The majority of the population is eating their main portion of calories on a daily basis from refined grains such as pasta, cereals, breads. Is this appropriate? Let’s look into grains and starches a bit closer.
To avoid writing an overwelming, long, heavy article we have decided to break this down into two parts.
Times have changed
A couple of hundred years ago production habits where different.
- In former times grain was harvested and sheaved. The sheaves were put into shocks and allowed to stand in the field for several weeks. Then the shocks were gathered and built into stacks which stood in the field for several more weeks before threshing. During this period of weathering in the field the grain seeds were exposed to rain and dew which soaked into the sheaves. The grain could pick up this moisture, and, with heat from the sun,conditions were ideal for favoring a degree of germination and enzyme multiplication in the grain.
- Sprouting and fermenting grains lead to many beneficial effects. It increased the amino acid lysine, reduces anti-nutrients (like phytic acid and lectins), disabled enzyme inhibitors and maked nutrients more accessible.
- When the time of milling came all parts of the grain were used. The germ and bran were left with the endosperm. This meant that flour had a six month to one-year shelf life before it spoiled.
In the Industrial age there was a need for massive production and shelf life-time
- It was discovered that removing the germ (which is full of fatty acids) extended flour’s shelf life indefinitely. This led to an obvious reduction in nutrient density and gave refined wheat the ability to spike blood sugar very fast.
- By the 1930s, nutrients were added back into flour to replace those lost by de-germination and bran removal. It was called enriching he flour (with iron, folic acids, B vitamins, and so on).
- Then things kinda got outta hand, as bleaching process started to achieve different goals (e.g crusty or soft bread). Bleaching or maturing flour is achieved through the addtion of chemicals like chlorine dioxide, calcium peroxide (E930 on the label), etc. Each of these agents either increases or decreases the protein and, therefore, the gluten. This is how you get Cake Flour, Plain Flour, All-purpose Flour, and Bread Flour on your grocery store shelf. Each flour has a different protein percentage with cake flour being the lowest at around seven percent and bread flour the highest at around 13 percent. This means that modern wheat can contain new “foreign” gluten proteins that the human digestive system has not adapted to properly digesting.
- These days milling wheat means threshing (removing the hulls), and then removing the bran (outer layer of the berry) and germ (reproductive seed) which leaves the endosperm (protective tissue around the seed). The endosperm is ground into the usable flour we’re all familiar with.
Essencial nutrients and carbs
Essential nutrients cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained through other means while many non-essential nutrients can be both synthesized and absorbed from food. Although you will find in some articles that carbs part of the essential nutrients this is not accurate, since carbohydrates are a category not a nutrient.
There are 9 amino acids, 2 fatty acids, 13 vitamins, and 15 minerals that are considered essential nutrients.
- Out of the 20 amino acids (proteins), 9 cannot be synthesized by the body itself and thus need to be obtained from diet. They are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.
- The essential fatty acids (fats) DHA and EPA are needed for development and growth.
- Essential vitamins are Vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Choline.
- Essential minerals are Calcium, Cobalt, Chloride, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc.
- Carbohydrates and glucose aren’t essential because the body can shift into ketosis and use ketones instead. The brain and other vital organs do need a little amount of glucose for optimal functioning even after becoming keto-adapted. However, there are processes that can create glucose from dietary fat and protein intake so carbs aren’t needed. Additionally your daily vegetable consumption will provide that amount in any case.
While glucose (sugar) is readily available for most of the general population, it’s not actually the most efficient pathway of energy production, and is not the ideal source of fuel, fatty acids are. Fatty acids are metabolized in a process called beta-oxidation, and the burning of fatty acids is responsible for 60-70% of all of the energy our cells create. The result is that each molecule of glucose forms a total of 38 ATP (ATP stands for adenosine triphosphate and can be considered as the amount of energy produced in each cell by the mitochondria) molecules but each fatty-acid molecule produces 129 ATP molecules. You can clearly see why healthy, well-functioning cells would prefer fatty acids as their source of fuel. Fat consumption will result into more available energy for the bodies required functions.
To be continued…