Lets get back to the whole “what can people eat and don’t eat” topic. We talked about how it’s really gliadin in gluten that typically causes people an allergic reaction to wheat products. If that is so, then why do people eat totally grain free? It’s because the human body is super weird… There are a lot of people that feel that any gluten, whether it is gliadin containing or not, causes inflammation and therefore should not be consumed. Each grain is also a bit different, as I know people who can have rice, and not corn, corn but not oats, etc, etc. It’s just something you have to listen to your own body on.
Therefore people go totally grain free, no oats, no corn, no rice, etc. There are “pseudo” grains that some people eat and some don’t. Quinoa is one of those. Many people, if they go this path, go all the way and either just give up on any baked good or stick with basically only coconut or almond flour. Unless you have a nut allergy, these typically solve the reaction issues for most people. Many people feel better, with no bloating or any kind of inflation, from these options.
What is a grain?
All grains are all ultimately grasses. We eat the seed heads of these grasses. Corn, rice, wheat, barley, and oats are all different species of grass that we eat the seeds off of. They are all high carbohydrate plants. The carbohydrates help feed the seeds and grow them into another plant.
Why does that matter?
Some people avoid all true grains because of their potentially inflammatory properties. That is ultimately a lot of what happens with people who are sensitive to gluten. Gluten causes the gut lining to become irritated and swell up, causing discomfort and other issues. If you have joint issues because of eating gluten, that’s because gluten causes the tissue in your joints to swell, making it painful to flex those joints.
There is some research that shows there are inflammatory properties in other grains than just wheat. There is some concern over the chemicals that are frequently used in our modern agricultural system to grow grains. Whether there are actual residues left on the grains or not, grains produced in this manner do cause reactions in some people.
Whether we eat whole grains or processed grains can also affect our reaction to grains. I’m not talking about the package of bread that says whole wheat but still has white flour and even more sugar than the white bread. I’m talking about finding a local baker you can trust or making bread yourself, starting with a whole seed, cracking it or grinding it, and turning that into your bread. The more complete your grains are, the better your body will be able to process them.\
When grains are processed from, say, whole wheat into white flour, it is ground, and the bran and germ are removed. These 2 parts contain much of the added vitamins, minerals and fiber that are found in the whole grains. So you end up with mostly carbs that quickly change to glucose in your blood stream but don’t actually bring any nutrition to you. This leaves you with a blood sugar spike after eating white bread or highly processed grain products.
Some people experience “foggy brain” syndrome felt after eating a large or even small amount of carbs from grains. Typically this seems to be more associated with processed grains than whole grains, but it can sometimes apply to either. This could be from the overload of carbs/sugars or possibly from increased inflammation in the body.
Should I go grain free?
If you are already gluten free, should you take that next step and go grain free? Maybe… If you are at a healthy weight, have no outstanding health issues and feel great, then no, you probably don’t need to eat grain free. There is enough disagreement over some of the arguments about the negative aspects of grains that if you feel great and are healthy, I don’t personally think it’s worth it. There are some nutrients that are beneficial in whole grains, so they can be a great small part of a well-rounded whole-food diet.
Are you over weight, or feel bad or sluggish after eating grains, or have other health issues? Then yes, you should probably consider removing grains from your diet and see if that improves your health. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. You might have other issues that are causing you problems, but removing grains may help with identifying the issues.
As with any eating decision, we have to consider the specifics of our body and what seems to benefit it or not individually.
Make it a tasty day,