Lions, Tigers, and Grains! Oh my!

Over the past few years, you have been instructed to eat like dirty, savage cavemen. An engraved, stone menu consisting of only meat, vegetables, nuts, tubers, and some fruit. No bread, pasta, cereal, or any other grain, PERIOD. If it isn’t green or doesn’t run, swim, or fly.. don’t even think about it. (I hope no cannibals read this.)

In your case, please stick to fava beans..

It’s true, eliminating grains from your diet is a pretty darn’ good idea if you seek stabilized energy levels, improved digestion, elimination, and nutrient absorption, less frequent illness and inflammation, as well as desirable body composition changes.

But what’s so damn unhealthy about grains and why are we such food nazis all of the time? The answer lies behind the understanding of four components; insulin, gluten, phytates, and lectins.

The most important requirement for acquiring and maintaining an attractive body composition is normalizing and balancing the amount of insulin your body produces.

Insulin is the hormone released when blood glucose levels are elevated.

Glucose is a simple sugar used to create energy for your body (ATP). The amount of glucose in your body is determined by what you consume. Although glucose can be created from protein and fat, carbohydrates are the most efficient source.

You can think of insulin as a “messenger” who delivers nutrients to cells for storage while also picking up and shipping toxic, excess glucose out of the bloodstream. The more carbohydrates you eat, the more glucose, and thus the more insulin you produce to transport it. Once all liver and muscle cells are completely full, excess glucose is rushed to fat cells where it is stored essentially as fat.  Abusing carbohydrates (grains are loaded with carbs) can also lead to insulin resistance, in which the cells refuse to answer the doorbell being rung by insulin as they have “had enough” so to speak. This can develop into diabetes mellitus, heart disease, accelerated aging (ladies, can you say “wrinkles”?), fatigue, lack of focus, mood swings, and decreased motivation.

Gluten is a protein found in most grains that resembles the proteins found in bacteria and viruses. Once ingested, the body attacks the protein with an immune response much like it would if you came down with the flu or common cold. Allergic reactions can also occur; all of this resulting in inflammation that leads to many digestive conditions, joint pain and autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease.

Phytates are basically “antinutrients” that attach to essential minerals in the digestive tract and make them difficult to absorb effectively. This leads to mineral deficiencies most commonly seen in third-world countries who ironically depend on cheap, accessible grains for the majority of their calories. Be it known, “whole-grains’’ contain more phytates than processed grains such as plain, white, bunny bread.

"Oh no you di'int!"

Lectins are toxins that growing plants use to ward off insect predators. Once ingested, lectins damage the small intestine (organ where digestion is completed and nutrients are absorbed) and create tiny holes that allow incompletely digested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. The body then begins an immune response to attack the “foreign invaders”. Unfortunately many of the “intruders” resemble proteins of our own body tissue, tricking the immune system into attacking it’s own soldiers, our body. This is essentially self-destruction.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable going out because of your “unusual” eating habits?

Do your sick, overweight friends and/or family give you grief and make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself? (shame on you, peer pressure)

Have you ever had the urge to spank them with the science behind the “what”?

Read this. Study this. Implement this.

The next time you go out with your buddies for dinner and they act like a shotgun went off when you order a burger wrapped in lettuce, drop a bomb.

2 thoughts on “Lions, Tigers, and Grains! Oh my!

  1. I just happened to read this article before I met some girlfriends for dinner at The Pasta House. I stood my ground and did not give in. I had no pasta, no bread and went for grilled chicken breast, steamed broccoli, a salad with dressing on the side and water.:)

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