The answer to this one should be pretty obvious. Unless, of course, you’re completely new to Paleo and have no idea what we mean when we talk about trying to live a Paleo lifestyle. In which case, let me break it down for you.
Grains are a major deviation from our pre-agricultural diet. They require a lot of work and preparation to make them edible, work that hunter-gatherers don’t bother with when there is plenty of other, nutrient-rich food available.
Grains are also very high in carbohydrates and low in nutrients. Paleo is all about trying eat the most nutrient dense food we can get our hands on because why would we want to waste calories on food that goes right through us?
In a sense, that’s exactly what grains do: They go right through us. The high carbohydrate content causes a spike in our blood sugar, which leads to a crash a couple hours later, which leaves us feeling hungry again. So we reach for more sugar to get our blood sugar back up and the cycle continues. This leads to chronic inflammation and insulin resistance, as well as a number of other health issues. This is why the USDA encourages eating whole grains over refined grains, because the insulin spike generated by whole grains is not as exaggerated as that caused by refined grains.
But the trouble doesn’t stop there. Many grains (even “healthy” whole grains) include anti-nutrients, such as gluten, a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye and is known to cause digestive issues in many individuals. The lining of our stomach is not a solid wall. It is designed to let some nutrients through and into the blood stream, while keeping other nutrients in the stomach until they are more thoroughly digested. Gluten interferes with this system by making it more difficult for nutrients to get through the lining of the stomach. The body’s response is to increase the stomach’s permeability, which means that food that is not supposed to go through the stomach wall gets a free pass straight into the blood stream. In many people, this causes an immune response in which while blood cells attack the foreign substances. Any time you get an immune response, you get inflammation and people who eat grains on a regular basis, particularly wheat, are more likely to have chronic inflammation and the health hazards that accompany it.
Back to bagels. Bagels are made almost entirely of wheat. Even whole grain bagels can leave you with inflammation and insulin resistance if eaten on a regular basis. Definitely not Paleo.
For more reasons to avoid wheat, check out Dr. William Davis’s blog.
Looking for a Paleo Bagel Recipe?
Look no further than Marla’s Bacon Paleo Bagel recipe.