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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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August 03 2011

Are Traditionally Prepared Grains Healthy?

By Mark Sisson
267 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soaking and Sprouting

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

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

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

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

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

Fermentation

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

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

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

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

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

To Eat, or Not to Eat

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

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

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

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

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267 thoughts on “Are Traditionally Prepared Grains Healthy?”

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  1. Great post. I also read somewhere (Taubes?) that someone on poverty-level caloric intake can also survive (and not get fat) on a high grain diet.

    1. Most of the “healthy” eaters I know who often eat things like oats with added sugar are lean. The best body comp I ever had in my life was a diet based around whole oats, rice, and protein shakes. That said, it wasn’t optimal for health. Body comp isn’t everything.

      1. Good point, I almost wish some of my lean, oat-eating friends would get overnight fat, just so they’d be more open to make the change. But most people are so focused on the outside, they don’t pay enough attention to their bodies internal reactions.

        And cancer, diabetes and heart disease is so rampant, that people (over-generalizing, I’m sure) will simply credit it as a risk of getting old.

        1. Pig–I’m thin and lean pretty much no matter what I eat–BUT, and this is a big but (tee hee)–I don’t suffer from IBS, sore, creaky joints, energy crashes that cause me to feel miserable and cranky and headaches now that I’ve cut out the grains. I also don’t have to work out as hard to stay lean, have put on a little more muscle and recover from exercise and injury much faster. This is more than enough reason for me to never touch grains again. Even if I was overweight, any weight-loss would be icing on the cake.

        2. I used to be so skinny by eating loads and loads on grains. Did I look or feel healthy though? Heeell no! Acne, no curves, weak nails, constrant headaches, leaky gut.I hate it when people think that lean=fit. Not true at all. Actually, when you pass a certain amont of kg, being slightly overweight turns out to be LESS problematic. Oh, yeah and- 2 of my neighbours literally came up to me yesterday to apologize for not saying hello because they didn’t recognise me. I quote: “You look so beautiful. Like a whole new person.”

      2. We eat only gluten-free grains & I can tell a differance, after being on refined, whole wheat products for over half of my life.Plus I liked my sweets way too much. D.K.’s Phase One I diet also was a life-changing moment for me & my daughter. We both lost 20-30lbs. w/o exercising. But we did get into an exercise program later.

    2. Great post. I also read somewhere (Taubes?) that someone on poverty-level caloric intake can also survive (and not get fat) on a high grain diet.

      OMG, Calories matter!

  2. Great topic. I ran into the WAPF a couple of years after I went Paleo and I gave it a try. All the soaking and fermenting did nothing for my ability to digest grains. Having been raised with grain as my staple food, maybe there was just too much damage already done to my body to tolerate them in any state.

  3. I think if you’re gonna go this route, properly prepared beans are way healthier.

    1. I’m going to go out on a limb and agree with you here. I do better on a higher amount of starches, and from what I’ve read the traditional preparation of beans does more to neutralize anti-nutrients than in grains. Not to mention, as a gardener, I find beans less effort to harvest than grains (and many seeds) so intuitively it seems more Grok-like. Not everyone has a gut that does well with beans though, so they’re a bit of an N=1 sort of thing.

      1. So true. Wheat and legumes are both oligosachharides, which makes them fermentable short-chain carbs (FODMAPs), and many people with IBS can’t handle them. Some IBS sufferers are sensitive only to some categories of FODMAPS and some are sensitive to them all. Wheat is a fructan and legumes are galactans, I believe. The funny thing is, a person can THINK they are or aren’t sensitive to a food but it can be hard to tell for sure until you take that food out of the equation and then put it back in with all else constant. That’s my experience anyhow. Sometimes people eliminate 9 types of foods, for example, and they don’t feel better. So they assume diet changes don’t help. But had they eliminated that 10th food that was also causing them problems, they would have noticed improvement.

  4. I recently read somewhere, don’t remember where, that one explanation for Italians eating pasta and remaining healthy is that they first eat antipasto consisting of fatty meats, which coat the digestive tract, and eat salad with oil and vinegar at the end of the meal, which confers protection to the intestinal lining. Does this make sense?

    1. I’m not so sure about protection being lent to the digestive tract (I searched but didn’t come up with anything definitive) but it seems that the Italian culture is what would prevent weight gain. They have a strong culture surrounding their food as the french do (french: social taboos against seconds and snacking) and this seems to be the primary factor in how they eat. I once read that eating your greens before your pasta is a very Italian way to eat – and I would assume that filling your stomach with an antipasto (of whatever sort) would prevent over-indulgence on the pasta course.

    2. Traditionally, pasta is a small side dish or small course. Fatty meats are the staples. Also, the Italians in general are not that significantly more healthy than anyone else. It is those that come from primarily meat eating regions, where pasta is not as common, that present with the greatest health, and skew the statstics.

      1. Ive been thinking about this recently and realizing that it makes sense that pasta hasnt traditionally been a staple in most italian cooking, primarily because it takes a helluva lot of prep work to make by hand. I bet its only recently as mass-produced dried pasta has become cheap and ubiquitous that its become the main part of the meal.

        1. Just finished reading a book about the history of food in Europe after the middle ages and it said dried pasta only became a staple food in Italy in the middle of the 19th century. Before that, there was only fresh pasta and it was expensive (wheat was more expensive than maize or potatoes) so only wealthier city dwellers ate it.

        2. Though pasta wasn’t a common staple until fairly recently, grains were. Gnocchi della romana was basically a dumpling. Italians eagerly embraced maize; before that, they used semolina to make a similar porridge.

          However, it is just not true that pasta was traditionally a side dish.

      2. While searching this, I read an article that opened by saying that heart disease was the number 1 killer in Italy. I wonder how recent of a development this is, what regions of Italy are hit heaviest and if the influx of Western food and food style 30-40 years ago is to blame…

        My grandmother is second generation and while she absorbed the Italian culture, my dad and his siblings seem to have a grudge against a small portion of anything – pasta most of all! 😉

      3. I have celiac, and in one of my books that I read on Celiac it said that Italians have an extremely high incidence of Celiac disease. Even worse than Americans. So apparently the antipasto isn’t doing that much good…

        1. That statistic is not accurate. Please see the 2011 statistics on celiac disease. http://celiac-disease.emedtv.com/celiac-disease/celiac-disease-statistics.html

          In Italy, about 1 in 250 people have celiac disease. In Ireland, about 1 in 300 people have the disease. Recent studies have shown that it may be more common in Africa, South America, and Asia than previously believed.

          Recent findings estimate about 2 million people in the United States have celiac disease, or about 1 in 133 people.

          1 in 133 is more common than 1 in 250

        2. It’s hard to say if Italians actually have more Celiac Disease than Americans (thought they may) because Celiac testing and awareness are much more widespread in Italy than in the US. Italian children (supposedly) are routinely screened for Celiac before entering school.

      4. have you been to Italy? The middle-age to older folks are mostly obese…the younger probably not so much, likely from the pressures of being located in one of the top fashion regions of the world…Just saying….

        1. Really… it is the #25 most obese country. Less than Germany, Spain, England, (they are #3 actually), Australia, NZ, France… Norway, Switzerland, Japan and Korea are the only lowest (on a list of 30). An obesity rate of 8%. Does that mean that 92% of the people are young people trying to fit into fashion?

          http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity

          I love this site but sometimes the comments from some people are just plain ignorant. Follow Mark’s example and know your facts before you post something to the internet. People actually read this stuff and believe it.

        2. Thanks for the statistics. Appears there is less in Italy… but still goes to show it’s a high amount and that antipasto isn’t really fixing the problems from the eating of bread/pasta/etc.

        3. I second that. I’m from europe and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a middle aged/older italian that didn’t have a beer belly (men) or schlepped around 40 extra pounds or more (women).
          Since lots of places arent accessible by car, people still have to walk a lot and burn more calories than americans.

        4. I just came back from Italy. There are definitely fat folks. Not as huge as in the American Southeast or anything. Many of the thinner folks seemed a bit puffy too. I can see how they could come up with good statistics, but Italy is certainly not immune to the same grain-based dynamics seen elsewhere.

        5. Since Celiac is not the only reaction to wheat. The stats.should include ANY reaction to gluten…we know that it causes a low grade inflammation to many folks that are not ‘true celiac’. That would certainly skew the “data”.

      5. Until the last 30 years, Italians ate pasta in small portions except for special occasions. It was a small course among several courses.

        I’ve taken cooking classes in Tuscany and the chef explained that traditionally portion sizes were much smaller than today. They taught us that a pound of pasta should serve 6 people!

        Since the 80s however Italians have been super-sizing their pasta. And as a result, they are getting fat too.

        1. “I love this site but sometimes the comments from some people are just plain ignorant.”

          Yup, like referring to the UK as England, which is like referring to the USA as Texas.

    3. ARE Italians that much more healthy? If they are, it probably has nothing to do with eating grains.

      Like all Europeans, Italians don’t spend as much time in cars as Americans and didn’t adopt a junk food and processed food diet as early as Americans did. Those two things alone can contribute to better health.

      1. I agree with you 100%. When I was in Italy I didn’t see pudgy people anywhere, the pudgy people were the Americans. Italians walk, walk, walk and the food they eat is whole and healthy.

    4. Not sure this is accurate. I’ve heard just through anecdotal sources that Italian Americans in Chicago in the early 20th century typically ate pasta with one vegetable everyday, and not much else. Not sure if this just specific to that place and time or indicative Italian cuisine at large, or just a story. Supposedly the italian beef sandwich was a result of efforts to stretch what little meat they had as far as possible.

