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Multi-Grain, Whole Grain, is There Anything to Gain?

August 23 2012

Multi-grain, Whole grain, is there anything to gain?
By: Debra Meszaros- CSN

Grains have been regarded as a dietary staple for decades and quickly became the foundation of every meal. We are told to eat them everyday, and we do. We rely on them for fiber. But are they really as healthy as they have been portrayed to be?

When attempting to fine tune your diet or reach ultimate health and body performance we have to take a close look at grains and what we have to gain if we incorporate them into the daily diet. Most of us by now have gotten the message that whole wheat breads rule over white processed bread. But is there even more to consider when it comes to any grain?

With exception to “sprouted” grains, all grains are considered a processed food and unnatural in a sense that nature does not form them, man creates them. “Sprouted” grains are more in line with nature as sprouting is a normal germination process that happens with any seed. “Sprouting”, soaking, and fermentation are all normal processes that occur in nature. What changes in a grain when these normal processes happen?

The change is Phytic acid content. Phytic acid is found in the hulls of grains, seeds and even nuts. Although there is no reason to completely eliminate Phytates from your diet, one should be concerned about how much Phytic acid and Phytates are present within one’s diet. When grains are the foundation of every meal it is likely Phytates are present in excess that can lead to nutritional deficiencies. What makes Phytic acid a negative element is its tendency to bind to minerals like iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, chromium, and manganese in the gastrointestinal tract making those minerals non-absorbable by the body. These minerals are already of great importance to the athlete since sweating also depletes these minerals. An athlete already has higher needs for these nutrients and we do not wish to further deplete them from the body. Phytic acid also interferes with our digestive enzymes, especially pepsin, which is very much needed to break down protein in the stomach, trypsin which is needed to break down protein in the small intestine, and amylase which is needed to break down starch. Phytate heavy [simple carbohydrate] diets can be problematic for humans. The natural processes of “sprouting”, soaking, and fermentation reduce the quantity of Phytic acid and increase the nutrition by activating enzymes within the seed, grain, or nut. The enzymes also make it easier for the body to assimilate and absorb the nutrients of these foods.

The essential nutritional needs of the human body are water, protein, and quality fats; of which we cannot live without. Simple carbohydrates and grains, are not an essential need of the human body, we can live without them. If you are worried about not getting enough fiber, the best form of dietary fiber is found in vegetables and fruits, not grains.

Since our dietary habits have us relying heavily of grains, making this change can be difficult. Incorporating “sprouted” grains into the diet is the first step towards lowering Phytic acid levels and the second step would be lowering grain intake to the lowest denominator in dietary percentage. Ideally, a final dietary goal would be to rotate the types of “sprouted” grains and lowering one’s consumption to only a few times per week. I am afraid without this practice we could soon see Gluten intolerance begin to transform into grain intolerance within the near future.

Remember nuts and seeds also contain Phytic acid and therefore should be consumed in small amounts at a time and in the form of “sprouted” as well.

©2012 Debra Meszaros All rights reserved; no duplication without permission.
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