As you all know I am a big fan of the grain free lifestyle – I don’t eat any bread or basically any wheat based products. I also choose not to eat any of the gluten-free speciality stuff either as I figure it’s the same as low-fat – you take one ingredient out and replace it with a whole host of others, making it even more processed than the original!
Like most people eating wheat-free or primal or paleo or any of the other non-mainstream diets I get challenged all the time about why I don’t want a sandwich, how bad it must be for me, how eating meat all the time is unhealthy, how weird I am! The fact that I feel physically better than I have ever felt and no longer get the horrible ups and downs with my blood sugar and my energy levels doesn’t seem to count for anything when you try and explain it to people!
So it was great to come across another fab Mark’s Daily Apple post that tackles the whole grain free / primal diet and answers the typical questions and comments we all get every day!
“Oh, that’s a low-carb thing/bit like Atkins?”
Background: Worldwide, grains represent a relatively easy and cheap source of carbohydrates but they also contain “anti-nutrients,” proteins and lectins and other nutritional factors that impair digestion, perforate the intestinal lining, increase inflammation, and can even exacerbate auto-immune diseases. Since the purpose of life for all species is to reproduce and grain has to make it into the ground in order to germinate and grow into a plant, it doesn’t want to be eaten, and as a protection against being consumed by other species (like us!) it employs these anti-nutrients to dissuade predators from consuming it.
Response: “Sort of but it’s more than that. Some animals have adapted quite well to the anti-nutrients released by grains but overall humans haven’t adapted so well. I choose not to eat them.”
Background: Sort of, yes for thousands of years bread has been a staple food across the world. It has always been a relatively cheap and filling meal but let’s be honest the bread that the Romans ate bears no resemblance to the bread available to consumers today. Grains provide cheap products that are packed full of calories together with some other nutrients and to be honest, the western diet is so compromised that most people don’t recognise the downside of eating grains – they don’t identify the side effects they have with eating bread or grain products.
And let’s be honest, if you are starving in Africa or somewhere, a few minor side effects are infinitely preferable to starvation!
Response: “Lots of people in the world DO exist eating a diet of mainly grains because its cheap and relatively plentiful but that doesn’t mean its the right thing or the best thing for us all.”
“Cutting grains out of your diet is hard for the first few weeks but after that you feel so fab you wonder why you didn’t do it before!”
Background: Newsflash, fibre is found in so much more than bread, pasta etc!
And let’s be honest, don’t we all know by now that some of the best sources of fibre are found in fruits, roots, nuts, and green vegetables.
Response: “I get my fibre from fruits and vegetables.”
Explanation: What about it? If you think about our lives right now, the obesity rate is the highest it’s ever been, and almost everyone who’s not obese is “just” overweight. Diabetes has been on the rise for years and many people now live out the end of their lives relying on a complicated cocktail of medicines and aids supplied to add a few more years of life with no real understanding of “quality”.
It is also widely recognised that Western governments have been hugely influenced by powerful industry lobby groups to preserve the place of sugars or grains in Government food recommendation so if the recommendations are not unbiased and society, which is meant to be following them, is getting fatter and unhealthier, does that mean that they are still valid?
Response: “What about it?!”
Background: This is always one that people ask, they just seem incapable of thinking outside the box! What about an omlette or bacon and eggs or steak and salad?
The one that people seem to have the biggest issue getting their heads around is not eating cereal for breakfast – thanks to the power of marketing, branding and adverts we have been programmed to believe that the only way to eat breakfast is a bowl of cereal, milk and sugar but there are so many other, better breakfasts that will fill you up and deliver a better set of nutrients. What about salmon and scrambled eggs? Omlette filled with tomatoes, ham and spinach or my favourite, steak, eggs and veg?
Response: “There are so many other options, think creatively!”
Background: The voice of reason! Personally, I don’t believe that anything I choose NOT to eat leads to any deprivation – how can not eating a food that makes me and many others feel ill, bloated, tired etc be any form of deprivation? And being realistic, I am choosing NOT to follow directions from marketing giants and am eating the foods I want and my body needs at a time when I want them and not because some huge conglomerate decided that THIS is an appropriate breakfast etc!
Response: “When I eat grains, I feel terrible, bloated and ill. Besides, does a huge steak sound like deprivation to you?”
Background: Part of that is because you may not know whether you have a problem now but also because your body has got used to eating that way and the usual signals it sends to your brain are dulled. You know how as we all get older we all think that “things just happen”? We get aches, pains, a bit sick, feel less sharp and the view is reinforced when you see the same thing happening to everyone else around you (umm, just think, how many of them are also eating grains?)
Response: “I felt the same way until I tried cutting them out for 30 days. All those little niggling aches and pains just disappeared and to be honest, feel better than ever.”
Background: There is so much more to nutrients than just the headline figure on the back of a pack of bread and other factors such as absorption should be taken into account.
As we saw earlier grains are often full of anti-nutritional components such as phytic acid, which binds to minerals in the grain and prevents their absorption in the gut. Many of the minerals we really need including calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron are susceptible to phytic acid and research suggests that cultures who rely on grains for the bulk of their macronutrients and micronutrients display deficiencies in these and other minerals.
Response: “When you read the nutritional content it only tells you part of the story so what you see listed isn’t what you’re actually absorbing in your body. I eat a really varied diet and get my minerals from plants, fruits, and animals, which our bodies can actually absorb.”
Most people ask questions, challenge etc because they don’t understand and maybe, just maybe, that by providing a bit more background you can help one more person to understand how they can improve their heath! Remember, we should all share what we know, after all you wouldn’t be reading this if you hadn’t started to change how you felt about food, health or fitness!
Based on an original post by Marks Daily Apple