      1. It was poverty food and considered an unhealthy diet by the local health authorities and the charitable organizations that interested themselves in immigrants’ affairs.

    5. I lived in Italy for three years. Typically, you do start with an antipasta of meat, perhaps proscuitto with melon. Then followed by a pasta, then meat with vegetables and perhaps a side salad. Meals are always ended with an espresso or macchiato. The bottom line is that Italians eat small portions and eat very slowly. Time between courses is generally 20 minutes. I gained weight when I came back to the States! Never had a problem in Italy.

    6. Italian here. Antipasto is eaten only on certain circumstances, usually when you have guests. OTOH, restaurants always offer it.

      The everyday meal most of the week starts with pasta-based dish, and there is always white bread available at every major meal.

      However, Italians eschew processed foods and fats, especially fried, deem sweets too caloric to be eaten often (beside breakfast) and. Moreover, snacks are usually white bread with something else.

      And I agree about older men growing their belly, starting in their thirties.

  5. Great post, Mark. I was just reading a discussion about this in the primal research forum and was wondering about these questions. nail on the head once again.

  6. Ironically, I ordered a couple of loaves of bread from this morning from this website http://www.grindstonebakery.com/ .

    They seems to follow the more traditional process of making bread. Interesting to read about but too time consuming for me to make my own.

    I’m not planning on making this a staple and will probably not order anymore but I thought I’d give it a try.

  7. What these cultures DON’T eat…sugar. HFCS. Processed foods. Also, in some of the places where people depend on grains, the population is calorie- and nutrient-deprived. So although they aren’t fat (and they aren’t getting heart disease, diabetes etc.)they are not necessarily experiencing optimal health, as Mark points out. There is hunger in some of these places where people are depending on cheap starches and grains (including high poverty areas of our country).

    A related argument that is often encountered goes something like this: “Well, so and so eats lots of grains and carbs and he/she isn’t overweight.” Taubes’ (“Why We Get Fat and What To DO About It”) helped me to understand why: In all humans, insulin promotes fat storage and carbs drive insulin production. But there are individual differences in how much insulin our pancreas’ produce and how our tissues respond to that insulin (eg: different “metabolisms.”) As well, there are other factors (excercise, etc.) About 1 in 6 people who smoke (or 1 in 9, depending on gender) will get lung cancer. The other 5 (or 8) won’t. Thus, saying “John Doe eats a lot of carbs and grains and he isn’t fat” is like saying “John Doe smoked his whole life and he didn’t get lung cancer.” The fact that not all succumb to the diseases associated with the lifestyle choice doesn’t exonerate that lifestyle choice. So what Mark is saying here, I think, is in essence “filter your cigs if you’re gonna smoke.” But we all know it’s just better not to smoke or eat grains.

    1. that was supposed to be “the other 5 ( or 8) won’t), i’m not sure why it put in the 🙂

      1. When you place the number eight next to a parenthesis, it makes a sunglass-wearing smiley.

    2. There are fat hungry people in Africa. Gary Taubes documented a few of them in GCBC. It wasn’t a central point to any of his book chapters but was still worth making note of–it’s a myth that they’re all skeletal or that a fat person is “overnourished.”

      And by the way, you *can* be thin and still get type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Because everyone focuses on the fat people, in fact, the slender people giving themselves chronic disease are flying under the radar. If your doctor has ever told you that you have “hereditary” high blood pressure or high cholesterol, it’s time to get off the grain.

      (I was interested to learn that even with African-Americans being more prone to high BP, it turns out they are *also* more prone to high fasting insulin and insulin resistance! There’s a VERY strong link between high insulin and hypertension. So even where we think it’s “genetic” or “hereditary,” it’s probably actually linked to diet, and therefore the symptoms at least are curable.)

      1. Oh and incidentally, I don’t think AAs are more prone to high BP through some genetic quirk. I think it’s a combination of (1) coming from people with little to no cultural experience with a high-grain, high-sugar diet and (2) having been subjected to several centuries’ worth of poverty and poor nutrition. The body is capable of some adaptation to diet by way of epigenetic changes and also changes in enzyme production. But you need time and several generations before the change really sticks. The same thing happened to American Indians. Neither group is “inferior” to groups with better tolerance of crap; they just haven’t had as much time to get used to it and they are not coming from a background of better nutrition and therefore better resilience to physical insults via bad food.

        1. Wait, are you talking about all black people or just African Americans? Because the ones who survived the middle passage and their descendants are a bit different when it comes to predisposition of certain diseases. I mean, Africans and those in the African diaspora are so varied and people often use “African American” as a PC way of referring to all black people. ^__^ I agree with you that diet and socioeconomic factors play a part. But I also think that if your parents and grandparents and great grandparents all had high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease etc. because of diet, you’re not out of the woods, even though your diet may be better.

        2. Actually, it is not a matter of time or several generations. One generation of deprivation or famine can activate genes that will then be passed onto ensuing generations. This is why people of American Indian descent are prone to things like diabetes, hypothyroid disease, obesity, and Wilson’s syndrome. Our ancestors are those who survived through extreme famine.

          You see the same kinds of adaptations, created in a single generation, among the children of Holocaust survivors and the children of those who survived the Dutch Famine of 1944. Epigenetic changes can happen in one generation and then be passed down to ensuing generations.

          American Indian nutrition was fine and dandy until Europeans came in and tried to starve us to death. We did indeed come from “a background of good nutrition”, but the aggressive starvation policies of the invader governments destroyed our traditional foodways.

    1. It’s when you put the 8 and the ) together that forms the “Big-Eyed” Smilie.

  8. This is all great stuff and very interesting, but I think I will continue to be grain free. That is a lot of work for a food I don’t particularly miss that much.

  9. I totally agree with the point at the end of the post – eating grains in a traditionally prepared manner is a TON of work. It is much simpler to just avoid them. As long as I can swing it with my food budget, that’s my choice.

  10. That’s useful to know, although I think I’ll stick to food that doesn’t require so much work just to make it edible.

    If I’m going to ferment something, it’ll be grapes 😉

  11. Excellent post once again, Mark! A very comprehensive overview of traditional preparations. What about the omega-6/3 ratio of grains? I’ve read in Craig Liebenson’s Spinal Rehabilitation that grains still contain a fairly large amount of pro-inflammatory omega-6 FA, so even if the anti-nutrients and gut perforating lectins don’t get you, it still seems like grains may be a source of inflammation. What are your thoughts? Any information on the ratio in white rice?

    1. Yes, most grains have severely improper 6/3 ratios. However, that isn’t a huge consideration as they don’t contain much of that fat and shouldn’t throw your total ratio off unless you’re consuming them in ridiculously large quantities. And that is something we here all know isn’t the wisest course of action for a number of reasons besides 6/3 ratio.

  12. Sounds like an awful amount of trouble when one could just eat vibrant colorful veggies with EVOO, and a grass fed steak.

  13. There are Italians who cannot eat wheat. I did not eat wheat for 15 months almost 10 years ago now. I slowly added bits to my diet and now I eat sprouted bread almost daily but cannot eat pasta every day or I end up getting sick.

  14. Brilliant. Like so many of your posts, Mark, this is the kind of open-minded, well researched post that will win over people who would recoil from strict, elitist Paleo approaches.

  15. i’m especially grateful, Mark, that you put in the QUANTITATIVE information! the WAPF people make convincing points, but your article defines the risks far more succinctly.

    as a living-historian, i’m odd enough to be willing to spend a week developing a true sourdough and waiting a couple of days for a loaf of bread to be ready to bake. (the time actually required on a daily basis is about two minutes here and two minutes there….) and for a RARE treat, sourdough rye-and-spelt toast is an outstanding vehicle for BUTTER! 🙂

    1. My next project is making a good sourdough rye bread. It won’t make up many of my calories, but you said it best; it is a great vehicle for butter! I also love some bread with soup or to put some nutrient dense duck liver pate on (veggies or fruits just aren’t the same).

      1. Agreed; paté should really only be served on toast. Croutons also do wonderful things to pureed soups. Shame, really.

        1. If you have dehydrator, and the patience, you can make some delicious bread/crackers with veggies, and flax seeds.

  16. Find me a culture whose health thrived on toxin-rich grains as a staple without mitigating said toxins, and I’ll be waiting a long time

    French?

    1. The “French” did not thrive on grains – that is a more modern invention.

      Their traditions are steeped in a more primal fashion.

      Some examples of local traditions:
      Locally grown vegetables, such as pomme de terre (potato), haricot verts (a type of French green bean), carotte (carrot), poireau (leek), navet (turnip), aubergine (eggplant), courgette (zucchini), and échalotte
      Locally raised poulet (chicken), pigeon (squab), dinde (turkey), canard (duck), oie (goose, the source of foie gras), bœuf (beef), veau (veal), porc (pork), agneau (lamb), mouton (mutton), lapin (rabbit), caille (quail), cheval (horse), grenouille (frog), and escargot (snails). Commonly consumed fish and seafood include cod, canned sardines, fresh sardines, canned tuna, fresh tuna, salmon, trout, mussels, herring, oysters, shrimp and calamari.

      1. Your list gets me thinking about French terrine. Mmm. Might have to have Worker Bee Jennifer prepare one for a future MDA recipe article. Look it up if you don’t know what it is.

