which impedes starch digestion) were reduced by up to 58% and 75%, respectively. In millet, a 48 hour fermentation was required to completely deactivate amylase inhibitor. As I mentioned in the last section, one study found that 48 hours of fermentation resulted in maximum wheat starch digestibility, presumably by deactivating amylase inhibitor.

Effect on lectins: Fermentation reduces lectin load fairly comprehensively across the board, but it might take longer than you can spare. In lentils (I know, not a grain, but with similar antinutrient issues), 72 and 96 hours of fermentation at 42 degrees C eliminated 98% and 97.8% of the lectins, respectively. Specific info on grain lectin breakdown due to fermentation is sparse. Overall, fermentation appears to be pretty effective at reducing lectins (and cooking reduces them further).

Effect on gluten: No store bought garden variety sourdough you find is going to be gluten-free. A team from Italy was able to produce a gluten-free sourdough wheat bread by using specific bacterial strains from all over the world and subjecting the bread to many days of fermentation. The process was totally unfeasible for the home or average commercial baker. There’s also a guy who sells monthlong fermented sourdough bread out of LA-area farmers’ markets and claims celiacs can eat it without issue. Reviews on Yelp seem to corroborate. Maybe I’ll swing by his stand and give it a shot, but I’m skeptical. And besides, I’m personally more worried by WGA, which is biologically active at nanomolar concentrations and which may not be fully degraded by fermentation.

To Eat, or Not to Eat

Some may turn up their noses at agrarian people for relying on a “sub-optimal” grain as staple food, but not me. Yeah, I’m definitely no fan of grains, and I think avoiding them is one of the biggest positive steps a person can take for their overall health. That’s beside the point. As a technical feat, I find the taming of the grain incredibly impressive, a testament to mankind’s awesome ability to adapt to and overcome adversity. Any other animal that switches over to a new staple food that prevents nutrient absorption, causes intestinal perforation, and increases inflammation had better develop some physiological adaptions to deal with the antinutritive factors, and quickly, if it doesn’t want to die out or be forced to move to a new habitat. A human, though? Humans figured out a way to preserve the toxic food, make it palatable, drastically reduce its antinutrient content, and make it more digestible, thanks to the big efficient brain inside our skulls. It’s not physiology (well, kind of), it’s not some advantageous mutation that’s naturally selected and saves the day. It’s human ingenuity, knowhow, knowledge, and wisdom. It is manipulation of the environment to suit our immediate needs. That gets us into trouble on occasion, but you can’t say it isn’t impressive.

That said, will I start soaking, sprouting, and fermenting big batches of grains in my kitchen? No. It’s way too much work and it’s unclear whether the toxins are fully mitigated (and in the case of wheat, they almost certainly are not). I’ll admit that crusty sourdough bread can be a nice occasional treat when eating out, but it’s not something I’m interested in eating on a regular basis. Furthermore, I’m not missing out on any magic nutrient by avoiding grains, but I am avoiding the elaborate prep work required to make them moderately edible (and the toxins that may or may not be deactivated). For the billions that rely on grains for sustenance, these traditional preparation methods are necessary. Choosing between potentially toxic food and starvation, you choose the food – no question – and then you do your best to make it more nutritious. For those of us who don’t need to make that choice, for whom bread is an extracurricular treat, I think removing the risk altogether by simply avoiding the potentially toxic food is a better move. And if it’s carbohydrate you’re after, stick with safe starch sources like roots, tubers, or even white rice (the sole grain that requires no elaborate processing).

But at least you know there’s a better way than what most people do with grains nowadays. At least there’s somewhat of a middle ground for people who won’t relinquish the grass babies.

What about you guys? Do you think you’ll ever experiment with traditional grain preparation?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. So thankful for this post. When I do occasionally eat grains, they are soaked. But it’s just too much work to do on a regular basis. And still too high carb for me.

    dani wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  2. I spent 4 months in Kenya this past year. The diet was based on cornmeal and cassava (a starchy root) in the poorest areas, though they did also eat a lot of wild green vegetables.
    I observed that children were very skinny, so were most men and young women up to about age 30. Most women of middle age were plump– not obese, but not what I’d call a healthy weight. A few were very overweight which was surprising considering the poverty.
    Worth noting is that meat is usually given in much larger portions to men, and milk mostly to children. This leaves pure starch for the older women.

