Rajan writes to share his knowledge of health, yoga, pranayama, alternative therapies, natural remedies, food recipes, and more.
Health is everything. The food that we consume is the most critical component affecting our health. Eating foods and following a lifestyle that keeps us healthy should be given our prime attention since day by day the food available to us is becoming alarmingly unhealthier what with the genetic changes being done and the increasing use of chemicals to increase production.
We eat to live and we can enjoy life to the fullest only if we are completely healthy—free of diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc.
What is a Whole Grain?
A whole grain is not wheat flour, enriched flour, wheat germ, or bran. Whole grains are just that—the whole thing. Not flour. Not pieces of the grain.
Why Whole Grains are the Best for Health
Grains form a major portion of the diet in many cultures for tens of thousands of years. They not only contain a host of nutrients in the forms of vitamins and minerals they have also been found to benefit our health.
Whole grains essentially contain a lot of fibre which has been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer as well as lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer by reducing chronic inflammation which has been found to be the cause of these diseases.
Whole grains also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, reduce blood pressure. Their fibre not only acts as food for the gut bacteria they also help in establishing a diverse gut microflora and help check inflammation. The phytochemicals in the whole grains also help to reduce the risk of cancer.
All these benefits and more are available only by eating whole grains and not by eating refined or processed grains which have been stripped of the bran and germ for the major part leaving just the soft endosperm for consumption. This stripping is done to enhance the texture of the grain as well as extend the shelf life of the grains.
Switching to whole grains is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
All grains can be divided into 3 main categories, based on their impact on our health:
- Positive Grains
- Neutral Grains
- Negative Grains
It is easy to understand that the first category of grains is the one we should try to eat as they have a positive impact on our health. The third category of grains, the negative grains, is the one we should strictly stay away from at all times if we are seeking to improve our health and stay healthy as they make one sick. The second category of grains, the neutral grains, is the one people who have no health issues can eat as these neither make you healthier nor make you sick.
All Grains Are Not Created Equal
Grains differ quite a bit in nutritional value, but three main factors have been found to impact human health:
- The amount of fibre in them.
- Their carbohydrate content.
- The arrangement of the fibre and carbohydrate within the grain.
The third factor is the most important. These three factors essentially cause the grain to be categorised as a positive, neutral, or negative grain.
Millets and Siridhanya Millets: Making a Choice
There is a wide choice of whole grains to choose from. It is, however, important that a variety of grains are eaten to derive complete health benefits.
To choose from we have a variety of millets including:
- Sorghum (Jowar)
- Pearl Millet (Bajra)
- Finger Millet (Ragi )
- Proso Millet (Chena)
- The 5 Siridhanya Millets: little millet (sama), barnyard millet, foxtail millet, browntop millet and kodo millet kodra
- Other Grains (less frequently used): barley, oats, buckwheat, rye and quinoa
We only need to choose grains which will keep us healthy. Check out the video above.
Remember: Consume whole (not partial) grains.
Benefits of Consuming Whole Grains
- Since whole grains are digested much slower than refined ones they help to keep the levels of blood sugar and insulin down along with lower fasting insulin levels.
- Increase in intake of whole grains resulted in a decrease in the total death rate from all causes as per research done on 15000 people aged 45-65 by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
- Just doubling the daily fibre intake from whole grains from 2.5% to 5% significantly reduced the risk of getting type 2 diabetes (by about 30%). Conversely, a diet low in cereal fibre and having a high glycemic index doubled the risk of getting diabetes.
- At least 3 servings of whole-grain foods per day resulted in lower body mass indexes both in men and women and therefore helping in weight management
- Increasing the intake of cereal fibre and whole grains helped reduce the incidence of metabolic syndrome, the causative factor of increase in heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
- Whole grains reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce risk of developing cancer.
Must Watch Videos
- Humans Feasting on Grains for at Least 100,000 Years (The Scientific American)
- Don't Give Up on Grains (Harvard Health Publishing)
- The Truth About Whole Grains (WebMD)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Rajan Singh Jolly