Grains have been part of human diet since the event of agriculture. What would be our diet like without breads, pastas, and rice or baked goods? And for all vegetarians and vegans out there, grains often takes a more important role by bringing a big chunk of the daily essential nutrients. But while the nutritionists are touting the health benefits of whole grains, there are still some insidious downsides that we might want to look at.
The potential problems of grains
Grains can be very healthy, when they are whole, unprocessed, and prepared in a good way. They are high in fiber, and contain many important essential nutrients like vitamins from the B group. They are cheap, widely accessible, and they contribute to lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, grains have a high glycemic load, they contain substances that are acting as anti-nutrients, and most of them are highly allergenic. They are linked to many health problems like obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, Cohn’s disease, leaky gut syndrome, and even malnutrition. The way grains are stored can also promote the growth of specific toxins that can be harsh on the liver.
The main culprits:
This substance is found in grains but it’s also the on responsible for the digestive problems that gave beans and legumes their bad reputation. The major downside of phytic acid, also called phytase, is not its gas promoting action though. The biggest problem is that it combines with some nutrients in the gut, which compromise their absorption by the body. The more you eat phytic acid rich foods, the more you have to monitor your minerals intake such as calcium, magnesium, zinc and manganese. Phytic acid can resist to cooking, but here’s the good news: there’s an easy way to lower the impact of phytase. Sprouting or soaking grains and legumes for at least 24 hours, can drastically reduce the amount of phytic acid you ingest. This is exactly why soaking beans prior to cooking is a well-known way to improve their digestibility.
Lectins are a substance that acts as glue inside our body. Lectins are found almost everywhere in nature. But the specific lectins found in grains and legumes are the most likely to cause problems in humans. The biggest challenge with lectins is that our response to them greatly differs from one individual to another. Almost everybody reacts to some dietary lectins when they enter their bloodstream. In fact, it’s actually the cause of many food allergies. Also, those substances are champions at mimicking hormones, especially those converting glucose into fat. In many people, lectins found in lentils, corn and wheat acts the same way as insulin, giving your body the signal to produce fat. Lectins also blocks digestive hormones, and lead to an increase appetite. One good thing is that lectins are destroyed in the sprouting process. Sprouted organic grains products seem to be the safest and healthiest way to enjoy the health benefits of grains and legumes without the downsides of lectins.
So here’re two excellent reasons to start sprouting! Not only the sprouting process helps to get rid of these two potential problems with grains consumption, sprouted grains are also generally higher in overall nutrients while lowering their glycemic load at the same time. There’re also a few brands of sprouted grains products out there that are ready to use. Just make sure that they don’t have any added gluten to them.
Have you ever tried sprouted grains products? Do you sprout them yourself? Are grains and legumes at the base of your diet?