We hear a lot of discussions about which food is good or bad for us. However I believe that this discussion tends to miss an important point.
All plants by their very nature produce chemicals to protect themselves against insects and bacteria. Some of these chemicals are remarkably similar in nature across a range of plants. One of the more important groups of these chemicals for us is the agglutinating lectins found in grains. They are designed to interrupt the digestive systems of the insects that prey on the grain.
As far as I am aware all plants produce these toxins. Carrots produce Falcarinol (carotatoxin) which in high enough doses produces neurotoxic responses.
These chemicals are in a fairly small dose in each seed but have a compounding affect and are not usually broken down by processing.
Until fairly recently no-one ate enough grain to see serious cumulative side effects or consequences from these chemicals. However research is showing that some of the our populations are starting to procure up to 40% of their energy come from grains alone. Hence we are starting to the the effects of compromised digestive systems.
I tend to believe that many of the immune disorders and behavioural issues that we are seeing may be moderated by these issues. For many of our populations a compromised digestive system is our primary immune interface with the world.
I am not ‘anti’ grain and am a nutrition educator. But I believe that we need to educate people to be aware of the issues that can arise from too heavy a reliance on any one factor in our diets. This includes any food that becomes to large a part of our diet.