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

Why Grains Are Unhealthy

grainsI find that grain bashing makes for a tasty, but ultimately unsatisfying meal.

You all know how much I love doing it, though. But no matter how often I sit down to dine on the stuff (and I’ve done it with great gusto in the past), I always leave the table feeling like I left something behind. Like maybe I wasn’t harsh enough about the danger of gluten, or I failed to really convey just how much I hated lectins. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the mere mention of grains was eliciting a crazy insulin-esque response and throwing my satiety hormones all out of whack. I was filling up on anti-grain talk, but I just couldn’t fill that void for long.

Well, I’ve got the hunger today, and this time I aim to stuff myself to the point of perpetual sickness. I don’t ever want to have to look at another anti-grain argument again (yeah, right). If things get a little disjointed, or if I descend into bullet points and sentence fragments, it’s only because the hunger has taken over and I’ve decided to dispense with the pleasantries in order to lay it all out at once.

So please, bear with me.

Apart from maintaining social conventions in certain situations and obtaining cheap sugar calories, there is absolutely no reason to eat grains. Believe me – I’ve searched far and wide and asked everyone I can for just one good reason to eat cereal grains, but no one can do it. They may have answers, but they just aren’t good enough. For fun, though, let’s see take a look at some of the assertions:

“You need the fiber!”

Okay, for one: no, I don’t. If you’re referring to its oft-touted ability to move things along in the inner sanctum, fiber has some unintended consequences. A few years back, scientists found that high-fiber foods “bang up against the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, rupturing their outer covering” which “increases the level of lubricating mucus.” Err, that sounds positively awful. Banging and tearing? Rupturing? These are not the words I like to hear. But wait! The study’s authors say, “It’s a good thing.” Fantastic! So when all those sticks and twigs rub up against my fleshy interior and literally rupture my intestinal lining, I’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s all part of the plan, right?

Somehow, I’m not convinced that a massive daily infusion of insoluble grain fiber is all that essential. And that “lubricating mucus” sounds an awful like the mucus people with irritable bowel syndrome complain about. From personal experience I can tell you that once I completed my exodus from grains, the IBS completely stopped. If you’re not yet convinced on the fiber issue I’ll refer you to Konstantin Monastyrsky’s Fiber Menace. Anyway, there’s plenty of fiber in the vegetables and fruit I eat. Which takes me to the next claim:

“You need the vitamins and minerals!”

You got me. I do need vitamins and minerals, like B1 and B2, magnesium and iron, zinc and potassium. But do I need to obtain them by eating a carb-heavy, bulky grain? No, no I don’t. You show me a serving of “healthy whole grains” that can compete – nutrient, vitamin, and mineral-wise – with a Big Ass Salad. What’s that? Can’t do it? Thought so.

“But it forms the foundation of the governmental food pyramid!”

You know, I should have just started the entire post with this one. I could have saved my fingers the trouble of typing and your eyes the trouble of reading. Governmental endorsements are not points in your favor, grain-eater; they are strikes against you. An appeal to authority (unless that “authority” is actually a preponderance of scientific evidence, of course) does not an effective argument make. Conventional Wisdom requires consistent, steady dissection and criticism if it is to be of any value.

There’s a reason grains are first and foremost on the list of foods to avoid when following the Primal Blueprint: they are completely and utterly pointless in the context of a healthy diet. In fact, if your average unhealthy person were to ask for the top three things to avoid in order to get healthy, I would tell them to stop smoking, to stop drinking their calories (as soda or juice), and to stop eating grains. Period. Full stop. They really are that bad.

I’ve mentioned this time and again, but the fundamental problem with grains is that they are a distinctly Neolithic food that the human animal has yet to adapt to consuming. In fact, cereal grains figured prominently in the commencement of the New Stone Age; grains were right there on the forefront of the agricultural revolution. Hell, they were the agricultural revolution – einkorn wheat, emmer, millet, and spelt formed the backbone of Neolithic farming. They could be stored for months at a time, they were easy enough to grow in massive enough quantities to support a burgeoning population, and they promoted the construction of permanent settlements. Oh, and they were easily hoarded, meaning they were probably an early form of currency (and, by extension, a potential source of income inequality). And here’s the kicker: they were harsh, tough things that probably didn’t even taste very good. It also took a ton of work just to make them edible, thanks to their toxic anti-nutrients.

