If you’re familiar with food issues, you probably already know that grains are hard to digest. They’re seeds with a tough coating that is meant to be durable, so they pass through the intestines of birds to propagate the plant in other areas. If they’re hard enough to last in the digestive system of animals without being harmed, they’re hard enough to go through your digestive system and do the same. In order to be used for food, they’re ground into flour. That seems as though it should solve the problem, but it doesn’t. It’s not just the hard outer shell that creates the digestive problems.
Whole grains contain complex proteins.
One reason simple sugars are bad for dieters and diabetics, is that they’re quickly broken down by the body, spiking blood sugar in the process. The more complex the food, the more difficult it is to digest. Some grains contain gluten, one of the latest buzzwords on the list of foods to avoid. In fact, you’ll see the message “gluten free” on everything from candy to potato chips, as though it’s an endorsement for healthy eating. Gluten is one of the hardest proteins to break down and through the years of research, the gluten in grains has increased, making grains even harder to digest.
Grains contain an enzyme inhibitor.
Your body requires enzymes to digest food. Enzymes act as catalysts for digestion, so without them, no digestion can take place. Each seed has enzyme inhibitors that prevent plants from growing until the conditions are right. The inhibitor prevents sprouting if there’s not adequate water or good conditions for the plant to grow. It also prevents the seeds from being destroyed in the digestive track of birds and animals if they break the hard shell. These inhibitors play havoc with your system when you eat grains by blocking the enzymes for digestion.
Seeds, grains in particular, contain phytic acid.
Phytic acid affects the absorption of minerals in the small intestines, blocking it and preventing you from receiving the nourishment the food contains. It only affects the iron, zinc and calcium in that seed, not the rest of your food. Some seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, contain an abundance of other nutrients, so its better to eat them than not. However, with modern processing methods, many of the nutrients of grains are removed, leaving you with just the problems caused by grains that can range from mild digestive problems, to celiac disease or leaky gut.
- Some grains are harder to digest than others are. Wheat has more gluten, for instance.
- Fermenting, soaking and sprouting grains is one way to make them easier to digest. It aids in breaking down the disaccharides in grain while also removing or reducing the phytic acid.
- The way grains are processed also affects digestive issues. The phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors often remain after commercial processing, yet many nutrients are removed and artificial additives put into the flour. This explains one of the reasons for the rise in many food related conditions.
- If you’re having digestive issues, an elimination diet is helpful to find the offending food. Remove grains from your diet for a while to see if it helps digestive issues.