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Grains. Why do we need to eat them?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Seriously. I can't remember why grains have been labeled as such an important part of our diets. I have almost eliminated grains from my diet and feel tons better. I have read and been told by so many people that grains make them feel terrible. I gain weight when I eat them and they make me bloated. So, why are we supposed to eat them? What vitamins/minerals am I missing by not eating them. I get lots of fiber from beans and whole fruits and vegetables. BM's are not an issue for me. I get lots of carbs from those same foods too. Is there something in them that I can't get elsewhere?
post #2 of 40
There are so many opinions- whole grains supply protein, carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals. That said, I don't do well with grains and keep them to a minimum. You can get the vitamins etc. elsewhere like you're doing.
post #3 of 40
Because the USDA pyramid says so. Bah ha ha ha. Seriously, the only reason people think we need grains is because the grain belt lobbied hard enough to get themselves the whole entire bottom rung of the pyramid, right?

Like you, I have read in so many places that grains (esp. gluten-containing ones) are not good for health and indeed cause or aggravate many conditions. I also don't eat many and feel much better without them. I can't seem to resist an occasional (or sometimes more frequent) toasted cheese sandwich on sprouted grain bread though...
post #4 of 40
I think they would be considered more important to most people who eat the SAD (Standard American Diet). Most people do not eat much fruit or vegetables and legumes. If you're eating a diet of processed junk, meat, and dairy, grains would probably be the main way you get many nutrients such as folate and several vitamins.

But if you are eating a whole foods diet rich in plant foods, I don't think grains would be that important. When I was doing Fuhrman E2L hard-core, I had practically phased them out to excellent health. But most people don't eat that way. So I think to the masses, suggesting grains is an easy way to insure that most people get many nutrients. It is easier to tell people to eat bread and crackers than it is to tell them to eat vegetables and beans.
post #5 of 40
For me, as a vegan, they provide a variety of protein in addition to the legumes and nuts/seeds I consume. They also provide a nice variety of actual food items in my diet. I'm not going to be giving them up any time soon. That being said, I have switched in the past 6 months or so to eating as many whole grain products as I can - ww pasta, ww English Muffins, brown rice, etc.
post #6 of 40

Biology freak over here

I don't know if you were looking for a purely biological response, but I can help you out with that.

It is essential for the body to eat grains because starch is what fuels all energy processes within all of our cells. The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which breaks down into a product called adenosine triphosphate which is our cells' energy currency.

Of course, the human body is smart enough to have a back-up plan. If you eat only protein and fat and fruits/veggies (which are essentially carbs but still need additional processing), you will still get the energy you need, but your body will need to go to extra lengths to convert it into ATP. It will need to go through alternate pathways to become glucose, and will create by-products which will put a strain on your kidneys.

Oh, I forgot to mention that if the body needs to use fat and protein to make ATP, it will not be using them for their vital bodily processes such as tissue regeneration and organ protection.

You can always try it out and see how you feel, but just so you know the biological explanation for what is happening, there it is. Our bodies are designed to run on carbs/glucose.

post #7 of 40
But can't you get the same types of carbs/glucose from starchy vegetables like potatoes?
post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by blissful_maia
It is essential for the body to eat grains because starch is what fuels all energy processes within all of our cells. The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which breaks down into a product called adenosine triphosphate which is our cells' energy currency.

Of course, the human body is smart enough to have a back-up plan. If you eat only protein and fat and fruits/veggies (which are essentially carbs but still need additional processing)
I also don't get the difference between carbs in veggies and carbs in grains. The body has to break down whole grains and well as whole vegetables are you arguing that the starch is less available in a carrot or beet as in whole wheat?
post #9 of 40
Thread Starter 
I don't understand either. I have never been a big "no carb" person at all. The only real carb that I have to be very careful with are grains, because they effect my weight dramatically. I mean I can excersize and eat nothing but healthy foods, and I will still gain weight if I eat grains. My diet is really rich in carbohydrates. I eat tons of beans and tons of fruit. Lots of vegetables, both cooked and raw. I also eat a small amount of meat/dairy each day. My fat intake is relatively high because I don't really believe in low fat, just good fat. So if I am eating the same amount of carbs in a day without the grains, am I still risking deficiencies or a negative stress on my body? I can maintain my body weight by eating 1-2 grains/day, but I can't loose anything without eliminating them. I still have 18lbs to loose which will put me at 120lbs which is still a good meaty weight for my height. I also have way more energy not eating them, when I replace them with beans/vegetables/fruit.
post #10 of 40
In post #58 in our raw discussion you'll find some good links on why they are bad.
post #11 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by blissful_maia
I don't know if you were looking for a purely biological response, but I can help you out with that.