    Mary wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • Did they stew the living daylights out of the greens? What’s with that?? I have yet to graps the wisdom in that practice.
      Don’t confuse weight with intake (I’m sure you don’t, but for others). My mother has always called it being “poor fat”. Taubes makes a clear argument about this, relating to the pummelling your insulin response gets from living off grains’ fast sugars and how that eventually leads to insulin overdrive where all in-calories get a one-way ticket to fat storage, leaving the body obese but starving.
      Did you have a chance to observe how much the “well fed” women ate? I’m guessing not nearly enough. Part of that is without question about who eats first, and best, from the pot.

      Lauren wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  3. Mark, in your other post about rice you say ” Heat does little to phytate, but, since it’s located in the bran, physically removing the bran removes the phytate.” Is this also true of most “wheat” flour? Hasn’t the bran been removed from most of what is sold in the store?

    Thanks

    Jan wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  4. I’ll stick with beer.

    Mark Luedtke wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  5. Great post for an end of the world, apocalypse type senario where the only food left is bushels and bushels of grain. ahh I’ll get started on the underground bunker/pasture … can cows live under ground?

    There are also traditions from China to stay healthy while regularly smoking opium , I’m confident most people would be better off simply avoiding opium.

    alex wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  6. Let’s not forget the traditional Mexican/South American treatment of corn to make masa – Nixtamalization.

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/T0395E/T0395E05.htm

    Like Mark talks about the very occasional sourdough bread, I think Mexican food just ‘aint the same without tortilla.

    That being said, here in the USA, you have to make sure you find tortilla that specifically states it was made with lime-treated masa.

    Dave from Hawaii wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  7. What about Quinoa?
    I have given up all grains and found Quinoa to be a great substitute. I have read that it is a seed and not an actually grain. Help! I love Quinoa….

    Todd Rennels wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  8. Way too much work for me! :)

    Vanessa wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  9. Mark, does walnuts have the same antinutrients as grains?? lately ive been gaining weight.. please reply

    Rui wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  10. Oh, boy! I hope the follow-up to this article is the one that I requested. It sure would make a great companion article!

    Thanks! I love these kins of posts the most, Mark!

    Aidan wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  11. After reading Nourishing Traditions, we started soaking the the grains that we haven’t been able to eliminate yet…. I started doing it with oatmeal (soaked overnight with warm water and yogurt) when my daughter was about 9 months old. I wanted to try it after reading that the soaked/fermented oatmeal is good for lactating mothers and their milk production. After a few mornings of eating oatmeal this way (I wasn’t eating oatmeal at all before), I did notice a remarkable increase in my milk production. Coincidence? Maybe. It certainly wasn’t a blind study! I didn’t make any other noticeable changes in my diet that I can remember, so I’m inclined to attribute the increase to the oatmeal.

    Any thoughts or similar experiences? Is this crazy?

    Jennifer wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  12. After reading Nourishing Traditions, we started soaking the the grains that we haven’t been able to eliminate yet…. I started doing it with oatmeal (soaked overnight with warm water and yogurt) when my daughter was about 9 months old. I wanted to try it after reading that the soaked/fermented oatmeal is good for lactating mothers and their milk production. After a few mornings of eating oatmeal this way (I wasn’t eating oatmeal at all before), I did notice a remarkable increase in my milk production. Coincidence? Maybe. It certainly wasn’t a blind study! I didn’t make any other noticeable changes in my diet that I can remember, so I’m inclined to attribute the increase to the oatmeal.

    Any thoughts or similar experiences?

    Jennifer wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  13. Sorry for accidentally posting twice.

    Jennifer wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  14. Awesome post as usual!! I rely so heavily on posts like these to help me explain my lifestyle to people!! I can’t thank you enough Mark for sharing your knowledge, research, and hard work!!!

    Danielle wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  15. I’ve been grain free for 9 months and have experienced all of the anticipated good results BUT I was warned my my naturopath that I could expect bad results to my complexion. Any ideas about that ?
    Sadly, my historically clear complexion has been marred by a rash of some sort that is clustered on my chin and at the base of my nostrils so I fear she may be right.

    angeliou wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • detox?