Toxic anti-nutrients? Do tell.

Living things generally do not want to be consumed by other living things. Being digested, for the most part, tends to interrupt survival, procreation, propagation of the species – you know, standard stuff that fauna and flora consider pretty important. To avoid said consumption, living things employ various self defense mechanisms. Rabbits, for example, with their massive ears, considerable fast-twitch muscle fibers, and nasty claws, can usually hear a predator coming, outrun (out-hop?) nearly anything, and (in a pinch) slash a tender belly to shreds. Blue whales are too big to fit into your mouth, while porcupines are walking reverse pincushions. Point is, animals have active defense mechanisms. They run, fight, jump, climb, fly, sting, bite, and even appeal to our emotions (if you’ve ever seen a puppy beg for a treat with sad eyes, you know that isn’t just accidental cuteness) in order to survive. All the while, predators are constantly evolving and generating adaptations.

Plants, though, are passive organisms without the ability to move, think, and react (for the most part). They must employ different tactics to ensure propagation, and they generally have to rely on outside forces to spread their seed. And so various methods are “devised” to dissuade consumption long enough for the seed to get to where it’s going. Nuts have those tough shells, and grains have the toxic anti-nutrients, lectins, gluten, and phytates. (Of course there are some obvious exceptions. Fruits are tasty, nutritious, and delicious so that animals will eat them whole and poop out the seeds, preferably into some fertile soil. The seed stays intact throughout the digestive process; it is indigestible by design. No seed “wants” to be digested, because this would defeat the purpose. They “want” to be swallowed, or borne by the wind, or carried by a bee to the next flower, but they do not want to be digested.)

Some animals are clearly adapted to grain consumption. Birds, rodents, and some insects can deal with the anti-nutrients. Humans, however, cannot. Perhaps if grains represented a significant portion of our ancestral dietary history, things might be a bit different. Some of us can digest dairy, and we’ve got the amylase enzyme present in our saliva to break down starches if need be, but we simply do not have the wiring necessary to mitigate the harmful effects of lectins, gluten, and phytate.

Lectins are bad. They bind to insulin receptors, attack the stomach lining of insects, bind to human intestinal lining, and they seemingly cause leptin resistance. And leptin resistance predicts a “worsening of the features of the metabolic syndrome independently of obesity”. Fun stuff, huh?

Gluten might be even worse. Gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley, is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. Around 1% of the population are celiacs, people who are completely and utterly intolerant of any gluten. In celiacs, any gluten in the diet can be disastrous. We’re talking compromised calcium and vitamin D3 levels, hyperparathyroidism, bone defects. Really terrible stuff. And it gets worse: just because you’re not celiac doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to the ravages of gluten. As Stephan highlights, one study showed that 29% of asymptomatic (read: not celiac) people nonetheless tested positive for anti-gliadin IgA in their stool. Anti-gliadin IgA is an antibody produced by the gut, and it remains there until it’s dispatched to ward off gliadin – a primary component of gluten. Basically, the only reason anti-gliadin IgA ends up in your stool is because your body sensed an impending threat – gluten. If gluten poses no threat, the anti-gliadin IgA stays in your gut. And to think, most Americans eat this stuff on a daily basis.

Phytates are a problem, too, because they make minerals bio-unavailable (so much for all those healthy vitamins and minerals we need from whole grains!), thus rendering null and void the last, remaining argument for cereal grain consumption.

What, then, is the point to all this grain madness? Is there a good reason for anyone (with access to meat, fruit, and vegetables, that is) to rely on cereal grains for a significant portion of their caloric intake?

The answer is unequivocally, undeniably no. We do not need grains to survive, let alone thrive. In fact, they are naturally selected to ward off pests, whether they be insects or hominids. I suggest we take the hint and stop eating them.

