Grains have been a nutrition staple for quite some time – around 10 thousands of years. However the grains we find today are far different than those eaten even one hundred years ago. No longer are we consuming whole grain products (even though it says so on the label), what we are in fact consuming are grains that are so highly processed it is amazing that they can still be called food.
Grains make up the foods that many people eat – not only on a daily basis but at almost every meal. According to the food pyramid, we should be consuming around 6 – 11 serves of grains per day. Now I don’t really want to go on about the food pyramid right now – maybe another blog!! But is my opinion that we should not consume grains full stop.
If you think a calorie is just a calorie – I am going to stop you there and remind you of the fact that every single day your body replaces hundreds of thousands of cells. What are these cells replaced with? The food you’re eating – so isn’t high quality nutrient rich food going to be better than cheap highly processed grains such as those food in most breads and cereals?
Our grains today are no longer the organically grown whole grains – they are heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides and other chemicals, before being bastardised further in factories. White flour (from wheat) is by far the worst culprit. The bran portion and the germ are removed and the rest is broken down and bleached to become what we know as white flour. This white flour then finds its way into our: breads, pastas, cookies, pastries, breakfast cereals, and even find their way into sauces and marinates.
Other grains that are highly processed and you should be aware of include; oats, soy, barley, millet and rye. All of these grains contain gluten, which I am sure you have all heard of. Gluten – a protein that is very hard to digest and is linked to problems such as allergies, celiac disease and indigestion. Most grains with the exception of rice, corn, amaranth and buckwheat contain gluten. Grains also contain phytates (phytic acid) – which binds in the intestines with calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc which prevents their absorption – and over time can lead to serious mineral deficiencies.
Are you gluten intolerant? It may shock you to know that around 40 – 60% of white skinned humans are gluten intolerant! If you have poochy abs or find your abdominals are frequent bloated there is a fair chance you are gluten intolerance. You can be tested for food intolerances by a doctor or naturopath or you can eliminate all foods containing gluten for a few weeks and see if the symptoms go away.
We come back to the question: should we be eating grains? I believe the answer is no. What carbohydrates should we be eating? Vegetables. You don’t need bread or cereals for breakfast get creative – I have made zucchini fritters which are awesome with your poached eggs. But if you can’t go without try to substitute breads and other grain products (pastas) for gluten free varieties – normally made from rice flour some of which are really good.
ps. Many products say made from whole grains – yes it was a whole grain at some time in the factory, but it sure as hell is not one now!!!