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Why are only grains bad?

Commented on March 15, 2014
Created March 13, 2014 at 11:27 PM

The reason I hear most for why grains are bad is that they contain anti nutrients. Grains are seeds and since it is disadvantageous for them to be eaten (they can't reproduce that way) they evolved to contain anti nutrients to stop animals from consuming them.

But most paleo eaters embrace nuts which are also seeds. Why wouldn't nuts also have anti nutrients. Also, what about leafy greens? It seems disadvantageous for a plant's photosynthesizing leaves to be eaten. Why haven't leaves evolved to have anti nutrients as well?

I'm not trying to bash or disprove paleo, I'm just trying to get a more clear explanation because what I've heard so far seems like pseudo science.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 15, 2014
at 07:30 PM

Black walnuts are way tastier! Acorns sound like squirrel food. :(

According to articles, something like 5 soaks or more are requried... too much work. We did it 4th grade... probably didn't soak enough tannins out, they were nasty as I recall. Starvation would have to be my motivation....

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 15, 2014
at 06:05 PM

it is a lot of work to treat acorns. Wild boars and deer can obviously eat them, but many domestic pigs can not, too tannic. The only use I know of, for acorns, is rabbit feed by a friend of mine (as part of a healthy rabbit diet, with hay and greens).

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 15, 2014
at 05:48 PM

You can give it a try. I'd read about how the ancient California tribes would soak Valley white oak, then grind a meal. I tried it on Oregon white oak, maybe there's a big difference. Another wild nut I've had luck with is black walnut. I had to use a vise to crack them, then pick little bits out of the shell. They're tasty but it was a lot of work to get half a cup.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 15, 2014
at 04:29 PM

About oak acorns..... semi-native populations in California made extensive use of oak acorns. The are more than a dozen different oaks in California. I cant tell one from another but supposedly the tannin content varies widely. My street is lined with oaks & in the fall, the parking lane is thick with 'ground' acorns. If desired I could easily gather 100's of pounds just from my tree.

http://honest-food.net/2010/01/14/acorn-pasta-and-the-mechanics-of-eating-acorns/

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/09/07/1014246/-Indians-101-Acorns#

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 15, 2014
at 04:26 PM

I would suggest 'harvesting' the squirrels when they're trying to harvest the nuts. The squirrels can be:

1) skinned, cleaned & eaten <<< for me too much work but there are a number of You Tube vidoes

2) given to someone who will

3) if available local pig farmer?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 15, 2014
at 10:44 AM

We are not a worm, squirrel or bluejay. For the last couple of years I've been working on getting defenseless hazelnuts away from these pests. The only thing that's worked so far is picking before the nuts fall. If they're still fairly green I shell them and cook them in stir fry. If not they air dry just fine. Regarding white oak acorns, I tried to soak the bitterness out but failed. There was no lack of supply. Even the usual nut-eating pests leave them alone. Regarding chestnuts, roasted mmmmm. I've only gotten them in the wild once.

8819942abbe81717f2f5a3739a464823

(15)

on March 15, 2014
at 10:30 AM

I like this!

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 15, 2014
at 03:23 AM

Go eat an acorn and let me know if it is defending itself or not. Walnuts give me geographic tongue, and most other nuts I find quite heavy. I am only good with roasted chestnuts, anreven those in small amounts.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 09:06 PM

Labels can be helpful but I see your point. Additionally, keeping an eye on our evlutionary diet can be helpful.

I think avoiding 'modern grains', added sugar & industrialized foods in general (they typically all come hand in hand) will yield the vast majority of the 'paleo' benefit. Mindful eating helps too...what works & what doesn't.

I avoid all grains becuase I'm too lazy to buy heirloom grains or products.

Lamb shanks! yum!

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 07:22 PM

@thhq no need to upvote. I tailored my answer to broadly cover a lot of things for a PH & paleo 'newbie'. I should have also referenced Attia but I was to lazy to find more links.

I'm not sure I totally understood you comment. cheers Bob

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 06:54 PM

by your comment, "I bet she has more issues than she lets on"... Do you imply she's lying or withholding information?

I don't think her issues invalidate her articles on topics I posted.

You appear to arguing for "grain eating paelo"... or do I misunderstand your point?