And with that, I’m done. I don’t think I could eat another bite.

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. don’t believe everything you read on the internet, just listen to your body. There is no one size fits all diet plan. Grains are very nutritious, filling and full of vitamins and minerals. They have to be whole grains not refined or processed. Brown rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, etc are excellent. My digestion is so much better and energy level improved when I eat whole grains. Never let anyone tell you what’s good for you and what’s not. Do your own research, work with your diet and settle in on what works best for you, not for them.

    Jack wrote on April 10th, 2013
  2. I think the “You need the vitamins and minerals!” section is really the only one you need to dispel the notion that grains are essential for a healthy diet. Any nutritional benefit provided by grains can be gotten from other, healthier sources. You want fiber? Eat whole fruits and vegetables. Anti-oxidants? Eat whole fruits and vegetables. Vitamins? Eat whole fruits and vegetables. Replace most or all of your grains with fruits and vegetables, and you will be a healthier person. It’s that simple.

    Mark Pompeo wrote on April 17th, 2013
    • Dear Mark, following your reply to its logical end, you would not be consuming anything but a few of the most nutrient-dense foods. For example, why would you consume grass-fed beef (the lean muscle meat) when you could get orders of magnitude more nutrition from the liver. You would just consume the liver, every meal, day after day. But we don’t do this (even though it is possible in this time with the great availability of foods) because you would miss out on variety, a very important component of successful diets. This link you might find interesting (it is written especially for your comment): http://www.arthurhaines.com/10-July-2013.html . Best wishes in health.

      Arthur Haines wrote on December 26th, 2013
  3. May I ask if phytates only block minerals if they’re eaten with the meal from which you’re specifically getting these minerals?

    What if for example, I get a cup of green tea (which contains phytates) in the morning an hour before I eat anything?

    Jean wrote on April 27th, 2013
  4. This is ludicrous. As a professional in the field of eating disorders, it is garbage like this that confuses the clients I treat and fuels their distorted thoughts. I will never believe that plants that grow from the earth, and that taste to delicious are bad for everyone. This is complete BS.

    April wrote on May 1st, 2013
    • I am actually here because of my ED (EDNOS) which means, “Eating Disorder Not Specified” for those who didn’t know.

      I’m not sure to stay away from grains or just have them in moderation. Thankfully I am getting help with my disordered way of eating, and how I feel and think about food….

      Alexandrea Busnello wrote on June 12th, 2013
  5. Mark – Thanks for the incredibly insightful post. Your views are certainly respected by the community which is why I was surprised to see some weak arguments chipping away at the credibility of this otherwise enlightening post. For instance, your gluten argument does hold a lot of weight in the scientific community but your fiber argument is alarmingly weak. You’ve discounted the conclusions of the one scientific study you referenced because you didn’t like how they described fiber’s interaction with cells in the GI. Then, to support your point of view, you reference Konstantin Monastyrsky, who is neither a scientist nor a doctor. Finally, you end your whole argument by saying “there’s plenty of fiber in the vegetables and fruit I eat” which implies that fiber is necessary and completely discounts that whole argument.

    Your articles are very valued in the health and nutrition community but I would encourage readers to investigate further and get numerous perspectives. This goes for all blogs including yours and mine.

    Finally, thanks for generating this great dialogue among your readers. I can feel everybody becoming smarter about what they eat!

    Nick wrote on May 7th, 2013
  6. So, are nuts safe?

    lee wrote on May 8th, 2013
  7. Though I do feel it is important to “rebel” (for lack of a better word) against many USDA suggested foods, this is (in my opinion) another case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Modern grains (particularly wheat) have some real health detriments, especially when eaten as a staple. However, there are wild grains with very different qualities and have been used as staples by indigenous people (without creating health problems).

    A given scientific study may show that fiber is bad. But note that wild plant foods (non-cultivated foods that were eaten by paleo hominids) were much higher in fiber than todays engineered foods. Virtually all the produce in the supermarket has been genetically modified (through breeding) to create foods that have more calories and less nutrition per unit mass than their wild progenitors. If fiber is truly bad for us, this would speak poorly of plants actually eaten by wild hominids.

