Grains- the evil we’re all consuming!

Now in week 3, everyone on the New Year-New You bootcamp is looking amazing! Workouts are being taken to another level as their fitness improves, and we’re impressed with how much energy everyone has!
People’s faces are transforming too- looking healthier and well rested as their toxins have now left their body, and sleep quality has improved.

One of the toxins we have cut from our diet are refined Grains. Laura Russell, Nutritional Therapist explains all in her post…..

Many of us eat refined grains everyday, at virtually every meal without even realising it. How often do you have toast or cereal for breakfast, sandwiches or a pasta salad at lunch time, and perhaps a pizza or a takeaway at dinner time? And how often do you have those heavily processed ‘in between meals’ snacks that are also sugary or high in fat? Probably more often than you’d like to think! And did you ever consider you could even be addicted to them?!
In fact, refined grains in one form or another are in so many of the foods we consume it’s difficult to imagine what we would eat if we were to take these things out of our diets completely. Before you make your mind up that there is absolutely no possibility of that ever happening, let’s consider the damage that refined grains can cause, without us even realising it.
Here’s a quick bit of evolutionary history…
We began planting, sowing and eating grains approximately ten thousand years ago. This was at the time when the hunter gatherers were forced to seek a new food source due to the decline of large mammals through over hunting, because of the increasing numbers of people at that time. This change in eating habits resulted in the introduction of the early farmers and agriculture, and also led to the development of settlements. However, along with this new way of life came health problems and a change in the structure of the human body.
As a result of grain consumption, the average height of the hunter gatherers decreased, as did bone strength, and new bone diseases became apparent. The early farmers also experienced tooth decay and infectious diseases, and along with them, a shorter life span. Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution in the late 1800’s, and to
another major change – the processing and refining of grains. During this period, health declined still further, with the development of degenerative diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, in the wider population.
One of the major reasons why refined grains have such a damaging impact on our health is because they contain a protein known as ‘gluten’.

Many of us are intolerant or even allergic to gluten without even knowing, but quite often addicted to it at the same time. Many people have years and years of ill health without ever being able to find out why. Test after test has proved inconclusive and the best advice people get is to ‘slow down a bit’ and ‘take it easy’, inferring it’s a state of mind than a physiological problem. But how many times has your doctor ever asked you what you eat on a regular basis???
The reason why gluten is so problematic for many of us is the proteins it is made up of – ‘gliadin’ and ‘glutenin’. These proteins bind together in the intestine, and create a gluey substance. In particular, gliadin is inflammatory, and it flattens the tiny hairs called villi that coat and protect the intestinal tract. Over time, the result is the reduced absorption of nutrients which can make us run down and tired and eventually lead to serious illness
Gluten is also very difficult for the human body to digest. Partly or undigested particles can permeate the gut wall and find their way into the blood stream, producing symptoms of intolerance which can include gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, chronic fatigue, rhinitis, aching muscles and joints and severe headaches.
One of the biggest problems with refined grains and gluten is the autoimmune disorder known as coeliac disease. The symptoms of this disease are fatigue, diarrhoea, fatty stools, abdominal pain, gas, fever, depression, anaemia and malnutrition.
However, coeliac disease is often misdiagnosed as another health issue, depression being one of them. On the other hand, the danger of coeliac disease is that sometimes it presents no symptoms at all, or people don’t present themselves with ‘classic’ symptoms. It can take years for a diagnosis, and during that time permanent damage can be done, not just to the intestines, but to the liver, the immune system, the skin, the brain and our neurological system. Gluten sensitivity can cause a whole host of other problems, such as dermatitis or psoriasis and can aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Depression is also another common symptom in someone who is allergic or intolerant to gluten. This is because our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter, serotonin, is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract, and gluten impacts on neurotransmitter production by damaging the intestinal tract, lowering serotonin levels in the body.

Before we started to refine grains, we used to eat the whole grain, including the germ, which is the heart of the grain and the bran, which is the hard outer layer. While whole grains are better than refined grains they are less than ideal, because they contain high levels of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, especially those which are refined cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. To counteract this, the pancreas produces the important hormone insulin to bring the blood sugar down to normal levels. However, the continuous rise and fall of blood sugar in rapid succession exhausts the body by putting stress on the adrenal system.
The milling process largely removes the nutrient value of grains. In fact, some vitamins and minerals have to be added by law, to compensate for what is lost during production. However, the quantity and quality of these vitamins and minerals is often questionable, because what is replaced is actually less than we would get before processing, and in terms of quality, these ‘extra’ nutrients are often the cheapest available the manufacturer can obtain, which usually equates to a format that is less available to, and therefore usable by the body!
White flour also has the addition of additives such as bromine and carbon dioxide that are used to oxidise the flour. These can react with other substances from processed foods and make them toxic, which increases our body’s already toxic load.
Interestingly, another effect of gluten in the body arises from the undigested proteins, which are contained in the gluten grains that have properties similar to morphine. Once these are in our blood stream they can become potent. The people who are at greatest risk from these effects are those that are likely to have become addicted to glutinous foods, and it is suggested that this is where the term ‘comfort foods’ originates from!
Gluten can also affect our behaviour by causing us to use our ‘left brain’ function, or the ‘fight or flight’ mode; a state of stress and anxiety where we have far less rationale than if we were to use our ‘right brain’.  Using our ‘right brain’ function encourages us to be more creative, calmer and less susceptible to stress, and to develop our greater intellectual capacity.

It’s no surprise then that diseases such as cancer can manifest from excessive grain consumption, or that our life expectancy is in danger of being dramatically reduced when the staple in our diet is refined grains. The production of refined grains means that vital nutrients are lost during the process, and our ‘unconscious’ consumption is starting to cost us our health.
If many of us were to take stock of what we eat on a daily basis, we would not have a clue where to start in terms of changing our diets to a gluten free existence; such is the quantity of some form of grains in our meals.
But, there is a better way to get the nutritious content of grains with out all the bad bits, and that is to sprout them, and eat the young shoots. The sprouts contain all the nutrients required for the growth of a new plant and so are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, enzymes and fibre. By eating the sprouts, we get all the goodness that grains have to offer, but without the gluten and all the problems that this brings for our digestion, and our bodies and wellbeing as a whole.
So there you have it; the good, the bad (and the ugly!) on the grains found in our modern diet…definitely some food for thought right?!
Laura Russell
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