Food for Life – Grains

This month we continue our look at grains, a primary source of carbohydrates in the diet. Unrefined and complex carbohydrates are the best and should make up 55 to 70 percent of our dietary consumption. Grains, legumes, and nuts provide the richest dietary source of magnesium.

To be the most healthful and beneficial, grains should have a long, slow cooking period, preferably one to three hours. The phytic acid found in grains ties up certain minerals necessary for health, and this acid is destroyed by long cook-ing. Long cooking also softens the physical units of the grain and prepares them for better digestion. It is likely that much of the food sensitivity manifested in adults to grains could be avoided by attention to cooking time.

The Joslin Diabetes Center’s textbook states: “The most common and important cause of insulin resistance is obesity.” Neil Nedley, M.D., Proof Positive, Nedley Publishing, Ardmore, Oklahoma, 1998, 186.

So not only is exercise important for overweight individuals, but weight loss seems to be even more important, at least in preventing many health problems. Complex, unrefined carbohydrates should be a part of a weight reduction program.

Grains are also a good source of fiber. There are many benefits to a high fiber diet, including: reduced levels of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, reduced blood pressure in those with hypertension, discontinuation of insulin therapy for non-insulin dependent diabetics is promoted, reduced risk of death from heart disease, improved gastrointestinal function, reduced body weight in the obese, reduced risk of kidney damage, reduced insulin requirements, and improvement in the glycemic control.

If we were to subsist wholly on fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole, unrefined grains, we could prevent a whole host of diseases, improve both our quality and quantity of life, and make a huge difference in the health of the entire Western World.