First of all, the super GLUTEN-FREE whole grains are DELICIOUS. I encourage all of you to try them and add some variety to your diet, as well as reduce the amount of strain you are putting your digestive system under on a daily basis…perhaps multiple times a day…depending on how many grain (read wheat) products you eat. More about that later.
Let’s talk about GRAINS. Let’s talk about WHOLE GRAINS. Everywhere we look, folks are encouraged to eat grains, and a lot of them. Yes, grains are nutrient-rich and B vitamin packed…yes, they are good for you and part of a REAL food diet. Here are the problems…for you, for me, for the average bear…and CERTAINLY for the children.
1. Most of the grains everyone is eating are PROCESSED grains. When we talk about whole grains and processed grains, or “grain food products” as I call them, we are not comparing apples to apples (or whole grains to whole grains I might add)! Crackers, cereal, bread, bagels, goldfish, pretzels, muffins…These have their own problems because processing in high heat and high pressure damages the nutrients in the grains themselves…not to mention that none of those items actually resemble the whole grains from which they came…slurries, extrusion processes…oy.
2. The whole grain goodness in these grain food products (crackers, bread, bagels, goldfish, cereal, muffins…) is not accessible by the body because the grains have not been prepared by soaking, fermenting, or sprouting.
3. Most people are not eating their grains with healthy fats, (such as butter from grass-fed cows), therefore, they could not absorb the nutrients in grains even IF THEY WERE available (see numbers 1 and 2, above).
4. Most of the grains and whole grain PRODUCTS folks are eating are made from WHEAT.
You have already heard from me before on items one, two and three. So here I go on number four. “What’s the PROBLEM with WHEAT, you ask? Isn’t it healthy to eat whole wheat?! Heck, everyone’s telling me to eat whole wheat!”
Many problems. Hard to hear in this land of “amber waves of grain”, I know. In addition to the first 3 problems mentioned above, wheat contains GLUTEN. And not only does it contain gluten, (along with spelt, kamut, triticale, barley and rye), but wheat has been hybridized multiple times over the past 30 years or so to INCREASE the amount of gluten in it. Why, you ask? Because gluten is the “magic ingredient” that gives bread and baked products its rise, its air, its “mouth-feel”. Bakers and pastry chefs love high gluten flour. They are even adding “vital wheat gluten” to breads that already have gluten in them because of the grains from which they are produced. (Check your labels, folks! I have yet to find a “true sourdough” in a grocery store-that is, one in which “vital wheat gluten” has NOT been added!) Somehow during those 30 years as the amount of gluten has tripled in our grain food products, celiac disease, gluten allergies and gluten intolerance has skyrocketed. A cooincidence? hmmmmmmmm. You decide.
Why don’t I love gluten? Because gluten is VERY HARD TO DIGEST by the human body, and ALMOST NO ONE is preparing wheat flour or any other gluten containing flour in a way that would predigest the protein for us. (The exception is sprouted bread found in the freezer, aka Ezekiel Bread). Traditions all over the world fermented or soaked or sprouted grains before they ate them; they still do. Here in the Melting Pot, in the interest of speed, numbers, ease of manufacture and long shelf life, we lost the wisdom of the traditions. Who loses in the end? The people. Our health. The children. I almost cannot walk into the grocery store any more, organic or not. All that whole wheat flour, all those processed grain products, and all those distressed digestive systems! And almost everyone is just eating it up! (No pun intended!) Filling their shopping carts with more and more grains, (processed for sure) because they have been told they are “good for you”…thinking they are doing their bodies good. oy.
So……….what is gluten anyway? Gluten is a long-chain protein that must be pre-digested or broken down BEFORE it is eaten…or it can cause gastric distress and injury to the small intestine…as well as set up conditions for candida overgrowth if one does not have a strong gut or good gut flora (read good bacteria in the gut). When someone has difficulty digesting gluten, it can look like this: allergies, eczema, constant exhaustion, dark circles under the eyes, pale skin tone due to lack of nutrient absorption and perhaps anemia, headaches, earaches, gum ear, diarhhea, constipation, learning disorders, brain fog, memory issues, difficulty focusing…FLATULENCE. (If you or your child pass a lot of gas, it is a signal that the digestive system is distressed…or at least that it is working very hard to break down foods that were not properly prepared before you ate them.) Many children on the Autistic Spectrum–from Aspberger’s Syndrome to full blown autism or ADD, AD/HD or dyslexia do far better when gluten is removed from their diet. What I am suggesting is SO WILL YOU.
Try some gluten-free whole grains in your diet-amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa… and remember, all grains must be prepared correctly–soaked, fermented or sprouted before they are eaten, whether they are gluten-free or gluten-full. Don’t be hoodwinked. Don’t fall for those processed GF grains or that GF flour! Make sure they are prepared correctly also. Your digestive system will thank you. You will get all the nutrients of whole grains, and none of the digestive distress. And be sure to serve them with some good grass-fed butter, so you may absorb those nutrients.
If the Gluten-Free super-grains are new to you, consider coming to a class. I’ll be teaching one on Thursday evening, October 14 in Silver Spring, Maryland. You may register HERE. If you are not in the area, then pick up one of my handy dandy, beautifully hand lettered and illustrated, Bean and Whole Grain Chart!
and, as always, be well!