Grains! Such a debated topic in the nutrition world.
Well, if you’re confused about whether or not to include grains in your diet, here’s what years of experience as well as science have taught me.
- Grains can inflame your gut. And this can lead to systemic inflammation–the root cause of most modern diseases. Including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. Therefore, if you’re gut is inflamed, I recommend avoiding grains at all costs until it’s fully healed.
And how do you know if your gut is inflamed? If you’re struggling to lose weight, have chronic digestive distress, or suffer from any other chronic conditions, most likely your gut could use a break from grains.
- Grains are easy to overdo. Especially refined grains, such as bread, pasta, crackers, and other goods made with white flour. These foods have little to no nutrients. Thus, while you might feel full for a second, your hunger quickly comes back.
This can be a big problem when you’re trying to lose weight. First, you’re likely to consume more calories than you need. And second, refined grains are high in simple carbohydrates, which can negatively impact your blood sugar and insulin levels.
Now you may be reading this and thinking – what about whole grains?
Well, whole grains are better than refined grains. But what you must understand is that most products advertised as whole grain, are usually combined with refined grains. And they’re also heavily processed and probably contain a bunch of other junk that’s not doing you any favors.
However, if your gut is healthy, eating whole grains may be an option for you. But sprouting them first is the best way to go.
What is Sprouting?
Whole, intact grains are actually tiny seeds. Thus, the sprouting process essentially germinates the seeds. The goal is to make them easier to digest as well as increase their nutritional value.
You see, most grains didn’t evolve to be fully digested. This explains why they have a hard shell and contain “anti-nutrients,” such as phytic acid that messes with your body’s ability to absorb minerals.
Other compounds such as saponins and lectins are two key culprits when it comes to gut irritation and inflammation. And enzyme inhibitors can prevent your digestive enzymes from successfully digesting your food, which can then lead to indigestion, gas, and bloating.
Sprouting grains involves soaking the “seeds” in water overnight. Then draining and rinsing them several times a day for 3–4 days. This process softens the shell (a.k.a. hull) and reduces the concentration of anti-nutrients. Signalling to the seed that it’s time to sprout.
You can eat these sprouts raw by adding them to salads, for example. They can also be cooked. In addition, the sprouts can be dried and ground to make flour. From there, you can make sprouted bread, etc.
Sprouted Grain Nutrition
Once grains are sprouted, the bioavailability of their nutrients increases. Essentially, your body is able to absorb and use the nutrients more efficiently. This includes B-vitamins as well as minerals, such as iron and zinc.
Plus, the grains are less irritating to your gut because the threats I’ve discussed above have been neutralized.
To Grain or Not to Grain?
The bottom line is this…if your gut needs healing, avoid the grains.
If your gut is healthy, grains can be a nutritious part of your diet. Moderation is important though. Grains shouldn’t replace all the colorful fruits and vegetables occupying your plate.
Plus, eating sprouted whole grains is the best way to go. This will ensure your body actually gets the nutrients grains have to offer. And, you’ll have a better shot at maintaining a healthy gut.
I should also mention that everyone is different–genetically, biochemically, environmentally, etc. This means that while grains may work for your bestie, they may not work for you. Thus, it’s always important to listen to your body. If you feel distress after eating grains, it’s your body’s way of telling you something isn’t quite right. So don’t ignore the signals and adjust accordingly.
Keep thinking big and living BOLD!