Blast Off: Whole wheat versus whole grain

Have you heard the "latest" terms being thrown around nowadays — Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Wheat Belly?

Have you heard the “latest” terms being thrown around nowadays — Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, Wheat Belly?

It seems that at least one of your friends or family members may have one of the above issues and it’s true they are becoming more and more common. However, we wanted to set the facts straight about the difference between whole wheat and whole grains.

Whole wheat is when wheat is milled to make flour. The parts of the grain are usually separated (much of the germ and bran are removed) and then are recombined to make specific types of flour, such as whole wheat, white cake and pastry flour, and all purpose white flour. Under the Food and Drug Regulations, up to 5 per cent of the kernel can be removed to help reduce rancidity and prolong the shelf life of whole wheat flour.

Whole grains are the seeds of certain plants. The seed, or kernel, is made up of three parts: the bran, the endosperm and the germ — all of which contain valuable nutrients that play an important role in your diet. There are many types of grains, including wheat, rice, oats, barley, corn, wild rice, and rye, as well as quinoa and buckwheat.

The best way to consume these grains is in their natural form instead of in their refined form. Refined grains are whole grains that have had the germ and the bran removed (examples include white rice, white flour, grits and cream of wheat). This results in a loss of fibre, vitamins and minerals.

The best types of whole grains to include in your diet are oats, brown or wild rice and quinoa. Anyone without any underlying gluten or wheat intolerance can consume most grains in moderations without a problem.

A clean eating lifestyle requires whole grains to add necessary vitamins, minerals, fiber and ENERGY. A diet lacking in good sources of quality carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit grains can result in a number of problems: Your body could start to break down protein for fuel instead of the preferred role of building muscle tissue. In addition, your body may go into ketosis, a condition that puts stress on the kidneys.

This can be prevented by consuming adequate grains and essential carbohydrates such as fruits and vegetables.

The glucose from carbohydrates is the primary energy source for your brain. If glucose sources are insufficient, the result may be dizziness, weakness and low blood sugar. Trying to exercise with low blood sugar will impair your performance and result in physical and mental exhaustion.

The foods from these categories provide essential vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre that would be difficult to get from a low-carbohydrate diet. Eating enough of these foods may help you to reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, provide vitamins and minerals essential for the maintenance of your body, reduce diverticulosis and constipation, reduce cholesterol, support proper bowel function, and help you with weight maintenance by providing a feeling of fullness.

If you’re an individual who is maintaining a healthy lifestyle or even if you’re trying to get healthy, healthy eating involves whole grains. If you are cautious about eating grains because they may cause you to gain weight, a good rule to go by is “earn your grains.” Meaning eat a servings of grains right before or right after a workout. Your body needs the energy to recover and it won’t go straight to your butt.

When it comes to eating, always consume everything in moderation. Listen to your body and how it feels after eating certain food. If grains give you a problem then avoid them as much as you can and supplement with beans, vegetables and fruit.