Today we are continuing a series called “Why ‘Whole’ Grains Might Not Be As Healthy For You As You Think”. In our first post of this series, we discussed the many negative health effects that eating a diet high in grains and starches has had on many Americans. I shared my own journey of battling severe health issues which I was able to stop and turn around by changing how I ate, and offered a challenge to you! Make sure you check out the full introductory post to our series here.
HOW DOES THE BODY PROCESS THE GRAINS WE EAT?
The first reason you may want to consider eliminating (or reducing) grains and starches from your diet is as simple as sugar. You see, when you eat a grain, it is quickly converted in the body to a sugar. Yes, even the organic, whole grain kind!
Grains are carbohydrates (some with a little bit of protein and fat). Carbohydrates are either starch, sugar, fiber or a combination. While WHOLE grains do provide about 3 times the amount of fiber as refined, highly processed grains – they all aren’t super-high in fiber to begin with. Take a look at the fiber content of these popular grains compared with some fruit/veggies:
When you eat your slice of 100% whole wheat bread you receive approximately 2 grams of fiber, but you consume 20 grams of carbohydrates (starch and sugar) and 100 calories. To compare, if you eat a cup of cooked spinach, you get the same 2 grams of fiber but only 4 grams of carbohydrate and just 35 calories. By eating the wheat bread – your body now must deal with the 20 grams of sugar it has just digested.
BLOOD SUGAR SCIENCE – KEPT SIMPLE
As the glucose (sugar) enters your blood stream quickly, it cannot remain there for a long time or it would cause severe damage. This is known as a “blood sugar surge.” To get the sugar out, your pancreas produces a lot of insulin (a fat storage hormone), which helps your cells to allow the sugars to enter and be utilized as energy. This is known as the “blood sugar plummet.” Some of the “leftover” sugars can be stored in small amounts in the form of glycogen (in muscle and liver), but most will be stored as triglycerides (or fat) in your cells. Many of us have the telltale signs of this with the excess fat in our waist, belly and hips!
Over time, eating grains and starches with a high carbohydrate count and high glycemic load, (which we will discuss in a follow-up post) will create a continual irregular blood sugar pattern of surges and crashes and thus begin to wreak havoc on one’s body. Conditions like metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes, and silent inflammation are all examples of what can result from the surge/crash patterns we create by our food choices. Our bodies long for homeostasis (stability) in our blood sugar and function best when we keep sugars to a minimum and balance them out with good proteins and beneficial fats.
SUGAR DOES NOT DO A BODY GOOD
So remember – limiting your overall sugar intake means limiting those grains and starches. While the grains may contain more nutrients than the plain sugar does, the body still treats the sugar (carbohydrate) the same! Want to really kick start your weight loss program, or want to get past that plateau? Try cutting out the grains! Want to feel more energy, more balance, less jittery, less cravings? Cut out the grains! Remember, you cannot get past “sugar” cravings by only cutting out simple sugars – you need to cut out all sources of sugar.
Coming next in this series – The glycemic load of Grains, explained!
Read the rest of this series:
Why “Whole” Grains May Not Be As Healthy For You As You Think: Series Introduction
Part 2: It’s As Simple As Sugar
Part 3: Understanding the Glycemic Load
Part 4: The Antinutrients in Whole Grains
Part 5: Lectins
Part 6: Gluten