Ask Dr. Salerno Health

The Problem with Grains

The Problem with Grains
For many years, the FDA used a pyramid to tell people what to eat and how much to eat of it every day. Everyone remembers hearing about it as a child. Sweets were at the top and were to only eat sparingly, but who really listened to it. At the bottom, which was to be consumed the most, were grains. However, over the recent period of time, people have found out that following that SAD has not benefited them. Instead, it has been shown to cause many health issues. Here is the not so healthy side of grains.

For starters, grains are a major source of gluten. Those with the allergy have to avoid it or face the severe consequences. For those with sensitivity towards gluten, consuming it can cause the same digestive issues, and it is best to be avoided. But those are only the problems that befall those with an allergy or sensitivity. Grains can have a very harmful effect on any person’s digestive & immune system. Every part of a grain cannot be digested. Therefore those that do not get digested, damage cells that line the gut and then cause inflammation once outside the gut. This will weaken the lining of the gut, making some products that should be digested, now leaking into the gut and causing more damage.

This increase in inflammation can cause several other health problems. For one, harmful bacteria in the digestive tract may begin to feed on the grains that have not been digested. It may bring about more harmful bacteria and cause a person to become ill. The body will try to correct this problem by using nutrients to produce enzymes to assist the digestion of the grains. The issue here is that people are not absorbing enough nutrients because of the grains, which then creates a cycle of malabsorption.

Grains were always considered to be high in nutrients, which is why humans were told to eat so much of it. The unfortunate truth is that most wheat consumed today lose those nutrients in the processing of grains. Important nutrients such as Niacin, Potassium, Magnesium, and many others are stripped during the production. While there are still some of those nutrients, it is on such a small level that grains have a much higher percentage of carbohydrates. Furthermore, diets high in grains have been shown to increase Type 2 Diabetes and inflammation.

Not only is the process of turning grains into edible food harming the true nutritional value, but so is the harvesting of them. Many seeds used to grow grains throughout the world are from genetically modified seeds. These seeds will see a reduction in natural nutrients, once again reducing the nutritional benefit of eating grains. The other reason is the use of glyphosate being sprayed onto the grains. This is a toxic herbicide used to keep pests away and has been causing a lot of people serious health issues.

One thing that grains have is phytic acid. It helps hurt the balance of nutrients in a human and harms the digestion process. Phytic acid can slow digestion, causing bloating, and it binds to several important nutrients, which cannot be absorbed afterwards. People who focus on a diet heavy in grains have seen mineral deficiencies on top of malabsorption and inflammatory conditions.

While grains were once expected to be the staple of a diet, this shows us that it is not as healthy as we all once believed. I still find that a diet high in fat and low in starches and grains to be the healthiest for most of my patients.