Do We Really Need Grains?

The government makes it sound like grains are essential for survival, but do we really need to eat grains? The government offers agricultural subsidy programs and wheat, soy, corn, and sugar just happen to be the most subsidized crops.

Just as a comparison:
Meat/dairy receive almost 74% of the subsidies while fruit/vegetables receive 0.4%. Grains receive about 13% and sugar/alcohol/oil/starch receives almost 13%. (Mercola)

I find it interesting that the nutrition group that we should eat more of receives the least amount of money from the government. Hm, if the government really cared about our health you’ll think they would support the fruit and vegetable growers more. Think about this next time you’ll get a nutrition advise from the government. 

I believe many of our society’s chronic health problems could be resolved if attention was paid, at the highest levels of government, to the root problem – our agricultural subsidies.

They could promote the growing and eating of healthier foods like fruits and vegetables by offering greater subsidies, which would significantly drive down the cost of those foods—but they don’t. Instead, US food subsidies have, and still are, creating a diet excessively high in factory-farmed meats, grains and sugars, with very little fresh fruits and vegetables or healthy fats from nuts and seeds.” Mercola

I’m not going to lie, I have always loved bread and all the other things that include grains. Yes, that means cookies and cakes too.  I switched to “healthy” whole grains when I became  aware of the negative effects of refined grains. I thought I was being healthy by making whole grain muffins, banana bread, waffles, and oat meal cookies for the family.

Healthy or not?

I thought I was eating pretty well. I mean, grains provide energy, iron, fibers, and B-vitamins so we are told to eat several servings daily. Interestingly enough, more and more people are drastically turning their health around  by not eating grains. How can so many people feel healthier without grains?

Do we really need grains?

So, the question is, do we really need the grains? I guess it depends on who you listen to, if you listen to the government you learn that you need plenty of grains.  If you do your own research you’ll you realize that you’ll do fine without grains. Robb Wolf wrote something interesting in his book The Paleo Solution, he said that there are no such thing as essential carbohydrates. It’s true when you think about, we discuss essential amino acids and essential fatty acids but not essential carbohydrates. Essential fatty acids and essential amino acids need to be provided because the body cannot produce them.

Our food pyramid 
The Swedish food circle 
As you can see, both countries are promoting grains as part of a healthy diet. In reality, they are protecting their “investments”  (subsidies).
Can we really exclude the grains from the diet?

Can we successfully remove the grains from the diet and still live a healthy life? You’ll bet we can, and we will actually be healthier without them.  As mentioned above, there are no such thing as essential carbohydrates. It is possible for our bodies to make the needed carbohydrates from fat and protein. Robb Wolf talks about how it is better if we can make the body to run on fat . He says we should just provide enough carbohydrates to meet the needs of the glucose-dependent tissues. The brain uses glucose as fuel but it doesn’t mean we need to eat lots of carbohydrates. The best is to reduce the body’s total need for carbohydrates to protect it from blood sugar crashes. We should eat fruit and vegetables instead of grains.

 It is a fact that we do not require glucose in the diet, and that we can make it from amino acids if we don’t eat it. However, rather than viewing this as evidence that glucose is not important, we should view this as evidence that glucose is so metabolically important that we have evolved way to make sure we always have it.” Kurt Harris
 Grains are not very nutritious when compared to fruit and vegetables. You will not suffer from  nutrient deficiency if you switch out the grains for vegetables and fruit instead. There’s no need to worry, the greens contain plenty of fiber too. If you were to follow a typical Paleo meal plan for one day, you’ll eat roughly about 42, 5 grams of fiber with the added benefit of receiving plenty of minerals and vitamins from the non-processed whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, and meat.