It is essential for the body to eat grains because starch is what fuels all energy processes within all of our cells. The body breaks carbohydrates down into glucose, which breaks down into a product called adenosine triphosphate which is our cells' energy currency.

Of course, the human body is smart enough to have a back-up plan. If you eat only protein and fat and fruits/veggies (which are essentially carbs but still need additional processing), you will still get the energy you need, but your body will need to go to extra lengths to convert it into ATP. It will need to go through alternate pathways to become glucose, and will create by-products which will put a strain on your kidneys.

Oh, I forgot to mention that if the body needs to use fat and protein to make ATP, it will not be using them for their vital bodily processes such as tissue regeneration and organ protection.

You can always try it out and see how you feel, but just so you know the biological explanation for what is happening, there it is. Our bodies are designed to run on carbs/glucose.

I'm lovin you for the Krebs cycle, Maia, but you lost me with the grains. Our BRAIN needs glucose to survive, and there is PLENTY of unrefined glucose in fruits, beans, vegetables.

The process you're referring to where protein is made in to ATP (& ADP) is called ketosis, and you're very correct, this is a major problem with "Atkins".

Grains are unnecessary, IMO. But I love a good tortilla
post #12 of 40

Trust your body

Hey mamas,

Sorry, I guess I'm a dummy, because I didn't really consider the starches in veggies and fruits. : I guess it's because it is most abundant and usable in grains... but surely you could get it other ways. The problem only starts when you have no carbohydrates and your body is forced to draw on protein/fat stores. I guess the reason why I was so gung-ho about grains was because I've never known anyone who had any reason not to eat grains unless they had an actually allergy or condition preventing them from doing so.

Glucose is used as the energy currency in every single cell in our body. Our bodies use glucose to go through respiration, the process by which we create energy. Glucose is the main component necessary to undergo respiration. Without it, we could not create energy. Ketosis actually doesn't have much at all to do with respiration. Ketosis occurs when you have no carbohydrates ot not enough carbohydrates in your body, and your body is forced to begin depleting your fat stores in an attempt to make energy, leaving behind a by-product called a ketone. A build-up of ketones puts stress on your filtering systems, as ketones are acidic, and too many can disturb your body's delicate acid-alkaline balance. :

Overall though mamas, you've gotta do what you've gotta do to make your bodies feel good. Your intuition will tell you if what you're doing is unhealthy. I'm sure that as long as you're getting some good carbs from fruits/veggies/beans, you'll be fine, but all all-out Atkin's approach does harm.

Trust your body, not a textbook. I was just trying to contribute some textbook info for interest's sake.

post #13 of 40

No one needs grains

I'm a Biology and Chemistry dbl major (only 4 more classes this semester and I will have my BS) I would hope I know something about all this. Glucose is very easy to get in other sources besides grains....the Eskimos for example (well in the old days, I'm not sure how they currently eat) ate a diet void of grains (actualy most carbs right?), they lived on protein and fat almost exclusivly and are considered one of the healthies people on earth. Glucose from grains isn't necessary at all and doesn't create any problems with energy transfer, etc. Your body can derive energy from protein, fats, veggies, etc just fine.

And the Ketosis thing is high debatable.
post #14 of 40
I don't know, maybe I'm just being overly sensitive about this, but I feel like I just offered what little knowledge I did have and sort of got booed because of it. What I was saying wasn't my personal opinion, it was what you would see if you opened any Biology textbook and read about cellular respiration. At this rate, I'm sorry I even said anything. I never denied that women could be healthy by just eating veggies/fruit, I'm sorry if I came off that way. I think health can't only centre around what one eats, there are so many other factors. And like I said previously, whatever makes you feel good and energetic is probably what's right for your body.

