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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 18 2008

The Definitive Guide to Grains

By Mark Sisson
249 Comments

Wheat

Amber Waves of Pain

Order up! Yes, folks, it?s definitive guide time again. I?ve read your requests and am happy (as always) to oblige. Grab your coffee (or tea), and pull up a seat. Glad you?re with us.

Insulin, cholesterol, fats? They?re only the tip of the iceberg. I?ve had a few ?definitive? topics up my sleeve for a while now, and grains are it for today. Yes, grains. I know we?ve given them a bad rap before, and it?s safe to say I?ll do it again here. Sometimes the truth hurts, but you know what they say about the messenger, right? Without further ado?

Grains. Every day we?re bombarded with them and their myriad of associations in American (and much of Western) culture: Wilford Brimley, Uncle Ben, the Sunbeam girl, the latest Wheaties athlete, a pastrami on rye, spaghetti dinners, buns for barbeque, corn on the cob, donuts, birthday cake, apple pie, amber waves of grain?. Gee, am I missing anything? Of course. So much, in fact, that it could ? and usually does ? take up the majority of supermarket square footage. (Not to mention those government farm subsidies, but that?s another post.) Yes, grains are solidly etched into our modern Western psyche ? just not so much into our physiology.

Grain Truck

Those of you who have been with us a while now know the evolutionary backdrop I mean here. We humans had the pleasure and occasional scourge of evolving within a hunter gatherer existence. We?re talking some 150,000 plus years of hunting and foraging. On the daily scavenge menu: meats, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, some tubers and roots, the occasional berries or seasonal fruits and seeds that other animals hadn?t decimated. (Ever seen a dog at an apple picking?) We ate what nature (in our respective locales) served up. The more filling, the better. And then around 10,000 years ago, the tide turned. Our forefathers and mothers were on the brink of ye olde Agricultural Revolution. And, over time, grains became king. But, as countless archaeological findings suggest, people became smaller and frailer as a result of this new agrarian, grain-fed existence.

Corn

Ten thousand years seems like a long time, doesn?t it? Think of all the house projects you could get done, the advanced degrees you could earn, the dinner party recipes you could try out, the books you could read. Almost oppressive, isn?t it? But our personal vantage point on the span of 10,000 years doesn?t mean much of anything when the context is evolution. It takes a lot to drastically change a major system in the human body. We?re talking a way bigger change than trying out the latest flavor of Malt-O-Meal. Grains were certainly not any substantial part of the human diet prior to the Agricultural Revolution. And even after grains became a large part of human existence, those who were deathly allergic to them or had zero capacity to take in their modest nutrient value were, in all likelihood, selected against. And pretty quickly at that. Those whose health was so compromised by grains that they were rendered infertile early in life were also washed out of the gene pool. That?s how it works. But if you can limp along long enough to procreate (which was considerably earlier then than it typically is now), that new fangled diet of grains got you through. No matter how stunted your growth was, how awful your teeth were, how prone you were to infection.

When I say humans didn?t evolve eating grains, I mean our digestive processes didn?t evolve to maximize the effectiveness of grain consumption. Just because you can tolerate grains to a certain degree, as just about all of us can (thanks to those earlier folks hitting the end of the genetic line), doesn?t mean your body was designed for them or that they?re truly healthy for you or ? especially ? that you can achieve optimum health through them. We?re not talking about what will allow you to hobble along. We?re talking about the foods that offer effective and efficient digestion and nutrient absorption in the body. And that?s all about evolutionary design. If you?re not after optimal health, you?re probably reading the wrong blog. But if you want to work with your body instead of unnecessarily tax it, if you want to focus your diet on the best foods with the most positive impact, you most definitely are reading the right blog. Now let?s continue.

Bread, Pasta

Among my many beefs with grain, the first and foremost is the havoc it plays with insulin and other hormonal responses in the body. For the full picture, visit the previous Definitive Guide to Insulin from some months ago. Guess what? The same principles still hold. We developed the insulin response to help store excess nutrients and to take surplus (and potentially toxic) glucose out of the bloodstream. This was an adaptive trait. But it didn?t evolve to handle the massive amounts of carbs we throw at it now. And, yes, we?re talking mostly about grains. Unless you have a compulsive penchant for turnips, the average American?s majority of carb intake comes from grains.

The gist is this (as many of you know): Whatever the carbohydrate, it will eventually be broken down into glucose, either in the gut or the liver. But now it?s all dressed up with likely no place to go. Unless you just did a major workout or are finishing tying your running shoes as we speak (which would allow those grain-based carbs to be used in the restocking of depleted glycogen stores or burned as secondary fuel, respectively), that French baguette will more likely get stored as fat.

Why? Because carbohydrates elicit a physiological response that favors fat storage. That blasted baguette has already set off a strategic chain of hormonal events akin to a physiological-style Tom Clancy plot: the ambush of baguette glucose, the defensive maneuver of insulin, (if you ate the whole baguette, in particular) the entering reinforcements of adrenaline and cortisol. Why the drama? Because, remember, this was not the standard mode of nutrition in our body?s evolution. And every time it happens, the body is a little worse for the wear. This whole hormonal production taxes the adrenal system, the pancreas, the immune system, and results in a tiny amount of inflammation. We all know what we say about inflammation, right? (Hint: the blight of modern existence.)

And as for the nutritional value of grains? First off, they aren?t the complete nutritional sources they?re made out to be. Quite the contrary, grains have been associated with minerals deficiencies, perhaps because of high phytate levels. A diet high in grains may also reduce the body?s ability to process vitamin D.

Whole Wheat Pasta

Why not get the same nutrients from sources that don?t come back and bite you in the backside? If you have the choice between getting, say, B-vitamins from chicken or some ?whole wheat? pasta, I?m going to say go with the chicken every time. Is pasta cheaper? Yes. Is it healthier? No. The B6 in chicken is more bioavailable, for one. The fact is, you pay too high a physiological price for the pasta source. Let?s get this point on the dinner table as well: whatever nutrients you can get from whole grains you can get in equal to greater amounts in other food. In terms of nutrient density, grains can?t hold a candle to a diverse diet of veggies and meats. (And if the label says otherwise, look closely because the product is fortified. Save your money and buy a good supplement instead.

But, wait, there?s more. Enter the lurker substances in grains that cause a lot of people a whole lot of obvious problems (and probably all of us some kind of damage over time). Grains, new evolutionarily-speaking, are frankly hard on the digestive system. (You say fiber, I say unnecessary roughage, but that?s only the half of it.) Enter gluten and lectins, both initiators of digestive mayhem, you might say. Gluten, the large, water-soluble protein that creates the sludge, err, elasticity in dough, is found in most common grains like wheat, rye and barley (and it?s the primary glue in wallpaper paste). Researchers now believe that a third of us are likely gluten intolerant/sensitive. That third of us (and I would suspect many more on some level) ?react? to gluten with a perceptible inflammatory response. Over time, those who are gluten intolerant can develop a dismal array of medical conditions: dermatitis, joint pain, reproductive problems, acid reflux and other digestive conditions, autoimmune disorders, and Celiac disease. And that still doesn?t mean that the rest of us aren?t experiencing some milder negative effect that simply doesn?t manifest itself so obviously.

Gluten

Now for lectins. Lectins are mild, natural toxins that aren?t limited to just grains but seem to be found in especially high levels in most common grain varieties. They serve as one more reason grains just aren?t worth all the trouble that comes with them. Lectins, researchers have found, inhibit the natural repair system of the GI tract, potentially leaving the rest of the body open to the impact of errant, wandering (i.e. unwanted) material from the digestive system, especially when these lectins ?unlock? barriers to entry and allow larger undigested protein molecules into the bloodstream. This breach can initiate all kinds of immune-related havoc and is thought to be related to the development of autoimmune disorders. Some people are more sensitive to the damage of lectins than others, as in the case with gluten. Nonetheless, I?d say, over time we all pay the piper.

The bottom line is this: grains = carbs. Unnecessary at best, but flat out unhealthy at worst, they?re not the wholesome staples they?re made out to be. Talk about double taxation: Our bodies pay for what our trusty government subsidizes Big Agra for. The best ? really the only way ? to achieve a low carb, whole foods diet is to ditch the grains. (Your body will be better off without inflammation, the insulin roller coaster, not to mention the constant onslaught of creepy gluten and lectins.) A diet very low or entirely without grains (low-carb) has been shown to decrease risk for problems associated with diabetes, to lower blood pressure, alleviate heartburn symptoms, and shed abdominal fat. Finally, low carb diets have been associated with significant ?reductions in a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules.?

The idea here is not to demonize grains. Well, O.K., it is. (But only because our society and medical establishment spends so much time exalting them.) Just as I choose to steer clear of grains as a regular part of my diet, I do occasionally indulge a bit. A tiny bit. And that?s where the Primal Blueprint enters: it?s about informed, not dictated choices. That French bread at an anniversary dinner, a sample of the pasta salad at your Uncle Billy?s steak fry, the saffron rice your daughter cooks for you when you visit her first apartment ? they?re thoughtful, purposeful compromises. (And they?re perhaps very worth it for reasons that have nothing to do with the food itself.) The point of the Primal Blueprint if this: When you understand the metabolic effects of eating grains, you?re empowered to make informed decisions about the role grains will have in your diet. You?re free to enjoy good health and self-selected compromises with a clear conscience and full epicurean gusto!

Thanks for tuning in. It?s been a pleasure, as always.

Fitness Black Book Photo and Natmandu, Bern@t, Slack13, atomicshark, yarnivore Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

What Happens to Your Body When… You CARB BINGE?

The Definitive Guide Series

What About Beans and Legumes?

Jack LaLanne on Sugarholics

Sensible Vices Round 1 and 2

Yet Another Half-Baked Grain Study

Subscribe to Mark?s Daily Apple

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

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249 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Grains”

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  1. I have always understood that grains are a very important part of the daily diet. I have also understood that pasta with light sauce was good for you. It is amazing to me that having read this article, grains are in fact the devil. I think it is also interesting to note that the article says that unless you are “putting your running shoes as we speak” your body will store the grain as fat!! It makes me crazy to know that I love bread and now I also know that I do not want to have havoc wreaked on my insulin!! By the way, I read in this article that grain can be burned as “secondary fuel” what does this mean?

      1. Zena, note this sentence buried in the article:

        “His comments coincide with the release of a research report, compiled by the industry body GoGrains, which also said Australians eat about half the daily recommended amount of wholegrains.”

        This from their site: “…manages the strategic development and implementation of the Go Grains’ agenda, including nutrition communication campaigns targeting health professional, government, education and consumer audiences.”

        In other words, GoGrains is an industry group of grain growers and processor. When in doubt, follow the money trail.

        1. Went back to grains for one day noted…puffiness all over body, general malaise of some kind, hung over feeling this morning. Probably a bad sign.

    1. I gotta say….that picture of all those breads looks great! But, since I began reading this blog, I have to admit that what you say makes sense. I have borderline sugar, so it’s a concern of mine. You also have poo pooed some ideas that I’ve long since dismissed as fraudulent, namely eating late and the idea that you will go intostarvation mode if you don’t eat 5 to 6 small meals a day ( yeah, and don’t enjoy ANY of them).

      But, I have to admit, I LOVE bread…and sandwiches…….any idea on how to fight this? Is eating bread once a week still killing you? Thanks, any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

      1. When I decided to go gluten free, I wrapped my burger or sandwich in a large iceberg or romaine lettuce leaf and that held everything in place just fine and added a great crunch.

    2. Whole Grains and flours are 2 way different ways of eating these plants.
      Do NOT confuse them.
      And then the latest hybrid wheat that is common, way different than real wheat, or old fashioned wheat.

      So, eating a bowl of pasta is not the same as eating a bowl of quinoa.

  2. Jim,

    Fat is the primary and preferred fuel of the body. Carbs are what we at MDA call “secondary fuel”. It’s our term, since most of the exercise physiologists out there would argue that carbs are the main muscle fuel. In fact, you can survive quite nicely without carbs. You cannot survive without fats and proteins.

    1. Mark,

      Though limiting carbs in the diet can is a valid point, to say we can survive quite nicely without them is a stretch. The brain’s main source of energy is glucose.

      Cheers,

      Dylan

      1. And the liver can produce what little glucose the brain needs from gluconeogenesis as applied to ingested protein. We do not need to eat any carbohydrates. Our bodies can produce them from protein without any problems at all.

        Also, the brain functions just fine on ketones. It may prefer glucose, but it does just fine without it – much the same way that a cocaine addict’s brain may prefer cocaine, but can operate just fine (and in many ways better) without it.

        1. Yes, of course the liver can produce glucose from gluconeogenesis. But no one diet is right for everyone due to individual biochemistry.

          A paleo diet nearly killed me. And it was as high as can be in veggies (no fruit).

          I have a condition called DAO deficiency disorder. Better known as histamine intolerance. I have to severely limit my protein intake due to the fact that the amino acid histidine gets turned into histamine, which my body cannot break down.

          I also have to eliminate many veggies that are high in histamine. the diet is very limited and very strict. Taking DAO enzyme supplements helps some, but not enough and are very expensive.

          I am trying like crazy to put some whole grains back into my diet but so far, no luck. My carbs consist of quinoa and buckwheat at this point, and I eat 1/4 cup of each at every meal.

          Grains are allowed on a HIT diet, and frankly need more of them in my diet. I have lost so much weight on the highly restrictive low-histtamine diet that I look emaciated. I can’t tolerate grains right now due to the mold content, not the carb content.

          The idea that grains are inherently fattening is just not true. It is altered wheat and refined grains that are the problem. And the fact that they are eaten to excess to the exclusion of vegetables.

          The day I can put some whole grain rice pasta or oatmeal back in my diet is the day I rejoice.

  3. Great post as ever. In league with your point on grains and the stomach not being the best of friends. You know that bloated feeling you ALWAYS get after a meal at the Olive Garden? I don’t believe I’ve ever felt bloated after eating a salad.

    1. First of all, I would like to say I have sympathy for anyone that is unable to eat grains due to an illness.
      I would like to address eating grains for people like me who at 57 years of age have eaten grains all their lives without any ill effects. I have read your blog and all the answers. I am not a nutritionist nor an exercise professional but I fail to see how one home-made whole wheat biscuit, one serving of whole wheat pasta cooked with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, , half slice of home made whole wheat bread, OR brown rice served with a plate full of organic vegetables that are steamed or cooked with a small amount of glee or olive oil, along with a small piece of chicken or fish and occasional (gasp) grass fed beef will harm my body. I eat one serving of whole grains as described above with my supper most nights. I might eat a serving of one of the above for lunch with fruit, cheese, vegetables, and occasionally a spoonful of natural peanut butter. I drink smoothies for breakfast or eat greek yogurt with honey and a piece of fruit. I don’t have problems with my sugar, GI difficulties, or problems with my energy level. I experience satiety that keeps me from eating between meals except for a handful of nuts or berries and never eat after supper. I want to eat healthy but refuse to be afraid of food.

      Jan

      1. Funny thing that your name is… Graham:-S
        This perhaps explains your pro-grain bias. But joke apart,
        I don’t think you are doing yourself any favour by eating grains, out of which bleached wheat is the greatest villain. Are you sure you don’t experience head aches and runny nose? Are you often taking analgesics to counter those (most probably) wheat related aches? I don’t want to sound patronising and judge on your behalf but should you have any health scare in the future (which I hope you won’t) it might be to your addiction to grains. Fast forward year 2016, how do you feel eight years later? Everything alright?

    2. Eating nothing but salad more than ALWAYS makes me feel bloated. They make me feel like I’ve eaten a whole lot of nothing and quite often I need to eat something else otherwise I start dry retching or get an excessive gassy build up in my stomach. And just in case you’re questioning what kind of salad I may be eating, it’s not too dissimilar to the 2 minute salad Mark prepares on this site (Minus the pine nuts and flaxseed oil).

      1. The pinenuts may make the difference as they are rich in proteins. Are you giving them a miss because they are hard on your wallet?