You might wonder why anyone should exclude grains in the first place

First of all, grains don’t want to be digested since their job is to protect the reproduction of it’s kind. Grains contain the anti-nutrients phytates. They tightly bind to metal ions such as iron, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper because the grains need them for development and growth of the grain. It is important that germination happens when it is supposed to. When we ingest the grains, they phytates are still active and bind to calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. As you can see, this means that we don’t absorb those nutrients when we consume the grains. 
I’m working on a post that will cover the damaging effects of grains more in detail in to be released soon, but for now it is important to have an understanding to what kind of harm grains can do to the body. I previously mentioned the damage lectin can do to the intestines
Here are some quick facts how grains damage the body:

  • Grains damage the gut lining which means that we don’t absorb nutrients whether they are minerals, vitamins, protein, fats, or carbohydrates.
  • When the body doesn’t absorb fats and fat soluble nutrients such as A,D, K and other nutrients, then you have a hard time utilizing the few minerals that you may absorb. This leads to damage to the gall bladder and bile production.
  • A damaged gut lining can lead to autoimmunity and cancer. We suffer a high risk of autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and several cancers. The pancreas is suffering from grain-induced inflammation which may be the potential cause of pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis. Depression, lupus, autism, narcolepsy, hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, infertility, schizophrenia are just a few conditions associated with a leaky gut.

Soaking and fermenting grains

I just want to touch the subject about soaking and fermenting grains briefly since I know that some will say we can solve the problem by soaking and fermenting them. I don’t intend to start a debate whether or not soaking and fermenting grains are enough in order to remove all the anti-nutrients.  I have  heard that you cannot completely remove all the damaging anti-nutrients from the grains. Some say that enough anti-nutrients are removed in order to make grains suitable for eating. It is my understanding that there is still an issue with glutenbut that a gluten sensitive person can handle soaked grains better. 
I encourage you to do your own research about the subject. Either way, we can agree that most people suffering from the damaging effects of the grains will not soak and ferment their grains. I found it easier to completely avoid the grains and my blood sugar is also more balanced now.
Soaking the grains increases the glycemic load, and I think this is something important to consider since more people than ever suffer from diabetes. Soaking makes the grains more digestible and therefore more available to the digestive enzymes.  More grains in the diet often means that less protein is consumed which leads to blood sugar problems.  Protein is important  and I’m picky about what I consider good sources.  First of all, protein is best measured by biological value. BV is the measurement on how much protein is retained in the body. Whole eggs are the benchmark standard and are given a score of 100. 
Here are some standard scores of common foods:
As you can see, beans and wheat have a fairly low BV compare to eggs, beef, and fish. Milk scores high on the list but it affects the blood sugar, and unless it is raw, it is very low in nutrients.  You have to eat a lot more beans and wheat to get sufficient amount of protein while you at same time you increase your carbohydrate intake, which is not good.  Robb Wolf calls beans, rice, and nuts the “third world proteins” that will keep you alive but it will not make you thrive. It is also important to remember that it doesn’t matter what kind of carbohydrates we eat, they all convert to glucose or fructose (sugar) so it can enter our system.  We also have to remember that beans increase the intestinal permeability
We do just fine without grains
As you can see, the body can make it’s own carbohydrates if needed. It makes more sense to just provide enough carbohydrates to meet the needs of the glucose-dependent tissues. Grains are not very high in nutrients and it is better to eat carbohydrates such as fruit and vegetables instead. They are high in minerals, vitamins and fiber, and they don’t irritate the gut, raise the insulin level (aim for the low glycemic kinds), and mess up the fatty acid ratios like the grains. Grains are also highly addictive, and that is especially true for gluten containing grains. You see, they contain molecules that fit right into the opiate receptors in our brains, yes, the same ones that are influenced by morphine, heroine,  and Vicoden. As you see, it can be tricky to wean yourself of grains in the beginning, but not impossible. Let me know if you are interested in cutting grains out of your diet and I’ll help you out.
I do better without grains and I don’t regret cutting them out of my diet. Keep an eye out for a future post about my experiences on a grain free diet.
Johanna is an aromatherapist and an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils and Nature’s Sunshine. She is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. She also runs Naturally Sports & Wellness together with her husband.  Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information. 

