Why You Should Switch to Whole Grains + Buying Guide

Bread_and_grains

If you are trying to get healthy but are still eating white rice, pasta, or white bread, you might find you are paddling upstream with no paddles. If you are serious about reaching your optimum weight and wish to feel healthy, abundant and vibrant, you must switch to whole grains.

What makes a grain whole?

Whole grains include the whole kernel, whereas refined grains remove the bran and the germ. Without these, 25% of the grain’s protein is lost, as well as much of the fiber and other important nutrients. In regards to appearance, whole grains are usually brown in color, and refined grains are white.

Why Whole Grains?

It all comes down to fiber and the glycemic index. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Due to the high content of fiber in whole grains, the glucose is digested by the body at a slower rate. This is desirable because it results in a steady release of fuel/glucose to the body, instead of a quick burst of glucose.

This process is explained by something called the glycemic index, which is a term to describe the time it takes the body to turn food into fuel. Whole grains have more fiber, which slows down the digestion process, resulting in a steady release of glucose. Whereas refined grains have little or no fiber, are digested quickly, and release a massive dose of glucose to the body all at once.

When you eat foods with a high glycemic index your insulin levels spike, resulting in a quick surge of energy, followed by a crash. This is undesirable as excess insulin levels cause the body to hold on to fat. Flour is especially detrimental because it is pulverized, making it the most rapidly digested form of grain. Eating grain flour results in a dangerously high glycemic load leading to inflammation, weight gain, and blood sugar imbalances.

Low glycemic index foods such as whole grains, however, have the opposite effect. These foods work for you by promoting weight loss by keeping you full longer. They also balance your blood sugar levels, which results in a steady stream of energy throughout the day.

A good way to avoid the afternoon sugar crash blues is to eat whole grains instead of refined ones.

Whole Grain Buying Guide:

(All of the grains below are naturally gluten-free)

Quinoa 

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has the highest nutritional profile and is the fastest  cooking of all grains.

 Characteristics: quinoa

  • Gluten-free
  • Ideal food for endurance
  • Contains all eight amino acids to make it a complete protein
  • Has a protein content equal to milk
  • High in B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and vitamin E
  • Easy to digest

When cooking, try making a lot of quinoa at once, and eat it as leftovers. Quinoa can be reheated with a splash of nut milk for breakfast porridge; you can add dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon for a sweet treat. Add finely chopped raw vegetables and dressing for a cooling salad, or add chopped, cooked, root vegetables for a warming side dish. Store dry, uncooked quinoa in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed glass jar for up to one year.

Before cooking, quinoa must be rinsed to remove the toxic (but naturally occurring) bitter coating, called saponin. Although quinoa is rinsed before it is packaged and sold, it is wise to rinse again at home before use.

Millet

Millet is a very small, round grain that traces back thousands of years. It was the staple grain in China before rice became popular and continues to sustain people in Africa, China, Russia, and India, among other places.

Characteristics millet

  • Gluten-free
  • Soothing, especially for indigestion or morning sickness
  • Anti-fungal; helps ease Candida symptoms
  • Improves breath
  • Warming; good to eat in cool or rainy weather
  • High in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and potassium
  • Contains silica, which helps keep bones flexible in aging process

Millet can be used in porridges, cereal, soups, and dense breads. (Click HERE for a delicious millet dish that can be eaten at any time of the day) It is a delicious wheat-free substitution for couscous, as it has a similar consistency. Millet is often found in the bulk section of the health food store and is generally not sold in regular supermarkets. Store in an airtight jar or glass container for six to nine months.

Brown Rice

Brown rice has all the bran layers intact (unlike white rice) and contains all of its naturally present nutrients. These layers of bran act to protect the grain and to help maintain its fatty acids. Brown rice contains the highest amount of B vitamins out of all grains. Additionally, it contains iron, vitamin E, amino acids, and linoleic acid. Brown rice is high in fiber, extremely low in sodium, and is composed of 80% complex carbohydrates.

Characteristics brownrice

  • Gluten-free
  • Promotes good digestion
  • Quenches thirst
  • Balances blood sugar and controls mood swings

When purchasing brown rice I recommend buying organic brown rice and storing it in airtight glass jars in a dark cupboard.