  4. ok, so to start off…I LOVE this post and site. I have Celiac disease, plus a whole host of other auto-immune problems, skin and joint problems…and even emotional ones. ALL BECAUSE OF GRAINS! however, you never mentioned grain alternatives. I can tolerate the occasional buckwheat pancake with nut butter( as I understand it’s a fruit and not really a grain), Or quinoa, which is significantly higher in protein. I tolerate Rice too…but obviously it’s pretty pointless to eat…it has nothing but carbs. So I really want to know what you think of the alternative grains, especially quinoa. I have a hard time digesting meat(thanks to a lifetime of digestive issues i now can’t much of anything without a reaction) but most nuts, seeds, and beans seem ok, as well as eggs and quinoa. So that is a long explanation basically to ask- Should I keep eating the quinoa, or just eat more of my other protein sources in place of it?

    1. You don’t need grain alternatives. Learn to eat things that don’t require grains.

    2. If you are having digestive problems, get yourself on a good pro biotic. Be sure the product you buy has at least 5 billion count, and at least 10 different strains of bacteria that starts with either ‘lacto-‘ or ‘bifido-‘ listed on the label. I too had a bad digestive system, probably from the grain carbs because they are so heavy in the gut, and since starting this regiment, it is soooo much better! Take one every morning, before you eat. All it does is restore the flora in the gut to what it should be… 70-80%good and 20-30% bad.

      1. Addendum: Be sure the pro biotic (it is a live culture) you buy has come from a refrigerator. I find these to be the best quality.

  5. Thanks for the question, hedda. If someone doesn’t get to a good answer first (those fellow Apples sure are helpful!) we may try putting together an entire Dear Mark post on your question in coming weeks. Thanks again for all your thoughtful comments!

  6. Anytime I ditch the grain (carbs) I can’t concentrate to my studies. My mind goes elsewhere and I would be out of energy. I eat tons of fats but it didn’t help. Should I give more time to this?

  7. I’m in agreement with the post, where I’m still stuck is what am I supposed to eat for breakfast? I used to eat cereal but I went away from that and switched to oatmeal, Quaker especially goes all out to make you think it’s the healthiest thing for you, but I’m starting to believe otherwise. I don’t have time to cook an omelet every morning, but I’m not the type of person that can skip breakfast. So if I can’t eat cereal or oatmeal, and don’t have time to cook a big breakfast every morning what’s my solution?

    1. cook your eggs the night before and heat them in microwave in am.

        1. I make a smoothie with raw milk, some protein powders, etc and a raw egg. All organic of course. I also add kefir and colostrum to it and voila!! It’s so tasty. My question should I avoid milk since it contains milk sugar. I see the pyramid allows cheese, so I assume raw milk is OK. (I would never drink fake pasteurized milk).

      1. “Heat them in a microwave”???????!!!!!!
        Do you know of the risks involved in microwave cooking? Look it up. You’ll be surprised.

    2. I start each day with fruit first. An apple, banana, grapes, or whatever is in season. (Fruit should only be eaten on an empty stomach as it will cause bloating or putrefaction if there is other food in the stomach.) After 30 – 60 min. I eat a serving of either cottage cheese or plain (Greek) yogurt and a serving of nuts; walnuts, macadamia, or almonds are my preferred. If hungry before lunch, I will eat 1/2 serving of peanuts. I buy yogurt/cottage cheese in large tubs because I eat it every day. I then package a serving into those Ziploc plastic containers; making up enough to last the week. I also keep 2-3 bags of different nuts in my desk. Easiest meal to have on the go!

      1. No no no! This is a myth about eating fruit on an empty stomach being good due to avoiding “putrefaction.” It is best to not eat fruit on an empty stomach, to avoid the insulin spike. This is insulin response 101.

    3. Honestly I thought the same thing, but it takes me NO more than ten minutes in the morning to throw both a slab of bacon and an egg in a pan with a slice of butter… I have been doing that for the past months or so since I am new, and I have already gone down from 27% – 21.6% body fat… not to mention two sizes in clothes! I was a HUGE carbs from bread; cereal; etc… person, so my first week was really hard… but I found it to be mind over matter and now I don’t miss anything sugar OR breads/grains. My shopping is so much better and on average I am saving about $150 I only have to hit three areas of the store… although the certain item may be more costly, I am saving so much not buying from the rest of the store. I do not even get starving hungry all the time, AND I feel great! ITS REALLY WORTH IT!!!! 😉

    4. Hard boiled eggs are a big time saver. Cook them in the evening, peel them when cool and store in the fridge. Have one or two with a some cheese and some berries or other fruit. They keep really well so you can cook a dozen eggs and they’ll last you a week to 10 days. Or make a smoothie with yogurt, nuts, fruit and one or two raw eggs. Check out Mark’s Primal Cookbook for different ways to make eggs for the morning work rush.

    5. Get your mind out of the cereal class. Fruit and a good Greek yogurt–plain!–or with cottage cheese. Also half to 1oz. (small handful) of nuts; walnuts have the best omega-3 for you. A light and nutritious breakfast.

    6. If you do like eggs (how could you not), its easy enough to make “egg mcmuffins” that fit this way of eating, to your liking and lasts for a few days. Simple recipe: 8 eggs, some cooked sausage, some veggies (I like chopped peppers and onions)and if you can handle cheese…whip and fold all the ingrediants except cheese, pour into a well greased muffin tin, top with cheese, and bake at 375 till eggs firm…store in the fridge upto 4 days, grab, microwave, and go…SUPER FILLING! and easy to experiment with toppings you like. Best of all – no carbs 🙂 ENJOY!

    7. Full fat greek yogurt, if you can tolerate milk product. It has tons of proteins, and moderately low carb (go with the plain version and add your berries). If you can’t do milk, try and find good coconut yogurt (or make your own, I’m pretty sure Mark has a recipe). Carbs are definitely not a good way to start your day (carbs are not good anytime of the day IMO): they’ll raise your blood sugar levels and spike your insulin. Plus, you’ll feel hungry an hour after eating. Once you’re a couple of days/weeks into the primal eating style, you’ll feel like you don’t NEED breakfast to start your day, you can’t eat later and be just fine. The trick is to get your body fuled on ketones (made from dietary fat). They’re much more stable than carbs, with less ravaging results.

  8. Ghi asks a good question – how long does it take before your body starts metabolizing fat primarily instead of carbs? is the effect immediate? Because I too have problems with “mental fogginess”, inability to concentrate and general depression when I totally take out carbs. I’ve got them to where they are pretty low right now but if I remove them entirely it’s like my brain shuts down.

    1. I’d recommend you buy ketone strips. They indicate when your body starts running on ketones rather than carbs. For me, it took about 2-3 days of eating truly primal (high fat, moderate protein, low carb), plus maybe a week of semi-primal (having a lot of trouble to let go of the sugar and carbs). It IS hard, carbs are truly a drug. But once your body has made the switch to ketones, it runs much much better, you’ll be more focused and have more energy.

  9. Jerry – This is probably the toughest meal for most people to change. Most Americans are used to eating some sugary carbs every morning (pop tarts, cereal, toast, bagels, waffles, pancakes etc etc). It is hard to break a daily habit. This is another great idea for a blog post – Primal Breakfast suggestions (keep an eye out for it…). A few quick suggestions:

    1. hardboiled eggs (you can make a bunch in advance)

    2. cottage cheese (full fat) and berries (frozen – to spare your wallet – and slightly defrosted in the microwave) with walnuts, almonds and a little balsamic vinegar

    3. last night’s leftovers (takes some getting use to I know)

    4. Mark’s protein shake. I drink it for breakfast a few times a week. Just put 2-3 scoops in a blender with ice. Throw in some frozen berries if you’d like. Top off with a bit of water and blend it into a creamy, filling, quick and easy, balanced breakfast.

    1. Mark,

      I love what you write about diet, nutrition, and especially grains. I would, however, leave off the balsamic vinegar in the cottage cheese meal. Balsamic vinegar often contains gluten giving it that “caramel” color. Many things that are “caramel” in color are forbidden to those of us with gluten intolerance. One of the problems is that there is a limit below which companies can claim “gluten-free”. In other words, it can have some gluten, if below the allowed limit. Caramel coloring, like food starch, can be from wheat or another grain. Even if you call the company that makes the product you may not receive the true answer.

    2. Forget the microwave! It destroys the nutritional value of the food being eaten… Plan ahead instead and use a toaster oven or a convection oven.

    3. Thanks for the berries and cottage cheese tip… sounds yummy!! I agree it is the hardest but WOW, I am loving the results sooo much I can’t turn back down the grainy road!!! lol.. 😉

    4. My advice skip microwave. It’s dangerous as it changes the molecular structure of food, even water. Water heated to boil in a microwave and then cooled to room temperature when used to water plants it will kill them.

      1. I’d love to see any peer-reviewed studies that show dangers of microwaving.

  10. I’m with hedda — I’d love to hear your take on quinoa (even though it’s technically a seed).

  11. I’ve done this before, if i don’t eat all my salad @ dinner, i’ll have the rest for breakfast, sometimes i do eat organic oatmeal, which keeps me full ALL morning long. My favorite is a cooked egg w/cashew or almond butter.

    Once in a while i’ll have brown rice, never white rice.

    1. If not soaked for twenty four hours brown rice contains high amounts of phytates which are anti-nutritious and you do not get the meager amount of B vitamins in them..read Sally Fallons book, Nurishing Traditions

  12. Aaron, thank you very much for your response. Your suggestions are very helpful not just to me, but I’m sure someone else as well. Also looking forward to that “Breakfast Suggestions” post in the future. 🙂

  13. Jerry,

    How long does it really take to prepare eggs? I can do fried (in coconut oil) or scrambled eggs with cheese in 5-10 minutes tops. An omelette can also be quick if you pre-cut the fillings the night before. I tend to eat eggs most mornings and I’ve found that they fill me up better than just about anything else I used to have for breakfast (even oatmeal!). There was also a study done which showed that people who ate eggs consumed an average of over 400 calories less over the subsequent 36 hours as compared to those eating a carb-based breakfast (link somewhere on this site).
    Anyway, I am a big proponent of eggs for breakfast–I think they’re fast, easy, nutritious and delicious. Occasionally I change it up by eating cottage cheese with raspberries and cinnamon, or skipping breakfast altogether. Aaron’s hardboiled eggs suggestion is also a good one, but since you have to cook and peel them ahead of time, presumably the night before, you really might as well wake up 10 minutes earlier to have a warm, fresh breakfast instead! 🙂

    1. When cooking hard-boiled eggs, add 1 tablespoon of salt (to help the proteins coagulate) and 1/2 tablespoon of baking soda. Supposedly you could knock the shell off both ends, blow on one side and the entire egg will slide out of the shell but so far my technique hasn’t been perfected to that level.

      Either way, it’s super easy to peel in the morning.

  14. You mentioned rice once and I understand that rice will cause an insulin reaction like wheat but does it also have the same toxins (glutin, lectins)?

  15. Sir am sorry for being literally off topic but as its all about our system and hopefully living as ealthy a lifestyle as poss it’s not to daft.

    Do you or any other smart-alecs oot there know the physiology of relaxation by elevating the legs please ?

    I’ve looked online and either find new age flakeola gibberish-explanations or fractal physiology stuff that makes no sense to me a mere mortal.

    Can you help a brother pleasum ?

    As always an invigorating site.

    PLEASE READ THE SOCIAL ATOM BY BUCHANAN

    Sinc.

    Simon (Fellows)

  16. The question isn’t “what do you want for breakfast” but “how do you want your eggs?”
    I always have eggs, greek-plain yogurt with berries/walnuts, or leftovers. How about a handful of nuts on the way out the door?–easy.

  17. This is my first time posting a reply, and I want to thank you soooo much for all of the great info available here everyday! I have rheumatoid arthritis and I had been moving to a whole food diet on my own over the past six-nine months or so, but your blog, and a few others, have really focused my diet these past couple of months. Totally and completely dumping grains (and sugar) has made huge improvements in my digestion (I was tested for chron’s disease because of a variety of symptoms before my dx of rheumatoid arthritis).

    Any additional posts about inflammation and autoimmune and their relationships with food would be great!

    To add on to the breakfast selections above, you can have your omelet, and eat it too! Seriously, I make a big double egg omelet with spinach and whatever else is hanging out in the frig in the evening, half it with a spatula, put it in containers and then all I have to do is warm it in the microwave at work in the morning. Two days of breakfast in just a few minutes before bed!

  18. Oh goody I’d love to be the one to cause a Dear Mark post! As for the mental fog some of you describe when cutting grains, I went through that too once I found I was celiac. It could be a withdrawal of sorts. Like, as your body realizes it doesn’t have to find something else to do with all that grain, it starts to remove it…and for a while that takes a lot of energy and then your body has to rebalance everything now that it’s not fighting off gluten all the time. It took me about a month to get over. But then suddenly I was thinking much more clearly all the time!It had to do also with a Candida overgrowth and the die-off( which is notoriously worsened by carbs and sugar). Google it….it’s too much explaining for me for right now.
    and as for breakfast suggestions, I don’t eat it..but my favorite first small meal of the day is a piece of fruit or some veggies(carrots, celery, broccoli….anything!) with nut butter. So quick, so delish:)

  19. Maria, I think it’s great if you are able to wake up a little earlier and cook some eggs but I can definitely see where Jerry is coming from. Not everyone has the flexibility to get up earlier just to make a better breakfast. I’m often on the road by 4 in the morning, so the little sleep I get is very precious to me. No way I’m going to wake up a little earlier just to cook some eggs. I like quick and easy, and I think the shake suggestion from aaron was perfect. And Jerry I think your on the right track by wanting to ditch the oatmeal, your almost better off to pour a can of beer in a bowl, your getting the same thing.

    1. No time to make eggs??? try making a big tray of a “fridge cleaning fittata” scramble a dozen or more eggs, pour into a lasagna pan (no use for it anymore) than add any veggies, leftover meats, some cheese, & bake it. than when its cool. slice it into portions, individually wrap them, & grab & go in the morning. If you are motivated, you can overcome anything.

  20. Charlotte,

    That foggy feeling is common among people dramatically reducing carbs to nothing from 300 or 400 a day (not that you were ever that high). It goes away over time and after you have become a champion fat-burner, but does take a while to adapt to. Also, it doesn’t mean you have to eliminate carbs altogether. You just have to find the range you work best in. The PB pyramid still has at its base lots of colorful veggies, which will provide appreciable carbohydrates (90-110 grams a day maybe). Add in a serving of berries or a fruit here and there and you hover in that magic 100-150 grams a day range which keeps your brain functioning without grains, but still forces you to start burning more fat. If you decide to go lower than that, just do so gradually – say dropping 10 grams a day. When you regularly play in the 50-80 grams a day range (and your protein and fat are healthily high) you’ll notice you don’t have low blood sugar episodes or brain fog. That’s when ketosis kicks in when it needs to, the same way a generator kicks on when the power goes out…hopefully seamlessly.

  21. Hi Mark,

    Another informative and thought provoking post. I just read this one, and the one you did on Cholesterol. So here’s my personal catch 22.

    I have high LDL cholesterol (lowered with a statin), and have tried a very low fat diet to lower the LDL combined with exercise, while my HDL rose slightly, my LDL was unchanged. Nearly everything I read about lowering LDL points to increasing soluble fiber, one way they suggest to do this is by eating oatmeal and to that end, I eat steel cut McCann’s oats for breakfast (along with blueberries and or strawberries) most mornings. In addition to the steel cut oats, I generally have a Gnu Fiber & Flavor bar during the day for increased fiber intake. http://www.gnufoods.com/ourproducts/ingredients.cfm

    Am I reading your information correctly, and can that actually be worsening my high LDL cholesterol situation?

    I would far prefer to control my cholesterol through diet and not statin’s – though I’ve never tried a super low carb diet before.

    The comment about pasta loading and that bloated feeling rang home with me, when we eat Sushi (nigiri rolls which have rice) I love the taste but feel bloated afterwards. I tend to treat pasta (usually whole wheat pasta) as a side dish not a entree.

    I would be interested in reading your thoughts on all this and any suggestions you may have.

    Thanks!

    Randy

  22. Aaraon, I see that you suggested cottage cheese for breakfast. Would yogurt (I like to use the full-fat, plain Greek kind) be an okay substitution or is cottage cheese preferable?