A Must Read ADHD/ADD Testimonial – How Diet Alone Drastically Improved A Life

I came across this fabulous testimonial from a woman earlier today. We can call her Lisa, she wants to share her story so that others can realize that there’s hope for someone diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. She emphasizes how important it is to investigate the dietary effects on cognitive behavior before medicating.  She managed to get off her medication by changing the diet. The cognitive improvement she is experiencing on her new diet  is amazing. She begs the parents to investigate to see if dietary changes will make a difference with their children before they start medicating with harmful drugs. 

This is a must read story.


I was diagnosed with ADD in college and have been on meds ever since (15 years, give or take). I’ve been on ritalin, concerta, and then for the past eight or so years, strattera. I don’t talk about it. I’m ashamed of it. I see it as a flaw in myself.

The thing is… I’m starting to think that an ADD diagnosis isn’t so much of a disorder, but just an inaccurate description of who I am. I don’t have an attention deficit. I’m simply different – I have a different learning style, but that doesn’t mean I’m flawed or something that needs to be corrected or “treated” with medication.

Medication makes me just like everyone else, as in, it makes it easier for everyone around me, and certainly made it easier for teachers to get good grades out of me. But while it may make it easier for me to get through a day, or to study for a test, it turns me into someone that I’m not. It makes me someone who isn’t as spontaneous or funny, someone who is ridiculously over-analytical and doubts every last thing she sees and feels, and someone who is frightened to be an individual and stand out from the crowd in any way (despite tons of bravado and loud statements proclaiming otherwise).

All through elementary school and high school (long before the first ADD diagnosis, back when cell phones weighed 10 lbs or more and only high powered business executives had them) I was told that I was smart, but lazy. No matter how hard I tried, my grades never improved, even though my aptitude tests were always through the roof. It makes sense that teachers and parents were frustrated with me. The tests showed that I was one of the smartest people in my year, but my grades constantly hovered around C’s and D’s.

It may seem obvious, but years of being yelled at and punished about grades, never knowing the answer to any question asked in class, and being snickered at by classmates, takes a toll on one’s self-esteem. Additionally, ADD makes it quite hard to connect with others. Focusing on a conversation is actually really hard work.

When I’ve tried omitting the meds before, which I’ve done a few times over the years, it’s been a disaster. I’ve become that child again, the one who knows the answer but can’t quite find it in the recesses of her brain. It’s rather like feeling horrifically stoned; I can see and hear everything that’s going on around me, but I can’t make any sense of it.

About two months ago, I became interested in Paleo Nutrition

I posted a lot about all the changes I was experiencing over those first few weeks, as I omitted gluten, grains, sugar, even legumes from my diet, but there was one that I hesitated to talk about, and that’s cognitive function. (For the sake of accuracy, I feel the need to mention that I’d already omitted dairy about a year earlier.)

Within a week and a half, I suddenly felt able to think and feel. It seems like a small thing, but it’s not something I had experienced frequently in the past, even with medication.

See, medication made me able to regurgitate data and get through college with good grades. It allowed me to get by… but not to thrive. Not to truly use my cognitive abilities in all the ways they’re meant to be used, and definitely not to be me. It rather feels as though I’ve been zombified on drugs for 15 years, and I’m suddenly realizing who I am and what I think, and how I think, and how I feel, for the first time. I feel awake and alive in a way I never have before.

It’s been described by many people as feeling as though a veil has been lifted. I hate that analogy. It’s so trite and cliché (about as trite and cliché as saying “I feel awake and alive in a way I never have before,” actually). Problem is, it’s also apt, so I’m kind of stuck needing to use it here… although I’m definitely hoping I’ll think of a better way to describe it over time.

It took a couple weeks for me to understand what was happening, and I’ve been doing a lot of research to try to understand further. Apparently, ADD and ADHD are closely linked to food sensitivities. Nobody had ever told me this, so I never thought to explore it. I’ll be honest, I’m a little angry about that. Not one doctor or layperson ever discussed with me the option of changing my diet as a way of managing ADD. If something about a medication bothered me, they suggested a different dose, a different medication, or more medications to counteract the complaint.

