Grains are a controversial food in modern society, but the major problem with grains may not be what you think! On the one hand, there are experts who claim that we are not meant to eat them. They supported the position that grains are a contemporary addition to the food supply and other people have consumed them for less than the last 10,000 years or so. Others claim that cereals are the inspiration for our food supply and have been for thousands of years. Article: The Real Problem with Consuming Grains (2021)
So, Who Is Right?
Turns out, each side could be, but with a few important caveats. This suggests that it is not an easy answer, especially since we may not be talking about an equivalent food.
What’s In a Grain?
Grains are grass-like plants that produce stiff, edible seeds. Wheat, corn, oats, and rice are the most popular of the many varieties. They are one of the most widely eaten foods on the planet. And hence the primary source of protein and energy for many people across the globe.
There are three major sections of grains:
- Bran: the rigid outer layer, also known as the carapace.
- The germ is the seed’s nucleus, which supplies nutrients as it sprouts and grows.
- The starchy food supply for seed expansion is the endosperm.
By definition, a “whole grain” contains all parts of the seed. While refined grains often have the bran or germ removed, leaving only the high-starch endosperm. Whole grains are usually a source of nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, and others. But in refined grains, most of those beneficial parts are removed.
Many manufacturers enrich processed grains with synthetic types of nutrients such as vitamin Bc (instead of the natural type of folate). Iron and B vitamins form the nutrients removed during processing.
Why Do You Avoid Grains? (The answer is that they aren’t what they used to be.)
It’s a fact: modern grains are not equivalent like they used to be a couple of hundred years ago. Or maybe a couple of decades ago! And therefore the grains we consume in the US are not equivalent because grains are eaten in other countries … especially when it comes to wheat.
Some important developments started the whole thing with grains:
Wider availability resulted from new manufacturing methods (and decreased nutrients).
With the birth of the fashionable mill in the mid-19th century, the grain evolved. Before this point, grains and wheat were ground into their entire form, often with stones. And thus the flour still contained all the components of the entire grain. It was now possible to separate the whole grain parts and use just the starchy endosperm to make a cheap, very finely ground white flour (similar to most flours used today).
Without the bran and germ, these newly refined flours lasted longer on the shelf but contained much lower levels of nutrients. much lower, in fact, than in the 1940s manufacturers began “enriching” wheat and other flours with synthetic nutrients.
The abundance of flour skyrocketed, and nearly everybody could now buy it as an everyday commodity. Thanks to the lower cost of flour due to the newer and more effective grinding process. By default, this resulted in more people eating flour.
This wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t for.
To maximize yield, agronomists created new wheat varieties.
In the 1960s, agronomists developed new wheat cultivars to expand the amount of wheat that could be grown per acre. This contemporary wheat maybe a dwarf wheat species that is unfortunately much less nutritious and comes with an inventory of potential problems.
A centuries-long study has tracked the results of this alteration. Since 1843, researchers in England have been conducting research called “Broadbalk’s Winter Wheat Experiment.” They tracked many variables associated with growing wheat, including fertilizer use, crop rotation, and nutrient content.
Unfortunately, the nutrient content plunged. Mark Sisson explains in his fascinating article “The Problem with Modern Wheat”:
Between 1843 and thus the mid-1960s, the mineral content, including zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper, of the wheat grain harvested within the experiment remained constant. But then the concentrations of zinc, magnesium, iron, and copper began to decline. A change that “coincided with the introduction of high-yielding semi-dwarf cultivars” in the Broadbalk experiment. Another study found that “ancient” wheat (emmer, spelled, and einkorn) had higher concentrations of selenium, a particularly important mineral, than modern wheat. To further compound the mineral problem, the incontrovertible fact that phytic acid content is not affected in dwarf wheat. Therefore, the phytate: mineral ratio is higher, which can make the already reduced levels of minerals in dwarf wheat even more inaccessible to its consumers.
In other words, while these modern varieties are easier and faster to grow, they do not contain equivalent levels of nutrients, but they do have an equivalent level of phytic acid, creating an imbalance that will lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Without drying, sprouting, and other conventional treatments, grains are difficult to digest.
Aside from the very fact that the grains and flours we eat are fundamentally different from what our grandparents and great-grandparents ate. We also prepare them very differently and this could also help explain the rising rates of allergies and intolerance issues. grain.
I explain in depth during this article how in most cultures people traditionally prepared grains with different methods such as soaking, sprouting, and fermenting them (think sourdough bread). These methods make the nutrients in the grains more available to the physical body and reduce the phytates that will bind to minerals within the body. Numerous studies support the nutritional benefits of this traditional preparation.
In the name of convenience, we have largely stopped using these traditional preparation methods. Further reducing the number of nutrients we will get from grains and flours and potentially increasing the amount of phytic acid that binds to the minerals we consume.
But why are there so many allergies to grains, especially wheat?
If we only take a look at the changes in grains since the invention of the trendy steel mills and thus the high-yielding dwarf varieties grown in the 1960s. It still does not fully match or explain the drastic increase in grain-related allergies and intolerances in the past 20 years … but there’s a cute man who could do it!
Are Grains and Wheat Toxic?
Other countries do not appear to have an equivalent problem with cereals. Many of us report that they will eat wheat and other grains without dragging them when traveling abroad, although they react to it within the U.S. In fact, I know of several families who while traveling out of the country consumed more processed grains than they did. could receive. and noticed that certain digestive and skin problems actually improved.
