It’s important to strive for what is realistic rather than idealistic. In this spirit, The Simple Life Healthy Lifestyle Plan follows five truth-based, real-world principles designed to keep you on track. These form the practical foundation of The Simple Life concept as a whole, not just regarding health:
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Gary Collins: Hi, this is Gary Collins, the creator of “The Primal Power Method,” and I’m here with…
Nicole Hellendoorn: Nicole Hellendoorn, California Paleo Kitchens, Orange County chef, coach, and all around bad ass.
Gary: That’s right.
Gary: That’s why I have you on, I’ve got to balance it out because I’ve got nothing [laughs].
Nicole: You’ve got something, you got recognition from Aetna Welness Center, and you wrote a book.
Gary: That’s right, I’ve got a book. It’s like a comic book of health, but no. We’re going to talk about confusion over grains and beans today since it’s a very timely subject with the Chris Kresser fiasco and Dr. Oz, which a lot of people know I got involved in, and did a rant. I have an interview with Dr. Loren Cordain, by the time this comes out, the interview will obviously be out, but look out for it on my blog. We think it’s a good topic in general. We had actually scheduled this before. It just so happened that all this fell into place for me. I know you deal with it, the grains and beans issue, anytime you get a new client, it’s one of the first things, they just look at you and their eyes roll back in their head, “You’ve got to be kidding me, I can’t eat grains or beans, what am I going to eat.”
Nicole: [laughs] Most of my clients are pretty generally familiar with the basics of Paleo or think they are, when they first meet with me. I just keep it really simple, really high level. I talk about inflammation. The inflammatory effects, how it’s an underscore biomarker for pretty much any disease, systemic or otherwise, is inflammation. How, when you’re eating things like grains, it’s inflammatory to your immune system, then you’ve got a whole issue going on where immune system attacks itself, and that’s where we get inflammation. We go in‑depth if they want more information. I do differentiate between gluten and grains. A lot of people don’t realize that, for example, corn is a grain although it is technically gluten‑free.
Nicole: Rice is a grain, but is also gluten‑free. There’s those finer points that we delve into although I have them on all grains to start. Beans are a little bit more confusing for people.
Nicole: I think people have caught on as a remnant of ’90s carb phobia and prominence of an Atkins based diet. They get that bread is not so good for them, but I think that they mostly associate it with carbohydrates rather than digestive function and inflammation. Whereas with beans, it’s a little bit harder for them to wrap their heads around because there is lots of information out there saying “Beans are a great source of fiber, they’re great protein, there is no fats.” All those kinds of buzz words people have come to pick up on over the last 10 years in terms of health and fitness. So beans, I find, are a little bit harder to explain to people. They also have a little bit harder time letting go of beans because certain cultures, Middle Eastern cultures with humus, garbanzo beans. The Mediterranean culture love garbanzo, all kinds of different beans. Hispanic cultures ‑‑ black beans, Cuban style beans, Beans‑a‑million ways. I think it’s just a little bit harder for people to grasp the concept of why beans would be bad for them.
Gary: It is.
Nicole: How do you explain it? How do you approach it?
Gary: That’s interesting. I find the exact same thing as far as the beans issue. For me, I do the same thing. I talk about inflammation. I also talk about the modern grain as opposed to an heirloom grain or a grain from 100, 150 years ago. The grains we eat today are completely different. They’re hybridized. They’re maximized, especially wheat, is maximized for its gluten content. It has 100 times the amount of gluten than it once did. It’s a short grain grass now as opposed to a long grass grain as height they call it, “dwarf wheat” now because it grows faster and it’s easier to harvest. That’s what I key on too is inflammation but also I tell them, like we were discussing a little earlier is the difference between a seed and grain, people get a little confused on that one too. It’s really not that big of a deal just look at a seed as something usually encompassed in a fruit. Corn is tricky because technical it’s a grain and seed at the same time. Quinoa is a seed and not a grain. Tell them, “Just think of grass.” If it’s a grass‑looking plant, that’s a grain. Otherwise, it’s more than likely a seed but don’t worry about that because they tend to have all the same protections. Plants do not want to be eaten. [laughs]
Nicole: Because they don’t want their genetic and reproductive material compromised.
Nicole: If you consume it, it’s going to lash out against you.
Gary: Exactly. It’s going to fight you.