    2. Bread’s a garnish in France, not the main course, and I think they still primarily use sourdough fermentation. They also eat a high-animal, high-animal-fat diet, which is going to be high in minerals and fat-soluble vitamins.

      1. Sourdough bread would be more typical for Germany, where I live now. Almost all bread in Germany contains some sourdough, although often it is mainly a yeast bread with sourdough being added mainly for the taste because real fermentation takes too long and would make the bread more expensive.

        The French eat baguette, which is very white fluffy yeast bread. Very processed. You can get whole grain and multi-grain varieties nowadays, (but may just be for the tourists 🙂 ).

        What may help is that they do not eat much bread. And that French eat quite fatty foods (which makes it easier to eat small portions), value quality over quantity, eat lots of sea food and it is a sunny country (which may also be important for the discussion above on Italy).

        1. I lived in Southern France for two months, and I found that the people DID eat a lot of bread. Breakfast was centered around toast; in fact, nothing else was eaten with it, except for coffee. The French people I encountered ate pizza and sandwiches fairly frequently, as well. I also saw that people would often eat rolls with their lunch.

    3. The French traditionally eat sourdough bread. Baguette is traditionally a sourdough, as is pain de campagne. Baguette made with quick yeast is an invention from 1970 or so.

    4. Pre-modern, traditional Japanese (plain boiled rice as a staple with long life and plenty of health) or traditional northern Chinese (white wheat flour made into buns and noodles and more octagenarians than any other culture on earth).

  17. Definitely an insightful post. It’s pretty impressive to read about those different methods to make the grains a bit better for you

  18. I have read Nourishing Traditions, and followed what other people have said about making grains (mainly wheat) more digestible, easier to eat. You have to remember this is predicated off of tradition, BEFORE we had GMO wheat. Can the same nutrients break down as before?
    I am sure the gluten sensitivities issue wasn’t a big deal back when, because of the little amounts people actually ate. Go back before industrial times, and it was mostly the poor who ate the grains – but mainly oats and other stuff.

    1. And you can still look at the physical record, the bodies left behind, and tell the difference between the elites and the peasants. Until refined grain became a status symbol, guess which was more likely to have greater height and better dentition. That would have been the group with greater access to meat. Usually the wealthy.

      1. Yup…grains impoverish people’s health so they become weaker and less able to fight for equality, democracy, etc…Could that be an arugment why the USDA recommends 6-11 servings of grains-EVERYDAY?

        1. Here are a few of the reasons Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Monsanto.The USDA is only concerned about the financial health of big ag.

        2. Wow, never thought of it THAT way. You’re right.
          Grain consumption causes marbling in the muscle tissue, making it weak. Grains also produce extremely soft bone and joints that break easily apart.
          Animals fed grains are more prone to injuries.
          I see the difference in the meat and bones I order for myself from the local grassfed farmer.

  19. for years my family of five has thrived on a diet of nourishing traditions: eggs, meat, organ meat, bone stock, raw/cultured dairy products, veggies galore, fruit in season… and limited amounts of very painstakingly prepared beans, pulses, and whole grains. for us, it really comes down to $. we simply can’t afford to feed three rapidly-growing children, one beastly daddy, and one lactating mama all-you-can-eat meat 3x a day, 7 days a week. we CAN AFFORD to to eat a decent amount of meat augmented by vegetables and, say, lacto-fermented kidney beans and sprouted brown rice cooked slowly for 72 hours in rich bone stock and coconut milk. like indigenous tribes the world over, from the north hebrides to the the capes of africa and south america, my family has never suffered any ill effects common to those consuming a “healthy” whole grain-based diet.
    thank you for this post, mark. we who strive with limited resources do so because we believe that health is the province, not of wealthy, but of the informed and the diligent. grok on!

    1. You can buy Big Mac in the form of a Angus beef burger in NZ. They claim the bun is sourdough, and the meat top quality, more than average greens. I still only nibble the bun and throw 3/4 away, but as an emergency food it is pretty good!

  20. As a native San Franciscian, im glad to see sourdough represent. Even before I went paleo, I despised any bread that wasnt sourdough. It tasted like bland and/or sugary crap. Its nice to know that if im faced with good quality sourdough at a restaurant or party every once in awhile I can have a little bit with less worry.

  21. I am an avid sourdough baker, and my family has been eating homemade sourdough bread for the last couple years, with long fermentation times. So at least we have that going for us.

    After reading this site / Primal Blueprint (as well as information on the GAPS diet) I do understand that even the sourdough is somewhat detrimental to our health. It’s definitely better than store bought bread (even homemade baker’s yeast bread would be better than store-bought with all the additives) but not as healthy as going grain free.

    For now, while in a transition period, we’ll keep eating the sourdough but not as much. And I’m also planning on using “ancient” grains (spelt, kamut, red fife, buckwheat) since they seem to be a lot less toxic than modern wheat. Hopefully I can convince the rest of the family to go grain-free soon.

    I do think the soaking & fermentation strategies promoted by WAPF are a good way for families to get closer to Primal, at least for a transition period.

    Note WAPF also recommends freshly ground grains over store-bought flour, which increases their nutrition & avoids rancidity of germ oils.

    Also, for all those who give up grains, but still eat raw nuts & seeds, make sure you read Mark’s linked post about soaking nuts as per WAPF guidelines. Those nuts & seeds have lectins & enzyme inhibitors too!

    1. I’ve ditched coffee, nuts, chocolate, beans and all grains long ago because of the phytates, lectins and enzyme inhibitors.

      Thank you for bringing this up because most people don’t think about this and only focus on the ‘protein’ in nuts and then overindulge on nuts and dark chocolate…if they’d only pay attention!

      I still don’t understand why Mark promotes the consumption of nuts and chocolate to overcome cravings, and shuns (RAW) milk. Sometimes common sense makes more sense than looking at an era in a book to exclude a food so nutritious, it saved MANY lives in not so distant history when mothers died or couldn’t lactate.

      1. Raw milk is awesome. Who cares if Grok didn’t consume it, it’s got amazing healing properties. Some more ‘recent’ discoveries in food are definitely to our advantage.

        1. For those of us with the genetics to consume milk – the majority of adult humans just don’t have those genetics, and are indeed genetically lactose-intolerant as adults – raw milk is the best.

          For folks from ethnic many ethnic backgrounds, even raw milk is likely a no-go. As a northern European, I thrive on raw milk, but my Filipino-American boyfriend just couldn’t go near it. It made him really ill. We can’t deny that the ability to drink milk as an adult is a specific genetic trait that arose probably about 12,000 years ago.

        2. Any other animal that switches over to a new staple food that prevents nutrient absorption, causes intestinal perforation, and increases inflammation had better develop some physiological adaptions to deal with the antinutritive factors, and quickly, if it doesn’t want to die out or be forced to move to a new habitat. A human, though? Humans figured out a way to preserve the toxic food, make it palatable, drastically reduce its antinutrient content, and make it more digestible, thanks to the big efficient brain inside our skulls.

          Not any other animal, e.g. termites didn’t, when they started consuming wood (which is often full of natural insecticides, remember). They took the fermentation route one step further, processing their raw materials through fungus gardens. And, of course, that kind of physiological adaption is just precisely what some humans did do, to cope with milk as adults.

          And if it’s carbohydrate you’re after, stick with safe starch sources like roots, tubers, or even white rice (the sole grain that requires no elaborate processing).

          I would have said it needs more than making popcorn – they both need the outer covering removed, but after that you need more elaborate equipment to boil white rice than to pop the maize kernels (a pot of water over a fire versus a hearthstone heated earlier by a fire). Even if you don’t buy that, wild rice (a different grain) can be prepared and cooked the same way as white rice.

      2. “I still don’t understand why Mark promotes the consumption of nuts and chocolate to overcome cravings, and shuns (RAW) milk.”

        The former are all good sources of Mg. The latter is not, but it is a good source of virulent bacteria. YMMV.

  22. I’m so glad you posted about this! In our family, due to gut damage from our modern life style I believe, we really do better off the grains, especially gluten grains.

    I never had trouble getting fat off of soaked grains, but I get a little brain fog and have less energy when I eat them. My kids also have significant behavior issues when eating grains, so it’s simpler for our family to just stick with meat, veggies, healthy fats, some fruits, and we do use cultured airy and legumes as well.

  23. great post and I respect the stance. I say test everything, and do myself. I soak and prepare grains on a regular basis and it really requires no more work than anything else, and often times, is easier. Mark, you state

    “Health is not reliant on a single feature. It’s not just diet, it’s exercise, stress, sleep, family, community, genetics, infectious burden.”

    Is this not a reason to eat grains? to increase our adaptive potential? Would it not be better to subside on MORE foods as opposed to less? And not have issues. Health is about increasing our adaptive potential, right? I’m all for eliminating processed junk and HFCS, but the grains are prevalent in our modern world. I prefer to be adaptable to them, than to limit my potential for being able to utilize them.

    1. Not really–you’re not going to pass on better grain-eating genes to your kids because you ate grains. There’s not really any good reason to eat them if you have access to higher-quality food (like grass-fed meat). I don’t see how choosing to subsist on less-than-optimal food when you have better options is increasing your potential in any way–just seems stupid.

      1. Is evolution based on one generation? We no longer live in the Paleolithic Era, so should we not adapt to our current state of food? Have you heard of being metabolically flexible? http://www.adonisindex.com/metabolic-flexibility/
        Personally, I prefer to be able to switch back and forth as to what I use as fuel… instead of relying on fat alone.

