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Are grains inherently bad?

Answered on August 14, 2016
Created August 06, 2016 at 7:42 PM

Are all grains going to kill you? Whats the validity of demonising grains and where do you stand on grains?

I've cut out wheat because it defintiely gives me issues with skin, asthma and allergies but haven't noticed issues with fermented grains and pseudo grains? I don't eat oats or barley due to advice around the paleo communtiy but i cant say ive ever noticed an issue with either of these neither, in all honesty.

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Medium avatar

(10601)

on August 14, 2016
at 04:05 PM

The following is instructive on the added phosphorous problem

 

https://www.nutrientdataconf.org/PastConf/NDBC35/3-2_Sullivan.pdf

 

Phosphorous from additives is 100% sorbed. Unusually high levels are seen in bacon and mac & cheese. 

 

I have experience with STPP as an industrial chemical. It is highly reactive with metal cations such as iron and manganese, effectively precipitating them. As such it is useful to protect reactive chemicals like bleaches from catalytic decomposition. It is functionally interchangeable with EDTA. I'm not sure what role it plays in processed foods, but based on my experience I believe that functionality and price probably outweigh any health considerations regarding the phosphorous.

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on August 14, 2016
at 03:06 PM

I add two or three processed foods that help us fulfill nutritional needs without increasing the P load. Gelatin fixes the aminoacid unbalances of the paleo and SAD diets, but unlike bone broth is P-poor. Cod liver oil and ghee provide essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins also without the P. Although cod liver oil does not have other important liver-based nutrients, most notably B12.

I spent a lot of time figuring out how to prepare beans. I now sprout them until the sprout is length of seed (up to four days, but chickpeaas and black eye peas you can do in 36 hours) and then pressure cook them.Given the amount of work for preparation, I make large batches and freeze them in pint containers. And they are light and make me feel good, so the research time spent was fruitful. I can see that they help balance the diet towards paleo and pre-paleo standards. My wife makes salads mixing said beans with chopped tomatoes or onions or celery or carrots, and they all taste good.

0
D3dafb602c2ef9c6c7a8733696326482

(110)

on August 14, 2016
at 12:09 PM

I think so too; the potassium:phosphate ratio may even be the most important, as these minerals contribute the most to the acid/base balance as reflected by the potential renal acid load.

 

It could be that a major root cause of atherosclerosis, kidney problems and a host of other problems is really elevated blood sugar (diabetes, pre-diabetes), which possibly can be treated by eating foods that improve the K:P ratio - in practice replace grains with fruits and roots, and avoid dairy products. In other words a true paleo diet.

 

For example when native hawaiians adopted their traditional diet for just 3 weeks, with roots, vegetables, leaves, fruits and about 150-200 gm fish/chicken per day, they saw a 24% decline in blood glucose and lost 8 kg, despite no change in carbohydrate intake (around 300 gram/day). This diet probably had a 5-10:1 potassium:phosphate ratio.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2031501

 

The K:P ratio in human milk is around 3.5, compared to approx 1.5 in cow milk. Maybe in the average person´s diet, it´s 2:1. But this must be adjusted for the bioavailability of P which is lower in grains and legumes.

 

An advantage of eating natural cheese over milk is that it has more protein relative to phosphorus and also usually a better calcium:phosphate ratio. Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano, from Italy) might be the best, with a 1.7 Ca:P ratio. But unlike milk, cheese is deficent in potassium so extra vegetables or roots needs to be added, commonly done in mediterranean countries (consumed with tomato products, salads etc.)

 

Just as potassium seems to lower blood sugar, so can protein by itself, which is why legumes are much more desirable than whole grains for those with diabetes:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27497151
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15228991

0
56c28e3654d4dd8a8abdb2c1f525202e

(1822)

on August 14, 2016
at 02:59 AM

always nice to see your posts, Giu. A couple of years ago, based on what I know about animal husbandry, I posted about the Mg/P ratio. For farm animals, we try to keep both Ca/Mg and Ca/P within a certain range. The two ratios imply that the ratio Mg/P also matters. And that is a ratio that will be high if you eat the bulk of your diet as fruits, roots, and leaves, with some meat to fulfill nutritional needs. It will be low if you eat more meat, or if you eat grains. It will improve if you substitute beans for grains. It is consistent with the eating habits of Sardinians and Okinawans in the Blue Zone book.

Now it could be that the K/P ratio is even more significant, as Mg and K in diets tend to be very correlated. But the same considerations apply (including substituing beans for grains). But the P constraints, that probably exist as you suggest, are best expressed as ratio of nutrients, not just with upper intakes.

 

0
Medium avatar

(10601)

on August 13, 2016
at 03:15 PM

@giu the effect of high phosphorous intake on longevity is interesting. It's probably a better argument against eating processed foods that are laced with it as flavorings and preservatives. While whole grains contain more phosphorous than refined grains, higher phosphorous whole foods like cheese, pork, nuts and seafood would demand the same scrutiny. 

