Keep Off the Grass, Paleo
Every diet, no matter how mainstream or alterna, has this in common: it labels some foods as good, some foods as bad. And no matter how much gray area creeps into the conversation (and it always, always does), there are valorized foods and demonized foods.
For Paleo’s, the biggest demon in the food universe, the sleekest satan, the absolute Beelzebub, is grains. If feeding humanity were a prize fight, and Paleo were the challenger to the mainstream champ, we’d hear: “In this corner! Weighing in at over a billion metric tons per year, the reigning nutritional scumbag on the planet, the reason why humanity is fat, cancerous, and rapidly de-volving, King Corn, Mighty Mighty Rice, The Wallop of Wheat — GRAINS!”
(“Boo!” shout all the Paleos. “Yay!” claim all the “heart healthy” mainstream nutritionists)
Paleos think grains are the number one food villain in the human diet. By far.
Here is the structure behind the Paleo logic.
(1) Grains are all grass seeds. Rice, corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, millet, sorghum — even quinoa and buckwheat and the like — are all seeds harvested from fields of grass. Humans, you may notice, do not eat grass. So why are we eating grass seed? Seems odd.
(2) We are semi-brilliant. We are smart enough to turn grass seed into human food — grow it in organized, large quantities, harvest it, get rid of the seed coat, grind up the endosperm and germ/plant embryo, mix it with oil and yeast and sugar and whatever you want, put some heat on it — voila! We learned how to prepare seeds to get rid of the dangerous and unpleasant elements (clean them, soak them, sprout them, dry them, grind them, mix them, cook them, flavor them). We also altered the way they grow (we “cultivate” the dangerous and unpreferred characteristics out of them). We figured out how to eat grass when we started farming 10,000 years ago. That was smart. BUT… we are not smart enough to see the long term, subtle damage grass seed does to a species when it goes outside its natural food to start eating an unnatural food.
(3) The negative health effects of eating grass seeds are HUGE. They create gut irritation, inflammation, and intestinal permeability. They create massive glucose overload, spike insulin, and destroy beta cells in the pancreas. They are addicting, narcotic-like, create massive cravings and overeating, thus fueling obesity. They are hormonally disruptive in uncountable ways. They cause or contribute to nearly every auto-immune disorder we have. They affect our DNA on a genetic, molecular level. And, finally, they disrupt human evolution, because they change society, change how many people we can create and sustain, and alter who lives and dies.
Those are the big claims. If you want to get deeper into this — hear the many sub-claims, inspect the evidence, look at the studies, listen to the counter-arguments and the debunking and/or the vitriol and even the bad arguing — just start Googling, there’s plenty of argument out there to be had.
But if you want to try Paleo, get your head wrapped around it right now — NO GRAINS. And, yes, there are all sorts of wussy pre-hardcore steps — i.e., grains every once in awhile, sprouted and soaked and organic grains, hulled white rice, etc. — but really, in Paleo, it’s a no-grain game.
If you want to be Paleo, keep off the grass.