Confused Why You Are Fat and Sick? The Concealed Answer Lies in the Grains
Grains are the most consumed food by the American public. Between wheat and rice we produce over 1.4 billion metric tons a year.
That is like packing over 240 million elephants on top of each other. There are not even a million on the face of the earth.
Grains are easy to produce and process to save costs and it sure is tasty. We have totally bought into these carbs for the past several hundred years with our wallets and purses. For instance, just looking at cereal consumption in America alone we eat enough boxes of cereal a year (2.7 million) to stack them on top of each other and go to the moon and back. I guess we don’t need NASA huh?
On average we eat 160 bowls a year…each according to the Yale University Rudd Center. General Mills makes nearly 15 billion a year while Kellogg’s makes 12 billion annually. This doesn’t even scratch the surfaces on the billions of dollars we spend on grains each year through rice, bread and other grains.
Well grains are good for us so this sounds great right? I mean I know this…there are a lot of grain benefits right?
Are grains bad for you or are grains good for you? The answer is bad. We are eating more grains, less protein, less fat and getting fatter because of it. 50 years ago 1 in 9 would be considered obese. Today 1 in 3 is obese and 2 out of 3 are overweight. In the 1990’s it got so bad that the Center for Disease Control that deals with fighting epidemics like the Ebola Virus, made the announcement that we had a new epidemic on our hands called Obesity.
Are whole grains bad for you too? The answer is also yes. Grains have become almost an addictive killing drug without us knowing it.
So How Did This Happen?
Our sugar and grain consumption increased dramatically, while our dietary fat consumption declined as requested by the McGovern Report in the late 70’s. Many of the great western diseases we have, come from our western diets that are built on a foundation of grains. Reference the food pyramid we have been living off of for the past 40 years until Michelle Obama moved some pieces around and said pretty much the same thing.
We will talk about why grains are poor for our health both short-term for weight and energy, as well as long term for chronic diseases. More importantly we will discuss what you can do about it. If you do take action and give it 1-2 months, you will see a major difference in your confidence, energy levels, waistline, and overall health. This advice works. It is just up to you if you want to try it out.
Not Enough Time to Adapt
We lived 2.5 million years as hunters and gatherers during the Stone Age or Paleolithic era. That is a long time.
Most of this time was spent eating animal meat, roots, and maybe berries. It was a diet high on protein and fat.
The agricultural age didn’t come into existence until about 12,000 years ago. Since then we have started to eat more grains, legumes, and dairy. Those 12,000 years have been only .5% of our whole existence. On a football field that would be the equivalent of about a foot.
And even then we haven’t really started eating large amounts of grains until the past 200 years. That means more than 99.992% of the time our race has been on this earth we lived eating this way by hunting or fishing for our dinner. I am sorry, but going to McDonalds or running up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart with coupons doesn’t count as “hunting”.
Anthropologists believe that not only did our ancestors eek by with this type of lifestyle, but lived it like a Stone Age Chuck Norris. As Robb Wolf mentions in The Paleo Solution, they were taller than the average height we are today. They were lean, strong, full of energy and didn’t suffer from the many chronic diseases we see today. As anthropologists studied people that live in the agricultural era they had more cavities, weaker bones, faster aging, and shorter life spans. A lot of this was brought on because of malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies.
Unfortunately these Stone Age ancestors don’t have records to discuss their eating patterns and Doc Brown still hasn’t invented the time machine with the flux capacitor. But we do have modern day hunter and gatherer tribes that have been unblemished or untainted long enough for us to record their diets, lifestyles, and overall culture.
What Can Modern Day Tribes Teach Us?
Why are grains bad? We can look at that if we look into our past, but also into third world tribes that live similar lifestyles to our ancestors. A comprehensive study was done by anthropologists from US and Australian researchers of 229 modern tribes that had those hunter-gatherer traits. There were a few common findings:
- They survived almost entirely by hunting animal food whether live game or fishing. These populations got about 85% of their calories from meat or fish. Some even got 100% from fatty meats.
- 2/3rd of their average calories came from animal protein and 1/3rd from plants. Only 14% got more than half of their calories from plant foods. And sorry my animal loving friends, there were no vegetarians.
- Their diets in these tribes consisted of 19%-35% protein and 28%-58% fat. These tribe folk sought out the fattest animals and would eat virtually all of the fat and fat organs on the animal, which is a common trait for large omnivores. Some of these tribes would get as high as 80% of their diet coming fat. To give a comparison today we get about 15% of our calories from protein and 33% from fat or vice versa depending on the diet. Our common carb consumption is around 50% of our calories and sometimes even more. Talk about a total flip-flop huh?
- Their diets were low in carbs. The average intake was 22-40% of their daily calories. All of the carbs they ate have low caloric content compared to the grain filled diets we eat today. All of these seeds, nuts, bulbs, fruit and other plants they would eat have a lower glycemic index compared to grains. They were also loaded with fiber which made it slow to digest. We will talk about why this is important.
What Happens When These Cultures Get Grains?
What is tragic is what happens to these tribes as they are introduced to western diets. A great example is the Pima tribe. They used to be one of the most physically lean cultures in America. They were known as hunters and fishers eating diets that consisted mostly of protein, fruits, and some vegetables during the 1850’s.
After being drained for every resource with the progression of the California Gold Rush, the Pima were forced into reservations like many other tribes. They became poor and relied on the US government for rations. The United States government introduced flour and sugar to them in these rations and they turned to it like an 18 year old hooked on crack.
They weren’t able to hunt and fish like before because they were confined and pioneers were slaughtering game left and right. They gradually grew more and more obese with each generation as they moved farther away from natural foods and deeper into processed refined carbs. They now have one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes among any race in the United States. This happened with numerous American tribes like the Sioux.
It not only happened here with Native American tribes. Many civilizations with different genetics have also been affected as Gary Taubes mentions in Why We Get Fat. Other examples include the Intuits, Japanese and Indian Hindu. They all were without western diseases and obesity until they started eating western diets filled with grains.
But Grains Have Been a Staple for Generations!
A lot of the foods we think are so “common” and traditional are actually not when you consider the full breadth of our millions of years of existence. Corn and potatoes originated as new world vegetables and spread to Europe and Asia after Columbus. Sugar and refined flour started around the late 1800’s. So less than 150 years ago we were eating hardly any flour and sugar, especially not like the significant amounts we pound down today.
So all of these fattening foods that constitute 50-60% of our diet (grains, white rice, vegetable oils, sugary beverages, dairy, candy, etc.) were not a part of our ancestor’s diets, and definitely not to the degree we have it today. This is what leads to a great deal of obesity and retaining more fat as we get into further posts in this series.
What is worse is that obesity introduces countless other terrible diseases that are commonly referred to as “western diseases”:
- autoimmune diseases,
- heart disease,
- breast and colon cancer,
- varicose veins,
- autoimmune diseases, and
- many others.
In turn, for you short-term that translates to
- shorter lives with family members,
- no job promotion,
- no raise,
- not fitting into clothes,
- not fitting into seats,
- medication for the depression, and
- many other terrible life lessons.
The bottom line is that our genes haven’t had time to adjust to the onslaught of carbs and sugar we throw at it today. It takes thousands and potentially millions of years of evolution for an organism to adapt.
Will that happen with the human race? Possibly.
Will it happen when we are alive? Very unlikely.
In fact, it looks like it will get worse before it gets better. There is a reason why 8 out of the top 10 major reasons we die are all directly connected to what we put or don’t put into our mouths. And grains have a great deal to do with this.
So What’s Next?
So what are grains? There are so many options, it is probably good to know which grains you should or shouldn’t include.