Trending: People avoiding grains, especially wheat products for a variety of reasons, including trying to minimize carbohydrates. This is a big subject. Let’s tackle it grain by grain.
Who needs to avoid grains, lumped together commonly as “gluten”? Those with Celiac disease are the prime candidates. CD is a chronic, autoimmune disease, with mainly gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, malabsorption, limited food choices, and other serious symptoms such as iron deficiency and osteoporosis. It affects approximately 1 – 2 % of the population. As many as 6 – 10 % can be gluten sensitive, with symptoms resembling irritable bowel syndrome. There are still others who can have a wheat allergy, which can also cause GI symptoms.
But let’s back up just a minute. What is gluten? By definition, it is the tough, viscous substance forming the structure of grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. It is simply the “starch” in those grains.
If we don’t fit in the above categories, there is not a medical reason to stay away from grains. If we take whole grains out of our daily food intake, we are missing some very important nutrients needlessly. What are those nutrients? We will break down the components below:
• Bran: the outer layer that contains the fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folate; and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium.
• Endosperm: the middle layer, containing the “starch”, protein and small amounts of B vitamins and minerals.
• Germ: the inner part of the grain, containing healthy fats, more B vitamins, some phytochemicals and antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Whole grains have many of the disease fighting chemicals that fruits and vegetables have, sometimes more. Eating at least three servings of whole grains per day can help prevent such diseases as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, cancer of the digestive tract, and obesity, besides being a source of energy. Please enjoy these healthy foods, “regularly!” -KM