        1. Who is relying on fat alone? Most folks following a primal way of eating generate energy from both glucose and fatty acid oxidation. The argument for grain avoidance has little to do with its macronutrient composition, but rather it’s strong linkages to a host of inflammatory and autoimmune based illnesses. There are plenty of healthful sources of carbohydrate if you prefer to keep your fatty acids stowed away in adipose tissue.

          I’m not sure what you mean by adaptive potential, either. I can’t digest a piece of wood today, nor could I in 20 years even if I ate it every day.

        2. This is fascinating. Adaptive potential eh? You are aware that in order to adapt to grains, those eating them would have fewer children and essentially die off. That’s the second part of evolution, first you have adaptive radiation (someone somewhere has a kid that processes grains really well, maybe even one that makes phytase or something else. Maybe the kid has a bigger stomach that doesn’t empty as quickly for fermentation, etc.). But then there’s the second step: Selection. That kid is selected for and the rest are selected against, which is what appears to be happening right now with diabetes and cancer and heart disease. Medical science has an excellent track record at helping us to survive these conditions longer but the morbidity remains even if the mortality is dulled somewhat.

          I’d rather be eating what I’m made to eat, than roll the dice and hope I’m that lucky new kid who was born to process grains better than most (and experience has shown I’m not). I also wouldn’t roll those dice for my children.

  24. I’ve made real sourdough before. It was not what you’d call high-quality stuff–I messed up the recipe a little bit and I need more practice, which I am not inclined to pursue at this point. But interestingly, real sourdough appears to *last* longer than store-bought yeast-fermented bread. We’re talking on an order of *months.* I’m guessing it’s because the lactic acid bacteria eat up a lot of the starch which would have otherwise fed mold but don’t quote me on that, not like I have a laboratory to help me find out one way or another.

    Someone in the comments mentioned all the omega-6s in grain. Yes, those are a tremendous problem–and also, if you buy pre-ground whole-grain flour, you can pretty well assume it’s rancid. The whole seeds preserve the oil much better, but once you grind them, the oil goes bad quickly. Whole-wheat flour is one of the biggest scams on the grocery store shelves as far as “whole food” offerings go, for that reason.

    BTW there is a similar issue with flax. You can grind flax in a coffee grinder, so don’t ever buy it pre-ground. Especially if it is not refrigerated, but I wouldn’t get it that way even then. I also do not trust store-bought flaxseed oil. I get whole flax only and grind it at home. (I use it in LC baking of quickbreads sometimes, though not very often, otherwise I wouldn’t bother with it.)

    1. I made a wonderful wild sourdough sponge several years ago. It took three weeks of feeding before the proper ratio between bacteria and yeast was achieved. The flavor of my artisan bread was like nothing you could find in the stores. If anyone is interested in making their own sourdough, I would suggest using the finest ingredients. Instead of store bought flour, I recommended purchasing online from King Arthur flour.

  25. Yeah I don’t miss grains at all. They don’t even taste good unless you add fat or sugar to the mix anyways…

    1. I agree. Although the science of mitigating the poisons is fascinating, I can’t imagine eating grains outside of a survival scenario. There is a whole world of foods that are far tastier and more nutrient-dense than birdseed.

    2. At least we have the choice to eat grains but I worry about cattle that are being force-fed grains for some fashionable fad. One v well-known store, M&S, in England ONLY have grain-fed or finished meat and boast about it as if its a bonus! I could cry!

  26. Wonderul post! But…what about treating corn with lime to make tortillas? Homemade tortillas, sopas, and tortilla chips are the only kind of grain product I really miss!! Does anyone know the efficacy of lime to remove corn’s anti-nutrients??

  27. I am from Puerto Rico (been in mainland USA since 198282) but my family and friends in Puerto Rico are overweight because of the “rice and bean” diet. They eat lots of rice and bean with some beef or chicken or fish. If you you see a served plate, you will see the biggest proportion is rice and beans.

  28. i eat two pieces of ezekiel bread w grass fed organic butter and black organic coffee every morning before i go to a crossfit class. besides, that, as primal as possible (cant always avoid oils and/or preservitives/pesticides in foods eaten outside of the house).

    it doesnt seem to affect me too much

  29. Has anyone heard of Ezekial 4:9 sprouted breads? foodforlife has plenty of products that are gluten free and they have a 7 grain flour free bread that is great and doesn’t bother my stomach at all.

    1. I have and eat Ezekial bread all of the time. They actually have tortillas too. You mentioned corn tortillas in an earlier post…well they have some…and let me tell you they taste as good as those fresh ones you would get at a tortilla making facility in the South countries.

      1. Um, I used to make tortillas all the time from scratch. I learned how from my Mexican MIL. Ezekial tortillas are not that good at all.

      2. having gall bladder issues I have been told to stick to a vegetarian diet to avoid surgery…can anyone out there suggest books or cites where I can find a good vegetarian diet? I wasn’t all that aware of grains other than refined ones were bad. I do though only eat sprouted organicly grown grains when I do eat grains…I have had to substitute meat with protein filled legumes, grains (Quinoa) and plenty of F&V’s. Love some suggestions or reference to previous posts by Mark to help with this…

        1. Anecdotally, the only person I know with gallbladder issues is a stark vegetarian.

        2. When my friend got her gallbladder removed, she was told by her doctor that it was probably the RESULT of being vegetarian, and that if she didn’t start to include at least SOME lean meats in her diet, she could expect her health to keep deteriorating

    2. Ezekiel breads include soy. And they’re sprouted, not fermented, so be sure to read Mark’s caveats about that.

      I can’t explain it, but I used to eat one slice of their bread a day along with my completely traditional foods diet, and removing just that one slice took me from not being able to lose weight to steadily losing it as long as I kept my diet that way.

  30. I read your posts often, and I never comment… but this is amazing and thus comment worthy in my book. Thanks so much!
    K

  31. I am a home brewer (of beer) and mostly primal otherwise (80-20 rule works) and the beer making process sounds somewhat familiar to this grain treatment posted here. Barley is malted first by soaking until a partial sprout occurs, then is heated to stop the process and slightly roast the grain for flavor. Next the malted barley is mashed by soaking in 155 °F water for an hour to convert the starch to sugar. After separating the solids from the sugary liquid, the liquid is fermented with brewers yeast until all the simple sugars are converted to alcohol.

    I wonder what toxins are left in beer, besides the alcohol. I am not sensitive to grains and can eat them without issue, except for gaining weight, so I don’t. Because I don’t filter the beer, there is plenty of vitamin B from residual yeast. Overall, I think homemade beer isn’t so bad?

    Thanks to Mark for another great post.

    1. 80-20 nets you 60. 8steps towards health and subtract 2 steps your progress is 6 steps forward (depending on how large those 2 steps backward are). So in 10 total steps you moved forward 6. Results will be slow and hard to notice except for over a long period of time. Consider shooting for 90-10 then the net is more efficient.

      1. Dan, you missed the point and the question. I am not debating the 80-20 rule that Mark talks about in this lifestyle. I am actually at my ideal body composition and have had great success with Primal while drinking beer and wonder if the beer making process is similar to what is spelled out in this post. Nobody wants to be lectured, so try to stay on subject here.

        1. I do fine with beer, too, and I have IBS and a gut that is VERY picky about grains. So my guess is that something about the processing renders the grains less harmful. I am lean and also have had good results, eg primal w beer. So the bigger issue with beer for me is that it’s using up a chunk of my carb “budget” and my total daily caloric needs…if I fill up on beer I won’t eat as many nutritious foods. Now that I’ve weaned myself from tortilla chips, it’s the only non-nutritious thing left in my diet, so I’m going to enjoy it at least for the time being but stay aware of it’s impacts (good and bad).

  32. Soaking and fermenting grains? Are we talking about BEER?

    I hope so.

  33. The thing that sticks in my logic stack on this is that bad teeth in ancient human skeletons is the marker for transition from pastoralism to agriculture. That and that I personally feel much better when I avoid all grains. That said, we live in a really privileged little bubble, economically. I just made an extra donation to Doctors without Borders for famine relief in Sudan. I don’t know how you get people out of situations like that without grains.

    But, who is to say that an orthomolecular (Linus Pauling’s word) grain won’t be bred soon. It would not be impossible. I hate GM because of what they use it for — to make things Roundup Ready, insecticidal or to survive shipping. What if they used it to make orthomolecular grains without BT toxins, etc? There is some history of “good” grain breeding. It is not impossible.

  34. I avoid grains like a plague, (except small quantities of rice occasionally) but some times I like fermented grains… and then sometimes I like the results of continueing the process and consuming the distilled result. Okay I am not as ripped as I could be, I’m still pretty lean; but a beer, or a shot or 2 of whiskey seems okay. (I don’t kike to over do anything.) Any way seems like these are grains redeeming qualities.

  35. Another timely blog Mark, as one of the more recent adaptions in my primal journey has been incorporating a couple traditionally prepared grains back in my diet.

    Stephen Guyenet did a post a long time ago about buckwheat pancakes and Chris Kessler recently had a post claiming to have improved upon it. Buckwheat sourdough mix is easy to prepare, and similar to white rice seems like a very safe starch to add to the mix for its pseudo grain nature and high phytase content. And I personally think coconut flour pancakes are too intense and that almond flour pancakes should be avoided due to high PUFA factor (not to mention nuts also have phytate anyway).

    Rye also has a lot of phytase, lots of beneficial nutrients and makes a fantastic sourdough bread. As I mentioned in a previous comment it shouldn’t be eaten in excess but makes a great vessel for wonderful primal foods such as butter and liver pate.

