FOOD PROFILES

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Grains

"The cultivation of cereal grains for food marked the transition from nomadic hunting and gathering to a sedentary lifestyle that permitted the rise of permanent cities and civilizations.

Whole grains contain sufficient protein for most sedentary human requirements, plus the complex carbohydrates needed to provide the sort of sustained energy associated with mental rather than physical work.

Meat-eating hunting societies have never been renowned for their intellectual prowess. Note, for example, the carnivorous Mongols, who conquered half the world on horseback, only to be seduced and absorbed by the elegant civilization of the grain-eating Chinese.

Due to their protein and carbohydrate content, grains are warming, acidifying yang foods, and like meat they should be balanced with cooling, alkalizing vegetables.

Whole grains also contain fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which makes them a truly 'whole' food. Most of the world's population depend on either rice or wheat for the bulk of their calories.

But as a result of modern milling methods, which scrape away the nutrient-laden bran and germ and leave only the starchy white pith, most commercial grain foods are nutritionally naked. Only whole-grains provide whole-nutrition.

Grains can caused indigestion and flatulence if they are not thoroughly chewed and salivated in the mouth before swallowing.

That's because all carbohydrates must begin their digestive journey in the mouth, where an alkaline enzyme called ptyalin is secreted from salivary glands to initiate the breakdown of starches.

Another way to make grains more digestible is to roast them until golden brown before cooking. This process is call dextrinization, and it converts much of the hard-to-digest starch into easily digested simple sugars. for the same reason, it's always a good idea to toast bread well before eating it.

A serious problem with many grains on the market today is long-term storage in huge silos, which permits the growth of moulds that produce afaltoxin, one of the most potent carcinogens in the world.

Corn is especially vulnerable to afaltoxin contamination, but so are wheat and other grains. Unless you have access to relatively freshly harvested grains, it's a good idea to take daily antioxidant supplements as a preventative measure against afaltoxin poisoning."

Source: Daniel Reid.

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