Nicole: It’s smart. It’s crafty. [laughs]
Gary: I think that’s what we missed a lot in growing up and being taught about health is that the defenses that plants have. People always look at plants as they don’t have any feelings. You get into that whole touchy‑feely thing but they actually have found that plants communicate over miles underneath through the root system, the dirt, and the fungus. They can communicate through large distances and alert other plants in a different area that they’re having something happen to them or harm to bring up the defenses from animals, birds, bugs. They can bring about their own natural defenses to protect themselves. People don’t look at plants that way either. And I go, “Well, yeah.” Plants are far more complicated than we’re taught.
Nicole: That’s true.
Gary: Now, if you’re going to eat a seed, what’s it do, Nicole? We talked about it. What happens to it?
Nicole: It depends on which seed. I think that’s another point that gets a little confusing for people.
Gary: That’s true.
Nicole: Seeds are confusing. We can talk all day about the health benefit of things like chia seed, sesame seed, but grain seeds are completely different beasts. I find that I try not to go to the seeds things right away with new clients, just depending on where they’re starting and what their comprehension is. But we’ll get into that later. I think the seed thing can be very confusing for a lot of people. It’s like, “Well, why can I consume some seeds and not others? Why sunflower seeds but not wheat seeds or sprouted quinoa or whatever is it.
Nicole: That gets into a little bit of a finer point, but I don’t usually have clients fight me on that. They generally get the whole no grains thing. Another thing that I think is really interesting that’s a parallel that I see come up a lot in paleo‑eating is that we are eating grains traditionally in terms of breads, the whole dwarf wheat that we have in State society in mass quantities that were not…back in the paleolithic era and around those times. It’s similar with the whole nut flour thing. People are like, “It’s paleo. It’s made with almond flour.” It’s like, that’s so many almonds that you would never…just that sheer amount and magnitude. I’m seeing that attitude shift towards the nut flours. That’s where I draw a parallel. You shouldn’t be eating so much of it in this refined form regardless.
Gary: It’s substituting one because people have to realize nut flours, even though some are lower carbohydrate or lower glycemic because of the fact that they contain so much fiber and they have fat in them, so it definitely dulls the insulin response, but it’s still got a lot of carbohydrate in it. If you eat a lot of nut flours and you eat a lot of nuts, you’re still probably consuming too many carbohydrates. But nuts still have the same protections as a grain has. It still has phytate, some nuts will still have lectins, and you can’t get around it. That’s what I try to get away too, because everyone pounds lectins and phytate, and you can get into a million different scenarios. You can soak them. You can boil them. And actually, Chris got into that, that beans are great because you can cook them, and all the phytate is gone. I’m all, “No, Chris. Actually that’s totally not true.”
Nicole: I just feel like if you have to put that much prep work into eating something anyway, you shouldn’t eat it.
Nicole: Basically, anyone who has ever had corn on the cob or refried beans or beans however, you know that they’re not that easy on your digestive system. Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot. If you can eat it and poop it out whole, don’t eat it.
It’s just clearly not something your body is comfortable breaking down to a molecular level. So I drive that point home with a lot of people, and they just laugh. I’m like, “If you can just pass it…if you eat and it looks the same coming out as it did going in, probably not so easy on your digestive system.” Right?
Nicole: So that’s one of the points I make with a lot of people. Just stay away from something like that.
Gary: Yeah. Me and Dr. Cordain got into an interview during that, too. Hey, we’re not telling anyone that they can’t ever have beans or ever have bread ever again. But what we got with Chris is he was saying you could eat beans up to three times a week and dairy up to twice a day. And we’re all, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on.” We’re not attacking those foods. What we’re saying is the human digestive system is not meant to probably consume…probably? We know to consume those foods that much, because it causes again, inflammation. They have protections. Dairy is a tricky issue. Dairy, are you getting whole fat? Grass fed? Unpasteurized? Homogenized? There’s a lot to dairy that you have to know. It’s not the same across the board. You can’t just go get a brick of cheese and all cheese is the same. They’re processed differently. Different forms of cow’s milk are used. Whether they’re given hormones, whether they’re not, whether it’s grass‑fed or not and whether is it grass‑fed but they still gave them hormones.
Nicole: It’s a slippery slope.
Gary: It really is.
Nicole: Honestly, it’s almost too much to keep up with.
Nicole: Then again, I feel like that’s another thing where the magnitude issue comes into play. It’s like, literally the amount of lactose or whey that’s in cheese…that’s a concentrated huge amount. If you were just drinking milk straight from a cow in a wild environment and it was raw, it was fresh, that’s completely different than a block of cheese where you eat three slices of it. You’re concentrating all of those inflammatory to one basic food products. It’s the same way I feel about the almond‑flour bread. It’s the same way I feel about the grains in general. We’re eating them in such a mass quantity that wasn’t normal.
