Who Sounded the Alarm When the Refining of Grains Began?
In the 1920’s when the refining of wheat flour began to catch on with the American public many doctors tried to warn the public of the nutritional dangers of refining whole grains. One doctor, Dr. Royal Lee, a dentist and an engineer, set out to create a home electric flour mill so that every family could have whole grain, with all its nutrients, fresh with their meals instead of buying the lifeless. That wheat grinder is still available today and Dr. Lee went on to develop a company in 1929 that still makes quality whole food supplements, Standard Process.
In the 1930’s another dentist, Dr. Weston A. Price gave up his dental practice to travel the world and study the nutritional habits of indigenous cultures throughout the world. One of the things that Dr. Price noted in his studies of isolated, so-called “primitive” peoples was that when white flour and other devitalized foods were introduced into these communities, rampant tooth decay and diseases of every sort soon followed.
What Happens to Whole Grains When they are Refined?
What happens to whole grains when we refine them? During the industrial revolution we learned that whole grains go rancid faster than refined versions due to the fat content. If we mill the bran and germ away from the grain it makes a product that won’t spoil. Thus, food processors started preserving grain shelf life by stripping away the bran and germ. That doesn’t seem so bad… remove some parts and now it will last a lot longer on the shelf and we can always keep a bag of the flour in the pantry that never goes bad, right? Here’s the part we forgot to tell you… what’s gone is the germ which is where all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients are, and the bran which is the fiber that aids in digestion. What’s still left over is the endosperm which is all starch. (Code for a whole bunch of sugar) Refined grains like white flour, white rice, bread, and pasta, are all endosperm, as the refining process strips away the bran and germ and all the nutrients they contain. Even though many refined grains are “fortified” with synthetic vitamins and inorganic minerals, fortification cannot replace all the lost nutrients. Additionally refined grains are digested and absorbed very quickly by the body, which can be rough on blood sugar levels and insulin levels.
Why Eat Whole Grains?
- Whole grains contain bran and fiber, which normalize blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Fiber helps move waste through the digestive tract.
- Whole grains are a good source of B vitamin and E vitamin complexes.
- Whole grains contain phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) which can be cancer protective.
- Whole grains contain essential minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper.
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