      Lauren wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • I experienced an outbreak (rash) after about 5 months into the paleo lifestyle. My doc says my body is detoxifying. Apparently, the body stores toxins in fat tissue; and releases said toxins when the fat is metabolized.

      Bill wrote on August 8th, 2011
  16. I’ve tried to introduce real Sourdough (Rye fermented over 48 hours by a special Baker with no yeast etc) back into my primal diet, so I can have some of the raw goats cheese and homemade marmalades from local farmers.

    It gave me all the exact digestive problems as if I had oatmeal or wheat bread. I was backed-up for many, many days and had a bloated belly.

    Grains are permanently out for me, except the occassional bite I take when someone pushes a homemade, proudly baked bread into my face and says “Try this, you’re gonna love it.”

    Primal Palate wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  17. I guess I’ve always wondered on the anti-grain camp…how long did Paleo man live, exactly?

    And if you look at the healthiest peoples living TODAY, they almost always eat beans. The Okinawans and the Mediterraneans – now of course, there are other big issues there – lifestyle and stress for sure (and Okinawans generally only eat until 80% full).

    BUT…why is it that the healthiest and longest living people still eat grains? Is it because they don’t damage their bodies with processed crap? Is it that they eat only certain grains? (I believe I read somewhere that Okinawans actually eat a relatively low-carb diet as far as Asians go).

    Marcia wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  18. Great post! My question may not be exactly relevant to this subject, but close enough… So what is a mother of a 5 year old boy to do when he will NOT eat meat in any form? He will not touch chicken, fish, red meat, organic “grass-fed” hotdogs or home-made chicken nuggets (I do try to fake kid-friendly foods at home). My kid lives off of rice, pasta and bread. The only protein he actually likes is eggs (thank God for small favors). The situation is made worse by the fact that he is severely allergic to whey and is a picky eater – I can’t even hide ground beef under the pretence of a spaghetti sauce. Traditional doctors advice has not provided any solution. Does anyone on this forum experience a similar issue? Please comment.

    Rita P. wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • You’re the adult. You provide nutritious and interesting food on a reasonable and predictable schedule, and the child gets to choose what, how much, and in what order to eat. No child will starve themselves voluntarily.
      You might want to check out GAPS; there’s a section in there on introducing foods to kids with severe neuro-developmental issues – if it can work for them, it must be good! The point to note is that the body (and more importantly the out-of-whack gut flora) may be addicted to white foods, so take it on like an addict’s intervention.
      I do find the hardest part with kids is not the kids, it’s other adults. On that topic I’ve got nothing, sorry!

      Lauren wrote on August 3rd, 2011
      • Thank you for the GAPS suggestion – never heard of it, but reading up promptly on the web. Will probably need to buy the book for the section you are referring to. Thanks a bunch!

        Rita P. wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • I don’t have kids, so take my comment with a big rock of salt, but is your kid so anti-meat that he will actually starve himself to the point of lasting damage if he is not presented with his preferred foods? Or is it just that he puts up a big stink/has a tantrum when you try? Because it seems to me that a few missed meals might make him much more amenable to your dietary “suggestions”… hunger being the best sauce and all.

      Uncephalized wrote on August 3rd, 2011
      • that’s rather cruel and hypocritical. What if someone forced grains on you? It’s his choice, just like you made yours to go primal or whatever.

        gif wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • Your child sounds like a prime candidate for GAPS, with carb addiction, extreme picky eating, and severe dairy allergy. Please, search on it, find Sarabeth’s picky eating recovery story, and don’t waste a minute! It will affect every aspect of his health!

      MamaGrok wrote on August 4th, 2011
    • We had a picky eater in our household. He’s 8 now and for most of his life had refused almost anything that wasn’t white bread or breaded. He loved pizza and Chinese food and McD’s burgers but would refuse the smallest hint of lettuce or shadow of a pickle.

