Monday, July 25, 2011

Whole Grains: How to Love Them, Part the Second

For the tens of people who have been anxiously awaiting my next installment in this series on whole grains and how to love them - I write to you today!

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive introduction to whole grains.  I want to keep it simple, so there won't be diagrams of molecules and mess like that.  This is just the basics - so you can get an idea of how to get the most from the food you're eating and why you should be buying bread from me!  Tada!

So...we learned what phytates are in my introductory post

Then, we learned what phytates do for the grains and plants they live in in the next post.

Now, we are going to look at what phytates do in our bodies. 

First, phytates are also known as enzyme inhibitors.  They...gasp...inhibit enzymes.  When we eat them, they sortof attach themselves to the minerals and vitamins in our food and lock them up, preventing our digestive systems from breaking them down and delivering them to our cells. 

When you read the nutrition info on a loaf of bread and it says it has like 30% of your niacin, iron, zinc or magnesium for the day - your body will only absorb a small fraction of that number.  It's virtually impossible to absorb all of it, even under ideal conditions, but with the full phytic content of whole wheat still intact, it's safe to say your body won't see a lot of the good stuff you're trying to give it.

Because they are essentially indigestible and  block so much of the nutrition we need, phytates make our bodies work way too hard to process whole grains.  Our digestive tract goes into hyper drive to do its job, and that's pretty hard on us. 

Now, phytates aren't all bad.  In fact, their mineral blocking powers are beneficial in small quantities.  It can help prevent an overabundance of iron, for example, and it can even work as a kind of cleanser. 

But when eaten in in large quantities, phytates can really tear up your gut.  They can also cause vitamin deficiencies, which can lead to a whole host of health problems. 

So, what do phytates do in our bodies?  They block the absorbtion of nutrients.  In large quantities, they are harmful to our bodies.  However, in small quanities, they are fine and even beneficial, acting as a kind of cleanser for us. 

Next up:  How can we limit the consumption of phytates?  *oooo, sounds interesting.*  *I'll have to keep logging in to Bake Lore EVERY DAY to find out!!!*

Questions?  Comments?  Snide remarks?  You know where I am!!

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