Written by Guest Nutritionist Casey Simmons:
Hi ladies! Many of my friends have been running to me with questions about breads and gluten. Should they be purchasing whole-wheat? Multi-grain? What’s the deal with going gluten-free and why? What grains are gluten free? Let’s break down understanding Gluten-Free vs Whole Wheat vs Multigrain. I decided to share my point-of-view with you in hopes that it will make your bread shopping a little easier!
Gluten is a tricky subject. In it’s simplest definition, gluten is a kind of protein that tends to exist in wheat, barley, and rye among other carbohydrates that gives elasticity to the dough, helping it rise and keep its shape. Although eating wheat products, especially whole-wheat, does offer some health benefits, gluten can actually be harmful. To me, anything that is added to food that doesn’t come naturally won’t be the best for your body, so my recommendation would be to steer clear of gluten when possible. Here are some reasons you may want to consider going gluten-free:
- Humans don’t fully digest wheat
- Wheat is a pro-inflammatory agent meaning it’s rapidly converted to sugar, causing a rise in the body’s insulin levels.
- Wheat can cause leaky gut syndrome; is a condition where unwanted toxins can leak from your gut into your bloodstream.
- Refined wheat has little nutritional value; manufacturers have to enrich refined wheat because they’ve taken out all the nutrients.
- Wheat is one of the top-eight allergens because millions of people are allergic to it.
- Many people have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, and don’t know it; estimates are that 50-70% of the population is sensitive to gluten.
While going gluten-free may be a little extreme for many people, you can instead choose to improve your diet by eating your usual carbs but switching to healthier options. So it is important to know the difference between multi-grain and whole grain because they are NOT interchangeable terms.
Multigrain refers to a food that contains more than one type of grain. Common grains included in multigrain foods include oats, buckwheat, cracked wheat, flax and millet. Multi-grain foods are often very hearty and provide a dense texture and rich flavor to breads, cookies or cereals. Unless you are sure that a multigrain food is created from whole grain ingredients, the grain health benefits of this food may be minimal.
To maximize your health benefits of a multigrain food, look at the food label and make sure that the grains all include the word ‘whole,’ ensuring the grains are whole grains. A quick way to see if the food contains refined grains is to look for the words ‘enriched wheat flour’ near the top of the ingredient list. This would mean that the multigrain food is not composed entirely of whole grains and has limited health benefits compared to whole grain foods.
Whole-wheat refers to the whole-wheat grain. To be considered whole-wheat, a grain must still contain the endosperm, bran and germ. Many processed or refined version of wheat contain only the endosperm. Whole-wheat is beneficial to the body because it can help prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and reduce your chances of certain cancers, in particular colon cancer. Whole-wheat is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B and fiber.
So which is better? Multi-grains or whole-wheat foods? As explained above, multigrain and whole-wheat foods are two separate types of grain products. In regards to your health, whole-wheat foods provide your body with more nutrients, fiber and vitamins than most multigrain products. When selecting a multigrain, make sure it is composed of whole grains to reap the health benefits provided by whole grain foods.
As for white bread, ever heard the saying “the whiter the bread, the quicker you’re dead?” So true! White bread is high in glycemic index carbohydrates that quickly turn into sugar increasing your blood sugar levels. It is made from refined white flour containing several unwholesome constituents and very little in the way of nutrients and dietary fiber, essential for a healthy digestive system and a stable metabolism. White bread is processed and contains many preservatives unwanted by your body! It is safe to say, “Stay away!”
I hope I have given you enough background to help ease your grocery shopping a little! Keep your body strong and healthy and do what is best for you, because everyone is different. Make sure you are staying active and don’t worry about what the scale says. Remember, strong is the new skinny, so exercise and eat healthy to feel your best, not weigh less!
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