Monday, July 7, 2014

9 Shocking Benefits of Going Grain-Free

I'm on this grain-free train for around a month now. My thoughts? I am really really liking it. My body is treating me so much nicer, in ways that I wasn't realizing! My world has changed, and for the better. I recently posted about troubles I have been having (HERE) and then an update on how I was progressing (HERE). Reading the book Wheat Belly has really opened my eyes [more] to why I needed to cut out grains. I am excited to share about how it is helping me.

1. Stable Blood Sugar
 Did you realize that whole wheat has a glycemic index of 72? That is higher than sugary soda (look HERE)! Why does this matter? Well, your blood sugar needs to always be in a healthy range for your body to work optiminally. If not, consequences happen, possibly very severe ones. 

I have a good understanding of how important blood glucose levels are because I am a nutritionist, but also my dad has Type 1 Diabetes. He is dependent on insulin because his body doesn't produce it since his pancreas was damaged from becoming deathly sick when he was in his 20's. Therefore, he has to constantly monitor what range his blood glucose levels are during the day. It's important for his levels to stay between 90-110. Lower and higher cause health problems and other noticeable consequences (blurred vision, mood changes, tiredeness, shakes, seizures, unconsciousness, etc). The more the number deviates from normal range, the more severe the consequences. 

How does this tie into the glycemic index? The higher the number is on the index, the more your blood sugar raises and then drops too low (which causes a cycle of fatigue and hunger). High blood sugar has more severe consquences to the body's functions. When your blood sugar (glucose) raises, your pancreas kicks in to add insulin, your organs are taxed, film starts to cover your eyes (cataracts), your brain becomes negatively affected, your body ages faster, the excess sugar is turned to fat, etc. Therefore, keeping your blood sugar stable has many benefits, including reducing the aging process! 

With cutting out grains altogether, my blood sugar stays steady and I feel great. When I was in Jr. High, I had issues with my blood sugar. I would eat a bowl of cereal at breakfast and by the time I got to school I would feel shaky and oddly like I was having an out of body experience. My glucose level skyrocketed and then dropped dramatically which caused problems. We learned that I have hypoglycemia. I combatted the issue by eating small snacks between classes. It helped to a degree but didn't remove the problem. In college I started having the same issues. Realizing I was eating a lot of carbs with little protein, I added more protein, which helped.  I just didn't see that grains were the main problem. With going grain free I still have snacks, just without feeling awful (fatigue, shaky, moody) or ravenously hungry like I want to kill to eat. I am just hungry. I may be hypoglycemic but it can be avoided if you cut out the source of the problem.

If wheat has such a high glycemic index number then what are we doing consuming it almost every meal? "Heart healthy" whole grain cereals for breakfast, a "healthy" Nutrigrain bar for a snack, whole wheat sandwiches at lunch with 10 chips and a soda, afternoon nap[?] (or crackers and cheese), and pasta (maybe even whole grain) at dinner with a side salad. Then ice-cream anyone? A nice well-rounded blood sugar spike fest throughout the day is what I am beginning to see. Our day is made up of a nutrient-dense grain and it's controlling our lives more than we think (and surprisingly it's all cleverly disguised as different products but it's really the same). It's nice to get out of the cycle and feel better (by His grace).

2. Amazingly Clear Skin
I noticed last week that my skin has never looked better. Downside, if I cheat, it shows the next day. Your skin is the largest organ of your body and tells what's going on inside. I wouldn't say I had "bad skin" but I still get blemishes here and there. Keeping grains out 100% have brought my skin looking the best it has ever looked. Seriously. It rocks. 

3. No More Body Aches
One of my worries was having body aches. 26 years old with pain?? My wrists were constantly stiff and achy. It didn't matter what I did, they hurt for the last year or so and I removed the things I thought were causing it (handstands, heavy weights, weight bearing exercises on my hands). But removing grains/wheat has alleviated my issues almost altogether. Also, sometimes I will get leg cramps and just aches all over my body, but that has been gone as well. PTL.

4. Cravings Gone
Even though I had cut out desserts for a month, I was craving them anyways. It was so annoying. Cutting out grains has taken away my cravings. Boy, it feels good not to be addicted. Wheat Belly has a chapter on the effects wheat has on your brain, such as cravings. It is an opiate-like effect, similar to drugs. Seriously, I am not joking. Try it for yourself. Cut out grains for a couple weeks, then eat a piece of pizza or cake and you will feel it come on. The blood sugar effects and then the cycle of your body wanting more. 

I remember thinking, "I could never go without grains!" That's the wheat talking. Since removing, I'm a believer. I still love pizza, cake, etc but I am finding ways around it and it's worth it to feel good. 

5. Stronger Nails
Since this diet change, my nails have stopped becoming brittle. Why? Well since my body produces negative results from grains, it was obviously affecting my hormones, skin, brain, and my nails. Strong, longer, and healthier nails are here to stay, I believe. 

6. Proper Digestion/Bowel Function
I had mentioned that my bowel functioning had changed since children, including minor hemorrhoid issues. Removing grains has alleviated my problems. Plus, gas (I know, TMI, but really peeps) is not an issue (unless I cheat). So no more bloating after meals and no more stomach pain that can come with it. 

7. Muscle Definitiion
Removing grains means increasing, protein, fat, vegetables, and fruits (whole foods). Those foods mean a well-sculpted body. And if grains add visceral fat (outer layers of fat around stomach, buttocks, thighs) and cause bloating, hormone problems, skin problems, cravings, etc then removing them will only reduce excess weight and body fat. Not to mention, eating a "healthy" diet of grains creates a pre-cursor to Type 2 Diabetes, higher triglycerides, elevates bad cholesterol, and creates a fatty liver. Yikes. This is real. 

My stomach continues to flatten, tighten, and tone with the removal of grains. Plus, my body is getting excellent protein that helps my heart health, builds muscle, and has a host of other nutritional benefits. 

8. Satiety  
With the stable blood sugar, being satisfied has not been a problem. Eating more vegetables and animal protein satisfies the body faster and longer as well. Vegetables contain fiber, protein (most), and loads of vitamins which helps satisfaction. Animal protein usually has healthy fat and burns slower so that creates stable blood sugar and satiety. 

9. Hormone Balance
Since grains cause all these issues in my body, what option does my endocrine system have but be negatively effected? Nutrition fuels/regulates your hormones. Therefore, mine were off balance. Since removing grains they have been improving and I am excited with the changes made. Again, it's nice to feel normal....or whatever is considered normal. Maybe silly? :)

Please remember that I am not a doctor and am not diagnosing anyone.  This is my personal experience with a doctor advising me to make changes. 

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