Ancient Grains – Why Bother?

Ancient Grains – Why Bother
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We eat a lot of wheat—pounds and pounds a year per person, mostly in the form of bread, pasta and pizza. Another favourite grain, of course, is rice. In recent years, many “ancient grains”—sometimes called heritage grains or hyped as super grains— have been rediscovered but remain much less familiar. Some (such as farro) are types of wheat or are related to wheat; others are technically seeds (quinoa) but are often referred to as grains, since they are cooked and eaten like cereal grains. All are worth trying because, by and large, they’re more nutritious than the more common grains, plus they add variety to your diet.

The grains described below are good, sometimes excellent, sources of protein and fibre. They also provide minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, along with phenols (antioxidants) and other potentially beneficial compounds; some are rich in vitamin E and B vitamins. In contrast to most of the wheat and rice we eat, these grains tend to come in their “whole” form, with their bran, germ and endosperm intact, which makes them more nutritious, just as whole wheat and brown rice are more nutritious than their refined counterparts. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, another advantage is that several of these grains—including amaranth, quinoa and teff—are gluten free. A downside is their higher cost.

You can prepare these grains as salads or use them in soups and stews (just boil as you would rice). Some, such as amaranth, teff and wheat berries, cook up well as hot cereals. You can also substitute their flours for wheat flour to increase the nutritional value of breads, muffins and other baked goods. An increasing number of packaged foods— breakfast cereals, pastas, breads and pancake mixes—contain these interesting grains, too, though sometimes in small amounts.

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Amaranth. – gluten free, protein, calcium.
Native to both Mesoamerica and the Andes and a major food crop of the Aztecs and Incas, respectively, this tiny grain resembles fine couscous and has a nutty, sometimes peppery, flavor. Popped amaranth is a popular street snack in South America. For a grain, it’s relatively rich in calcium—with about 60 milligrams per 4 ounces, cooked. Because amaranth (like quinoa, see below) contains a good balance of essential amino acids and is particularly high in lysine, it is considered more of a “complete” protein than most grains (and plant foods in general).
Amaranth is almost always whole, since the grains are too small to easily refine. Be sure not to overcook it since it will become sticky.

Farro (or emmer wheat).
Also called Pharaoh’s wheat, this chewy, nutty-tasting grain is a relative of modern wheat that originated in Egypt thousands of years ago. It’s said to have been widely consumed by the Roman legions, and in Italy today it’s a common ingredient in soups and is used as a substitute for arborio rice in risotto dishes (called farrotto). Many pasta lovers prefer pasta made from farro to pasta made from durum wheat. Look for “whole farro” on labels; if it’s “pearled,” it’s not a whole grain because the bran has been removed.

Freekeh (or farik).
Common in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, freekeh refers to a harvesting process rather than an actual grain. The grain, typically wheat, is harvested when it is young, yellow, and soft—at its peak nutrition—and then roasted. Similar in texture to bulgur, it tends to have a smoky, nutty flavor. Though freekeh is being billed as the hottest new ancient grain, it’s still not widely available in stores. You might find it in Middle Eastern or other specialty markets; it’s also sold online.

Quinoa (keen-nyeewah) Gluten free, protein.
Called the “mother of all grains” by the Incas, who considered it sacred, quinoa from the Andes is known for being rich in high-quality protein. There are over 120 varieties, in many different colors. Pale yellow quinoa is most common, though red quinoa contains significantly more phenols and has higher antioxidant activity. Quinoa cooks up fluffy with a nutty flavor. Because the seeds are naturally coated with bitter compounds (saponins, which defend against insects), they must be washed before cooking. Even if the package says the seeds were washed, it’s a good idea to rinse them to remove any remaining bitterness. Kañiwa (kah-nyeewah), quinoa’s smaller and lesser-known red cousin, doesn’t need to be rinsed before cooking because it doesn’t have the bitter compounds.

Teff. Gluten Free. Calcium.
Originating in Ethiopia more than 2,500 years ago, teff (sometimes called taf) remains a staple there, where it’s mostly used to make a spongy sourdough bread. It is one of the smallest grains in the world—so tiny (like poppy seeds) that its bran germ, and endosperm cannot be separated, so it can be consumed only as a whole grain.
According to the Whole Grains Council, there are about 3,000 teff grains in just one gram (1/28th of an ounce). Like amaranth, teff has about 60 milligrams of calcium per four ounces, cooked. Teff is slightly sweet, with white varieties mildest in flavour; darker varieties taste earthier, even chocolate-like.

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Wheat berries.
These are the whole kernels of the wheat plant, from which all wheat products, including wheat flour, are made; only the inedible outer husks are removed. Available in red and white varieties, they resemble short-grain brown rice. When boiled, they have a chewy texture and nutty flavor. Since they are the least processed form of wheat, wheat berries can be even richer in nutrients and fibre than whole-wheat flour. That’s because the processing of whole-wheat flour, even if less extreme than for refined wheat flour, can still degrade some of the kernels’ healthful components.

