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Friday
May292015

ARE GRAINS GOOD FOR YOU

Nutrition is an ever-changing field of study. It seems like new theories come and go like the latest pop stars. What is good for you this year is bad for you next year. Remember when eggs and bacon were part of a nutritious breakfast? Then cholesterol became the enemy. Then Atkins came out with a diet high in fat that actually lowered cholesterol. So what can we believe?

All we can do is read the latest research; especially that research that is supported by many different sources. Keeping all of this in mind, the latest research indicates that grain and grain products (bread, biscuits, muffins, donuts, pasta, tortillas, rice, oatmeal etc.) cause inflammation.These food groups are high in omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids cause an increase in the production of the precursors of inflammatory agents in the blood. We need to eat foods high in omega 3 fatty acids to counteract the effects of omega 6.

Grains have not been around very long (about 10,000 years or so) compared to how long humans have been on the planet (probably 2 millions years). Our genetic code was shaped by the eating habits of these ancestors and has not changed much, but the foods we consume have.

So why is grain so popular? One reason is because grains store longer and are cheaper. You can put oatmeal in the pantry and pull it out a year later, cook it, and eat it. Try doing that with a salad. As one of my patients said, “That’s because grains are dry and dead while fruits and vegetables are green and alive.”

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats and a few other grains. It is not found in rice or corn. Gluten causes a range of symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue, digestive complaints (Celiac disease is a serious digestive disorder caused by gluten.) and anemia.

Lectins are proteins found in grains and beans (legumes). These are difficult to digest and cause inflammation of the digestive tract. Recent research indicates that diseases such as arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, cataracts and autoimmune problems are related to the consumption of lectins.

The pH of our bodies becomes more acidic with the consumption of grains. Grains also contain phytic acid; a substance that reduces the absorptions of calcium, magnesium and zinc.

So what do we eat? The more we eat like hunters /gatherers the better off we are. Eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked. Fresh fish (try to stay away from farmed salmon since they tend to be higher in mercury than the wild salmon), wild game and grass fed animals are high in omega 3. Nuts, (peanuts not included) such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts, when eaten raw, fight inflammation. If you eat eggs, try getting the ones high in omega 3 such as Christopher, or Eggland eggs. Don’t cook with vegetable or peanut oil. Use olive oil, coconut oil or butter. Butter from grass fed animals is best. If you just have to have bread, try Ezekiel Bread. It can be found in the frozen food sections of some stores (Kroger has it). The bread is made from sprouts and has no additives or preservatives so it is often kept frozen. I would still limit this to one or two slices per day.

When making changes to your health habits, be patient. Remember, if we can improve the healthy things we do by 1% per week, by the end of the year the positive overall effect to our health will be dramatic.

Reference
1 Seaman D. The diet induced pro-inflammatory state: a cause of chronic pain and other degenerative diseases? Journal Manipulative Physiol Ther 2002

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