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Friday, March 16, 2012

grains good or bad for you?

So I have been hearing a lot about people avoiding grains in their diet. Coming from macrobiotic background, which emphasises a lot on the benefit of whole grains, especially brown rice, I found it very interesting.

They say...
- grains are not good for your digestive system
carbohydrates in grains can feed bad bacteria in your gut. We all need good bacteria in our gut as they keep the immune system strong and help prevent disease causing bacteria which if build up, leads to a large number of autoimmune diseases. Too much bad bacteria can lead to a lot of problems; including candidiasis.

-many are gluten-intolerant
Current reserch estimated that about 1 percent of the population suffer from celiac disease. Also some researchers said 30-40% of people can be gluten intolerant, higher if you are from european descent.

-grains can cause inflammation
Because grains have a high starch content they are inflammatory foods, especially if they are refined. Due to the inflammatory nature of the grains, they are linked to joint pains and arthritis. Grain’s amino acid composition mirrors that of the soft tissue in your joints. Because both synovial tissue and grains are chemically similar, your body has difficulty differentiating between the two. So, when your immune cells get all hot and bothered by inflammation caused by grain and begin to attack it as a foreign invader, they also begin to attack the soft tissue in your joint – leading to pain, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and more inflammation.

-grains are new on the scene
Before the agriculture, humans relied on hunting and gathering of goods and our body haven't adopted the fairly new products well enough to digest it properly

-phytic acid content
Grains contain phytic acid which binds up minerals and prevent proper absorption of essential minerals and vitamins, such as iron, calcium. magnesium, copper and especially zinc.

Other antinutrients in whole grains include enzyme inhibitors which can inhibit digestion and put stress on the pancreas; irritating tannins; complex sugars which the body cannot break down; and gluten and related hard-to-digest proteins which may cause allergies, digestive disorders and even mental illness

Many diets suggests eliminating or reducing the amount of grains.
such as raw vegan diet, no grain diet by Dr. Joseph Mercola, paleo diet etc.

And there are other experts who say that including grains in your diet is essential.

They say whole grains are...
Low in saturated fat but is a source of polyunsatured fats, including omega-3 linolenic acid.
Cholesterol free.
High in both soluble and insoluble fibre and resistant starch.
An excellent source of carbohydrates.
A significant source of protein.
A good source of B complex vitamins, including folate.
A good source of many minerals, such as iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus and zinc.
A good source of antioxidants and phytochemicals that can help lower blood cholesterol levels.
they've been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and other health problems.

It is very confusing.

I decided to consciously cut down the amount of grains to see how I would feel. I found myself craving for sweets. It is understandable as grain supply carbohydrate and my body was creaming for quick energy from sweet foods. I did feel lighter after a meal but needed to be refuelled more often.

No surprises here. I knew the answer all along. That is BIOCHEMICAL INDIVIDUALITY. everyone is different. what the body is like, what they want from their lives and what they want to get out of from the specific diet they choose. Foods are amazing things. It can heal or create diseases but also if you are not suffering from major illnesses you can choose how far you want to take it.

So I have added grain back to my diet, though way less than what macrobiotic suggests (which is 40-60 percent). My emphasis is on vegetables, especially green vegetables. When I consume grains this is what I like to do for better absorption and improving the nutrient value
-always soak over night
-sprout and/or ferment if possible
-consume different variety
-consume grains with gluten less. if I do, make sure to sprout
-chew well to induce the production of ptyalin, which turns carbohydrate to maltose. The enzyme, maltase can break down maltose in the digestive system.
-include more less inflammatory grains more, such as millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat. (note most of them are not really grain to start with)

I believe everyone needs to experiment and find their own balance.

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