The quick answer: Enjoy your grains whole (more fiber than sugar) and baked only to a golden brown.
A Brief History of Eating Like Kings
Over the last century (actually 135 years) the Industrial Revolution rolled through our food supply looking for ways to apply the “factory system” to the most traditional of human activities: cooking meals.
The first big change was replacing millstones with steel rollers for grinding grains. The roller mills, it was discovered, could grind the grain much finer and in stages, allowing the separation of bran, fiber, and germ from the starchy endosperm. The result was a fine, white (due to chemical bleaching) flour and this revolutionized cooking. Think of the angel food cake, or Wonder bread.
In times past the tedious process called “bolting,” in which flour was sifted through cloth to separate out the finest grains, could make such fine flour. This was done for kings. But now the common man could eat the king’s flour.
This became a repeating theme in the industrialization of food—making available to ordinary people the food of kings. In fact this had already started—the precursor to the Industrial Revolution had been the steady mechanization of the sugar industry in the 1800s. Sugar was becoming cheaper and more available and people who wanted to eat as kings could eat all the sugar they wanted.
Doesn’t eating the king’s food bring to mind the Old Testament story of Daniel? Unfortunately modern man didn’t have the wisdom of Daniel.
Dr. Denis Burkitt
Dr. Burtkitt (1911-1993) was a British surgeon and devout Christian who served in Africa. He found the indigenous people to be surprisingly healthy and free of the modern diseases. Burkitt was an intensely curious person and he determined that the removal of fiber from the modern diet was a contributing factor to the modern pandemic of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. He wrote a book in 1979 titled, Don’t Forget Fibre in Your Diet. Of course, being English, he spelled “fiber” differently, but you get the idea. The natural fiber in food is part of what makes it healthy.
More Fiber Than Sugar
There are so many grain-based processed foods it makes your head spin. In the supermarket there is the breakfast cereal aisle but also the cookie, cracker, pastry, and pasta aisles. The processing, better-said “adulteration”, of food has turned the grocery into a modern house of horrors. Am I being too dramatic? If you have seen a loved one suffer from the modern diseases you might not think so.
Word of Wisdom Living, and every advocate of better diet and health that I’ve seen, recommends eating grains intact—what we call “whole grains.” It’s hard to sort this out with packaged foods like breakfast cereal so we introduced the “more fiber than sugar rule.” There’s some science behind this rule, reflected in government encouragement to eat more fiber and also less sugar. If you must buy packaged foods, the “fiber>sugar rule” is the best guide.
The Acrylamide Issue
The beautiful wife cautions me against making these post too long so I shoot for 500 words as a reasonable test of your attention span. I’m there now so I’ll talk about the acrylamide issue in the next post. Briefly, when you cook grains and other proteins to a dark brown, you generate a toxic byproduct called acrylamide.
Briefly, the protection against this is to avoid all deep fat fried foods , all charred foods, and to follow a new Golden Rule. This Golden Rule says to cook or bake proteins until they are just “golden” in color, not brown, or especially dark brown. We’ll come back to this in the next post.
Comment: Whole grains are one of the best food values but we think it best to enjoy a variety. Please comment on how you include whole grains in the diet of your family, or share a favorite recipe.