  23. sally –

    I personally like cottage cheese so I eat it. Technically it would probably fall into the “Very Sensible Vice” category under the Primal Blueprint (not huge fans of dairy). It is a decent source of protein and fat. Same thing goes for yogurt as long it isn’t the garbage you usually find at the grocery store filled with sugar, sugar, and more sugar. Here are a few posts on MDA’s take on yogurt and cheese:

    DIY Yogurt

    The Fuming Fuji Says No to Gogurt

    Top 10 Ways to Reduce Inflammation

    Would Grok Chow the Cheese Plate?

  24. It’s worth noting too that virtually all cultures who eat grains them have developed some method of preparing them to make them less toxic, more nutritious, and more digestible (sourdough fermentation for flour, nixtamalization for corn, etc).

    Food Is Love

  25. As a humanist, I have a hard time with this kind of advice about food. Food is more than a drug to be analyzed in terms of its immediate effects on body chemistry. The wonderful befuddlement of wine has effects on the liver, but so what? Some people get a lot of enjoyment from a good bowl of tobacco as the smoke swirls around their heads – perhaps as they read a good book or try to work out some philosophical argument.

    As a Christian, I have further trouble with this kind of advice. Think of the eucharist. How are we to know what kind of bread to use in the eucharist if we do not become skilled at baking bread, bake better and better bread, pass on the art of baking bread, etc? Are Christians only supposed to think that the world was set up so that grain will only be grown for the eucharist, and bread only be baked for the eucharist? That all the loaves of bread to be baked should be tasted, notes should be made about what worked or didn’t, and then the loaves cast away? It makes no sense. The eucharistic meal is a real meal. It shouldn’t be the only place we or our children encounter bread. The eucharist is an overflowing of what culture should be like. We should be a bread-loving, wine-loving culture, with artisans getting as good at baking bread as they are at making wine. Finally, Jesus describes himself as the “bread from heaven” – connecting himself with the whole flow of redemptive history from the manna in the wilderness to bread baked in haste to the grain sack that never ran out after being blessed by the prophet. I don’t want to raise my children to wonder why Jesus connected his life-giving body with something “so unhealthy.”

    As for the science of the matter, I have no reason to doubt what you’re saying about glucose and such. But again I come back to wine. As humans, so much that feels good, tastes good, gives pleasure, is beautiful, etc. is toxic to our health in some way. But so what. We will all die, and I’d rather die a healthy, moderate sort of person who lived in a daily, wondrous fog of wine and bread and cheese and figs and strawberries and cream than someone who tried hard to conform to the meager wisdom that evolution gives us. In other words – I’ll take human creativity over the dictates of biology any day! What gives life meaning is the production of artists – musicians, visual artists, culinary artists, enologists, etc. Perhaps some people are called to a special art – of maximizing the human form for athletics, and that’s great. But learning how to eat and live is an entirely different matter than learning how to most effectively fuel and sustain the human machine!

    1. Warning: a long philosophical post follows….

      Barlow, thanks for the interesting post. I think you have great, important points – I am a Christian, an Olympic level athlete, and a philosophy student, and I’m gluten intolerant as well, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these issues.

      As I have understood it, your post was about the “human spiritual element” in our preparation and consumption of food, particularly bread and wine. Specifically, you took issue with a view that looks at food only through the lens of evolution and risks stripping food of this spiritual element. I take it that you bring up the Eucharist as a sort of paradigm for this spiritual/physical union. First I want to touch on sacramental theology of the Eucharist and then I want to get to your main point about human pleasure and artistic expression.

      First, as a technical point, in terms of receiving the Eucharist, it is Church teaching (Catholic Church that is – I am assuming you’re Catholic, I apologize if I’m mistaken!) that Christ is fully present under both species – bread and wine. Thus in receiving just one or the other for legitimate reasons (i.e. not receiving the host due to Celiac disease or not sharing from the cup during times of flu pandemic) nothing is lacking. The Eucharistic bread, however, must in fact be wheaten bread, and not because of some intrinsic artistic value of bread-making, but because we imitate Christ (the second person an infinite God who chose to become finite to a certain socio-historical period) in submitting ourselves to certain limitations, i.e. Jewish laws of the Passover meal that stipulate wheaten bread. I do not think that the bread and wine are so because “they are an overflowing of what culture should be like”. I do think culture should be like the Eucharist in terms of all of humanity uniting to the suffering of Christ and joyfully participating in His Divinity, but I do not think that your connection between the Eucharist and the artistic expression of human pleasure through consumption of bread and wine is at all relevant to the sacramental significance of the Eucharist. Nor do I interpret the bread and wine in the Eucharist as a way of God as saying “your diets and your pleasure should be sustained by bread and wine”. Bread and wine can be said to be significant in its use as a sacrament, and in its symbolism, but I would seriously hesitate to draw any conclusions beyond that.

      Secondly, you are of course right in saying that we are not to forget and appreciate the (God-given) human capacity to feel pleasure. I assert however, that human pleasure is not real pleasure if it is divorced from truth. Since God is truth (and the source of all existence), this means pleasure that deviates from His moral law or His natural law, like evolution (here, I also am assuming the position of Catholicism, whose teaching neither denies nor conflicts with evolution).

      I am not accusing your previous post of even approaching any strong hedonist claims, but I feel it is useful to return to the common sense notion that pleasure for the sake of pleasure does not lead toward human happiness and artistic freedom, but leads to human enslavement, because the only thing we should be pursuing for His own sake is God Himself. Pleasure is secondary because we wouldn’t have pleasure without our existence which comes from God (so its not surprising that people often eat themselves out of existence by putting pleasure first!). Constantly indulging in something like bread for pleasure, even if it hurts us, is not true pleasure. Actually it’s more like an addiction.

      This doesn’t mean we have to live like animal-machines. God, thankfully, has given us plenty of ways to rightfully experience pleasure. But as creatures of a Creator (a Creator who likely used evolution as one mechanism to create us) our well being depends on adherence to our own limits, which He has justly and kindly set. Some pleasures we can and should enjoy in their proper time in place, in their proper relation and subordination to our love of God; other “pleasures” are entirely forbidden, not because God is mean, but because they aren’t really pleasures at all – they destroy us, they are against our very natures.

      I don’t think Mark’s views or the views on this site conflict with what I, speaking as a Christian (Catholic), have stated. I think that this site is a great service in exposing some of the entirely unfounded food and medical dogmas that plague us today. Love everyone’s posts and I am thankful for Mark’s work and everyone’s contributions!

    2. It is apparent that you do not suffer from any autoimmune disease caused by grains. Also the breaking of bread doesn’t necessarily mean to be made of grains, it is a matter of interpretation. I can’t thrive on grains. The consumption of grains only provides me a sustaining living hell.

      1. Thank-you Nezzy.
        I am the same. All dogma aside, if a food group causes serious discomfort as well as very unhealthy reactions and conditions such as high B/P, cholestrol, joint pain, bleeding gums, headaches, over-production of mucous throughout the body, then , eliminating that food-group completely eradicates these problems, that is my cure. That is my answer and all the answer I need. I get my nutrition from the many thousands of ‘other’ foods on the planet.
        I also investigated the various reasons for this, and am convinced it’s a very real global problem, with a simple answer… Find out what is ‘your own personal trigger’ and eliminate it. Be open, and totally honest to change. I’ve come to find, after 65 yrs, it’s more to do with what’s necessary to ‘give up & give away’ than what you have to add !!

    3. You sir, totally deserve a daily dose of whole grains 🙂

    4. This Jesus chap seems to support your earthly desires, which is convenient.

      Would be better if you could think for yourself though, don’t you think?

      To think that one can not be creative, artistic, musical and indeed healthy at the same time by eating the wonderful and natural abundance of non son of god recommended foods is rather deluded in so many ways.

      I’m a fan of the Philosopher Kings that Plato and Socrates speak off, indeed many an ancient Greek, Egyptian or indeed Asian philosopher where extraordinary in physical prowess as they where extraordinary of mind and wisdom.

      My experience is that both go together…

      Your comment that learning how to eat and live is an entirely different matter than learning how to effectively fuel and sustain the human machine just shows how utterly removed from the wonders of the natural cycle of life you are.

      Living by a fantasy instructional manual coupled with some deluded humanistic romanticism is about as contrived a life approach as one could imagine my dear chap.

  26. Great post Mark. Thanks for all the useful information. It’s amazing how information like what you have provided when applied to daily life goes a long way. Working out and training intensely for the last 10 weeks has yielded a net fat loss of zero pounds while eating grains. When I say intensely, I mean 3 days of weight lifting + HIIT in addition to 3 days of 2 hour Muay Thai training for a total of 6 days of intense training. Removing grains and substituting more vegetables, fruit and significantly more fats with a little Intemittent Fasting thrown in for good measure has yielded me a net fat loss of 4lbs in one week under the same exact conditions. It’s no coincidence.

  27. barlow, as a Christian I struggle with some of the same issues. My son has a wheat allergy, so he cannot take communion. I certainly don’t want to poison him, but I don’t think he should be excluded from the meal (I do believe there are gluten free communion wafers but have not looked into it much as usually he’s at Children’s Church but wasn’t this last time). Celiac is real (my uncle has it, I think my dad does, and I think myself and my siblings all struggle with some sort of gluten issue, it’s just hard to get the docs to really listen), wheat/gluten allergies are real, and I just struggle with how it all fits in a Biblical sense. I try to gloss over the “evolution” stuff posted here. But from a physioligical standpoint I think Mark’s info on grains/carbs makes sense.

    1. Regarding your son and taking communion
      (or anyone reading who would like to take
      communion)…why not bake or bring your
      own small piece of Quinoa bread (or
      a substitute that you can handle)…and
      then just have it in your hand when it’s
      time to take of the ‘bread and the cup’?
      God’s not going to mind…don’t let an
      allergy keep you from participating in
      this most important sacrament.

      1. Communion doesn’t work that way. It must be consecrated by those ordained to the ministry. Just eating a piece of quinoa bread is not participating in the sacrament. Those with gluten intolerance must speak with their clergy. There are valid alternatives.

  28. Don’t get me wrong, I love bread. It tastes amazing. I also love rice and pasta. Mmm.

    However, ever since reading Mark’s posts about a year ago, I have cut grains from my daily staple and enjoy it maybe only once a month or even less. Not only is it unnecessary calories, but it locks up my intestinal system. I literally can’t poo properly for a few days, which contributes to the bloated feeling. I hate walking around knowing that there is plenty of toxic sludge in my colon. I wish it would all come out!

    This is coming from someone who used to train 20-25 hours for triathlon; I competed in the ITU Triathlon World Championships two weeks ago. I have since decided to stop competing. If I can cut my bread and grain intake (despite the daily need to eat 4000 calories), anyone can! If you really train a lot, I learnt from Mark to get most of your kcals from yams and potatoes. Plus, they taste a lot better.

    Goodbye to endurance sport… hello to Paleolithic Primal living! I will miss the 4 hour rides, but, I think I will enjoy eating even more fruits, veggies, and meat. I definitely won’t be wanting grains anymore after the retirement!

  29. Jerry,

    A good option for me for breakfast is a crustless quiche. That way I can grab a piece and run. It can get super simple like the one I made last night, took about 10 minutes to prep. Since I ran out of ground sausage, this time I used fully cooked smoked sausage (1lb) cut into chunks. It makes 6 pieces and can be eaten cold or warmed in the microwave. I normally eat cold.

    Preheat the oven to 350. I normally use 1lb some sort of ground meat, grass fed when I can. I brown it with whatever spices you want. If sausage I usually use the hot kind and no spices in the meat. I beat six egss and 1 cup of heavy cream. Mix 1 tsp of nutmeg and some spicy mustard into the egg/cream mixture. Spray down a 9″ pie dish with olive oil and put the meat in and pour the egg mixture over it. Top with shredded cheese. I usually use cheddar. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool and cut into 6 pieces.

    Options: When my wife makes it for me she tries to pat the meat dry to get rid of some of the fat. I don’t unless the meat is extremely fatty and not grass fed. I have put sauteed veggies in it, spinach, etc. Just try to get as much water out of the veggies as possible. I’ve used up to 9 eggs and less cream. Sometimes no cheese or various different ones. Have used ground beef, ground pork, ground sausage, ground chicken smoked sausage, bacon. Been meaning to try some of the canned meats but haven’t yet.

    Just an idea. Hope it helps,
    Joe

    1. To avoid the veggie moisture thing, I dehydrate my veggies, store them in vacuum bags and or jars and add the dried veggies to those items I bake, as the moisture from the other items will rehydrate the dried veggies during cooking 😉 I use the dried veggies for soups and other cooking just like anything else.

    2. Delicious recipe. Try using yogurt, either greek or fat free, or creamcheese, instead of full fat cream for a slimmer option

    3. Here’s my take on a breakfast egg bake:

      1 cup chopped onion
      1 cup chopped green pepper
      1 pound breakfast sausage (I make my own from ground pork and spices)
      1 10 oz box of frozen spinach – defrosted, drained well and chopped
      12 eggs
      1 Tblsp hot sauce
      1 tsp red pepper flakes
      1 tsp sea salt
      1/2 tsp ground black pepper
      optional: 1/2 cup grated cheddar (or other cheese)

      Pre-heat oven to 350?. Heat a large skillet. Saute the onions and peppers with enough butter, olive oil, or coconut oil to prevent sticking. When onions and peppers are just starting to get soft, add the breakfast sausage and saute until sausage is done. Drain any excess fat.

      In a large bowl, combine eggs, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add spinach and mix well. (You could also use about 1/2 bag of fresh spinach – chopped – instead of the frozen). Add sausage mixture to egg mixture and combine well. Mix in cheese if desired.

      Spray a 13X9″ glass baking pan with coconut oil (or butter or other oil) and pour in the egg/sausage mixture. Bake at 350? for about 30 minutes. (Mine usually takes about 35.) It is done when the eggs are set and the top is just starting to brown.

      Cut into 12 pieces. Serving size is 1 piece (this gives you approximately 1 egg and 1 1/3 ounces of sausage in each piece). Refrigerate and use as needed. These can also be frozen.

      The best part of using a 13X9″ glass pan is the clean up. Super easy!

  30. Barlow,

    Mark always says that, though the serious bulk of our diet should be based on biological function, we all make decisions to fulfill the more personal side of how food fits into our life. Besides, the Eucharist is ultimately about spiritual nourishment rather than physical.

    And I don’t think it matters that our diet is different than that of those in Jesus’ day. All food is a blessing, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing food that will result in optimum health. I also appreciate that Mark emphasizes choosing the cleanest and most environmentally sustainable food choices within this particular diet paradigm.

  31. Hi Nancy – my son is not a celiac, but he has a leaky gut and wheat is a problem for him. At the communion meal, we give him an enzyme beforehand:

    http://www.kirkmanlabs.com/products/enzymes/enzym_dppiv/Enzym_Complete_w_DPP_IV_C_60_234.html

    They have other enzymes that may be more specific for celiac disease. But a small bit of bread + the enzyme seems okay for him.

    If it is possible, sometimes I have heard of celiacs providing gluten-free bread to their churches, and the bread goes through a similar ritual as it is distributed. Of course, this depends a lot on your particular church’s rules about that sort of thing.

    Also, imagine if we put more human ingenuity into baking good tasting non-wheat bread for people with celiac disease! I have heard of a bakery in St. Louis that, one day a week, cleans out all the wheat and wheat dust and bakes with non-gluten wheats for the benefit of celiac customers.

    Anyway, I’m sympathetic; I have one kid who can’t eat wheat and one kid who can’t eat lactose. I know that health is important, but I am also trying to balance the quest for good health against equally valuable quests – enjoyment of life, the cultural significance of bread and grains, etc. This morning, my wife made some wonderful biscuits – using a recipe that her mother used, and using special flour that we bought on our last trip to her hometown. They tasted so good, and we put organic, non-GMO, vegan butter on them and drizzled some homemade strawberry jam that her mother canned back during strawberry season. I drank a cup of black coffee with it, made with filtered water – water that I even filter fluoride out of – and it was all a wonderful experience. And now, I sit in my office to work having eaten a meal full of family meaning, history, aesthetic value, etc.

  32. Nice post. I’ve been wheat/gluten/dairy allergic for years. I just did an anti-candida cleanse in whitch I ate brown rice and/or quinoa nearly every day for 10 days (plus mung beans and a few veggies). Anyway, I was getting really bad sore throats and on a few days I felt like my throat was closing up. I thought maybe I should check my thyroid meds, perhaps I was getting a goiter. Come to find out it was a very serious allergic reaction to quinoa. Like most human beings I prefer to have an open air flow thru my throat.;) I’m done with grains, I may occassionally have brown basmati rice, but that’s it for me. It’s just not worth it.

