The controversy of grains comes up a lot when you start talking about whole foods, real food, gluten allergies, and candida.
Whole and real food advocates (we’re one and the same) say it’s all right to eat grain if it’s properly prepared. Gluten-free folks are okay with any grain as long as it doesn’t contain gluten. Candida diet followers need to eliminate starches so no grains are allowed at all. Then you have those who say to cut out grains forever as they were never meant to be eaten by man.
There are so many opinions and so many seemingly ‘good’ points of view that it’s hard to decide what to do. We’ve been there – ha! we’re still there! Our grain journey has gone from store bought bread to fresh ground whole wheat to gluten-free grains to candida diet and no grains to sourdough and fermented grains in limited quantities. Each stage in our journey was brought on by health issues and/or research. That’s why you’ll find so many different recipes here – they’re each from a specific point in our journey.
Although I’m convinced the average person eats *MUCH* more grain than they should, I’m not convinced eating grains is all bad either. I’m not going to pretend that I know all the answers, but I’ve had so many people ask me what we do and why, that I’m going to break it down into steps and let you decide from there.
Baby Steps to Healthy Grain
1. Buy organic and non-modified grains
People have eaten grains since the beginning of time (Genesis 1:29), however today’s grains are:
- dangerously treated with chemical pesticides
The average American child carries four times the acceptable level of pesticides. Exposure during the fetal stage and during childhood can cause long-term damage, poisoning, infertility, birth defects, damage to the nervous system, and potentially cause cancer. (source)
- genetically modified (GMO)
The US Center for Disease Control found that food-related illness increased up to 10 fold since the commercialization of GMO foods. GMO crops are not regulated – no testing required and the FDA and USDA refuse to require safety testing. GMO labeling is forbidden in the US.
2. Cut back on grains - way back
Grains are the biggest portion on the ‘approved’ food pyramid. We hardly eat a single meal without them. Breakfast consists of cereal, toast, pastries, donuts, and pancakes. Lunch and supper are sandwiches, burgers, pizza, dinner rolls, and pasta dishes like spaghetti. Even our chicken and fish is breaded. We don’t know how to eat without grains.
And if what alternative medicine says is true, that we’re more likely to be allergic to the foods we regularly eat (no matter how it’s raised), is it any wonder that our bodies are rejecting it?
So while cutting back on grains is good, we’re still forgetting about how we digest those grains. That’s the next step.
3. Properly prepare your grain
- Grains contain carbohydrates which break down into glucose so fast that the end result isn’t any healthier than eating pure sugar. This spikes your insulin (to counteract the excess glucose) and can create insulin resistance (associated with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and several cancers. You can read more about how this effects weight loss and candida too.).
- Whole grains also contain phytates. Phytates have both good and bad qualities which we’ll dig into more in just a second.
- Grains that aren’t properly prepared are hard on your digestive system.
Buying organic and non-modified grains is the first step. Eating less grains is the second. And proper preparation brings it all together.
How Do I Properly Prepare Grains?
Properly preparing grains simply means that you’re eliminating some of the issues we discussed above: phytates, insulin, and digestion. You can reduce these problems in several ways:
- in an acidic liquid such as homemade yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar may reduce phytic acid.
- neutralizes enzyme inhibitors
- may begin to break down gluten proteins
2.) Sprouting your grains – rinse and drain those soaked grains until they germinate or sprout. This method has the benefits of soaking plus it
- increases vitamin A & C
- decreases carbs and overall calories
- destroys lectins, which trigger inflammation and related problems
- may increase beneficial enzyme activity
3.) Sourdough – this is my personal favorite. Sourdough (a.k.a. fermented) grains have it all. All the benefits of soaking and sprouting as well as:
- helping lower insulin response and ensure that blood glucose levels are stable. The lower the number on the glydemic index (the measure of how high and how quickly blood sugar spikes after eating a food), the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels. Sourdough bread rates a 68 as opposed to 100 by other breads.
- lowering carbohydrates (the bacteria eat the starch and sugars, making your bread products easier on your digestion.
- Sourdough made from unprocessed flour has good carbs (complex) that are turned into energy as opposed to processed flours which turn into bad carbs (simple) and are transformed into fat.
- Fermenting your grains in the sourdough process breaks down gluten. Many people with gluten sensitivities can tolerate sourdough breads without reactions. We experimented on Travis with One Ingredient Sourdough Pizza Crust and are happy to report that he has not reacted to eating it.
After years of researching and reading, we’ve decided that the best option for our family is to purchase organic and/or non-GMO grains, to eat much less of them than the normal American Diet would have you believe is safe, and then prepare them in the sourdough method which gives us the greatest health benefits. We also use coconut flour when we can for a grain-free option as well.
But like I said, this is what we’ve decided to do for our family and our health situations – each one of you and your situations are going to be different.
Shared With: The Healthy Home Economist, The Modest Mom Blog, Time-Warp Wife, Growing Home, Real Food Forager, Cooking Traditional Foods, Tessa The Domestic Diva, Women Living Well, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Deep Roots at Home, Sweet Kisses & Dirty Dishes, GNOWFGLINS, Our Simple Country Life, Real Food Whole Health, Jill’s Home Remedies, Real Food Freaks, Food Renegade, Simple Living Mama, Domestically Divine Tuesdays,
photo credit: Free Digital Photo.net