Looking to make healthier choices? Perfect! This is Day 7 of 30 of my 30 Day Paleo Plan. For more information on 30 Day Paleo as well as 30 Minute Paleo, check out the get started page. Post each day on your 30 Day Paleo journey to Twitter or Instagram and show me by tagging me with @dranthonygustin — get after it!
By now, you have surely heard of the often demonized gluten. This post is for you if you’ve ever wondered what exactly gluten is, what problems it can cause, or whether gluten is really the only problem with whole grains.
Gluten is the primary protein found in wheat and other similar plants. It provides a nice sticky, doughy consistency that makes wheat based products so chewy. When gluten reaches your gut, your body knows it is not supposed to be there, so it mounts an immune response. However, the attack is very imprecise and scattershots all over your intestines. So your body attacks more than just the gluten- it also destroys your gut.
To fully grasp the devastating impact this can have on your health, it is important to understand the gut’s purpose. Your gut plays a huge role in allowing your body to utilize what it needs from all the food you’re consuming. The gut also is full of bacteria that really do all of the digesting for you. There are very specific mechanisms in the gut that recognize what to allow into your bloodstream. The gut is tightly bound so that in a healthy gut, only the good stuff gets into the bloodstream. When your body accidentally destroys your gut, anything will get into your bloodstream.
When there are things in your bloodstream that shouldn’t be there, your body responds the same way it did to the presence of gluten in your gut- it attacks everything. This time, however, it doesn’t just attack your gut. It attacks where your blood is – everywhere. When people say they have “autoimmune” conditions, this is exactly what they mean. The body is attacking itself.
When your body is attacked everywhere, it needs to repair itself. What is responsible for repair? Our good old friend cholesterol comes into play. That’s right- high cholesterol happens when the body needs repair. So why are we foolishly punishing the hard repair workers by prescribing cholesterol lowering medications? Wouldn’t it make more sense to determine why those repair substances are there in the first place and address the underlying attack? This might be a great question for your doctor next time you’re in.
Want yet another major reason you don’t want to be eating gluten and other associated bad guys? They attach to the water absorbing cells in your joints. When functioning properly, those cells help to cushion your joints. When gluten attaches, it leads to dry, non-lubricated joints. When people take glucosamine and chondroitin for joints, this is what they’re trying to prevent.
It can be tempting to resort to gluten free grains as an alternative, but these carry their own set of problems. First, many gluten free snacks and products are heavily processed in order to strip the gluten (Hint: Read Day One). Second, gluten isn’t the only protein found in wheat that the body recognizes as harmful and tries to attack. Your body will mount the same response in trying to process other components found in whole grains, such as prolamins, saponins, phytates and lectins.
And yes, quinoa is a grain.
Grains do contain some nutrients. But the good does not outweigh the bad. There is nothing beneficial in whole grains that you can’t get from eating a variety of properly sourced meats and vegetables. There ARE, however, a lot of anti-nutrients and inflammation sources that you CAN get.
Want another reason you don’t need whole grains? They are unnecessary filler foods. Think about it – you never really eat plain dry bread, plain pasta, or lone tortillas, do you? Most grains are a conduit to eating something else. So just eat the “something else”. There is always an easy way to remove these completely unnecessary filler foods from your diet.
Want a burger? Easy, just ask for no bun or wrapped in lettuce.
Craving pasta? OR are you just craving what you’re going to be putting ON the pasta? If that is the case, have an extra helping of meat and sauce and ditch the unnecessary grains.
Taco night? Now it is taco salad night! I doubt you were going you eat those tortillas plain anyway.
Sub out the whole grain based filler food for something that doesn’t have anti-nutrients that will destroy your gut and your body will thank you.