Are They SUPER?
Labeling these grains as “super”—the latest trend—is over stating their place in a healthy diet. I tend not to label any clean food a ‘Super-food’ we all need a wide variety of foods for health. All whole grains are healthful, each in its own way. Besides the ones listed here, there are other healthful options, including barley (a cereal grain that helps lower blood cholesterol), spelt (an ancient wheat species), millet (a food staple in Africa and Asia), buckwheat (not related to wheat), khorasan wheat (Kamut is the registered brand name) and a variety of pigmented rices, such as Thai black rice (which get their dark colours from antioxidants called anthocyanins). If your regular supermarket doesn’t carry them, look for them at health food stores, specialty markets and on the Internet.

There are many recipe ideas for exchanging modern, processed, nutrient sparse grains with these nutrient dense, unprocessed, whole, ancient alternatives.

Eat Clean. Stay Active. Feel Great

Jax.

To Go Paleo Or Not? PT 3

To Go Paleo Or Not? PT 3

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Diseases of Wealth and industrialisation

Although furring in arteries may be common, “diseases of wealth” like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases have certainly gone up dramatically in the past 50 years in industrialised countries, especially compared to non-developed populations.
Over the last century — a period that is far too short for notable genetic adaptation — we have radically changed the way we eat and live in the UK.
Today, the average Brit subsists on foods that are packaged and commercially prepared. Rich in refined sugars and starches, highly processed fats, and salt, these foods are designed to be so delicious that the body’s normal fullness signals don’t work and encourage overeating.

Consider: The top calorie sources in the western diet today are
1. grain-based desserts (cake, cookies, etc.)
2. yeast breads
3. chicken-based dishes (and you know that doesn’t mean roast chicken)
4. sweetened beverages
5. pizza
6. alcoholic drinks

These are not ancestral foods. Nor foods that any nutrition expert, regardless of dietary persuasion, would ever recommend.

So when proponents of the Paleo diet claim that our modern Western diet isn’t healthy for us, they are absolutely correct.

But is the Paleo diet really Paleo?
Remember: There’s no single “Paleo diet”.
Our ancestors lived pretty much all over the world, in incredibly diverse environments, eating incredibly diverse diets.

Still, in most cases, primal diets certainly included more vegetables and fruits than most people eat today. So if we want to be healthier, we should do what our ancestors did and eat a lot of those. Correct?

Maybe so… but not necessarily for the reasons that Paleo proponents recommend.

First of all, most modern fruits and vegetables are not like the ones our ancestors ate.
Early fruits and vegetables were often bitter, much smaller, tougher to harvest, and sometimes even toxic.
Over time, we’ve bred plants with the most desirable traits — the biggest fruits, plumpest kernels, sweetest flesh, and fewest natural toxins.

We’ve also diversified plant types — creating new cultivars from common origins (such as hundreds of cultivars of potatoes or tomatoes from a few ancestral varieties).

Likewise, most modern animal foods aren’t the same either.
Beef steak (even if grass-fed) is not the same as bison steak or deer meat. And so on.

This doesn’t make modern produce or modern meat inherently good or bad. It’s just different from nearly anything available in Paleolithic times.
So the claim that we should eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and meats because we are evolved to eat precisely those foods is a little bit suspect. The ones we eat today didn’t even exist in Paleolithic times!

Grains and grasses
Proponents of the Paleo diet argue that our ancestors’ diets could not have included a lot of grains, legumes, or dairy foods. And they contend that the past 10,000 years of agriculture isn’t enough time to adapt to these “new” foods.
This argument is compelling but doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
To begin with, recent studies in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, using more advanced analytical methods, have discovered that ancient humans may have begun eating grasses and cereals before the Paleolithic era even began — up to three or even four million years ago!
Further research has revealed granules of grains and cereal grasses on stone stools starting at least 105,000 years ago.
Meanwhile, grain granules on grinding tools from all over the world suggest that Paleolithic humans made a widespread practice of turning grains into flour as long as 30,000 years ago.

In other words, the idea that Paleolithic humans never ate grains and cereals appears to be a bit of an exaggeration.

Are beans really bad for you?
Grains are not the only plant type that the Paleo diet typically limits. Advocates also recommend that you avoid legumes (beans, peanuts, peas, lentils) — and for a similar reason.

However, the idea that legumes were not widely available or widely consumed in Paleolithic times — like the argument that humans didn’t eat grains in the Paleolithic era — is false.
In fact, a 2009 review revealed that not only did our Paleolithic ancestors eat legumes, these were actually an important part of their diet! (Even our primate cousins, including chimpanzees, got into the bean-eating act.)
Legumes have been found at Paleolithic sites all over the world, and in some cases were determined to be the dominant type of plant food available. In fact, the evidence for wild legume consumption by Paleolithic humans is as strong as it is for any plant food.