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 06:51 PM

"Avoiding sugar and grains could make it easier to lose weight"

My n=1 experiment tells me that 'avoiding sugar and grains makes lowering & maintaining body fat % effortless'. I'll stick with my results.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 06:43 PM

Thanks for the unsolicited advice, but you're not me. You assume facts not in evidence.

No worries... I don't really read Ede. I mostly read PH & Peter Attia. I merely offered Ede because of her articles on grains, nuts, seeds and her others on vegetables. I don't eat grains and I feel better for it. I dont have to eat grains.

Is her information about grains, nuts, seeds wrong? Are her thoughts on vegetables not worth reading? I don't have autoimmune issues so I'm only limitedly educated on them. Her interest in ketosis is also professional as it relates to mental issues.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 06:26 PM

Whether or not they 'need' them... nut do have them and in fairly high concentrations.

Probably the reason that nuts are less of a concern? They typically are not major sources of calories for most paleos, 5 to10% of calories? They're a snack not a staple. Start chowing down on tons of nuts, make them 30 - 50% of your calories and I think most would soon "feel the effects".

Medium avatar

on March 14, 2014
at 06:11 PM

If I were you, I would try to broaden my Paleo horizons and read someone outside the fringe of ketosis. Avoiding sugar and grains could make it easier to lose weight and lessen metabolic inflammation. That would definitely allay your autoimmune symptoms. But that does not translate to reducing autoimmune inflammation, which will flare regardless of how clean your diet is. The two overlap in the metabolically deranged but they do not in many. There is a clear difference between autoimmune inflammation and metabolic inflammation. Edes and Wahls are confusing reducing one for the other.

Medium avatar

on March 14, 2014
at 06:07 PM

Edes has CFS, fibromyalgia and IBS. What makes you think her issues are representative of those who Paleo? She has 2 issues that are autoimmune and I bet she has more issues than she lets on, since most are diagnosed for only 25% of their existing issues. For someone with immune dysfunction, food sensitivities are real and understandable. What some people don't realize is that Robb Wolf's Paleo Diet was really the first autoimmune diet book. Wolf has UC and tailored his diet to avoid foods that he thinks cause "inflammation." That certainly doesn't mean everyone should avoid grains.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 14, 2014
at 05:30 PM

Sorry I can't upvote. This is one of the more polite and lucid Paleohacks discussions I can remember. Life is an N=1 experiment for all of us. Dialectic makes us all stronger.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 14, 2014
at 10:38 AM

There are better and worse vegetables to eat. Grains (and their refined derivatives flour, HFCS, soybean oil, TVP, etc etc.) are bottom tier, providing only calories, with precious few vitamins and minerals. I think of gluten (and casein, from dairy) as difficult proteins, which a lot of people can't digest. Grains are cheap calories and effectively push meat out of most people's diets.

The arguments against solanum I believe to be only historic, and based on Eurasian nightshade being poisonous. The edible nightshades are better foods than grains if you can tolerate them.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on March 14, 2014
at 10:20 AM

Except that gluten does cause real damage in a large population, even those who don't show a direct reaction. Certainly the nightshade family has some deadly members, but others have been a bit more domesticated and are less harmful.

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5 Answers

0
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on March 14, 2014
at 08:21 PM

Personally, I don't like the "paleo" moniker. I'm not trying to recreate what a cave man ate. I'm looking back a much shorter time period, before our agriculture became industrialized, manipulated and poisoned. I much prefer the term "ancestral diet" and I don't have to go back much farther than my grandmother, to a time when people still ate their food whole, organically grown, and pastured as a matter of course, and most often local as well. Grandma ate plenty of offal (I remember tongue, lungs ("Lungen"--I did NOT like those!), sweetbreads, liver, stuffed kishka (beef intestines--and yes, it's YUMMY!) and she taught me to especially love bone marrow. She relished crispy poultry skin, rendered the fat, and never worried about eating whole foods. She made the most incredible bone broth back when it was called chicken soup and was not considered trendy.

It's true that she ate grains--bread, noodles (she sometimes made noodles herself!), dumplings, and things like buckwheat groats (kasha). I choose not to eat modern grains because they are harming my health. I've cut out sugar as well. I know sugar was not very plentiful in her "Old Country" youth--she, my mother, and I always put SALT on hot cereals (I was in college the first time I saw someone put sugar on their oatmeal, and I was SHOCKED!), "dessert" was often stewed fruit.