0
66a8fba2b36ea3a6862dc8bcbba92ff2

on August 13, 2016
at 12:45 PM

Giu, i'm certainly not suggesting he is indeed that old, just think it's interesting and think it's a good argument for a whole foods diet and simplicity, as well as exercise,close ties family etc. Not sure i agree with the egg whites idea, as i consistently ate only egg whites while on a bodybuilding style diet which i thought was healthy but quickly developed intollerances due to over consumption of just egg whites and large quantities of grains. Also, eggs in their natural state are eaten with the yolks by every animal that eats them.

0
D3dafb602c2ef9c6c7a8733696326482

(110)

on August 13, 2016
at 07:00 AM

@primalnick

I doubt that this guy is 123 years old. But high altitude is known to increase longevity, and much of Bolivia is > 4000 meters over sea level.

For example «Mortality from coronary heart disease (-22% per 1000 m) and stroke (-12% per 1000 m) significantly decreased with increasing altitude. Being born at altitudes higher or lower than the place of residence was associated with lower or higher risk.»
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19635973

0
66a8fba2b36ea3a6862dc8bcbba92ff2

on August 12, 2016
at 04:07 PM

Great answers everyone, really informative. Keep em coming! Also, check out this centenarian article. Obviously this hasn't been proven yet but if this is true then it gives a bug thumbs up to traditional diet. This fella seems to eat mostly paleo with the exception of legumes http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/332842/Oldest-man-in-the-world-lives-to-123-on-diet-of-lizards-and-skunk-meat

0
7f5095e48f728cafd7bc87010d3c878f

on August 12, 2016
at 01:13 PM

I don't think that grain are bad for health as far as you use it minimum. What do you think? 

0
D3dafb602c2ef9c6c7a8733696326482

(110)

on August 12, 2016
at 08:38 AM

Paleo diet researcher Staffan Lindeberg made the following observation in his book «Food and western disease»:

 

«Richard Fiennes, a veterinary pathologist, noted that mammals and birds (mice, rats, passerines, ostriches, etc.) which subsist on grass seeds are typically resistant to atherosclerosis when they are fed grain-based, atherogenic food, while non-seed eaters (primates, pigs, guinea pigs, parrots, etc.) are more susceptible 519. Therefore, he postulated more than 40 years ago that cereals could contribute to atherosclerosis among Homo sapiens and other non-adapted species. Coronary atherosclerosis among free-ranging elephants has already been discussed. In laboratory animal experiments, atherosclerosis has developed in non-seed eaters which were raised on grain-based, low-fat diets71,844,1515,1730,1934. Unfortunately, the feed in such animal experiments was almost exclusively based on cereals, and no study controlled for cereal intake, a fact that makes comparisons difficult.»

 

It may well be that there are certain anti-nutrients in grains that promote atherosclerosis, but it seems more likely that it is the high phosphorus of whole grains that´s the main problem. > 700 mg phosphorus/2000 kcal has been linked to increased mortality and it has been shown that people with kidney disease (being unable to rid the body of excess phosphorus), develop massive atherosclerosis.

 

For example, in a study mortality was reduced from 70% to 6% in rats with kidney disease when diet was changed from high phosphorus to low phosphorus. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-04-phosphate-diet-deaths-heart-problems.html#nRlv

 

And, in another study: «The CT scans showed calcifications of the coronary arteries in two-thirds of the CKD patients. Ninety-five percent of the patients had phosphorus levels within the normal range—between 2.5 and 4.5 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Even within this normal range, patients with higher phosphorus levels were more likely to have vascular calcification. For each 1 mg/dL increase in phosphorus level, the risk of coronary artery calcification increased by 21 percent» (http://phys.org/news/2008-12-high-phosphorus-linked-coronary-calcification.html)

 

Even Loren Cordain suggests in his original paleo diet book that atherosclerosis was present among two female mummies (age 40-50) found in Alaska, which he seems to blame on saturated fat intake among these inuits. His point was that these people hardly ate any plant foods, so no grains, legumes etc, yet they suffered from athersclerosis. However I think his assumptions are a bit flawed, because the saturated fat content of their food was relatively low, with the exception of caribou meat. Seal oil has just 12% saturated fats for example, similar as olive oil, according to nutritiondata (additionally they ate walrus, whale, salmon etc, all relatively low in saturated fats). Their problems may as well have been about excessive amounts of phosphorus from high intake of animal foods, which was not balanced out by alkaline minerals from plant foods, and perhaps an excess of fats in general.

 

The conclusion, anyway, is to eat refined grains instead of whole grains, as this removes much of the anti-nutrients and phosphorus. 2000 kcal of oats provides 2700 mg phosphorus, while 2000 kcal of white rice only 650 mg. And it´s worth noting that some of the longest living people (measured by life expectancy at birth and number of centenarians per capita), like those in Japan, Italy, Spain and France, eat only refined grains. I doubt the Japanese would live longer if they replaced their white rice with brown rice.

