Top Five Wheat-Free Grains + Green Tea Extract Benefits
There are different buzz words for different ailments and situations. The latest in our lexicon of nutritional dangers is the "wheat-belly." What is a wheat belly? It used to be called the beer-belly, which is a wheat or grain belly-the resulting fat that accumulates in the middle-due to the body's reaction to excess consumption of wheat gluten contained in beer (or wheat products). But the term wheat belly is actually known as belly fat or visceral fat. This is a specific type of fatty tissue that unfortunately wraps around the organs in the abdominal cavity, like the kidneys, the intestines, the liver-not to be confused with subcutaneous flabby fat which lies just below the skin on any area of the body. People who are obese have both visceral and subcutaneous fat issues.
Keep in mind that a wheat belly (or beer or grain belly) most likely indicates visceral fat. This type of fat clearly points to the dangerous potential for type II diabetes due to obesity, but visceral fat brings with it another danger... Visceral fat acts as a gland, secreting hormones that make the immune system react. This produces more fat to store and protect pathogens from invading our organs. This vicious cycle also produces low level chronic inflammation that can result in various autoimmune diseases. According to researchers, visceral fat or belly fat tissue becomes an endocrine organ all on its own.
Individuals who are trying to control their weight may benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet and taking green tea supplements.
So what happened to our "amber waves of grain" proudly sung about in "America the Beautiful?" Why doesn't this golden grain seem so glorious anymore? Why didn't our ancestors have wheat belly-or even beer belly-since we've been baking bread and brewing beer for centuries?
According to Dr. William Davis, author of the book, Wheat Belly, the grain of our ancestors is not the same as what's found on today's supermarket shelves. He says the wheat of today is actually a mixture of a grain called einkorn and wild grasses; the result of human genetic modification, which in 50 years has produced 25,000 varieties of wheat; and it is nothing like the wheat that has been used historically. Dr. Davis notes that today's wheat is only sturdy when cultivated with fertilizer and under human supervision. In the wild, this wheat would not survive.
Dr. Davis states that today's wheat is largely responsible for the obesity epidemic and degenerative diseases related to visceral fat, such as high blood sugar, heart disease, and dementia. He cites modern wheat as contributing to signs of aging, skin disorders like acne and rashes, arthritis, bouts of depression and anxiety, seizures, and gut disorders, including celiac disease. A serving of whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than table sugar.
So here are the top five grains and pseudo-grains that can be used to replace grains with high-gluten content, such as wheat, barley, oats and rye. These gluten-free alternatives offer unusual tastes that easily can surpass those of gluten grains, and many are high in iron and fiber.
Amaranth: Technically an herb, amaranth was used by ancient peoples in the Americas and Asia like a cereal grain, and in Mexico, they toast amaranth much like popcorn! Called alegrias, bars of sweetened popped amaranth are a tasty treat. Amaranth is the best gluten-free grain source of iron - half a cup contains more than 40% of your daily iron requirement. It also contains plenty of calcium, magnesium and fiber, plus about 13 grams of protein.
Buckwheat: This is not related to wheat! It is gluten-free, and while it's actually considered a fruit, it is used primarily as a grain substitute, usually in hot or cold cereal. Kasha is roasted buckwheat groats (but know that not all cereals named "kasha" are gluten-free, since many contain gluten ingredients). Half a cup of buckwheat groats contain about 6 grams of fiber, plus about 12% of your needed iron allowance, with a trace of calcium.
Quinoa: Another pseudo-grain, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is more closely related to spinach and beets than it is to grain plants. Raw quinoa needs to be processed to remove its bitter-tasting coating. Processed this way and then cooked whole in water like oatmeal, it makes a nice, slightly nutty-tasting hot cereal. You also can use quinoa flour to make interesting flatbread. Quinoa originated in the Andes Mountains and grows well at high altitudes; so many quinoa distributors get their crops from South America. Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein, with 10 grams in a half-cup; and it contains a good dose of iron and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids.
Millet: Also known as sorghum, millet has been a top ingredient in bird seed in America until recently. However, for thousands of years, it's a staple food in China, Ethiopia, and India. Millet is gluten-free and highly alkalizing, an effect preferred by some over the more common, but more acidic, brown rice. Millet is the most alkaline of all the true grains; and is especially regarded for the treatment of candida yeast overgrowth. Millet is high in protein, B vitamins, and contains high amounts of iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Brown rice: With over 7,000 (some estimates say 40,000) varieties of rice being grown and consumed, it is a staple food for over half the world's population. Full of B vitamins, iron, vitamin E, good-quality protein (10%), vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fiber, brown rice provides complex carbohydrates, a steady supply of energy for our bodies. Brown rice is free of gluten, the hard-to-digest protein at the heart of celiac disease, and has less phytic acid, a compound that interferes with our ability to absorb nutrients, than other grains. It is called a strengthening food as it reduces mental depression, calms the nervous system, and strengthens internal organs. Honored in the Orient as having the most balanced yin and yang properties; basmati rice is held in high esteem for the same reason in Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient healing system of India. Brown rice helps lower cholesterol levels with its compound oryzanol, chemically similar to cholesterol lowering medications. For estrogen-related problems, like some breast cancers, the fiber in brown rice helps clear excess estrogen by binding to it. The particular type of fiber found in brown rice is excellent for improving elimination and preventing constipation.
So what is the next buzz? Brown rice beer? Maybe! But meanwhile, get creative and enjoy green tea extract benefits and the amazing benefits of these replacements for gluten, and help to avoid the dreaded wheat belly!