Third Food and Health Group Meeting – Grains

Ripe_WheatOur third meeting was on the topic of cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, rice, corn and barley. Unfortunately, due to a mix up with the room booking we ended up in the smaller upstairs room. To make matters even more ‘comfy’ more than fifty people attended. But despite it being quite a squeeze, this meeting was in many ways our best yet. There was a family atmosphere with children, parents and grandparents, as well as medical professionals including doctors and dentists. Many of the regulars helped with organising the evening, serving tea and helping with the food. It was quite special.

PART 1: Presentation

We started with a presentation wryly titled ‘Cereal Killers?’. Keir and I took turns presenting different parts of our research explaining why grains do not naturally form part of the human diet, the low nutrient quality of grains and the medical problems linked to them. The running order went like this…

  • Grains as evolutionary anomalies in the human diet (slides 1-9)
    – Grains have only been part of human diet for 330 out of 60,000 generations
    – We are not genetically adapted to neolithic foods such as grains
  • The low nutritional density vs high calorie density of grains (slides 10-26)
    – Grains are second class proteins, low in many minerals and vitamins
  • The anti-nutrients in grains – phytates & lectins (slides 26-37)
    Grains contain significant amounts of anti-nutrients
    – These contribute to malnutrition and certain diseases, including dental caries
  • Changes in modern wheat (slides 38-44)
    – How breeding has changed wheat
    – Reductions in minerals since dwarf wheat’s introduction in the 60’s
  • The increase in coeliac and wheat related disorders (slides 45-54)
    – Coeliac includes not only gut pathology, but neurological and skin variants
    – Wheat is implicated in the etiology of an increasingly wide range of diseases
  • Denise Minger’s work on The China Study (slides 55-72)
    – Denise shows that wheat has the closest correlation with heart disease

The PowerPoint above is a low-res version of the original presentation (c) Afifah Hamilton. Images, data and graphs used in the presentation are copyright of the original source material authors and publishers, including Dr Loren Cordain & Denise Minger.

In summary

Grains are non-essential dietary elements with malnutrition and disease potential. Any nutrient that can be found in grains can be found in other foods in better quantities and with lower concomitant anti-nutrients. Grains therefore displace from the diet foods with higher nutritive value. As such they should be one of the first carbohydrates to eliminate or at least significantly reduce. Replacement with high quality animal foods and vegetables would seem to be closer to the paleolithic foods our genes expect.

PART 2: Demonstration

After a well-deserved cup of tea it was over to Caroline, who took us through the preparation of a range of delicious foods we could all enjoy in place of bread.

Suggestions for something good-looking, quick and tasty for the lunch-box included: liver pate used to fill the groove on celery sticks and then cut into bite sized pieces, or the same done to little-gem lettuce leaves, which can be rolled up; cream cheese rolled up in salami slices and thin omelette rolled up bacon and cheese with tasty fillings in place of bread wraps. The trick is to add grated cheese around the rim of the omelette whist in the pan, which, once melted will act as a ‘glue’ when you roll them up so they don’t unroll in the lunch box! Clever eh? Another quick lunch-box snack is mini-burgers made from balls of minced meat with herbs and various seasonings, fried in lard, goose fat or butter and popped in the box, maybe along with some cherry tomatoes and chunks of cucumber and cubes of cheese. Easy to eat and tasty as anything!

Plates of these foods were circulated and everyone was keen to try them – they were all utterly delicious and showed how easy it can be to replace bread with more nutritious foods.

Almond & Hazel LoafCaroline then demonstrated how to actually make nut-breads. She prepared several different recipes including a coconut loaf and a hazelnut and almond bread (see right). Again samples were circulated and eagerly lapped-up by everyone present. All around me were people munching and nodding to each other and agreeing how incredibly nice the various items were. Lots of mmm noises too. She showed how the addition of just one desertspoon of honey transformed the basic recipe into a low carb cake of total deliciousness, especially nice if served with cream.

(I recently gave a slice of the almond and hazel bread to some sceptical guests who were amazed at just how nice it was!)

Caroline pointed out that nut-breads should be used as an occasional food rather than part of the everyday diet – not only because nuts are more expensive than wheat flour, but also because, although they are much lower in carbohydrates, they do contain some of the anti-nutrients found in grains (in this case, phytates), since they are the seeds of their trees, and therefore ‘trying’ to survive to reproduce the next generation of their species, just as we discussed earlier in relation to grains.

Additional resources
Worth printing off and giving to any sceptical academics you come across!

Peer reviewed papers on the evolutionary basis of diet, and the consequences of a grain based diet:

Supporting studies:

3 thoughts on “Third Food and Health Group Meeting – Grains

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