      Then we went primal. I have to tell you that at first I was worried he might starve. He’s already thin, the thinnest among us actually and I didn’t want to force him to eat anything. But hunger and the smells coming from the kitchen induced him to try things and I can’t believe the changes we’ve seen over the past year of primal eating. It was slow a first, a bite of salad here, a few berries or nuts there, but soon he was eating buttered steak, burgers without the bun, chicken curries, thai beef stir fry with onion and bok choy (this is insane, he voluntarily ate something green! I used to have to make pizza sauce myself and blend broccoli into it to get him any natural vitamins). He’s now eating spicier foods than he had ever touched before. This is a kid who for a time wouldn’t even eat ketchup because it burned his tongue. Now he eats everything. It’s amazing.

      I’d say keep at it, keep offering primal foods and restricting the non primal options, slowly eliminating things. Our son was addicted to cereal and would often use it as a crutch. If he balked at dinner he’d have cereal, if he didn’t like lunch, he’d have cereal. We allowed it, but we switched the milk to heavy cream, which he seemed OK with. As time has gone on the cereal has been used less and less and now it hasn’t been touched in months.

      Tim wrote on August 5th, 2011
    • It is easier to hide meat which was cooked (boiled till soft, which will take approximately 3 hours) then ground or put into a blender, then added to a pasta souce. It is possible your son is a super-tester, meat you cook may taste too strong for him. Try to give him a chicken just boiled in a salted water.If your boy eats rice, make sure to cook it in a bone broth (try to add a little at the beginning, remove all coagulated protein because it is easy to spot in the rice in order to avoid changing taste too abruptly). Also make sure he doesn’t drink ANYTHING what contains calories, only water and absolutely no snacks between meals. If he wants to eat sooner, give him normal meal. Try to eat with him while not paying attention does he eats or not. Children have tendency to mirror what other people are doing, and became more fussy when forced to do something or if somebody is paying too much attention on them. Remove all food from the home you don’t want your child to eat even if it is not convenient for other family members. Prepare to stop worrieng if you child may not survive wery limited food for a week.

      Galina L. wrote on August 15th, 2012
  19. Just a few weeks ago i asked about sprouts, and here you are on top of things, and responding in detail. Thanks, Mark, your service is impeccable. Kapo

    kapo wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  20. Excellent post Mark. I spent years eating just two slices of fermented bread every and still had some health issues. After reading your book I ditched the grains completely ( or as near as possible) and have not looked back. Best health move I have made and if I am craving some carb to go with my butter a potato is much more digestible and absorbs way more butter. I know this is an emotive issue but unless I am faced with starvation its grain free from here on.

    patrick wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  21. I generally try to avoid the grains. Although, if I’m fermenting something overnight, it’s usually either some type of legume like lentils, or brown rice (For some reason white rice doesn’t sit well with me).
    Budget-wise meat is expensive to eat 3 times a day, 7 days a week. So I make do by propping it up with veggies, and the occasional portion of well prepared legume/brown rice.

    Wafaa wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  22. Has anyone heard of ezekiel bread?

    Ingredients:
    *Organic Sprouted Wheat, *Organic Sprouted Barley, *Organic Sprouted Millet, Malted Barley, *Organic Sprouted Lentils, *Organic Sprouted Soybeans, *Organic Spelt, Filtered Water, Fresh Yeast, Sea Salt.

    *Organically grown and processed in accordance with the California organic foods act of 1990.

    Lindsay wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • Yes, we used to buy it all the time before I went completely grain-free. DH still eats Ezekiel’s 4:9 sprouted organic English muffins. Personally, I didn’t mind the English muffins (that is when I was eating grains), but the bread itself was like eating roofing shingles – it was just too dry, so I ended up using it to make French toast.

      But that was almost a year ago, and I now don’t eat any grains of any kind at all and I feel a LOT better both physically and mentally. I ain’t going back – I don’t care how sprouted or fermented any of it is.

      PrimalGrandma wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • Certainly have eaten my share and experienced small intestine inflamation. It all sounds good and the marketing lures are fantastic but the emperical results for the health status of modernites is dismal. But give it a go. Eat as much as you like to know your limits and to see how sensetive you are.