This information – the fact that food sensitivities have been found to cause a vast majority of ADD and ADHD diagnoses – is something that, like managing my chronic sinusitis through diet changes, I had to seek out on my own. Part of the problem may be that I have never wanted to talk about my ADD with people casually. There’s still a large part of me that feels like the ADD diagnosis is a huge red “X” across my forehead, and until now, it’s something I’d only talked about with a handful of people. Perhaps if I had talked about it more, I would have wound up connecting with people who could have led me towards a nutritional solution. I didn’t do that, though. I relied on doctors to know what was wrong and how to fix it, as I think many people do.

At the point in my life when I started taking medication, it was very necessary, and to this day I’m grateful that ritalin was beginning to be prescribed at around that time and that I found my way to it. Otherwise, lord knows where or how I would have ended up. I was quite close to being expelled from college. Nobody knew what was causing my scholastic problems, but once I wen on medication I started getting straight A’s. I, the “laziest” person at my High School, who barely made it through high school, in fact, graduated college Cum Laude.

Getting good grades was fabulously rewarding, but I didn’t care all that much about what it was that I was studying, and the knowledge was gone as soon as the test was over. I had no passion for anything, and that remained a constant for a long time. I latched on to various things – “hyperfocused” on different hobbies through the years – but there was no connection between brain and heart.

It didn’t occur to me to care about what I might want, or to make an effort to find something I was passionate about, or that it was weird that I didn’t feel any ability to care about much of anything, actually. What my parents and everyone else seemed to expect of me was that I graduate college and start working somewhere… anywhere. So that’s what I did. And that’s what I’ve been doing for 15 years.

Fast forward to today.

Being off medication is scary.

I have to be extremely careful about my sugar consumption (ADD + sugar = Bad Things). Common sense, right? Why the hell did it take me so long to realize it?). In general that’s pretty easy; since I hate how sweets make me feel so much, it’s pretty easy to resist them when they’re around. I do love going out for drinks with friends, though, and these days, even one drink will throw me into a cognitive function tizzy for a day or two. It sucks. It happens even if the drink isn’t a sugary girly-tini type beverage; these days I stick with vodka and soda water. But just the sugars in the alcohol will cause problems for me the rest of that evening and the whole next day, if not longer. It’s not just things like reading comprehension, either. There’s a huge emotional component; I’ll feel sad, angry, fatigued, and sometimes even aggressive once the sugar high crashes. It’s not me, and I don’t like it.

Sleep is also very important. If it’s disrupted, I have the same problems.

But in general… what I’m experiencing now is kind of incredible. It’s probably strange to all of you who have had years to get to know yourself, but my personality has been suppressed since high school, and I’m only now learning who I am minus the social pressures and brain fog of those years.

I’m realizing how amazing I am and how little I have to be afraid of. I have depths of emotional empathy that I was never aware of or able to touch on before. I have creative impulses, which is a first. I’m able to focus on and manage conversations/interactions much more enjoyably. I’m even able to relax and enjoy myself without alcohol (I know, right? Crazy!). In short: I’m able to connect with others, which was something that was always a challenge before now. I can’t help but smile as I type that. It seems small, but the medication and the ADD kept me so locked in my own head all the time that I wasn’t really able to see what was going on outside of it.

Writing this out isn’t easy. I felt it was important to do, though (caution: here come the moral of the story).

So many parents are being told that their children are “difficult,” “hard to teach,” “act out in class,” “cause trouble with other students,” and so on… and are essentially being told that if they do not medicate their child, their child will be put in “special” classes… or worse, will be expelled.

I truly believe that in some cases, medication is very necessary. However, I beg of you, if this sounds familiar, please do not blindly follow the advice of the teachers, the school psychiatrist, your child’s primary care physician, your child’s psychiatrist… anyone who is telling you that drugs are the only answer. It’s possible that they are, but please also look into the possibility that the issues are being caused by food sensitivities. There’s no risk in exploring it as a possibility, right?

