Monday, September 10, 2007

The Whole Grain Scam

Don't get me wrong, eating whole grains is
E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y healthy for you. This isn't the scam. What is a scam is all of the packaging out there tricking you into believing you're actually eating whole grains. Therein "lies" the true scam. Follow along with me for a moment and you'll see...

In order for something to be a real "whole grain", the grain itself still has to be (at least)mostly intact. You see, it's the outer shell of the whole grain that gives a whole grain its "timed release" properties. Why is this important?

It's important because the slower the release of the CHOs (carbohydrates), the slower of a "blood sugar" rush you get. It's that fast blood sugar rush that causes you to feel tired or have that afternoon "crash" right after lunch. Commonly, it's refined carbohydrates (CHOs) that are the culprit for the afternoon crash.

This is the same reason a diabetic can eat an orange, but can't have orange juice. It's that fiberous outer shell or as I said earlier, that time release capsule that does the trick. The outer shell being called the "Bran".

And it's that time release capsule effect of the bran that is one of the most important parts to this whole grain issue. Now, all parts are important, but in order to have the effect of a slow digestion and uptake of CHOs, it's the whole grain's protective BRAN shell that does the trick.

...And Now, The Scam...

As I 've said in earlier blog posts: READ THE INGREDIENTS, not just the packaging. Packaging labels twist the truth and take things out of context as a normal practice. Ingredient lists have much less wiggle room when it come to the truth. So your best chance to know what's actually in the package is by reading the list of ingredients.

If your whole grains have been ground into flour, then it's not whole grain anymore. They smashed the hell out of the whole grain pulverizing into a powder we know as flour. Sure, it does some good. But not as much as we have been led to believe. There is some fiber in there, but it's not protecting the CHOs as nature intended. For our purposes, consider the stuff inside the protective shell "sugar". Because that is what it is converted into. In order to control the sugar inside the grain, you need a protective shell. As I said above, the protective shell is called the bran.

And yes, whole wheat flour is almost as bad as white flour. That's why when companies like General Mills, Peperidge Farms, Nature's Own, Wonder and others like them are advertising that their breakfast cereals & breaks are a good source of whole grains, it's extremely misleading. Yes, the flour in those products was once a whole grain, but its not anymore. You don't have to believe me either, just read their own label on their own box, bag or carton.

It's no different for pastas, bagels, English Muffins or "Bran Muffins". They aren't whole grain, just for the most part, whole grain flour. I recently read on a Thomas' English Muffin "Whole Wheat" English Muffins that not only wasn't it make from whole grains, the sweetener in the English Muffins was high fructose corn syrup. Read the ingredient list, not the packaging labels. Don't be fooled, don't be scammed. A flour that came from a whole grain source is not the same as eating the whole grain itself. The body handles them very differently.

So it's important to eat foods that have the protective outer shell intact. This way the sugars within get absorbed very slowly. When this happens, this is what we call eating good carbs.

Carbs aren't bad for you; in fact, they're good for you, very good for you and your body needs them. But they have to be eaten the right way, and that is as an intact whole grain.

There are a few companies out there that make breads, wraps and pastas from true whole grains. Ezekiel breads and pastas are one of them. Right on the package it says "100% Flourless". Their web site is: Eat a sandwich with Ezekiel breaks and don't feel guilty about it. And they taste like normal breads too, just much more hearty. Their pastas and tortilla wraps are great too. But if you're trying to convert yourself from a Wonder Bread family to Ezekiel breads and wraps, it will take a little while to get use to. I wasn't raised on Wonder Bread as my mother would only allow whole wheat bread in the house.

So, don't get scammed by the myth of packing slogans and sayings. If it is a whole grain product, with the Bran shell protecting the inner carbs, then it will say whole grain wheat, whole grain oats, whole grain wheat, whole grain barley, whole grain "whatever" in the ingredient list.

If it's a scam, it will simply say "whole wheat flour" (or whole whole grain _____ flour). And when you read that all that goodness has been smashed, mashed, pulverized, ground up and powdered into a flour....simply put it down and move your grocery cart far - far away.

You can find Ezekiel's breads in the freezer section of Wild Oats, Bread of Life and down here in Florida, even Publix has them. Wild Oats & Bread of Life actually carry their pastas & wraps and Publix "healthy section" has the Ezekiel breakfast cereals.

Don't just read the packing, don't just read the labels; turn over the package and read the ingredient list and save yourself from the Whole Grain Scam purveyed by these big food corporations. I applaud them for trying, but, trying just isn't enough. Give us real food because the truth is simply posted on the back of your products and I'm teaching everyone how to read them!!!

'nuff said.

Healthfully yours


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Dr. Narson is a 2-term past president of the Florida Chiropractic Association’s Council on Sports Injuries, Physical Fitness & Rehabilitation and was honored as the recipient of the coveted Chiropractic Sports Physician of the Year Award in 1999-2000. He practices in Miami Beach, Florida at the Miami Beach Family & Sports Chiropractic Center; A Facility for Natural Sports Medicine.