Can a grain-free diet benefit Y0U?
YES For many reasons!
What Is a Grain-Free Diet?
Eating grain-free involves eliminating not only wheat products containing gluten, but also any gluten-free grains, such as rice, corn, oats and barley. On a grain-free diet, the not-technically-grain products of quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are allowed in small quantities.
Unlike the ketogenic diet, which restricts carbohydrates, a grain-free diet is not a low-carb option. Complex carbohydrates in potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins are encouraged in moderation.
Benefits of a Grain-Free Diet
1. Might Help Curb Your Food Addiction
Food addiction is a compulsive issue that affects many people, especially in Western countries like the United States where unhealthy, cheap foods are extremely easy to find and popular to eat. Clinical food addiction is classified by those who overeat despite any consequences, like weight gain, damaged relationships or health issues.
However, a less severe version of this happens to many of us in the form of consistently eating foods we know are bad for us. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, foods low on the glycemic index, such as many grain-free foods, aren’t associated with the same kinds of addictive responses that high-GI foods cause.
High-carbohydrate foods consistently rank high on the glycemic index, so by eliminating many of those options on a grain-free diet, you can train your brain not to be as dependent on cravings for non-nutritive foods and rather use wisdom in choosing better options.
2. Possibly Supports Heart Health
The consensus here is not complete, but there is some evidence that eliminating grains might be good for the heart. A study conducted at Eastern Michigan University’s School of Health Sciences looking at the benefits of a Paleolithic diet for people with elevated cholesterol found that the grain-free diet significantly lowered cholesterol, including LDL levels, and lowered high triglycerides.
Other evidence suggests that refined starches, such as the ones found in processed grain foods, can encourage metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that raise your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
3. May Improve Mental Health
Interestingly, grains can affect mental health. Reviews on the connection between celiac and gluten have found that this elimination can serve to help with various brain and mental problems, including epilepsy/seizures, anxiety, depression, ADD and autism spectrum disorders.
Even for those without celiac, there are researchers who have seen improvements in a variety of mental issues when eliminating gluten from the diet. In fact, gluten seems to be a major factor in the development and management of schizophrenia, although the reasons why are unclear.
4. Requires Home Cooking and Label Reading
One of the best things about a grain-free diet is that it requires you to cook at home more and pay close attention to food labels. Cooking at home is associated with an overall better quality of diet, regardless of weight loss intentions or specific diet.
5. Could Help Improve Other Physical Symptoms
Gluten and wheat products are connected to the development of leaky gut syndrome, a problem with the permeability of the digestive system that’s associated with chronic inflammation and a host of symptoms, such as food sensitivities, thyroid problems, fatigue, headaches, skin issues, digestive ailments and weight gain.
Because of this, beginning a grain-free diet might result in a reduction of any number of symptoms from your life, particularly if it addresses a problem you have with leaky gut. People with Crohn’s disease and IBS have reported improved digestive status after going on a grain-free diet.
How to Eat a Grain-Free Diet
Interested in trying it out to see if a grain-free diet is right for your body? There are a lot of variations on a grain-free diet, but generally, prohibited foods include:
- Graham flour
- Montina flour
- Beer and other wheat-derived alcohol
Foods to eat in moderation on a grain-free diet include:
Tips for a grain-free diet:
Totally grain-free eating is a challenge for many people because it probably involves eliminating a lot of your “typical” calories. This means that, like for most diets, you’ll need to be diligent and think ahead, plan your meals, and not just hope that you can figure it out as you go.
There are hybridized versions of wheat that we all-too-often consume and the way amylopectin A and gluten metabolise, can cause weight gain, blood sugar elevation and even diabetes.
The best place to start is by thoughtfully grocery shopping. At the store, carefully read each label for any grain-sourced ingredient, particularly corn-derived products. Most “gluten-free” products are made with heavy, starchy replacements. These are certainly N0T suitable!
For cooking/baking, consider grain-free flours, such as almond or coconut flour. Be careful with condiments as well, as many of them contain hidden grains. You can flavor with more natural enhancers like vinegar, spices, herbs or homemade bone broth.
You’ll need to avoid alcohol products, particularly beer. Best grain-free foods and food groups:
A grain-free diet should also follow rules for healthy eating in general. Try getting a lot of the following foods in your grain-free diet:
- Healthy fats — Using high-quality fats in your cooking and recipes helps support the health of virtually every system in the body. Try cooking withcoconut oil or ghee, and don’t forget the avocados and seeds. If you eat dairy, stick with raw, cultured dairy, such as kefir.
- High-protein foods — Make sure to get your protein in every day, such as eggs, ethically sourced fish, grass-fed beef and even plant-based protein.
- Vegetables — Of course, leafy greens and other good veggies play a part in any healthy diet. You can always try my personal favorite, kale, as well as eating plenty of broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, fennel, onions, collards and more.
- Fruits — Everybody loves a good fruit smoothie, right? When on a grain-free diet, get plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits, like raspberries, tomatoes and blueberries.
Best grain substitute foods:
If you’re used to eating a lot of grains, it may take some time to transition to eating completely grain-free. However, it can be made easier by using my favorite grain substitutes that make healthy stand-ins for those grains we tend toward so much. Here are a few from the list:
- Cauliflower rice — When you chop cauliflower into tiny pieces (about the size of a rice grain), it can work just as well as rice in pretty much any recipe. Whether you process it in a blender yourself or purchase pre-diced cauliflower, this is one way to kick the rice habit.
- Coconut “pizza crust” — Making a pizza crust with coconut flour will help you eat the pizza you desire without any of the troublesome grains.
- Zucchini noodles — Often referred to as “zoodles,” this popular substitution is making its way into many health-conscious restaurants instead of traditional noodles.
- Paleo bread/muffins — There are some incredible recipes out there for grain-free bread, usually incorporating almond flour or coconut flour. Satisfy the desire for bread products without the guilt (or aftereffects).
One problem with grains involves their modern growth techniques and modification. For example, the modern roller mill was invented in 1872. This modern mill allowed the separation of whole grain parts so just the endosperm could be used to manufacture inexpensive, white flour, somewhat like what most people think of when they consider wheat flour.
Then came the next problem: This white flour was now devoid of some of the most valuable nutrients it used to contain. The solution? Genetically modified wheat known as semi-dwarf wheat. This “new” species was able to be cultivated much more efficiently but did not consider the long-term effects on human health.
Now, gluten-containing grains (and some other grains) are a source of inflammation and chronic digestive problems, and not just for sufferers of celiac. The problem isn’t just the gluten — it’s the wheat itself. It shouldn’t be surprising, based on these facts, that gluten sensitivity issues have increased by 400 percent over the past half-century.
Research into the benefits of the Paleolithic diet has also found that a grain-free diet may produce a more balanced digestive microbiome (bacterial environment).
Many people eliminate grains due to their potential to act as inflammatory foods, creating internal inflammation that can create problematic disease risk and pain.
On a grain-free diet, all grains (including gluten-free options) are eliminated.
Getting rid of grains can help curb food addiction, improve mental health, decrease your risk of heart disease and treat symptoms associated with leaky gut.
By being more aware of what you’re eating, cooking at home and reading labels, you will, most likely, eat more healthy, life-giving foods.
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