You hear it everywhere these days. More and more people are choosing to eliminate grains and starches from their daily diet. What is up with this? Do I need to consider this too? Grains are often looked upon as a staple in the typical American diet. It is hard to even think about having a meal that does not contain some type of grain. Let’s take a step back. What exactly is considered a grain/starch?
Here is a list summarizing the main types:
• breads, bagels, tortillas, english muffins
• quinoa, barley
• cereals (hot and cold)
• starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, starchy beans/legumes)
• granola bars
• cakes, cookies, pastries
Keep in mind that not all starches are created equal. We definitely want to avoid the heavily processed refined grains (think white flour products). However, incorporating a good variety of whole grains can provide our bodies with many important nutrients.
Now that we have identified what grains are, should you totally eliminate them or just modify your intake? Here are some of the top benefits and risks to consider before making a decision.
Benefits of Eliminating Grains
➢ Eases Inflammation: Studies are showing that wheat could increase levels of inflammation in the body. Long-term inflammation can lead to the development of chronic diseases and even worsen the symptoms of certain autoimmune disorders.
➢ Weight Loss: Grains and starches can be very high in calories. Therefore, eliminating them from our diets can most definitely lead to weight loss.
➢ Improves Digestion: Some people may have difficulty digesting grains which can aggravate symptoms associated with certain digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. Those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity can have issues due to a protein (gluten) found in wheat. Removing grains may provide ease of symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, nausea or bloating for those who have these digestive disorders.
➢ Supports Good Bacteria: Research shows that going grain-free can help improve and support the good bacteria in your stomach. A healthy gut that includes plenty of good bacteria, can help improve digestion, boost immunity, improve brain function and regulate blood sugar.
➢ Improves Lab Numbers: Eliminating grains and starches could help to improve many lab markers such as triglycerides, leptin, A1C, and insulin.
Risks of Going Grain-Free
➢ Low Energy: This is one of the most common symptoms of going grain-free. Since grains are one of the biggest sources of carbohydrates, which is the main source of energy for our bodies, drastically lowering your intake can result in feeling tired and sluggish. However, incorporating plenty of vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and some fruits, can help avoid these symptoms and keep energy levels up.
➢ Nutrient Deficiencies: Grains are great sources of vitamins and minerals such as:
Iron, Folate and Thiamine. It is possible, but will require a bit more meal planning to include a sufficient amount of foods containing these nutrients when going without grains.
➢ Possible Constipation: Grains provide our bodies with a big source of dietary fiber. Fiber is essential for keeping us regular and supporting a healthy digestive tract. When going completely grain-free, a big source of fiber is being eliminated, which could lead to constipation. However, you can still reach the daily recommendation of 25-30 grams of fiber by replacing grains with other high-fiber foods in your diet like plenty of vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Check out the Blue Sky MD Pinterest site for a variety of grain free recipes which include plenty of dietary fiber.
As you can see, there are both pros and cons that go along with a grain-free diet. Call us today at Blue Sky MD to help determine if you would be a good candidate for going grain-free. We have a very qualified staff of healthcare professionals ready to assist and guide you with making the best lifestyle choices for you as an individual.