Dear Dr Cordain
The reason for writing to you is I read an interesting article by you about pre historical diet and grains ((The Evolutionary Discordance of Grains and Legumes in the Human Diet).
Background : I am not an academic. Until 3 years ago I lived in Asia and had a BMI of 24. On returning to the UK I have increased my body weight by about a kilo a month for 20 months. I am now doing something about it by changing my diet. My observation about my previous diet in Asia was that it contained only about 1 cup of rice per day, and no other grains; and no other processed foods with hidden grains or sugars.
It is my view based on common sense and a little reading, that grains are not natural to us. Yet, professional nutritionist friends insist that on the food pyramid we should be eating about 1/3 of our calorie intake through grains. I have contacted several academic nutritionists, and while in their academic articles they accept the pre-historical evidence that we did not eat grains, they all want to insist on the paradigm that we should be eating large amounts of grains.
Firstly, would you agree that grains are not natural in any more than marginal quantities, and have you any idea why nutritionists think we should be eating them in industrial quantities?
Thanks for your time,
Dr. Cordain’s Response:
Good to hear from you, and I wish you success as you adopt the Paleo diet to help weight. Indeed our Stone Age ancestors did not consume cereal grains, except infrequently as starvation foods. As a species, human have no cereal grain requirement for proper nutrition, as we can obtain all required nutrients from meats, fish, seafood, poultry, fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts. In fact consumption of cereal grains actually reduces the overall vitamin and mineral content of the diet because cereal grains on average are less nutrient dense for the 13 vitamins and minerals most lacking in the US diet when compared to fish, seafood, lean meat, fresh vegetables and fruits. I have pointed this fact out in a paper I published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005 (1). Further, cereal grains contain a variety of “antinutrients” which actually adversely affect health. I have described these effects in a paper I wrote called “Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double Edged Sword” (2). You can download and read both of these papers at the links I have provided below:
(1) Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the western diet: Health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:341-54. http://thepaleodiet.com/
(2) Cordain L, (1999). Cereal grains: humanity’s double edged sword. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics, 84: 19-73. http://thepaleodiet.com/
Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor