Natural Health Tips

Why Refined Grains Are Damaging to Health

Refined grains such as those used in white bread contain little to no nutritive properties. A refined grain, or its product, is made by processing a natural, whole grain so that some or most of the nutrients are lost.

When flour, for example, is refined, the most nutritious part of the grain is removed, so the flour essentially becomes a form of sugar. A high consumption of these simple carbohydrates is associated with causing problems with insulin resistance, fat production and increased triglycerides.

Commonly consumed products such as bread, pies, cakes, cookies, pasta and cereals are all examples of refined wheat products that have been treated, heated, fractioned, and fragmented until it is next to impossible to recognize them for what they were originally.

Why refined grain Products are Harmful

Refined grains and their food products are poor quality foods for several reasons.

  • Refining the grain usually removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the endosperm. Without the bran and germ, about 25% of a grain's protein is lost, along with at least seventeen key nutrients. These include unsaturated fatty acids, calcium, and most of the iron, magnesium, Vitamin E and B vitamins.

  • Refined grains also contain very little natural fiber and are high in starch and gluten.

  • There can be up to approximately 25 different chemicals that are added to refined grains and breads products. Bleaching chemicals, artificial colorings and flavorings are used in many refined products.

Refined grain products are nutritionally imbalanced, so they are linked to contributing to several degenerative diseases. Calcium leaching from the bones and teeth occurs because of the altered phosphorous-calcium balance in these products.

Refined grains are effectively forms of simple carbohydrates, or sugar. A high sugar diet, including refined grains has been linked to causing tooth decay, by destroying tooth enamel. After sugar and refined grains are eaten, the saliva becomes more acidic and this causes ideal conditions for tooth decay and dental erosion. A high-sugar diet also affects tooth enamel by changing its structure. Tooth enamel, although very hard, is also porous. Two percent of its volume is water, and it can flow in any direction. The normal flow is outwardly, from the cells to the enamel, but when laboratory rats were fed a high-sugar diet, it was found that this fluid movement was reversed. This reversed water flow makes teeth more susceptible to decay.

When foods are refined, up to 98 per cent of certain nutrients are removed. Some of these, for example, chromium - are needed to keep blood sugar levels even. Insulin cannot work without chromium. So, the more often blood sugar levels rise, the more insulin is released and the more chromium the body uses up. Excessive consumption of foods with fast-releasing sugars, like refined grains, means that you will feel less energetic and also be more likely to gain weight, as this glucose is converted into fat for storage, rather than giving you an energy boost. Whole grains, on the other hand, contain all the essential parts and naturally-occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed. Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains protects against many chronic diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.

Refined grains are found in breads, pasta, rice, noodles, cereals and other products made with processed grains and flours. Substitute these foods with whole grain alternatives, such as wholemeal breads, brown rice and pasta.