      Dan Hegerich wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  23. Is “wheat grass” the same plant as the wheat we find in bread/flour? I enjoy drinking the occasional shot of wheat grass juice, but wonder if it is the same plant and therefore contains all the same lectins/WGA/gluten, etc. (I’m hoping it’s not really the same.) Can anyone confirm one way or the other?

    Jan wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • Wheat grass is created from wheat berries.

      Dan Hegerich wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • yup. same darn plant, just sprouted. sorry.

      moonablaze wrote on August 7th, 2011
  24. I think the whole “it is so much work” bit about preparing grains is really over-hyped. When I have used them it has never added more than a few minutes of actual work to my schedule.

    That said I don’t think anyone should be eating modern wheat. It just isn’t the same bear it was even 50 years ago with over 25,000 mutations. WAPF does yeoman work on the preparation issue, but all the prep work in the world is really missing the point, especially, with modern wheat.

    Go back to ancient grains. It is one explanation as to why both Dr. Price and Dr. McCarrison got good results with wheat that, while extremely fresh (and that is important), wasn’t properly prepared at all.

    And in Dr. Davis’s N=1 experiment with ancient wheat (a low carber who is no fan of wheat by any stretch of the imagination), he did not react in any way similar to what happens when he eats modern wheat.

    Michael wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  25. Look at all the grain addicts posting!

    You guys should all be ashamed.

    Kaiser Wilhelm wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  26. We make masa for tamales by hand once a year, because it’s traditional in my family to have them for Christmas Eve dinner. I mean soaking the dried corn with lime, grinding it, and whipping it up with homemade lard from pastured pigs.

    The product is commensurately tasty–and the nixtamal does have more bioavailable nutrients than corn itself, which is why pre-Columbian society survived–but not worth doing, to me, except for the one special occasion. The rest of the time, I avoid corn as much as possible.

    nora wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  27. Don’t know if this has been mentioned yet, but phytic acid doesn’t bind phosphorus, it *is* phosphorus.

    Matt wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  28. I was a master sourdough baker..Wheat and Rye…that stuff put so many pounds of fat on me it wasn’t funny…I have eaten ZERO grain or grain related products in 2 years..and will continue to eat ZERO grains…I live without them just fine.And I find absolutely no reason to eat any.. Its your body so you can eat what you want to..But grains of any kind are no longer in my life.

    PAPA GROK wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  29. great blog. i think you can’t have your cake and eat it too. logic says to me that the countries that thrive on grain may have low fat intake in their diets. It looks like when fat and grains are mixed, the weight gains; which would indicate calories do have an impact. Hence the CW for low fat in SAD. Hmmm…

    Dasbutch wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  30. The grain issue will always be debated mainly because they are highly addictive! Therefore, most grain lovers will defend their addiction to the demise of their wellbeing. Sure if you are financially independent, have loved ones around you, live in the country side and grow your own foods, have a creative outlet, and was home birthed, breast fed for a year, non-vacinated, etc…then you could probably handle the stress of the grains. But for most of us in the Western Culture that Joan Clever life isn’t tangible. Mark you neglected to mention the Advanced Glycation End Product toxins created from the metabolism of sugars (grains and starch) which are higher in cooked grains and starch-cooked fructose being the King of AGE’s and Gluten is a Lectin and its indigestability creates opiates for the brain-the ultimate comfort food because it can mimic heroine. In fact coming off grains can be just as difficult, hense the profound addiction. Alcohol addiction was 10x easier to let go of than grains. I still enjoy some nuts/seeds on rare occasions. Aajonus Vonderplanitz, founder of the Primal Diet, says that adding raw honey, raw butter and raw egg neutralizes the phytates in nuts and seeds. Scientifically there is no proof, but it definately digests better (doesn’t sit in my small intestines). Great blog post to help others come off the grain trough. Lastly, to make them more digestable cultures would eat grains with rich bone broths. Most likely to protect the intestines from the inflamatory reaction to the grains and also to add in many more minerals. Ok I’m done…

    Dan Hegerich wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • “The grain issue will always be debated mainly because they are highly addictive! Therefore, most grain lovers will defend their addiction to the demise of their wellbeing. ”

      EXACTLY!!!
      All one needs to do is look at how many pages of replies this subject has gotten so far…this is a pro-primal forums…and yet how many are defending or admitting they STILL eat grains!

