MY TAKE ON GRAINS
This is a tricky topic and there is much debate on whether or not grains should be apart of our diet. There are a few things that you need to consider before choosing to eat grains. I believe that some of us can not tolerate grains, and are better off to eliminate them from their diet. On the flip side, the rest of us do just fine. However when we do consume grains we must choose the right types and make sure they are prepared properly. Whole grains contain a substance known as phytic acid, this is the storage form of phosphorus in plant tissues. Phosphorus in this form is not bioavailable to humans because we lack the enzyme phytase, which is required to separate phosphorus from the phytate molecule. Intact phytic acid binds to minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium, as well as B vitamins. This blocks their absorption and can contribute to a mineral deficiency. Proper preparation involves soaking and sprouting. I have written a ‘Step by step process on how to prepare grains’ here.
Choosing the right grain is also important. The modern, crossbred wheat grain that has been introduced into todays diet shows little resemblance to the wild einkorn variety that our Neolithic ancestors rarely consumed. This leads to my next point, if you do choose to include grains, be sure that they make up a small proportion of your diet. Grains are high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein, this makes them nutrient poor. For optimal health, you want to consume a diet that is high in nutrient rich foods. These are going to be foods that are high in fat and protein, such as meat, dairy, nuts and coconut products. You will benefit more by eating a side of buttered vegetables or chunk of cheese than a slice of bread (even sourdough), or portion of rice (even brown). Not only do the buttered vegetables and cheese contain more nutrients than grains, they are also lower in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein. Foods that are higher in fat and protein not only taste better, but the body runs more efficiently on them. They provide better satiety signals, keeping you fuller for longer, meaning you are more likely to lose and maintain weight. You will have more energy and will feel better overall.
If You Do Choose to Eat Grains, Choose Wisely
Bread- choose a sourdough or sprouted bread made with ancient grains such as spelt, kamut or amaranth. Remember to avoid modern wheat, so anything that is white bread, or even most “brown” breads.
For baking- sprouted flour is your best choice. A sprouted flour has been made from seeds (wheat, kamut, spelt etc) that have been germinated, or sprouted. Going through this process destroys the phytic acid in the seed which allows it to provide nutrients rather than inhibiting them.
There are many grain free options when it comes to choosing baked goods. Both coconut and blanched almond flour can replace wheat flours, these can be used for both bread and cakes. It is also important to keep in mind that legumes and nuts and seeds also contain phytic acid and must go through proper preparation.
Whether or not you choose to include grains is totally up to you. I do believe that modern wheat and improperly prepared grains should be avoided altogether and prepared grains should only make up a small portion of the diet. Foods higher in fat and protein are far more beneficial than high carbohydrate foods like grains.