Cereal grains, humanities double edged sword

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Cereal grains have been a double-edged sword for humanity, according to a paper published by Dr. Lorren Cordain, founder of the Paleo diet.

Evolutionary benefits of grains

On the one hand, cereal grains have been a major source of sustenance for human civilizations for thousands of years, providing a reliable source of carbohydrates, protein, and other essential nutrients. They are relatively easy to grow, store, transport, and prepare, making them a staple food in many parts of the world.

Pitfalls and nutritional deficiencies

On the other hand, the overreliance on cereal grains in modern diets has led to several negative consequences. Many of the cereal grains used in modern diets, such as wheat, corn, and rice, are highly processed and stripped of their natural nutrients, leading to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet. Additionally, the cultivation of cereal grains often involves the use of pesticides and fertilizers, which can have negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Link to chronic health conditions

The overconsumption of cereal grains, particularly refined grains, has also been linked to several chronic health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This is because refined grains are often high in calories, low in fiber, and have a high glycemic index, which can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.

Research paper

Cereal grains, including wheat, rice, and corn, have been a staple in the human diet for thousands of years. While these grains provide a convenient and inexpensive source of energy, they have also been linked to various health problems. In this article, we will explore the research paper by Dr. Lorren Cordain, founder of the Paleo diet, entitled "Cereal Grains: Humanity's Double-Edged Sword."


  • Cereal grains have been cultivated by humans for over 10,000 years and are a major source of energy and nutrients in modern diets. However, with the rise of chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, researchers have begun to question the role of cereal grains in human health.
  • Dr. Cordain's paper explores the potential negative effects of cereal grains on human health and argues that a diet based on whole, natural foods, including meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits, is the best approach for optimal health.

Insulin Resistance

One of the main concerns with cereal grains is their impact on insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, leading to high blood sugar levels and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Cordain argues that cereal grains, particularly those that are refined and processed, can cause insulin resistance by increasing blood sugar levels and inflammation in the body. This can lead to the development of chronic diseases and weight gain.

Gluten Sensitivity

  • Another concern with cereal grains is their potential impact on gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and is responsible for the elastic texture of bread and other baked goods.
  • Dr. Cordain suggests that gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, is more common than previously thought and can cause a range of symptoms, including digestive issues, skin problems, and fatigue. He argues that a diet free of gluten-containing grains may be beneficial for those with gluten sensitivity.

Phytic Acid

  • Cereal grains are also high in phytic acid, a compound that can inhibit the absorption of minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. This can lead to deficiencies in these important nutrients, which are essential for bone health, immune function, and many other processes in the body.
  • Dr. Cordain suggests that soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains can reduce their phytic acid content and increase their nutrient availability. However, he argues that these techniques may not completely eliminate the negative effects of cereal grains on human health.


  • In his paper, Dr. Cordain argues that cereal grains are a double-edged sword for humanity. While they provide a convenient and inexpensive source of energy, they may also contribute to a range of health problems, including insulin resistance, gluten sensitivity, and mineral deficiencies.
  • He suggests that a diet based on whole, natural foods, including meat, fish, vegetables, and fruits, is the best approach for optimal health. This approach eliminates cereal grains and emphasizes nutrient-dense foods that promote health and wellbeing.
  • It is important to note that not all grains are created equal. Whole grains, which have not been heavily processed and still contain the bran and germ, are generally considered healthier than refined grains. Whole grains have been linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • However, the processing of grains has become more common in modern food production, and many products labeled as "whole grain" may not actually be so. Additionally, some people may be sensitive to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and may experience adverse health effects from consuming these grains.
  • In conclusion, while cereal grains have played a significant role in the development and growth of human civilization, their overconsumption and processing may contribute to the prevalence of chronic diseases in modern society. A balanced and individualized approach to grain consumption, based on personal tolerance and nutritional needs, may be necessary for optimal health.


  1. Cordain, L. (1999). Cereal grains: humanity's double-edged sword. World review of nutrition and dietetics, 84, 19-73.
  2. Davis, W. (2011). Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. Rodale Books.
  3. Fasano, A. (2011). Zonulin and its regulation of intestinal barrier function: the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer. Physiological reviews, 91(1), 151-175.
  4. Gibson, G. R., & Roberfroid, M. B. (1995). Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. The Journal of nutrition, 125(6), 1401-1412.
  5. Jönsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., Lindeberg, S., & Hallberg, A. C. (2010). Subjective satiety and other experiences of a Paleolithic diet compared to a diabetes diet in patients with type 2 diabetes. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 1-8.
  6. Perlmutter, D. (2013). Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers. Little, Brown Spark.
  7. Spector, T. D. (2015). The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat. Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  8. Wu, G. D., Chen, J., Hoffmann, C., Bittinger, K., Chen, Y. Y., Keilbaugh, S. A., ... & Lewis, J. D. (2011). Linking long-term dietary patterns with gut microbial enterotypes. Science, 334(6052), 105-108.

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