I'm in this for health which has improved vastly since getting rid of processed, industrialized foods, I don't care if the caveman had lamb shanks braised in wine or not, as long as I do. I do try to avoid legumes because they don't seem to do my gut much good, I don't care if the caveman ate them or not.

Sometimes we get too wrapped up in labels. I'm not wrapping myself in animal skins and going out to hunt the neighborhood deer with a bow and arrows, and cook the meat on an open fire. I'll be content with making chopped liver as good as Grandma's, and being secure in the knowledge that it's not "a heart attack on a plate".

8819942abbe81717f2f5a3739a464823

(15)

on March 15, 2014
at 10:30 AM

I like this!

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 09:06 PM

Labels can be helpful but I see your point. Additionally, keeping an eye on our evlutionary diet can be helpful.

I think avoiding 'modern grains', added sugar & industrialized foods in general (they typically all come hand in hand) will yield the vast majority of the 'paleo' benefit. Mindful eating helps too...what works & what doesn't.

I avoid all grains becuase I'm too lazy to buy heirloom grains or products.

Lamb shanks! yum!

0
7160a3fb485cb0af573c0292fdb08144

on March 14, 2014
at 05:13 PM

Nuts don't need antinutrients for defense. They grow in trees and out of reach of most animals. That is their natural defense.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 15, 2014
at 10:44 AM

We are not a worm, squirrel or bluejay. For the last couple of years I've been working on getting defenseless hazelnuts away from these pests. The only thing that's worked so far is picking before the nuts fall. If they're still fairly green I shell them and cook them in stir fry. If not they air dry just fine. Regarding white oak acorns, I tried to soak the bitterness out but failed. There was no lack of supply. Even the usual nut-eating pests leave them alone. Regarding chestnuts, roasted mmmmm. I've only gotten them in the wild once.

56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 15, 2014
at 03:23 AM

Go eat an acorn and let me know if it is defending itself or not. Walnuts give me geographic tongue, and most other nuts I find quite heavy. I am only good with roasted chestnuts, anreven those in small amounts.

F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 06:26 PM

Whether or not they 'need' them... nut do have them and in fairly high concentrations.

Probably the reason that nuts are less of a concern? They typically are not major sources of calories for most paleos, 5 to10% of calories? They're a snack not a staple. Start chowing down on tons of nuts, make them 30 - 50% of your calories and I think most would soon "feel the effects".

0
F291857fa12a0291688ea994343156dc

(720)

on March 14, 2014
at 04:47 PM

@PaleoUnsure

@glib@thhq & @raydawg all make good answers / comments. Considering the items available as "food" to person living in a 1st world country... there are items definitely to avoid, items definitely to include and there are items in the middle that consumption depends on the person's reaction AND the dose.

My experience with finally "arriving" at paleo, is that it is an ongoing n=1 experiment. I seem to tolerate dairy quite well (no observed negative effects), so include full fat yogurt & kefir and low fat cottage cheese rom grass fed pastured cows. Do each a ton of it per week, no. One qt yogurt lasts about 2 weeks, the kefir about 2 or three weeks, the cottage cheese a week. Compared to my total caloric intake these numbers are not large.

@Paleounsure the points you bring up are valid, plants don't want their seeds, leaves or unripe fruit eaten. Dr, Georgia Ede, a real MD & a very thoughtful person, has struggled with her own dietary issues. She blogged daily, weekly & monthly about her personal journey into 'paleo' & keto.

She also presents articles about seeds, nuts, grains AND one about nightshades... both worth reading. Not all nightshades are identical. She also questions whether 'vegetables' are really as benign / safe as people commonly think.

http://diagnosisdiet.com/food/grains-beans-nuts-and-seeds/

http://diagnosisdiet.com/nightshades/

http://diagnosisdiet.com/food/vegetables/

http://diagnosisdiet.com/is-broccoli-good-for-you/

All of this is food for thought, but what really matters is how YOUR body functions on the food YOU feed it.

Not everyone reacts to the same foods at the same doses in the same way. I think one of the best things about paleo is that it encourages 'mindful' eating... what will be the outcome of what I'm about to eat? Of course, over time, we hope fully determine what works & what doesn't and it all becomes easier.