    I know your stance on grains is they are mostly negative and I agree. That is once again why I appreciate posts like this that display how open minded and accepting you are (even if it pushed the reader to feel preparation is too much effort and that its effect is inconclusive).

    The reason I love the WAPF so much is its acceptance of all foods and that they categorize very few foods as pure evil. Most foods have a place when used in a proper informed manner and can be harmful when used improperly. I feel grains are the same way and if used intelligently can become another important cog of a healthy ancestral diet.

  36. Yeah I have been grain, legume, potatoe- free since November 2010 and I don’t miss them. I use cauliflower in leue of potatoe and I about to start using butternut squash saw some good recipes for that.
    I don’t even eat rice(neither brown or white) anymore because I fear that would trigger the cravings too.

  37. Yes Africans eat lots of grains and manage to stay slim. However they also only live to be about 60 years old, if they are lucky. Example, Angola where the average age is 18 years old and most men die in their 50s.
    3rd world populations do not eat grains because they like it, they do it because its cheap and easy to store.

    1. Careful with that “countries like Africa” thinking; it’s a big place, with complicated social, economic, political and historical factors in play in different combinations everywhere. Average age is heavily affected by non-nutritional factors like, say, civil war. AIDS. Traffic accidents from unsafe roads, jerry-rigged vehicles, late-night khat-fueled busdrivers.
      But yeah, grains are cheap, ship well, easily portioned, and because of all that are also the staple of food aid programs. Plus I can’t think of an African grain-based staple food that isn’t fermented (fufu, ugali, injera…).

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

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

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

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

    Thanks

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

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

  42. Let’s not forget the traditional Mexican/South American treatment of corn to make masa – Nixtamalization.

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

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

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

  43. What about Quinoa?
    I have given up all grains and found Quinoa to be a great substitute. I have read that it is a seed and not an actually grain. Help! I love Quinoa….

  44. Mark, does walnuts have the same antinutrients as grains?? lately ive been gaining weight.. please reply

  45. Oh, boy! I hope the follow-up to this article is the one that I requested. It sure would make a great companion article!

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

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

    Any thoughts or similar experiences? Is this crazy?

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

    Any thoughts or similar experiences?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  51. I guess I’ve always wondered on the anti-grain camp…how long did Paleo man live, exactly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1. that’s rather cruel and hypocritical. What if someone forced grains on you? It’s his choice, just like you made yours to go primal or whatever.

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

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

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

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

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

  53. Just a few weeks ago i asked about sprouts, and here you are on top of things, and responding in detail. Thanks, Mark, your service is impeccable. Kapo

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

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

  56. Has anyone heard of ezekiel bread?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  58. I think the whole “it is so much work” bit about preparing grains is really over-hyped. When I have used them it has never added more than a few minutes of actual work to my schedule.

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

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

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

  59. Look at all the grain addicts posting!

    You guys should all be ashamed.

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

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

  61. Don’t know if this has been mentioned yet, but phytic acid doesn’t bind phosphorus, it *is* phosphorus.

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

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

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

    1. “The grain issue will always be debated mainly because they are highly addictive! Therefore, most grain lovers will defend their addiction to the demise of their wellbeing. ”

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

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

  66. This is exactly the type of article I needed! My husband has been asking this question and I didn’t have an answer that he was happy with. Thanks so much for this information!

  67. This is such a great post and I think if I could just memorize all this information I could argue my “primal point” much easier. Thanks again, Mark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  71. ===============================
    GRAINS ARE NOT PALEO and GRAINS= SUGAR.
    The FDA food pyramid is to help big Agra and big Pharma–so many can stay sick.
    Let’s be realistic……Grains are NEW in the human timeline.
    My family is mostly celiac–they have not adapted to it yet.

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

  72. ===============================
    Most people in the US are over-dosing on white flour carbs 3-6 times per day.
    Try to observe obese people sneaking another 2-3 cookies, slice of pizza, donut, bagel, bunch of pretzels, muffin, roll, ………………..
    (with a diet soda of course!!!)
    ========================================

  73. Just in case anyone is interested, this is exactly what Dr. Mercola has been preaching for years. (No, I don’t work for him and he’s not a relative, but I’ve found his info to be very enlightening and almost spot on regarding what I’m reading here about avoiding grains, etc.) It might be another good source of info on food and lifestyle choices.

    He’s actually the reason I gave up grains way back when even before I found Primal Blueprint.

  74. Has anyone experienced skin problems as a result of avoiding grains for many months ?
    I was warned by my naturopath that this might happen and now my historically clear complexion is recently plagued by some sort of rash… help !

    1. It could be that you are experiencing a die-off of bad bacteria in your intestinal tract. As your body “sheds” the anti-nutrients consumed over years, it is common in some people (myself included) to experience breakouts and rashes. It might help to take a probiotic, to replenish the good bacteria. Be patient. The rash will go away, but it takes time. I was grain free for about a year, and then for about a week I ate chips and bread, etc., and now I have acne…Fabulous. The key is to stick it out.

  75. Mark,

    Interesting that the Primal Blueprint considers white rice a better alternative to grains when the majority of the health industry believes the opposite.

    Alykhan

    1. White polished rice is low in fiber and moves through the bowels quickly.

      Fiber Menace

  76. Grains eventually convert to sugar in our guts. The addiction to sugar has been discussed by several sources including Gary Taubes’ book “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It.” Getting over sugar (grains) as an addiction can be as difficult as overcoming addictions to heroin, cocaine and nicotine. Recovering alcoholics have been known to switch to another easily available drug: sugar.

    That sounds like enough of a reason to seriously consider giving up grains of any kind.

  77. I also wonder if you throw the baby out with the bathwater by soaking grains…Are a significant amount of vits and mins poured out with the soaking water? I haven’t been able to find any research on this.

  78. I have a friend who had breast cancer and a relative who had colon cancer. Both of them recovered after eliminating ALL animal products from their diet- meat, dairy and eggs – and following a diet full of grains and vegs. They know nothing about sprouting, fermenting or such things. Once you get seriously ill you will try everything.I am so happy they are alive.

    1. They went on a high alkaline diet. Grains are acidic.
      Imagine how fast they could’ve recovered had they not eaten grains on top of veggies.

      The cure for cancer was already found LOOOONG ago by Max Gerson. 1928.

  79. I’m not sure the phytic acid argument stands up because:

    1. It seems that the mineral binding effects of Phytic acid are only a problem where people get most of their minerals from grains and have very little other sources such as fresh fruit and veg. The instance of mineral deficiencies in countries that have such variety in the diet – even those who are still heavily reliant on grains don’t suffer from mineral deficiencies. The deficiencies are only noticeable in developing countries.

    2. The Phytic acid in nuts and seeds seems to be several times higher than in grains (particularly once grains have been cooked). Although nuts might not be eaten traditionally in the quantities of grains / pulses, nuts are included in the ancestral diet.

    3. Phytic acid is also shown to have therapeutic effects

    1. Wrong. Tooth Decay was high compared to other primitive cultures where grains had been consumed in moderation together with native foods like oysters, fish, cattle, lamb and garden fresh vegetables. (Gaelic)

      Also, it depends on with how much immunity to tooth decay you were born.
      If you were born with soft teeth because your Mom ate a bunch of grainy crap during pregnancy, then you’re 1000x more likely to get rampant tooth decay…while someone born to a primitive mother, who ate native foods and breast fed the baby, would have a higher immunity to tooth decay starting out.
      (Weston Price)

      Also, drinks that are erosive contribute heavily to decay.

      “3. Phytic acid is also shown to have therapeutic effects”
      You’re high, right?

    1. it’s sprouted wheat with the fiber removed. you make the call. none for me thanks.

  80. As always, thanks for the information!
    There has been many times that, even knowing I was right, I couldn’t find the arguments to tell people why grains are not good eventhough many people stick to them in quite a good health (so far).
    Para los lectores en español, ¡visitad mi blog! http://spartangourmet.blogspot.com/ Salud!

  81. There is actually a study that has been done on Italian women with breast cancer and a high GI diet is linked to reoccurrence. I love grain but have gone cold turkey on it since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I am however making sourdough bread for my children, I figured it was better than store bought crud.

  82. Yea right. If it weren’t for sugar and additional taste supplements, I wouldn’t go for grains. haha! This is a very informative post. Thank you!

  83. I think some posters are missing an important point or two here – grain products only became part of the hominid diet about 10,000 years ago after 3 million years of hunter gathering. Our genetic make up has not yet had time to evolve to the extent of being able to accept grains as a nutrient, hence the problems it causes, resulting particulary in obesity and diabetes type 2. To suggest that grains can be included in a ‘balanced’ diet is to miss that point. Diabetes and obesity are likely to be the diseases that wipe out the human race unless governments recognise that their edicts on high carb (grainbased) low protein are so wrong and that they need to listen very closely to the evidence being written up by the evolutionary nutritionalists. As a renal nurse I have seen the number of patients with ESRF (end stage renal failure), caused by diabetes, increase tenfold over the last ten/twenty years. I rest my case! Love Paleo!

  84. How many of you have actually read Weston A. Prices’ “Nutrition and Physical DEgeneration”? I think some of you would be singing a very different song. His work has NOTHING to do with WARF they stole his good name and are paid by Monsanto to distribute lies.

    1. I have read it. The WAPF does represent his work fairly well, although Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation is another excellent source. PPNF is more scholarly, whereas WAPF is more activist and is getting the message out to the masses.

