Health Benefits of a Grain Free Diet
Health Benefits of a Grain-Free Diet
The gluten-free diet is widely accepted and recommended by many health experts to improve digestion, gut health and reduce inflammation. But what if you’ve gone gluten free and haven’t experienced the dramatic cure promised? If you suffer from autoimmune diseases, pain and inflammation? Do you have digestive troubles, leaky gut, or can’t seem to lose weight no matter what you do? Then taking the gluten-free diet one step further by going grain-free may be the solution. Read on to learn more about what to eat on a grain-free diet and why you might want to give it a try.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a grain…
What is Grain-Free?
Grain-free means going without any grains in your diet or consuming food with flours made from them.
What can I eat on a grain-free diet?
Plenty! Take the Paleo diet for example. It is entirely grain-free and excludes dairy and legumes but there is still plenty you can eat. Try eating whole foods such as grass-fed meats, fish, eggs, and tempeh. If you’re not Paleo or sensitive to beans, add in chickpeas and lentils. Substitute flour in baked goods for grain-free flours like:
- cassava, and
- coconut flour,
- chickpea flour if you’re not on a Keto or low-carb diet.
Does a grain-free diet have to be low carb?
Not necessarily. A low carb diet isn’t for everyone. Keto diets are highly popular but not all carbs are bad for you. Highly processed carbs and sugary foods aren’t the same as slow digesting carbs including starchy vegetables. If you don’t want to go low carb but still want to go grain-free add in sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and fruit.
Why Go Grain-Free
Now that you know what you can eat and that it is possible to live without grains in your diet, let’s talk about why you might want to go grain-free.
How Grains can Harm your Health
Gluten containing grains are known to weaken the intestinal lining and cause leaky gut a condition that leads to food allergies, impaired digestion and inflammation. Though there are healthier grains that are higher in fibre and minerals and don’t contain gluten, they may still provoke an inflammatory response in sensitive individuals. If you have autoimmune issues, unexplained weight gain, allergies and inflammation try going grain-free for two weeks to see if it makes a difference.
Why is grain-free considered healthy?
Eating a diet that doesn’t contain grains means you are probably lowering your overall carbohydrate intake reducing insulin spikes and you are also removing potential allergens that cause inflammation.
What are some other health benefits of a grain-free diet?
Other health benefits may include:
- Weight Loss- By removing foods you may be sensitive to and by highlighting foods that are lower in sugar and fast carbs that spike blood sugar such as traditional pancakes, you will probably lose weight by going grain-free. Another way it can promote weight loss is by improving thyroid function.
- Improved Thyroid function- Certain grains also interfere with the absorption of nutrients that support a healthy thyroid and gluten may trigger an auto-immune response, such as Hashimoto’s disease.
- Brain Health- Grain Brain, the bestselling book by neurologist David Perlmutter was one of the first medical books to highlight how going without all grains, may protect your brain from diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. This devastating brain condition is now being called type 3 diabetes due to its connection to raised insulin which high carbohydrate diets can contribute to.
- Diabetes Prevention- Grain-free often means a reduced intake of fast carbs that cause fluctuations in blood sugar, leading to increased insulin. Too much insulin over time leads to type 2 diabetes.
- Reduced Inflammation/Autoimmune help- Gluten is an inflammatory food. If you have autoimmune diseases such as Celiac you have to remove it from your diet. Other conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease and PANDAS also recommend removing gluten from your diet to lower inflammation and reduce symptoms. This could explain why many followers of diets that don’t include grains such as the Paleo diet, report a reduction in their MS symptoms.
But wait…aren’t grains good for you?
It seems that every government agency recommends grains as part of a healthy diet. Grains in moderation that aren’t GMO can be a healthy part of a diet when they contain fibre and minerals. The problem is many of the grains consumed today are stripped of these nutrients and can be highly inflammatory. They are also sprayed heavily in pesticides. If you choose to eat grains, we still recommend gluten free grains and organic whenever possible. Some of these grains are alkaline and easier to digest such as millet and quinoa. Quinoa which is more of a seed (considered a pseudo-grain) is high in protein so it won’t have as much of an impact on blood sugar. It is also gluten free and is usually tolerated. And for those without digestive issues or leaky gut, sprouted grains with the germ intact may be okay for you.
Tips to Go Grain-Free
Eliminate gluten first if you want to ease your way in. Then follow with corn, and other grains. It may be easier just to start all at once as it may help reduce cravings. Can’t live without your morning pancake? Don’t worry, there are options, such as the ones included in our grain and sugar-free recipe guide with healthy breakfast and lunch recipes that are so tasty you won’t miss the grains. And yes, it includes healthy grain-free pancakes! Whatever you decide, make a note of how you feel before your start and if your symptoms improve. That will help you gauge which grains are the best for you if you decide to add them back into your diet in the future.
Ready to go Grain-Free?
If you want to go grain-free but need more help or you’re not sure what eating plan is right for you to achieve optimal health, hormonal balance, and weight control, contact our registered holistic nutritionist for a custom plan to address your needs.