    Toxic antinutrients (such as phytic acid) are also present in nuts and other foods recommended by many paleo authors. The presence of antinutrients does not, in and of itself, demonstrate a food should not be consumed. Phytic acid can be dealt with through soaking, sprouting, and (most effectively) fermenting. Using this as an excuse to avoid grains (or nuts or various seed-like fruits including quinoa and amaranth) isn’t providing the entire picture. We are humans and we use our knowledge and resourcefulness to acquire and process foods to make them more nutritious (in this case, eliminate compounds that detract from the nutrition of harvested foods).

    A wild grain that is an important staple in my house in northern wild rice (Zizania palustris), harvested using traditional methods from water courses in Maine. This grain has no gluten (like some other traditional grains). This wild plant was a staple of indigenous people of the Great Lakes region. Note that these people could produce well-formed bodies (broad faces with all teeth–including wisdom teeth–emerging straight and uncrowded). People who consume wheat as a staple are not able to derive the nutrition they need, as evidenced by the fact they can’t build proper form (all indigenous people around the world who consumed wild foods, in some cases including non-cultivated grains, were able to build broader faces than we can on our supermarket diets).

    It is important (I feel) to not generalize too much. The Paleo Diet is a poor representation of what paleo hominids ate, because (for example) the vast majority of the plant foods heavily relied upon didn’t exist. If anyone eats an actual wild diet (one that more closely mimics the plant foods eaten in paleolithic times) you will rely on large variety of plant foods and that may include wild grains. The nutritional profile of wild rice is impressive (for a grain), as it exceeds wheat in many vitamins and minerals and has a much better omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid profile (fully 30% of its fats are ALA). The fact that wheat is a poor choice for a staple doesn’t mean (in my opinion) that all grains should be avoided. Grains were consumed by paleo hominids and more modern-day indigenous people without creating the issues we see in those that rely on wheat as staple. Context is critical. Thanks for your writing, it is a pleasure to read.

    Arthur Haines wrote on May 13th, 2013
  8. Mark – Thanks for the incredibly insightful post. Your views are certainly respected by the community which is why I was surprised to see some weak arguments chipping away at the credibility of this otherwise enlightening post. For instance, your gluten argument does hold a lot of weight in the scientific community but your fiber argument is alarmingly weak. You’ve discounted the conclusions of the one scientific study you referenced because you didn’t like how they described fiber’s interaction with cells in the GI. Then, to support your point of view, you reference Konstantin Monastyrsky, who is neither a scientist nor a doctor. Finally, you end your whole argument by saying “there’s plenty of fiber in the vegetables and fruit I eat” which implies that fiber is necessary and completely discounts that whole argument.

    Your articles are very valued in the health and nutrition community but I would encourage readers to investigate further and get numerous perspectives. This goes for all blogs including yours and mine.

    Finally, thanks for generating this great dialogue among your readers. I can feel everybody becoming smarter about what they eat!

    My complete response is here: http://whatsnickeating.com/2013/05/28/why-grains-are-unhealthy-a-response/

    whatsnickeating wrote on May 28th, 2013
  9. What about Einkorn – The Original Wheat?

    http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/einkorn-ancient-grains.htm

    This is the same wheat found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs,
    and it’s very different from today’s wheat.

    I was told that the reason wheat was so bad was ‘because it had
    been genetically modified so many times’ – well this stuff has probably
    never been modified ..

    And it’s organic ..

    Also, isn’t Black Rice a grain? Sounds like this one may be healthier
    than blueberries?

    I tend to wonder if grains are that bad, or if we are just eating the
    wrong ones (like Monsanto’s gm wheat)?

