I used to have a lot of irritating health problems.
I would catch 4 to 6 colds per year. I would get sidelined with the flu. It felt like I was always getting over something, and just when I would start to feel better, I would come down with something else. Itchy hives would break out all over my back on a nightly basis.
During the day I was tired, irritable, and would develop a headache right around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
While I worked out and payed attention to my diet, I was still slightly overweight and had a red, inflamed “puffiness” to my face that I had always assumed was genetic.
Strangely, this all seemed normal to me. I rationalized this overall crappy feeling by thinking it was part of life and everyone else was experiencing the same symptoms.
These weren’t life-threatening illnesses, but they were affecting my quality of life and I wasn’t even aware of it.
The strangest aspect of my crappy symptoms was that I was a “healthy” guy.
Despite being a typical college student, I managed to strive towards the “healthy” options. At the dining hall I would fill my plate high with heart healthy pasta. I consistently opted for the whole-grain roll when making sandwiches. And when it came to breakfast, Frosted Mini Wheats were a staple.
After all, I was following the government’s dietary guidelines, so I was on the road to success, right? Wrong.
It wasn’t until after I had graduated college that I began experimenting with a low-carb lifestyle.
When I removed grains from my diet, I felt better almost instantly in a variety of ways.
At the time, I didn’t fully understand why. I knew that cutting carbs would help with weight management, but I was unaware of the specific damage being inflicted upon my body by grain products such as bread, cereal, pizza, and pasta.
I continued to refine my low-carb approach until I came across the Paleo Diet.
The approach to grains in the Paleo Diet is essentially this; grain products are the products of agriculture. These products have not existed long enough within the timespan of human evolution for our biology to have adapted to eating them. Therefore, eating grains has negative effects on our health.
As human beings, our goal in formulating a diet (especially in the industrialized West) should be to maximize nutrition and restrict toxicity. Unfortunately, grains do neither of these things. They contain a number of antinutrients and toxins that can interfere with your ability to be optimally healthy.
Phytates are compounds found in grains that actually bind to minerals like zinc, manganese, and iron, and prevent their absorption into the bloodstream. These minerals are vitally important to men’s health.
It wasn’t until I learned this that I realized my high levels of grain consumption may have lead to deficiencies in these important nutrients, and may have played a role in my fatigue, irritability, and skin conditions.
Gluten is a problematic protein in grains that you may be familiar with. It causes systematic inflammation, and can lead to leaky gut syndrome. Doesn’t sound like a lot of fun does it?
In addition, The New England Journal of Medicine has listed 55 diseases that can be caused by the consumption of gluten!
On an anecdotal note, I quickly noticed a reduction in the “puffiness” of my face once gluten was no longer prevalent in my diet. In addition to the excess weight I was carrying, the redness and inflammation went down as well, and I could tell just by looking in the mirror that I was on the right track. My skin had become less discolored and smoother and more taught against my face.
What about all of those colds and flus I was catching?
It turns out that grains are trigger for autoimmune disease. As is the case with Leaky Gut Syndrome, particles leak through the lining of gut and are attacked by your immune system as though they were foreign invaders.
The result of this chronic autoimmune response is an immune system weakened to fight off infections like colds and flus. This, coupled with nutrient deficiencies I was experiencing, was not making me a very adept fighter of viruses.
After cutting all grains from my diet, I would only come down with one or two colds per year that would present themselves as a mild case of the sniffles, and nothing more. This alone was worth it.
There was another interesting phenomenon I experienced once I eliminated grains from my diet: I really felt like I was inhabiting my body for the first time.
Having grown up on bread and pasta, I was living life without grains for the first time in my life. I replaced them in my diet with extra protein, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats. I felt a newfound sense of vitality; a deep sense of energy on a cellular level.
I felt myself inhabiting every cell of my body. I was brought down from being up in my head all day, and gave me a bodily awareness that I had never experienced before.
And with this bodily awareness I became more mindful of what I ate and how I moved.
If you are looking to revamp your diet in search of more energy and vitality, eliminating grains, along with processed foods and refined sugars, can have amazing effects.
You may also find a host of other health issues you perceived as the norm rapidly disappearing.
So what are your thoughts? Are you willing to ditch the grains today and see what awaits?