Gary Collins: That’s what we’re talking about.
Nicole: It’s crazy. That’s about a lot.
Gary: You could go have beans. If you want to have some beans with a stew that you made for a couple of days, fine, but don’t do it every single day or three times a week, because your body is going to eventually break down. The phytates are going to take over. It’s going to start harming your gut. You’re going to have inflammation in your gut. Now, you’re going to start having immune response. The thing is, we don’t talk about this from not having a background in it, because me, you, people like Chris, we’ve all gone through the evolution of the diet ourselves. It’s not something we’re just regurgitating by searching on Google. It’s something that we’ve lived and that we teach. It’s because I had to go through this process where I kept the beans and grains in for a while, but I changed them. I went to organically raised grains. I went to whole grains. I went to organically raised beans or sprouted beans. Then I realize, “That didn’t work.” I didn’t improve. I felt better as I replaced certain foods and went to organic foods and got rid of a lot of processed foods, but I kept those items into the very end until I finally said one day, “I’ve got to make a change. I’ve got to take these out. I’ve got to see what happens when I take them out.” I fully took them out, did the whole 30‑day. I never went back. I’d taken them out one time before during the cleanse, and I did that for two weeks. That’s where I started that it was an organic cleanse, which was eating food, juicing. It’s not the one in the box with Julian Michaels on it that will kill you or give you whatever.
Nicole: The maple syrup and lemonade?
Gary: Yeah, exactly, it was a real one. It was a whole foods based one. I did notice a drastic difference from those two weeks, but then again, I’d started implementing those foods back in, the grains and beans. I had to go through and eventually you eat that one sandwich a day. We’ve all got that story. What did we eat for lunch? ‑‑ A sandwich. That’s was a last grain we were having every single day, and that is enough to completely throw your immune system completely out of whack.
Nicole: See, I’m kind of the opposite of you, whereas, years before paleo, back when I was in my early teens, I did not do so well dairy. I would never have made the claim that I was lactose‑intolerant, because that sounded like such a wimpy thing, like, “No.” It makes me really gassy and fart a lot. I knew that when I had skimmed milk, whole milk, cheese, ice cream, I would guarantee to be gassy, and it was just one of those things. I had actually cut out dairy way before I’d even heard of paleo. A lot of people tell me, “Oh, I just can’t give up cheese.” I’m like, “OK, sure, if you think that you can’t, that’s great. For me, it was actually the easiest thing to give up, because I had years of not really having too much of it under my belt before paleo. I just didn’t agree with me.
Gary: Me too.
Nicole: I’d cut out grains and beans later, when I learned more about paleo and a different way of eating. For me, dairy was just one of the things where like, “I can do this.” I don’t trust the sources. I don’t trust the magnitude. Who has a gallon of milk, that’s disgusting. [laughs]
Gary: Milk destroys me, just absolutely destroys me. I had the same problems as a kid too. I had allergies to all of it. The biggest things that I tell people that I work with, the first thing when that we talk intolerance or food allergies, I say, “The three biggies, dairy, grains, citrus.” They go, “Citrus?” I go, “Trust me on this one.” Citrus was my last bug‑a‑boo that I didn’t get, but I wasn’t a big citrus guy to begin with. I didn’t eat a lot of oranges or anything. I just don’t eat a ton of fruit. I eat more berries. I always have, I’ve always liked berries more.” I have fruit trees around my yard, lemon and orange. I have some tangerines too. I would go out there and just pull them off the tree and eat them, and I kept getting all these sinus issues. My back of my throat would itch. I was like, “Oh.” I knew that as a kid. That’s a thing that blows me away is citrus bugged me as a kid, but no one ever puts citrus together with part of my health problems. It’s bizarre why we just fight citrus, because we’re told that juice and orange, it’s so good for you.
Nicole: That’s a perfect example when you really have to know yourself. What works for you may not work for everyone. If you know something bugs you, I don’t care if it’s paleo or not paleo. If it doesn’t make you feel good, don’t eat it.
Gary: You’re still fighting that thing. You’re still trying to get your immune system back, and you’re trying to rebuild it, so foods that were bothering you will not bother you once you regain your health and you repair your digestive system, which is a tricky thing too, because it takes years. It doesn’t happen overnight. I read books, and certain people say, “I can heal your gut in 30 day.” I go, “No, not really.” You can help a lot, but it takes a lot longer than 30 days. For me, with clients, almost every single person realizes they have issues with citrus. It’s a lot more common than people think. I had a guy that was dealing with broad issues of puffiness and digestive issues, and he would swell up and start to retain water. He goes, “My stomach will just burn. I feel horrible.” We’re talking. I’m all, “What are you eating? Did you change your diet?” He didn’t eat well, to begin with. He’s eaten a lot of garbage. He just said, “No, it’s just been really bad over the last month.” He’s drinking water with lemon in it. He goes, “Yeah, I’ve been drinking…”
Nicole: It’s great for a lot of people, but until you learn it’s not.