Much love mamas, sorry if I rubbed anyone the wrong way.
post #15 of 40
Don't worry about it maia, your response was totally valid and fine!
Just welcome to the controversial world of nutrition! :LOL
post #16 of 40
A question for those who say grains hinder their weight loss. Isn't weight loss just calories in and calories out? I don't know all the right words and formulas. Something about the calories your body needs to keep you alive (Is that BMR?) and having a calorie deficit. Sorry, I know I'm probably not making any sense. Maybe someone else can say it better.
post #17 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuavaLava
Isn't weight loss just calories in and calories out?
Not really.

Hormones, especially insulin play a *HUGE* role in fat storage, cravings, blood glucose levels, etc. When your insulin rises your body starts storing fat, even if you are not eating a whole lot-that is why you hear about fat people saying they are not eating a lot but are still gaining weight, it can be true.

This is something especially prevalient now with our high consumption of carbs (things like bread, pasta, crackers, etc). Some people are almost not affected by this (like my husband, he can eat anything and his insulin never rises about 90,...of course over time that could change for him as his pancreas wears down from pumping out so much insulin to keep up), but a lot of us are...I can actually see how it affects me because I have a glucose monitor and can see my actual levels.

A lot of good research is starting to come out about all this as we are learning more and more about obesity, why some people just don't get fat even though they do everything "wrong", etc

It is all really fascinating to me because I am going to grad school next year for Epidemiology and plan on doing some research on this.
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by blissful_maia
I don't know, maybe I'm just being overly sensitive about this, but I feel like I just offered what little knowledge I did have and sort of got booed because of it. What I was saying wasn't my personal opinion, it was what you would see if you opened any Biology textbook and read about cellular respiration. At this rate, I'm sorry I even said anything. I never denied that women could be healthy by just eating veggies/fruit, I'm sorry if I came off that way. I think health can't only centre around what one eats, there are so many other factors. And like I said previously, whatever makes you feel good and energetic is probably what's right for your body.

Much love mamas, sorry if I rubbed anyone the wrong way.
No worries, don't sweat the small stuff. There is a lot of controversy about it all is the thing, especially protein and ketosis, etc It is not as simple as the Krebs Cycle (when it comes to nutrition and how things are broken down and transfered).

There is still SO MUCH they do not know about nutrition/obesity/etc at all. Some people can eat a lot of grains and do fine, some eat a small amount and have problems (which is most people). Most people they think start off fine with grains but over time the Islet cell of the pancreas getting beaten down basically so they don't function at a normal level or stop working all together. Pretty scarey.

What really annoys the heck out of me is the food pyramid. I mean they think grains are things like bread (not even ww is all that great for you), crackers, pasta, etc and don't emphazise enough true whole grains.

Anyways, if you really like Biology (you said you did!) you should take some more classes, even just for fun. I'm a Bio and Chem major and I just fell in love with it (started off an English major) and you just learn so much! I study mainly Microbiology and Human Biology. I will be starting graduate school in Epidemiology and Bio Stats next year. Epidemiology is really fascinating.
post #19 of 40
Thread Starter 
blissful_maia, please don't feel that way. I asked the grain question for a reason. I don't know. All I know is that I have been overweight my whole life, from an infant to an adult. The ONLY thing that reduces my weight is cutting back on grain products. I just finished the Eat to Live program, which basically eliminates all but 1 grain serving a day and emphasizes lots of beans and vegetables. I have been doing everything under the sun to loose wieght and nothing else worked. After the first 6 weeks I started adding 2 servings of grains/day and changed nothing else. I have been excersizing at least 4 times a week (hard core classes at the gym). I decided to just eliminate them once again and I'm back to a 1-2lb loss/week again.

I just want to make sure I'm not hurting myself by depriving my body of vital nutrients. I am confident that I am getting enough calories, protien and carbs. I asked because everywhere you look, it's recommended that people eat 6-12 servings of grains/day.
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuavaLava
A question for those who say grains hinder their weight loss. Isn't weight loss just calories in and calories out? I don't know all the right words and formulas. Something about the calories your body needs to keep you alive (Is that BMR?) and having a calorie deficit. Sorry, I know I'm probably not making any sense. Maybe someone else can say it better.
It is, but grains are lot more calorie dense than vegetables (which are more nutrient-dense).

I think that is one of the reasons Eat to Live works so well, because you fill up on such nutrient dense food that is also very low in calories.

100 calories of bread would be like 2 small slices, but 100 calories of vegetables would be a huge plate!
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