  33. In the days of Jesus the bread they ate was “flat” and it was baked “unleaven.” with NO preservatives! and it was
    probably very crispy!:)
    In this day and age bread is baked leaven, the yeast causes the bread to rise high produces fermentation. Bread back then and bread now is differently baked.
    At health food store, i like “Ezekiel” Bread.

  34. “unleavened” means that it wasn’t sourdough bread. In sourdough baking, you reserve a lump of “starter” which is a living organism that gives sourdough its special flavor. Baking unleavened bread means baking new bread – breaking from the old bread tradition of the egyptians, not bread without yeast. There is yeast in the air – even 10 minute old dough or grape juice will have yeast in it, fermenting away.

    To clarify, I’m not saying that we need to eat what Jesus ate. I’m just saying that, as a Christian, if Jesus ate it, I can’t very well say that eating it is evil or inherently bad for me. Otherwise I’d have to conclude that Jesus was damaging his health and encouraging others to do the same.

  35. ok, i really enjoy reading this blog, but i have to say i have a problem with this post. its true that most people eat too many carbs and i think the idea of a diet based heavily on fruits and vegetables is a very good idea, but i really don’t think its beneficial to completely cut grains out of your diet. i’m studying to be a dietitian, and what i’ve studied goes completely against what you are saying about grains. grains are not evil. they are an important source of fiber, zinc, copper, iron and vitamins B6, A and E. yes, you can get these from fruits and veggies as well, but there is nothing wrong with getting them from a few servings of grains. the facts about the damaging effects of digesting grains are interesting, but there is way more scientific evidence that whole grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. with the exception of people with celiac’s disease, moderate consumption of whole grains is good for our digestive system and overall health.

    I’m concerned that some of these readers with high cholesterol are questioning their consumption of whole grains. whole grains are proven to be a great way to lower your cholesterol. also, i run half marathons and do triathlons and i am so sad that one of your readers has given up triathlons so he doesn’t have to eat carbs!! “Goodbye to endurance sport… hello to Paleolithic Primal living! I will miss the 4 hour rides, but, I think I will enjoy eating even more fruits, veggies, and meat.” WHAT?!!

    Speaking of sports, whether you are exercise for recreation or compete as an elite athlete, carbohydrates are absolutely essential for optimal athletic performance, because they are the bodies main source of energy. Fat takes much more energy for our body to break down, so i don’t know where you got the idea that fat is our bodies preferred source of energy. glucose is what fuels our muscles and the most efficient source of glucose is carbohydrates.

    I feel like your views on grains are based heavily on just a ideas that don’t have a lot of credibility. for example, insulin release is a normal healthy body response to glucose. this is nothing to be concerned about; whole grains have actually been proven to REDUCE the risk of type II diabetes. and i don’t think that lectins are as dangerous as you make them out to be. Anyway, like i said, i really enjoy most of your ideas in your blog and i eat mostly fruits, vegetables, and fish, but saying that grains are a huge source of health problems and should be eliminated from your diet is pretty extreme and not really accurate.

    1. Yeah…. its hard to know what to believe. I don’t know for sure about grains, but I DO know for sure that carbohydrates are good and necessary!

      The longest lived and healthiest people in the world eat high carbohydrate diets.

      From http://quest.bluezones.com/

      Nicoya, Costa Rica

      ” * Fruit — People eat many wildly exotic fruits ultra rich in antioxidants, including papaya and citrus which they ate all year long.

      * Nixtamal – Nicoya’s core diet, corn soaked in lye with beans, dates back 3,500 years and creates a compound called nixtamal. It’s a complete food high in niacin, calcium and amino acids.”

      Okinawa, Japan

      “Eat a rainbow of colors: Eat at least five different-colored vegetables daily: red tomatoes, spinach, and eggplant are a few examples.”

      I think that natural, organic foods make a big difference- and I think we can learn a lot from HOW the foods are prepared. I don’t think it makes sense to assume the hunter and gatherers had the best diet. I think it makes WAY more sense to look at the wisdom of current cultures who we know for SURE are living long and healthy lives.

      And ALL of the longest lived people of the world have HIGH CARBOHYDRATE diets. They all eat different things and not all of them eat lots of grains, but they ALL HAVE HIGH CARB DIETS!!

    2. Agree with your comments.

      Mark’s unscientific assertions, albeit mostly anecdotal, are to be taken with a pinch of salt.

      Moderation in everything is key – yes, even beer and red meats!

    3. Can I ask have you done research on ketosis? Just curious regarding your comment that carbohydrates are our main source of emery. Thanks

  36. Tyler,

    Thanks for a well-written and thoughful comment. I do understand your concerns. However, I stand by everything we have said so far. Also, my response here is not meant to malign your career choice, but to express further my distaste for a grain-based diet.

    One of the problems I have with Conventional Wisdom is that it is handed down from generation to generation and often taught in our universtities and med schools as dogma. Most dieticians I have met (and it’s a lot) are quite regimented in their thinking. It looks from the outside as if not much has been updated in RD courses for decades. I see an unnecessary allegiance to carbs of all kinds, and particularly grains, among most all dieticians. I see a doctrine that suggests we get all our vitamins from eating only foods from the four basic food groups. I see continued belief that cholesterol is a killer and that fibrous grains are a good way to “fix” the cholesterol problems.
    And I think all of these ideas are probably wrong. Yes, it’s my theory, but I feel I can back all of this up and have done so many times on this site.

    You suggest that grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. The problem is that they were NOT any part of the human diet for the first 2,000,000 years and up until only 10,000 years ago. In fact, given that we can actually live without carbs (but not without fats or protein) and can get our vitamins and fiber from much better sources, there is probably NO reason to ever consume grains, except that they provide a cheap source of calories for billions of people.

    As for endurance training, as I say here, this is probably not the site to get your dietary info if you are competing at a high level, because I don’t think it’s the healthiest pursuit to train over an hour a day. And if you train an hour or less a day, you can do so with VERY little carb intake. Fruits and veggies are all you need.

    OTOH, I applaud your own continued efforts to train and race hard and wish you success. Those were some of the best years of my life and I would not trade them in. It is a rite of passage among young men and women. However, if I had it to do over again, I would avoid grains with a vengeance and get whatever extra carbs I needed from other sources (yams, sweet spuds, turnips, gourds, maybe maybe maybe some legumes). I say this in all candor that my high grain intake probably contributed to my retiring from competition more than any other single factor.

    Having said all that, I did admit that I will occasionally have a few tortilla chips (with guac)or a bite of bread in a restaurant. I’m not a soup-nazi about it…I just want people to understand that when they choose to eat grains, they do so with some downside that they ought to know about. That our government would recommend multiple servings every day is, on the one hand, criminal (yes, I said that) and on the other hand understandable, given that over half the calories in our unhealthy nation come from grains one way or another.

    As for the cholesterol issue, we’ve discussed it here ad nauseum, but the recent grain study you are probably citing was a joke. I (and 100 of my fellow low-carb bloggers) wondered how much better the outcomes would have been on a very low carb, zero grain diet, but the researchers didn’t test that, since they were simply looking to prove that grains are better than other carbs.

    1. But Mark, regarding grains, and this is something I’m struggling with over the last week to understand:

      1. You assume the human body can’t adapt or adjust within 50+ generations?

      2. How do you reconcile diets like the Japanese/Chinese (basically 75% rice) or the French/Italians (lots of breads and pastas and wine) who are healthy people without degenerative diseases?

      Basically it shouldn’t be possible, and they should be high incidences of cancer and heart disease in those societies.

      The evidence based on observation would indicate that the problem is EXCESSIVE SUGAR rather than an inherent problem with grains, no?

  37. Mark said:

    “You suggest that grains are an essential part of a healthy diet. The problem is that they were NOT any part of the human diet for the first 2,000,000 years and up until only 10,000 years ago.”

    I don’t believe this is accurate at all. It is my understanding that grains have been in the diet for a very very long time, what is relatively new to the diet in the human timeline is highly processed grains.

    Randy

  38. Actually, if you open up a general history textbook, agriculture and cultivation of grains specifically occured around 10,000 years ago.

    Obviously, wikipedia isn’t the most academic of sources, but read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_agriculture

    We, as a human race, have been around much longer.

    I really encourage you guys to read the Paleo Diet. It has quite a number of “further readings” that will change your point of view. Mark is totally right.

    And to answer tyler, I am quitting endurance sport not because I want to eat low-carb diets. However I am forced to, because I have a full-time girlfriend now and i need to spoil her (lol) and also started my MBA, while working concurrently. Yeah, I’m trying to get her to eat red meat, but it’s not working.. she’s only eating chicken and fish. And lots of cheesecake. Pretty sure cheesecake wasn’t a paleo food!!!

    I’m still lifting weights and swimming, but I want to develop my aerobic efficiency (to burn fat, not glycogen) so that if I ever attempt another Ironman, I’m able to sustain a decent effort over 10 hours. As we all know, we ONLY have enough glycogen to burn for about 2 hours at 65%-70% V02 Max, so you really have to develop that fat burning system. That, I’m sure Mark would agree on.

  39. Loren Cordain’s paper, Cereal grains: humanity’s double edged sword is a good paper to read for a more scholarly treatment of this material. As he says in this paper, there is no turning back from grains for humanity at this point. We need grains to sustain the current (and future population). So the fears expressed earlier about losing or abolishing grains and the skills for making bread I think are unfounded.

    As a Christian myself I just don’t have much of a problem with the paleo diet approach. I understand the concern with the Eucharist but I just don’t see it as an issue. I take communion weekly myself and rejoice in the offer of fellowship with Christ and the benefits of the wine and the bread. I don’t see the paleo approach being a threat to this in any way.

    And I am certainly not beyond getting a loaf of fruit and nut bread from Whole Foods on occasion, not because I think it’s that healthy for me but just because it tastes good. A little bit of bread on occasion is fine with me but I wholeheartedly reject the FDA food pyramid base of grains which just doesn’t have any rational basis if you look at the data that Mark (as well as Dr. Cordain and others) is presenting here.

  40. Randy, I’m afraid you won’t learn much becoming a dietician. You will just be repeating the inaccuracies that you are being taught. You need to do some extra reading and research on your own.

  41. Mark,
    Every morning I have a bowl of store bought “old fashioned oats” along with a cup of walnuts, cup of blue berries, honey and milk.
    What do you think or should I stay away from oatmeal all together?

  42. Maury,

    Of course millions have lived on oats for centuries, so who am I to take that away from you. The PB idea is one of moderating carb intake over the course of a day, a week, a year. Oats are less offensive (from a gluten POV) than other forms of grains. If you derive pleasure from this (and have no symptoms of oat intolerance), then the 25 or so grams of carbs you add to your daily intake by eating oats won’t have that great an influence on overall daily carb intake.

  43. Standard nutrition textbooks will tell you that whole grains contain many valuable minerals. This is true is the sense that you can analyze whole wheat or brown rice in a laboratory and find relatively high amounts of minerals.

    But standard teaching on nutrition skips over the fact that grains, legumes, nuts and seeds contain a substance called phytic acid or phytate. In humans, phytic acid is a strong chelator of iron,
    calcium, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorous. What this means is that the phytate generally stays undigested in our digestive tract and it clings to other minerals in our food and escorts them out of our bowels.

    It turns out that whole grains actually have fairly low levels of usable minerals unless we soak and sprout the grains or ferment them in order to break down the phytic acid. In medieval times porridge was commonly fermented over night before cooking. And, until recently, the Chinese would only feed soy to animals unless it was fermented first.

    Cows have no trouble eating the seed heads of
    grasses in the fields because their food passes through the four compartments in their stomachs and they produce the enzyme phytase to break down the phytic acid in their digestive tract. They were made to eat grains. We humans, however, lack sufficient phytase in our system.

    This is an almost perfect example of evolutionary nutrition. Cows evolved over millions of years to stand in herds and graze and be perfect grass and grain eating machines. They have the four stomachs and the enzymes to process grains. But we do not. We evolved to hike around, scan the horizon and look for a variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables and animal products to eat.

    The mix certainly varied enormously. Some paleolithic peoples lived on the seacoast and ate mostly vegetables and seafood, some lived in the jungle and ate mostly fruit and bugs, some lived in the cold north and hunted big game and so on. But none of them ate grains to any degree at all until about 10,000 years ago when people developed the settled lifestyle and the tools necessary for large scale grain cultivation.

    So now, in modern times, you can eat a ton of whole grains and happily read the label on the package telling you how much iron and other nutrients you are ingesting. But your happy smile may fade once you learn that you are only absorbing a small percentage of the minerals while the rest are carried out of your system by the phytic acid in supposedly good-for-you whole grain.

  44. According to The Okinawa Program, 32% of the Okinawa diet (by weight) consists of grains, compared to 11% for Americans (figure on page 71). Also, these grains include “at least three servings of Japanese white (sticky) rice, supplemented by whole grains such as buckwheat noodles (soba) and wheat noodles (udon). Rice is the most commonly eaten single food in Okinawa” (p. 70).

    The book also states that “Elderly Okinawans were found to have amazingly young, clean arteries. low cholesterol, and low homocystine levels when compared to Westerners. These factors reduce their risk for coronary heart disease by up to 80 percent and keeps stroke levels low” (pp. 17-18).

    So if carbohydrates (including white rice and pasta) are so unhealthy as you and Taubes state, how can the Okinawans live for so long with such good health?

    –Gary

  45. Gary, the Okinawan diet has been grossly exagerated in popular literature.

    1) The reason they live so long is the very low total calories they take in. Avergae BMI is 20. The best studies on longevity relate to calorie restriction. Okinawans are the kings (and queens) of CR

    2) The percentage of rice they eat has been overstated. Their diet has a higher percentage of fats and colorful vegetables than the avergae Japanese. So they don’t actually eat that much rice.

    3) Having said that, rice (of all the grain choices) is probably one of the “safest” in terms of gluten, lectin and phytates. They don’t eat much other grain at all.

    In sum, the Okinawans’ experience fits in nicely with PB and with Taubes’ thesis.

  46. Mark-
    While I stand with you on your take on grains. I myself am a year round Triathlete, minus the break I take in the winter from the bike. I have a hard enough time being able to keep weight on when I’m putting in big weeks.

    So my question is, what is a an ahtlete to do, I know Simon Whitfield is a big advaocator of you and your site. As far as my meals go, ive been cutting back on grains during the day and the evening, but for breakfast, its hard to cut out a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and still be able to get the calories I need.

    Thanks

  47. I gave up eating all grains when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. When I was tested, one of the antibody tests showed antibodies over 100,000, and the other antibody test was extremely high as well. It took two years, but one of the antibodies is now negative and the other is down to 792 from being over 100,000. I hope that the next time I have my throid antibodies checked, that both antibodies are negative. The only change I made to my diet was giving up all grains.

  48. Mark,

    Great post, very informative, and it certainly fits in with what I believe about grains.

    However, having read Sally Fallon’s nourishing traditions, as well as other books, does your viewpoint change if the grains are ‘prepared’ before consumption? For example, mung beans aren’t that great for you unless you soak them and let them sprout first over the course of a few days, similarly, soaking grains overnight will deactivate the phytates in the grain.

    And then there are the edge cases, like quinoa, which is considered a seed, and buckwheat, which is considered a fruit (at least according to an earlier post), what are your thoughts on these?

  49. Charles, I think there’s a “continuum” from worst to less-worse. Wheat is the worst, quinoa much less offensive. But I still don’t believe there’s any way to prepare wheat, barley, rye or corn that can overcome their glaring defects.

  50. Cannot WAIT for your book to come out! I’m going to be passing it around to everybody I know who thinks I’m absolutely crazy to be eating the way I do.

  51. I read your(Mark’s) interview in the Rivendell Reader. I’ve cut way back on carbs. One bread I’ve found that seems acceptable is the Ezekiel 4:9 breads. They are sprouted grain and are supposed to be low glycemic.
    http://www.foodforlife.com/low-glycemic-diabetic-friendly.html
    From their website: When sprouting occurs, the grain is partially predigested. This creates vitamin nutrients which help your body digest and absorb the healthy content of the grain. As well, the starches have already started being converted into maltose during the sprouting process, reducing the final maltose content and producing a lower glycemic response.