    Scott wrote on May 29th, 2013
  10. hablo por mi experiencia,,sufro de la tiroides e intestinos desde hace dos años,,,he sufrido mucho,,y todo esto debido al cambio de alimentacion,,,,empece a comer mucha soya, granos etc y luego mucho estres,, y empezaron las taquicardias,,,,,he estado casi a morir,,,hozpitalizada,,,,muy mal….. he dejado de comer granos y guten,,,,eso me ayuda mucho,, tampoco como carne roja,,,solo pollo y pescado,,,verduras, nueces, futas,etc—— soy cristiana adventista,,,y creo en el vegetarianismo,,mas no creo en los granos,,,,creo en Dios y no en el mono,,,,pero de que el gluten es dañino,,,lo es!!!

    lis wrote on June 4th, 2013
  11. Well, I can’t seem to search the commends, so hopefully this hasn’t been posted already.

    Anyway archeologists now claim that our distant ancestors, the one’s the palio diet is supposed to emulate, actually ate grass and whatever else they found on the African savannah. And that means grains, because grains are seeds.

    Though I don’t doubt the science of why grains may be bad, especially in the large quantities of the modern diet. But one of the tenets of Palio is that our ancestors didn’t eat such things. Well, as it turns out, science shows that this could be more assumption than fact.

    Responses?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22752937

    Phil Farthing wrote on June 6th, 2013
  12. “Why do Paleo and Atkins-style diets (i.e. low-carbohydrates) cause constipation?”

    Ironically, this title along with an explanation, appears in the referenced
    Fiber Menace by Konstantin Monastyrsky. Perhaps Mark (or whoever the proofreader was) Didn’t think anyone would actually follow up on the “supporting evidence”.

    There is no bonafied, double blind test with significant numbers of participants over a significant span of time that proves or even suggests that a Paleo diet is better. Excuse me for wanting factual supporting evidence for amazing claims (which happen to create a fair amount of income for the ones making the claims).

    Steve wrote on June 7th, 2013
  13. I love the eat whole foods method here but should ALL breads and grains be eliminated? What about cultures who eat grains all of the time(like Asians) who are some of the most healthiest people on the planet? Other cultures seem to know the key to moderation better than Westerners do. How ever I will definitely be REDUCING my intake of carbs in the form of pastas and grains.

    D Angie wrote on June 11th, 2013
  14. I eat grains every day, and I’m fine.

    Alexandrea Busnello wrote on June 12th, 2013
  15. “What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others.”—Lucretius

    Jeff wrote on June 20th, 2013
  16. Your evidence from Dr. Paul L. McNeil, a cell biologist at the Medical College of Georgia regarding high fiber foods banging up against the cell lining, is actually an incorrect reference for your argument as the article actually states:
    “When you eat high-fiber foods, they bang up against the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract, rupturing their outer covering. What we are saying is this banging and tearing increases the level of lubricating mucus. It’s a good thing.”

    Dr. McNeil discovered that frequent cell injury and cell repair occurs when we eat. Dr. Paul L. McNeil then goes on to say, “It’s a bit of a paradox, but what we are saying is an injury at the cell level can promote health of the GI tract as a whole.”

    I would be wary of the rest of this person’s “research” also. It is obvious it isn’t very well done.

    AJ wrote on June 25th, 2013
  17. I have fatigue due to nodules in the thyroid and really low levels of DHEA and progesterone. Im 38. I am intolerant to wheat and cow’s milk, yeasts, malt, etc.

    Would you recommend a vegan diet? I have tried in the past but was not good.

    I would appreciate your expert advice.

    Thanks

    Needasolutionnow wrote on June 27th, 2013
  18. Enjoyed your writing on grains. Incidently I recently read the book Fiber Menace, which led me back to proper food combining (as in “Fit for Life”). I quit the ‘mega-fiber’ and I’m better for it. These days I hardly ever eat grains. I agree that fruits and vegetables likely have enough fiber – and how natural is it anyway to be OD’ing on grain fiber and destroying one’s mucosa (shudder)…

    A F Battershell wrote on July 19th, 2013
  19. We’ve always eaten inconvenient foods like grains. The paleo world never talks about acorns. They were the premiere paleo food — literally the entire temperate world ate them as the bulk of their diet for thousands of years, but we certainly don’t have the ability to digest them. They need to be prepared by us to be nourishing, and then they are superb food. If we could deal with preparing our acorns properly, then we can deal with our grains, too. soak, sprout, ect. I do think that acorns are a lot better food than grain, though.

