John Oliver gets real on sugar!
Too much of a bad thing | Balance is the Key
Today white flour does not retain the once beneficial nutrients found in the large variety of grains. Seeds receive fungicides and insecticides to control disease and pests from destroying them before they can seed. When it is milled and processed, the bran, wheat germ, and shorts, which contain the fiber, nutrients and essential fatty acids found in naturally grown wheat, are removed, leaving only the starch. The wheat we eat today is stripped of its nutrients, and chemically treated to produce an empty starch that is linked to a number of chronic, inflammatory, and autoimmune diseases.
The flour that makes most of our modern day bread is not prepared traditionally, and the amount of processed flour in the average diet is increasing. Like most things, too much of anything can be harmful. In this case, the increasing amount of refined grain and sugar the average person consumes on daily basis is rather high. The average per capita grain consumption was 45% higher in 2000 (14 years ago) than it was in the 1970s 2. In 1972 the average per capita consumption of wheat was 110lbs per year, and in 2011 it was 132lb. This increased, unbalanced consumption of processed grains may have negative long term consequences on health. It has been shown that high levels of triglycerides that come from grain and sugar contribute to bad cholesterol leading to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Wheat Before Modern Processing
The cultivation of grains made civilization possible, allowing us to feed the world. Wheat has been used since the beginning of civilization, and was a beneficial source of nutrients before modern processing. There are nearly 30,000 known varieties of wheat, but to obtain the efficiency of production, only a few varieties account for 90% of the wheat grown in the world. Flour was originally produced by first soaking grains in water until they sprout from the seed. This deactivates enzyme inhibitors (as does cooking it) that are active to protect the seed until successful germination. However, it does not deactivate phytase, which reduces helpful phytic acid that binds minerals. This also does not change the high levels of WGA, a wheat lectin, which is retained in the sprout. After sprouting, grains are stone ground, maintaining their nutrient rich shell, the bran and wheat germ. Once ground, they are mixed with a starter culture. such as whey, kefir or yogurt, where already present bacteria or wild yeast is activated. This fermentation process deactivates harmful phytase and reduces enzyme inhibitor activity, but does not destroy WGA, wheat lectin, found in high concentrations in wheat, whole wheat/grain, sprouted wheat products, cereal grains, barley, oat, spelt, rye, rice, legumes, tomatoes and potatoes.
Grain research has found a several gut related disorders linked to gluten. However, there are still many incidences of similar gut symptoms or even gut-unrelated symptoms, with no intestinal mucosal damage, but linked to gluten or grain proteins. Research in this area is still new and debated. There may be more harm being done than to just your digestive system, and there may be more than just gluten doing harm in wheat and other grains.
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