    Just wondering any thoughts on this product.

  52. Dan, the carbs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to grains. I think whole grains like Ezekiel are worse than refined sometimes (phytates, lectins, gluten, etc). I personally stay away from them all.

  53. I have been doing research concerning health ever so often and I have experimented to come up with results. I do wonder if genetic type and body type have something to do with how much grains one is supposed to have. I do notice that grains fill me up quick and leaves little to no room for anything else. I tend to eat food in order. Proteins and vegetables and like my Dad said, “If you are still hungry go into the bread droor.” Of course that was when I was a growing boy but now things are different. I feel that grains should be at the top of the official food guide pyramid a long with the sweets and sugar not at the base like the established medical industries say. Recall money drives people to say certain things. They may want you to consume as much grain as possible to fill up their pocketbooks, just something to think about. I also realize our history books and biology books are inaccurate. How old are humans? Do we have more of a carnivorous digestive system or more of a digestive system like cows or horses? Some things to think about.

  54. I have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and IBS and have spent the last 15 months trying to recover. I was also advised that I might be wheat-lactose intolerant and am now doing my best to eliminate all starch from my diet and have bulked up my new eating plan with loads of veg. I am starting to feel a bit better and hope to be back to normal in a few months when my energy returns.
    I have a question regarding my intake of veg. Do I count the protein in veg as part of the protein allowance for the day?

  55. Am I a bad person b/c I’m eating Ben and jerry’s while reading this?

    1. Eat whatever you please and if you don’t like what you see in the mirror (stuff like double chins etc.) simply ignore it. After all we are all responsible for our actions and ultimately for our looks. I prefer my well defined jaw line and know that gulping down tons of icecream (whatever the glamorous or not brand will sabotage my look. I’m not some kind of narcissistic freak but I mind my look.

  56. I’m fully on board with your “primal nutrition” notion and was so long before I found this website. In deciding WHO TO BELIEVE in the sea of misinformation out there, and the motivations of groups and gov’ts dispelling that misinformation I always ask myself “Did God make this for me to survive on, or did MAN create it?” If you don’t believe in God there’s no need to turn it into a religious debate “Did nature/evolution create this or did MAN make it?”

    So with that in mind I can NOT understand why you demonize grains??? Bread? Sure! Highly processed. But the actual WHEAT that bread started out as. God/nature/evolution created that! I’m sure Grok came across wheat in his travels and ate it. How can you demonize Oatmeal??? It’s oats, rolled flat. Doesn’t get much more natural than that.

    You say for 2,000,000 years man didn’t eat grains then the Ag-revolution took place 10,000 years ago and he did. What??? And man INVENTED corn/rice/wheat 10,000 years ago? Just because man started farming it and mass producing it, doesn’t mean it didn’t EXIST before. I’m sure Grok came across corn and rice and all kinds of grains and ate them just like he would fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, POTATOES, animals, fish and birds. So WHY do you advocate excluding these things?? Things that occured in NATURE before the agricultural revolution.

    I understand a potato elicits an insulin response. But if it’s a potato… that grew in the ground, and wasn’t made in a factory… that insulin response is a very NATURAL thing. How can it possibly be bad??

    I’m fully on board with your philosophy, but I just don’t get how you completely EXCLUDE grains. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve cut out bread, sugar, cheese, ANYTHING processed. But I’m not cutting out oatmeal or brown rice. Why should I?? I’m not convinced.

    1. lol, when I eat a single stupid potato that makes me feel super bloated sluggish and ready for a nap on the inside, and makes me look 9 months pregnant on the outside almost immediately (same thing goes for pasta prepared in the most natural way possible, and any bread in any form whatsoever), thats how it could possibly be bad for me – regardless of the fact that it is natural…Or how about when I have corn on the cob and crave ice cream (which I do not like) within a half an hour? Or how about when 1 slice of bread gets my skin looking like a teenagers for 3 weeks till I get it under control finally, Or how about within the first 5 days of following a meat, fat, and low glycemic veggie diet (I don’t like fruit except for the occasional apple), people ask me if I’ve been on vacation cause I look so de-stressed, ask me what my diet secret is cause my pants are falling off (5 days!) or how I could possibly have so much cheery energy while the rest of the world is in a miserable fog, I can only simply reply that I got there by eating one of my favorite most delicious foods – MEAT!!!! I think when you eat simply to survive, it’s a lot easier to let go of what your not eating and the reasons for not eating it, and find pleasure from things that don’t add calories….Living to eat makes the above statement not possible.

      1. Indeed. Carbohydrates rob us of our youth(fullness), starches are basically highly dubious antinutruents and add to that the fact that potatoes belongs to the poisonous solanacea family (nightshades) which all explain your reaction to eating potatoes.

  57. Fixed, these things may have existed in some form or another along with humans, but Grok didn’t rely on them much (if at all) as a source of calories. Grass seeds were small and hard to gather/process/cook. It was easier to kill a beast. Agriculture changed all that.

    I’m sure most people will survive fine by not cutting oatmeal or brown rice…but I prefer to get my calories from other sources and the keep my intake of simple carbs (and, hence, insulin) to levels attained through veggies and fruits only. That way I reinforce the fat-burning bias over the predominantly glucose-burning alternative. It’s all a choice.

  58. From a Christian/creationist perspective the world as we know it is only 10,000 years old (or less). So essentially that makes ‘Grok’ a whole lot more advanced and almost definitely a grains eater.

    It is often amusing to me that most people that build arguments on evolution will end their arguments with something to the effect of, “…so our bodies are actually designed for…”. ‘designed’? 😉

    Anyway, getting into an argument about evolution/creation has no place here (I’ll just say from an intellectual standpoint if more people studied logic these days there would be less people blindly following evolutionary theories – hey, you’re against conventional wisdom aren’t you Mark?)!

    Well written article though, and I enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Oh lose that ‘gotcha’ smirk–you should know that the choice of the word ‘designed’ in such cases is a matter of convenience, used in lieu of the much more cumbersome “naturally selected for”. There aren’t enough roll-eyes in the world for someone who doesn’t understand the self evident and observable truth of evolution and then claims to be a proponent of rigorous logic.

      1. Okay, like I said I don’t really want to get into a proper debate. Until we invent time travel evolution can never really be considered ‘observable truth’. By definition it takes millions of years for the minute differences to emerge.

        If you don’t want to consider the logic of it all, have a look into mathematics – take the human cell for example, it is mathematically impossible to have evolved. Another example is the eyeball – to have been formed by successive failures/mutations and then eventually lead to a perfectly working eyeball is not possible through evolution. Without everything in place as it is, it would be 100% useless. Do you think evolution is smart enough to know that it is 1% away from creating a working eyeball when in it’s state of 99% completion it is completely useless?

        “If anyone would prove the existence of a complex organ that could absolutely not be the result of a large number of sequential changes, my theory would collapse completely.” – Charles Darwin (from ‘The origin of species’)

        1. First, you have failed to prove that “it is mathematically impossible” for the eyeball to have evolved. Try to do that for us.

          In the first billion or so years, when life was still floundering and trying to establish itself, things would have been chaotic and random. Mutations would be quick and varied because life was cellular. As soon as a single mutation emerged that offered some measure of protection or advantage, it would flourish. Sensitivity to light (which, when you get down to it, is the base function of an eyeball) would undoubtedly be one such advantageous mutation.

          Think about it: all life has a parasitic connection to light. Plants have photosynthesis, animals generate Vitamin D from sunlight and eat the plants that draw on the sun for energy. The ability to identify sources of light is definitely good for survival, especially for single celled primordial marine life who need to “swim” upwards to meet the sun and all the nutrients it provides.

          There are other advantages. Sensitivity to light means one can perceive changes in the external world. A shadow crossing your path could mean a predator, or a source of food.

          And what about the thousands of other types of eyes out there in the animal kingdom? All are unique; none of the others conform exactly to the “perfect” design of the human eyeball. If what you say is true, how do they function? Or is my dog only getting around with a preternatural sense of smell and hearing?

          Take the eye of the octopus, for example. Its nervous system attaches directly to the back of the retina. In the human eye, the nervous system attaches to the front of the retina. Ocular data must exit from the front of the retina, do a “u-turn”, and travel the curvature of the retinal cell to the optic nerve. Completely different designs, but both work quite well. How do you explain that?

        2. If an all knowing, omnipresent being, who is also perfect, designed humans in his image…

          Why did he include flaws such as the appendix and optical illusions.

          To me, the mere existence of optical illusions destroys the basis that the world and the human body was intelligently designed.

          If god is perfect and all his plans correct. Why did he make that mistake?

        3. Actually the eyeball to me is the perfect example why “intelligent design” is complete nonsense. Which engineer would have designed the optical nerve to originate on the INSIDE of the retina, while there is absolutely no reason to do so…? (And there are actually some animals who have it originating on the outside and therefore miss the “blind spot”)

          Paleo diet works: in our CrossFit group 20 people took the “Paleo challenge” and completely eliminated all non-paleo foods from their diet for 1 month. That’s right: 31 days only. The results in fat and weight loss are astounding and completely convinced me. I didn’t participate (and frankly don’t need to lose weight) but I did change my cooking over the last 2 months and include a LOT less grains. Result: my husband is losing weight. 🙂

          But then: I’ve always “believed” in evolution and come to many similar conclusions (though of course not in such an elegant and thoroughly constructed way) as Mark on my own simply by listening to my own body and thinking about what makes sense in a “mammoth-hunter” context. Example: as a competitive athlete I’ve found that performance on an empty stomach is fine. Very useful if you’re struggling to meet certain weight restrictions, as well as when you spend a day chasing a mammoth and still have to kill it at the end of that.

          Scientific theories are just models that help us understand and predict phenomena around us. Just like Newtonian mechanics, the evolution theory as it is today will probably at some point be disproven because of a flawed inherent assumption. However, the theory replacing it is bound to have more common than diverging points, simply because the current theory does such a superb job of explaining most (not all) of the phenomena we observe.

          There’s no point in arguing with people who are convinced they’re right: cognitive dissonance will ensure that all data points not corresponding with your views are eliminated or modified before you store them in your brain. So feel free to ignore the fact that Paleo works and that it is another piece evidence for evolution; you’d have done so anyway.

  59. Yeah….. I understand it’s a choice. That’s not what I was looking for. I wanted to know why you think Grok would not eat these things?

    I did some research and found the answer. ….so I think that means I’m going to argue with myself now against my original comment. 😉

    There are 2 things I didn’t think of. 1) Just because it occurs in nature doesn’t mean it’s fit for HUMAN consumption. I can’t go outside and start eating grass like a cow. I can’t eat poisonous mushrooms. I can’t eat tree leaves like a Deer. You know?

    2) Correct me if I’m wrong, but my Googling indicates legumes, grains and potatoes are UNFIT for human consumption unless you cook them! Many will make you violently ill with food poisoning. We have the ability to cook our food today. …but if it’s basically POISON raw, it can’t be what nature intended. I don’t know exactly when Grok tamed fire and learned to cook with it, but until he did I’m sure he wasn’t eating any legumes, grains or potatoes. ….not after he got sick the first time anyway.

    So THAT is the “Why.” Because it’s unfit for human consumption in it’s raw form. Unlike veggies, unlike an APPLE. Unlike Almonds. Even meat. That’s not very palatable to most people myself included, but FRESH meat like a chicken slaughtered 5 minutes prior you CAN eat. It won’t make you sick. A fresh out of the ground, uncooked potato or rice? Nausea at best, violent food poisoning at worst.

    So I’m on board! No more grains, legumes, potatoes for me. 🙂

    1. Hate to be pedantic, well not really, but almonds used to be poisonous because of cyanide content, wild almonds still are, they were domesticated and the cyanide bred out of them, so Grok was not eating almonds.

  60. Two points : where is the evidence that people became “smaller and frailer” 10 000 years ago after introducing grains and why do you assume that evolution essentially stopped when we were hunter gatherers? What about all the studies now coming out showing huge evolutionary changes in the genome. What about all the primitive human skeletal remains that are small and that show death occured quite young (relative to our expected lifespan). I think that your point that most of our diet should be vegetable and lean protein based is reasonable. However I think it is a mistake to vilify one food group.

    1. To your first point:

      Check out Eades’ post at http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/low-carb-diets/nutrition-and-health-in-agriculturalists-and-hunter-gatherers/.

      This was study of two separate groups – hunter gatherers and agrarians – who lived in the same area at different times. The HGs ate a meat-centric diet: river snails, insects, deer, rabbit, wild turkey, turtle, fish, even dog. The agrarians subsisted on corn, squash, beans, with some supplementary game meat and fish. Records clearly show stronger, more robust bones in the HG group; tooth decay and skeletal iron deficiencies were typical in the agrarian group’s fossils.

      That’s just a small selection. Stephan writes of a 1982 symposium of paleo-archaeologists. Their goal? To use “data from human skeletal analysis and paleopathology [the study of ancient diseases] to measure the impact on human health of the Neolithic Revolution and antecedent changes in prehistoric hunter-gatherer food economies.”

      They examined the evidence – all the fossil records available of Paleolithic, Mesolithic (transitioning between HG and agriculture), and Neolithic – to determine which population was healthiest.

      Health in general suffered with the advent of agriculture, but to answer your question regarding bones: “The level of skeletal (including cranial and pelvic) development Paleolithic groups exhibited has remained unmatched throughout the history of agriculture.” http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/03/paleopathology-at-origins-of.html

      The evidence is ironclad.

  61. How do you deal with the evidence that shows people on unrefined carb diets actually lower insulin levels significantly?

    And the evidence that high saturated fat foods actually can increase insulin?

  62. Bongoman, all carbs raise insulin to some degree, so I’m not sure exactly what “evidence” are you referring to? Can you point me to your specific studies that compare diets high in complex carb with low carb diets, for instance?

  63. Just a quick update, I’m down TWENTY pounds since ditching grains. And my afternoon nap or coffee (depending on my schedule) is virtually eliminated. I was “primal with heavy grains” for about 2 months while I read, researched and decided whether or not to eliminate grains. I could NOT drop weight that way. And I went into a massive food-coma after every chicken-and-rice type meal I had. Just like I would with pasta, or pizza or something I ate in my pre-primal life. You really want to know whether you should drop grains or not?? Try it for 1 week. You won’t be able to argue with how great you FEEL. Horray for even energy all day!! No more 3 o’clock sleepy’s.

  64. Fixed Gear, as a Christian, I find you were more ontrack with your original post… God did give us this Earth to use (wisely, hopefully). He gave us our darn big brains for reason…to become more human and less animal. Just because wild animals lack the ability to cook, doesn’t mean we are wrong for making the inedible edible. I am way in agreement with Barlow in that we don’t eat just for fuel…we share meals for pleasure as well.
    I can’t disagree with your weight loss…that’s why I’m attempting to eat this way…but I think you could have done the same just by eating far fewer carbs.(rather than elimination) I think if we all just ditch the simple carbs (Doritos really just don’t add to anyone’s life) and savor the occasional treat (that artisan bread he was talking about)we’ll be on the right path.
    p.s.
    Barlow spoke of Communion…for me,I always think of God feeding the Israelites in the desert…he gave them manna…not a side of beef.

  65. Yeah well if we’re using that big brain, then we should realize that if you HAVE TO cook something just to make it edible, it’s probably not good for you. By using that brain and realizing grains are NOT meant for human consumption I AM becoming more human, less animal. I’d argue people “going primal” are using a superior intellect than the masses following conventional wisdom!

    By cooking beans, or rice or oats, you can stomach them without getting sick. But that doesn’t mean it’s optimal fuel. I would argue they ARE making you sick, even cooked, just not as sick as they do raw. Raw beans off the vine = you’ll throw up. Cooked beans = lots of flatulance, and insulin spike/crash. That’s not the same as throwing up, but it’s certainly not positive. I’d call that low-grade sickness.

    I’m not advocating that we don’t cook because Grok didn’t cook, anymore than I’d say men shouldn’t shave or cut their hair because Grok didn’t. I LIKE our modern world. I’m simply saying if you HAVE TO cook a food just to make it edible…. then that’s a very compelling argument that it’s UNNATURAL for you to eat that food. The same way I don’t eat tree leaves or grass just because they occur in nature.

