How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Dont Be Grainwashed
Here’s your warning: the things I’m about to unveil to you may just come across as completely unhealthy, unrealistic, and just plain bizarre. And generally, that’s what I aim for because it gets us thinking about things in a fresh way. We can’t keep using the same mainstream common-knowledge to get healthy because it so rarely works to heal (remember, healing is our goal). In order to be radically well, we have to take radically new approaches to wellness, even if they go against conventional thought. And as always, use a discerning eye to determine what, if anything, could potentially work for your unique situation.
We’ve already discussed gluten and what a bitch it can be to thyroids and immune systems. Now let’s get really counterculture and take that idea one step further. If you’ve implemented any of my health/food suggestions up until now, then chances are you’ve eliminated gluten in processed foods and gluten-containing grains from your diet (remember, those include wheat, rye, barley, some oats due to cross-contamination, spelt, triticale, and kamut). And that’s great!, Fantastic, really. You feel much better right?, However, for many people with sensitive immune systems and disease, eliminating gluten alone isn’t enough. For these people, eliminating most or all grains from their diet is essential.
Now, I know, I know — you’re probably all like, but Liz, the FDA has this huge pyramid, that they’ve been promoting for years as gospel which shows us what foods are appropriate to eat and there’s this block which says we need 6-11 servings of whole grains everyday in order to be healthy!, And anyway, everywhere I eat or shop, I see the virtues of grains extolled in print and in advertising., To which I say, yes, I know; you’re absolutely correct. But between you, me, and the LCD computer screen, how often can you honestly say that you put your total faith in our government?, Shouldn’t we be even more observant about its policies when it comes to our bodies?, Just because grains are promoted as a wonder food does not actually make them necessary for life or requirements in a healthy diet. Please let me explain; let’s look at the science.
If we take a look at our ancestors — peoples with similar digestion and body systems (way way back in time in the Paleolithic period, before the first Agricultural Revolution of the Neolithic era) — we see that these people were hunter-gatherers. That means, of course, they ate animal protein and seafood, plants/vegetables, fruits and nuts. No grains, never. Grains require community settlement and cultivation — something in which those early peoples didn’t partake. Later, people began planting and sowing grains for food. Disease consequentially followed: reductions in stature, bone abnormalities, increase in tooth decay and enamel defects, a rise in many infectious illnesses, iron deficiencies, and shorter life spans. Then, in the late 1800s during the Industrial Revolution, people began refining grains and sugar (cane sugar is technically considered a grain because it is a member of the large Gramineae grass family), and we saw a rise in degenerative diseases. And today, we’re living a Fast Food Revolution and have combined refined grains and sugars with bad fats, chemicals and synthetic “foods” whose byproduct is obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Coincidence?, The cynic in me says hell-to-the-no.
But why exactly is everyone so crazy for grains?, Well, grains are of course an amazing source of fiber, protein, and B vitamins among other things, but we can get these necessary-for-good-health vitamins, minerals, and compounds from sources other than grains. This is an idea worth looking into especially because, conversely, grains also contain some evil properties that we never hear about that can actually negate all their virtuosity: specifically, antinutrients.
Antinutrients are just what they sound like — when eaten with other foods (fruits or vegetables, or other things with nutritive value), they can actually block or reduce the absorption of those nutrients (including iron, vitamin D, vitamin B-6, zinc, calcium)!, So if you’re eating brown rice (the supposedly really healthy kind of grain that has not been refined) with some steamed carrots and peas, or even a nice green salad, chances are you’re not even absorbing many of the nutrients in those veg due to the rice’s antinutrient (which is prominent in whole grains due to the fact that the structure is intact). Crazy right? As people with chronic illnesses, don’t we need all the nutrients we can get?
