Continuing on common grounds of the most popular diets at the moment (accordning to myself), I shall now go through number two.
Since the 70's and onwards we have been taught that it is the saturated fats, and fatty food that make us ill and obese, mainly based on the studies made by a man called Ancel Keyes. Therefore we have been advised to decrease the amount of fat we eat and increase the amount of carbs we eat. Especially bread, pasta and other grain based products. All the while the major population has continued to grow sicker and fatter, many times despite trying to follow the health recommendations of the governments.
How is that?
Well, looking at our evolutionary path it is kind of hard to imagine human beings ate vast amounts of bread, pasta, müsli, cereals, cakes, cinnamon buns, and the like. I would imagine they ate small portions of grains, when they found them, and prepared and ate them carefully. Cause here is the thing. Grains only became a big part of our diet when we started to settle and realised we can grow plants that provide grains. Yes, they were an important part of our development, because they were easy to store and keep even throughout winter when other food was scarce.
However, preparing and cooking them was also an important part and through that process humans could acquire the much needed nutrients (which in fairness was needed by the people at the time). Nowadays we have the luxury of being able to grow and purchase much more nutrinally beneficial products that easily can replace grain anytime.
So what is the problem with grains?
There are a few different problem with grains, especially if they haven't been prepared properly.
- The insulin problem. It isn't just sugar that causes insulin to run amoc in your body. All carbs will be converted into glucose, and glucose is actually toxic to have in your blood-stream (that's why high blood-sugar is no good). So the body produces the hormone insulin to take care of the glucose, by "delivering" it to your cells (mainly muscle), so that they can be used by your muscles as energy. The issue is that most people today are far less active and eat far more carbohydrates today than we did before agriculture, and even up until more recent history. So the energy never gets burned, and thus it turns into fat (easier for the body to store for more harsher times). So yes, obesity and fatness are actually caused by over-consumtion of sugar and carbs, rather than fat.
- To top the insulin problem, the body actually suffers from the constant hormone fluxes and production, and is very likely to develop systemic inflammation (although there are also other dietary causes to this, but sugar and fast carbs are one major cause).
- Furtheron, grains (and also legumes and nuts) contain phytates that are believed to block the absorbtion of minerals such as calcium and iron. Grains also contain the anti-nutrient lectins, which is a mild form of poison (to prevent the seeds from being eaten). Lectins prevent the GI tract from repairing itself, leaving it vulnerable to bacterial growth ---> inflammation. Gluten is the third content in our most common grains (wheat, rye and barley), which is a protein that our digestive systems find extremely hard to handle. Some scientists believe that up to a third of the population are intolerant of gluten, more or less. Gluten intolerance causes an inflammatory response and can lead to skin problems, arthritis, acid reflux, auto-immune disorders and celiacs disease.
Several studies show that wheat is strongly connected to weight gain, and that weight loss if most efficiently achieved when cutting grains out of your diet.
I believe that the abscence of grains in the three very popular diets is a major contributor to their success. I would recommend to everyone to reconsider your grains. I do not say never to eat them, but rather to cut down, and exchange some (or most) of it for better sources of carbs, like vegetables, root veggies and fruit.