Are Whole Grains All They Are Cracked Up to Be?
We all know that grains provide a great source of fiber to our diets and are a quick and easy fix in the morning, but are they as healthy for us as we would like to believe? We also know the role that macronutrients play in our digestive and energy systems, now its time to hear about their evil stepbrother, Anti-Nutrients. Scientists have been studying the existence of anti-nutrients for many years but have had a hard time exposing their findings to the masses.
Primal and Paleo diet followers are well aware of the abundance of these anti-nutrients, and their diets are a reflection. They consume no products with a high concentration of Anti-Nutrients.
What Are Anti-Nutrients?
Commonly known as Lectins, Anti-nutrients are form of natural pesticide that all plants have procured through evolution in order to protect themselves against wild predators (also Humans) and make said predators regret their consumption. Anti-Nutrients are abundant in all plant and animal products, however they are much more concentrated in some foods than others. The plants that contain the highest concentration of anti nutrients are those which are most susceptible to predator consumption (low-lying plants).
Which plants have the highest concentration of Anti-nutrients? Foods with the highest lectin activity include: grains of all kinds (especially wheat), legumes (especially soy), nuts, dairy, and nightshade plants (e.g. eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.). Add to this list the oils and other derivative products from these food sources.
What effect do Anti-Nutrients have on the Human Body? Lectins are carb binding nutrients present in all plants (and animals). They also support other functions in plants, such as protein synthesis and delivery in animals. They are reasonably sticky molecules which enables them to bind with their wanted sugars but detrimental to our digestive system. Lectins stickiness allows them to bind with the lining of the small intestine, resulting in intestinal damage and a reduction in the small intestines ability to absorb essential nutrients, including protein and minerals.
On top of all of this, the body is now sucking proteins and other nutrients from their basic growth and repair processes in order to respond to the needs an injured gut lining.
Lectins have been linked to many of the diseases of western society such as heart disease and Obesity, along with a wide variety of Autoimmune conditions. Lectins have also been associated with leptin resistance, which is a pre diabetic condition, linked to obesity.
What Should You Do?
- DYOR (Do Your Own Research) marksdailyapple.com is a great start, very informative website.
- Reduce your overall lectin intake, beginning with the biggest culprits, refer to the section on plants with the highest concentration of Anti-Nutirents.
- What can you eat? Plenty of grass-fed meat, poultry and wild fish. Along with many vegetables, berries, certain nuts and fruits.
Hold out for my next Paleo post about red meat and the Omega 3 – Omega 6 Ratio (Very important).