Thursday, March 25, 2010

Q., "Almine, What Is Your Feeling On Grain/Grain-Based Product Consumption?" C.B., Portland, OR.

A. To answer this question, I'm going to pass on a link to an article that I think addresses this issue very well:


Upon reading the article, if you have further questions about it, please don't hesitate to ask. I will say this: In general, I'm a proponent of the "Paleo" dietary lifestyle (see previous post on "What is CrossFit?"). I also spoke yesterday of "ancestral eating." My ancestors (predominant genetic "strain") were French. They lived in the Rennes-Les-Chateaux region of France. This is a goat/sheep herding region. I eat a fairly modified version of the "Paleo Diet." I do incorporate some goat and/or sheep dairy into my diet. My body seems to do very well with it (no surprise by looking at my genetics), particularly when the dairy is fermented in a product such as kefir or "Roquefort" raw sheep's cheese. That being said, the "Paleo Diet" does not advocate grains and/or grain products. I want to make a distinction with quinoa and amaranth. These two "grains" are not, in fact, botanically speaking, grains at all. They're actually seeds. I do consume quite a bit of quinoa. I soak it overnight (see above link), & get it to the point of soaking where it smells almost "sour." That's when you know its time to discard the soaking water and cook it. If any grain has been pre-soaked, it actually is quite a time saver. It cooks up (particularly quinoa) within 2-3 mins. of high-heat "flash" boiling. Its very time effective. Quinoa has as much protein as turkey, and as much calcium as milk. If someone is a vegetarian, they should absolutely be incorporating quinoa into their diet (please soak first...read above article to understand why this is crucial). When I was doing research in Peru, soaked, fermented quinoa "gruel" was the first baby food introduced post-breastfeeding. It has an extremely high amino acid profile as well.
I have friends who are endurance athletes who consume a high-amount of grain products. Its not my recommendation, however, but they at least can justify the high-carb. caloric intake with the amount of calories they burn per hr., so its unlikely they're going to experience weight gain from it. The old adage of "carb loading" before a workout is now being re-examined by sports nutritionists and physiologists. The jury is still out, however, but I think an excellent read is "The Paleo Diet For Athletes," by Loren Cordain, Ph.D. A longer lasting fuel source for endurance events is actually fat. The good, healthy kind. "Navy Seals" will tell you that during intensive endurance training drills they consume vials of olive oil. Dean Karnazes, "The Ultramarathon Man" was tipped off to this little dietary tip, and hasn't looked back since. He consumes healthy quantities of olive oil as his preferred fuel source during long-distance runs. For folks who may experience a sense of "heaviness" with the combination of exercise and fat intake, my suggestion would be to play with coconut oil. It bypasses much of the break-down process that needs to occur with other fats, & goes straight to the metabolism to fuel it immediately. Coconut oil is also the preferred choice for those who are blood type A, and/or the people who have fat digestion problems (gallbladders removed, lipase and/or bile salt deficiency, etc.) During Adventure Races (AR), or other endurance events, I actually take coconut oil in capsules. Its much more convenient to take it that way, and seems to settle well in my stomach. It gives me a "boost" during any event. If you look at the gladiators of old Rome, historical records of the time state, "They consumed large quantities of raw cream during sports events." Again, we see that fat was the preferred source of fuel for the athletes of history.
Of course, this is a trial and error process for everyone. You will need to "play" with your preferred fuel source, and see how pre-soaked grains feel in your body.
On occasion, I will cook up millet. Outside of quinoa (again, which is a seed, not a grain), its really the only grain we eat in our house. Millet is one of the most ancient grains on the planet. It comes from Africa, & is the main dietary amino acid source in the Sudan and Eithiopia. You rarely see millet "by-products" in the U.S. (breads, tortillas, crackers, cookies), which generally means its still fairly unadulterated. Millet is the only completely "alkalizing" grain there is. It has a complete amino acid profile (which most grains, in fact, are very low in amino acids), and is highly anti-fungal (think disorders such as yeast infections, systemic candidiasis, halitosis, "jock-itch", athletes foot, fungus on the toes, etc.). We use millet in Chinese medicine to help promote fertility, to "hold the baby" (i.e. prevent miscarriage), and to promote healthy "Stomach Qi" (good for gastric ulcers, GERD, gastritis, Crohn's, morning sickness, nausea, etc.). Millet is unique in that it has no phytic acid surrounding the individual grain (see above article), so it doesn't need to be pre-soaked for your body to easily absorb the full nutrient profile, and get maximum nutrition benefits from it.
I hope the above information has been helpful. Another book I'd like to highly recommend is, "Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine," by Dr. Ron Schmid, N.D. (the same Dr. Ron who sells the org. glandulars I referred to in yesterday's post at: www.drrons.com) He expounds more on how traditional peoples fermented and pre-soaked their grains for maximum absorption. If you're not willing to do this process with your grains (millet would be the exception), then I would avoid them, and any products derived from them altogether.
If you need some great "Paleo" recipe ideas, please scroll down to the bottom of my blog page to Stephanie Amato's blog-site called "Primal Mama Cooks...and Dishes On Life." She has some great suggestions (which are incredibly tastey, I might add ;-)

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