What about anti-nutrients?
Okay. Maybe our ancient ancestors did eat a little bit of grain and some legumes — so the argument from history doesn’t really hold.
But Paleo proponents also offer another reason to avoid these foods: Their high concentration of anti-nutrients, which supposedly reduces their nutritional value to zilch.
There’s just one problem with this argument. It’s wrong.
Indeed, research suggests that the benefits of legumes far outweigh their anti-nutrient content, especially in light of the fact that cooking eliminates most anti-nutrient effects.
Lectins and protease inhibitors, in particular, are greatly reduced with cooking. And once cooked, these chemicals may actually be good for us. Lectins may reduce tumor growth, while protease inhibitors become anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic.

Phytic acid
But what about phytate?
Grains, nuts, and legumes are rich sources of this anti-nutrient, which can bind to minerals such as zinc and iron and prevent their absorption. Surely that, in itself, is enough reason to avoid grains and legumes?
Not necessarily.
While phytic acid can be toxic if we eat too much of it, in more reasonable amounts it actually offers benefits.
For example, it can:
have antioxidant activity
protect DNA from damage
be prebiotic (i.e. bacteria food)
have anti-cancer properties
reduce bioavailability of heavy metals like cadmium and lead.
And, in a mixed diet composed of other nutrient-dense whole foods, phytic acid is unlikely to cause problems.

In fact, nearly all foods contain anti-nutrients as well as nutrients — particularly plant foods.
For example, incredibly healthy foods such as spinach, Swiss chard, many berries, and dark chocolate are also sources of oxalate, an anti-nutrient that inhibits calcium absorption.
Green tea and red wine contain tannins, another anti-nutrient that inhibits zinc and iron absorption.
And so on.

Overall, phytic acid and other so-called anti-nutrients probably have a “sweet spot” (just like most nutrients).
Eating none or a small amount might be inconsequential.
Eating a moderate amount might be good.
Eating too much will hurt you.

Grains and inflammation
Another argument for a Paleo diet is that eating grains can lead to inflammation and related health problems.
While this can be true for people with celiac disease (about 1% of the population) and for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (estimated to be about 10% of the population, if it even truly exists), on the whole, the research does not support this argument any more than it supports the argument about anti-nutrients.

In fact, observational research has suggested that:
whole grains may decrease inflammation, but
refined grains may increase inflammation.
In other words, it appears that processing may cause problems, not the grain itself.
Meanwhile, controlled trials consistently show that eating grains, whether whole or refined, does not affect inflammation at all!

What can we make of that?
At worst, whole grains appear to be neutral when it comes to inflammation.
And overall, a substantial body of evidence from both observational and controlled trial research suggests that eating whole grains and legumes improves our health, including:
improved blood lipids;
better blood glucose control;
less inflammation; and
lower risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

Eliminating these important foods completely from our diet to conform to anybody’s dietary ideology is probably a poor idea.

Moderation, variety, quality and as little processing as possible are the most important factors.

Eat Clean. Stay Active. Feel Great

Jax

Mission Visible Abs- at Any Age #4- control blood sugar

Visible Abs Over 50

#4 – No roller coasters If you want visible abs, your job is to control insulin spikes since your body will not burn fat in the presence of insulin.

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The hormone, insulin is released into the blood stream in response to carbohydrates. When you control your carbohydrate intake, your fat loss efforts will pay off. Plus you won’t get crazy energy swings or cravings!

Eat clean. Train hard. Feel great

4/5 Fat Loss Truths – Grains & Greens

4/5 Fat Loss Truths

When it comes to fat loss nutrition, there are only five important things you need to think about.
Don’t be put off by confusing advice, expensive meal replacement schemes or slimming clubs that keep dependent on them. You need to learn how to control your own diet, gradually lose body fat and keep it off for good! No more rebound weight gain. EVER!

4th– to lose fat in a healthy way, gradually INCREASE your veggies.
Start replacing grains with greens. When you do this, you’ll get more fibre, vitamins, and minerals.
Think about swapping potato, rice and pasta with a side salad, and choose raw, steamed and roast veggies also include veggie dressings, sauces, soups and chips.

Next time we’ll talk about

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Thanks Jax

Control Bodyfat and Feel Fantastic !

Food Rule #1.  look out for 17 more very useful rules…..

Carbohydrates don’t need to be eliminated… they are not inherently “bad” in reasonable quantities. But grains and processed sugars in particular should be minimized. So to make things simple, you will be leaner and healthier if you get most of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables instead of grains and processed sugar.

The biggest problem with grains, aside from the abuse to your blood sugar regulation system (pancreas and insulin sensitivity), is that grains contain a lot of anti-nutrients which prevent your body from absorbing some minerals, as well as gluten and other substances that cause chronic gut inflammation. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other tubers have less problems in terms of digestive system inflammation than grains do.

What do I personally do? Well, I avoid grains as much as possible, except on 1 cheat day per week. That will always be a meal dining out, so that we’re never tempted with breads and cereals in our house. I eat whole fruits (never juice) and veggies daily, and might have an occasional potato or sweet potato once or twice a week.

Jax Allen  ps I’d love to hear your comments and questions.  I’m creating a series of online products to help those of you that can’t attend my training sessions and workshops in person.

What would you like to see, learn and understand – Let me know. Jax