Grains are bad, tree nuts are OK - I don't get it


mydisciprin

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Been wondering this lately. I know tree nuts are considered fine for paleo/w30 but I don't quite understand why. Following the reasoning that grains are out, since without modern cultivation nobody would be eating many nuts at all, if ever. I don't buy that grains are so bad for people either, simply because many cultures have eaten a grain diet for generations without issue.

Can someone explain the paleo logic regarding these two foods?

In case I'm not being clear, paleo 'rules' say grains are bad because we've never evolved/adapted to eating them, since only modern farming methods have permitted their widespread cultivation. How is this different to the story with tree nuts? Considering that a couple of species were native to South America and thus not ever eaten by Europeans until a few hundred years ago, how can we be more adapted to eating them than grains? Hell even coffee for that matter, surely that must be in the same category as grains?

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The book, It Starts With Food, goes into detail on this. There is an entire chapter (chapter 10) on why the Whole30 does not include grains, but in summary, they don't have a healthy psychological response, they don't have a healthy hormonal response, they don't support a healthy gut, and they don't support immune function and minimize inflammation.  Also, here is the Whole30 Grain Manifesto: http://www.whole9life.com/2013/02/grain-manifesto/

Certain nuts (again, summarized in ISWF) are recommended as healthy fats, as they contain a wide range of micronutrients, many of which act as antioxidants.  As they can be easy to overconsume, the guidance is to use nuts occasionally for adding fat to meals, and choose other fats (e.g., avocado, olives and coconut) more often.

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Whole30 food choices are made based on what makes us more/less healthy.  The book, It Starts with Food, describes scientific reasons why some foods are candidates that make us less healthy.  A Whole30 lets you test that theory for yourself.

 

Paleo is much more gray and confusing to me.  I'll stick with the healthiest choices.

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The book, It Starts With Food, goes into detail on this. There is an entire chapter (chapter 10) on why the Whole30 does not include grains, but in summary, they don't have a healthy psychological response, they don't have a healthy hormonal response, they don't support a healthy gut, and they don't support immune function and minimize inflammation.  Also, here is the Whole30 Grain Manifesto: http://www.whole9life.com/2013/02/grain-manifesto/

Certain nuts (again, summarized in ISWF) are recommended as healthy fats, as they contain a wide range of micronutrients, many of which act as antioxidants.  As they can be easy to overconsume, the guidance is to use nuts occasionally for adding fat to meals, and choose other fats (e.g., avocado, olives and coconut) more often.

 

Yeah I've read the book, it doesn't explain why, as I said, the people of many cultures live on nothing but grains and manage to live their lives out. If you get past all the woo-woo your-gut's-going-to-EXPLODE-with-the-next-lentil-or-grain-of-rice-you-eat, where is the science? Some grains are very nutritious as well, just as some nuts aren't so nutritious.

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Yeah I've read the book, it doesn't explain why, as I said, the people of many cultures live on nothing but grains and manage to live their lives out. If you get past all the woo-woo your-gut's-going-to-EXPLODE-with-the-next-lentil-or-grain-of-rice-you-eat, where is the science? Some grains are very nutritious as well, just as some nuts aren't so nutritious.

Which cultures? And "living" can mean a whole range if things!

No one is forcing you to never eat a grain again - you make the choice. Research, make an educated decision based on your research and how the food makes you feel.

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Yeah I've read the book, it doesn't explain why, as I said, the people of many cultures live on nothing but grains and manage to live their lives out. If you get past all the woo-woo your-gut's-going-to-EXPLODE-with-the-next-lentil-or-grain-of-rice-you-eat, where is the science? Some grains are very nutritious as well, just as some nuts aren't so nutritious.

 

 

Yes, some cultures do. The Japanese for example eat a lot of soy and rice. But they also eat a lot of cold water fish and seaweed. You can't just say 'hey, they eat grains and soy and look how healthy they are'!

 

The Egyptians, thousands of years ago, ate a lot of grain. And guess what, they had heart disease similar to what modern Americans have.

 

Here is an article from Chris Kresser on the African Diet, which includes a lot of grains:

 

A diet based on grains

Many regions of Africa rely on grains as their dietary staple, most often sorghum, maize, or millet. Western grain-based diets haven't worked out so well, but most rural parts of Africa have avoided the obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that plague our grain-based society. How do they make grains an acceptable dietary staple?

First off, you'll notice that none of the staple grains listed are gluten-containing. Wheat is certainly consumed in some areas, but gluten-free grains are consumed much more commonly. However, the key factor to the quality of these grain-heavy diets lies in their preparation methods, including soaking and fermenting. Many of these traditional practices that proponents of the ancestral health movement are trying to re-introduce never went out of style in Africa. Almost invariably, Africans go through extensive preparations before consuming grains, and this has a huge impact on nutrient availability and digestibility. (4)

For people just starting out on a grain-free diet, the concept of ‘anti-nutrients' in grains and legumes can seem nebulous and unscientific. Conventional sources of dietary information rarely or never mention these significant caveats to the ‘healthy whole grain' paradigm. But once you start reading peer-reviewed research papers, the topic of phytates, tannins, and other anti-nutrients actually pops up a lot.

For example, a 1997 paper titled Lactic fermented foods in Africa and their benefits concluded that the traditional practice of fermenting grains reduces the amount of tannins and phytic acid present, thus increasing the availability of protein, iron, other minerals, and overall calories. One study shows that fermentation of millet completely eliminates phytic acid and amylase inhibitors, and another shows that fermentation markedly reduces those components in sorghum. In regions where malnutrition is common, especially among young children, fermentation of grains is a vitally necessary step.

 

http://chriskresser.com/health-lessons-from-international-cuisines-africa

 

As you can see, a grain in one instance is not a grain in another. The way most of us eat (or ate) grains are part of highly processed foods with likely GMO or other altered grain that bears non resemblance to what other cultures are eating. Also, the preparation is key, as is highlighted above.

 

You can't simply say 'grains are bad' or 'grains are good'. It's not that basic. And since there is a lot of scientific evidence that gluten based, GMO, highly processed food made from grain are damaging to the gut, cause diabetes and obesity and other bad reactions, then that is a good enough reason to avoid them.

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