    Your argument that I “could have lost the weight anyway” by including the VERY THINGS that were impeding my weight loss…. just doesn’t make logical sense. I figured it out, it was the grains! That was the problem. I took them out and the weight came off. Going primal WITH grains, in 2 solid months I could only mange to drop 3 pounds. Once I ditched the grains, it was 1-2 pounds a week. I’m now down 38 pounds! That’s 18 more since my last post here. And I’m STRONGER in all my lifts in the gym.

    Go ahead and eat grains if you want to; I don’t need any more convincing. Honestly the weight loss, is secondary. I FEEL so much better without grains. You never really get off the insulin spike/crash rollercoaster if you eat lots of brown rice or oatmeal.. Replace those things with veggies and you’ll be much happier.

  66. Fixed Gear,first of all, congratulations on your weight loss… well done!
    But…I’m not understanding why all the shouting in your post…?? I wasn’t trying to be in your face.
    Let me just try to rephrase: I too am starting to limit grains and am starting to eat some meat. I do believe it will help me lose weight. I just think food is more than simply the sum of it’s nutritional parts, and that life is a gift… and too short to not enjoy a piece of good bread on occasion. I didn’t believe Ornish when he insisted on “no nuts” (fat content) and I don’t believe eliminating all grains is necessary…and cannot accept that agriculture was a purposeless fluke.
    It’s all just my humble opinion/perception/philosophy…I’m not trying to tell you how to eat.
    BTW, how much more do you want to lose?

    1. Current and projected levels of population cannot exist on this planet without grains. That’s a big issue, and Mark as well as Loren Cordain acknowledge this. Therefore most people sadly will never have the choice to eliminate grains.

      However, if you have the choice and you do accept the premise that you can help your health, consider yourself lucky.

  67. 1) I don’t believe in evolution. I believe in creation. We did not evolve from apes.

    2) MODERATION.

    ‘Nuff said.

    1. Are you f***ing serious? I love your site Mark, but the comments section appears to attract its fair share of whackjobs.

      1. Unfortunately, anything that challenges the general belief system out there is going to attract its fair share of crackpots and whackjobs, as well as the occasionall tr*ll.

    2. You are right, we didn’t evolve from apes. We evolved from a common ancestor.

      Moderation is important. Intelligent, science and evidence based decision making is better.

      enough said.

  68. What about the grains that don’t have gluten? Quinoa, Amaranth, rice, etc.? I thought these were supposed to be good for consupmption?

  69. Interesting article. I’ve been battling eczema for the past few years and have always felt lethargic after meals, I wonder if cutting pasta and bread would help?

    One thing I was unsure about though was re. the Carbs… I thought potatoes / sweet potatoes and other spuds have equally high GI index to brown rice or wholewheat pasta? In that case wouldn’t potatoes cause equal amount of havoc to insulin spikes, etc? How can you recommend spuds in the same breath then?

    And as a seed does Quinoa have phytates?

  70. A friend of mine recommended this website which he loves with a passion. Cutting carbs completely from ones diet is reminiscent of the Atkins diet which i ABHOR. im currently following the Glycemic Load system of eating by a british nutrionist called Holford. I do eat carbs in the form of Oats,Quinoa,nd Pumpernickel rye bread. I have been losing a kg a week which is great. Im really interested in Primal way of eating, does that mean i have to eliminate all of the above? i weigh my carbs and i dont consume more than 150gm a day + i love quinoa (is this a nasty grain?)dunno what to do really??
    As an added note i think ppl should look up the Codex Alimentarius which is unrelated to this diet but very much to vitamins and supplements Dr. Rima Laibow in Youtube. Peace

  71. All this creationist and christian bibble babble is making my head hurt.

    This is a HEALTH, NUTRITION and FITNESS blog. Not religion. Religion should be like your genitals… Kept covered in public, but you can play with it as much as you want in the privacy of your own home.

    It is a FACT, supported by EVIDENCE, that the earth is over 4 billion years old. Evolution does occur DAILY. Explain to me how bacteria adapting and evolving to become resistant to antibiotics is not evolution. Do some research about salamanders and how recent, NEW, species have evolved from separation and environmental changes.

    Biology only makes sense in the light of evolution. To completely dismiss it based upon your “faith” is ignorant and troublesome.

    With all that being said, and back to the original topic. The days (Wednesdays and Sundays) that I completely cut out grains (and carbs) are the days that I feel my best and most balanced energy wise. This is anecdotal at best, but what works for me is what works for me.

    In closing, please STFU about your religion and how it disproves evolution, science, practical reasoning and the such. Save it for another website that was actually created and designed for that audience.

    Thanks.

    1. What exactly is the problem with someone posing a religion-related question to the author of the post/website? It probably wasn’t written to target specifically you, it was probably written to see what any other interested people thought about it… You don’t have to read it, you don’t have to response to it… Also, where on this site does it insist that all discussion generated is to be within the health/nutrition/fitness limits? It seems as though the entire goal, aside from the obvious selling-supplements part, is the education and back-and-forth with readers about a particular lifestyle. That doesn’t exlude a topic just cuz you don’t like it..

      Also, just as an admittedly off-topic sidenote… the belief that the earth and people were created is not mutually exlusive to the idea of evolution. As far as the “we did not come from apes” comment, that doesn’t exlude the possibility of evolution altogether… I personally make a distinction between macroevolution and microevolution. I have yet to see proof that macroevolution is possible.

    2. Raleighwood, evolution is a theory, there is no possible way of proving a “millions of years” theory when modern science has been around for just a few hundred years. The majority of scientists will agree to this.

      “Explain to me how bacteria adapting and evolving to become resistant to antibiotics is not evolution.” The bacteria remains bacteria, it therefore has nothing to do with proving or disproving macro-evolution (the millions of years theories).

      Ultimately evolution is world view that a lot of scientists have when they look at scientific evidence. People like to be able to disprove texts like the Bible as it means they can live however they want to live (no moral absolutes etc). Of course Creationist scientists are no different, they too have a world view through which they apply to their science.

      In the end it’s a faith question, not a science question.

      Also, I believe this discussion is very relevant to this article as Mark holds up evolution as one of the main reasons why humans should avoid excess carbohydrates. Yet evolution contradicts the beliefs of Christians, Jews and Muslims (a huge proportion of the world’s population).

  72. Thanks for this information, Mark. I’ve been following a primal diet and lifestyle for a few months and the results are obvious – obviously good. It’s hard to argue with results. It is in my nature, however, to fully explore new ideas, and not take them at face value. With that being said…

    As we will (should) all agree that evolution is occurring constantly, is it not possible that humans are slowly adapting to a diet high in grains? Evolutionary Theory and the “survival of the fittest” principal is based on the idea that those members of a species best adapted to changes in thier environment will pass along those adaptive traits to thier offspring. In this case, one environmental change is the superpopulation of the human species resulting in a lack of nutrient rich foods appropriate to feed the increasing population. I haven’t crunched the numbers yet, but I’d be willing to bet that the entire human population as it stands today could not survive on a strict primal diet without grains. Should you grant me that assumption, then next logical progression is a human species that will adapt (or is adapting) to ingesting grains as a major source of nutrition. The inability to digest gluten will continue to weed itself out. The sheer availability of grains will continue to encourage a growing population of humans until we have adapted to dependancy. (We are probably not too far off of that.) Is it better to resist these inevitable changes or to encourage them? Who knows?

    As for me, I won’t live in the future. I can control my diet, and don’t have a dependancy on grains. I enjoy my (semi-) primal lifestyle and look forward to passing my genes on to my children.

  73. Inevitably, a question came up while reading this… According to numerous sources, including several medical types, in order to continue lactating properly and producing the necessary amount of milk, carbs (most specifically whole grains, and even more specifically oatmeal) are a must… Do you happen to have an explanation for why this might not be the case? Also, any idea why the whole-grain idea is pushed by nearly 100% of nutritional experts? Just wondering what the motivation would be to tell so many people that it’s vital to their well-being if it is in fact not.. Thanks in advance!

    1. As for why almost all CW health experts recommend hearthealthywholegrains I think because they saw on CNN that they were good for you. And besides, eating meat is sinful and we should all be vegetarian. I’m being slightly tongue-in-cheek here but not too far off, many ‘experts’ just regurgitate what they hear 2nd or 3rd hand. We’ve all played telephone as kids and similar stuff happens in news sources/science reporting. Few people actually take the time to read the studies first hand(the whole thing not just the ABSTRACT, which is often misleading) and even fewer will read them if they are in a different language. I’ve read many, many studies where the abstract and the actual result of the study are in conflict or the researchers doctored the results so that they fit in w/ CW. Make the data fit the hypothesis so they can still get grant $$.

  74. …I’ll add a bit to my question, as your explanation above somewhat answers what it sounds like I was asking… I wanted to know if the same explanation is valid in the case of lactation AND, if so, what is the best way of ensuring proper milk supply? (If you know..)

    1. Nurse more frequently is the best, most reliable way to up milk production. I’ve heard rumors that nettle / milk thistle tea will also work but haven’t tried it.

  75. Ah yes, of course. Since we all know that before there was oatmeal, no woman ever breastfed a baby. Of course not. How could they? They didn’t have oatmeal! Makes perfect sense!

    1. Well, that was an incredibly useful response. Good on ya!

      Disregarding the idiot above, my question still remains, to anyone who may care to answer it… Just wondering what the magical quality of grains is that supposedly facilitates proper lactation (atleast in the opinion of the med. specialists to whom I’ve talked about this) and in which other replacement-type foods this would be found.

      1. I don’t know about the medical ‘experts’ that you’ve spoken to about this but I’ve been nursing my 17 month old since birth just fine on a diet that has been extremely low in grains. I do cheat occasionally on really, really good bread. But no more than once/twice a month (excluding a recent trip to France). I know this is just anecdotal, and therefore not strictly science, but as long as you get enough calories you should do just fine. I would be interested to know what the fat content of the milk is when you go high fat/lo carb. Perhaps the volume does decrease but the calories/fat content of the milk goes up? Perhaps women just have a harder time getting in enough calories to lactate properly w/o loads of carbs/sugar, I dunno. I would also tend to think that the increase in milk supply would be based on the amount of carbs (plus insulin spike) and not on some kind of micronutrient in the grains themselves since they are a pitiful source of nutrition.

        But I do agree with Ian’s statement above. Even HGs now bf just fine w/o grains. Babies do start out eating meat much earlier in HG/traditional societies also which lessens the amount of milk required after the first 4-8 months of life. See Sally Fallon’s work on this for more information.

        Personally, I feel so much better without grains that I don’t think I will be adding them back (n=1 rules). I don’t really miss them at all either.

        1. Gotcha, good to hear… I hadn’t yet come across anyone who had changed their diet to [mostly] eliminate grains etc yet was breastfeeding… Just wondering if it’d cause unnecessary complications. As far as the nursing more often thing, I don’t have any problems at present with milk, just didn’t want them to develop… As far as Ian’s “statement”, if you categorize it as such, I’m aware that it has happened, that part was clear to me before asking the question, the difference is the way they ate was/is second nature, whereas I’d be switching to it and not necessarily have the expertise to sub in the right food for the particular demands of breastfeeding… Either way, so far everything seems to be going fine, just was wondering if there’d be a large difference or some kinda special action that needed to be taken, what with the way it’s insisted that carbs are necessary or milk production will go out the window… At any rate, thanks for your comments/experience! Reassuring 🙂

        2. How long have you been eating this way? Has it been throughout nursing or somewhat recently?

      2. Maria, I don’t know if this is what you are looking for, but the body makes saturated fat out of carbs, and I believe at one point that was the logic behind saying ‘You MUST eat grains or you won’t be able to nurse’, though I know for a fact that’s bunk.

        IF you should start to see an issue-fenugreek worked very well for me when I started to see a bit of a shrink in my supply. You have to take enough of it to smell a bit ‘fennel-y’-your sweat, breath and urine will take on the scent, but it’s by no means bothersome or unpleasant.

        I don’t think there ‘is’ a component in grains that is necessary for lactation; The lipid profile of your milk will resemble that of your diet, so high vitamin CLO, coconut oil, and plenty of saturated fat are good things to get plenty of.

        I suspect that the recommendation for ‘whole grains’ is a lot like the ‘avoid raw milk’ and the ‘don’t eat liver or any vitamin A’ mandates you get when pregnant. Conventional wisdom and crummy even at that.

        That said, I did notice a measurable increase in my milk supply when I had oatmeal for breakfast (soaked overnight in buttermilk/kefir) than when I had something else (eg rawmilk eggnog, etc) so for me, at least, oats are a definite galactagogue.

        1. Interesting… thanks! I wonder why the oats were helpful… that was what I was eating daily for breakfast (cooked in water, “served” with a halfish cup of apple juice cuz I can’t eat them raw 😉 ) Now I’ve been eating several (3-4) eggs scrambled with some kinda of meat (ham/salmon/whatever) and some vegetables (spinach/bell peppers/etc) and a little cheddar cheese… So far milk’s okay, maybe a little down, but I just got back from a week long TDY (“business trip” in normal speak) and that probably had an impact. ANYWAYS! Thanks!

      3. If it were true that whole grains and oatmeal and milk are necessary for lactating, then the Inuit could not have existed. Until the relatively recent contact with “civilization”, they ate mostly whale meat and other animals, and their source of carbs was the stomach contents of the animals. They would not have been able to breastfeed and their infants would have starved.

        I knew that I was hypoglycemic before I had children, so I was eating a low-carb diet when I was nursing and had great amounts of milk with lots of cream. My babies looked well-nurished! So don’t be afraid to eliminate grains from your diet.

  76. Mark (or other helpful friends): I think I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m currently reading through Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM)by Tom Venuto, and he recommends whole grains and oatmeal but not white flour. Since carbohydrates are the most efficient way to produce glucose for the body’s production of ATP, and since grain is a great source of carbohydrates, I’m at a loss. I want to combine the Primal Blueprint and BFFM for optimal health.

    With so many conflicting ideas regarding grains, part of me wonders if the only way for me to solve this issue is to cut to low grains and see how I feel after a month or two and then go back on a higher amount of grains and see if I feel better or worse.

    As you talk about how grains are damaging to the digestive system, I can’t help but wonder why evidence of this isn’t in great excess.

    I want to change my diet from processed to organic (straight from the earth, grass fed beef, etc). I think that would do a great deal for energy levels and overall health.

    -Benjamin

  77. It was as useful a response as the question warranted. If you apply even a modicum of critical thinking to your question, you’d know that the “experts” that told you that oatmeal is a must for proper lactation have no real idea what they’re talking about. It has little to nothing to do with hunter-gatherer societies eating things that are “second nature”. They ate and still do eat, what is available to them. Second nature has very little to do with it.

    1. You, for a second time, are failing to understand what it is that I’m asking… I’d like to know what the nutrient(s) is(are) in grains that’s conducive to breastfeeding/good supply and where else it can be found, not whether or not the experts’ advice is valid. It seems you did not notice the second part to my question? The one where I said “since what it sounds like I’m asking has already been answered, can you tell me what the good part about grains is and where else I can find it?”…

      1. I’m definitely not insisting that women weren’t previously able to breastfeed successfully… it’s just that, again, back then eating right was second nature. Today it’s not. I’m just switching to it, I don’t have generations to ask or experience on which I can lean to answer my questions… I have to ask others that have been in this similar situation in order to find my answers.

  78. Ever notice how mad some people get when you tell them grains are bad for them? It’s like telling a kid there is no Santa!

  79. I may have read this post before, but I just read it again. It was necessary to remind myself why I do not eat grains and why I try to encourage my family to do the same. I have stepped back lately, but will continue to hint at this fact overtime.

    I think they will catch on eventually. I have been primal for 2 months and will never look back.

    Grok on!

  80. Very nice. The mention of the family making “digs” especially hits home. I’m often taken back by how offended carb consumers become when you turn down the rice and beans. Most seem to take it very personally.

  81. I’m not saying you are ‘completely’ wrong in your whole anti-grain extravaganza, but you do contradict yourself a great deal with respect to the negative aspects of grains.