One specific kind of antinutrient that can be harmful is phytate. , Research shows that humans have not adjusted or evolved to tolerate high levels of phytate in the grains we consume and this has manifest as iron deficiencies (chronic fatigue, dizziness, headaches, and pale skin), calcium deficiencies (skeletal problems, as well as anxiety, muscular tension and cramping), and zinc deficiencies (frequent colds, wounds that heal too slowly, little appetite, altered sense of taste and smell, skin problems, and delayed sexual maturation). It is thought this is why native peoples began processing grains: soaking, fermenting, germinating, scalding, and malting.
Other antinutrients are lectins which are glycoproteins that have inflammatory properties similar to gluten that causes allergic responses in many people, including destruction of the intestine and/or villi (remember we spoke last week about villi destruction and the malabsorption of our thyroid hormone/medication) and gut permeability in which toxins leach into the bloodstream. This is a similar autoimmune response experienced with a gluten sensitivity, where the body cannot distinguish between itself and the “invading pathogen” or food as the perceived enemy. , So while going on a gluten-free diet may make some of your symptoms subside, you may also need to eliminate lectin for optimal health, according to your genetics and environment. This is also a really important point for those of us with autoimmune thyroid disease because autoimmune diseases by nature are inflammatory diseases. So, if we continue to introduce inflammatory foods into our diet (such as grains that contain lectin), we could be making the inflammation going on inside of us even worse. (I will go into lectin and all its hidden sources and potential problems in further detail later).
A few other things to consider:
- Thyroid disease and diabetes are closely related — they’re both diseases of the endocrine system. Eating things that are high on the Glycemic Index can make blood glucose irregular and perhaps even eventually cause insulin resistance. Grains are high on the Glycemic Index.
- Grains are starches. Remember the yeast stuff?, Well, starches convert to sugar when metabolized, and sugar feeds yeast, and systemic yeast proliferation causes major symptoms and pains (including malabsorption of thyroid medication).
- Some, though not all, grains have goitrogenic properties. (I will go into goitrogenic foods in greater detail later). , Goiter affects nearly 200 million people worldwide, but most commonly in Africa. It is commonly accepted that an iodine deficiency may be one of the causes of such thyroid enlargement, but in many places where goiter occurs there is a sufficient iodine supply. Millet is one grain that is widely consumed in many African countries and is known for its interference with the thyroid hormone.
- Grains can have opiodic properties, in which they create a high or euphoric feeling in many people, leading us to crave them more.
- Hidden sources of grains you may be inadvertently consuming: corn and corn products such as high-fructose corn syrup, soda, sugar, dextrin, maltodextrin, lecithin, citric acid, caramel coloring, animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs (most animals have been fed grains).
So at this point, you might be all psychosomatic and feeling completely overloaded with information (I know food science-y stuff sometimes has a funny way of doing that to me), and thinking that you have no damn clue what exactly you should be eating because most of the Standard American Diet is comprised of grains and their derivatives. But look, my intent is simply to present you with all the information. What comes next is your own discernment — weighing this information against your own knowledge of your body and health situation. The best way to determine if grains are actually troubling your system is to do an elimination diet for three or so weeks and see how your body responds. , Then, re-introduce the food and see what happens. , As someone who’s lived grain-free myself, here’s what you should know: any change in lifestyle is tough at first. Initially you do feel hungry because you’re so used to the dense/heavy feeling of satiety that grains provide, and also the neurological euphoria they set off in many people. However, being grain free allowed my blood sugar to remain stable throughout the day so that I wasn’t all shaky and famished by mealtime. I didn’t have the middle of the day sleepiness or headaches or brain fog. And when I did reintroduce grains into my diet, my body freaked out and gave me major gastrointestinal issues for days (not fun). But, as always, there’s so much more to this story and below are resources to jumpstart your own grain-free research.
Until Next Week,
- Going Against The Grain book
- Going Against The Grain, website
- Living Gluten-Free For Dummies book
- The Paleolithic Diet and Its Modern Implications from Dr. Mercola
- Reduce Grains and Sugar To Lose Weight and Improve Health from Dr. Mercola
- The Inflammation Syndrome book
- Realigning Our 21st Century Diet and Lifestyle With Our Hunter-gatherer Genetic Identity
What Should I Eat?:
Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com,