According to the USDA MyPyramid, or the new MyPlate, grains–whole and white–should comprise the largest part of the diet. Advocates of this conventional approach argue that grains should ideally provide 60% of all calories.
In the Wheat Belly lifestyle, we reject the idea that grains should form the cornerstone of the human diet. In fact, we reject grains outright, as they are all seeds of grasses incompatible with human digestion. While I began this conversation by picking on the worst of the bunch–modern semidwarf wheat–understand that all grasses are related. Grasses are, more than most organisms, promiscuous and share genetics with each other quite readily. That’s how 28-chromosome emmer wheat, for instance, mated with another 14-chromosome wild grass, goat grass, and yielded the ancestor of all modern wheat, the first Triticum aestivum species. It means that, when you consume wheat or the seed of any other grass, such as corn, millet, or rice, you are also consuming components expressed by many other grasses.
Homo sapiens lack the digestive apparatus of ruminants that allow digestion of grasses. We lack the continuously growing teeth that resist the abrasive effect of phytoliths, the sand-like particles in grass blades; we lack the capacity to produce 100 liters of saliva per day; we lack a four-compartment stomach that houses unique organisms that express the enzyme cellulase; we lack a spiral colon also housing unique microorganisms to digest the components of grass. We are a non-grass consuming species.
Accordingly, we need to reconstruct a dietary scheme that has had the grass-based rug pulled out from underneath. What’s left? Plenty: the meat and organs of animals, fish, shellfish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, berries and other fruit. We consume foods that we instinctively regard as food, not the seeds of grasses that we are told by agribusiness should be regarded as food. And, as primitive humans did for the first 2.5 million years of their time on earth, we do not engage in practices such as counting calories, limiting fat or saturated fat. We eat for satiety and consume what we need.
One uncertainty: the products of ruminant mammary glands, i.e., dairy. Dairy products were added about the same that the seeds of grasses were added to the human dietary experience around 10,000 years ago. Dairy undoubtedly has its own collection of problems, though not as flagrant as the seeds of grasses. (Dairy is something we will consider at greater length elsewhere.)