    For example

    “The bottom line is this: grains = carbs. Unnecessary at best, but flat out unhealthy at worst….. really the only way – to achieve a low carb, whole foods diet is to ditch the grains”

    Did I miss something in my 5th grade health class? The calories obtained from eating vegetables and fruits are >95% carbohydrates, yet, (for you) the bottom line is grains = carbs and carbs are bad. Through deductive reasoning, if carbs are bad, so are vegetables and fruit. I would certainly agree that vegetables and fruits are more nutrient dense than grains (therefore, more important to eat), but to flat out say that carbs are bad is just ridiculous.

    Furthermore

    “You say fiber, I say unnecessary roughage, but that’s only the half of it.)”

    Fiber????? Are you seriously trying to tell me that you shouldn’t eat grains because they have FIBER?! Now you’re just scraping the barrel for gullible people on the internet. Regardless of whether you’re speaking of soluble or insoluble fiber, wholesome veggies contain both… so… what exactly is your point?

    I could mention other things, but this post is going on long enough as it is. Health and nutrition is about balance, not about complete absence or gluttony of specific foods (unless you have a serious health condition which requires the intake and ignorance of specific foods).

    I’m going to wake up in the morning and have my bowl of buckwheat or oatmeal mixed with fruit, nuts, and other goodies and I’m not going to feel bad about it. I’m going to get back from my daily run/swim/exercise routine and eat a nice bowl of brown-rice/lentils/quinoa mixed with an assortment of veggies and flax-oil without feeling bad about it.

    Not to mention, I’m going to throw some zucchini, carrot, banana, seaweed, garlic, and water into a blender, then drink the large glass of carbohydrates and fiber left over with a smile on my face.

    Get up, get out, be happy: eat grains.

    Life is about balance, not abstinence.

  82. Sam, you seem to have ignored the whole explanation about how our digestive system has not yet evolved to be able to adequately handle grains. Humans have varying degrees of tolerance or intolerance, but as with carcinogens, just because we don’t see the immediate effect doesn’t mean we should eat them.

    1. I see no scientific evidence in this article as to why the human body has not evolved to handle grains. Extreme conjectures require extreme evidence. In this article, I see nothing. Grains are a ‘part’ of the most balanced and healthy diet that a human being can eat. No doctor, nurse, or anyone with a degree or expertise relating to nutrition could possibly argue against me with any form of scientific evidence because it doesn’t exist. 95% of the replies on this webpage come from the gullible common folk of the internet who will believe anything they read. This is especially dangerous because it contributes to the spread of mal-information in the world. This kind of extremist point of view (of the author) is what creates a huge knowledge gaps in a vast amount of individuals. Just like the Atkins diet and most of the other fad diets out there, they are simply wrong because they are ‘too extreme’. People become afraid of eating things that are healthy for them!

  83. Your article definitely makes a lot of sense but it sure is hard to ditch grain for me. That means almost no more pasta, bread and bagels huh? Guess it’s time to look for alternate breakfasts since that’s the hardest meal to replace grain’s in I think.

  84. Coming from a “gulible commoner” I think if you feel that if you dont believe the science the way it was presented, & you are not willing to try for yourself, than I say stop reading these things designed for idiots like me. Since eliminating grains for 12 weeks now, I have never felt or looked better, been stronger mentally & physically in my entire life. & that without eating red meat or pork(personal preference {sorry all of you bacon pushers})

  85. Regarding the Atkins diet, only the first weeks have severe carbohydrate restriction, to get your body to switch to burning fat instead of storing it, and to reduce insulin resistence. After that, veggies and then fruits are added according to the individual’s tolerance, the point at which they start to gain weight again. Yes, some veggies and fruits have a lot of carbohydrates, so must be added cautiously. Personally, if I eat grains (and also sugar), I have a hard time controlling my intake. Once I start, I crave more and more. If you find that you tolerate grains, fine. Don’t malign those of us who find better health and well being after eliminating them from our diet.

  86. I agree with Sam on this one. He makes a very good point. In reading this article, and others by Mark regarding grains, the only “downside” I saw to eating grains was that the indigestible part caused cells in the intestine lining to slough off more. Also, Gluten and Lectin can cause some issues, and, hey, if a more well rounded argument was presented along with sources to show the scientific understanding of Gluten, Lectin, and the like, it would make considering this a article easier.

    I only eat whole wheat bread or whole wheat rice, and I make my bread at home now. One thing that should be understood about bread is that the insulin issues that come from eating refined breads (which are basically simple sugars) is that they can be somewhat controlled with lean proteins (because of how long it takes for lean protein, such as chicken, to be metabolized). It would be even better to eat whole wheat, non-refined grains with protein because they are complex carbs.

  87. I cant replace grains with vegetables… theres too little of quality veggies around my house =(
    And my mum wants me to eat rice

    I guess i’ll have to put up with brown rice then

  88. I mentioned this in a previous post but it’s worth mentioning again – leptin.

    If you go really low carb for extended periods your body will undergo hormonal changes to scrounge carbs and presrve consumed calories (including giving you cravings).

    As such a small shot of carbs now and then actually prevents such changes and increases the speed at which you burn off fat. In effect you’re giving your body permission to continue burning fat, your body’s reserve fuel.

    The good news is such a shot of high carbs doesn’t have to come from grains of any sort. I mention it anyway though as in 20 pages or so of comments no-one has touched on this.

    To the guy following BFFM, which is very similar to my own book on fat loss, like me he’s a bodybuilder. As such he’s looking to carbs to replenish the muscles, both for training and to reduce the need to burn protein for calories.

    The primal stuff is more about health than a lean, muscular appearance. It will give you that eventually, with suitable exercise, while bodybuilding gives it to you faster. So it’s up to you, do you want to look great quick but neglect elements of your health, or develop great long-term health and let your appearance catch up naturally?

    Me, I’m doing the bodybuilding thing :o)

    That is however a conscious choice…

  89. This might work if your a couch potato, but any one who seriously workout, seem to get massive cravings for carbohydrates. Exactly how then would it be so bad, if our body tells us it wants them so much.

    1. Only until you’ve converted to burning fat for fuel instead of relying on carbs (which are not good for you; look around this site and read up on insulin to understand why). Once you’ve done that, you won’t get the carb cravings any more.

    2. That has been my experience. I lost 45 pounds on very low carb diet and started working out again … but I found that once I was exercising 2-3 hours a day I would bonk really bad … so now I eat beans of various types with dinner and a little oatmeal in the morning.

  90. I have pretty much replaced most grains with beans such as black and small red beans combined with tasty herbs and olive or grape seed oil any time i crave carbs

    1. Beans are almost as bad for you as grains are. Better to ditch them, too. Look up “lectins” – they’re not pleasant.

  91. Longevity–
    Reduce meat
    (ELIMINATE GRAIN)

    This Taoism observation for increased long life is 2,000 years old or more. Note: older persons just reduce meat (Eat more fat I assume) but do not eat grain.

    Diet studies by quintile that look at fat and oil consumption are just as bad as the grain study conclusions.

    Why not test this idea?
    Anyone over 60 can get a series of blood test for Insulin, Glucose, IGF-1, HgB A1c, C-reactive protein etcetera and then in 90 days of a grain free diet. See the results for yourself. Eric

  92. After looking over some of these comments, I’m noticing that on BOTH sides of the evolution/creation divide is a stifling misunderstanding of several important notions. Anyone who wants to partake in the discussion of evolution, creation and intelligent design needs to recognize the distinctions between hypotheses & theories, observation & prediction and confirmation & proof – to begin!

    PLEASE do all of us a favor and read something by Karl Popper, Carl Hempel, Ernest Nagel, Rudolph Carnap, W.V.O. Quine, Hilary Putnam or Thomas Kuhn. Effectively, READ SOME PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE! This debate is becoming more common and familiar, and it seems like the popular view is still drudging along, stumbling over the nuances that ought to by this point be more appreciated by the average participants.

  93. Just wondering, haven’t got as much knowledge as most on this comment board, I know feeling great is important of course but is no one tempted to eat bread? I love the stuff but after reading most of these comments it makes me feel guilty.. But I would mostly like to know is it more on the don’t eat grain side or the don’t eat bread side? And if one was dairy and egg and fish intolerant wat would one eat? I went and had a allergy scratch test on my arm and not huge dots but small dots came up under my skin and he told me I should avoid dairy and eggs to see if I feel less bloated.. I found it extremely hard with the eggs and fish so I gave up.. Any advice? I would like to try it again.. And also I really love yoghurt but how long has that been around for? And it’s not natural?? Just curious george I guess.. I would love to be lean but tend to bulk even doing cardio but my diet doesn’t consist of over 80g of carbs a day? Please help I would love to be lean

    1. I am not tempted to eat bread at all. Eating it gives me immediate and painful reactions.

      Now, does that mean you won’t have cravings for the first few days or weeks? No. Kicking grains is every bit as difficult as kicking heroin or cocaine – they are that addictive. But once those cravings are gone, bread will no longer tempt you unless you have an eating disorder or some other psychological condition (i.e. emotional eating). But I’ve been doing this for a year and more; the last time I had anything made of wheat was last December when I had one bite of the top of my wedding cake (saved in the freezer for the one-year anniversary), and I paid for it with two days of bloating, pain, and indigestion. If it hadn’t been my wedding anniversary, it wouldn’t have been worth it. Before that, the last time I had anything made of wheat was a slice of Roman Meal bread in August 2009. I don’t crave it; in fact, I actively avoid it.

      If you’re sensitive to dairy, why are you eating yoghurt?

      Go grain-free for a month and then ask for another scratch test. I’d bet some of your “allergies” are wheat-related and have nothing to do with dairy and fish and eggs – once you’ve eliminated wheat and other grains (including corn!) you might find your bloating and allergies go away and you can eat eggs and fish and dairy again. But in answer to your question: you can eat meat and non-starchy veggies and the occasional piece of fruit. Eat chicken with the skin on. Eat steak! Eat high-fat ground beef, bacon, pork chops, lamb. Eat big-ass salads with olive oil and vinegar dressing, three different kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, other good non-starchy veggies. The list is awesome and endless – and filling.

      The forums here are filled with a wealth of information. So is Mark’s book. Go to the one, and buy the other – and don’t look back. You’ll thank yourself for it in months and years to come.

  94. I have been mostly off grains for the past 15 years due to an allergy to gluten. After doing a lot of research I have come to realize that I can tolerate homemade sourdough breads with a long ferment. The long ferment eats up most of the gluten. It works on bread much like the bacteria in Kefir works on milk.

    I would like it if you would look into yourself and comment. I still only partake on a minimal basis of once or twice a month. It is, however, very nice to eat a sandwich once in awhile and not risk hives from head to toe. Let me know what you find out.

    I do follow your way of eating mostly due to being forced because of my allergies. It is a way of life but I do enjoy the occasional detour without the consequences…

  95. I hate to tell you, but the reason we walk upright is because we went from the jungle, into the plains (where wheat grows). Oats, barley, and raw wheat are insanely good for you. If you don’t eat whole grain carbs, you absolutely will get colon cancer. Also, your cerebrospinal fluid relys on the sugars from carbohydrates that your mouth INSTANTLY produces. You ever notice how people that don’t eat carbs are somewhat absent minded? And if by “grains” you mean only processed grains, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    1. Did anyone who commented heard or read about people eating high-raw or even fruitarians??????????? They dont eat grains or meat or dairy or even cooked food and trive like never before…and doing it for years and years and MAria I would recommend you to lower the intake and in this tine to research/check the angela’s blog rawreform you will find a lot more information that will help if you really want to transit to a healthier living for you and your children

      and

      Mark, what about sprouted wheat/barley/buckwheat/oats/quinoa/mung beans or what about wheatgrass or barleygrass???
      I remember in some sites advocating wheatgrass or barley juice that they believed that HG moved to the plains only for a seasonal period of time to take advantage of the young grass in the absence of sources of meat!? Please reply…greatly appreciated
      Ionela

    2. Not sure why not eating grains would definitely cause colon cancer?

      All the nutrients will come from veg/fruit, also fish has been shown to lower risk, recent studies have quashed the previous thought that high fiber diets reduce risk

  96. So, what about the asians? Their diets have for a long time contained a TON of rice…and they are very healthy people…but they’re starting to have more problems now that the western way of eaten is creeping into their cultures, like McDonalds for instance. All the fatty and cholesterol filled meats and high sugary carbs are beginning to bring their health down as well. But before, they ate tons of rice with no problems. How is that explained?

  97. So, what about the asians? Their diets have for a long time contained a TON of rice…and they are very healthy people…but they’re starting to have more problems now that the western way of eating is creeping into their cultures, like McDonalds for instance. All the fatty and cholesterol filled meats and high sugary carbs are beginning to bring their health down as well. But before, they ate tons of rice with no problems. How is that explained?

  98. (Oops sorry didn’t mean to post twice and not sure how to delete my first post.) But I also wanted to say that I mostly agree with your information and think it’s good stuff. I just don’t understand the rice and noodles things bcuz the asians always have such good health and they’re an integral part of their diet. Also, for a while I had been trying to cut back on meats because fatty meats, cheeses, and animal product is the number one source of cholesterol. But also for the way the animals are treated in the big farm factories where they are forced to eat corn instead of grass. But I have no problems with eating meat as long as it’s organic and raised naturally and killed humanely.

  99. Sarah: Rice does not contain gluten. It is an important factor in the diet as many, many people are allergic to it. That is where celiac’s disease comes from. If you want to know more about health and the Asian lifestyle, go read the China Study. You can get it at Amazon for about $20 and is worth every penny it costs!

  100. I think that carbohydrates are ok in certain forms. The carbs that you should stay away from are the gluten-containing forms that are found in wheat, barley, rye, and corn (celiac’s disease). There are many starchy vegetables that can provide carbs for those that need them: root vegetables have the most, then gourd squash, and all veggies have some. I too am a bread lover and make my own bread from scratch. However, I only eat about 2 servings per week. I take the small loaves I make and when cooled, will slice them up fairly thin (1/4-3/8 inch), take pieces of wax paper and place between the slices, then wrap and put into the freezer. When I want a slice of bread, I simply remove a slice, wait 5 – 10 minutes to thaw, then eat. There are certain nutritional elements in the wheat that our bodies will use. The leptin problem comes when you eat too much of it. Just think the food pyramid’s insane recommendation of 11 servings of grain a day!!! NEVER! And we wonder why America is so sick!

  101. Okay, so I am new here and sure appreciate all the comments. I have a question for you all – Would you consider raw hemp seeds as paleo? I like to eat these with almond butter or on my salads.

  102. oops – that would be “hemp seed hearts,” if it makes a difference. 🙂

  103. Does grains include rice and oats? I also have experienced something weird. I gained weight and lost muscle. Also im not getting the same results I did from weights. I went from 60kg to 70kg. happened around 22 Im now 25

  104. I’m doing research on healthy and unhealthy foods, with my concentration today on grains. This article is very well-written (and a bit humorous and entertaining), well-researched and all-inclusive that I believe I don’t have to look any further! 😉 Thanks heaps for this info!

  105. I’ve only just started following this diet and have noticed a significant reduction in the amount of eczema and dryness on my skin. I’m not the best at following the diet on the weekends, which always results in a flare up of eczema again at the start of the week. I can’t belive that I’ve been using cortizone creams and taking pills for 29 years when the simple answer was “stop eating grains!”. Thanks Mark. Much appreciated.

  106. Very interesting article. I’ve been struggling with digestive issues, and just getting rid of gluten didn’t resolve it for me. I’ve now greatly reduced the amount of grains I consume, although I haven’t gotten rid of them entirely.
    Unfortunately, my daughter was recently tested as having allergic responses (IgE, IgA, IgG) to dairy, including cheese, yogurt, etc., *and* eggs – duck eggs too, so I can’t substitue those for chicken eggs. She also had a mild reaction to wheat.
    As the one responsible for preparing my family’s meals, it’s very difficult to find food we can all eat, enjoy, and also be healthy for us. I love eggs and we used to eat them regularly. These days, the kids have oatmeal, and my husband and I have eggs or “paleo porridge (cooked ground nuts, almond milk & dried fruit – which the kids don’t like). Sometimes I give up and eat gluten-free cereal myself in the morning. It gets to be too time-consuming preparing separate breakfasts.

