What you ought to know about grains

Grains have become an integral part of our food and culture and have been added to the human diet in the recent past. But what do we know about the grains that we consume? Do we know what precisely can be found in the grains that makes them such extravagant triggers for human health complications? It is important to know more about grains to understand their impact on our health and lifestyle.

Life would be very different had we not begun to domesticate animals and farm the land. Civilization with cities, transportation, and Technology blossomed over centuries from these two innovations. We can only imagine what life would have been like without them. Let’s now drill down to some of the details behind this lifestyle, starting with my favorite food – Grains.

The grains of today are not the grains of pre-biblical or biblical times. They are very different from the grains of medieval times, even the same grains that your grandmother used to bake cookies. All grains have brought destructive effects on humans for the 10,000 years we have consumed them. Many of the effects made worse as geneticists and agribusinesses got into the act and genetically changed them.

Wheat and corn are two most widely grown and consumed grains in the world. They have been extensively changed over the past 50 years by agricultural businesses. Wheat is no longer the four-and-a-half foot tall traditional plant we all remember. Modern wheat, for instance, looks different: shorter, thicker shaft, larger seeds. It stands 18 inches tall and is called semi-dwarf. The reduction in height is due to the mutations in reduced height genes that code for stalk length. That’s just one mutation among hundreds of others.

Gene mutation is increasingly becoming a public relations nightmare for agribusinesses. The changes introduced into wheat predate the methods of genetic engineering. Hence the grain industry claims that wheat is not genetically modified i.e. no gene splicing techniques were used. This is simply a clever word game.

Wheat has been genetically changed using methods such as multiple hybridizations and mutagenesis. Multiple hybridizations is the process of mating different strains and wild grasses. Mutagenesis is the use of radiation or chemicals to induce mutations. While genetic modification introduces one to three genetic changes in the grain, mutagenesis introduces dozens of mutations. Hence this can be substantially worse than gene mutation.

Here are some of the other changes introduced into wheat.

Gluten is often blamed for being the sole source of health problems. But the culprit is gliadin – a smaller protein with gluten, that causes many damaging health effects of mold on wheat. More than 200 forms of gliadin proteins have been catalogued and consistent with being a component of the seeds of a grass. All forms are poorly and incompletely digested by humans. A gene for one form of gliadin called Gila-a9, yields a gliadin protein that is the most potent trigger for celiac disease, the intestinal destruction of the small intestine from wheat, rye, and barley.

If you eat say an egg. The proteins are degraded into simple amino acids. That is the way proteins are normally digested. Not so with the proteins from the seeds of grass. Many of the proteins of grains are either degraded into small pieces, or peptides, (short chains of amino acids, rather than single amino acids) or are not degraded at all.

Thus it is important to know more about grains to understand their impact on our health and lifestyle


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