Grains In General… Even Those Without Gluten

Grains such as oats, rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa and corn do not contain gluten. Well actually they do, but the glutens in these grains don’t tend to cause the same reactions as those in wheat, rye and barley.

As you are no doubt aware, grains in general are considered dietary staples in many societies. It has become fashionable for folk who wish to avoid gluten to switch their grain consumption to these gluten-free types.

Gluten-free grains may not pose the same level of threat as those containing gluten, but we recommend our clients minimize or avoid grains when they are following their Hompes Method programmes.

There are several reasons why we like our clients to be as close to “grain-free” as possible. Dr. Laurent Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet provides an excellent explanation of the rationale behind this powerful health improvement technique:

“The so-called “Agricultural Revolution” (primarily the domestication of animals, cereal grains, and legumes) occurred first in the Near East about 10,000 years ago and spread to northern Europe by about 5,000 years ago. The industrial revolution occurred roughly 200 years ago, and the technological revolution which brought us packaged, processed foods is primarily a development that has occurred in the past 100 years and has seen enormous growth in the last 50 years.

To gauge how little geologic or evolutionary time humans have been exposed to foods wrought by the agricultural revolution, let’s do a little paper experiment. Take a stack of computer paper (the kind in which each page is connected to one another) and count out 212 eleven-inch (28-cm) pages. Then unravel the stack of paper and lay it out end to end–it will form a continuous 194-foot (59-meter) strip. Now, let’s assume that 1 inch (2.54 cm) equals 1,000 years in our 194- foot strip of computer paper; thus, the first part of the first page represents the emergence of our genus 2.33 MYA and the last part of the last page represents the present day.

Now, take a slow walk down all 194 feet of the computer paper, and carefully look at each of the individual eleven-inch sections. When you get to the very last eleven-inch section (the 212th section), this represents approximately the beginning of agriculture in the Mideast 10,000 years ago; therefore, during the preceding 211 sheets humanity’s foods were derived from wild plants and animals. This little experiment will allow you to fully grasp how recent in the human evolutionary experience the cereal grains are. Humans may have indeed eaten these foods for “millennia,” but millennia (even 10 millennia) in the overall timeframe of human existence represents 0.4%. Because the estimated amount of genetic change (0.005%) which has occurred in the human genome over this time period is negligible, the genetic makeup of modern man has remained essentially unchanged from that of pre-agricultural man. Consequently, the human genome is most ideally adapted to those foods that were available to pre-agricultural man, namely lean muscle meats, limited fatty organ meats, and wild fruits and vegetables – but significantly, not grains.”

Over the last century, we’ve seen an enormous rise in the incidence of adult onset – type II – diabetes and obesity. These disorders are strongly correlated with the massive increase in grain consumption during this period, as well as the over-consumption of vegetable oils.

Increased grain consumption has occurred largely because of improved technology as well as the simple fact that grain-based foods offer a lot of calorie energy for relatively little financial investment.

In other words, they’re cheap food!

To explain this, consider the cost of a loaf of bread, or a large bag of pasta or rice. These foods are inexpensive, yet they provide a lot of calories.

When bread, rice or pasta-based meals are consumed, the body receives a large dose of calories. The grains are broken down in the gut to form glucose. They are then absorbed into the bloodstream.

This steep rise in blood glucose triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin helps to shunt glucose away from the blood and into muscle and liver cells for storage.

Problems occur when glucose stores in the muscle and liver are already full. In this scenario, insulin is very good at facilitating the conversion of excess glucose into fat, which is then deposited in the fat cells.

When people consume meals such as pasta, breakfast cereal, risottos and other rice-dishes, sandwiches and toast, as well as all the other grain based foods on the market – crackers, croissants, muffins, buns and cakes, cookies, pastries, cereal bars, etc. – the constant flow of glucose into the bloodstream leads to high insulin levels, body fat storage and insulin resistance.

This, in turn may eventually lead to obesity, type II diabetes and heart disease, especially in people who aren’t engaging in much exercise.

Many grain products are also full of additional sugar and processed vegetable oils, further exacerbating the problem.

According to Dr. Ray Peat PhD:

“There isn’t anything wrong with a high carbohydrate diet, and even a high starch diet isn’t necessarily incompatible with good health, but when better foods are available they should be used instead of starches (grains). For example, fruits have many advantages over grains, besides the difference between sugar and starch. Bread and pasta consumption are strongly associated with the occurrence of diabetes, fruit consumption has a strong inverse association.”

One of Dr. Peat’s strongest messages is that our modern diet contains foods that are edible, but not necessarily ideal. In other words, just because we can eat a food, it doesn’t mean we should if better options are available.

Grain-based foods fit into this category. As humans we can obtain all the carbohydrate we need without having to resort to grains, which Dr. Peat and others have called “poverty foods” because of their low cost per calorie.

Below-ground vegetables, carefully chosen fruit and certain above ground vegetables can provide ample carbohydrate without the health challenges associated with grains.

Sure, a few grain-based meals here and there aren’t going to cause a problem and I’m all for enjoyable eating and variety, but most folk are basing their entire eating habits on grains!

Cross Reactivity in Gluten Sensitivity

There is a further complication with the consumption of non-gluten grains. Many people who are gluten-sensitive or coeliac have been found to react to proteins in other foods, notably cow’s milk, eggs and other grains.

In fact reactions to these other foods are so common in gluten sensitive individuals that Cyrex Laboratory runs a special allergy panel, detailed below.

Note the presence of many non-gluten grains, including oats, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, corn and rice.


Feeling Confused?

I realize this information may be confusing and somewhat alarming to you. The thought of giving up many so-called “staple” foods can be hard to bear!

However I can honestly say that once you know how to remove these foods from your diet and what to eat instead, it becomes easy.

Hompes Method Basics teaches you simple but powerful strategies for combining root vegetables and fruit to optimize your health without the need for grain-based foods.

Whether grains contain gluten or not, they are hard to digest and simply don’t provide the same level of nutrition as root vegetables and fruit.

Perfection In Nutrition?