    1. You should have your daughter retested by a bona fide doctor (MD or DO) who is a board-certified immunologist. Of the three immunoglobulin tests you listed, the only one that detects true allergy is the IgE. In particular, IgG testing is useless for allergy diagnosis, and has been renounced by medical regulatory authorities in many (most?) developed nations. It is snake oil sold by phony inqualified practitioners. IgA testing is generally used to determine overall IgA deficiency, or with specificity for particular types of IgA to identify specific conditions like celiac. Note also that that celiac disease (gluten intolance) is an autoimmune condition, not an allergy. True wheat allergies are quite rare.

      For the most part are no reliable tests for food sensitivities. They are general identified by omission.

      How does your daughter react to these foods she is supposedly allergic to? Did you know she was allergic before the tests said so? The most common reaction to a true food allergy (e.g., milk protein, eggs, peanuts, etc.), is anaphylaxis and/or severe hives.

      Point being, you may be making your lives unnecessarily miserable. Choosing to reduce or eliminate grain and/or dairy consumption is one thing, but you should be able to easily incorporate this choice into your family’s lifestyle. You certainly shouldn’t be having to feed everyone in the house a different meal.

  107. The problem with this advice is that while the mechanisms Mark describes for (whole)grains being harmful in the majority of people (i.e., not those with gluten intolerance) are plausible, their actual significance and magnitude is completely unsubstantiated, and the epidemiological evidence seems to be that WHOLEgrains are associated with good health. Furthermore, many of the things that you might substitute for grains (e.g. processed meat?? – bacon is about the worst possible thing for your health!) have demonstrated major health risks, from saturated fats for example.

    I’m 45, have been vegetarian for 25 years, and eat loads of wholegrain cereals. I’m 5’9″, 63kg, get a lot of exercise (cycling) and occasionally have problems getting enough calories. I just can’t think of anything I could substitute for high quality grains, unless I ate nothing but potatoes and sweet potatoes (and potatoes have their own low-level toxins associated with them). Furthermore I feel very healthy, so I’m reluctant to fiddle with my diet. Incidentally, I have no idea what people are talking about when they mention bloating associated with wholegrains – I just don’t get that myself. I do, however, have gut issues when I eat refined grains – the difference with wholegrains is like night & day.

  108. I’ll right away seize your rss feed as I can not in finding your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly allow me recognise in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  109. People who “don’t have time for an omelette”..really i promise it’s super fast to make one, but instead do scrambled eggs then if you are THAT busy. You may find them boring but they take less time than to cook oatmeal, and no oatmeal is not “good” for you.

  110. I think we’re being selfish by going primal. If we continue to eat bad foods, eventually we will adapt and future humans will be able to eat donuts all day long without consequence. And if reincarnation exists, we ourselves might get to reap this benefit.

  111. I went wheat-free about six weeks ago because of what I read at http://www.wheatbellyblog.com

    I shed about 15 pounds, had noticeable improvement with my psoriatic arthritis, and I’ve noticed much greater cardiovascular capacity.

    I think I’m ready to ditch all grains altogether. Perhaps wheat might be the most evil grain of all, but I notice that I get arthritic flareups if I have a plate of corn nachos (which are technically wheat-free).

  112. How does one go about obtaining the daily intake of 48g of whole grain, if not from 100% Whole Grain Bread then?

  113. Really interesting article, im considering absolutely remodelling my daily diet. I’ve got a question though. My dad has gout, and apparently it’s because of having a high protein diet. What do you think? Thanks.

  114. My god this is a stupid,uneducated and just plain wrong viewpoint. Grains are not the devil. Humans are made to be omnivores…grains included.

  115. I find all of this very interesting but shouldn’t there be a concern with what is added to foods. Another words anything that isn’t organic. It can be hard to shop for healthy foods cause of how much more expensive it is. Then try feeding a family. Anyone have any secrets on how to buy healthy foods when u live paycheck to paycheck?

    1. Plant a garden.
      If you have no yard, you can plant almost anything in pots. You can even grow some stuff in a sunny window (think herbs, lettuce)

      I live in the country and have land, but I’ve seen people in cities turn their lawns into gardens. BONUS – working in the garden gets you out in the sun and gets you some movement.

      Get together with friends and buy a cow/pig. Cut out the middle man and pay the farmer – everyone gets a great deal that way.

      I feed a family of six and actually find it costs about the same as it did pre-primal.

    2. Healthy foods do not have to be expensive. I live in one of the most expensive areas of the USA, but I can easily feed my family a nutritious, high-protein, low-carb meal for about $2 per person. In my house, dinner means about 2.5 pounds of vegetables and 2.5 pounds of meat/fish/poultry for two men and two women.

      Produce does not have to be labeled organic to be healthy–it may be a nice plus if you can afford it, but it’s been proven to add little to no nutritive benefit. When you live on a shoestring budget, you have to make compromises. Much better to focus on freshness, which usually means more local-type produce in season and/or frozen vegetables.

      In my area, fresh produce tends to run about $2 per pound on average. Some things are higher, many things are lower, but i can very accurately predict my grocery bill by using $2 as my estimate. Frozen vegs are almost always more affordable, often of better quality, and frequently on sale. They’re also easier to prepare and less likely to go to waste, so a good choice on a budget.

      Eggs are probably the best possible bang for your nutrition buck at about $0.15-$0.20 each. Even the most expensive eggs shouldn’t be more than 40¢ apiece. A the low end of the spectrum for meats, there are chicken thighs for $2/lb and whole chickens regularly on special for $1/lb. Tuna packed in olive oil is $2 per can at Trader Joe’s where I also buy frozen grass-fed ground beef at a reasonable price.

      You can spend even less at Costco provided you have enough mouths to feed, or sufficient space to store longer-lasting items.

      Also, if you eliminate most grains and carb-dense foods, you’ll find yourself eating less, so grocery bills won’t necessarily rise.

  116. Just stumbled across this article and I’m really interested in the subject! I’ve developed a gluten allergy in the past few years and am 8 months in to being gluten free, so I’m always on the look out for better/easier eating options.

    The only thing I would caution regarding not eating grains is that (at least for gluteny grains) unless you’re prepared to give them up forever, you have to be careful about how long you go without eating them. Because the body stops being able to process gluten after a certain period of time. (I’ve heard things start to go downhill after roughly two weeks.) So while it starts out as a choice, it eventually has to be a permanent lifestyle. Which can lead to concerns regarding cross-contamination when you’re eating outside of your controlled environment, or hidden gluten such as flour in gravies/dressings/sauces. And instead of saying “Oh, I don’t eat rye bread” it’s “trace amounts of flour can make me physically ill”. Again, just something to keep in mind. I’ve been finding this all out the hard way.

  117. Hi, although I am not advocating eating grains, I wonder if they are really the cause of extreme obesity nowadays. I mean, until the 1950s, 1960s, people ate grains and only a low percent was overweight or obese. but then with the advent of high-calorie snacks, fructose syrup, processed food etc. (e.g. buying a premade salat sauce in pulver form gives you alot of unnecessary calories, which is of course not mentioned on the package)people got fatter. when I was a child in the 70s, chips were snacks for parties, not an every-day food….etc. pp.
    so it is not the grains per se to cause obesity and other illnesses imo (although I seldom eat it)

  118. Just one question. What about quinoa? I know it is high in protein but does it fit into a primal diet?

    1. My understanding is that quinoa is a seed, not a grain, but still poses similar risk (albeit a much lower one).

  119. Try a plain ommelette with sliced strawberries for breakfast…heaven!

  120. Growing your own sprouts or meorcgreins in the fall and winter is an excellent way to ensure a continual supply of greens when fresh options are limited. Some people consider them to be a superfood. Others claim they are a great survival food. I would simply say, sprouts are nutritious and contain none of the harmful things found in processed food, making them a good choice to incorporate into a whole foods diet. Sprouts grown at home retain their nutrients better than produce that has traveled long distances and sat on a shelf, waiting to be purchased. Sprouting or soaking grains and legumes, greatly increases their nutritional value and digestibility

  121. I first started reading about grains/bread when I found out about candida yeast infection. I had been searching for what was wrong with my mouth for 7 months. The candida diet finally took care of that and I lost 40 lbs. The candida diet consists of no sugar which also mean no bread since it turns to sugar. I made buckwheat pancakes which I used as my bread.

  122. Hi Mark-
    Have you ever run across anyone that does very well on the primal diet, except seems to need something that is a gluten free grain type substance because of irritability. There is something in gluten free grain or seeds that I need to keep me balanced, but do not tolerate any grain even gluten free very well. They all seem to cause inflammation. Any thoughts? Or suggestions?

  123. I thought I’d check out this “primal” diet thing after I heard people mention it. Yeah, this is silly. At least in America (yes, it’s a CONTINENT), natives have eaten corn (maiz) since forever. Do not compare GMO corn to the over 70 varieties that exist non modified. Highly nutritious FYI. It’s silly to believe that only 10,000 years ago people started eating grains… All natural foods are healthy as long as they are consumed in balance. This “primal diet” is not really primal. Silly humans, you don’t need to live in the past, just eat natural food. Anything that isn’t modified is good for you. GMOs are ridiculous, it’s obvious that nature knows best, there’s no need to change it. Viva el maiz! Read up on the 70+ varieties 😉 no joke!

  124. I’d love a private email since I might forget to come back and look if anyone responds (kishag(at)live(dot)com after a while. I’m really having mixed thoughts on which camp of thought is closets to spot on for a long-term diet regimen. I know you all have heard of the RAW foodies and well, they clearly consume lots of sugary fruit and are lean (some too lean) but they appear healthier than most of society. However, I’m not sure that totally eliminating animal protein is superb for long-term health. How does one make sense of the fact that most raw foodies are super lean while eating well over 2500 calories for women of fruit and are still thin? I’ve read Paleo, Primal and 801010. They all seem to make sense and each camp has extremist so where’s the balance? So much information…Thanks for any kind help offered.

  125. Hi Mark,
    I have a family history of diabetes and have had several diabetes scares myself (thankfully I don’t have the disease though). I’ve a bad head for science (beyond the forensic aspect) and so this may be a silly question, but if I avoid these spikes in insulin by severely limiting my grain intake, will that decrease my diabetes risk?
    Thanks

    1. Chronic high levels of insulin have been implicated in the onset of insulin resistance, and undisputedly, insulin resistance leads to type 2 diabetes and other metabolic syndrome. Insulin levels rise as serum glucose levels rise. Since carbohydrates are converted into glucose in the body and since grains are very high in carbs, there is a direct correlation to grain consumption and insulin level. Combine that relationship with very high levels of grain consumption, and I think you have the recipe for diabetes and other metabolic syndrome.

      Insulin spikes are normal and good for healthy bodily function to a certain point. A core concept of primal/paleo eating is that our bodies do very well on the amount and rate of glucose that results from eating clean meats, vegetables, and fruits. On the other hand, heavy grain consumption pushes us outside of that optimal range.

      A good way to treat diabetes is to not get it. When someone finds out they have diabetes, suddenly they must start watching their blood sugar and insulin. Well I like the idea of doing precisely that before I end up with diabetes. Interestingly, prevention is just like some aspects of treatment, so let’s manage serum glucose spikes and the corresponding insulin spikes. Cutting the grains in favor of more clean meats, vegetables, and fruits is a huge step in the right direction. Plus all of this is not even considering inflammation and all the other problems with grains, so there are a lot of other benefits in cutting grains and going primal/paleo besides heading off diabetes.

      1. Thanks for replying 🙂 Unfortunately I’m studying abroad in Japan right now and I don’t have access to an oven, so keeping primal has been a bit more difficult than it was at home, but your comment makes me want to try even harder.

  126. Grains are a slave food: The gladiators ate mostly barley, remember. Armies were fed on grains and many times were treated indifferently by their masters in charge (thus treated like slaves) and large groups of people busy building cities feast on grains night and day to fuel their ever reaching suburban sprawl.

    And they are a perfect slave food because they are cheap and it doesn’t really matter if they contain nutrients anyway. As long as they produce a satiated slave it’s OK. As long as they fill the belly with roughage and cause production to happen on the assembly line.

    My point–>
    Grains don’t feed the brain; slaves don’t need brains.

  127. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article and I am processing the information you delivered. I have one question (possible a stupid one). If I want to avoid grains based on your article, does eating gluten-free do the trick? Does this mean I’m eating the good grains and avoiding the bad ones? Or is it better to avoid all grains altogether?

  128. Mark – please cite your source for this statement:

    “Researchers now believe that a third of us are likely gluten intolerant/sensitive.”

    With a statement including such a large part of the population it should be easy to find this study, however, I cannot find a single study that includes this statement. I can find this information repeated on several other blogs, but that doesn’t make it a fact.

    Please cite your source/study.

  129. I agree that grains should not be the cornerstone of the diet of anyone who is seeking optimal health, but this article ignores that traditional cultures knew/know how to neutralize many of the negatives and enhance the nutritional value. Soaking, sprouting and fermentation. The phylates, lectin and gluten are modified or eliminated. Sourdough, tempeh, miso…

  130. Mark,

    I have read your article on Lectin’s, which also lead me to read this article as well. Both very informative, however, I currently have a client that has experienced lack of hormone production due to cutting out all grains/carbs. On the flip side, the main reason for cutting out carbs was that she developed leaky gut syndrome prior to cutting out carbs.

    Now she is back to incorporating carbs and grain sources like quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes to help increase her energy levels, but has also found the gastrointestinal symptoms to present themselves once again. My question for is, if grain sources are a clear result of her GI distress, but she is experiences hormonal dysfunction and lack of energy without incorporating them, then how can she get the right sources of carbs? Vegetables simply do not provide enough carbs for a woman to stay in the 75 g intake I’d like her to stay at in order to sustain a substantial energy levels. In addition, although sweet potatoes are not one of the sources you pointed out that is high in lectin, is quinoa and brown rice included in the “high lectin” category? Your feedback would be much appreciated.

  131. I understand what you are saying about a low-carb diet. I read that certain people who take antidepressants can crave carbohydrates simply because it is a side effect of the medication. How true is that?
    My wife has had gasteric by-pass, but due to her afib condition was not able to burn more calories than she ingested. Right now her weight seems to stable (morbidly obease). What suggestions can you provide to stear her away from carbs and onto other items. She will eat fruit that I cut for her, but that is not an ideal solution either.
    I want to help her, but I also realize that it must be her choice to change what she eats.
    She is home all day because she cannot work due to her afib condition (FYI …she is out of rythym more than she is in).

    I welcome your suggestions.

  132. Who’ll Stop The Grain
    by Joe Disch
    (tune of Who’ll Stop the Rain by Creedence Clearwater Revival)

    Long as I remember, grains been growin ‘round
    Clouds of mystery, pourin’ poison on the ground
    Farmers through the ages tryin’ to trap the sun
    And I wonder, still I wonder who’ll stop the grain

    I went down Virginia seekin’ shelter from the corn
    Caught up in the fable I watched the cereal flow
    Pyramids and “my plates” praise the golden waves
    And I wonder, still I wonder who’ll stop the grain

    Smelled the bakers bakin’, how we cheered for more
    The children rushed together cryin’ for wheat and corn
    Still the pain kept warning, fallin’ on deaf ears
    And I wonder, still I wonder who’ll stop the grain

  133. Hey, I’m thinking of undergoing breast implant surgery. My issue is about going over muscle as I’m very active meaning that I do crossfit. Does anybody have any feedback? I am still to see the the surgeon as I am still unsure re the operation. Thankyou

  134. A rather controversial topic, to be honest, but as a professional in gardening and an agriculture-enthusiast I must agree with you(sorry colleagues :D). Many of the foods including grains are simply produced because they are “suitable” and not for any health reason, nor nutrition advantages. I mean you can listen to your tummy instead of media once in awhile and you can figure it out yourself. I’ve read tons of the subject, but your brief summary is pretty accurate so there’s nothing I can add. I’ve also argued tons with professionals in my field so…

    Anyhow, splendid work and article.

    Regards, Irvine, planting expert( http://www.gardeningserviceslondon.co.uk/ )

  135. What are yours sources of these information? I need some advices about my work. I have a title work “If the truth is that granis has an possitive influence on humans lifes?” Please for quick answer 😉

  136. How can you say we’ve only started eating grains 10,000 years ago when the world is only 8,000 years old? what say you to that? I love my grains and sugars and I love my energy drinks. I will never give that up my friend. Good day to you and I wish to unsubscribe from this filth