Whole Grains Part 2

By Emily Reilly

Whole Grain Myths Debunked – Whole Grains Part 2

Many of the myths about grain come from equating whole grains with refined grains and simple sugars. In part one of this series we discussed the differences between these three grain based carbohydrates. Once you have incorporated the habit of looking for whole grains on your labels and in the grocery store and then bringing those products home you may see quite a difference in your relationship with grain.

Eating grains will make you fat: A Tufts University study found that eating whole grains, as opposed to refined grains (the ones that have been stripped of their germ and bran, such as white rice or pearled barley) can belly fat associated with cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes. The trick is that you need to reduce your refined grain intake, adding whole grains to your diet without trading out the refined ones is not protective.

The carbohydrates in whole grain are just as bad a sugar: Yes, looking at your labels it looks like there is a lot of sugar in your whole grain toast, but the complex carbohydrates, fiber and nutrients that are also there lead to a food that won’t cause a spike in your blood glucose and will digest slower making you feel full longer (and giving your brain the sugar it needs to function).

Wheat is Addictive: The  states that peptides produced from wheat during simulated digestion in a test tube can attach to opioid receptors. However, that isn’t to say they will produce an opioid response in a human digestive system. Spinach and lettuce along with many other foods also will attach to opioid receptors, and no one is worried about a salad addiction.

All grains contain gluten: When you are making your initial trip to the grocery store, yes, it may look like all your normal grain containing products contain gluten. Just look around a little longer and you will find many grains that have no gluten in them. Check out my previous post listing the many available grains. Also remember that cutting gluten out of a diet is only required for the small percentage of people who suffer from Celiac disease and non celiac gluten allergies. If you believe you suffer from these conditions you should be screened by your health care professional.

Eating Grains actually blocks the absorption of nutrients because they contain phytates: Many people on paleo and kept diets discuss the dreaded anti nutrient phytate and how it binds to essential minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, and magnesium in the digestive tract and inhibits their absorption by the body. Yes, phytates do act in this blocking way, but they also have been found to have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. You can reduce this negative effect by soaking, sprouting, fermenting and adding vitamin C (helps absorb iron) as grain preparation techniques to your repertoire.

Grains cause inflammation: Again, this assumption comes from equating whole grain with refined grains and simple sugars. Remember, whole grains are much more complex with many other nutrients, and beneficial properties. Assuming that because whole grains eventually turn to a form of sugar (glucose) when eaten, means that the body will react exactly the same as eating a spoon full of sugar is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Eating too many grains will give you hypertension:  Eating too many simple carbohydrates will increase your risk of hypertension. Remember what we have previously discussed, Whole grains (not refined, not sugar) are not just their sugar content. Do not fall into the habit of thinking of all carbohydrates as equal. Eating whole grains actually helps reduce blood pressure and because they are so hearty and filling they help us eat less overall and stay full longer.