My 10 year old asked this morning, as she toyed with her cereal, what would happen to her if she ate too many weetbix. Great question. I felt a momentary twinge of guilt as I realised she was struggling with the entire concept of wheat and grains and my student nutritionist angle on food in general. (We are trying to shake our grain intake up a little and to replace our wheat with some other delicious grains.)
I was quickly reassured that she was showing an interest in subject matter that until I was well into my teens I did not know existed.
Upon a little investigative digging, it seems that she thought that wheat was the only grain in our food chain. Obviously we worked through that one and added rice, oats, barley, rye, corn and the pseudo grains quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat.
The short answer to her question is; If you eat too many grains in your diet there will not be enough room in your tummy for all of the other essential foods like protein and fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
You need these to help you to get the energy from your food, stop you from getting sick, help you concentrate, make your skin glow and keep your hair shiny. (I know there's more but she's 10 and she had to skip off to school... with her lunchbox full of carrot sticks, bliss balls, fruit and wholegrain fried rice.)
All grains start out as whole grains. It seems like an obvious statement but when you look at all of the white rice and plain pasta on the supermarket shelves, you can be forgiven for questioning this fact.
Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain’s protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. With so many processed grain foods mandatorily fortified, it is clearly well known that our bodies need the nutrients in the bran and the germ. So why take them out just to add them back in? There is a long list of reasons and most of them benefit the food industry not the consumer.
Here is a list of the goodies that we lose when the bran and germ is removed from our grains; This is written in "kidspeak".
- protein (helps you grow)
- fibre (keeps you regular and fills you up)
- B vitamins (these are essential for your body to metabolise the nutrients in the grains into energy.)
- antioxidants (defends your body against the nasties in the food and environment)
- Healthy Fats (cell rigidity, keep your skin healthy and hair shiny)
- Minerals (healthy bones and teeth and muscle movement)
- low GI for sustained energy
Then there's the reduced risk of chronic diseases. The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
So stock up on whole grains and shake it up a little. Set yourself a goal and try a new grain every month or if you are super keen every week.
For more on whole grains, come along to our cooking and nutrition workshop in Seaforth, NSW on Friday 24th August - refer to the class schedule. 0401 370 379