Are grains unhealthy? The answer is not as simple as it seems. There are all types of grains and a variety of methods to process them. Not all grains are created equally. Whole grains are not the same as refined grains when it comes to nutrition. Whole grains contain all the nutrients of the bran, germ and endosperm. The bran is the outer layer of the grain that has minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The germ has the most nutrition with protein, fats, phytonutrients and antioxidants. The endosperm, which is the biggest bulk of the grain, is just starchy carbs and a tiny amount of protein. Refined grains only contain the endosperm and none of the nutritious content of the bran and germ.
Grains can be difficult to digest because of the complex protein they contain.
While whole grains are more nutritious than processed grains, they also can contain gluten. You’ve probably heard of gluten and gluten intolerance. Gluten is a combination of two proteins that makes it difficult for the body to digest and causes inflammation, with potential damage to the intestines and trigger an autoimmune response. Gluten is in both whole grains and processed grains. Due to agricultural changes to increase production, gluten has increased in grains in the last few decades.
Grains can affect your body’s digestion.
In order to digest food, the brain sends enzymes, which are the body’s messenger or catalysts that start that process. Without those enzymes, digestion simply won’t occur. Grains are seeds. Mother Nature has a beautiful plan. Built into each seed are enzyme inhibitors that prevent plants from sprouting until all conditions are right. For instance, seeds are transported by birds and pass through their system to be planted when they defecate. Sprouting inside the bird would be the death of the potential plant. While the enzyme inhibitors are good for the seed, they’re bad for your system and can impede digestion.
Grains contain phytic acid.
Phytic acid occurs naturally in seeds and grains are seeds. It affects the absorption of zinc, iron and calcium in the body and is often considered an anti-nutrient, since it can cause deficiencies. Consider the effects of lowered intake of calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and even reduce the production of digestive enzymes that help break down protein, such as pepsin, amylase and trypsin. While whole grains may have higher levels of nutrients than processed grains, it also has higher levels of phytic acid.
- Processing methods can lower the amount of phytic acid in seeds and grains and make them easier to digest.. Soaking, fermenting and sprouting can help reduce the amount of phytic acid in grains. Sour dough bread is an example of fermenting.
- The more gluten the grain contains, the harder it is to digest. Wheat and all the forms of wheat like spelt, farina, wheat berries and graham are at the top of the list, followed by rye, barley, triticale, malt and brewer’s yeast.
- If you think that you have problems digesting grains, try an elimination diet. Elimination diets are the gold standard for finding allergies, food sensitivities and food intolerances.
- Avoiding grains can help with weight loss, lower inflammation, improve your microbiome, improve your cholesterol and improve nutritional uptake. However, they’re a good source of fiber and many nutrients.
For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness