Almost every area of nutrition has some controversy. Whether it’s the best balance of macronutrients or go grain free, there are good arguments in all areas. There’s no doubt about it, grains are hard to digest. They were created to be hard to digest to continue the plant’s existence. Grains are the seed of plants in the cereal family. They have a hard shell so if birds or animals eat them, they travel with the animal and don’t digest, being expelled in a distant location, complete with fertilizer.
There are several reasons grains are tough on your digestive system.
Unless you crack the hard outer shell of most grains, it’s impossible to get any nutrition. Even if you grind grain into flour, it’s still difficult to digest. Grain contains complex proteins like gluten, globulins and prolamins. These are extremely hard to digest. You’ve probably already heard of gluten intolerance. It’s become far more well known today. That’s probably because the vast majority of wheat grown today came from a hybridization created in the 1960s that created more yield, but also contained more gluten, which may be the reason gluten intolerance has become more prevalent.
Grains contain a lot of nutrition and heart healthy benefits, but only if they’re whole grains.
Grains have three parts; bran, germ and endosperm unless they’re refined or processed. Processing removes the bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm, which is mostly protein and starchy carbs. The most nutritious part has been removed. Even the fiber is removed unless it’s whole grain. Whole grain has heart healthy benefits. Processed grains, which is often what most people consume, digests quickly causing spikes in blood sugar levels with very little nutritional value.
Grains can cause digestive problems if they’re not processed properly.
Keeping in mind that grains are seeds, they have built in mechanisms to ensure the continuation of the plant. Grains, like most seeds, contain enzyme inhibitors to prevent the plant from sprouting until the conditions are good for growth. However, you need enzymes for digestion, so grains can cause digestive problems unless they’re properly processed by soaking, fermenting or sprouting. They also contain phytic acid that prevents the absorption of minerals. That problem can also be prevented through those three ways of processing.
- A high amount of refined grains increases the risk of tooth decay.
- Not only does preparing grain for consumption by fermenting, soaking and sprouting help remove the phytic acid and remove enzyme inhibitors, it helps make the disaccharides in grain easier to digest.
- Many people feel that grain is one of the main causes of digestive problems, including leaky gut—a controversial condition that affects many areas of the body.
- If you’re having problems digesting grain, try some of the primitive grains like amaranth, chia, buckwheat or other ancient grains. These are often lower in gluten and easier to digest, plus contain many nutrients.