Gary: It helps with digestion for some. I go, “How long have you been drinking the lemon in your water?” He goes, “I started doing it about a month ago.” He goes, “Yeah, I’ve noticed that my throat will tingle and that my lips start to burn.” I go, “When you drink the lemon water?” He goes, “Yeah.” I go…
Nicole: Stop drinking the lemon water.
Gary: That’s what I thought. I would stop drinking the lemon water. A week later, he’s all, “Duh.”
Nicole: Duh. [laughs]
Gary: It’s all gone. Even though that’s a little tangent away from grains and beans, but it’s just the common. Grains and beans are the one that…It’s just so much effort to ferment, to soak, to sprout.
Nicole: Always a mess with it.
Gary: There’s another thing where people do this thing too. I did it. They’d say, “I can still eat oats and brown rice, because it doesn’t have gluten in it.” I go, “You know what, actually, that’s false.” It’s for two reasons. Actually, it doesn’t have as much gluten as wheat, but oats and rice do have gluten. It’s a fine line, because molecularly, there are still differences in grain as far as they don’t consider it gluten. The molecular structure is so close that it actually has the same reaction in the body. People who go gluten‑free and they can’t figure out why they have all the same conditions for the most part that they had before, they’re reduced, but they don’t go away, especially people with celiacs. It’s because they continue and eat grains that they think are gluten‑free and technically they’re not.
Nicole: …That’s how I feel about quinoa, for sure.
Gary: Oh, quinoa’s a big one.
Nicole: Big example.
Nicole: It behaves the same molecularly, chemically, in your body.
Nicole: And gives you a lot of the same symptoms. I couldn’t figure out for the longest time, again Pre Paleo days. I would eat a quinoa bowl for lunch. It was vegetables, lean protein, and then a half of cup of cooked quinoa. Oh, my God. My stomach would just be in terror. It would be awful.
Gary: Quinoa is one of, I think, the most misrepresented healthy grains…well, seed, out there. I had the same issue. I experiment a lot with my body. I’m a goofball that way. I’ve done Weight Watchers. I’ve done Atkins. I’ve done Slim Fast, and people freak out and they go, “Why would you do that?” Because I’ve got to figure out how other people feel [laughs].
Gary: I do that a lot too. I’ll add foods back in, just to see. I’ve done that with quinoa. I don’t even know how many…Probably 10, 15 times, where I experiment with it.
Nicole: I don’t mess with quinoa. I don’t have time for that.
Gary: Instantly, within in 10 minutes, it will terrorize me. Not only my stomach, I get a headache, my eyes start to burn, and my neck starts to hurt. That’s how sensitive I am to it now, because I don’t eat any of that stuff anymore. That’s another thing people don’t realize that they’re actually in pain because now they’re desensitized to it, as far as the foods they’re eating. They don’t realize how crappy they feel, until they take them all out, and then they change their health. I fight this battle all the time. I fought it with Chris Kresser. Why would you punish yourself with beans and grains or dairy, when you don’t need to? 70 percent of Americans are lactose intolerant. You’re rolling the dice that you’re the 30 percent that, maybe not. That’s just stupid to me. Why would you do that? Dr. Cordain said that too. He emphasized, he goes, “I just don’t understand.” If you smoke a cigarette a day, it might not give you Cancer, and it might not kill you, but you know it’s bad. Why would you smoke a cigarette a day?
Nicole: But you’re not a smoker.
Nicole: You’re also not a smoker. You don’t identify as a smoker.
Gary: Exactly. It’s the same thought process. I just think that in that sense, he’s just naive and not an expert in it. Then he admits that he doesn’t eat beans in the end, because they mess him up.
Nicole: Yeah, I don’t do beans.
Gary: That was bizarre. Why are you promoting beans if they mess you up, and you know they mess a lot of other people up? He goes, “Well, everyone’s different.” I go, “Everyone’s different, but trust me Chris, you obviously haven’t worked with enough clients. Beans mess people up.” Almost everyone I’ve ever dealt with, it messes them up.
Nicole: There’s a song about it [laughs].
Gary: Yeah. Why do we have this song from when we’re little kids?