I have relatives who can consume certain types of grains (like imported organic Einkorn wheat or traditional spelled grain) without a load, but they react horribly to wheat or common grain products. Why is this? They both contain gluten, so maybe gluten intolerance is not what we expect.
In fact, the solution could also be something much simpler and more obvious that is not talked about much: growing and spraying methods that have changed in the last two decades.
The Real Problem with Wheat
So what can a mom do? Numerous experts in the health world today (many of whom I interviewed on the Wellness Mama podcast) say a powerful “no” to grains and, in particular, grains that contain gluten. JJ Virgin recommends not giving children wheat or gluten, and Dr. David Perlmutter blames grain for much of the growing epidemic of MS and other brain conditions.
I accept as true with the Healthy Home Economist that new pesticides (Roundup or glyphosate, specifically) are largely responsible. The timeline much more closely matches the rise in wheat and gluten intolerance in the US.
From his article “The real reason wheat is toxic is not gluten”:
The pre-harvest application of Roundup herbicide or other herbicides containing the deadly active ingredient glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980. Since then it has become routine in the last 15 years and is used as a desiccant. for 7 to 10 days. before harvest within the traditional farming community. inline with MIT’s Dr. Stephanie Seneff, who has studied the difficulty in-depth and who I recently saw present on the topic at a nutrition conference in Indianapolis, drying non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before the harvest went down. fashion in the late 1990s with the result that most of the non-organic wheat in us is now contaminated with it.
The fact that glyphosate is banned in many parts of the world may explain why other countries are doing better.
In fact, this text and the table explain how the increased use of glyphosate in wheat crops could also be partially responsible for the increase in rates of disorder, comparing the higher incidence of celiac disease with the increase in the use of glyphosate:
Of course, I hesitate to assume that any of those factors alone are directly responsible for the growing problems we are seeing associated with grain consumption in the last two decades. But once it is considered that glyphosate can negatively affect the gut bacteria, you are aware that this could be contributing to the issue.
Other Causes of the Grains and Wheat Problem
Aside from the above issues with modern grains themselves, and therefore the way they are grown and processed. I think there are several other (possibly inadvertent) effects of our grain consumption.
More Grains = Less of Other Foods
We know that, statistically, we are consuming more grain products in general (both whole grains and refined grains). With corn and wheat being two of the 5 most consumed foods within us. We also know that, statistically, we are consuming less fat than in previous decades and fewer vegetables.
Since refined grains can increase insulin levels and are a highly processed carbohydrate. Our increased consumption could also be partially responsible for the increased rates of diabetes and obesity. (although, in fact, other inherent factors are also at play).
Grains like wheat are found in the vast majority of all processed foods, which makes sense because they’re inexpensive, shelf-stable, and easy to make. Unfortunately, we consume these foods in greater amounts at the expense of foods like vegetables, healthy proteins, and beneficial fats.
More grains and fewer other foods mean that we are also statistically consuming less of the nutrients found in foods like fresh produce, ethically sourced protein, and healthy fats. Since we already know that modern grains are low in nutrient content. It is no wonder that it is becoming so difficult to consume enough nutrients from food alone.
Many experts suggest that micronutrient deficiency could also contribute enormously to various types of modern diseases. As we are simply not prepared to get enough micronutrients from our food supply. As beans are a huge part of the trendy food supply. But a nutrient source from coffee, they are contributing to the current problem.
So, Do We Eat Modern Grains?
The Bottom Line
The problem with cereals is not as clear-cut as it sometimes seems. It’s not nearly the gluten, processing, or growing trend, but an elegant combination of many factors. There is no clear answer to the question and it really varies on a private level, which supports gut health, the type of grain. The way it has been prepared.
My Take on Grains
For years, I used to be completely anti-grain and didn’t eat them in the slightest, especially while curing a thyroid problem. After a few years of consuming processed grains once I was younger, it felt great to avoid grains altogether. Saw no reason to eat them as I used to consume more nutrients and more grain-free vegetables in my diet. This was also a guide from my cookbook, which I kept completely free of optional grains and dairy.
These days I eat polished rice from time to time (here’s why). Sometimes serve it to my family and other organic and properly prepared grains.
What I Do:
- I still avoid most cereals, especially people that contain gluten, most of the time.
- If I eat grains, I choose polished rice or properly prepared whole grains such as organic Einkorn (soaked, fermented, sprouted, etc.).
- I don’t make cereals a staple of my diet. I do eat them from time to time, but I confirm that the core of our family’s diet can be a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, healthy proteins, and beneficial fats.
- Whenever I can, I take advantage of the vegetables on the spot for the cereals. Love grains or hate them, vegetables tend to contain more nutrients. I make simple substitutes like using cabbage for noodles in spaghetti or sweet potatoes instead of noodles in lasagna. These substitutes are not only more nutritious, but they also taste better (in my opinion).
- I often bake with grain-free flours like coconut flour or almond flour, which are higher in protein and fiber, and experiment with cassava flour and banana flour (sources of resistant starch).
- When I travel internationally, I try cereals in other countries out of curiosity to see how I react. So far so good… research continues!
I realize that avoiding cereal altogether is not desirable or practical for many people, and it certainly may not be necessary for everyone. At the same time, I still feel strongly about avoiding modern processed grains that are refined, modified, and highly powdered as they do not provide any nutritional value and should have a severe impact on health over time.
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