Grains and Copper Toxicity


You know we don’t recommend eating grains – especially gluten containing grains and especially, especially if you suffer from an autoimmune disease. But there is a connection between grains and copper toxicity that is particularly relevant to today’s diet.

The level of zinc in plant-based foods tends to be low. When grains are refined, their zinc-copper ratio is disturbed, pushing the ratio further out of whack and in favour of copper.

Whole grains contain high levels of phytates which interfere with our body’s ability to absorb zinc. Therefore, when we eat whole grains (a food already low in zinc), the phytates prevent us from absorbing the little amount of zinc in them. Copper absorption is less affected by phytates further pushing the copper-zinc ratio in favour of copper.

The increased copper-zinc imbalances in grains have more of an impact on us today than in older generations. Previous generations liberally ate animal products and saturated fats which helped to balance out the high copper ratio in the grain products they ate.

But when we were encouraged to consume less animal products and adopt a ‘healthy’ plant-based diet, we began to eat more grains and other foods containing phytate. Scarily, many people on these diets believe that these foods are excellent non-animal sources of zinc and protein (and don’t worry if that is/was you – we used to believe it too!). Unfortunately, this is resulting in malabsorption of nutrients, zinc deficiencies and copper toxicity.