I have not truly evaluated nightshades because they don't seem to bother me and I really don't want the bad news of having to eliminate them...same with onions, I have an inkling that they are problematic but "I don't want to know".

I think most people, except the hardest core palo-nazi's, are satisfied with "good enough" and don't strive for perfect. I'm down 30lbs, 3" in my waist and I'm in the ~15% body range... I look & feel fit. I'm not willing to 'work harder'.

The final part of my answer...yes, paleo is part science, part pseudo science, part faith, part guess work. Unfortunately, if we wait for the science to be truly 'settled' before we make changes or adjustments.... we'll be dead.

Worse.....Blindly follow the conventional wisdom, without considering it's impact on us and we'll continue eating the whole grains (esp wheat), high carb, lowfat diets that allow sugar (Ornish? & Pritikin?).

Which, imo (n=2) leads to heart disease and cancer.... I'm willing to 'veer off course' and mindfully choose a different path. Will it be better? Seems better so far, we'll see in the long run. :)

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 14, 2014
at 05:30 PM

Sorry I can't upvote. This is one of the more polite and lucid Paleohacks discussions I can remember. Life is an N=1 experiment for all of us. Dialectic makes us all stronger.

Medium avatar

on March 14, 2014
at 06:07 PM

Edes has CFS, fibromyalgia and IBS. What makes you think her issues are representative of those who Paleo? She has 2 issues that are autoimmune and I bet she has more issues than she lets on, since most are diagnosed for only 25% of their existing issues. For someone with immune dysfunction, food sensitivities are real and understandable. What some people don't realize is that Robb Wolf's Paleo Diet was really the first autoimmune diet book. Wolf has UC and tailored his diet to avoid foods that he thinks cause "inflammation." That certainly doesn't mean everyone should avoid grains.

Medium avatar

on March 14, 2014
at 06:11 PM

If I were you, I would try to broaden my Paleo horizons and read someone outside the fringe of ketosis. Avoiding sugar and grains could make it easier to lose weight and lessen metabolic inflammation. That would definitely allay your autoimmune symptoms. But that does not translate to reducing autoimmune inflammation, which will flare regardless of how clean your diet is. The two overlap in the metabolically deranged but they do not in many. There is a clear difference between autoimmune inflammation and metabolic inflammation. Edes and Wahls are confusing reducing one for the other.

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 14, 2014
at 02:23 AM

Paleo's main claim is that evolution was complete before the Neolithic period, and that we have not had time to successfully adapt to the effects of agricultural foods. From this starting point, many foods are excluded. Especially grains, but also dairy products and the solanaceae (peppers/tomatoes/potatoes).

Glib is right. The objection to lectins could be raised against many non-grain foods, and if strictly followed would exclude those foods as well.

The bro-science part is also correct. Paleo's underlying assumption is not a scientific one, but an anthropological observation. Applying "science" to this is more like theology, and becomes a matter of faith by adherents. Paleo's rejection of gluten (or lectin, or fructose, or whatever) down to the last molecule becomes a cause for crusaders, who grab any prop they think will help. For instance, calling raisins Satan's rabbit droppings. Only an idiot would say this outside the Paleo revival tent. Yet many Paleos shout stuff like this from the rooftops, oblivious to the world howling in laughter.

I try to look at the anthropology side and practice it as much as I can to improve my health. Two things that have changed for the worse since Paleo times. We eat far more plant matter, which is driving the benefits of meat out of our diets. We are far more sedentary, which is wreaking havoc on our cardiovascular health.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on March 14, 2014
at 10:20 AM

Except that gluten does cause real damage in a large population, even those who don't show a direct reaction. Certainly the nightshade family has some deadly members, but others have been a bit more domesticated and are less harmful.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on March 14, 2014
at 12:37 AM

What you say is right. No part of any plant wants to be eaten (except the flesh of ripe fruits), and they will create phytochemicals accordingly. Indeed, there are more lectins in chard (one of my favorite vegetables, I plant upward of 50 plants in my garden every year) than in wheat, per gram. Nuts, beans, leafy greens, stalks, flowers, roots, all the same, they have toxins and they will use them. I much prefer the lighter beans to nuts, because they are soaked and thoroughly cooked and I digest them much better than raw nuts (or milk). They also have large amounts of Mg, folacin, and K, which are not easy to get on paleo without special care. In short, you still have to try and see what agrees with you better.

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