Going Against the Grain: Why be Grain Free?
Now here I am to tell you about my little journey into grain free living.
This is a rather contentious subject. Whenever I talk about eating grain free I always get some sort of confused or horrified reaction, ‘but thats a whole food group you cant just cut it out!’, ‘arent wholegrains good for you and contain vitamins that we need‘ or simply ‘what do you eat then?‘
Now this is a rather large subject so today will be just be a brief affair with the whole subject.
Now to most people the idea of giving up grains is ludicrous. I would have agreed with you about 2/3 years ago, surely cutting a whole food group is not beneficial, its wrong, extreme and unhealthy, that would have been my own response. However I have slowly been convinced, and now experience the benefits of this choice.
Walk with (theoretically speaking , although I do love a good walk) me, age 15 I am diagnosed with IBS and a host of other unexplainable symptoms and cut out wheat for the first time. I remember feeling a bit cleaner, less bloated and generally much better to what I had been. Fast forward to early twenties, still had persisting symptoms of bloating, diarrhea and fatigue so decided to give gluten free a go* , again began to feel much better, more energy, bowels normalised and looked pregnant less often (the dreaded bloat).
Then I became aware of people who were grain free, what a novel concept!? After doctors suspecting a IBD (inflammatory bowel disease like Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis etc) I searched out healing diets that have helped Crohns sufferers or other IBD as there was no way I wanted to be put on steroids ( although praise the lord though the tests showed no disease!!)
During this time whilst reading and learning about a grain free life, I also tried more traditional grain preparations (like those suggested in this brilliant book) as I had also read about eating according to your blood type and I am supposedly meant to eat more carbs and grains (type A). So I gave that a go, making my own yeast starter, rye bread, fermenting my grains, sprouting them and eating them daily (although only once a day) and the result? I felt more tired, more bloated and just not as much get up and go, the tiredness was like bone tired. Weird.
Why? All grains contain lectin and pyhtic acid which are anti-nutrients, that is they rob us or prevent the absorption of vitamins in our body. For example Vitamin B6 found in grains is a great and needed vitamin , but when in grains due to other components only 25% is absorbed , as opposed to 100% of vitamin B6 absorbed from animal based products.^ So although grains may possess some minerals and vitamins (except vitamin c or B12 and no vitamin unique to grains – ie that we can’t get elsewhere in a more bio-available way) what is really important is how bio-available they are to our bodies, can we get at them and absorb all their goodness, and unfortunately the presence of phytic acid, lectin and gluten ruin our potential grainy vitamin party!
Phytic acid is a mineral blocker which prevents things like magnesium, calcium , iron zinc etc from being absorbed which leads to a whole host of problems. Lectins are a toxins that inhibit the repair of the GI tract and lovely gluten stick and attempt to break down the micro villi of our intestines which leads to an ‘unprotected’ gut lining and large particles of food passing to our blood stream – which are well trained bodies react to these float food particles in our blood as toxic/foreign = toxic bodies/leaky gut/ food intolerances.
Also I read GAPS, where Dr Natasha Campbell-Macbride explains more about the effect of grains on our health, but I will share more about my foray with GAPS at another point, as the urge to make pancakes has come upon me (grain free ones of course!)
But this has been my journey so far, wheat free, then gluten free and now grain free and I can safely say I feel all the better for it and been convinced by all the research I have done.
So why you you try going wheat/gluten/grain free? Try it for a few weeks and see how you feel and remember small sustainable steps are so much better than a fleeting extreme change (and keep an eye on my Healthy Happy Day of Eating post for meal ideas).
*please oh please don’t go gluten free and then proceed to just buy ‘gluten free’ products, please just read the ingredients and realised they are normally filled with other toxic ingredients that could make you sick, plus they taste gross!