For many years the food pyramid has dictated that we eat several servings of grains or grain products per day. So you may be confused about all the current hype surrounding a grain free or “paleo” diet.
Gluten is found in oats, rye, barley and wheat and contains a protein called gliadin. Gliadin promotes intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and blood-brain barrier permeability (leaky brain). You may have heard of gluten sensitivity, but most people do not take it seriously. The truth is that gluten intolerance can lead to neurological symptoms such as anxiety, forgetfulness, poor concentration, depression, bipolar disorder, seizures, headaches, multiple sclerosis, and ADHD.
Gluten is not the only problem with eating grains. The truth is that grains didn’t come into our lives in their current forms of bread, pasta, baked goods, cookies, cereals, etc, until the 1900s. This means that our bodies are not adapted to eating these processed foods and they can lead to digestive complaints. The other problem is that grains contain high levels of phytic acid and lectins. These are anti-nutrients which prevent the grain from breaking down, releasing nutrients and being digested. It is a clever mechanism on the part of nature as it allows the grains to survive digestion and thus reproduce.
If you think occasional diarrhoea, constipation, heart burn, cramps and bloating are a normal part of life, you are wrong! Removing grains from your diet and replacing them with grass-fed meat, organ meat, healthy fats, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds will give your digestive system a much needed break and allow it to heal. If you are worried about missing out on fibre, don’t be! You can get more than enough fibre from vegetables and fruit and this kind of fibre is actually better for you because it acts as a “prebiotic” food source for your healthy gut flora.
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Going grain free does not mean that you have to avoid bread for the rest of your life. Innovative chefs and product developers are coming up with grain free products that use nuts, seeds, eggs and coconut instead. These make tasty replacements to grain bread and allow you to get your daily intake of healthy fats too!