Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grains no good? Impossible!

Last week, I mentioned that I am going to talk about my best friend and it is already Thursday! Where is the entry??? Honestly, this week hasn't been the smoothest. The failed experiments at work took up quite a chunk of my thinking bandwidth. More so, I did not feel educated enough to write about my best friend. I still feel the same now, but then if I never start writing, I will never feel educated. So please bear with me if I make any mistakes. 
Grains. My bestest bestest friend in the whole wide world and ubiquitous in all cultures, thanks to the Agricultural Revolution. Bread, chicken rice, gnocchi, curry puff, pizza, char kway teow, chai tow kuay, pasta, etc. The list goes on and on. Another point to prove how entrenched grains are in my culture- Chinese people, especially Singaporean Chinese, instead of saying 'ni hao' (how are you) as an initial greeting, we would often say: 'chi fan le ma', which literally translate to 'have you eaten rice'. And boy, we Chinese turbo love rice! Breakfast: congee, lunch: rice, dinner: also rice! Sick of rice? Don't worry, there are rice cakes! Sick of rice cake? Nevermind, can have rice-noodles! What type of rice noodles you prefer? Chor bee hoon, thin bee hoon, mee sua, kway teow? The Chinese really doesn't run out of ideas to modify rice into different forms! And why are grains my best friend, cos I super super LOVE noodles AND bread. Unfortunately, ever since I started eating paleo in February, it has put a strain to our (27 years long and loving) relationship. Which leads to the reason why I am not 100% onto the paleo-bandwagon, I'm still in love with it.

Besides making one fat from heavy consumption, there are actually scientific reasons why grains are bad for our health. Before I start, I will like to credit Mark's Daily Apple for a big part of my knowledge. He has written many awesome and convincing posts on why we should avoid eating grains and my mission is to read the articles, decipher the information and rewrite them in layman terms, that even your grandmother can understand. 

Ok, as with Mother Nature, ALL living things do not want to be eaten and the ONLY purpose of existence is to survive, procreate and propagate. Humans and animals employ various defense mechanisms to stay alive. For instance, those tiny bright-colored frogs produce venom in their bodies to prevent themselves to be eaten, knowing they will be easy targets, porcupines have thousands of spikes on their back to warn any starving predators, Pau has been learning BJJ for self-defense and to protect me. Plants are no exception. Their defense mechanism: toxic anti-nutrients, such as lectins, gluten and phytates. And plants know that humans cannot break down those anti-nutrients, so when consumed, it leads to a series of medical problems, such as autoimmune diseases, like lupus and thyroid disorders, gastrointestinal issues, etc.
  • Lectins attacks and degrades the protective lining in stomachs and the intestines. 
  • Gluten triggers celiac disease, which is an immune reaction in the small intestines. It damages the inner surface of the small intestine, resulting in inability to absorb certain nutrients.  Eventually, the decreased absorption of nutrients can cause vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. 
  • Phytate, or phytate acid acts as a main storage of phosphorus in plants, aka, energy storage. We, humans, lack the enzyme to break down phytates and when that doesn't happen, phytates bind to magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron in intestines and take them OUT of our bodies! Talk about iron deficiency anemia! It could be part of the reason many people are deficient in magnesium, which can contribute to everything from muscle cramping to PMS. Zinc is SUPER important to our immune systems and reproductive abilities. Phytates chelate calcium out of our bodies, enuff said.
In short, our body lacks the enzymes to break down these anti-nutrients and hence not designed to consume grains. If these information are insufficient enough for you to think twice about cutting down, I don't know what will. Hence, the internal struggle inside me between a life-long love vs how detrimental it is for my health. Apart from maintaining social conventions, such as daily lunches with coworkers, eating big meals with family or an occasional birthday dinner, I am 60% grain-free. It is not easy as my body craves and expects grains but I am taking a slow, steady steps towards no grains. Eventually.

-Mrs Paleoporean

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