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The Bristol Blog

Whole Grains or No Grains

posted on October 15th, 2014 by Silvia Navas

whole grainsIn case you haven’t noticed, there are two popular diet trends regarding grain consumption happening simultaneously right now. One advises that refined grains should be avoided concluding that carbohydrates found in them lead to weight gain as well other sensitivities. The other advises that whole grains are good for us and “have been a central element of the human diet since the dawn of civilization,” says Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

Joshua states that eating too much refined grains in artificial junk food, along with caffeine and sugar, is what is causing weight gain today instead of whole grain consumption. It is advised to consume more whole grains as they contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

Why do carbohydrates have such a bad rap? Often, people mistakenly place all carbohydrates under a single umbrella when in fact there are two different types:

Simple carbohydrates are broken down quickly by the body to be used as energy. Simple carbohydrates are found naturally in foods such as fruits, milk, and milk products, but they are also found in processed and refined sugars such as candy, table sugar, syrups, soft drinks, cookies, cakes etc. It is the excess consumptions of these types of simple carbohydrates that can lead to unhealthy spikes in sugar levels and weight gain.

Complex carbohydrates are absorbed slowly and can provide sustained energy throughout the day which can help maintain steady levels of blood sugar. Whole grains are also some of the best sources of nutritional support, containing high levels of dietary fiber and B vitamins. An important point to make about whole grains is that they too contain naturally phytic acid which can chelate certain minerals and keep them from absorption. This is why is it advised to soak or ferment gains in hot water with vinegar from at least an hour to few days before cooking.

Clearly there isn’t one single diet that can address every single person’s dietary needs and for some people, refraining from grains may be what works best. Given the ancient history of whole grains in the human diet, it may be worth giving them a try to see how they fit into your diet and lifestyle. We’d love to hear from you; how do you maintain grains in your diet?


For more information on grains, please visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/grains.html.

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