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If we truly are what we eat in the United States, many people would be garbage cans. Every year people spend about $260 billion on food, over half of which is processed food—convenience foods, junk food, or snacks.
Americans eat over 40% of our meals away from home, and spend $105 billion on drive-thru fast food annually. Is it any wonder that the US ranks in the top ten for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease globally, or that we spend more money annually on healthcare for completely preventable conditions than any other nation in the world?
If you just give it what it needs to do its job properly, your body has the ability to heal itself from many diseases and injuries such as arthritis and pain, and symptoms of pain from inflammation in muscles and joints. By being more particular about what we put in our bodies can make a huge difference in how efficiently the body does the job of becoming and remaining pain free, healthy and strong.
By using a natural approach to your body’s well being, you are taking control of your own destiny. Changing the way that we think about the food we ingest into our bodies is one step on the journey to complete wellness.
There are many low carb diets today, but often they leave people deficient in both carbohydrates and fiber. Carbohydrates are essential for energy, and fiber keeps the digestive system working correctly while helping reduce inflammation. Even if you stick to a low carb diet to help manage your weight, there are plenty of sources of good carbs and fiber available to you.
Whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas are an excellent source of both carbs and fiber. A kernel of grain is composed of 4 parts: the hull, the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. During the milling process grain is refined, and all but the endosperm is removed, resulting in what we know as refined flour. This removes much of the iron, B vitamins, and other nutrients. Whole grain means that the grain doesn’t go through a refining process. Only the hull, which is inedible, is removed before the kernel is ground into flour. Any grains should be eaten in moderation, since grains can cause an acidic reaction in the body, which can lead to increased inflammation.
When choosing bread, it can be confusing determining which varieties actually are “whole grain”. Reading labels is important, so here are some tricks for determining that you are getting whole grain bread.
These labels can be very deceptive:
So, what is a whole grain product? The label will specifically state “Whole Grain,” and tell you which whole grains. “Enriched” flours are not whole grain; they are refined flours with some of the iron and B vitamins added back in, but without the other benefits of whole grains.
There are many options available in the supermarket for whole grains in both cold and hot cereals. As with breads, reading the label is crucial; they will be marked as “Whole Grain” or “100% Whole Grain”, and the type of whole grain will be listed first on the ingredient list.
The deceptive part can be the amount of fiber. Some cereals may be whole grain, but very low in fiber due to density. Flakes or kernels will be much denser than puffs, and therefore have much higher fiber content. It’s better to choose the higher fiber content, to receive more concentrated whole grain.
Consumers may be confused about whole grains as it relates to breads and cereals, but when it comes to pastas, they know it’s usually not whole grain. Most supermarkets do carry whole wheat pastas now, but whole wheat only means that they aren’t made with any other grains besides wheat, not that they are whole grain. For good whole grain pasta, try shopping in specialty and health food stores.
Read the label to be sure of what you are using in your diet for inflammation relief and pain treatment.