Kasha/ Buckwheat

Kasha is the name for buckwheat that has been roasted to a deep amber color. Despite its name, buckwheat is not actually a member of the wheat family, but rather a relative of rhubarb. Of all the grains, buckwheat has the longest transit time in the digestive tract and is the most filling.  Buckwheat is a great staple for vegetarians as it is a complete protein.

Characteristics: kasha

  • Gluten-free
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Builds blood; neutralizes toxic acidic waste
  • Benefits circulation
  • High proportion of all eight amino acids, especially lysine making it a complete protein.
  • Rich in vitamin E and B-complex vitamins

Kasha has a robust, earthy flavor and makes a very hearty meal. It can be eaten as a hot breakfast cereal, a side dish, or a grain entrée mixed with vegetables.

Oats

Oats were one of the first cereals cultivated by man and have been eaten as far back as 7,000 B.C.. The Scottish brought the cereal over to North America in the 17th century, and it has been a love affair ever since as 75% of the American population eats them.

Characteristics: 

  • Rich in avenanthramide, an antioxidant that protects the heart.
  • Aids digestion
  • Rich in fiber
  • Lowers blood sugar
  • Improves nervous system function

Oats are naturally gluten-free, but are usually processed in facilities that process wheat, so trace amounts of wheat can be found in them. Usually people with gluten sensitivity can digest this trace amount, but those with celiac disease cannot. If you wish to avoid gluten all together, many brands offer special gluten-free oats. (Click HERE for a yummy overnight oats recipe)

When buying oats make sure to avoid instant because they are more refined. Instead, choose rolled or steel cut oats. My favorite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oats.

Have fun getting wholly!

Health Coach Jenna

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The Gluten-Free Life: Just Another Fad?

 

Gluten Free sign with clouds and sky backgroundLet’s Talk Gluten.

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, kamut, barley, spelt, and some oats. It is formed when the two proteins called Gliadin and Glutenin are combined with water. Gluten is touch and rubbery, and responsible for allowing bread o stretch and rise. Chances are you eat a lot of gluten, as the standard western diet consists of pizza, pasta, bread (to find out what is wrong with supermarket bread click HERE) , and processed foods- all very high in gluten.

Just Another Fad?

I kGfree2now it seems like everyone is talking about going “gluten-free” and critics accuse it of being the new “fat-free” fad. And they are not entirely wrong. Food companies have indeed taken this opportunity to shell out tons of processed, sugary, crap food that are marketed as “gluten-free”. 

Don’t buy into it, folks. If you want to live a gluten-free lifestyle, stick to real, whole foods. If you do this you can’t lose.

I have personally found so much success with being gluten-free. It wasn’t until I made this switch that I ditched the extra five-ten stubborn pounds, my brain fog hit the road, and my recurring rash completely disappeared.

So although being gluten-free can seem like the newest fad, this is much more serious than just a quick diet to lose weight. But if weight gain is your goal, eating gluten will sure get you there quickly.

Why Gluten Can Be Harmful:

Gluten intolerance and sensitivity affects millions of Americans, most of whom are unaware. These people complain of bloating, migraines, an inability to lose weight, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, rashes, and more. Many times this is simply an allergic reaction to gluten.gfree3

According to a review in The New England Journal of Medicine, there are 55 diseases that can be caused by eating gluten. (i) These include irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to anxiety, depression, (ii) schizophrenia, dementia, as well as autism. (iii)

Gluten is problematic for people with celiac disease, and for those with gluten sensitivities. Celiac disease is the most extreme, affecting an estimated three million Americans. (iv) A person with celiac disease is completely gluten intolerant and must eliminate gluten entirely from their diet.

The only way to find out if you have celiac disease is to get tested. The blood test is about 95% accurate, and it’s advised to get a biopsy to confirm. An important fact to remember is that you must be eating gluten for the test to be accurate. The removal of gluten for people with celiac disease must be a habit maintained for life.

Gluten is also detrimental to those with gluten sensitivity. It’s estimated that one-third of the American population is gluten sensitive. These people include those who have tested negative for celiac disease but have relief from problematic symptoms when gluten is avoided.

If you suffer from bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, rashes, joint pain, arthritis, depression, anxiety, migraines, constipation, or the inability to lose weight, I encourage you to go two weeks without gluten to see if it could be the cause.

