Grains or No Grains?
Hang on tight, because whenever the issue of whether or not grains are good for us comes up, there is a lot of passion and emotion on both ‘sides'. Many of us, myself included, love our bread and pasta, and when you start talking about how much of it we should or shouldn't eat, people can get a little defensive.
I've covered this topic extensively in the past, and all of those links are included below, so scroll down for the complete overview list.
Today, however, I'm doing a bit of a hodge/podge post — I'll throw out the bits and pieces of information that I know and that I don't know.
First, if you've read my blog for very long, you know that I'm always reminding you not to blindly follow what you read here or anywhere. I want to put some facts in front of you, and urge you to research more on your own before you decide what's best for your own body and your own family.
***You won't find any statements here about THE right way, because there's too much I don't know about how the body works to say anything with total assurance, especially when each of us are so different.
Here's what I know:
- For myself, I do best on a diet of lower carb/lower grains. Not no grains/carbs, but limited and mostly properly prepared grains at that. My weight stays more stable and my hormones more level. (I notice fewer PMS symptoms this way. And by the way, I also shoot for no sweets, but that doesn't always happen.)
- Many who cut grains from their diet (and sometimes also drastically lower all carbs) have amazing results in their health. They go off their insulin and/or blood pressure medication, they feel energy they haven't felt in years, they don't have sore joints anymore, and this list goes on and on. How do I know this? Because my readers tell me all about it!
- According to Dr. Davis, the author of Wheat Belly, wheat these days is drastically different from what our ancestors ate.
Here's what I don't know:
- Why do many enjoy grains with no problems at all? Does it have to do with how healthy their gut flora is, as some have suggested?
- Does it have to do with whether or not the grains are refined? If they're eating alternative grains besides wheat? If they are properly preparing them or not?
- If you limit your carbs/grains and then go back to eating them, does the weight and/or detrimental effects come back around more quickly then, as some say?
- Is lowering your carbs hard on your adrenal glands long term?
- How much does all of this vary from person to person? (A LOT is my guess. I believe that the key is knowing our own bodies. Sometimes we may need a natural practitioner to help us make sense of all of this.)
- Dr. Kaayla Daniel: “A diet low in grains—particularly gluten- and gliadin-containing grains—has helped many people restore their gut health. However, traditional preparations including soaking, will lessen the likelihood of ill effects from any of the grains.” Source
- —Dr. Mercola: “In the case of wheat there's the Gluten or gliadin molecule that are particularly pernicious for many people, are you aware of an influence of fermenting on those aspects?
—Caroline Barringer (his podcast guest): “Well, I can use my own health, I don't respond to grains well at all, but when I ferment them I'm fine, it makes them almost like a cultured vegetable would be more digestible. It does help to neutralize many of the preservatives on grains, nuts and seeds, and all you have to do to make a grain more digestible is to soak it. It's a hydrophylic process that draws water into the grain and when you add something like whey or cultured vegetable juice or coconut kefir, a spoonful of yogurt, etc., those probiotic organisms take action on the grain, just like the organisms in the soil would to make this little dormant grain sprout or germinate, and when it's in that state it's much more digestible and bio-available. Now some people still can't handle grains like this, they just have to keep them out, especially on the GAPS Diet, there are people that will never be able to incorporate grains after stage 6 on the diet, it's just he nature of the beast and who you are and what you can and can't handle. But when you soak, sprout and germinate a nut, seed or grain, it will neutralize the phytic acid and helps the glutens predigest so YOU don't have to do the work, and you or immune system doesn't have to recognize something that it finds unfamiliar which can cause an allergic reaction. Again, grains are not a central part of my diet, but if you are going to be able to incorporate them into your diet, you'll need to prepare them properly.”
—Dr.: “There's a whole community who follow the paleo approach, I'm fond of it too and I think there's lots of truth to it. Two important components to avoid are grains and legumes, but if you choose to eat them for whatever reason, it's would seem very useful to ferment them.”
—Caroline: “I also believe mostly in the paleo diet as well, but if you look at our ancestors, they knew how to prepare these properly, and they consumed them in smaller portions, so I believe there are people out there who do OK having some grains in their diet, prepared properly of course. I don't like to broad-brush, because I believe in complete bio-individuality. But if you look at where we came from, agriculture didn't come into play until 12-14,000 years ago, and in evolutionary terms, that's a blink, so there's some merit to that, too.” Source
- My sister Terri, when she adds any carbs back in (not just grains), says this: “I bloat and ache just about everywhere; my feet become numb or tingle, and sometimes I even have pain shooting through them.”
- Ann Marie: “The grain-free/paleo/low-carb movement is missing the boat because they're not taking into account the hormonal side of the equation. Lowering grains causes deficiencies that lead to other issues like not eating enough, which leads to low blood sugar and cravings. Some people can’t eat grains because they have food allergies. For those people it is best to avoid grains while their gut heals. But avoiding grains doesn’t necessarily fix diabetes. Restrictive low carb diets can actually exacerbate hypothyroidism (it did for me). Hypothyroidism creates problems with blood sugar. For me, going back to grains is what is helping me raise my body temperature, return to a normal monthly cycle, and regulate my hormones and blood sugar. I don’t think it is black and white.”
Don't stress over it
Remember, these are just my random thoughts gathered together in one spot and obviously there are no easy answers. No matter what you figure out is best for you, just know that stressing too much over what you eat or don't eat is not good! Don't let this consume you. Even when I'm not eating perfect, I know that we're eating MUCH better than the majority, and sometimes we can only do the best we can do. Just keep learning more here and there, do your best, and trust God with the rest.
So what do YOU know (or don't you know) about this issue?
Maybe you, unlike myself, actually DO have it all figured out, or maybe you've at least figured out your own body. I hope you'll let us know about it in the comments. 🙂
Previous posts on grains that you may have missed:
- How to properly prepare grains for best nutrition and digestion
- Have we fallen for a fad diet?
- Q & A with Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly
- The Great Grain Controversy – Q & A with Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition
- The ‘other side' of the grain issue with an interesting Q & A from someone who would definitely know.
- For *really* fresh whole grains, here's how to grind your own for flour! Or just find the grain mill I have here.
- Using alternative grains (besides wheat)
- Finding bread for your family
- Soaking flour in dairy or no? Kimberly Hartke answers this well in her post.
- Paleo Proponent Chris Kresser: “Dairy and Certain Grains OK for Some – Paleo is a Starting Point, Not a Destination”