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Increase Whole Grains

May 2, 2008

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Many fashionable diet theories today are advising people to avoid carbohydrates, naming them as a culprit in America’s obesity crisis. This advice is a huge and faulty generalization. By looking at the delicate, thin bodies of Japanese people, who consume high-carbohydrate diets composed of large amounts of rice and starchy vegetables, it’s impossible to conclude that all carbs lead to weight gain.

Whole grains have been a central element of the human diet since the dawn of civilization, when we stopped hunting and gathering and settled into agrarian communities. Until very recently, people living in these communities, on all continents, had lean, strong bodies. In the Americas, corn was the staple grain, while rice predominated in India and Asia. In Africa, people had sorghum and millet. People in the Middle East enjoyed pita bread and couscous. In Europe, it was corn, millet, wheat, rice, pasta and dark breads. Even beer, produced by grain fermentation, was considered healthy. In Scotland, it was oats. In Russia, they had buckwheat or kasha. For generations, very few people eating grain-based diets were overweight.

People are gaining weight today because they eat too much chemicalized, artificial junk food. If Americans were eating bowls of freshly cooked whole grains and vegetables every day instead of processed junk food, people would not be getting fat. Whole grains are some of the best sources of nutritional support, containing high levels of dietary fiber and B vitamins. Because the body absorbs them slowly, grains provide long-lasting energy and help stabilize blood sugar.

About the author

Joshua Rosenthal is the Founder and Director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He has worked in the nutrition field for more than 25 years, teaching at the school alongside health leaders including Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra and Barry Sears. At Integrative Nutrition students are trained as Health Coaches, receiving the holistic nutrition education necessary for them go out into the world and help others improve their health and happiness.