The other day for breakfast I ate a raisin bran cereal, lunch was a hamburger and fries, and by dinner I had a stomach ache and related GI tract discomfort. I also knew the cause. I’m gluten intolerant. While I haven’t been officially diagnosed, for years I thought I had a mild form of IBS. When medication didn’t help, I discontinued it, and began paying attention to my body. I discovered that I fared better eating only one meal with bread in it per day.
Then I began reading nutrition information. Realizing that I might need to cut out all breads and grains, I tried that for a month or so. Because I also cut out sugar, I lost ten pounds. But the real winner for me was complete healing from GI distress. Last week I traveled to visit family. We ate out a lot and I consumed bread products. By the time I came home, I was back to moderate GI distress. Since then, even one day of gluten elimination has dramatically improved the way I feel. What I suspected before, I am now certain of, and that means no more grains for me.
But what about the average person? Aren’t grains healthy? Certainly not in the modern ways we prepare them.
“The well-meaning advice of many nutritionists, to consume whole grains as our ancestors did and not refined flours and polished rice, is misleading and often harmful in its consequences; for while our ancestors ate whole grains, they did not consume them in the form of quick-rise breads, granolas and other hastily prepared casseroles and concoctions. Virtually all preindustrialized peoples soaked or fermented their grains before making them into porridge, breads, and cakes. A quick review of grain recipes from around the world will prove our point . . .
“The important thing to realize is that these practices accord very well with what modern science has discovered about grains. All grains contain phytic acid in the outer layer or bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. This is why a diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to serious mineral deficiences and bone loss.” (Maybe this explains my osteopenia?) “The modern misguided practice of consuming large amounts of unprocessed bran often improves colon transit time at first but may lead to irritable bowel syndrome and, in the long term, many other adverse effects. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. As little as seven hours of soaking in warm acidulated water will neutralize a large portion of phytic acid in grains.
“A diet high in unfermented whole grains, particularly high-gluten grains like wheat, puts an enormouus strain on the whole digestive mechanism. When this mechanism breaks down with age or overuse, the results take the form of allergies, celiac disease, mental illness, chronic indigestion and candida albicans overgrowth.” (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, 1999, 2001, New Trends Publishing, Inc.)