Should You Eat Grains On A Raw Food Diet?

raw grainsIt is no secret that humans consume a lot of cereal grains. It’s in our breakfast, our lunches, our side dishes and entrees. It’s in our Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and American staples.

Grains even make up most of our favorite snacks and desserts.

And according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society, this is a good thing. These institutions feel that whole grains, such as wheat and brown rice, should be the foundation of a healthy diet.

Do you wanna know what I think? (Since you’re reading my blog, I’m going to assume that you do.)

The USDA, American Heart Association and American Cancer Society are completely WRONG. You do not need grains to be healthy.

Grains and Anti-Nutrients

The main issue with grains is that they contain high amounts of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients like phytic acid and lectins inhibit your body’s absorption of necessary nutrients like calcium and iron.

For instance, one study found that when male subjects were fed wheat rolls containing 2, 25, and 250 mg of phytic acid, iron absorption was decreased by 18, 64, and 82 percent!

Lectins, when consumed in high amounts, can actually bind to the lining of your intestines and cause intestinal damage. Gluten is particularly troublesome and has been linked to various gastrointestinal disorders, which have been linked to autism.

But Humans Have Been Eating Grains For Thousands of Years!

While 10-30,000 years may seem like a long time to we humans with a mere 100-year life span (at best), it is but a flash in the pan evolutionarily speaking.

Here is an excerpt from Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution on the increased consumption of grains since the Neolithic Period (when humans settled down and began farming extensively):

Becoming dependent on grains reduced intake of fruits and vegetables, often to 20% or less of total energy intake.  Accordingly, access to micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) previously supplied by fruits and vegetables was substantially decreased.

Of course, cereal grains also provide micronutrients, but not necessarily those to which human biology became accustomed throughout a multimillion-year evolutionary experience, during which fruits and vegetables were the overwhelmingly dominant plant foods.

Quite simply, we have not been consuming a diet high in grains long enough for our anatomy and physiology to have adapted to them in such high quantities.

And while many proponents of a grain-based diet site fiber as a reason to indulge, there is a huge caveat here. The fibers in grains are mostly insoluble.

This means that they lack the ability to absorb water and move comfortably through the body. Think of a harsh bristle brush slowly making its way down your digestive track.

Yikes!

Leave It To the Birds

In short, there is no reason for you to consume grains. Raw or cooked, they’re inferior to raw fruits and vegetables.

If you are having trouble consuming enough calories from fruit on a raw food diet, including some grains in your diet can help. However, I would advise turning to other starches like root vegetables (e.g. sweet potatoes), legumes, oats, and pseudograins like quinoa and amaranth first.

If you wish to consume grains, I’d advise sprouting and then cooking them first. This will reduce the amount of anti-nutrients and improve the overall bioavailability of various nutrients in the food.

Go raw and be fit,
Swayze

P.S. Want to learn more about the numerous problems with grains and other foods on a raw food diet? Would you also like to learn why raw foods are so amazing for weight loss, energy, digestion, and disease prevention, as well as exactly how you can meet all of your nutritional needs on a raw food diet.

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Post Last Updated: 3/5/2013

19 Comments

  1. tmommy, a few days ago I remembered this, and wondered:…but why did Jesus eat fish, so much fish? I cannot believe it was just a symbol! not to mention wine….tmommy, after all, I keep on being so confused!! Sorry! Listening to the Gospel of last Sunday made me feeling still confused! It was about Jesus helping His apostles fishing a lot of fish even after His Resurrestion, just as He did before, when He started to collect His apostles.

  2. Tmommy, your words are definitely the most sensible I have ever heard on such subjects! Thanks a lot! However a little doubt remains in me, because what I wonder is why Jesus ate, and let us eat, some foods which are absolutely not considered to be healthy at all, such as grains or others. You and other people, me too, think that we have to listen to our bodies to eat what's best for us, and that's the best way of eating, so, perhaps, saying that a food is absolutely not good for us, is not a good way of reasoning?
    Anyway your answer is very satisfiyng for me! :-)

  3. Hi Donata. I'm a Believer as well and believe that, while people ate bread and grains in the Bible, it may not have initially been our Creator's design for people to eat these foods in the state in which they're discussed. I think that Jesus met and continues to meet people where they are, whether we eat veggies, meat, grains, or otherwise. While I agree that the foods we eat greatly affects our health and well being (I eat mostly organic, and about 60% raw, 40% cooked food, with the goal of eating all raw), I don't believe that what we eat, or don't eat, is a matter of character, nor does it determine our relationship with God. In fact, God tells us in the Bible that we are not to call what He says is clean, unclean. I think that, ultimately, we need to listen to our bodies and eat the food that causes us to feel energetic and well, while eliminating those that cause us to feel tired and unwell.

