Today I have a guest post from Paula Miller! You can also find Paula at her web home, Whole Intentions and also at Lila Rose Hair Jewelry.. Please do visit her!
There you are - living happily in your bread-filled world - oblivious to everything but your love for all things bread. Waffles for breakfast, thick ham sandwiches for lunch, and mounds of spaghetti with a fresh loaf of crusty French bread for dinner. Dessert is a nice slice of cake. Ahh. But then a strange phenomenon interrupts your breaded bliss.
A blog you enjoy encourages you to soak your grains or risk your health. You read an article that heralds the virtues of sprouted grains. A friend calls to say she's discovered sourdough bread is the healthiest bread of them all.
Then several people you know tell you they've discovered they have a gluten allergy or celiac disease right after your mom emails to say she's cutting grains out of her diet forever since they were never meant for human consumption.
Go ahead. I'll wait while you run to the bathroom, scream into a towel, and then calmly come back so we can sort this all out. :)
What's all the fuss about grains anyway? What do you believe? Here are some commons questions that may help you wade through it.
People Have Been Eating Grains For Centuries - Why the Fuss Now?Yes, it's true - people have been eating grains since time began.
"And God said, "See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food." - Genesis 1:29However, there are quite a few factors to take into consideration. Unlike the grains in Biblical and ancients times, the grains commonly used today are:
- dangerously treated with chemical pesticides
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American child between 6 and 11 years old carries four times the acceptable level of pesticides. Exposure during the fetal stage and childhood can cause long-term damage, poisoning, infertility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, and potentially cause cancer. (source)
- genetically modified (GMO)
The US Center for Disease Control found that food-related illness increased up to 10 fold since the commercialization of GMO foods. These foods, which may or may not be allergenic in themselves, can give allergenicity to other foods and tissues and provoke strong, sometimes lethal, allergic reactions. (source)
Okay, So I'll Buy Organic and Non-GMO Grains - Then I'll be Good, Right?Buying organic and non-modified grains is a great first step, but there's more to consider.
The alternative medicine community believes we're more likely to be allergic to the foods we regularly eat - no matter how it's raised. And I'll give you one guess on which food group the food pyramid encourages as our biggest portion. ;)
Grains have become so widely used in today's world that there's hardly a meal that doesn't include them. What is breakfast without cereal, toast, pastries, donuts, or pancakes? A common lunch is sandwiches, burgers, and pasta salads. Supper is no different - we've embraced dinner rolls, pizza, pasta and rice dishes, and even our chicken and fish is breaded. Grains have become a staple that we don't know how to function without.
Is it any wonder then that our bodies are rejecting it?
So Then I Just Eat Less Grain?We're getting closer. :)
- Grains contain a ton of carbohydrates. These carbs break down into glucose so quickly it's practically like eating pure sugar. You can read more about why I consider this less than ideal when it comes to weight loss and candida.
- Grains spike insulin levels to counteract the excess glucose. High insulin levels can create insulin resistance which is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimerís, and several cancers.
- Whole grains contain phytates. Phytates have both good and bad qualities which we'll talk about more in just a second.
- Grains are also hard on your digestive system when they aren't prepared correctly.
With the increase in concerns about how grains affect our guts, our moods, our weight, etc. some of us find our answers in a diet that eliminates grains all together. These are diets like GAPS, anti-candida diet, ect. They're healthy and very effective in eliminating hundreds of health problems.
But there are others who don't need or want to eliminate grains completely. How can they continue to eat bread yet still address these issues?
Buying organic and non-modified grains is the first step. Eating less grains is the second. There's one more step to consider. Proper preparation.
What Are Properly Prepared Grains?This is the heart of our topic today. (I know, I know, it took me long enough to get here!)
Properly preparing grains simply means that you're eliminating some of the issues we discussed above: phytates, insulin, and digestion. You can reduce these problems in several ways, each more effective than the first.
- soaking grains for as little as seven hours in water and an acidic liquid such as homemade yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar may reduce phytic acid.
- neutralizes enzyme inhibitors
- may begin to break down gluten proteins
2.) Sprouting - You can go a step further and rinse and drain those soaked grains until they germinate or sprout. Some say this
- increases vitamin A & C,
- decreases carbs and overall calories
- destroys lectins, which trigger inflammation and related problems
- may increase beneficial enzyme activity
Sourdough French Toast
3.) Sourdough - my personal favorite, sourdough or fermented grains have all the above advantages plus a few more:
- Sourdough bread can help lower insulin response and ensure that blood glucose levels are stable. The lower the number on the glydemic index (the measure of how high and how quickly blood sugar spikes after eating a food), the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels. Sourdough bread rates a 68 as opposed to 100 by other breads.
- During the long soaking time, the bacteria eat the starch and sugars in the grain. This lowers the carbohydrates, making the bread easier to digest.
- Sourdough made from unprocessed flour has complex carbohydrates (the good carbs). These complex carbs arenít transformed into fat (like the bad carbs), theyíre turned into energy.
- The long soaking time breaks down gluten making it more easily digested. Many people with gluten sensitivities report that they can tolerate sourdough breads.
Is That It?
Pretty much. When it comes to grains, your best options are to purchase the best quality you can, eat much less of them than the normal American Diet would have you believe is safe, and then prepare them in a way that will give you the greatest health benefits.
Some of my favorite reading on the subject:
photo credit: Free Digital Photo.net