      They RAIL against Monsanto constantly, so that little tin hat comment makes your claims dubious, to say the least.

      Price found that it’s definitely possible to have excellent health on diets containing traditionally prepared grains. But he also documented that the cultures on few or no grains typically had fewer than 1% cavity prevalence, those on traditional grains only had around 5% prevalence, and those on processed foods had 25% or more prevalence.

      1. That’s true, the primitive swiss and primitive gaelic had the highest rate of dental decay because at that time they already had access to grains. Even though those grains were fresh, with no nutrients removed.
        The flours we buy today have to have the minerals and vitamins removed (BY LAW) in order to be shipped by millers to prevent spoilage. So you can imagine how detrimental these flours are to our health now. It is store food which has given us store teeth (Hooten).

        Chapter 27: Expression of modern degeneration caused by grains are dental caries, periodontal inflammations, so-called pyorrhea alveolaris, types of eye inflammations, failing vision, scurvy, un-united fractures, recurring spasmodic fractures, skeletal affections, joint pains, berri berri, pellagra and sterility.
        Prenatal Injuries: These affect germ cells, thereby producing a defective fertilized ovum and defective fetus…hare lip, cleft palate, narrow hips, narrow face, constricted nostrils, mental backwardness, juvenile delinquency, skull defects of the skull and floor of the brain, brain defects, mongoloidism and idiocy.

        Animals fed grains have shown the same deformities as in humans (page 345). Grains damage germ plasm. Many, if not most, of the congenital malformations met with in these studies resulted from defects in the germ plasm, which were present before fertilization (page 322).

        Weston Price page 279:” As yet I have not found a single group of primitive racial stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living on plant foods.”

        As the plants ripen the phosphorus is transported in large amounts to the seed while most of the calcium remains in the leaves. When cattle consumes the grass (leave part) of a plant, the animals themselves are in better condition than when on grain concentrates (page 384).

        This phosphorus/calcium imbalance causes us to borrow from our skeleton. This borrowing process is explained in details on page 508.

        All this might explain why there are no primal babies with perfect dental arches, because at the time of puberty, when eggs are formed, the mother ate grains which damage cell plasm. It would take 2-3 generations to get rid of this DNA defect caused by grain consumption.

        1. “All this might explain why there are no primal babies with perfect dental arches, because at the time of puberty, when eggs are formed, the mother ate grains which damage cell plasm.”

          –Perhaps, you mean grains are corrupting young women’s eggs? Even before a baby girl leaves her mother’s womb, she already has inside her all the eggs she will ever have. They ripen for release over time with hormonal priming during her reproductive years, but they are not forming…that business was done in utero.

  85. I’m a WAPF-follower and even I think of grains as a compromise food. I think the idea is that the prized foods are animal fats, meats, organs, eggs, and (high-fat) dairy, but since grains are a necessary staple in much of the world, the compromise is to eat them whole and soak/sprout/sour them in traditional ways. If you have the means to avoid grains OR if you have a condition that’s aggravated by grains/carbs, skip them. They’re more necessary for bulk in the diet than for any specific nutritional need.

    Also, the response to “but [insert random culture here] eat lots of grains and stay skinny” is that skinny != healthy. Anyway, a lot of cultures that have to rely on traditionally-prepared grains have food-availability issues, which explains slenderness. Seriously, the first world is one of the only places where we eat so much food without getting any real nutrition from it.

  86. Fantastic post, and I am bookmarking it. I’ve only recently cut out grains, and I can see the point in avoiding them entirely — eventually perhaps I shall.

    Last night after telling the waiter I wanted my shrimp dish without either the proffered pasta or bread, he proceeded to come back with it over pasta. I didn’t send it back — it was pretty easy to separate the shrimp and its accompaniments out from the pasta which was below (and it was late, and I was hungry and I’m not into making scenes), but I’d say a good 80% of that meal was pasta, had I gone for it.

    So far, I’ve gotten rid of two of my three bread/baking cook books; the other is so replete with techniques I can’t part with it yet — someday. The thing that has bugged me in the past about cookbooks is they all focused on WHEAT. I wanted barley, millet, amaranth, oats as main ingredients. You’d occasionally see cornbread, and a minor bow to oats.

    I think that what I’ll end up doing (my diet is still in flux) is not cooking or prepping grains myself except maybe three or four times a year — and I’ll refer back to this post. When out at a restaurant, I can decline grains. The occasional (very occasional) pizza out with friends will be a guilty pleasure, and I will take small (very very small) portions of proffered homemade desserts — which I already do. Social amenities do indeed have value.

    That being said, I may have short moments of experimenting with techniques you mention above. And there is one bakery north of me with breads that to me taste excellent and are made with fresh and wholesome ingredients, once you get past the grain. Two loaves a year from there? I might do that. It’s been close to half a year at this point.

    This omnivore is getting to where she knows she needs to go… gradually.

  87. I am confused, is all wheat bad and does that include a whole wheat and what about spelt bread with wild rice is that also bad. I am trying to get my family to start eating Primal so it is my wife my self and two boys 2 and 5, it is very hard to completely eliminate breads as we are so used to it.

    1. As someone mentioned before, grains damage cell plasm and cause defective DNA. It’s not just the toxins that we know of that are bad, phytates, lectins, gluten, etc…

    2. long story short: yes, all grains are bad. Spelt is a form of wheat and wheat is probably the worst one out there. white rice is not so bad but if you want to be primal, bread is gonna have to go. (you can search the forum for “angry bread” for a stopgap substitute if you’re going nuts for a sandwich)

    3. Start with gradually eliminating all snacking and drinking sweet beverages (juices included) between meals. People eat more junk when they snack, and children are more fussy about food when they snack between meals.

  88. Recently going Paleo. No probems dropping grains. BUT I can’t get nearly enough fiber (25 -35 g/day). Can’t eat that amount of vegetables. I am slow swallower, limited time for prep. Thinking of going back to a very high fiber grain. Suggestions (or reprimand)helpful.

    1. You must be suffering from digestive problems, switching from a high fiber diet to a low one.
      Fiber Menace, a book written by K. Monastyrsky explains exactly what happens when you switch from high to low fiber..and what it means to stay on a high fiber diet for the future of your colon.

    2. It is not necessary to eat too much fiber at all. There were healthy societies living on meat and milk products like Mongols or meat alone like Inuits.I” am sure your fiber consumption is higher than for any herder. It you have constipation, take some magnesium supplement that all we need anyway.

  89. What about a buckwheat? I personally eat a no grain diet but I don’t know what to recommend to my lean and healthy 18-year old son who is willing to eat a paleo-style diet. Since there is no necessarily for him to loose weight, I advice him to supplement his diet with potatoes, white rice and buckwheat.As far as I know there is no tradition to soak or ferment a buckwheat before preparation. It just supposed to be kept hot for a while after 20 minutes of initial cooking. Is it possible that prolong heat exposure will eliminate some undesirable components?

    1. I have a very young son who wants to eat Paleo too . As a source of carbs he eats rice , potatoes and buckwheat. Most of the time it is a buckwheat crepes based on the recipe http://chriskresser.com/sourdough-buckwheat-pancakes-now-theyre-even-fluffier, but slightly different. One cup of un-roasted grains got soaked in a cheap yogurt and one cup of water, starter is added. When mix is ready, we add 4 eggs, salt and backing soda and use a blender on the mix. Actually, in order to make a big portion only 1/3 of the mix is needed.

  90. Being new to the primal way, but trying to learn as quickly as possible, the sprouting – no sprout, has been a huge question for my family. We have always sprouted daily and stopped not knowing where sprouts fit in with primal a few months ago, when learning of the “grok” way to eat and how much sense it made. We have not eaten bread in a long time, when we have eaten bread – are shocked at the depressed healthily feelings. The sprouts that I was so sure were good for us, no matter what was sprouted; peanuts, sunflower, radish, all lentils, peas, all beans, but I must admit I am confused now. Is there a site that explains the difference between, seeds, grains, legumes, maybe a great chart so there is no guessing? Then there is wheat grass juicing, almost afraid to ask about that ;). We do raise our own beef, pork (also have decided hunting wild pigs would be a good natural source), chickens (layer and broilers), rabbits, goats (dairy and meat), and starting squab production. Stopped drinking fresh goats milk and focusing on fresh goat milk keifer. With the high temps and severe drought, the garden has burned up, so hoping to figure the fine details of sprouting out. What to sprout, what to forget?? Thinking of using them as veggies, any thoughts?
    thank you

  91. we can get to a decent grocery store 2-3 times a month, so we can get veggies, but hoping the sprouts could fill in between trips. The closest decent store is 65 miles round trip and 158 round trip to a good store with selections.

  92. Mark is right, just having bread as a treat is the best way. I like to just grab a small chunk of bread with a big slab of butter on it and thats it. It is only a pinch of carbs. Same as pasta sauce. I add just a pinch of noodles in a big meat tomato sauce, just to add a little fill.

  93. My people are indigenous to the United States and we treated corn in a very elaborate preparation before eating it, as it was believed to put something bad in the stomach otherwise.

  94. My wife has gone Primal with me for the most part, but she she is from Taiwan and refuses to give up tofu. She can’t get over years to being told that tofu was a healthy food. (I am allergic to soy and never get near the stuff) Does anyone know if the fermentation of the soybeans in the tofu making process eliminate the leptins and make it more tolerable to digest?

