Are Grains Good or Bad?

By  Raluca  Schachter

Guest writer for  Wake Up World

Grains became one of the hot topics today in the nutritional and natural health world. People don’t understand how come a food that their whole family used to eat for so long became “bad” all of a sudden. Reality is that problems like  gluten sensitivities, obesity and celiac disease  are on the rise and directly related to grain consumption, especially processed grain. Sensitivities became so severe in some people that they can’t even tolerate soaps containing gluten on their bodies.

All kind of high protein, no-grain diets advise against grain consumption based on various health theories, one being that grains are a pretty new food and our digestive system didn’t evolve in order to process it, hence all the health problems.

High carb diets believers on the other hand argue that a low carb diet can be really hard on your hormones, especially on your thyroid, so it’s to be avoided.

But then, according to the USDA, grains should constitute a sizeable sector of our diet in the form of “bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.” And this has actually no nutritional theories behind it in my opinion, but just the opportunity to make profits for a big processed food industry.

Grains are full of  toxic lectins, phytates and oxalates, alpha-amalyase and trypsin inhibitors, and endocrine disrupters. Some say if you sprout them you can still consume them, some say it doesn’t matter the form, they can still damage your digestive system and your health.

Are you confused and tired yet? I bet you are! So, where does the truth lie?

The truth lies within  anthropology and genetics. Let’s see how:

Grain Around The World

To understand what humans need nutritionally you must understand the environment  in which our development occurred. If I think about my own heritage, then I can say that my Romanian ancestors used to consume considerable amounts of millet and wheat for thousands of years, yet having a high longevity and enjoying a robust health, like most ancient cultures.

The human body was developed through  our physical and cultural responses to our environment. By looking at  well-established scientific laws and theories of the science of anthropology,  the only conclusion to the question of human nutrition is that  there is far too  much genetic diversity in the human species to logically argue for any type of  one-size-fits all nutrition plan that will make every person that follows it  healthy.(1)

In the book  ”Nutritional and Physical Degeneration” by Weston A. Price, DDS.  Dr. Price details his studies of 14 indigenous cultures throughout the world.
What he found  throughout the globe were extremely healthy populations, with no incidence of degenerative disease. These peoples ate foods  natural to the environment in which they were born and  the types of food sources varied considerably among cultures. But  Price also found that  as soon as people adopted modern foods they started to show signs of deficient  development and tooth caries would increase rampantly in the exposed native  populations.

Over thirty years of research and clinical study in metabolic individuality helped us understand today that  if our genes are like the indigenous Swiss, then grains  are not bad for us and we can thrive on them.  But if we have genes like the Eskimo, then red meat and high saturated fat will not contribute to cancer and heart disease but will help prevent it or even reverse it if we develop it. Taken further, we’ll feel terrible on a high carb diet  even if it is organic, whole, natural food and we may even  develop  cancer, diabetes, arthritis by eating that kind of  diet.  But the reverse is also true. If we have genes like the high carb  eating Quechuas –  80% primarily from potatoes, wheat, corn, quinoa, barley, then omitting grains and eating like the Eskimo will be devastating.

As you see,  one “grain” doesn’t fit all! The world is constantly changing and organisms must compete for limited  resources in order to survive. They tend to change slowly from  generation to generation and individuals of a species who are better able to find  resources and mate more successfully are more likely to pass on their genes to  future generations.

All indigenous cultures thrived on whole, natural foods. But the whole foods that were naturally available to the different cultures were different because they were determined by geographical location and climate.  And, it’s these differences that gave rise to differences in genetically-based requirements for foods, biochemical/metabolic individuality, or what we have classified and refer to as  Metabolic Types ®.

“Good” or “Bad” Food? There Is No Such A Thing!

“Through the perspective of  Metabolic Typing, we know that  when it comes to whole, natural, organic foods, there are no “good” foods and there are no “bad” foods – except in terms of the metabolic individuality of each person.”

Metabolic Typing ® can be said to be the clinical application of what Weston Price found in his travels to indigenous cultures.  What Metabolic Typing ® reveals is that the concepts of good  and bad  and right  and wrong  are  relative  and must be defined according to each individual’s metabolic individuality. Everyone needs proteins, fats and carbohydrates, BUT the  kinds  of proteins, fats and carbs that you’ll thrive on AND the macronutrient ratios  that you’ll thrive on (at each meal and snack) are based in your genes and are expressed clinically as your  Functional Metabolic Type ®.

In order to achieve satiety, in order to eliminate sweet cravings, in order to resolve health issues, some Metabolic Types ®  need some grains in their diets.“  William Wolcott, Founder of the Healthexcel System of Metabolic Typing

There are many scientists and health practitioners that claim grains are just “bad”. But these kind of findings are based on research that is no different than the research stating meat causes cancer, or saturated fat causes heart disease. It may apply in the lab, on a specific segment of population, but it does definitely not apply to clinical reality, it does not apply to everyone!