  4. Thanks anyway! :-)

  5. I wish I could help, but I'm not a Christian and I don't know enough about the Bible to help you out. Good luck, though! :)

  6. Dear Swayze, I like you very much. That's why I have decided to ask you for advice. I am a Christian, or rather, I try to be, as being a Christian is very difficult and hard. So grains are a big issue for me. Grains and bread are constantly named in the Bible, and in the Gospel. Just think of Jesus' last supper, where bread is Jesus' body! and the episode about the Sabbath, when Jesus and His apostles are picking and eating corn on Sabbath day (corn here is even translated with wheat in my language, Italian. By the way, sorry for my awful English!), and so on..not to mention every food named in the Bible, salt and wine (Jesus' blood!)included, not to mention the neverending discussions on eating meat or not…well, I think that eating meat was inevitable for Man in his history, but nowadays we can avoid it…and I think that God could not forbid it, just because for that reason, that people, even in those times, perhaps could not afford living without eating meat or fish…..Could you help me on this? Some people think that evrything in the Gospel is symbolic, but that explanation does not satisfy me. I do not know if you are a believer or not, but perhaps you could help me all the same, you sound to be a very realistic and understanding person! Thanks a lot.

  7. Dear Swayze: To be honest with you, before I became a “Raw Foodist” I used to love the taste of brown rice, but, I read that the Prana is gone once any food is cooked. Prana is the “Life Force” which body requires for superior health and longevity. Cooked food is dead food, so logically, how can dead food promote health in a live body? I did extensive research on cooked food and learned that cooked food not only promotes cancer, but also feeds cancer cells. Gary Null said that the same food that causes cancer they feed to patients in hospitals. Sincerely yours, Harold

  8. I like the articles i’ve been reading on your blog but i’m a little disturbed by this one. First of all, we have no way of knowing what people rally ate before recorded history. That is totally speculation. The theory of evolution is also very questionable and I believe even disprovable, I believe we were designed and clearly designed with the ability to farm and cultivate plants. Another thing is that grains are not completely deficient in nutrients (especially not protein, I don’t know where you got that info from). Just because a food doesn’t have every nutrient is a silly reason not to eat it. Tthat would eliminate every food from your diet. I understand that they don’t need to be the major part of your diet, but I personally enjoy sprouted grains and think they taste fine, and I don’t see anything wrong with eating them.

    Swayze Reply:

    Just because a certain food is high in a particular nutrient does not automatically mean it is an optimal food for humans. What matters is that the food fulfills our own nutritional needs. Fruit does, grains do not.

    I’ve never said that you should only eat foods that contain every nutrient. That is impossible.

    If you enjoy them, go right ahead!

  9. Yes Swayze you are like a breath of fresh air…..you saved me from spending more money on the gadgets, such as the dehydrator. I mean a dehydrater would come in handy for some things like making some dried fruit for trail walking but really… I thought the dehydrater was going to save me from malnutrition and boredom. I have been 60-80% raw for the last year and for the last few months until reading your info on Fit on Raw I had severely restricted my fruit intake thinking I was heading for for hyperglecimia if I ate too much fruit. I am not sure how I got to your site but I celebrated by eating fruit all day without fear. Thanks. Love reading your inspiring , truthful, clear information. I do have a nagging concern though, since being vegetarian for the last two years…. where do I get vitamin B12??

    Swayze Reply:

    “…I celebrated by eating fruit all day without fear.”

    Now that sounds like my kind of celebration! :D

    Vitamin B12 is a touchy subject, even within the low fat raw vegan movement. While our bodies only need small amounts (provided our absorption is adequate), this may be hard to come by if one is not eating lots of organic, local produce. This is the general consensus, anyway.

    Personally, I do not supplement. I have been eating low fat raw for 2 years this Sunday, most of which has been conventional produce, but I have not felt the need to supplement.

    Ultimately, it’s a personal choice. If you are living as healthfully as possible and yet you often feel fatigued (one of the signs of low B12), supplementation may be an option. With that said, it’s really important to start by addressing other health factors (i.e. diet, exercise, sun exposure, fresh air, sleep, stress levels, etc.). I think that too many people jump on the supplementation band wagon much too quickly.

    Annie Reply:

    Hi,
    I have actually read about studies on B12. They have found that after a period of fasting (even a short period, like 1/2 a day) B12 forms in the mouth (i’m not a scientist and I don’t remember the details of how they explained this) and if you drink water during or just before breaking the fast you will get B12. If you think about it, B12 is only found in animal products. How did it get there? It wasn’t in the food they ate. Their body produced it, and yours can too.