  95. Just to balance out the 100% positive comments on the theme ‘grains are unhealthy’, here is my two cents : excepting the people who have allergies to grains, how can so many folks be so stupid? Human history, common sense, and even a cursory understanding of ‘modern’ diseases like cancer and heart disease lead to quite the opposite conclusion. Its meats and processed food you want to eliminate, not grains.

    1. No, It’s processed foods and grains that are the main culprits to health and especially obesity. Processed foods are full of sugar and salt, Grains – well, read the post again.

  96. very insightful BUT you didn’t explain HOW THEY PREVENT OBESITY FROM ARISING

  97. I have a daughter-in-law who has Celiac disease. If she eats my sprouted/soaked/fermented product, it does not bother her at all.

  98. I don’t miss grains at all. After eating grains, I would get the same feel in my mouth when I ate a box of Sour Patch Kids at the movie theater. You know that nasty film? My teeth are healthier because of it too!

  99. I eat sprouted grain bread; it’s low glycemic, so I use it for a sandwich for lunch on most days. Good stuff.

    But I also strength train heavily. I also eat a lot of dairy.

    Actually, the only thing that is “primal” about my diet is that it is low carb. I eat a lot of eggs, meat, etc. I do owe something to this site and the book; it was what got me to go low carb. So thanks.

  100. I am a naturally slender person, always have been. I remember eating an entire box of Entenmann’s choclate eclairs in one sitting throughout my childhood, and never gaining an ounce. In fact, at 5′ 7″, I didn’t break 100lbs. until my senior year of high school. So it irks me to no end when I constantly hear (or read) of people equating good health with “being skinny”. They are not the same thing!!! I have been hovering around 123lbs. for the last 25 years. I had also been a vegetarian/ vegan for most of that time. I had horrible muscle tone and, despite being “skinny” had cellulite everywhere. I was gassy and bloated ALL the time. I always blamed it on female “stuff”. I am new to the whole paleo thing, (seriously, it’s only been a couple of weeks!) but I already notice that my bloat is gone, gas (sorry if this is TMI) is gone, and I am starting to see some muscle tone. I am convinced that this is the right way for me. I still have issues with regards to the ethics surrounding paleo eating. Having been vegetarian/ vegan, my reasons were not just nutritional. There are still MANY reasons to eschew meat. Most of them stemming from factory farming and the environmental and animal welfare implications, so it blows my mind when I read of paleo advocates eating things like veal (WTF???and this was on a very well known paleo blog!) If we are to be true hunter/ gatherers, we would not be locking baby cows in cages…just sayin’. I could go on, but I have already strayed too far off topic. Thanks for listening…

  101. Thanks for this, Mark. I’ve been wondering lately why some people can make the leap to be gluten-free, but don’t see the wisdom in going grain- and legume-free. Why spend all that time and energy trying to make something palatable when you can just have delectable real food? We’re not missing anything nutritionally, so I won’t bother. Gimme steak and veggies.

  102. I live in Australia but born in Italy. I recently visited my homeland and was surprised by the slim women and men in Italy. So where were all the fat Italians? In Australia we are fat, but in Italy they are from from fat. One thing I did notice is that many of the towns now have supermarkets and Italians eat more western than traditional Mediterranean diets. Traditionally, Italians would kill their pigs in the Winter and eat sausages, proscuitto, salami and cook with lard throughout the winter. The prosciutto and salami would last into the summer months. Bread is eaten with salami and cheese, but not eaten as sandwiches and toasts as we eat. Fresh pasta took much effort, so it was not eaten as readily as we do. The wheat had to sown, harvested, milled and baked before they could eat their daily bread. Each step required energy expenditure. Dried pasta was bartered for in the major towns. It took many hours by foot, mule or horse to travel. Much energy was expended in order to feed themselves.

    Italians in Australia are far fatter than those in Italy, in particular those that have given up their vegetable gardens and their traditional foods. It seems to me that processed foods and the introduction of the supermarket has made the biggest impact both in Australia and Italy. As a child we did not eat pizza every day. Pizza was reserved for special occasions. But in Australia, I know many people that live on takeaway pizzas.

    One thing that I did noticed while stuck at the airport in Frankfurt was that there were no fat people. So what are they doing differently?

  103. I agree with all the comments about grains – but would you please address “seed grains” like quiona, amaranth, buckwheat and millet?

    Are they ok?

  104. I eat sprouted grains almost daily and have never had problems. No digestive upsets, malnutrition, or low energy – quite the opposite, actually!

    Just keeping the carbs at 140-150 does it for me. I occasionally go up about 5-10g on days when I’m super-active or have longer/harder workouts, in which case I find I’m a little hungrier. My weight has been low and steady for years. I’ve never had to *lose*, just maintain, and going 95% Primal (I say 95 because of the grains) made it much easier.

  105. Paleo man was dead at 40. How can you base so much on early man. Man has consumed grain a long time, longer than he has been using toxic salt. Do you have any scientific study that supports toxic grain. The arthritis society recommends grains, the Mayo clinic and on and on. Most Blue Zones use grains and beans.

    I say moderation! Balanced. I need to see one study!!!!

  106. My wife is an amateur authority on diet, but she would not ever admit to or claim that. It’s just over the years, everything that she has told me about diet turns out to be however true everything Mark says is (convoluted, huh?) That’s because everything that I read by Mark winds up explaining something my wife has told me. I can assure you that if she had the time, she would do all the soaking, and sprouting, and fermenting. She currently does make kombucha with these amazing mushrooms. Point is, I can testify that the time required to make grains worth eating is enormous. Sometimes during the few weeks in the summer when she isn’t teaching, she takes time to do one of these things. The amount of time it takes is unreal and not worth it.

  107. If you look at certain cultures worldwide, like “third world” African tribes, or Papua New Guineans, the people are often quite skinny, but still have big bellies.

    Why?? A diet based on carbs, and not enough protein! The thin/bloated-belly look is a symptom of malnutrition.

    More protein, fewer carbs all the way!

    1. Indigestible fibers is what creates bloated bellies because the indigestible fibers keep getting fermented and fermented in your gut until the end of time (or digestive tract), creating MASSIVE gas.
      They also pile up and stretch the colon…

      They would need 4 stomachs to break down cellulose.

  108. Okay, I’ll say it straight up, I’m here to vent only! lol

    I am mad at myself that after 1.6 years of eating primally I have now fallen off the primal wagon and rolled down grain alley!
    Been munching on freshly baked multi grain bread for the last 4 days and having a giant guilt complex.
    Also been binging on grapes like mad (it’s the season what can I say) and the seeds from the multi-grain and grapes together are tearing me a new one.
    Anyways, thought I’d confess somewhere, people around me don’t wanna hear it…lol.
    Back on the primal wagon tomorrow before the digestive time bomb goes off!!!

  109. I’m confused on the soaking.

    With beans, you soak the beans and pour out the toxins with the soaked water. Then, you pour fresh water in and cook.

    With grains, the other recipe sites and books just seem to soak it then cook it. Wouldn’t this just reabsorb the toxins and be cooked into the breads?

  110. I think that is one of the most significant info for me. And i am happy reading your article. However want to remark on some general issues, The web site taste is perfect, the articles is actually excellent : D. Good process, cheers

  111. Mr. Sisson,
    The amount of knowledge you share is a beautiful thing!
    Every time i visit your site looking for answers, i find them

  112. The growing and eating of grain gave birth to every major civilization known to man. Food, for me, is not just about being extraordinarily healthy but also about communicating with the culture. You cannot shun an entire food group, certainly not one that sustained your ancestors. I get kicking out boxed cereals, refined flour, sugar etc. but it just seems a bit too elitist and possibly even religious to suddenly decide grains are bad. Thousands and thousands of years we have fed ourselves ,sometimes exclusively, on this food – the staff of life. i would worry that to remove it from my diet completely would halt potential adaptability to this food. prepared sensitively grains are a good source of food. You can argue with 100 yrs of junk food and no one would argue the decision to eliminate all refined foods but to say grains are bad…I could argue equally that leafy greens are bad or that dairy is bad.

    Our ancestors built Empires on grains, built cities and magnificent buildings – they were not ailing, unmotivated people. What we need to throw out is refined foods and sugar. I’ve no doubt the reason most of you Paleo’s are now jumping up the walls with vibrancy is because whilst you switched to a paleo diet you inadvertantly cut all those crappy foods like boxed cereals and sugary cakes out too. But would you really not feel as healthy having a slice of wholemeal sourdough toast and butter each day? or a soaked oat porridge with cream and nuts?

  113. Speaking from personal experience… I had tried a paleo approach a few months ago after 12 years of vegetarianism. All was great for 5 months until I started craving bread like mad and caved in for a few months. Mind you, it was rice and 7 grain type finely sliced breads. In a few weeks, I had gained back almost all the weight I had lost with paleo, in the wrong places (belly and waist). Very distraught, I cut all back and re-introduced couscous, which I adore – same results, belly in the waist area. Grains might work for some people, I sure as hell wish it did for me, but more and more I see positive results in my body when I cut back on granola, couscous and wholegrain bread, which where my only indulgences. I know only have those on occasion, which is when I travel abroad and want to try a different food.

  114. Coorecting – FAT in the waist area – you know what I mean! (My weekly glass of red wine talking).

  115. I just bought a copy of The Art of Fermentation http://www.amazon.com/Art-Fermentation-Depth-Exploration-Essential/dp/160358286X . Fascinating book.

    He talks about fermenting grains in there, so I had to try it with oats, even though I’ve been grain-free for over a year. I simply put steel-cut oats in water and let them sit on the counter for about 36 hours. They then smelled like bread dough, and the resulting oatmeal had an acidic taste to it, but otherwise was similar to non-fermented. I could get used to the taste.