    Lisa wrote on July 26th, 2013
  20. I feel so IRRITABLE when I eat grains!! I also feel “off” and less coordinated and agile. If you suffer from anger or irritability, try resisting grains and you may see a difference. Ditto if you wanna be at the top of your game physically.

    Lisa wrote on July 28th, 2013
  21. I eat grains (gluten free ones due to intolerance) but I know without delusion, they’re a less optimal way of getting complex carbs than a sweet potato or even (gasp) white potato. They’re also a less optimal way of getting other essential nutrients than getting them from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, fat and grass fed meat. There aren’t any nutrients in grains that you can’t get from foods closer to the source and easier to digest. Also, most processed grain cereal products have to be fortified with vitamins, presumably to make up for the empty calorie consumption which presumably leaves less room for eating foods naturally high in vitamins and minerals.

    But, grains are available, socially acceptable and relatively cheap. When I see unhealthy people try and “get healthier”, I have nothing but encouragement for them even when they opt for more wholegrains. This is because as their journey progresses, I usually see them gradually and naturally/ unknowingly increasing their intake of vegetables and effectively crowding out the need for excess grains.

    AMc wrote on July 28th, 2013
  22. Grain Fed Chicken = Paleo?

    I once flew (Flight for Life – EMS) a 14 year old female to a Pediatric ICU with an exacerbation of a gluten allergy after eating pork from her family’s ranch. The receiving ICU doctor stated that the consumption of grain fed pork led to her acute illness.

    Question: Where is grass fed chicken sold?

    I have seen grass fed beef in the market, however, I have never seen grass fed chicken.

    Sincerely,

    Kim Allen, RN, EMT-P

    Grain Fed Chicken Alternative wrote on August 14th, 2013
  23. Then what carbohydate (that is not a vegestable) is healthy and we can eat then?

    Adel-Alexander Aldilemi wrote on September 24th, 2013
  24. What about sprouted grains? Just about all the breads I eat are sprouted. Does that make a difference?

    eli wrote on October 6th, 2013
  25. I think I’ve now referred this post to over one million people! Ha! Keep up the good work this information is invaluable.

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on October 6th, 2013
  26. I believe fibers from whole grains are good but you need to eat whole grain in moderation. The My Plate Method (which happens to replace to old food pyramid) tells just that. Too much whole grain is also not that beneficial because the carbs from grains will only be converted in fat and nothing else. And if you are trying to lose some weight, this is going to be a bad news for you.

    Jocelyn wrote on October 7th, 2013
  27. It’s really great how you’ve taken all the normal reasons that people have for eating a lot of grain and debunked the rumors. Grain can be good in certain quantities but it’s not absolutely necessary. This was very interesting to me and I’m definitely glad I read it.

    Lyn wrote on October 8th, 2013
  28. Mark(or anyone who cares)! Could you please re-post the link to Stephan’s article?

    Johnathon Wood wrote on October 17th, 2013
  29. I found a link to the study mentioned in the ScienceDaily Article, here it goes:

    http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.0040276;jsessionid=F75A1A5FD1C7B1C5005B62BC4CF207F1

    Stefan wrote on October 22nd, 2013
  30. What about those of us who run 50+ miles per week with another 5-6 hours of weight training on top of that? ??!! How on earth do I eat 3200 calories per day of salad? ;)

    cmboren wrote on October 28th, 2013
  31. i appreciate your concerns about grains but we all need grains for health. The prayer “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6.11) still rings true even in our day.

    How important are grains?

    Grains make up the most abundant foodstuffs in the world, and for many populations they truly represent “the stuff of life”. What an array in variety they present: barley, wheat, oats, rye, buckwheat, corn, rice, millet! Unfortunately, many areas of the earth feed the bulk of their grain to the livestock and eat their nutrients secondhand – in meat products.

