Saturday, July 9, 2011

Are whole grains healthy?

Studies show that whole-grains are healthier than refined flour. But are whole grains healthy? Or is refined flour simply unhealthier? And are there studies that show that grains are actually unhealthy?
I'll keep saying it until someone listens, but ingestion isn't the same as absorption.  Simply stating that whole grains are rich in anything, be that antioxidants or otherwise, simply fails to account for the fact that whole grains are also rich in plenty of substances that make their nutrient composition all but unavailable for absorption.  My suspicion, as far as reduced oxidative stress goes, is that a refined carbohydrate intake induces a high degree of oxidative stress, and by comparison, whole grains do not - mistakenly interpreted/marketed as whole grains being high in antioxidants.

The authors set the study up by highlighting the evidence 'supporting' the use of whole grains for diabetes prevention. What the authors fail to disclose is the fact that this 'evidence base' invariably reads something like "compared to eating a really crap refined flour and sugar diet, eating less crappy whole grains gives you less diabetes, more slowly".

It becomes clear, after reading through the paper, that the whole grains looked their most positive at about two months into the experiment, as there is constant reference to how much better all the parameters measured looked at this time point. Unfortunately for the researchers, all of the whole grains groups sucked as equally as each other and the craptastic sugar/casein/sunflower oil diet, by the five month mark.

The authors try to paint a picture of whole grains with high antioxidant capacities being better than those with low capacities. In reality, it translates to one type of grain being not quite as bad as another. That is, they all increase oxidative stress compared to sugar, but some not quite as bad as others.

Again, the authors look for the positive by pointing to the grains with the higher antioxidant levels not being as bad compared to those grains with a lower antioxidant capacity. To me, this is too much like suggesting that those that were seated at the rear of the Titanic were better off than those at the front.

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