The medications prescribed for ADD have known side effects. Do take those warnings seriously. They are particularly a problem if a child is medicated over a long period of time, which is what the school system is likely asking to see happen.

Additionally, these children who are diagnosed with issues are likely the most passionate, empathetic, and creative of them all. What we are doing by medicating them is creating a generation of kids who only know how to march in time with the masses, and don’t understand that the things that make them unique also make them wonderful. We are teaching them that anything that makes them “different” makes them a problem. We aren’t cultivating their unique talents and strengths and we are suppressing their creative abilities. We are breeding a generation of robots, and suppressing creativity, passion, and individuality.

We aren’t cultivating strengths; instead, we are forcing round pegs into square holes. I know. I was masquerading as a square peg for 35 years.

We are, like we did with me, suppressing everything about them that makes them the fabulous little individuals that they are, and making them frightened of anything that makes them stand out from a crowd.

Talk to your doctor. If your doctor says that food sensitivities are a myth, find another doctor. Do your own research.

A few of my favorite articles, just to get you started:

There are also many books available about ADHD and diet.

I appreciate that I was provided the opportunity to share this story with you. Thank you “Lisa” for sharing her story.

Johanna is an aromatherapist and an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils and Nature’s Sunshine. She is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. She also runs Naturally Sports & Wellness together with her husband.  

Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information.

Children On the Paleo Diet – Great Benefits

 We have been on a grain/dairy/legume/sugar free diet for a while now. When I explain that we are grain free, the biggest concern for many seems to be how they would survive without the grains. Perhaps it was easier for us since we didn’t eat that much grains or  processed food before excluding them.
Not a big change
I served cooked lunch prior to going grain free so we didn’t rely on sandwiches for lunch which made the transition smoother.  I just needed to replace the pasta or potatoes with more veggies, meat and make sure that we eat plenty of fat. My children already ate fruits, veggies, cut up meat, nuts, shakes and smoothies  for snack even though some bread, waffles,  and crackers were served from time to time.  Dinner isn’t that complicated either since I always kept it simple and never made a lot of  casseroles and gratins. I always liked to make stews and I can still make them grain free. I just have to make sure that I include enough protein, vegetables and fat since we don’t eat rice or noodles.
Breakfast was the hardest
The hardest part to get used to was  breakfast but it didn’t take long to get into the routines. We have always enjoyed a protein shake first thing in the morning so we didn’t start the day with grains.  Once the breakfast shake had settled I used to make them some oatmeal, other hot cereal, and on weekends I sometimes made pancakes. It definitely takes more time to prep breakfast than it did before but my children don’t ask for snacks between breakfast and lunch anymore. They last hours on a sturdy breakfast of eggs, chicken, leftover steak, plenty of fat and some fresh fruit or vegetables. I try to make enough meat at dinner time so that I have some leftover for breakfast and for my husband’s lunch salad.Grain & Dairy Free Breakfasts

Some of the benefits so far
The first thing I noticed was that my children are more calm and focused. They also last longer between the meals so less snacks are required. Their moods are more stabilized and especially my daughter doesn’t get irritated anymore. My oldest son’s teenage acne disappeared, he used to keep it under control with natural things but the acne disappeared once he was grain/dairy free. He has always been fit and muscular, but his body is way more toned now then before. It has changed in a way that his coaches noticed and made comments about his muscles. He is also stronger and can lift heavier than before. Gone are all the excess fluid in the body. I have also noticed a decrease in his facial tissue and I can’t wait to see where this leads to.When a Child is Different

