Do we need to eat grains to be healthy

With popular diets that partially or completely eliminate grains from the diet such as Paleo, Atkins, Dr. Perlmutter’s “The grain brain”, gluten-free, etc. one wonders if this category of food is really essential to live old and healthy!

First, what is a cereal?

The term cereal here doesn’t just refer to the boxed breakfast cereals you eat for breakfast. It refers to the category of breads and their substitutes that are made from cereals. In botany, cereals include plants of the Poaceae family (or Grasses) such as wheat, rye, barley, rice, corn, oats, millet, sorghum, triticale, spelled , the kamut. Some seeds from other botanical families are sometimes commonly referred to as cereals, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa and amaranth (Chénopodiaceae). However, not being Poaceae, the latter are not cereals in the strict sense, and they are often given the name of pseudo-cereals.

What are the positives of cereals?

They provide several nutrients including carbohydrates present in large quantities which gives us energy. They also contain several B vitamins, magnesium and iron. In addition, when they are complete (brown rice, whole wheat), they provide fiber that contributes to satiation and phytonutrients with many beneficial properties on health.

People who practice sports with a very cardiovascular component such as running and cycling need a diet rich in carbohydrates in order to have enough energy during training. The consumption of many cereal products is therefore recommended for these people because they are rich in carbohydrates.

A diet with cereals promotes better mood and concentration. Indeed, grain-free diets, therefore low in carbohydrates, can cause hypoglycemia, affect morale and make you more irritable.

Research shows that eating whole grains lowers the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and obesity. People who eat a diet high in whole grains tend to have a healthier weight and gain less weight over the years.

What’s wrong with cereals?

The main problem with cereals is their refining. Consumed in refined form (white flour, white rice, white pasta, white bread, couscous, etc.), they have a high glycemic load which means that for the same serving as their unrefined version, they raise the blood sugar more. blood sugar and insulin levels increase the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. Choosing whole grains over refined grains reduced these risks.

Most cereals contain gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelled, kamut, triticale). In addition to the 1% of the population who suffer from gluten allergy (celiac disease), an unknown proportion of people suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In addition to digestive symptoms, these people have extra-digestive manifestations of intolerance such as headaches, blurred mind, joint pain, numbness in the legs, arms, fingers, etc. For these people, cereals containing gluten should be eliminated for a test period to validate or not if gluten causes harm.

Some grains (wheat, barley, rye, triticale) also contain fructans, a type of sugar that ferments in the large intestine and can cause stomach aches, bloating and variable bowel movements in people with irritable bowel (IBS). According to studies, 10 to 15% of individuals suffer from IBS.

Followers of the Paleolithic diet suppress cereals on the pretext that the human genome would have changed little for 40,000 years and that the ideal diet would correspond to that of our ancestors of the stone age without cereals. This premise is very debatable since in recent years, traces of grains have been found on the fossilized teeth of humans and on the stone tools of men from the Paleolithic era.

Who are the anti-cereals?

Some doctors, nutritionists, physical activity specialists believe that whole grains are bad for your health, but it is mainly professionals in alternative medicine such as naturopaths and many people who have cured themselves by removing all or part of the cereals. cereals from their diet and who have published their testimonies via the web or books that are giving them bad press. In general, the anti-cereals have a less scientific argument than the pro-cereals.

Who are the pro-cereals?

They are primarily nutritionists, epidemiologists (people who study the patterns, causes, and effects of health and disease conditions in defined populations), researchers, and organizations like Health Canada, Center of Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and the Harvard School of Public Health. Their position is supported by large literature reviews examining thousands and thousands of people. How could all his people and organizations be wrong or victim of a pro-grain conspiracy?

On the other hand, it is true that nutritional science is constantly evolving and we should not exclude the possibility that studies in the next few years will discover a less positive side to whole grains.

So should we eat cereal?

Yes, certainly, they contribute to good health but we must know how to choose them according to our state of health.

First, if you’ve been eating cereal for a long time and don’t feel any inconvenience, use your common sense and continue to eat it, as much as possible whole and in moderation.

You suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), prefer oats, quinoa, rice, spelled, corn flour, tapioca (from sorghum), millet, amaranth, buckwheat . These are cereals low in fructans that do not create fermentation. Pay attention to wheat, barley and rye.

You have celiac disease, so you are aware of the strict elimination of wheat, barley, oats, rye, triticale, kamut and spelled. This disease is treated by the total elimination of gluten. Be sure to include gluten-free cereals as a replacement so as not to create a nutritional imbalance: brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, teff, etc.

If you think you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, try going gluten-free for three months by eliminating the cereals mentioned in the previous paragraph and replacing them with gluten-free cereals.

You have been fighting weight gain for a long time, favor whole grains and eat them moderately: whole wheat, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats, rye, etc. They satiate better and are less associated with weight gain.

If you suffer from severe stomach aches, loose stools or diarrhea, weight loss and fatigue, first rule out the possibility of a gluten allergy by talking to your doctor who will prescribe the gluten test. gluten allergy as needed. If the test is negative, I suggest you meet with a nutritionist as it may be a non-celiac gluten sensitivity or food intolerances to grain fructans or other foods. A nutritionist will direct you to the changes based on your state of health.

Do I eat grains as a nutritionist?

Yes!! But I vary a lot and I consume a minimum of refined cereals.

  • My morning bread is Première Moisson whole wheat bread.
  • My crackers are made with rye (Ryvita)
  • My side starches are either barley, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur or whole wheat couscous. When I eat pasta I take Catelli multigrain.
  • I put oats (oatmeal) in most of my bread, pancakes, granola bars and muffin recipes and buckwheat goes into my Saturday pancake recipe!
  • I eat granola after my workouts. I like those of the Bionic Ant.