Most people know (or believe) that grains are good to eat. It should be obvious, considering that ever since the Stone Age, humans have eaten grains (1). As well as grains being a staple part of many diets throughout the world. With around 35% of the worlds population eating ¬†wheat alone (2). With so many people being dependent on wheat to survive, it’s only right to know about the nutritional backgrounds held behind grains.

Grains surprisingly, have been found to have adverse effects on teeth; Even since ancient times. According to a study by National Geographic, on an ancient Iceman by the name of Otzi (3). The research team found that Otzi’s teeth had extreme tooth decay, saying: “The gum tissue surrounding his rear molars, had retreated almost to the tip of the root.” And when trying to find the root cause for this, they discovered that Otzi had a diet largely consisting of grains, ancient grains, and cereals. Leading to extreme tooth decay.

But why do grains cause tooth decay among humans? Well, the answer would be in the bran located in the grain, specifically the phytic acid located in the bran (4). Phytic acid, is an acid located in the bran, which is used by the plant to store the mineral phosphorus in it’s system. ¬†When eaten, the phytic acid continuous to absorb phosphorus, as well as other minerals like calcium and zinc. While also shutting down various enzymes used throughout digestion, making it harder to absorb the nutrients from food you have eaten (let alone the fact that it already is taking away minerals which you have eaten for it’s own.) (5). This process eventually leads to nutrient deficiency, causing the gradual decay of teeth.

There is however, ways to get rid of phytic acid from foods before you consume them. Through methods such as sprouting, fermenting, or cooking the grain, depending on the type of grain you have (6). These type of methods also work for removing phytic acid from other commonly eaten foods such as nuts, and legumes.

Knowing this, what I would recommend is just learning about how to safely prepare these foods without adverse effects. Or just to not base your diet too much upon grains (especially refined ones) due to the effects of eating them. This doesn’t mean to completely remove grains from your diet. And like always, the choice is up to you.

 

Sources:

  1. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/humans-feasting-on-grains-for-at-least-100000-years/
  2. https://www.idrc.ca/en/article/facts-figures-food-and-biodiversity
  3. http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/10/the-leader-of-the-plaque-iceman-otzi-had-bad-teeth/
  4. http://www.curetoothdecay.com/Tooth_Decay/whole_grains_cause_tooth_decay.htm
  5. https://draxe.com/antinutrients/
  6. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-phytates-phytic-acid