Monday, March 08, 2010

The Truth about Grains and Your Health

Ever wondered what our ancestors ate? Generations of humans survived primarily on meat from wild animals and whatever edible vegetation they can gather. Agriculture was born when man finally learned how to till the soil.

Now, from being a hunter and a gatherer, man now grows 17 plant species to provide majority of his food needs. Approximately 17 plants species provides 90 percent of the world's food supply. Six of the top 10 are all grains: wheat, corn (maize), rice, barley, sorghum and oats.

Imagine how the world could support its current six billion inhabitants and the estimated 12 to 15 billion people expected during the next century without plant-based foods.

Food grains are rich in carbohydrates, providing you with the energy you need to function. Grains also deliver B vitamins, iron, fiber and some phytonutrients.

Carbohydrates are generally grouped into two types: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates come from sugars while complex carbohydrates are starches from whole grains, beans, nuts and vegetables.

A common (and unhealthy) misconception is that you need a lot of carbohydrates in your diet. The truth is you can survive without eating carbohydrates. Just take a look at Eskimos. They thrive by having a diet composed of high-quality protein, fat, water and minerals.

The carbohydrates from vegetables are preferable than those from grains. Most grains should be avoided because grain carbohydrates increase insulin levels and interfere with the body’s ability to burn fat.

The USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid recommends 6-11 servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta – all grain foods – per day.

Does this mean that the nutritionists have gotten everything backwards about grains?

This may sound contrary to everything you’ve learned and believed about diet and nutrition but if you want to experience optimal health – to stay fit and avoid disease – you should severely limit, or may even need to entirely eliminate, grains from your diet.

Go Against the Grain

From an evolutionary point of view, the simplest explanation is that man’s body was not designed to consume grains.

Humans began consuming grains and sugars only 6,000 years ago. That’s how “recent” grain consumption is in relation to our total dietary experience. Man may have been eating grain foods for "millennia," but millennia is still a very short period in the overall timeframe of human existence. The estimated amount of genetic change which has occurred in the human genome over this time period is negligible, meaning modern man’s genes have remained largely unchanged and are still essentially the same to that of pre-agricultural man.

In terms of diet, this shows that modern humans are most ideally suited to eating the same types of food which were available to pre-agricultural man, like lean muscle meats, limited fatty organ meats, and wild fruits and vegetables, and not grains, legumes or the high-fat meat of modern domesticated animals.

When man learned agriculture, he secured the world’s food supply but he paid a very high price: his health would never be the same again because he began eating food that his body wasn’t designed to consume.

As a result of the agricultural revolution, modern humans began experiencing illnesses and health problems which their hunter-gatherer ancestors never had to deal with, including: infectious diseases, reduced stature, bone abnormalities and diseases, tooth problems, iron-deficiency anemia, and a shorter life span, among others.

The numbers don’t lie: in America, two-thirds of the population is already overweight and the obesity epidemic is rising. A key factor in these developments is poor diet, including the high consumption of grains and sugars.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading natural health expert and author of New York Times bestseller The No-Grain Diet, has called grains and sugars as the main enemies to losing weight and living longer. But Mercola is not the only health professional advocating this seemingly radical stand. Over the last decade, a number of doctors and nutritionists have broken away from the accepted belief that grains are important for your health.

This site was launched to educate people about proper diet and nutrition and provide information on how to live healthy, eat right, lose weight and fight disease based on the “no-grain philosophy.”

It’s time to break free from the bondage of “grain gluttony.” If you want to experience a long-lasting positive change in your health, follow the nograindiets blog over the next few weeks for more articles and relevant information.


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