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) 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).

Jasper Boyschau

Hi, I am a 21 year old Professional Volleyball Player/Entrepreneur. I have been playing Volleyball Professionally in Europe for the past 2 years. In my free time, my friend and I began one of the top driving schools Logan has to offer: We have a premium service of the best driving lessons Wynnum can provide. My other interests include Health and Fitness as well as online marketing and economics.

7 thoughts on “Are Whole Grains All They Are Cracked Up to Be?

  • September 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Thanks for the compliment.
    People who eat high carb diets probably don’t burn them off. I do eat animal meat, just not very much. The meat I eat must be organic and raised properly. This is a very costly way of eating. So to offset the price, I eat less. I look at beans and quinoa, they are very cost effective. I can get 10 meals from a pound of beans.(cost $1.69/lb) I think that athletes that gain weight after they retire is due to the fact they keep eating like they were competitive.

    • September 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      Completely agree with the way aerobic athletes keep eating the way they compete. If they were to cut the carbs, they wouldn’t gain the weight…
      IMO as long as the meat is pasture fed and not grain fed, its good enough for me haha. Maybe have a read of some paleo or primal diets to look at the way they explain their agricultural hypothesis.

  • September 11, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Lance, I just had a look at your website.
    Firstly, Congratulations on the weight loss and change in lifestyle.
    I just have a few questions regarding the foods you eat most regularly.
    Why do you choose to restrict meat, poultry and fish (great sources of fat and protein)? It is clear that some people can lose weight on a high carbohydrate diet, but the majority of people cannot, hence the obesity epidemic. Without extreme amounts of exercise a high carb diet is a weight gainer.
    I base this on the science behind the way carbohydrates a metabolised and the effect this has on our insulin levels and blood sugar.

  • September 11, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Hey Lance, I am an athlete myself. Not saying im of the same calibre as the “best in the world”, however, as im sure you will agree there is alot more to health and nutrition than looking fit and performing well athletically. As you will have noticed many swimmers (one of the highest consumers of carbohydrates and grains for energy) soon out of retirement become very over weight quickly….that doesnt seem to healthy to me. It would be interesting to look at the health of many ex athletes at ages around 60 or so. If anyone knows some statistics, please add them.

  • September 11, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Every time I read of the dangers of grains I scratch my head. If they are as bad as advertised then why are the healthiest people on earth living mainly off of them. How is it that the greatest athletes on the planet have diets that are 60-70% carb based?

  • September 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Yes, Precisely….All grains are indeed bad for you.
    So, as i said in my article, everyone should, do their own research. (
    In short:
    “- What can you eat? Plenty of grass-fed meat, poultry and wild fish. Along with many vegetables, berries, certain nuts and fruits.”
    these are the basics. But there is plenty more. I may have left out eggs.
    Those food groups should make up the base of your diet.
    basically eat as if you were a hunter gatherer. Eat anything that isnt a direct product of agriculture i.e Wheat and such.
    Contrary to common belief, fat is good for you, carbohydrates certainly are not!
    This may be alot to swallow atm, so i will just leave you with a recommended reading and you can draw your own conclusions.
    “Why we get fat” – Gary Taubes.

  • September 9, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Nice post, but I think it did not answer the question of what to eat, appropriately.
    All grains belong to low lying plants and eating them in large number causes increase intake of anti nutrients, so what to eat?


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