One Man’s Grain IS Another One’s Poison

In an era where  we literary live in a “genetic melting pot”, where different cultures coalesce, the concept of  metabolic individuality  or variation becomes more important than ever.
Dr. Roger Williams who studied biochemical individuality extensively, showed that people, while very similar in the overall  view of genetics, are actually very different on the  individual level. He studied the difference between people’s internal anatomy,  their enzymatic patterns, their endocrine variations, and blood vitamin/mineral  variations. He found considerable variation from person to person often with a  hundred fold or more difference for the various compounds he was testing for.(1)

Taking now grains as an example,  in metabolisms where the autonomic nervous system is dominant, grains have a mild effect.  They do not really stimulate or inhibit strongly either the sympathetic or parasympathetic system, unlike vegetables, for example, which due to their high potassium and carb content, stimulate the parasympathetic system.

In metabolisms where the oxidative system is dominant, being a starchy carb, grains will tend to increase the oxidation rate. Which will usually translate into feeling hungry soon after eating a bowl of oats, and experiencing sweet cravings. And depending on how they are prepared, their phytate content could lower calcium and increase the oxidation rate from that perspective, as well, affecting certain metabolisms more than others.

These are general guidelines since we are all so different on a biochemical level. A food / diet that might make a person feel well, might have no effect in a different person and may make a third person feel worse.

The Problems With Grains Today: Processed and Altered

Do you think the type of wheat people consume today is the same with the type consumed hundreds of years and even thousands of years ago? Absolutely not. The sad reality is that people have become accustomed to the mass-produced, gooey, devitalized, and nutritionally  deficient breads and baked goods that are sold today in stores and they have little recollection of how real bread should taste.  Chemical preservatives allow bread to be shipped long distances and to remain on the shelf for  many days without spoiling and without refrigeration.

Botonists have identified almost 30,000 varieties of wheat. But with the advent of modern farming, the number of varieties of wheat in common use has been  drastically reduced. Today, just a few varieties account for 90 percent of the wheat grown in the  world.

“When grown in well-nourished, fertile soil, whole wheat is rich in vitamin E and B complex, many  minerals, including calcium and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Proper growing and milling  methods are necessary to preserve these nutrients and prevent rancidity. Unfortunately, due to  the indiscretions inflicted by contemporary farming and processing on modern wheat, many  people have become intolerant or even allergic to this nourishing grain. These indiscretions  include  depletion of the soil through the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other  chemicals, high-heat milling, refining and improper preparation, such as extrusion.” (2)

The pesticides used function as xenoestrogens, foreign estrogen that disrupt  hormonal balance and may be a contributing factor to a number of health conditions.  Cycocel is a  synthetic hormone that is commonly applied to wheat. Add to all this irradiation to control insects and genetical manipulation to achieve “desirable” changes, such as regulated germination and an  increased ability to survive in cold weather. Heat damage is also a serious problem that results in  denaturation of the protein in grains.

“Flour was originally produced by grinding grains between large stones. The final product, 100  percent stone-ground whole-wheat flour, contained everything that was in the grain, including  the germ, fiber, starch and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.  Since grinding stones are not fast enough for mass-production, the industry uses high-speed,  steel roller mills that eject the germ and the bran.  High-speed mills reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and this  heat destroys vital nutrients and creates rancidity in the bran and the germ. Dozens of dough conditioners and preservatives go into modern bread, as well as toxic  ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and soy flour.” (2)

It’s not hard to see why and how people could consume grains throughout history without experiencing negative effects, but they became so problematic in our modern times.

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  • http://www.allnaturalremedies.ca Rich

    It’s like anything else….everything in moderation

  • http://Website Mr. P

    Everyone needs a well balanced diet of fruit, veggies, grains, herbs, spices, fish, and lean meats. Natural foods, not the heavily processed crap with chemicals and additives you find in “Convenient Packaging.”

    • Aly C

      Mr. P: This is true, with the exception of meats (excluding fish). There is not a ‘need’ to eat the meat of animals – and as it is, only fish in small quantities. I’m glad you left dairy products out, b/c those are least necessary. But you hit the nail on the head with “convenient packaging.”

  • http://Website Suleyman

    Finally, someone who sounds like what they are talking about instead of being fanatical one way or another.
    Eat what works for you and most important of all eat as much unprocessed organic food as possible and you really cannot go wrong.

  • http://www.naturalremedyshop.ca Natural Remedies

    Quinoa is one of my favorite grains. I was recently reading that the explosion of popularity of Quinoa in North American culture has meant that in places where they grow it, and where it has been a staple food for hundreds of years, it is now too expensive for the people there to be able to afford. This is making them move to less healthy grains that are less expensive. :0(

  • http://nerdwellness.com Mirza

    I feel better without grains especially gluten grains,but on another side I see everyone is different 😉