Including whole grains in the diet is important. Grains can help prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic inflammation. However, consuming grains can also create other problems, like celiac disease. Should you eat grains or cut them from your diet? It’s not a simple answer. First, you must determine how the grain is processed and how it’s prepared for processing. Is it soaked, fermented, or sprouted? Is it whole grain or highly processed and bleached grain?
Grains are seeds, which have an enzyme inhibitor.
For a species of plant to survive, it must be able to reproduce. One method of spreading the plant and preventing overcrowding is via animals. Animals eat the seeds on the plant and eventually the seed is eliminated in their waste in another area. The plant will never sprout until conditions are right and they’re definitely not right in the digestive system of the animal. Even after the seed is eliminated, if it’s too hot, dry, wet, or cold, the plant still won’t sprout. An enzyme inhibitor in the seed prevents both. While the enzyme inhibitor protects the seed, it plays havoc on digestive system in people, since they require enzymes to digest food.
Grains contain phytic acid.
Phytic acid is considered an anti-nutrient and the main way phosphorus is stored in plants. It blocks the breakdown and absorption of magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, zinc, and iron. It does that by attaching to the minerals and creating phytates, making the nutrients unavailable to the body. In earlier times, grains were soaked, fermented, or sprouted for use. That helped eliminate the enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid.
Grains contain lectins.
Complex carbs are harder to digest than simple carbs, which absorb quickly. Lectins are a natural pesticide that protects the plant from insects and pests. It can cause digestive issues, making existing problems far worse. Grains also contain complex proteins that are difficult to digest. Gluten, a complex protein in some grains, has become more prominent since high gluten grain hybridized 50 years ago is now mostly what farmers grow.
- Milling processes strip most of grains benefits. It removes the bran and germ, which contains fiber and nutrients, leaving only the starchy, high calorie endosperm devoid of nutritional benefits.
- Processed flour not only lacks nutrients, but it also contains chemicals. It’s bleached and often mixed with sugar and chemicals to increase its shelf-life. If you’re selecting flour or grain products, read the ingredient list.
- Fermenting, sprouting, or soaking grain makes it easier to digest by removing enzyme inhibitors, phytic acid, and lectins. If you soak grain, use an acidic medium by adding lemon juice, ACV, or yogurt to the liquid.
- You don’t have to give up all types of grains. Choose ones using the best processing methods or select a type of grain that reduces digestive issues. Ancient pseudo-grains and brown rice could be good choices. Always select whole grains instead of highly processed grains.
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