 

For some long living population groups, like mentioned in the Blue Zone-book, whole grain intake can be high, but animal food intake is low, so overall phosphate intake is not too high (and bioavailability of this phosphorus is lower than from animal foods), and it is additionally balanced out by large quantities of vegetables, and some fruits. Phosphorus is after all one of the most important minerals, and on a very low animal food diet, it may actually be advantageous to obtain some from whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. The Blue Zone guy probably makes the wrong assumption that to live long one must avoid animal foods. This could be true for the whole grain eating populations, however. Adding large quantities of meat and dairy on top of an already high phosphorus diet from whole grains, may increase mortality for these groups.

 

In his book, Lindeberg also mentions how a very low fat diet vegetarian type diet could reverse atherosclerosis:

 

"In the Lifestyle Heart Trial, 28 highly motivated atherosclerotic human subjects were apparently able to reverse the process of coronary atherosclerosis by means of a vegetarian diet that was extremely low in fat and salt1359,1360. The diet was based on vegetables, fruits, legumes, unprocessed cereals (primarily grains other than wheat) and egg white. The reported drop in fat intake was from 30 E% to less than 10 E%."

 

Worth noting is that egg whites are virtually free of phosphorus. Same goes for gelatine (and some people believe that drinking a lot of chicken stock leads to a long life). In the people with kidney disease it is shown that while a reduction in phosphorus reduce mortality, an increase in protein by itself can do the same. So the clue could be to select protein foods that have a low amount of (bioavailable) phosphorus relative to protein, such as lentils, muscle meats, egg whites and gelatine (and stay away from milk or hard cheese).

 

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19483)

on August 11, 2016
at 04:57 PM

Yes.  Grains are inherently bad for humans, but only to a small degree and only through repeated exposure over many years.

Plants don't want to be eaten, so they develop toxins which are harmful to their predators.  The only exception is fruit, but even then there are some fruits which are poisonous

The seeds in fruit are usually protected against digestion, and in return for a free meal, the plant gets to propagate its seeds further away from itself, the seed being pooped out in a convenient package along with free fertilizer from the animal that ate it.

In many cases the contents of plants can be very beneficial to us - some through a hormetic response. For example, humans can eat cocoa (chocolate), garlic, onions, vanilla, and in their pure forms, these foods are very beneficial to us.  Feed the same to your dog, or cat, and you'll soon have a dead pet. This is because our organs can detoxify the components of these plants that might cause harm and at the same time profit from their beneficial properties.  But your dog or cat cannot, and they will be poisoned by them.

Plants produce many beneficial substances which inherently harmless too, but they do this for their own use, not for us.

Grains are not fruits, the plant hasn't evolved to want you to eat it.  Instead it has evolved toxins to prevent you from eating it.  Some animals such as birds and rodents have developed resistance to these toxins and cat eat grain seeds without consequence.  So as plants evolve new toxins, rodents and birds will develop new countermeasures.  Unlike birds and rodents which usually have a much smaller lifespan than humans, we've not deveoped countermeasures and may suffer.

Almost all grains signal zonulin which opens up the tight junctions in our small intestine allowing large, undigested proteins to enter our blood stream.  This causes our immune system to react with inflammation in the area.  This prevents proper absorption of nutrients.

But the undigested proteins that made their way into the bloodstream also trigger an immune response and you may wind up with all sorts of allergies and food sensitivies.  If you find yourself with a number of these all of a sudden, you likely have a leaky gut.

In the case of gluten/gliadin containing grains, the amino acid sequence in these is very short, and as these molecules travel throughout the body and land on various tissues, they may cause the immune system to misrecognize them and instead recognize our own tissues randomly as foreign, and that's how you wind up with an autoimmune disease.

It's not that one serving of wheat will cause disease, it's that our bodies are mostly immune from the harmful effect of grains, but with constant exposure and lots of time, the odds increase that you'll wind up with an autoimmune disease.  Usually younger people are fine due to the amount of expusre, and randomly, usuaally by the age of 40, enough damage accumulates to cause big huge problems.

Even non-glutenous containing grains such as oats have been shown to cause issues with celiacs and should be avoided.  The only safe grain would be white rice as it's proteins are mostly in its outer hull which has been removed.

For a good time spend sometime on this site:

0
Medium avatar

(10601)

on August 09, 2016
at 04:34 PM

No. They are not perfect foods but most people are adapted to thrive on them.

 

Dobzhansky states that evolution is a linear process, and in his experiments with fruit flies it doesn't take very many generations to adapt. The same is true of breeding animals for specific traits, as Darwin observed with greyhounds and other dog varieties. The ability to digest plant proteins such as gluten and milk proteins such as casein are human adaptations since Paleo times. They are heritable therefore evolutionary steps.

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