I have a lot of clients in Stamford, CT that require special planning when creating a healthy eating plan because they have a problem with consuming grains. It’s getting more and more common and whether that’s because the problem is increasing or we’re just identifying it properly isn’t known. One thing is certain, there are good reasons that grains are hard to digest. First, they’re seeds and seeds have an outer shell. That was nature’s plan to ensure that if animals ate them, they’d pass through in their excrement and be scattered to grow elsewhere, conveniently in fertilizer ready to help them grow.
Some of the substances that help the plant grow are actually bad for people and animals that eat the seeds.
Seeds have a substance that stops the growing process until conditions are right. It’s called an enzyme inhibitor. Enzymes are catalysts for sprouting and many other things. In fact, no digestion can take place without enzymes. If you’re eating seeds and consuming the enzyme inhibitor, it slows or blocks the digestive process. That’s a recipe for stomach and digestive problems.
Parts of the grains are really hard on the digestive system.
Complex proteins are hard on the digestive system. One of those complex proteins is called gluten. Wheat and several other grains contain gluten. In fact, wheat today contains more gluten than it did in the past. That’s because in the 1960s, there was a hybrid of wheat created that produced a crop with more usable wheat. Larger amounts of wheat on the same land meant more money, so every farmer started growing it. Today, it’s the primary type of wheat grown. One thing that also sets it apart from the rest is that it’s extremely high in gluten, which may account for the sudden increase in gluten intolerance.
Eating grains and some legumes may actually block nutrients.
Grains and legumes, like beans, contain phytic acid. Phytic acid can affect the absorption of nutrients in the small intestines. That blocking can lead to health issues, including bone loss. In fact, there’s a newly named syndrome called leaky gut that may be coming from the ingestion of grains. Leaky gut has many symptoms and some of them seem totally unrelated to others. One way to find if grains are the problem is with an elimination diet.
- Grains, like wheat, contain disaccharides that are hard on digestion. It can be even more troublesome to people who already have problems with digestion.
- One reason more people are being troubled with digesting grains is that the preparation to use the grain has changed to make it more commercial. Soaking it, sprouting it or fermenting it, as in sour dough or sprouted bread, helps your digestion.
- Switching from traditional wheat products to those made with ancient grains, such as amaranth, sorghum and kamut might be a healthier way to consume grains.
- The ancient methods of processing grain, soaking, fermenting and sprouting, also helps reduce enzyme inhibitors, removes phytic acid and makes the disaccharides far easier on your digestive system.