    Laura Reply:

    Swayze, I really recommend you switch from commercial to organic produce as much as possible. I usually only get mangoes, papaya, sometimes pineapple or banana or melons commercially, as these are outrageously expensive for organic many times. But I switched over almost exclusively to organic after one day I had bought a large tub of berries from Costco, and I rinsed them as much as I could. But after i ate some, the pesticides in them burned my throat and caused me an immediate splitting headache. Then I realised how badly the pesticides on commercial produce was making me feel. I also compared the nutrition in one bag of commercial lettuce to organic, and it was astounding how much more nutrition the organic had. And almost always, organic produce TASTES 100% better than commercial, which is also waxed. I rarely have organic produce which tastes bad, but not so with commercial. Even in bananas I can taste and see the difference. The colors are so much more rich and vibrant in organic fruits, veggies and greens. If it’s too expensive to buy something like red or orange bell peppers organic (say, $5/lb), or grapes, when it’s not really in season, I’ll either forego it and not buy any rather than buy high-pesticide covered commercial variety, or I will buy a small amount in organic only, once in awhile. Go organic as much as possible. And last but not least, Co-op stores generally cost more, so try other natural food stores for organic.

  10. Hi Swayze,

    That post is probably a bit off-topic, but I just need to tell you :-)

    I found out about your blog on goneraw.com and now I’m going through the pages of FitOnRaw and it’s just great what I find there!

    I just started being raw about a week ago (a real newbie), but I’ve been vegetarian/vegan for a couple of years. Where I come from (Germany) a lot of the raw people are living the raw lifestyle in a way I could never do it. You probably know them, the “gurus” who treat this way of eating like a religion, often are religious and almost force you to believe the same as they do (and some of them even claim that it’s impossible to live raw if you don’t include meat in your diet). That always kept me from being raw, because I didn’t want to be like them.

    After some research and recognizing that there is a different way of raw I thought that is exactly what I was looking for and I was eager to try it. And it is great!

    I love how you encourage people to keep it simple and do not tell your visitors that you have to buy this, use that and basically spend a fortune on gadgets and super”food” to do this diet. You are so right about it. People start being raw, because they say that’s what people used to eat and then at the same time they want you to add some pulverized plant extracts to your dehydrated bread. How crazy is that??

    I wish there were more people like you who prove that keeping it simple and natural is the best way to go.

    Keep up the good work!

    Love,
    Kathrin

    Swayze Reply:

    Aww, thanks Kathrin! You just made my morning. :D

    By the way, you should check out the 30 Bananas A Day forum if you haven’t already. I think you’ll like it.

    Here’s the link:

    http://arawconnection.ning.com/

  11. Donna,
    I think I got “adequate” calcium on low-fat raw foods during my pregnancy but I still had tooth decay – and I believe this is a sign that I didn’t get enough calcium (and/or fat-soluble vitamins) according to the research of Melvin Page and Weston Price on the causes of tooth decay.
    Anyway, you can still eat raw foods but I encourage you to supplement, its OK. I like to put it this way. Raw foods will give you the nutrients you need for today. But you already lost nutrients yesterday. So for a pregnant/lactating mother, consider supplementing. Be smart about which one you choose, ideally see a naturopath and just take what you need, they will prescribe a good brand.
    Or consider drinking raw goat milk. That’s what I do. It’s alkalizing, high in calcium, phosphorus, etc. as well as fat-soluble vitamins. Just take 1-2 cups a day in order to keep your fats low enough.

  12. I need salt with grain, and when I eat these, my blood pressure drops. Low blood pressure has been a chronic problem of mine, even in childhood, and the raw diet Swayze recommends takes care of that. i still don’t always have the funds to eat as Swayze recommends, but I feel good when I do. Iam blood-type O, supposedly the meat-eater, and I do have some roasted chicken at night still, 1-4 times a week–about 40 minutes after I have a nice green salad with peppers and fresh grapefruit. I eat the ends off of the bones, too. When I have fresh nuts, I eat less chicken.

  13. I would likme to know if you could tell me how do I get enough calcium in my diet every day,on the raw diet as suppose to have 1500 mg daily.

    Swayze Reply:

    You will receive plenty of quality calcium on a low fat raw vegan diet. Just be sure to refrain from harmful practices such as consuming alcohol, soft drinks, smoking, eating meat, etc.

    I also answered this question in this issue of Peachy Keen:

    http://www.fitonraw.com/2009/08/5-know-how-tips-for-the-raw-food-beginner/

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