Gary: I tell you, I have in my book, that’s funny you brought that up. In my book, I have a little page, because I didn’t want to get into the grains and beans and get into lectins and phytates. I felt it was too complicated for people. I just said, “You know what? Here’s the deal.” One page, here’s why you shouldn’t eat them. One part was, “They just don’t make you go toot‑toot,” was my title for beans.
Nicole: [laughs] It’s not worth the hassle. When you think about it, OK, you’ve got to get the beans. Yes, they’re very cheap, I understand the economic component of it, they’re extremely cheap. They come in dry form. You have to soak them overnight. Who has time for this, to soak them overnight? I don’t even know how else you make beans? You what? Then you boil them?
Gary: Yeah, you got to boil them.
Nicole: Fry them?
Gary: Or, you sprout them.
Nicole: Oh, my God. You spend hours prepping this one food. Then you eat it, and then it makes you fart a lot. Yeah, no thanks. I think I’m just going to have some kale.
Gary: Well, that’s the thing too. To properly prepare it, it takes days.
Nicole: The payoff is so minimal. It’s not worth it.
Gary: It is ridiculous. That’s what I tell people. I try to pound into their head is, “You want it simple, that’s what I’m all about, is keep it simple. If you’ve got to spend days or several hours preparing one food, you probably should let that one go.” I like to eat quick. I like to throw my veggies, get some protein in there and some fat, and I’m gone. I’m done. I don’t have to sit around and wait 45 minutes for my rice to cook, and it just doesn’t make any sense.
Nicole: Yeah, “Keep it simple, stupid.”
Gary: I think we’ve made a pretty clear point on this, and I don’t want to pound into the ground, because it can get really confusing. The main things we want to relay is, grains and beans (legumes) are not Paleo.
Nicole: They’re not Paleo.
Gary: No matter what Chris Kresser says. No matter what “whoever” says, they’re not Paleo. We’re not saying that they’re not a food group or that you can never eat them. What we’re saying is, Paleo is pretty well defined. Once you start tweaking the definition, it’s something else now. Now, you’re starting to confuse people. That’s my problem with it.
Nicole: With a template. It’s a template.
Gary: It’s a template, yeah.
Nicole: You have to self‑experiment. I would agree with that. It’s true. Most people are going to have issues with beans and grains. If you think you’re the unicorn that doesn’t, then don’t bother with Paleo, I guess? I don’t even know what to say about that.
Gary: Exactly. Try something else, and if it doesn’t work…That’s what I tell people, “Hey, Paleo isn’t the end‑all to all diets, so either is Primal.” I’ll tell them that, I’ve been at this a long time. I’ve had a lot of health issues from the standard American diet like everyone else. I’m like, “You can probably pretty much trust me on a couple of these issues, that Paleo and Primal, from all the dieting, all the stuff I’ve experimented with, and worked with people, it’s the best that I have found. Period.”
Nicole: Right. You wouldn’t have written a book about it. You wouldn’t be having these interviews. You wouldn’t be putting your faith into it, if you didn’t truly believe that based on principle.
Gary: Absolutely and that’s what I’m trying to explain as well.
Nicole: They’re self‑evident truths to you and I, because we have done these things, made ourselves healthier, know what makes us not so healthy. We’ve gone through the trial and error process, and this is what we believe in. This is our tenet.
Gary: I tell people that what makes me different too is, I never write or talk about anything I have not done myself. To me, that’s just a standard that I hold myself to. Why am I going to talk about something that I know nothing about? Everyone can use Google today. There’s more information than we ever need.
Nicole: There’s too much information.
Gary: If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the Internet is nothing but basically a universe of zeroes and ones. I can use the Internet in a certain way, because I know when I’m researching something, I know what I’m looking for. That’s a big difference. If you go there and you don’t know anything about Paleo or Primal, or changing your diet and you jump on there…Oh, man. It is just a nightmare. You’re going to be more confused than before you searched, or after you searched, than before. That’s why we hope that we’re getting across that we’re here to help people. I think Nicole is outstanding at what she does. She cooks a lot of tasty, tasty meals.
Nicole: I do.
Gary: Which I’ve cooked myself, and they don’t include beans and grains.
Nicole: Absolutely not. 100 percent Paleo when I cook.
Gary: That was a great discussion and hopefully if anyone has any questions, we’ve been getting them on YouTube, feel free to hit us up or hit us up on our websites. Mine’s www.primalpowermethod.com.
Gary: Excellent. All right, have a good one. I will talk to you later, Nicole.
Nicole: Talk to you next time.
Gary: All right.
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