Are grains good for your health?

When I encourage my patients to give up Captain Crunch and doughnuts, most seem to understand the logic behind this recommendation.  When I urge them to also eliminate or minimize their consumption of whole grain food, this advice is often met with significant resistance.   This is likely because the general consensus among medical professionals is that grains are not only healthy, but essential for our existence. They acknowledge that processed grains are bad, but still hold to the erroneous belief that we should eat 6-11 servings of “healthy whole grains” every day.  How could wheat, barley, oats, rice, rye, millet, and corn be unhealthy?  Let’s review the facts.

Grain is known to cause dramatic spikes in insulin levels.  Elevated insulin is associated with multiple serious diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.  Lectins are proteins found within grain and add to the insulin problem.  One of the wheat lectins is known to mimic insulin and binds to the insulin receptor of fat cells.  Unlike insulin, this lectin remains indefinitely attached to the insulin receptor giving the cell a constant signal to make fat.

In addition, lectins are known to have a negative impact on the intestinal lining. Grains also contain gluten or gluten-like proteins that are sticky in nature and are harmful to the intestinal lining. The combination of sticky proteins and lectins damages the bowel lining, eventually letting partially digested particles of food leech into the blood stream.  These particles excite the immune system and are a major cause of allergies to common foods. In fact, these particles are associated with a host of medical problems, some of which are mentioned below.

While most health authorities tout the benefits of whole grains, there is a growing body of research that tells another story.  Grain consumption has been linked to gall bladder disease, gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, autism, psychiatric disorders, allergies, and infertility.  Given this, I would recommend getting the bulk of your carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts.

Studies have shown (and we have seen in our own patients) that a minimal grain diet can correct lipid disorders, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, eliminate skin conditions, alleviate digestive issues, increase fertility, and dramatically improve energy levels.  Are you struggling with any of the problems mentioned above?  If so, consider eliminating grains from your diet for a few months.  Discover new and delicious foods.  You may never want to go back.

Thanks for tuning in!

Dr. C

Uthman Cavallo, MD



  1. Robin said

    Just a quick question for you. 🙂
    I’m guessing protein powders like Garden of Life’s Raw Protein would not be optimal for use since they are grain based, even though the grains are sprouted. Would that be a correct assumption? I wasn’t sure if the sprouting would change the effects of the proteins or not.

    • drcavallo said

      Hey Robin,

      Sorry for the late response. I didn’t realize that people were responding to my blogs. Although sprouted grain is the healthiest of the grains, your assumption is correct. Best to get your protein from other sources.

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