Loren Cordain - Anti-Nutrients In Foods

Grains And Leaky Gut

W hy do grains irritate the human gut?

CORDAIN: Grains are the seeds of a plant.  It's reproductive material, and plants don’t make their reproductive material to give away for free to animals.  If they did they’d become extinct. The evolutionary strategy that many plants, particularly cereal grains have taken to prevent predation, is to evolve toxic compounds so the predator of the seeds can’t eat them. That way, they can put their seeds in the soil where they’re meant to be, to grow a new plant and not in the gut of an animal to feed it.

We're told whole grains are especially valuable because of the vitamins and nutrients.  Why don’t you like the parts of grain that make it “whole grain?”


CORDAIN: If we look at the outside part of the seed, that’s the part that comes in contact with the environment and has the concentrated anti-nutrients. All these nasty things we’re finding in grains that cause problems, are concentrated in the outside portion of it.  So that’s where the fiber, is in the bran portion, and that’s where many of the anti-nutrients are.


A friend's knees ache when she eats whole grains, but fine with white French bread.  Why would it cause less problem for her than whole grain bread?

CORDAIN: Whole grains are concentrated sources of anti-nutrients, more so than white bread. White bread certainly isn’t good because of high glycemic load. It also contains gliadin, one of the elements that open up the gut, as do lectins. Lectins are more concentrated in the outside layer of wheat berries.

People think grains are a good source of fiber, and actually they’re not. Fruits and vegetables contain orders of magnitude, at least vegetables do, contain an order of magnitude greater amount of fiber per calorie than grains. There’s no human requirement for grains. That’s the problem with the USDA recommendations. They think we’re hard-wired as a species to eat grains. You can get by just fine and meet every single nutrient requirement that humans have without eating grains.

Grains are poor sources of vitamins and minerals compared to fruits and vegetables, and meat and fish. Get a computerized dietary analysis program and put in the eight whole grains, and then put in the 20 most commonly consumed fruits, and the 20 most commonly consumed vegetables, and look at the nutrient density.  The nutrient density is much greater in fruits and vegetables, than it is in grains.  So why are we putting grains at the base of our food pyramid and telling people that they have to eat them? There’s absolutely no nutrient in grains that we can’t get elsewhere.

A woman on the web talks about her twin boys, she put on a plant-based diet. The boys diagnosed as Type 1 diabetics, and they don’t take any medications.

CORDAIN: That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because the only way you can eat a plant-based diet is by eating grains and legumes, and those are two factors that can irritate the gut. Hundreds of scientific papers show that legumes and grains increase intestinal permeability, and they do it through the mechanisms we talked about earlier, through lectins and saponins, and what are called thaumatin-like proteins, so I would say that vegetarian or vegan diets would be one of the worst ways a person with auto-immune disease could go.  I recommend not doing that.

A New York Times article from November 25th 2007, titled, "Should we all go gluten free?” tells of a convention where people ate breakfast pancakes with no gluten. Gluten free products -- I suspect, you'd say, still have potential to cause a leaky gut.  It’s not as simple as having gluten free bread.

CORDAIN: Exactly.  You can make gluten free products,.  You can have gluten free breads that are made out of rice and potato flour, and god knows what else, and they can have a texture similar to bread, but you’re still getting a gigantic glycemic load, you’re still getting a variety of the anti-nutrients that are potentially not very healthful.

The Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago pointed out it takes less than a tenth of a teaspoonful of gluten once every two months, to keep the inflammatory attack from Celiac Disease going.  That’s a very small amount.

CORDAIN: You have to be very careful if you have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.  No amount is too little.

Leaky Gut and Autism — Gluten, Dairy, Beans and Potatoes?

From your research, other markers are worth checking in blood tests. A comprehensive panel with those, could answer questions for people with chronic conditions.

CORDAIN: Looking at gluten and gliadin, Dr. Alessio Fasano, of the Center for Celiac Research in Maryland, and others looking at leaky gut, they’re missing some of the anti-nutrients that go beyond gluten.  For instance, with autism, we know there’s leaky gut.  And it presents frequently, but we’re looking at this uni-dimensionally. In autism, they’re looking at wheat and dairy, and they remove wheat and dairy, but I can tell you right now, potatoes contain substances that cause leaky gut, as do legumes, to the same extent as gliadin. If you’ve got an autistic kid, and you get them off wheat and dairy, well good.

There’s one meta-analysis that looked at all six studies that either removed wheat or removed dairy, and shows a therapeutic effect for autistic children. But if a leaky gut is indeed involved, and it is autoimmune related, then you’re only halfway there, and you have to get the legumes and the potatoes out of the diet. These saponin containing foods, we know, cause leaky gut, in healthy normal humans,

There are two Glycoalkaloids in potatoes.  One’s alpha-chaconine and the other’s alpha-solanine.  In healthy normals, after you eat mashed potatoes, within half an hour, those two Glycoalkaloids are found in the bloodstream of healthy normals.  What does that tell us?  It tells us they’re breeching the gut barrier.  Those are ubiquitous foods.  Chili Beans, potatoes, french fries, mashed potatoes.  People eat those things every day.  So if  we’re looking at a leaky gut, then you need to look at these other substances.

Excerpts from an interview with Dr Loren Cordain.

Full interview: http://www.meandmydiabetes.com/2011/12/03/loren-cordain-leaky-gut-whole-grain-and-even-potatoes/