Sat, Jan

You Can Eat Grains and Still be Healthy … Here’s How

WELLNESS--My patients will often ask me if they can eat grains and potatoes and still be healthy. The answer is, it depends. For starters all carbs are not all created equally. Some have a higher glycemic index than others meaning that break down faster. Secondly, everybody is different and the way our bodies break down and utilize food is also different. One thing to keep in mind is that if you have a high sensitivity to carbs and sugar in general, you probably know it by now. If your diabetic for example, carbs and sugars need to be treated with kid gloves. 


A less severe version of carb sensitivity might present as someone who has a carb filled lunch and then can’t stay awake at their desk in the afternoon. This may be more than an afternoon slump, and in fact it often indicates that one may have blood sugar issues that need to be addressed. 

Let’s start by talking about resistant starch. This is a starch that is resistant to digestion in your stomach and small intestine causing it to pass all the way to the large intestine where it is fed upon by the friendly bacteria in your gut. This is a good thing as it helps to build the friendly colony of crucial bacteria in the body. 

Keeping the above in mind, there are ways to eat carbs in a healthy manner. For starters, if you’re going to eat banana, be sure they have some green on the outer skin. In fact the greener the better when it comes to resistant starch. While eating a very unripe banana can be unpleasant, adding it to a smoothie may be a better choice. Also, you can buy the bananas that still have green coloring in the skin but are not fully green as a compromise. 

As far as cooking grains and beans goes, there are a few ways to make them starch resistant. The first is to cook them as usual and then cool them right away either under cool water or just by tossing them in the fridge right when they have finished cooking. Slow cooking grains and beans also helps to make them starch resistant, and cooking with fats like ghee, butter or healthy oils.  The best way to cook grains to make them as starch resistant as possible is by using all three of the above mentioned techniques. Cook you beans or grains in a slow cooker with some healthy fats and immediately cool them after you’re done. 

Reheating the food has also shown about another 30 percent decrease in the amount of starch that breaks down when eating the grains or beans so there is no reason to be afraid of reheating your carbs.  Of course the best plate of food ideally is loaded up with vegetables as the primary food followed by some protein and possibly some starch resistant carbs.   


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)