To grain or not to grain? In an interesting article from Novomed, dr. Hashim Seedat – an expert in integrating the healing arts, focusing on the importance of nutrition, exercise, homeopathy and acupuncture – states that a lot of people don’t realise the true impact of grain on our body and overall health.
“Grains are best described as small, dry seeds that grow on plants called cereals. The most common varieties are rice, wheat, corn, oats, and barley, and they make up the bulk of carbohydrates (commonly known as carbs) found on our plates at mealtimes. When eaten as they come, they’re called wholegrains, but in today’s society, wholegrains are typically refined before hitting the supermarket shelf. This process, in which the nutritious bran and germ are removed from grains, improves the texture and increases the shelf life of foods. And this is why you’re more likely to find white rice, white pasta and white bread (all processed) in your local grocery store than their unrefined 100% wholegrain versions.” Dr. Seedat says.
Refined versus whole grains
Research has proved that refining grains strips them not only of most of their nutrients, but also of their much needed dietary fibre, vitamin B and minerals, such as iron, zinc and calcium. Unrefined whole grains are more nutritious than refined ones, but still pose a health challenge, because all grains are primarily carbohydrates, and the main building blocks of all carbohydrates are sugar molecules.
Dr. Seedat takes rice for an example: in some cases carbohydrates account for 80% of raw white rice and 75% of raw unprocessed wild rice. The presence of fibre in unprocessed varieties delays the breakdown of carbohydrates to sugar inside the body. But with refined rice and other grains, the absence of fibre means their carbohydrates are easily accessible in the body and are quickly turned into sugar. This can spike blood sugar levels, which encourages the body to produce insulin, which on its turn removes sugar from the blood and turns it into fat.
Foods that rapidly raise blood sugar levels cause cravings, overeating, weight gain and obesity. These foods also increase the potential risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Why grains can upset blood sugar
A diet that’s low in carbohydrates like grains doesn’t just benefit your waistline, it can also improve heart and brain health. More specifically, low carbohydrate consumption was found to improve blood sugar levels, blood triglycerides (fats that raise heart disease risk), blood pressure and weight.
Insulin’s main function is to clear sugar from the blood and into cells for use, but its secondary function is to turn the sugar that isn’t used for energy into fat, laid under the skin and in and around vital organs: two factors can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
“There is a possibility that the body’s cells don’t respond properly to the hormone insulin, resulting in a build-up of the sugar molecule glucose in the blood. Excess insulin is then produced by the pancreas in an attempt to counteract the glucose build-up, but this abundance of insulin in the blood leads to a whole host of health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain and diabetes.”
To grain or not to grain?
The debate on whether the key to ultimate health is a grain-free diet is still going on, but you might want to try and do with fewer of it.
Sure, whole grains are sources of fibre, vitamins, and minerals, including selenium, potassium and magnesium. However, if you can’t separate the bad from the good in a certain food, then that food is bad for you. To give a more clear example: You don’t eat carrot cake to load up on vitamin K, you simply eat carrots.
We challenge you to cut grains out of your diet completely and watch how quickly you start to look and feel better. Sure, there will be withdrawal. Coming off grains is very difficult. But if you get through that period, the other side is a far healthier life with increased wellbeing and an improvement or even reversal of serious conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
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