Grains: Friend or Foe to Your Health?
For the majority of the population, grain based products are a staple and the thought of avoiding pasta, bread and rice for any period of time does not comprehend. But let me tell you, in my life long experience with gut problems and ongoing adrenal issues (due to a mosquito virus) I am 100% converted letting grains go from my diet and feel all the more healthy for it!
At the beginning, giving up my gluten free toast for breakfast seemed like the ultimate punish, however, after a period of reprogramming, my idea of what breakfast looks like eventually shifted and I didn’t miss bread at all, in fact, now find I find the idea of throwing eggs on top of a slice of toast to be somewhat too much… and on the rare occasion when I do indulge in a slice, it doesn’t take long to realise why I no longer have it in my life.
So, what are the health problems caused by consuming grains and why are we better off ditching them?
Phytic Acid –
Grains contain very high levels of phytic acid, or phytates, an anti nutrient found in all plant based foods. These little suckers bind to minerals and eliminate the minerals from our body, which inevitably results in mineral deficiencies including iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium. Mineral deficiency is linked to osteoporosis, skin issues, muscle cramping, PMS, fatigue, anemia, poor fertility, reduced immunity and many other health & hormone issues.
These guys are another antinutrient found in grains. Lectins are a defense tool found in all plant based foods in order for it to protect it’s survival and reproduce. Lectins irritate our digestive system, so we don’t digest the plant’s seeds. They can damage our gut lining (every heard of leaky gut?), impair nutrient absorption, compromise gut flora and interfere with our immune system…
The high amount of carbohydrates we consume through eating grains has been found to deplete us of serotonin – a hormone found in our digestive tract, pineal gland, blood platelets and central nervous system, which is responsible for feelings of wellbeing and happiness. 90% of serotonin is stored in the gut and used to regulate intestinal movements. It also works as our bodies own naturally produced antidepressant. So you can imagine what goes on when our serotonin levels are compromised…
The large majority of people are not active enough to burn all the glucose we consume in carbohydrates as part of a grain based diet and therefore, it ends up getting stored as glycogen, to be used by our muscles and liver, and the rest as triglycerides, or fat, in the fat cells around ours waists (aka muffin top) and all the other areas we don’t want fat to be stored.
Consuming carbohydrates in excess to what our body requires can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain and obesity, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers amongst other things. The key is not to eliminate carbs altogether but rather, focus on consuming lower GI foods so the body can release insulin slower, keeping us satiated for longer.
Ultimately we are all chasing ways to feel our best and most certainly to look our best…
Plain and simply, we want to keep our cortisol levels (the stress hormone that gets released when we consume too much sugar) low, through minimising the amount of cheap carbohydrates entering into our blood stream. This allows us to get off that blood sugar roller coaster ride we experience when our diet is too rich in carbohydrates & simple sugars, and on the road to steady energy levels and more energy for life.
Explore New Things –
For those of you that love your bread & pasta, I encourage you to have fun exploring other options. Many of my clients now enjoy their spaghetti bolognese with zucchini pasta, or cauliflower puree, tacos wrapped in lettuce cups, and banana bread made from almond meal… There is a plethora of incredible websites with great recipes to get you cooking & baking up a grain free storm!!
Patience = Happiness –
Once you have felt the benefits of living grain free (give yourself a good month of a grain free diet before you decide how you feel), you mayl find it to be a very easy and sustainable way to look after your digestive health and of course your physical & mental wellbeing as a result.
Wishing you great gut health,
What do you think? Comments welcome below...