It’s no secret that whole grains are good for us. They deliver way more nutrients per calorie than refined grains do, which just happens to fall in line with one of the major themes of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 (published by the U.S. Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments): packing as many valuable nutrients into as few calories as possible each day. This week’s column is the first in a series on incorporating the dietary guidelines into our daily lives.
How much each day?
The dietary guidelines say we should make sure that at least half of the six servings of grains we eat in a day are whole, not refined. In short, we should “Increase whole-grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.”
Daily amount. A person consuming 2,000 calories per day should have at least 48 grams of whole grains (or three servings) and an equal amount of refined grains. You can get about 16 grams of whole grains from any one of the following: a one-ounce slice of bread, one ounce of pasta or rice (uncooked), a six-inch tortilla, or about one cup of cereal.
The truth is that at no one point in human history have grains been consumed or over- produced in such massive amounts as they are today in the United States. The reason why the USDA makes these over the top recommendations for grain-based carbohydrate consumption is because the government doles out tens of billions of dollars annually for agricultural subsidies. The USDA’s recommendations for grain-based carbohydrates reads more like a government grocery receipt than it does as an ideal component of human health. Expect nothing new from government subsidies.
The reality is that depending on the inherent needs of individual biochemical considerations, grains can wreak havoc inside of some people’s bodies, or may actually provide some nutritive benefit to others.
Obesity, gluten intolerance, celiac, digestive sensitivities, excessively high glucose and insulin resistance can all be caused by grain-based carbohydrates. Vegetables, not grains are the best sources of carbohydrates because they have a much lower glycemic index and are much more nutrient dense.
You must realize that certain individuals simply cannot metabolize high carbohydrate foods efficiently, such as grains. If the USDA thinks that recommending 6-8 servings per day of grains is good for the 50 million diabetics or pre-daibetics in this country, we have bigger problems than you can imagine.
Government Subsidies & Grain-Based Agriculture
The U.S. government pays out between 10-30 billion dollars in cash subsidies to farmers every year. More than 90% of agricultural subsidies goes to farmers of 5 crops: wheat, corn, soybeans, rice and cotton.
In addition to subsidies, the USDA provides farmers with subsidized crop insurance, marketing support and agricultural research. This totals to an additional $5 billion annually and is funded directly through taxpayers. The heaviest subsidies go to the biggest producers of grain-based carbohydrates. So you guessed it: the U.S. Agricultural Monolithic Complex gets the biggest government support.
It’s no surprise why you are being told what to eat by the federal government. They have a heavy investment to swallow and you are funding it with your tax dollars. So you get what you pay for.
I like to think that U.S. citizens are like feedlot animals to the U.S. government; you get fattened by the same hand that feeds you. Not only are you being fattened by the feedlot farmers of the federal government, you’re being forced to pay for your own fattening!
The fastest way to fatten livestock is by feeding them corn and soy. For humans it is a similar story. Throw in the intestinal inflammation caused by gluten-containing wheat and you start running up a convenient medical bill.
Grains Aren’t the Best Sources of Carbohydrates – Vegetables Are
Vegetables are a much better source of carbohydrates because vegetables have a lower glycemic index than grains, contain far fewer carbohydrates in them and are more nutrient dense.
Don’t expect the government to recommend vegetables over grains though. The government pays the LEAST amount of subsidies to vegetables and fruits. Between 1995-2005, vegetables and fruits received 0.37% (less than 1%) of all agricultural subsidies. This is precisely why a fast food hamburger will cost less than a salad.
Grains & Metabolism
For Fast Oxidizers and Parasympathetic dominants and Those with erratic Blood Sugar, Excess Grains Will Only Wreak Havoc.
All carbohydrates will break down into sugar in the body, but grains will break down into sugar more than other carbohydrate foods, far more than above-ground vegetables.
Sugars will be converted into energy via glycation, and excess carbohydrates will be converted into body fat if they cannot be immediately used.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes can benefit tremendously by reducing their intake of foods high in carbohydrates such as grains. Eliminating excess sugars in the blood will help to increase cellular sensitivity to insulin receptors on cells.
Hypoglycemics have a very difficult time converting sugar into energy. A glucose tolerance test will reveal the erratic and unstable blood sugar swing of a hypoglycemic. Grain-based carbohydrates are not a primary food for a hypoglycemic for this reason, and in fact can further exacerbate the blood sugar de-regulation of a hypoglycemic.
Grains and Inflammation
Grains contain a considerable amount of omega 6 fatty acids. Excess intake of Omega 6 fats have been linked to inflammatory conditions because of their ability to increase prostaglandin formation. Prostaglandins are fatty acid derivatives that are involved in inflammatory responses. People with joint conditions and arthritis, as well as those suffering from cardiovascular disease may benefit from restricting grains from the diet.
Celiac, Gluten Intolerance and Your Health
Many grains contain gluten, a protein composite in certain grains such as wheat, barley and rye. An enormous percentage of the population has some kind of gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Symptoms arise after consuming gluten-containing foods: bloating, gas, indigestion, migraine headaches, or worse. Gluten sensitivities have also been linked to ADD and ADHD.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition precipitated by consuming gliadin, a gluten protein. Approximately 1 out of every 100 people has celiac disease. Many Europeans report that celiac symptoms arise more frequently after consuming American-grown wheat and gluten foods.
Grains and GMO’s
Genetically modified foods are a very serious threat to the safety of food as well as to the health of human civilization. GMO’s have been linked to a variety of illnesses including DNA and genetic mutations. Currently, the only grain that is genetically modified is corn.
GMO corn should be avoided at ALL COSTS if you have an interest in protecting yours and your family’s health. GMO corn is found in many sources. Any food that contains non-organic corn products or bi-products, almost certainly is GMO.
The Best Way to Prepare and Consume Grains
For much of human history, grains were not the staple of our diet. Only recently, since the industrial revolution did grains become the foundation of modern diets.
Whole grains should be organically grown. They should be pre-soaked to break down nutrient inhibitors such as phytic acid. Grains should be thoroughly cooked, but not overcooked.
Metabolic Types such as Protein and Mixed Types should always eat whole grains at the end of a meal and never at the start of a meal. For Protein and Mixed Types, adding additional fats or oils to grains will slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Adding high quality, organic butter or coconut oil to brown rice or oatmeal is an excellent way to consume whole grains.
For Carbo Metabolic Types (slow oxidizers and sympathetic types), grains have the most value. Carbo types tend to produce more efficient energy from grains. Even still, grains are not of primary importance for a carbo type, vegetables are. If you are one of the many million type two diabetics who are slow oxidizers or sympathetic-dominant, reducing or eliminating grain intake may be a life saver.
In conclusion, grain-based carbohydrates are not the most important foods for any metabolic type. They can be a direct cause of many health conditions. Grains are recommended by government institutions due to economic reasons.
If prepared correctly and consumed in the right order, grains can yield some added nutritional benefit to some people, but not everyone.