Many people suffer with health problems after eating foods made from grain. You may be someone who does too and perhaps you don’t know the real reason why. Here are some of the substances contained in grains that are known to cause problems.
Whole Grains and Gluten
The wheat produced today for human consumption has been aggressively hybridized and crossbred.
As the wheat has become genetically tweaked its gluten content has also increased up to as much as 50%.
Gluten is not easy for humans to digest, which means that once consumed, your body has extra strain put on your digestive system.
Gluten consumption can increase the permeability of your intestines which can lead to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome is a loosely-defined condition which can have differing causes and is not even recognized as a real condition by some doctors. If it occurs, dietary components that are not yet completely digested may enter your bloodstream, resulting in several health issues.
There are about 55 diseases which have been associated with gluten consumption. Gluten consumption can increase your risk of inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, osteoporosis, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, and cancer.
There are also studies that link gluten consumption to several psychiatric and neurological diseases such as depression, anxiety, migraines, epilepsy, neuropathy, dementia, schizophrenia, ADHD, autism and eating disorders.
Whole Grains and Phytic Acid
Phytic acid is found in the bran of whole grains. And a high consumption of improperly prepared phytate heavy foods can result in mineral deficiencies, such as magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and calcium. This is particularly true for those with low mineral intakes, including children and people in developing countries where grain based foods make up the majority of the diet.
Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach.
It also inhibits amylase, needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar.
And trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.
People who consume large amounts of grain-based foods are at higher risk of bone-related illnesses such as osteoporosis because of the mineral suppression that occurs.
One way to avoid this problem is by letting the grains sprout before using them. It is through ‘sprouting’ that the grains are able to break down their phytic acid content and make their mineral content available.
Sprouting foods that contain antinutrients like phytic acid (or cooking them in the case of most vegetables) increases absorption of vitamin B-12, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc.
Soaking your seeds or grains can also make them easier to digest as well as decreasing the risk of allergic reactions.
Sprouting also helps to release more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fiber from within the seeds.
While sprouted grains and other nutrient-blocking seeds won’t be completely free from all anti-nutrients after soaking and sprouting, it’s a much better option than eating them unsoaked.
Whole Grains and Lectins
In addition to gluten and phytic acid, grains may also contain lectins that are sugar-binding proteins. In plants, lectins function as natural defenders to protect the plants against parasites and molds. Each time the plant senses any attack from these invaders they counter-attack by immediately binding to the foreign sugar molecules they contain.
However, when these lectins make their way into your digestive system, they do the same thing against sugar molecules in your system.
Unfortunately, this can have a harmful effect because the lining of the digestive system has sugar-containing cells that are crucial for breaking down food.
When lectins attack those sugar containing cells in your digestive system, your immune system retaliates.
Lectins can penetrate the gut wall and circulate throughout the bloodstream where they can bind to any tissue in the body, such as the thyroid, pancreas, and collagen in joints.
This binding can disrupt the function of that tissue and cause white blood cells to attack the lectin-bound tissue, destroying it. This is known as an autoimmune response.
In simple terms, eating grains that contain lectins can set off a chain reaction of an autoimmune response.
This explains why so many degenerative and chronic inflammatory diseases are endemic to populations who regularly consume wheat and wheat-based foods.
Some of these degenerative and chronic inflammatory diseases include:
- arthritis, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis
- high cholesterol
- congestive heart failure
- high blood pressure
- low blood sugar
- cancer, several types including breast
- chronic fatigue
- all forms of IBS, Crohn’s, colitis, celiac
- chronic candida, repeated gut pathogen infections
- malabsorption syndromes
- failure to thrive
- autoimmune diseases such as thyroiditis, lupus, MS, Parkinson’s
- dementia, Alzheimer’s
- hypercortisolemia and hypocortisolemia
- adrenal insufficiency
- post viral syndrome
- post traumatic stress syndrome
- post polio syndrome
- hormonal imbalances - low testosterone, low DHEA, PMS, and peri-menopausal symptoms and PCOS
These lectins may be small, but they are designed by nature to be resistant to any attacks by other living systems so they cannot be broken down. They continue to accumulate until they bind into the tissues and cause interference in many biological processes that are taking place inside our body.
As grains are relatively easy to grow in large volumes they have become an increasingly larger portion of our overall diet. As well as being the major ingredient of many staple foods, they are also used as fillers in many others.
It can be surprisingly difficult to eradicate grains from a modern diet, but if you are suffering from dietary upsets, simply reducing your macro grain sources such as bread and pasta may give you some relief.