So: are whole grains good for you? The topic of grains in weight loss and nutrition has been an inflaming one, with some claiming that it is an evil, inflammation-causing nutrient, while many others argue that it is an essential part of our existence, the dietary staple that fueled the birth of civilization.
So why has our country, built on “amber waves of grain,” come to such a crossroads on this issue?
Well, a lot of recent research has focused on the proteins and toxins present in the Poaceae family of plants, formerly known as the Gramineae family and more commonly referred to as grains, including, but not limited to: Wheat, Rye, Barley, Bran, Bulgur, Couscous, Farina, Kamut, Orzo, Semolina, Spelt, and gluten-free grains such as Sorghum, Corn, Millet, and Rice (1).
The issue comes partly from the branding and jargon that a lot of people fight over. If you walk into any grocery store in America, you will be assaulted with marketing attempting to influence you to purchase a given item.
To the un-inoculated, things like “100% hearty whole grain bread,” “gluten-free pasta,” “Lucky Charms with extra fiber,” “Paleo pancakes,” “100 calorie Oreo snack packs,” and a host of similar options can leave most consumers at best confused and at worst, entirely mislead.
Are Whole Grains Good for You? An Important Note to Consider
A note here that is important but does not explain the grains vs. no grains in weight loss debate is the presence of the protein gluten. Gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease affect a very small percentage of the population and for many, is a non-issue.
Much of the debate on grains is surrounding the protective “anti-nutrient” proteins in the husks of rice and the outer part of wheat that some people believe to influence low-grade inflammation, a leading cause of many top diseases.
The Evolution of Grains in Weight Loss
To understand grains in weight loss, we would be wrong to not look at the evolution of “dieting” over time.
The birth of this issue goes back to the agricultural revolution when homo-sapiens decided to end their nomadic existence and begin the agricultural revolution.
Modern dieting has a history dating back to the late 1800s with low carb diets known as banting, in addition to vegan and raw food.
The paleo movement got its beginnings in the 1970s, along with Atkins and others.
In recent years, grains have been taking heat due to the increasing popularity of the Paleo diet and its pre-Agro recommendations, the rise in understanding of Celiac disease along with the hotly debated “Wheat Belly” books by Dr. William Davis.
While some view these anti-grain movements as countercultural, much of the mainstream USDA recommendations and government policies have steadily supported the importance of grains, especially whole wheat in improving our health.
Thank you for taking the time to read our article and stay tuned next week for Shades of Grain in Weight Loss: Part 2, as we dive into the mechanics of how grains work in your body!
Key Resources and Further Reading List Linked Here:
This article was originally written by Coach Will H. Hansen and has been repurposed and published here by the author.