Why Grains Inflame 

 July 9, 2012

By  Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Mechanicsville Virginia Chiropractor – It can be frustrating and depressing to discover that so many foods are pro-inflammatory.  It makes it hard to know what to eat.  But even more unsettling are the numerous diseases and conditions associated with inflammation: chronic pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sinusitis, allergies, acne, asthma, digestive conditions, flu symptoms, dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, MS, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, depression, insulin resistance syndrome (pre-diabetes), and diabetes.

We’ve all heard “everything in moderation” when referring to eating.  Really it is a bad idea.  Every bite we take moves us closer to inflammation or away.  It is the case that some people handle the pro-inflammatory foods better than others (due to genetic make-up), but the problem is everyone will be effected to some degree, and the inflammatory diseases develop slowly with out symptoms (until it is too late).  Don’t be fooled by what appears to be good health just based on today’s symptoms.  The fewer inflammatory foods we eat, the less inflammation we will have.

Some History

It is interesting to observe the fact that grains have not been a major staple in our diet except for very recently in our natural history.  Just the last 10,000 years as a matter of fact.  We were not eating grains as a staple when we were first at work hunting and gathering nearly 200K years ago (at least 160K).  If one believes we are ancestors of “early humans” that number goes back 2 million years!  The point is we are not created (or evolved) to eat grains, refined sugar, partially hydrogenated fats, vegetable and seed oils.  We are well made to eat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, fowl and meat.  All of which are foods not related to chronic disease.  After grains where adopted as a staple food that replaced animal proteins, a number of negative health outcomes occurred including the following: increased infant mortality, reduced lifespan, increases in infectious disease, increase in iron deficiency anemia, increased dental cavities and enamel defects, increased osteoporosis, osteomalacia and other bone mineral disorders.


Many different biochemical components make grains inflammatory.  The most notorious is a protein called gluten, which is found in wheat, rye, barley, barley malt, semolina, spelt, kamut, and cous cous.  Gluten may cause many symptoms and conditions ranging from Celiac to more common conditions such as headaches.  Researchers randomly selected 200 disease free individuals to access anti-gluten antibody levels.  15% of the subjects were severely effected by gluten and suffered from headaches, chronic fatigue, regular digestive complaints, anemic changes and showed no signs of having celiac disease.


All grains and legumes (beans, lentils, soy) contain sugar proteins known as lectins that can cause digestive system inflammation.  Lectins are absorbed through digestion and bind to he surface of many different types of cells in the body.  While details are not know, researchers state that, “there is now abundant evidence that lectins can cause disease in man and animals,” such as arthritis, glomerulonephritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, retinitis, cataracts, congenital malformations, infertility, allergies and autoimmune problems.

Other Problems with Grains

As you know, calcium is important for bone health.  Grains contain phytic acid which is know to reduce the absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.  Grains also encourage the pH of our body to become more acidic, which is know to be inflammatory.  Finally, grains contain higher amounts of fatty acid biochemical called omega-6 fatty acids which cause inflammation.  This is in contrast, to fatty acid biochemical called omega-3 fatty acids which are prevalent in fish and green vegetables that reduce inflammation.

Two Sides to a “Health Food”

So why are grains promoted so heavily to us as a good food?  First, whole grains do contain nutrients and fiber which are healthy and anti-inflammatory.  Unfortunately, these benefits most likely do not outweigh the problems with grains previously discussed.  We can obtain the nutrients and fiber required by eating good meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and supplements if needed (to account for nutrient deficiencies related to industrialized farming techniques, processing of foods, and genetically modified plants).  Second, from an economic standpoint, grains are inexpensive and profitable to store and manufacture.  This is why they are fond everywhere in fast foods, snacks, easy to prepare meals, packaged food, etc.

A Basic Plan for Health

When is comes to planning your meals it is helpful to become skilled in identifying inflammatory or anti-inflammatory foods.  Then commit to at least a month of eating anti-inflammatory food.  In broad brush strokes: no grains, very little dairy (as a condiment at most), drastically reduce caffeine, eat quality meat (grass fed whenever possible), eat more vegetables than fruits (raw or nearly raw, and organic when possible) and nuts.  Last but not least, drink lots of clean water.  I think we can always benefit from some basic supplements, but during the transition when your body is “cleaning itself up” extra supplements will make it easier for your body and physically more tolerable.  Check with your doctor for recommendations.

You were made to be healthy.  If you do this, you WILL feel better.

Give us a call if you have any questions. 804-559-1100

Stover Chiropractic, P.C.

Real. Simple. Healthcare.



We are located at 9097 Atlee Station Road in Mechanicsville, Virginia, 23111.  This is a Hanover county address, but we are minutes from Glenn Allen, Innsbrook, Sandston, and Varina.  We also serve many people from King William and New Kent Counties.  Our close proximity to I295 means we are very easy to reach from most places in the Richmond Metro area.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

Dr. Stover grew up in Richmond. He has been married to his wife Andrea since 2000 and they make their home in Mechanicsville with their children, Avery and Garnett.

Dr. Tripp Stover, D.C.

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