      Kaiser Wilhelm wrote on August 4th, 2011
  31. People making that argument don’t like to be reminded that the natives of those countries are doing so out of a forced need, not a vegetarian mindset. It is due to poverty. I know many of the raw vegan crowd that think starvation is a good look, but I’ll pass.

    cj wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  32. I’ll never go through all that work to eat grains. Never. Please pass the bacon and steak!

    Primal Toad wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  33. This is exactly the type of article I needed! My husband has been asking this question and I didn’t have an answer that he was happy with. Thanks so much for this information!

    Tree wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  34. This is such a great post and I think if I could just memorize all this information I could argue my “primal point” much easier. Thanks again, Mark.

    Melissa wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  35. Hi. So I’ve been on a “leaning toward” primal diet. I’m actually very keen on Price’s work, and have been learning to ferment with Nourishing Traditions. I’ve actually found that the best thing I can do for my health is do whatever it takes to improve digestion–this means eating fermented foods for the extra enzymes, eating fresh, local produce, raw milk, and gently cooked meat. I don’t eat a lot of grain, but I do eat some. I am now fermenting it before eating. Personally, I actually find it easier to prep grains than meat or produce. Everyone keeps saying it’s too much work, and I don’t know why everyone’s whining about it. Eating just a couple servings of grain a day seems to have no ill affect on me, and I am losing weight without even trying.

    Lisa C wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  36. So, being Italian and growing up in the USA compels me to respond to these posts.
    The reason people in Italy are some of the healthiest in the world (WE BOAST SOME OF THE MOST CENTENARIANS ON THE PLANET) is due not only to the Mediterranean diet, but the lifestyle. Every summer growing up we would spend with my family in Italy, and I would always come back swimming in my clothes! Why? Because even though Italians love their pasta, they eat it early in the day (2pm or so) and snack in the evening on their antipasti, or salads and fruit. This is always accompanied by A LOT of walking and a much more active way of life. We were always going to the market for our daily meals, and ate fresh, delicious ingredients. Breakfast was very light, and not full of sugary cereals and sweets, but rather an espresso and a piece of fruit and maybe the occasional cornetto. Then it was off to the beach, and or shops to get MOVING!
    SO I hate to burst the paleo bubble, but a BALANCED diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, mixed with whole grains and a little fat and a lot of exercise, including yoga and meditation is by far the healthiest choice. Oh, and lets be mindful of the people in Somalia right now, who WISH they could be so fussy.

    Addy wrote on August 3rd, 2011
    • WORD.

      Misha wrote on August 4th, 2011
  37. Great article, thanks for all you do Mark!!

    Andy wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  38. Man! Good stuff as always, Mark!

    Sterling wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  39. I’m currently in Asia, and have traveled to other countries. It’s a myth that Asians remain skinny. Young ones usually are, but by middle age they’re often heavy-set. Not as horribly bloated as so many Americans, but not thin either.

    Plus, there’s the exercise factors. Poor people, especially in rural areas, work much harder physically than Americans. This helps to mitigate the effects of the grains they eat.

    Plus, most of these areas are close to the equator, meaning they gets lots more sunlight, meaning they get lots more Vitamin D than people in temperate regions. This has to help improve their health.

    As affluence spreads, so is obesity. I see a fair number of fat children in this Asian country, for example. I suspect that 50-60 years ago they would not have been able to eat as much rice as they wanted — or the numerous sugar and other snack foods and sodas that are now available.

    Richard Stooker wrote on August 3rd, 2011
  40. ===============================
    GRAINS ARE NOT PALEO and GRAINS= SUGAR.
    The FDA food pyramid is to help big Agra and big Pharma–so many can stay sick.
    Let’s be realistic……Grains are NEW in the human timeline.
    My family is mostly celiac–they have not adapted to it yet.

    I am mostly gluten free but need not be per se and feel better since going 98% GF–Also I quit DAIRY 98%—-aka GF/CF diet like for curing autism and dementias—–gee maybe that is partly why SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE have these brain problems from like age 2????
    ======================================

    roy wrote on August 3rd, 2011

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