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I am a regular on The Survival Podcast as an expert on health, finance, and life simplification. Below is the transcript of my answer to a listener question on about Paleo and a lot of confusion.
(Question): What’s the difference between grains, seeds and nuts, and why are they generally no-go in paleo-primal diets?
Besides wheat and corn as grains, what is considered edible in the diet? Can they be modified in any way to make them part of the diet?Seth
Gary Collins (Answer): Hey, everyone. We have a Paleo question, grains, seeds, and nuts question from Seth. He’s a little confused on this. This is actually pretty common. The Paleo diet can get confusing, and Primal is different from Paleo so there are some nuances there.
His question is, what’s the difference between grains, seeds and nuts and why are they a no‑go on the Paleo diet?
Seth, actually, only grains are a no‑go on the Paleo diet. Seeds and nuts are OK and the reason why that grains are a no‑go are three primary reasons. God, there’s more. There’s four. Let’s stick with four.
The first main one is that the modern grain today has been genetically modified so much and changed. I’m not talking by cross‑breeding. We’re talking genetically altered through science that the grain is no longer what it used to be. Wheat is one of the typical ones. Wheat from a hundred years ago, compared today is night and day. It’s totally different.
That’s where dwarf wheat came from was genetic modification of wheat. It has a heck of a lot more gluten, which gluten is an inflammatory in our digestive system and can cross the blood‑brain barrier and cause a whole host of issues as far as premature Dementia, Alzheimer’s, neurological disorders, migraines, chronic headaches.
That is one of the main things right there, especially wheat. The gluten grains, wheat, barley, rye and then they get into the other grains that they say are gluten‑free and are OK, but those still aren’t Paleo. Grains period are off but the problem with trying to dabble with grains is technically they may not have gluten but what they have is what they call gluten derivative.
The molecular structure is just slightly off so it’s not technically gluten but it has a lot of similarities and reacts in the body in a similar fashion. That is probably one of the main reasons, then phytates and lectins which are chemical components that actually, inhibit the absorption of micronutrients and also cause gut inflammation.
Was the modern human really technically designed to process grains? On the Paleo side, they say, “Absolutely not,” that we were never really adapted in…We haven’t been consuming them long enough for our digestive systems to alter themselves, alter themselves in order to adapt to grains.
Not only that, but you throw in the fact that they’ve been genetically modified over the last hundred years so they don’t even look like what they look like a hundred years ago. There’s no way our digestive system is going to catch up. That is our reason. Seeds and nuts, long as you eat them in moderation, they’re fine. They’re Paleo. They’re Primal. Not a problem.
Now, as far as you talk about wheat and corn as grains. Those are definitely a no‑go on Paleo. Corn is considered a pseudo-grain by most in the Paleo/Primal world. That’s where it gets a little tricky. The easiest way to remember this is…
Grains come from a grass plant. If it looks like a grass plant, that’s where grains come from. Seeds are inside a fruit or vegetable. Nuts are encased in usually a hard shell. That’s the easiest way to remember these and they all do the same thing. They grow another plant or tree. That’s what they do.
To make them edible, on the Primal side, we say, not everyone has an intolerance to grains. Do I recommend that you consume them all the time? No. But on occasion, it’s OK. It’s not going to kill you. There’s a lot of different philosophies on that. Some hardcore Paleo people say, “Absolutely no grains ever.”
I’m more of moderate on that. There are ways you can do it. You can either soak them. What you do by soaking the grains is you soak them for 24 hours. You got to put vinegar or lemon juice in there. You got to put an acid to break up those phytic acid and lectins and get those chemicals that are actually on the grain in order to protect it.
That’s not to say that seeds and nuts don’t have protective chemicals. They do as well, but not in the same amount as grains. You can soak them overnight, rinse them off real good and then prepare them how you usually do. Or you can actually ferment them or sprout them. Either/or fermenting or sprouting. Fermenting is just like making alcohol, kombucha. It’s the same kind of process.
Sprouting, you soak them until they actually sprout which breaks the outer layer of that grain and breaks down all the protective chemicals in there that are harmful to our gut. Actually, they’re more nutritious sprouted, because it’s actually grown and it changes the chemically…from an energy source to a plant growing source.
It has a chemical change in it that makes it actually more nutritious, primarily getting rid of those chemical protections.
I hope that answers your question. When you get into the whole grains, seeds and nuts debates, especially on the grain side, it gets complicated. The easiest thing is for people who have a lot of digestive issues, leaky gut syndrome, I definitely recommend you to avoid grains, Crohn’s, irritable bowel. I have great success by taking people off grains and actually solving those issues.
Again, if you have any questions, just hit it up in the comments section. Thanks a lot, guys.