Bad Carbohydrates: Refined Grains
Bad Carbohydrates: Refined Grains
Bad carbohydrates are the carbohydrates that you need to avoid in order to lose weight - and to restore your good health.
Unfortunately, although they constitute a large part of our diet, refined grains and refined grain products fall into this category.
Why Refined Grains Are Bad Carbohydrates
To understand why refined grains – and, indeed, grains in general, fall into the category of bad carbohydrates we need to go back into human history.
Humans have roamed the earth for approximately 2.5 million years. For most of that time, our ancestors ate animal and plant foods hunted and gathered from the wild. They did not eat cereal grains, because these grains only grew in a small section of the Middle East and were simply not available to them.
In fact it wasn’t until 10-15 thousand years ago that people began to grow and eat grains. In other words grains are not a part of our natural diet.
Just as animals in the zoo become ill when they are fed foods that are not a part of their natural diet, humans become ill when we regular consume foods that are not a part of our natural diet.
And grains aren’t just making us sick - they’re also making us fat. This is particularly true of refined grains.
Refining: Making Bad Carbohydrates Worse
Although grains were introduced into the human diet some ten to fifteen thousand years ago, refined grains did not become a part of our diet until the turn of the 20th century.
This is because, prior to the industrial revolution, the process of refining was expensive, placing the price of refined products well beyond the means of the average person.
Consequently, most people ate only whole grains (and didn’t eat refined sugar at all!) Unfortunately, all this changed with the invention of the steel roller mill in the late 1800s.
Industrialization made the refining process both fast and inexpensive. As a result, by the 1920s, refined sugar and flour had become affordable and readily available to the average person.
And, as consumption of refined products increased, so did the incidence of obesity and other degenerative diseases.
Why Refined Grains Are Such Bad Carbohydrates
A grain is a seed which consists of three parts: 1) the bran which is the protective outer hard shell of the grain, 2) the endosperm which provides energy for the seed and 3) an inner germ which provides the growing seed with essential nutrients.
From a nutritional standpoint, the bran layer contains the grain’s fiber as well as vitamins and trace minerals while the germ layer contains oils, antioxidants and additional vitamins. The endosperm consists mostly of carbohydrate and a small amount of protein.
When grain is refined, both the bran and the germ layers are stripped away leaving only the carbohydrate-rich endosperm.
Unfortunately, this also strips away the vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and fiber that were present in the grain leaving mostly carbohydrate.
Why These Bad Carbohydrates Make Us Fat
Part of problem with grains, particularly in countries that consume large amounts of them like the US, is that these foods replace more nutritious foods like vegetables and fruits.
Even whole grains lack the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables and, when grains are refined, most of the nutrients they do have - including vitamins A, E, B1, B5, B6, B12, C, folic acid, and the minerals iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum and copper as well as the grain’s fiber - are lost.
But that’s not the only problem with the consumption of these bad carbohydrates.
The Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Load
In addition to their low nutritional value, refined grains also have what is known as a high glycemic index and a high glycemic load.
The glycemic index is a measure of how rapidly blood sugar levels rise after consuming a particular food while the glycemic load is a measure of the total carbohydrate content of the food.
And foods that rank high on the glycemic scales are very bad carbohydrates for those trying to lose weight.
How High Glycmeic Foods Cause Weight Gain
Foods that have a high glycemic index are those that cause a large and rapid rise in blood sugar. This rise in blood sugar causes a large release of the hormone insulin.
Insulin lowers blood sugar but it also triggers the synthesis and storage
of fat. As a result, the high levels of insulin that result from eating high glycemic – or “bad” carbohydrate foods -causes weight gain.
Insulin also inhibits the breakdown of fat,so high levels of this hormone will also keep you from losing weight.
Because they consist mostly of carbohydrate, lack fiber and are finely ground, refined grain products are readily absorbed from the intestinal tract and rank very high on the glycemic scales.
White bread, for instance, ranks at the very top of the glycemic index scale.
So, if you are trying to lose weight you clearly need to avoid refined grains and refined grain products.
More Problems With Bad Carbohydrates: Refined Grains and Degenerative Diseases
In addition to causing obesity, a diet high in refined grains has been associated with the development of many degenerative diseases.
This was clearly demonstrated in the 1930s by Dr. Weston Price, a dentist from Cincinnati Ohio. Dr Price noticed that his young patients were developing dental problems that his older patients had never experienced. Thinking these problems might be due to dietary changes, Dr. Price decided to test his theory by studying the health and dietary habits of native populations.
Leaving his dental practice behind, Price literally traveled the world gathering information on indigenous people.
He found that, while the specific foods eaten differed from region to region, most native people ate a combination of meat, fish, and vegetables - with little or no cereal grains.
And these people did not suffer from either degenerative disease or tooth decay. The few native cultures that did consume whole grains or other high carbohydrate foods like sweet potatoes were also generally free from degenerative diseases. However, they did suffer from tooth decay and were physically weaker than native people who did not eat these foods.
When members of these native cultures began incorporating refined grains into their diet, however, both their dental and overall health quickly declined.
Price found that when native people began to eat refined foods they experienced a large increase not only of tooth decay but also cancer, heart disease, arthritis and the other degenerative diseases known to plague modern societies.