    But I was still hungry two hours later. So while it’s fun to experiment, and fermented grains may be healthier, they’re still little more than a big dump of sugar into your blood.

    I’m back to eggs for breakfast.

  116. Hi Mark,

    Good read. Is this applicable to older forms of wheat? Like einkorn? I know modern wheat is a lot different to older forms but not sure if its anymore toxic than traditional wheat like einkorn.

    /mm

  117. Some of the links in this great article are no longer working…would love to see a grand update of this. I send this link to people constantly to help them see their way with grains!

  118. My body was very sick from eating what I thought was a healthy diet. Whole grains and low fat. For over a year I have been very strict Paleo. Body healed..no more inflammation and no more asthma. I just went to a Weston Price conference and have been fermenting and consuming lacto-fermented foods including sauerkraut and kombucha. I decided to experiment with soaked sprouted organic wheat…no flour. In moderation the bread caused no issues. Next, I soaked and sprouted Great Northern beans….ate a small amount and did just fine. We are happy to be able to have these foods added to our menu. At the conference lunch and dinner was included. I noticed that any grains or legumes that were served were never at the front of the buffet table but last allowing folks to fill their plates with salad, vegs, animal proteins, lacto-fermented sauerkraut or kimkche then the legumes or sprouted/soured bread in small amounts. And Kombucha was served at each meal. I visited with many that changed from traditional sad diets to WAPF traditonal diet and the4 health improvements were amazing. There were over 1700 in attendance. Still I love Paleo!!

  119. The trick is to let others do the work for you, hence buy white rice and corn flour which have most of the antinutrients taken out of them. I don’t really see the point of buying eg. brown rice and going through all that trouble in detoxifying it instead of buying white rice which is cheaper to begin with!

  120. Hi Mark,

    great summary!
    I was looking for that study from italy that gave fermented gluten to celiacs.
    do you have a link? That would be great.
    Thanks in advance. 🙂

  121. Can somebody comment about corn and nixtamalization? I´m from Mexico, so I can say I am very sad to give up tortillas and corn 🙁 I still have my fingers crossed hoping nixtamalization makes corn edible for humans, I´m day dreaming because of course we have the carbs issue 🙁 But I was just hoping I could eat them once in a while. I´m ok giving up all other grains and legumes but corn? *sad sigh*

    http://www.cookingissues.com/2011/03/09/mesoamerican-miracle-megapost-tortillas-and-nixtamalization/

    http://homescale.wordpress.com/corntortillas/

    P.D. I do not care about any other corn products, just tortillas and masa. I will miss a freshly made tortilla out of the comal. 🙁

  122. I appreciate your frank exposure of your biases and your success at even-handed treatment. This article brings together a lot of “lost” wisdom.

  123. There is a company promoting a fermented product that lets the combination of fruits, vegetables, beans and grains ferment for 6 months! Creating a supposed super wellness product. No wheat but it does include rye, brown rice, millet and numerous beans. All organic. Do you think 6 months destroys the bad guys?

  124. I am from Russia, we are probably the largest population brought up primarily on grains. I have never even heard of “celiac disease” before i moved to US. All i can say, is that we started seeing obesity and cancer after the industrial revolution which brought vegetable oils, processing and other “civilazation” goodies, with its biggest spike when the iron curtain came down and our stores were flooded with new foods from the West – sodas, candies, etc.. All of my great grand parents lived well into their late 90’s and all they ate was pretty much rye bread and milk. They were very lean and full of vigor. Improper preparation of the grains (grains should be sprouted – before the invention of a harvester grains were left on the stems until they would naturally sprout themselves; and bread should be prepared as sourdough) and abcense of other fermented foods in the diet (like kvass/kefir/Sauerkraut etc) – will result in a weak gut and will give you problems with grain digestion. Add prosessed foods to this combination and you have a recipe for disaster. So, to answer whether grains are healthy – yes, very much so, if you know how to eat them. Our ansentors did, and just because we forgot how to is not a valid reason to blame the grains. Grains are a gift from God and they came with certain instructions for its use. You break the divine rule – you get sick. Besides, now even science shows that antioxidant content in grains can put to absolute shame any vegetable or fruit. I think there are other beneficial substances we still don’t even know about. Stanley Bass’ experiments on mice also support the idea that grains contain that “something” which is absolutely indispesible. I personally go by the rule that everything should be prepared traditionally and eaten in moderation.

  125. Also, i wanted to add a couple of recent thoughts. My family is of old orthodox denomination, and we still use the calendar used before the 17th century. Today is year 7521 in my world, to be exact.
    Lets say that humans started eating grains 10,000 years ago. That makes me think that either people have been eating grains for a LONG time before that archeological assumption OR grains really plummeted the human intellect to the point that people were able to use a calendar shortly after.
    Besides, books like “Forbidden Archeology” list hundreds of examples which do not fit into common scientific thinking – like quite elaborate artefacts from layers older than 7 mil. years.
    I don’t know, i am not here for grain propaganda, American wheat is certainly a mutation monster not good for anything – i had to turn to sourcing the right type of grain and flour and bake my own stuff as i found the store choices to be a joke, i am just thinking, but my feeling is that the whole paleo diet rests on some premature thoughts about human evolution.

  126. The preparation of the grain is not related to the cultures that were slim and relatively disease free. Yes, fermenting something like soy beans will result in natto, which is an excellent source of K2. Also fermenting or spouting grains is a good idea but the key is the other items these cultures were eating. They did not eat the amount of meat that the average American consumes. Other than the grains they were primarily consuming vegetables, berries, nuts or fruits.
    Eat natural, whole foods, do not fry or use very high heat to cook anything. Skipping the oil entirely, even EVO, is a good idea. Get your fats from avocado, nuts, olives or even eggs sometimes. Do not consume dairy and you will end up with stronger bones plus less artery blockage.

  127. I’ve skipped the comments; perhaps my answer is hidden in them. But the blog decries wheat for (I think) its “bastard protein” gluten. But I live in India now and the overwhelming fraction of (East) Indians live on wheat and/or rice as the staple. The (mostly whole) wheat is made into chapatis (which are basically grain tortillas). How does this work — how do they manage not to be, um, bastardized by the gluten? And the really poor traditionally used several kinds of millet (pearl millet, finger millet, jowar, etc.) as their staple grain. They’re made intp thick tortillas and eaten with cooked vegetables. Same question about this: what processing might have allowed them to survive/prosper with these as their principal staple despite their presumed bad qualities?

  128. Finally some common sense. When hundreds of posts from degreed, intelligent “experts” continually argue with each other, supporting this view, tearing down that one, doesn’t that announce in clear terms that no one really knows anything? So far, my one unassailable criteria is, does a food trigger a craving? If it does, I need to find something else that gives me the same nutrition without the imbalances.

  129. I use semolina to feed my baby but wondering do I need to soak it a day before to make it digest able? I did that and it smells yeasty even after cooking…can it be given to baby?

  130. Good Morning,
    I was reading through your no grains information from your website and am really interested in this topic. I have gone gluten free, soy free, corn free, mushroom, alcohol, caffeine, white potato and night shade free in an effort to heal the gut and treat my Fibromyalgia by reducing these inflammatory influences. I eat a really clean vegan (I was vegetarian for over 25 years prior to adopting a vegan diet) diet now, am consulting a naturopathic doctor vs. allopathic and a nutritionist. When I say to them I am thinking about going grain and legume free they disagree and say I need to keep the gluten free grains and legumes in my diet. I am really confused about what to do because if I take the grains and legumes out of my diet, how do I get enough protein with all the other things out of the diet? Eating meat or other animal products is not an option for me. Thank you for any information you could give.

  131. I make long-fermented sourdough rye bread. It’s delicious, but I take breaks from it and won’t allow myself to have it too regularly, despite not having any noticeable reactions to it (I’m not celiac). I think we can pretty much assume that there is still a lot of gluten in all sourdough breads, because otherwise they would lose their chewy, elastic texture and not really be like traditional bread. At that point we might as well just start with a gluten-free flour. Obviously it’s not as good as real bread, but let’s not fool ourselves: real bread is all about the gluten.

  132. I think we need to separate the main specific source of lectins in grains especially wheat. It is found as said elsewhere in the outer part of the seed mainly. For that reason I avoid any bran, but eat moderately home made white bread with a long rise (fermentation). It is a valuable source of carbohydrate but without the touted “benefits of the other parts of the grain. In fact the vitamins and minerals I believe are more efficiently sourced elsewhere. I have no problems with eating home made well fermented white bread, but suffer if I add whole wheat bread or eat bran. Thank you Mark for your most helpful site.

  133. Hello Mark!

    I actually messaged you page on Facebook about this topic! I LOVE fermentation and it seems to get a bad rap by Paleo community when I came across your philosophy and saw some leniency I was curious to ask!

    My issues with Paleo are in peppers and potatoes, primitive grains (I grow einkorn), honey and alcohol (have my own hives and make mead, my best bring infused with aforementioned peppers hehe)

    I understand primal has a different take on most of these stance but would like to know better if all of these would be acceptable, in moderation of course, with your philosophy.

    The bread I make is sourdough, and it’s mostly a flatbread/pita which is used as an eating utensil to grab the food and eat, this is the cultural manner of eating in the countries of the middle East.

    My motto has always been if you can make it from scratch it is fair game, but I’d love to hear your opinions!