Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet: A Second Look at Grains

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

According to the Romans, it was Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture, who gave us grains. Many agriculture experts say human health hasn’t been the same since. The highly regarded anthropologist Jared Diamond calls agriculture the “worst mistake in the history of the human race”. Without resorting to a debate about the merits of his claim, we can certainly all agree that the decline of human health is at the least correlated, if not directly, to the effect of man’s post-ice age, grain-based caloric dependence on grains.

Paleo DietGrains are technically unnatural in the sense they have had their genetics dramatically modified to meet specific human needs, many of which were and are economic.

Today’s modern cereal grain would be practically unrecognizable to its Paleolithic plant ancestor. Proto-maize, corn’s progenitor was a tiny little nub that bears little resemblance today’s modern, bright, full ears of corn. What has remained mostly the same over the centuries, however, is the human digestive tract – and therein lays the problem.

Human physiology was and is largely based on many thousands of years of hunter/gatherer-derived genetics. Meat and protein and seed were the larger components of Paleolithic man’s diet. There simply weren’t dense carbohydrate-rich grains for our caveman ancestor to feast on. There wasn’t an evolutionary survival imperative to develop the digestive chemistry to process grains. Consequently, the proteins in grains are difficult for some human digestive tracts to process.

And there are some genetic immune variables that play a role as well. Gluten and other protein components of grains can cause allergic reactions in a significant percentage of the general population. In some people these can result in the initiation of an autoimmune response that can show up as digestive, skin and respiratory symptoms.

Then there are the caloric and insulin-spiking aspects. Modern grains are typically high calorie. They have a relatively low nutritional density and they can cause elevations in blood sugar and insulin that can negatively impact health. While some grains are less problematic, generally speaking, exchanging grain calories for protein ones (especially whey or hemp seed protein) can help benefit health in many ways. For example, the improvement in the fundamental three facets of wellness (the digestive system, blood sugar system, adrenal stress system) is sometimes quite dramatic. (I suggest you look for non-sticky grains; quinoa comes to mind.)

Try making a small protein drink with 2-3 tablespoons of a quality protein powder supplement. Try to get 15 to 20 grams of protein. Read the labels. If you’re near a blender, you can crack in an egg, blend in some frozen organic fruit, add some good oil and sprinkle in some stevia powder or xylitol for a little sweetness. Protein is quite satisfying and you’ll find the need for carbohydrates to be considerably weakened.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition