What Are Ancient Grains?

We read cereal boxes, snack labels, and hear about these “Ancient Grains” all over the place these days. But, what exactly are they? And, are they as good for us as these sources are claiming?

Ancient Grain Overview

There is a collection of unrefined whole grains that fit into this “ancient” category. Basically, these are grains whose roots trace back to before we kept track of time. Ancient grains have not been mutated, bred, refined, and have been left greatly unchanged over the centuries.

Many ancient civilizations such as the Greek, Egyptians, and the Aztecs used (and worshipped) these grains. The Incas considered quinoa sacred and actually named it “the mother of all grains.” Some say faro was mentioned in the Old Testament.

Not all ancient grains are gluten-free, but fortunately, most are.

Gluten-free grains include amaranth, buckwheat, chia seeds, freekeh, millet, and teff. (Oats, spelt, einkorn, faro, and Khorasan wheat “Kamut” contain gluten.)

Are Ancients Better?

It depends on how one defines better. If we’re discussing the environment, then the answer is yes, ancient grains are better. Many of them thrive with less fertilizer and irrigation, as well as lower levels of pesticides in comparison to the modern, hybrid, selectively-bred grains, like wheat.

Various health experts will debate whether ancient grains compose a healthier diet than other whole grains. Many nutritionists, however, assert that ancients provide more vitamin B, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

The Grains, Legumes, and Nutrition Council, leading experts in this aspect of health, explains that all the whole grains are similar. However, some ancient grains are considered pseudo-cereal grains because they’re actually derived from plant seeds, and not prepared or use like “true” grains.

Are they healthier? At the very least, the benefits range from superior levels of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a high omega-3 content. They are also an excellent form of complex carbohydrates. For the benefits and list of complex carbs click here.

Quick Guide To Ancient Grains

1) Teff. GF (Gluten-free). It’s so tiny, it can’t be processed, which is great. One cup packs in over 100mg of calcium. It’s starch resistant, high in fiber, and can help if you’re trying to shed pounds.

2) Quinoa. GF. Can be prepared in a rice-cooker. Comes in red, black, or white, and can be eaten cold like a traditional pasta salad, or warm with veggies and a lean protein. Extremely nutritious.

3) Millet. GF. It’s rich in magnesium and used in many “bread” products. It also hydrates the colon. Comes in red, white, gray, and yellow whole. Can be used whole or crushed into flour.

4) Amaranth. GF. It’s high in protein and can be used in desserts like cookies and cakes.

5) Sorghum. GF. It grows and thrives without much water. It can be utilized from a flour or syrup base, and can be used to make bread, desserts, and even beer.

6) Freekeh. GF. It’s harvested young so it tends to provide high amounts of nutrients. It’s also low in sugar carbs.

Other ancient grains include spelt, faro (also called emmer), Khorasan (also known as Kamut), and Einkorn. Sometimes these too are considered ancient grains: black barley, buckwheat, blue corn, black rice, and wild rice. (Remember, these are not all gluten-free!)

Hope this brief article on ancient grains helped answer some of your questions about this mysterious-and-healthy, old-yet-trendy food. Check back with Get Thrive soon for some delicious recipes using ancient grains, along with other healthy food tips.

 

 

New Study Has Discovered Gluten’s Evil Cousin

Gluten-free is a growing diet trend that has proven to relieve intestinal suffering as well as providing other physical benefits. Unfortunately, a new study has discovered that there’s another culprit besides gluten.

What’s in Wheat?

In recent times, those who suffer from Celiac disease, have been fortunate enough to be able to identify their challenge. A simple blood test ordered by your doctor can diagnose if you have the ailment. For years, some people experienced bloating, nausea, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, and foggy brain, and had no idea why. Gluten’s impact on digestive health was the cause.

Small Numbers, Big Problems

The percentage of people with actual Celiac is tiny. Others, however, experience similar symptoms without having the disease.  The medical community now recognizes this condition, which has been named “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”

A new study, however, has revealed a protein in wheat that causes all kinds of trouble. Although it makes up less than 4% of proteins in wheat, amylase-tripsin Inhibitors (ATIs), they can trigger inflammation in the gut and systemically.

The Problem Protein

Research from this latest study shows that ATIs can activate the inflammation of chronic health issues. This particular protein complicates asthma, MS, lupus, arthritis, IBS, and a host of other autoimmune diseases. ATIs trigger inflammation in the gut, lymph nodes, kidneys, and even the brain.

For those non-Celiac, ATIs increase the risk of developing gluten sensitivity. It’s a frightening find; ATIs create such powerful immune responses through digestion that reactions spread to other tissues and organs in the body.

Scientists Speculate

This study has researchers explaining that gluten may not be the cause for all the awful symptoms that non-celiac gluten sensitive people experience. It’s the ATIs that contaminate the gluten.

So, certainly, a gluten-free diet is necessary for someone with celiac disease. But perhaps an ATI-free diet would benefit everyone. Eliminating this protein would reduce risk of inheriting celiac-type symptoms as well as decrease inflammation throughout the body.

Parapro Formula
Parapro Formula

Check it Out

If you feel you could benefit from removing ATIs from your diet, it is definitely doable. You’ll want to target foods that contain wheat and replace them with wheat-free selections. There are all types of different flours available that you could use to substitute when cooking and baking. Choosing fresh produce over many carbohydrates is a simple and nutritious way to make the change. Beans, legumes, and other grains are delicious choices to keep your diet gluten- and ATI-free.

Inflammation is a precursor and antagonist for chronic disease. Anyway to keep inflammation levels low is a plus.

 

Breaking Down the Myths of “Unhealthy” Food

Everyday we hear about foods and trends that are supposedly unhealthy for us. Sometimes they are, and other times, it’s simply untrue. Let’s check the facts…

CARBS

Carbs are necessary. They are digested and converted to glucose. The glucose travels though the liver and circulatory system where our cells use it for fuel. If your glucose levels are too low, cells suffer, even those in your brain.

We can only store carbs in limited quantities. The leftovers (that you didn’t burn-off through exercise), turn into fat. That’s where carbs get the “unhealthy” label. Simple solution: Choose the slower-digesting carbs, which generally contain more nutrients and fiber—and keep you feeling fuller longer. Complex-carbs actually help manage your weight.

SOME “GOOD” CARBS:

Apples, Artichokes, Bananas, Beans, Brown rice, Chickpeas, Lentils, Peas, Oats, Soybeans, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Quinoa, Water cress, Whole Grains, Zucchini

BREAD TIP: Eaten in moderation, Sourdough bread is a healthy choice. It contains more of the bacteria Lactobacillus (from the yeast) than in other breads. That means higher production of lactic acid, which allows for better digestion and absorption of minerals. The lactic bacteria produces beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and anti-allergenic substances. It’s theorized that this may help in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.

PROCESSED FOODS

Yes, some processed foods can be extremely unhealthy. The term “processed” means any food that’s been altered from its natural state. So, it depends on the “process” that’s implemented, which will determine if the food turns out to be healthy (or not).

The processed foods we need avoid are the ones that add sugar, salt, fat, or any chemical that’s used for flavoring or as a preservative.

Unhealthy examples: most breakfast cereals, chips, snacks, meats, bacon, canned and microwavable foods.

SOME “GOOD” PROCESSED FOODS:

Milk needs pasteurization in order to remove potentially harmful bacteria. Some seeds (flax, sunflower) need pressing in order to derive their oils. Fermentation is a “process”, and it produces yogurt, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, pickles, among other nutritious foods. Pre-washing is a process used on beans. These are all healthy choices, yet they’ve been processed.

GLUTEN

Gluten protein is the majority ingredient in a grain of wheat. Those allergic to gluten experience headaches, nausea, diarrhea, poor nutrient absorption, and intestinal pain. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder (triggered by gluten), which attacks the lining of the small intestines.

Although Celiac is only diagnosed in 1 of 133 Americans, studies have shown the benefits of limiting or excluding gluten from our everyday diet. Maybe removing gluten from our meals is a beneficial idea. But, beware. Just because something is labeled gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

SOME “BAD” GLUTEN-FREE:

In desserts, for example, the wheat flour is traded for a gluten-free flour. But if the dish is still chock full of butter, salt, and processed sugar, it’s not ultimately healthy. (Maybe delicious, but probably not great for the heart and thighs.)

The lesson? We’re better off looking at the facts and educating ourselves, rather than just taking a label or a trend at face value. Here’s to a smart, yummy, healthy diet!

For more articles on nutrition and a healthy diet, check out www.GetThrive.com

 

Study Confirms New Problem with Wheat and Gluten

Researchers are confirming that even individuals without Celiac disease can experience the same symptoms from ingesting wheat and gluten. In the study, non-celiac participants had worse side effects than those diagnosed with the disease.

Study Confirms You’re Not Crazy

Feel awful after eating a sandwich, cereal, crackers, or pasta? All of those foods traditionally contain wheat. Gluten protein is the majority ingredient in a grain of wheat. We’ve known for a while that Celiac is a genetic autoimmune condition, which causes bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting, and more. It’s a lifelong intolerance to gluten. This new study suggests that even those without Celiac suffer from the same symptoms—and more.

Clearing up Celiac Confusion

Celiac is a disease affected by the body’s immune reaction to gluten. For those with severe cases, they can’t even touch wheat or gluten much less ingest it.  Celiac attacks and damages the lining of the small intestines. That’s why the symptoms are so harsh and painful.

Besides nausea, diarrhea, and other physical sufferings, Celiac can prevent the absorption of nutrients into your system. Malnourishment and dehydration are always concerns. There is no cure for this disorder—it never goes away. Only 100% abstention from gluten can help keep you asymptomatic.

In America, approximately 1% of the population has Celiac disease. That’s sounds like a tiny portion, but that winds up being about 1 in 133 people. And, it’s often misdiagnosed. You can be diagnosed by a blood test or a biopsy of the lining of your small intestines.

Non-Celiac Complaints, Concerns, and Findings

The conditions of our environment and our foods today are far from ideal. In fact, our best health is placed at risk from pollution, pesticides, and other factors compromising the purity of our crops and animals. These elements can trigger genetic autoimmune responses as well create new allergies and sensitivities.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center conducted a study to examine the effects of gluten on non-Celiac participants. The majority of those observed were people with NCWS. NCWS stands for Non-Celiac Wheat Sensitivity. These are people who have adverse symptoms to gluten but do not have Celiac.

The study included 40 people with Celiac, 40 healthy, and 80 with NCWS. The researchers discovered that those with NCWS had a system-wide autoimmune response. They had Celiac symptoms—along with brain fog, headache, fatigue, disturbed sleep patterns, and mood swings.

Wheat Worry

Celiac patients in the study showed intestinal damage but did not show blood markers for the complete body system autoimmune response. The NCWG group, however, showed systemic immune activation. This leads to inflammation, which if chronic, could link to arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

The research team encourages further funding and studies on this topic. A significant number of people have daily symptoms of bloating, intestinal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, etc. This experience has an actual biological basis that may now be more closely identified.

If you think you might have a sensitivity or allergy to wheat, remove it from your diet for a trial period. Two weeks time can be a good biomarker. There are thousands of delicious gluten-free recipes. If your symptoms subside or disappear, then you’ve found the culprit. If, however, your symptoms continue after abstaining from wheat or gluten, you may want to see your doctor to explore other causes.