There several reasons grains are bad…
Reason 1: It perpetuates a reliance on Carbohydrate for Energy.
All forms of ingested carbohydrates convert to glucose and spike insulin production.
Insulin is a mater hormone and released from the pancreas. It facilitates metabolic and hormone functions by transporting nutrients through the blood to cells and organs.
Grains are a cheap, quick and easy source of glucose but the constant consumption of grains and carbohydrates cause what I like to call a “carb cycle”. Grains, once ingested are quickly converted to glucose. Those carbs not used for immediate energy are stored in the liver or the muscles as glycogen. Once glucose stores in the liver and muscles are full the excess is sent to fat storage. This, in turn increase cortisol (the hormone responsible for the fight or flight response), which taxes the adrenal and immune systems, pancreas and promotes systemic inflammation.
In a short space of time, the body has ingested energy in the form of carbohydrates, used what it needed for immediate energy, stored the excess in the liver, muscles and fat and now believes it has no energy again. This sends a signal to the brain via a hormone called ghrelin to say we are hungry again. So we eat more carbs and the cycle continues every few hours.
The human body has used fat as its primary source of energy for thousands, maybe millions of years of evolution. If we can train our body to rely on fat as a fuel source again, we will never be hungry, due to the millions of calories of energy stored in fat on our body. If we can eliminate grains as a source of immediate energy and shift our body to prefer fat as our energy source, we will have less inflammation, better immune function and less gastrointestinal issues.
The amount of insulin you produce influences if you store or burn fat, if we can reduce the spike of insulin, we can control our hunger and fat storage.
An increase in insulin results in accelerated cell division, which is said to increase ageing and the deregulation of healthy cell division, which is linked to an increase in cancer risk and perpetuates the “carb cycle”.
Reason 2: Anti-Nutrients!
Anti-nutrients are agents present in grains that compromise health.
Lectins: are a natural phytochemical toxin that plants manufacture to defend against UV radiation, predators and microorganisms and are found in higher concentrations in the seeds of plants.
They have a toxic effect when ingested, decrease immune function and gut barriers (causing leaky gut syndrome) and increase inflammation.
They also bind with insulin receptors and deregulate both fat storage and appetite meaning they spike insulin and increase fat storage.
Lectins contain prolamin and agglutinins, which clump red blood cells together. This damages the microvilli or the brush borders of your small intestine, causing undigested particles of food (effectively poop) to leak through the lining of the SI out into your body causing irritability and inflammation.
Gluten: is a prolamin form of lectin. It triggers a mild to severe inflammation in the body. It compromises digestion and immune function.
Oats, (avenin) Rice (orzenin) and corn (zein), all contain lectins that contribute to leaky gut.
Phytates: are undigestable compounds found in whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. They bind to important minerals and make it difficult for those minerals to be absorbed. They do contain some anti oxidants and can be helpful in small amounts.
Saponins: are anti nutrients found in legumes. They are a chemical defense for plants. They permeate the gut cell membrane, causing leaky gut. Soy is especially high in these type of lectins which also contain phyto estrogens which disrupt sex hormones in males and females.
Overall, there is no real reason for us to consume grains. They contribute to elevated levels of insulin and blood glucose, two factors which have been heavily linked to issues with our immune system, metabolic syndromes such as diabetes, inflammation, ageing and increased free radicals. They also contain anti nutrients and plant phytochemicals which are responsible for damaging the tight junctions in our stomach and small intestine lining.