    Grains
    Are you being robbed of the best part of the grain?

    When you choose a variety of cereals and breads mainly in the unrefined form, you have available so much more nutrition than is present in the refined and “enriched” kind. We commonly think that milling removes only a few vitamins and minerals but does not affect the rest of the kernel, and that the enrichment program that is now mandatory throughout the United States makes up for these losses. It is estimated that more than 20 nutrients are removed in milling, and enrichment restores four of these nutrients. The four that are restored are three of the vitamins of the B complex -thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and the mineral iron. since the enrichment program has been in effect, several deficiency diseases of the B vitamins have largely disappeared.
    Some of the best-quality protein, as well as other nutrients, including plant oils, is found in the germ and bran that often go into livestock feed. (Isn’t it strange that animals are often better fed than we are?) Since whole-grain cereals and bread provide moderates amounts of protein, excellent sources of B vitamins, and some of the vital minerals, they should be amply represented in a well-chosen diet.
    Start your day off with good cereals

    Samuel Albert wrote on November 5th, 2013
  32. From what I read about lectins, they do not seem nearly as bad as you deem them to be, on the contrary, they seem to be beneficial. From the regulation of cell adhesion, to targeting certain proteins and delivering them to lysosomes. Also, on the point of Phytic Acid, I’m reading currently that yes, it does deem certain minerals unabsorbable, but not infinitely, only a percentage of these minerals will not be absorbed (not saying that it’s a small or large percentage, or this makes grains worthwhile, just that it is not ultimately bad/dumb to eat grain.)

    Sonny wrote on November 18th, 2013
  33. “Lectins are bad.” FYI, not all of them are! Lectins are a carbohydrate binding protein, but not all lectins are the same. There are many forms of this protein depending on the source. Some have adverse side effects in the gut, others do not. Veggies and grains both contain lectins.

    “..Studies on the effects of lectins on the gut have revealed that oral administration of low doses of lectins can have many beneficial effects on the digestive/absorptive efficiency of the gut, its immune system and bacterial ecology and that, by modulating the secretion of gut hormones, some lectins can influence the body’s endocrine system with beneficial consequences for general metabolism.”

    Source: Pusztai, A. (1993) Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 47, 691-699

    As a scientist, I am sick of reading paleo blogs about antinutrients and how they are harmful when those people writing them do not understand the underlying mechanisms of proteins and their effects on the body.

    Just because Mark says “Lectins are bad” does not mean that they are! Do your research and think critically about what you read.

    Maybe I’ll start a paleo blog, one based on actual scientific research that has been done AND is cited.

    Show me your references, Mark!

    Brianne wrote on November 19th, 2013
  34. I think the ancient ,wiser peoples generally got around the potential problems of grains by realising that ‘instant’ was a pipe dream …they thrived on the ‘staff of life’ by well fermenting/predigesting or by sprouting them.

    paul m wrote on November 20th, 2013
  35. Oh yes, obviously the cornerstone of human society, who’s advance and development allowed the formation of civilization itself is “unhealthy”. How long do you think planet could support the human population without the staple of it’s diet?

    Akimbojoe wrote on November 29th, 2013
  36. Why eat grains? We are lucky enough to live in a standard of living that allows us to eat meat and select vegetables. Grains feed the masses, imagine Asia without rice or the west without wheat. We wouldn’t have the over population problem we have now as we’d still all be Grok, although most of us would never have been born.
    The paleo diet is healthy but it also expensive and unsustainable in the world sense. Grains are the reason we exist now, we are the lucky few who don’t have to eat grains to survive anymore, most people on earth don’t get this choice.

    Mick wrote on December 2nd, 2013
  37. Mark, I agree with the argument against eating grains and limit my grain consumption as much as possible, but how can you be against fiber to support your reasoning?

    What about vegetables and nuts? They contain fiber, and they are obviously good for you.

    Ania wrote on December 14th, 2013
  38. Hey Mark S.!

    I have been enjoying your website for a few months now. I found it through google after a lady sitting next to me on a long flight challenged me to look into the science behind wheat (I am a scientist, and she wasn’t getting far with me by arguing anecdotally).

