Expand Your Grains, Extend Your Life

by Brad

beautiful assortment of gluten free whole grains

A study published in the Archives of International Medicine showed that eating more brown rice and cutting back on white rice may reduce your risk of diabetes.

If you eat rice just twice a week (two servings, about 6 ounces each), switching to brown rice lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes by 16 percent. And if you move away from refined grains in general to a diet that includes whole grains, that risk decreases by 36 percent.

Why the big difference? To make white rice, the husk, containing nutrients like magnesium and insoluble fiber, is removed. Both of those nutrients have been shown to protect against diabetes. In addition, white rice, as well as all refined grains, cause blood sugar to rise much more quickly than their intact, whole counterparts.

This means your body puts out a lot more insulin when you eat white rice, where brown rice and other whole grains are broken down into glucose much slower.

So is it white rice that’s causing diabetes? That’s not likely the main issue. Even controlling for other lifestyle factors like red meat consumption, levels of exercise, and smoking, the researchers pointed out that the study’s results could still be more reflective of the type of people who choose brown rice over white.

In general, they found that people who typically chose brown rice lived “a more health-conscious lifestyle.” Those people tended to be more physically active, were slimmer, and ate more whole grains, while they were less likely to smoke or have a family history of diabetes.

The study isn’t proof that white rice causes diabetes, more so, it shows the importance of eating whole grains. More brown rice is helpful because it is higher in fiber and that may protect against diabetes. Whole grains have so much more fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein, so you get a lot more nutritional bang for your buck than with refined carbohydrates like white rice or white bread.

Ok, that leads to the next topic of discussion. When people think of whole grains, often their first thought is whole wheat. Just recently, though, we wrote about how wheat (because of its high levels of gluten) can create many health issues, even if you don’t suffer from celiac disease or don’t find yourself to be “gluten sensitive.”

But what’s so wrong with wheat? Humans have been eating it for thousands of years, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, we’ve been eating wheat a long time, but no, not the type of wheat that is on the shelves today. A recent article from Dr. Mark Hyman was very helpful in explaining the difference.

The Bible says, “Give us this day our daily bread”. Eating bread is nearly a religious commandment. But the Einkorn, heirloom, Biblical wheat of our ancestors is something modern humans never eat.

Instead, we eat dwarf wheat, the product of genetic manipulation and hybridization that created short, stubby, hardy, high yielding wheat plants with much higher amounts of starch and gluten and many more chromosomes coding for all sorts of new odd proteins. The man who engineered this modern wheat won the Nobel Prize – it promised to feed millions of starving around the world. Well, it has, and it has made them fat and sick.

The first major difference of this dwarf wheat is that it contains very high levels of a super starch called amylopectin A. This is how we get big fluffy Wonder Bread and Cinnabons.

Here’s the downside. Two slices of whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar.

There is no difference between whole wheat and white flour here. Not only does this dwarf, FrankenWheat, contain the super starch, but it also contains super gluten which is much more likely to create inflammation in the body. And in addition to a host of inflammatory and chronic diseases caused by gluten, it causes obesity and diabetes.

Gluten is that sticky protein in wheat that holds bread together and makes it rise. The old fourteen chromosome containing Einkorn wheat codes for the small number of gluten proteins and those that it does produce are the least likely to trigger celiac disease and inflammation. The new dwarf wheat contains twenty-eight or twice as many chromosomes and produces a large variety of gluten proteins, including the ones most likely to cause celiac disease.

Turns out the issue with wheat is what lies at the root of all the other health issues of today. A group of people got too big for their britches and started genetically tinkering with nature and invented new “foods” that human bodies don’t know how to digest. And the solution, as always, is going back to real, natural foods.

Avoiding gluten and wheat doesn’t mean completely avoiding whole grains by any means. While wheat, barley, and rye may not make the cut if you’re avoiding gluten entirely, many whole grains are still on the menu, like our good friend brown rice, as well as other options to explore like buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and amaranth.

There are healthy “side effects” of avoiding wheat as well. Since most processed foods contain wheat, eliminating wheat generally means eating a healthier diet richer in whole foods. That’s where gluten-free whole grains come in. The human body has thrived on gluten-free grains for centuries. Brown rice, buckwheat and corn are the most familiar examples.

If you’re not familiar with options like quinoa, millet, and amaranth, all of them are easy to cook with and very versatile. Exploring their tastes, textures, and multiple functions can be a fun adventure. After a couple years of eating our current diet, we can’t imagine not having quinoa and buckwheat in the pantry. They can easily become your go-to staples. And we keep on discovering new uses, like the night of our “amaranth popping” adventure that gave us some tasty treats and a big mess to clean up.

You can easily find all of these grains in any natural foods store, both in labeled packages as well as in the bulk section. Oh, and that’s another benefit. Buy them from the bulk section, and you get a lot of nutrition and a full stomach for not a lot of money. Seriously, what’s not to love about whole grains?

There’s also a wide assortment of gluten-free products on the shelves like quinoa-based pasta and gluten free baked goods and mixes. Check the ingredient list. Just because it says “gluten free” on the front of the package doesn’t mean whole grains.

Never go by health claims on the front of the package to guide you in your search for nutrition since those statements can be misleading. There is no legal definition for “Whole Grain.” While I’m not aware of and wasn’t able to find any examples of gluten free or organic products attempting this, there are many examples of companies using these marketing messages on products that have more refined grains than whole. Ego’s Whole Wheat Waffles is one that comes to mind. Companies will go so far as to add caramel coloring to a product to give it a beige, whole grain look. Again, if a product says “Whole Grain” on the front, check the ingredient list to verify that the first item really is whole grain.

Have fun exploring and experimenting with all these new options as well as the fun products that companies have come up with. You’ll definitely find a few that you love and will make that Frankenwheat a long forgotten and unmissed memory.

About the author...

 discovered the benefits of natural food when he watched a loved one go from poor health to full well-being after adapting a clean food diet. Such an event opened his eyes to the power of clean foods and fueled his motivation to help others eat the best way possible for their body.

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