Whole grain goodness?

So I mentioned that we were going grain-free this month. The idea was actually Jeff’s, in part as a way to break his addiction to pizza-by-the-slice from Whole Foods, I think. (He also vowed to pack a lunch every day instead of buying it, no doubt due to my stellar role-modelness.)

Anyway, grains seem to be a pretty innocuous topic, until you scratch the surface. They are actually a hotbed of nutritional controversy.

On the one hand, you have the official government recommendations (a la the food guide pyramid), which recommend too many grain servings per day (in my opinion). The fact that they only suggest the people make half of those grain servings whole grain servings is a travesty of nutritional justice (in my heatedly strong, don’t-get-me-started opinion).

On the other hand, you have those people (some with actual nutrition credentials), who tell you that grains are the devil! One of the strongest factions touting this opinion is the paleo/primal eating crowd. They maintain that the human race adopted agriculture and began consuming grains relatively recently in its evolutionary history, and that our bodies are simply not adapted to eating grains. I’ll leave you with that thumbnail sketch of this argument, for now.

My opinion (after doing much reading on the subject), falls somewhere in the middle.

  1. I think some people do just fine on grains, while others do not. I think this has to do with what part of the globe your primary ancestry is traced to (since so many of us are genetic melting pots), and how recently that area switched from hunter-gatherer mode to farmer mode.
  2. I think that grains, even when well-tolerated, are unnecessary. As far as nutrition-per-calorie goes, they are inferior to vegetables and fruits. If people got more of their carbohydrates from veggies and fruits, and less from grains, they would be healthier, in my non-professional but reasonably educated opinion. Because it is a lot easier to overeat grain foods than it is to overeat vegetables (and fruit to a lesser extent), I think people would have an easier time reaching and maintaining a healthy weight if they made produce the centerpiece of their diet.

I’ll leave it there for now, but I will address grains in more depth in upcoming articles.