Paleo Food - Why Grains Are Bad For You

Why Grains are Bad For You

For over 10,000 years humans have been eating grains. So you’d think that they must be good for us. You’d be wrong.

10,000 years is only 3% of human existence so for the other 97% of the time, we didn’t eat grains. The human digestive system just isn’t designed to digest grains.

Paleo Diet - Wheat Free

Of course, you’d be forgiven for overlooking this after all it forms the basis of most food pyramids with the US government recommending that we enjoy between 6 and 11 servings a day. In fact the consumption of wheat per capita in the USA is more than any other food eaten.

Obviously, there is no relationship there to the obesity epidemic that we are now seeing in most western countries!

Of course, grains are cheap, easy to produce and profitable for the farmers and governments that export massive amounts of them.

One thing in the favor of grains is that they are a very cheap way to feed a developing nation. Also, grains are mainly used to feed humans as they can be stored for years in their natural (kernel) form. Trust me eating grains is better than starvation.

Oats - Not An Approved Paleo Food

Did Cavemen Eat Grains?

There are a couple of points to consider here.

The first of these being that grains have been found in the stomachs of our primitive ancestors.  Although rare, and certainly we aren’t sure how important grains were to them, they weren’t off limits.

If you think about it at this time our cavemen ancestors weren’t having to contend with trying to lose weight or deal with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  Nor did they worry about following a healthy diet, rather they were more worried about ways of staying alive!

Secondly. there are some people who find including grains in their diet isn’t an issue.  This is true for some people who come from certain areas of the Mediterranean region, where inclusion of bread in the diet is common that they have lower levels of grain intolerance compared to other parts of the world. 

Refined Grains Versus Whole Grains

As you will soon learn when it comes why grains are bad for you just like many other foods the various types of grains aren’t created equal.  This is why it is important that you clearly understand the difference between refined and whole grains. 

Whole grains are made up of three components. 

  • Bran – This is the grains hard outer layer and comprises fiber, antioxidants and minerals.
  • Germ – This is the grains nutrient rich core and is where carbs, fat, protein, minerals, vitamins, various phytonutrients and antioxidants can be found.  This is also the part of the plant that actually creates a new plant.
  • Endosperm – This is the largest part of any grain we eat and is made up mainly of carbohydrates (that come in the form of starch) along with protein. 

As for refined grains these will have had both the germ and bran removed so all that is left is the endosperm.  What you will discover is that of all the various types of grains humans eat today, it only tends to be oats that are eaten whole.  Any other grain you eat will generally have been refined.  

However I don’t believe that anyone reading this is likely to be anywhere close to starvation, so why do you still eat grains?

Apart from obesity,  diabetes is another plague that is affecting western civilization.

Insulin is used by the body to regulate blood sugar levels.

After you consume any sugar or carbohydrates (which then turns into sugar) insulin gets to work.  When there is too much sugar or carbs for the body to deal with, it then stores these as fat… whoops!

Too much Insulin can inflame the cell walls and lead to insulin immunity,  which in turn causes Diabetes… whoops!

Can you imagine getting in your car after each meal and putting your foot to the floor and giving it full revs for about an hour? It wouldn’t be long before something broke.

Paleo Diet - Why Grains Are Bad For You

Now imagine insulin is your engine.

The main source of carbohydrates in our diets are grains

It would be bad enough if that was the only issue with grains it’s not

We still have to deal with the Unholy trinity… Gluten, Lectin, and Phytates

This is what Mark Sisson has to say about them

Some animals are clearly adapted to grain consumption. Birds, rodents, and some insects can deal with the anti-nutrients. Humans, however, cannot. Perhaps if grains represented a significant portion of our ancestral dietary history, things might be a bit different. Some of us can digest dairy, and we’ve got the amylase enzyme present in our saliva to break down starches if need be, but we simply do not have the wiring necessary to mitigate the harmful effects of lectins, gluten, and phytate.

Lectins are bad. They bind to insulin receptors, attack the stomach lining of insects, bind to human intestinal lining, and they seemingly cause leptin resistance. And leptin resistance predicts a “worsening of the features of the metabolic syndrome independently of obesity.” Fun stuff, huh?

Gluten might be even worse. Gluten, found in wheat, rye, and barley, is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. Around 1 percent of the population are celiacs, people who are completely and utterly intolerant of any gluten. In celiacs, any gluten in the diet can be disastrous. We’re talking compromised calcium and vitamin D3 levels, hyperparathyroidism, bone defects. Really terrible stuff. And it gets worse: Just because you’re not celiac doesn’t mean you aren’t susceptible to the ravages of gluten. As Stephan highlights, one study showed that 29 percent of asymptomatic (read: not celiac) people nonetheless tested positive for anti-gliadin IgA in their stool. Anti-gliadin IgA is an antibody produced by the gut, and it remains there until it’s dispatched to ward off gliadin — a primary component of gluten. Basically, the only reason anti-gliadin IgA ends up in your stool is because your body sensed an impending threat – gluten. If gluten poses no threat, the anti-gliadin IgA stays in your gut. And to think, most Americans eat this stuff on a daily basis.

Phytates are a problem, too, because they make minerals bio-unavailable (so much for all those healthy vitamins and minerals we need from whole grains!), thus rendering null and void the last, remaining argument for cereal grain consumption.


Why not try to give up all grains for a week as part of your new lifestyle?  You’ll feel better, you’ll sleep better and you’ll lose weight. What have you got to lose!

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