    I accepted her challenge and started reading articles here and elsewhere (wheatbelly came up quite a bit as well as your site). The evidence confirmed my lifetime of personal data. For example, when back in the day I would prepare (refined wheat) pasta with clam sauce. I would stuff myself and yet be ravenous an hour or two later. Why?

    Now a grilled or broiled salmon fillet with a huge side of steamed broccoli keeps me filled for hours, hmm… why? Well of course you explain why in detailed article after article, filled with the latest research findings. You obviously do your homework! I have a Ph.D. physics, so I can often recognize lazy thinking when I see it. Yours is not. Keep up the excellent website, please!

    grisly atoms wrote on December 24th, 2013
  39. Emma, Zac,

    So the BMJ and researches from institutes at Lund University and University of Copenhagen are not qualified in you views?

    grisly atoms wrote on December 25th, 2013
  40. believe it or not, I came up with a similar nutritional theory on (of) my own before I ever heard of a “paleo” diet.

    I am not interested in anything “paleo”, or vegetarian or vegan, or atkins or anything that gives a single name to all the things we put in our mouths, but if there is anything that comes close to my views it is the “paleo”.

    My progression was as follows: I first concluded that stories about bad “saturated fats” and “bad” cholesterol were bullshit.. I read a bunch of studies on these things from people who generally have no clue what they are talking about (epidemiologists, medics, “nutritionists” etc.) and get their info from the latest fda/cdc bulletin. Saturated fats burn clean, and why would we store body fat for “consumption” if they were so unhealthy? Half of your brain consists of cholesterol. Your cell walls are fat.. Eskimos eat incredible amounts of fat and have no heart disease..

    I than concluded that it is utter bollocks that you should have I do not know how many meals per day.. I eat twice a day and I am fine.. I mean, you can not possibly think that we have to digest ALL the time?

    I concluded that normal food is severely lacking in protein and fat.. one should eat more meat and eggs.. that is also “bad” according to the “theory”. How can it be bad? Fat and protein is what your body consists of for the most part.. (minus water), and fat is just so tasty..

    btw. fats and proteins also elicit an insulin response, and so does the gut.. even more so than sugar..

    You need some sugar in your diet, especially if you are training.. Personally, never had problems with milk, it is good for me.. I mean, if it is good for the babies.. cheese and butter too.

    But the biggest revelation was how long I could go on for on a plate of beans and sausage, bacon and onions (with bread), eggs and bacon, fat cheese and similar foods without getting tired..

    So I ll eat a steak whenever I can get some, eggs, and anything fatty and unhealthy like cheese and I feel GREAT.. and will not be hungry the whole day..

    I guess there is no need to discuss fruit and veggies, everyone agrees those are good for you.. although I wouldnt over do the veggies you have to cook..

    Although I have no problem wit pasta, bread or corn, I concluded that these can not have been our natural diet from an evolutionary standpoint cause they are a pain in the ass to prepare.. I mean really, there is some serious technological advancement in making those edible (ok, you can eat corn if you cook it). I still eat them, although not much.. I figure, if I am going through the trouble of eating in the first place, I might just eat something more substantial than that..

    What else.. yeah, never experienced gluten or lactose intolerance (or heard of them until recently, or know anyone with it), and I guess it is just one of those health epidemics endemic to the USA. I also have never seen anyone “US fat” in Europe (unless american tourists)..

    Seriously, there is something wrong with you guys over there, and I highly doubt it is down to “gluten”, “phytic acid”, or lectins..

    My dad and uncles, and their friends were eating a typical village diet (milk, cheese, butter, eggs meat/ham/bacon/lard, veggies, some fruit, bread) for the most of their life and they were STRONG in a way most power lifters strive to be, without ever having done “strength training” (so I guess there is something to be said about volume) or “recovering” properly.

    Italians that eat a lot of pasta do not look like Americans.. they look fine..

    Point being, you are just eating too many chemicals and GMOs in your diet..

    dido wrote on January 3rd, 2014

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