Refined grains negatively impact the entire body, from head to toe. Western society is fully immersed in refined grains. Grains that are stripped of any nutritional content in order to give food products increased shelf life. There is a trade-off though. For the modern convenience of eating on the run, we pay with our health. Unfortunately, many Americans are not aware they have made a compromise like this.
It is very easy to over-consume flour-based products because most require little chewing and go down quickly because the only thing left of the grain is the endosperm. This white powder can last on the shelf for months. Using this form of flour, refined, in processed foods is a staple in the Western diet. In fact, Americans consume 10 servings of refined grains per day! Over-consumption affects the brain, blood, pancreas, gut, colon, and the waistline.
Food cravings come from the brain. With the advent of high-yield wheat strains, grain now grows faster to keep up with demand. However, one of the biggest changes to this new form of wheat is a modified form of gliadin. Gliadin is a wheat protein that causes the “feel good effect” in our brain. We then associate eating with feeling good, which in turn causes over-consumption. On average, people eat 400 more calories per day from wheat now. Scariest of all, no one knows for certain if this new form of wheat is safe for human consumption!
Blood sugar spikes faster with refined grains than with sugar. Eating two slices of bread is like eating 6 teaspoons of sugar in terms of the effect it has on blood sugar levels! Also, you are hungry two hours later and you are increasing your risk for type 2 diabetes. The diabetes risk is due to the overproduction of insulin from the pancreas, which is necessary to combat the spikes in blood sugar. Additionally, inflammation becomes evident throughout the entire body.
Inflammation causes particular harm to the gut as another protein, called zonulin, creates holes in the intestines. These holes allow food particles to pass through undigested. The gliadin in flour causes the body to overproduce zonulin which in turn creates the holes and an immune systems that is in overdrive. This manifests itself with food allergies and sensitivities, not to mention skin conditions. Finally, the colon takes its toll over time, too, with a slower passage rate and blockage.
However, the most concerning is the waistline as the size is a risk factor for not only type 2 diabetes, but coronary heart disease, hypertension, some types of cancer, asthma, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, infertility, and metabolic syndrome. In males, the ideal is a waistline less than 40 inches, and women less than 35 inches. By measuring at the top of the hip bones, around the waist, is the correct way to determine where you fall. Remember to keep the tape snug, but not tight.
This simple test can help you gain a realistic perspective on your overall health. If your range is above the ideal, that’s okay. The first step is acknowledging there is a problem. Once you are aware, steps can be taken to correct it.