The Good:

  • Tasty. Bread is tasty. Pasta is tasty. Tortillas are tasty. Pizza dough is crazy tasty.
  • Cheap. Wheat, corn and rice are cheap to produce in mass quantities.
  • Shelf Life & Transportation. Grains are a strategic commodity. Grains can be stored for long periods of time and easily transported over long distances.

The Bad:

  • Tough on the gut. Grains are tough to digest. Whole grains are tougher to digest than processed grains. Most grains which are bred or manufactured to be resistant to insects are also harder for humans to digest.
  • Possibility of auto-immune issues. There is a developing awareness of a correlation between a leaky gut, grains and auto-immune diseases. There are increasing numbers of individuals who have been able to reverse auto-immune symptoms and diseases by eliminating grains and healing the gut. Prolamins (gluten and others) resist digestion, resulting in amino acid chains passing through the intestinal wall. The undigested amino acid chains stimulate an auto-immune reaction in the body.
  • Pesticides and chemical additives. Bulk commercial farming and grain manufacturing involves pesticides for growing, shipment and storage and chemicals for manufacturing flour from grain. Additional information here.

Benefit vs Cost: Negative

  • The costs (digestive impact / possibility of generating an auto-immune response) outweigh the benefits (taste & convenience).
    • There are no grains required for a healthy diet. Humans have been around for the past 195,000 years, agriculture has only been utilized for the past 10,000.
    • While many people are able to tolerate and digest grains, it’s a matter of tolerating grains, not thriving because of them.
    • Tolerance of grains is dependent on inflammation levels, sleep, stress and gut flora.
    • Fiber is available from vegetables.
    • There is debate over the availability of many of the nutrients present in whole grains (nutrients are present but there is a direct correlation between the amount of nutrients present and ease of digestion – less processing equals more nutrients but tougher digestion).
    • Increased consumption of flour and sugar = More nutrient deficiencies.
    • The nutrients present in grains are readily available from other vegetables and fruit.
    • I eat sweet potatoes, squash and occasionally white rice for carbohydrates. (White rice is not perfect but white rice is easier to digest than wheat & oats and tends to have less of a chemical load. Brown rice is harder to digest than white rice).
    • While my goal is zero consumption, I do occasionally have bread, pasta and baked goods when I am eating out or eating food that others have prepared. I view any grains as doing physical damage, so while I can recover from the occasional consumption of beans or sugar quickly (days), I realize the consumption of grains carries a bigger penalty and longer recovery time (weeks). I don’t keep bread, crackers, pasta or flour in the house.