The biggest change
The biggest change has been in my youngest son. Alex is a totally different child since he went grain & Dairy free. We ate a good diet before cutting out the grains,  but I had no idea that I would see such a change in him. He is better at concentrating than before, but the amazing thing is the glow in his eyes when he talks about school and that he shows a greater interest in learning. He reads more and is more active in learning. It used to take hours for him to finish up his school work but now it only takes half the time. He scores 100% on his tests and keeps pushing to learn more. There are no more sighs when I say it is time for school. I never realized that grains affected him in that way since he was just like many other kids before. Most children are not crazy about school, and day dreaming or taking time finishing up assignments are not unusual. He wasn’t a trouble kid at all. I’m so glad that I decided to go Paleo so that I would see this change.
I asked Alex to tell me how he felt being on Paleo and he answered me: I have a lot more energy and I can run faster. I get a lot better scores on tests,  I’m smarter and I can get school done faster.
Alex has not only changed mentally. His sister and brother are very athletic and in good shape but Alex never had the energy to keep up with them. He always got tired first and quit the game before his siblings. His sister and brother could be playing football outside while Alex was sitting on the porch watching them. He gave up too easily when it came to moving around. Since starting on Paleo his hair has grown incredibly fast and he has also become taller. He goes outside and runs laps around the house on his own initiative. Alex is incredibly proud that he has so much more energy now. Mind you, this is a child that has been eating a good wholesome diet before going Paleo. The only dairy he ate before the change was a tiny bit milk with his hot cereal, so I believe it is the removal of the grains that contributes to the most changes. Alex is very excited that he has as much stamina as his siblings, and all of a sudden it is fun to play sports or run around in the backyard.
It may take a while to get used to
It can take a while to get used to not eating grains and sugar since they are addictive. The first days were a little bit hard since my children’s  bodies were still used to eating carbs even if they were the so called “healthy kinds”. I increased the fat and the protein and after a few days they were fine. Once in a while my children come up with some outrageous request like I wish we could order a pizza, which we didn’t do before going Paleo. We still keep Saturdays as our treat day like we always have.  Fortunately there are many things we can buy or make to keep Saturdays special without killing ourselves slowly by eating bad stuff.Getting Started On the Paleo Diet

 Try  30 day grain free
Alex had the opportunity to try some pasta while visiting someone and he took a couple of bites only. He told me that pasta makes him feel bad and he doesn’t want to eat it again. He knew himself that he didn’t feel good eating it. One reason that experts like Robb Wolff says to try it for 30 days is so that it cleanses out from the body. You may feel fine eating the grains for now, but try to re-introduce it again after 30 days to see how you feel. Many times we assume we are supposed to feel the way we do because we don’t know any other way.  I’ve read somewhere that it takes 15 days for the body to recover after being exposed to gluten, but that you can recover fairly quickly if eating sugar as a special treat once in a while.Is Paleo Beneficial for Autoimmune Diseases?

Parties and stuff
Will I forbid my children to eat grains and sugar at parties? We haven’t faced that situation yet but I also know that it is not healthy to be overly strict either. At the same time I know how damaging the food is for my children. I may make something better to bring and share with everyone, or I may be more tolerant. I am mostly concerned with my boys since my youngest obviously is feeling so much better on the new diet, and my oldest has a facial tumor.  It is pretty hard when you learn that it takes 15 days for the body to recover after being exposed to grains.
I know one thing for sure, it is important to educate my children why we don’t eat the way most people do. They need to understand why and what harm various foods can do to their bodies. I always bring water and my own snacks when we go places,  there are very few places to buy healthy snacks whether you’re on a grain free diet or not.

Johanna is an aromatherapist and an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils and Nature’s Sunshine. She is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. She also runs Naturally Sports & Wellness together with her husband.  Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information.

The Paleo Diet and Autoimmune Diseases

Many of you know that a diet high in refined grains and sugar, and processed foods promotes inflammation and increases the acidity in the body. This kind of diet eventually leads to disease. We often hear about how people change … Continue reading


Getting Started on Paleo

If you read this page  you know that  by eating according to the Paleo Diet you’ll be eating the diet you are genetically programmed to eat. You are allowed to eat unlimited amount of meats, fish, seafood, low glycemic fruits and vegetables. Even … Continue reading