So What Are My Alternatives?

Your options are really limitless on this one! There are so many naturally gluten-free foods that are full of fiber and other beneficial vitamins and minerals.

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods:

  • brown rice
  • millet
  • kasha
  • gluten-free oats
  • quinoa
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts/seeds
  • beans
  • most dairy
  • eggs
  • fish, poultry, meat
  • herbs

Beware of:

-Barley labeled under malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar, and brewer’s yeast.

– distilled vinegar

-soy sauce

Once again, remember to be a label detective. It’s very easy for gluten to hide in processed items and condiments, so the more you stick to real, whole foods, the easier it will be to avoid.

Happy to be Gluten-Free,

Health Coach Jenna

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Sources:

(i) Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK, Lahr BD, Zinsmeister AR, Melton LJ 3rd, Murray JA. Increased prevalence and mortality in undiagnosed celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 2009 Jul;137(1):88-93

(ii) Ludvigsson JF, Reutfors J, Osby U, Ekbom A, Montgomery SM. Celiac disease and risk of mood disorders–a general population-based cohort study. J Affect Disord. 2007 Apr;99(1-3):117-26. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

(iii) Millward C, Ferriter M, Calver S, Connell-Jones G. Gluten- and casein-free diets for autistic spectrum disorder. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD003498. Review.

(iv) Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You – Dr. Mark Hyman. (2011). Retrieved March 1, 2016, from http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/03/17/gluten-what-you-dont-know-might-kill-you/

The Dilemma with Today’s Bread + Your Buying Guide

bread

Wheat is the largest staple in the world and is consumed by millions of people across the globe. In today’s world we are faced with the dilemma that the bread we eat is drastically different from the bread our ancestors ate. Bread is supposed to be a simple food with only three ingredients, but most of the store-bought bread found on the shelves today has up to 37.

Bread was first discovered in Egypt around 6,000 years ago, and it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that it was introduced to Europe. However, most of the wheat we eat today is different from these original variations, as the modern American strains of wheat now have much higher gluten contents necessary to make fluffy, white bread, pizza, and bagels. Sadly, this hyped up version of gluten has infected nearly all wheat strains in America. (i).

The Missing Step

Modern bread is missing a key step in how original bread was made: the fermentation process.

Bread dough was originally left out to ferment naturally by catching bacteria from the air, resulting in the dough to gradually rising over the course of two to six hours. Today this is no longer the case. The fermentation process has been skipped completely from the process, as scientists have isolated the yeast to make bread rise quickly.

Skipping this crucial fermentation process leaves us with bread that is hard to digest. Without the enzymes from the fermentation process, it is very difficult for the body to digest the gluten found in bread.

It’s really no surprise that in today’s world of store-bought, processed bread, many people are experiencing allergic reactions.

The Wonder Bread Way wonderbread

Refined all-purpose white flour is another dilemma with today’s wheat supply. Whole-kernel grains conceal a variety of vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals, and fiber. But when they are pulverized into flour, even wholegrain flour, all that is left is a nutrient void powder that can cause weight gain, disease, and inflammation in the body. With the introduction of all-purpose white flour, a host of health problems have surfaced in the western world.

Okay folks, so if after reading this you still choose to eat wheat bread, then I encourage you to follow my bread buying guide below to find the healthiest option.

Wholegrain Bread Buying Guide:

  1. Your best bet for bread is to find a local, artisan bakery in town. Better yet if you can find a place that still uses the fermentation process.
  2.  If you are buying bread in the supermarket, make sure to avoid products with “ENRICHED” on the label. The first ingredient should be whole wheat flour. Do not buy products that say “MULTIGRAIN” as this is not a desirable quality. It might sound nice, but all it means is that the bread is not 100% whole wheat and is mixed with other refined grains.
  3. Don’t let the color fool you. Just because bread is brown doesn’t make it whole grain as manufactures sometime add molasses or other coloring to darken the bread.
  4. Make sure each serving has at least two to three grams of fiber.
  5. Spelt, rye and Ezekiel sprouted grain bread are healthy alternatives, so look for them.

 

Sources:

(i) Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You – Dr. Mark Hyman. (2011). Retrieved March 1, 2016, from http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/03/17/gluten-what-you-dont-know-might-kill-you/