Grains and Inflammation

As a MyTPI member, your are naturally interested in doing all you can to promote your health and fitness levels so you can perform at your best on the golf course. Everyone knows that proper nutrition can help to promote health and fitness, and prevent disease. A problem is that some of the most commonly made nutritional recommendations for health are actually detrimental. Perhaps the most glaring example of this is
the recommendation to eat whole grains.

At first read, many will be shocked to see such a statement. You may be thinking to yourself: ”I knew that refined grains and sugar were unhealthy, but whole grains are supposed to be one of the most healthy

Fact 1: Compared to refined grains, whole grains are healthy. This is because whole grains contain fiber that is beneficial for blood sugar and cholesterol regulation, and for helping to keep our bowels moving…but that is it.

Fact 2: Compared to other whole foods, grains are unhealthy.

On caloric basis, vegetables and fruit have significantly more fiber than whole grains. Our muscles need potassium function optimally, and vegetables and fruit also have significantly more potassium than whole
grains. See the DeFlaming Guidelines PDF at for specific details.

Vegetables and fruit promote an alkaline environment in the body and this helps to maintain muscle and bone health as we age. Grains are acidic, and over a lifetime, dietary acidity leads to the muscle and bone loss associated with aging.

In short, we really need to replace grains with fruit and vegetables, and consume nuts in moderation. Grains have several pro-inflammatory components and it makes no difference if the grains are organic or not. Below is a brief review of three pro-inflammatory substances found in whole grains.

1. Gluten: The most commonly consumed grains (wheat, rye, and barley) contain gluten, which is a highly pro-inflammatory substance for certain genetically susceptible individuals. At worse, gluten causes celiac disease, a painful annoying digestive disease. However, gluten sensitivity may manifest as chronic migraine-like headaches. Some people develop annoying gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and varying degrees of gut pain that are not severe enough to be considered celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease. Others become depressed  and some develop chronic fatigue. Still others develop chronic aches in muscles and joints.

2. Lectins: All grains and legumes/beans contain lectins. They are referred to as non-immunologic binding molecules and they are absorbed through the digest tract and can attach themselves to tissues throughout the body. There may be no effect or they may serve as a disease promoter. They also can promote inflammation in the digestive tract.

3. Phytic acid: All grains contain phytic acid, which functions to reduce the absorption of minerals found in grains, particularly, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. So, if you are worried about getting your minerals, grains should be avoided.

If you would like more detailed information about the pro-inflammatory nature of grains, go to the bottom of the Diet page at, where you will see a box that explains Why Grains Inflame. Several full text articles about grains have been posted there. After reading these articles, you will know forever that grains do not serve as a healthy source of fiber compared with vegetation, and grains may reduce health and promote disease. It is much better for us to eat a substantial amount of fruits and vegetables.

While on the golf course, the best snack would be raw nuts, and if you like, some raisins. A quarter cup of raw nuts provides about 200 calories and a quarter cup of raisins provides about 125 calories.

Dr. Seaman can be reached at

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