For the most part, our bodies are still Caveman models. As strange as it may seem, genetically, we have changed very little since the “modern” human being appeared over 40,000 years ago.
Domesticated grains and their refined by-products like flour, bread and pasta are a very new addition to the human diet. Dr. Richard Kunin, an orthomolecular surgeon from San Francisco says it best, “Grains are really Johnny-come-latelies on the nutritional scene. Meats, fruits, beans, seeds, nuts and vegetables have had a considerably longer historical alliance with the human gut. Almost as if to make up for lost time, grain has deluged man’s diet and this excess increasingly appears to have something to do with common major and minor ailments.”
Grains and grain products are associated with a whole range of health challenges. Sensitivity to grains that contain gluten (the protein fraction of the grain, which gives it its resilient quality), mainly wheat and rye, and to a lesser extent barley, not only cause gluten intolerance, but can develop into full-fledged celiac/sprue disease (an autoimmune disease of the small intestine).
When low-carbs and the Atkins Diet were all the rage in the 1990s, I noticed something very, very interesting. When many of my clients stopped eating carbs, especially grains, they began reporting that their migraines, arthritis, eczema, intestinal gas, bloating, stomach aches, acid reflux, depression, and even IBS started to improve. Ironically, these are often hallmarks of some degree of gluten intolerance.
Gluten and wheat intolerance have been on the rise for the last two decades. In the last decade alone, gluten intolerance levels have increased from 1 in 2,500 worldwide to 1 in 133. In fact, you can now visit the “gluten-free” section in your local grocery store or ask for the gluten-free menu at almost any chain restaurant.
But, what’s to blame?
Toxic pesticides and herbicides may have something to do with it.
A study in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine found that in the mid-1990s almost 100 percent of wheat crops were treated with an unhealthy dose of Round-Up herbicide during the final ripening period to “brown out” the unripe kernals so they aren’t rejected by the big grain brokers and mills.
Could the problem with wheat, gluten or grain sensitivity be how it was grown, processed or even milled, rather than with the grain itself. So in any case, it may be time to start eating like a caveman.
- Stick to complex carbohydrates from legumes and vegetables, such as lentils, chick peas, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, and peas.
- Snack on nuts and seeds instead of bread, muffins and crackers.
- Use flours from tapioca, almonds, or coconut for your baked goods.
- If you can’t live without some kind of grain, substitute brown rice, wild rice, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, teff, or sorghum for gluten-containing wheat, rye and barley. Some people can also tolerate oats; while others cannot–sometimes oats can be contaminated with wheat in the process plant.
- Supplement with probiotics. Disturbed gut flora is usually prevalent with individuals that have any type of grain intolerance.
Have you removed grains from your diet? Share how it’s affected your health – post a comment below.Reference:
DeCava, Judith, LNC, CNC, “Why Can Grains Be Such a Pain?” Price-Pottenger Journal, Spring 2010, 34(1): 6-11 citing Walt Kawecki, “Roundup-Treated Wheat,” Wise Traditions, Fall 2006, 7(3):3; S Gibson, et al, “A Clinical Evaluation of a Wheat-Free Diet,” J Nutritional & Environmental Med, 1995, 5:243-53.